Thursday, February 7, 2008

Baby, what did I say?

Rather than give you a bullet point list of Grip's crimes, I will tell the story of the time I saw Grip. (Well the last time I saw him before he started stalking me. But I don't want to confuse you. This is the last time I "saw" him).

Grip had told me on our first date that his first marriage had not worked out because they were "too young" and that she had left him for an older man who could "better provide for her." I found this discomfiting but I made no comment. Several weeks later, Grip and I were in his living room on a Thursday afternoon. I was reading Burney's The Wanderer and I came across the word "delusory." Grip was on the other side of the room, reading The Times.

"Grip," I said, "Delusory. What does the word delusory word mean to you?"

"You are getting a PhD in English, and you don't know what delusory means?" he replied.

"Of course I know. I just wondered what you thought it might mean." I handed him the book. He read the sentence I had marked.

"It means delusional," he said. He handed the book back to me.

I read for a bit longer. Grip had put down his newspaper and was staring out the window.

"Why didn't you go to work today?" I asked.

"I wanted to spend the afternoon with you," he said.

"Ah," I said.

To this day I don't know why I said this. This would be the part of the meltdown that is my fault.

"Why did you leave your wife?" I said.

I expected him to be angry, but he simply sighed and stared at the floor. Then he turned and told me this little gem of a story.

"About two years after our wedding, a buddy of mine invited me to go to conference about thinking positive and building confidence. It was a three day thing and I really just went to support my friend because he was having a hard time. Well the whole seminar was about positive thinking and believing in yourself and making decisions based on who you want to be and it totally changed my life. I realized within half a day that I had married Meg because I had been too scared to try to get someone better. I realized I had married her based on an idea of myself that I didn't want to live anymore. Once I knew I could do better than Meg, there was no way I could live with her anymore. I moved out as soon as I got back."

I, speechless, considered a moment before answering.

"Did she love you?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. Then he whipped around in his chair and gave me the anger I had been expecting ten lines ago.

"It's like you," he said, crossing his arms over his chest. "You with your reserve and your quietness and your ridiculous ideas."

"Me?" I said. I had no idea that the end of his marriage had been about me. I couldn't wait to hear more.

"Yeah, you. You live this tiny little life with, as far as I can see, nothing in it. You like me, so don't try to pretend you don't. There are at least ten ways of preventing pregnancy, and yet your refuse to have sex with me and don't even give me a reason." Then he threw his hands up in the air and stomped off the to kitchen. I could hear him making espresso. My heart was beating so fast I thought it might pop right out of my chest, grow legs, scurry into the kitchen and kick him square in the ass.

Perhaps I should have mentioned before: I was not sleeping with Grip, nor anything near it. I didn't want to. It was too early and I was unsure of him in at least nine different ways. Plus I didn't want to and there is also a rule, among people raised in plaid skirts and knee socks, about not doing it. (But I won't pretend that rule was driving my behavior. The not wanting to was far more operative).

So I read a few sentences and waited. He returned. He handed me a tiny cup of coffee. I wriggled back into my shoes and waited for it to get worse, which it did.

"It's like, you know," he sat again at the window. "It's like we are different on some cultural level or something. There's no reason for us not to have sex and you act like there is no reason for us TO have sex. Ridiculous."

"There isn't," I said. I put my book back in my bag and moved to the other end of the couch.

"Great!" he said. "That's just great! Next I bet you'll try to tell me it's some kind of thing about morals or something. Jesus!"

This is the point at which I started laughing, but it was nervous laughing, the sort that also makes a person cry and also, regretably, makes a person's hands shake uncontrollably. Very inconvenient if one is trying to shrug into one's coat and flee the apartment of a madman.

Grip stared at me, astonished.

"Are you," he gasped, "crying?"

"Whatever it is, I am doing it," I stammered. By then I was on my feet and half way to the door. He came after me.

"Baby, what did I say?"

This is the part where he put his arms around me and was backing me up against the wall and was looking at me with almost believable compassion. Next was the part where I tried to wriggle free. But no luck! He grabbed my face with his hand and started kissing me. To his credit, he let go of me when I said "stop."

I left without another word.

Grip, poor fellow, has been calling me off and on for five years. The messages have ranged from abject begging to pathetic, tearful, mega-abject grovelling. A maximum of three a year, a minimum of one.

Here is the one I got in December:


Hi Nina, this is Grip Spitzer. I know it's really strange that I am calling you, but I just woke up and I just had the strangest really strong feeling that should call you. Um, well, there is more to it than that, but I think there is something that we really seriously missed out on, um and, so, I guess what I am asking, if you are still single would you please, please have a cup of coffee with me? Because, um, I think that I was really really really not ready, and not who I am now in terms of what I want out of life when I met you, and um, I should have grabbed onto you and held on to you with all my might when I had the chance. So, um, if you could, give me a call, ---,---,----. Hope you are doing well. Bye.

Do you think he means, perhaps, that he is now ready in terms of you know, doing better than the wife he abandonned? Might I be the lucky woman he considers up to his standard? Or does he perhaps mean that he is not who he was in terms of, you know, being prepared not to bully a woman into flinging her underwear on a lampshade just because he wants her to? What do you think he might be ready for? Who might he be now?

Well.

What do you say we never find out?

Happy Thursday, and thank you for reading.

21 comments:

Finn said...

My darling, I must argue Grip's case a bit. Not that I don't think you were 100% right (the fact that you didn't want to sleep with him says it all to me) about letting him go without a fight; I just see this from the other side.

It is possible that he misspoke when he indicated that he could "do better" than Meg. I am in a marriage where I believe I "settled" for my partner because I didn't believe anyone else would ask. He's a wonderful man who will make a wonderful husband for someone else. He's simply not the right person for me. It's not a matter of doing "better" or "worse," it's just a matter of compatibility. Does that make sense?

On the other hand he could just be a complete fucktard.

Em said...

Well, what a lovely guy. The fact that he turned on you for asking a reasonable question about his divorce makes him a bit of an ass. And so does his declaration that he married his wife because he was too afraid to try to get "someone better". Like Finn says it isn't about better or worse, it's about compatibility. Clearly, Grip thinks on a different level though. Hopefully his wife found herself "someone better". No great loss for you, for sure.

Avitable said...

Wowser.

Jennifer said...

wow. not even sure what to say about him. but i'm glad you left that situation. and i hope he doesn't know where you live. :S
have a good thursday too! hugs, jenn

Ki said...

Uh. It's none of my business, but I fully support ignorance in this case.

A guy who can just abandon a WIFE because he can do better, shouldn't be trusted with another person's heart.

nightfly said...

This is the craziest thing, but I actually have written a story with a character named Grips. No joke.

You're well clear of him, and I vote that you stay that way.

Dan said...

I match Avitable's wowser, and raise it a Blimey.

Kate P said...

My mom-mom said people never really change. Not that much.

"your reserve and your quietness and your ridiculous ideas"?

Reaction 1: I'm recalling the mom in the movie (based on the play) Little Voice where the mom with aspirations to the dramatic life tells her longtime pal, "You--you're too quiet to be my friend--fuck off."

Reaction 2: Anybody who tells you that your ideas are ridiculous doesn't sound like supportive mate material to me. (I speak from personal experience.)

Not to sound scandalous, and I don't put much stock in this, but I heard mercury's in retrograde. . . somewhere. . . you get the chance to review/revisit some stuff and get a good look at how/why things went wrong. And why you're well out of them.

jen said...

Change your number, perhaps?

Nina said...

Finn, Thank you for sharing this. Your comment really made me think. Of course Grip meant something a bit different from what he said. I was just offended that he would walk out on a marriage and act as if he were proud of the fact. I am sorry that you feel as if you might have been happier if you had chosen someone else. In former years I have had opportunities to get married and I let them pass because it just didn't feel right. At least one of these guys would have made an excellent husband. But I don't regret letting those opportunities pass. My heart wasn't in it. That said, I would be a liar if I didn't say that I am heartsick about the fact that I will never have children. It is painful every minute of every hour of every day. In that sense, I would have been better off to have just married somebody. There was more to the Grip story I chose not to tell - be assured he is a fucktard and that a whole lot of his issue right now is that he hasn't found that "perfect person" he left his wife to look for.

Em. I have it on good authority that Meg did marry again and is happy. Grip obviously is not and there is some justice in that, I think.

Wowser, bowser. Oh and Dan raised you a Britney.

Jenn, he doesn't know where I live. He isn't that kind of stalker and I wouldn't be worried if he were. My building watches out for everyone who lives here. My doormen would know it instantly if I went missing.

Ki, yep. That's the main reason I walked out of his apartment. The transgressiveness was the secondary reason, but it would have been enough, too.

Dan, yeah. This is my life. Not very glamorous, is it?

Kate P, Someone else mentioned something about retrograde of mercury or something. That would explain why I have been in full nostalgia mode for the last few weeks, right?

Jen, I am just a tiny bit prideful and these messages, though annoying, give me just a tiny bit of pleasure. After all, I can always say that there is one (horrible man) on earth who has not successfully forgotten me. Now if I can only get someone worth a flip to want me like this.... Ah, that would be great.

country roads said...

I've said some retarded things before, but this guy beats me hands down.

malinthemiddle said...

I can't believe you let such a prize get away. And people wonder why I don't want a boyfriend...

Crystal said...

Oh crap! I was so emmersed in this post I can't even remember who's blog I jumped over from...I think it was Jennifer. I am so saving you to my blog roll! That was a damn good post and I loved how you handled it...PERFECTLY!!

My Reflecting Pool said...

I'm sure this was an episode on Guiding Light. Only You didn't play your part right. Where was the drama?? ( said dripping with sarcasm)

Good thing you had a smart head on those shoulders. You could tell him that he is not the guy of your potential and he needs to stop because the guy he'd like to see himself as would not approve. :)

utenzi said...

Whew. There's a lot of issues being exposed here, Nina. It doesn't sound like either of you are in good shape for a relationship--but what else is out there? We are what we are.

Woodrow said...

"Baby, what did I say?"

Ha! That guy is hilarious. Please don't change your number and please, please, please, share every word of any future voice mails from the Gripster.

Liz said...

Thanks for furthering my belief that the penis-laden creatures are ALL fucktards.

Nina said...

Country Roads, he's amazing, right?

Mal, you and me both. I am sooo done.

Crystal, Hi and thanks for stopping by! I am glad I got rid of Grip, yes indeed. Thanks for the add, too. :-)

Pool, you know, he IS a lawyer. That's the very sort of thing he'd care to argue with me. Maybe I'll call him up and we'll have that cup of coffee anyway. Oh wait. Nah....

Utenzi, you already knew I had issues. But come on, man, can I pick 'em, or what?

Woodrow, I know, I know. Maybe I'll unearth the "stamped in eternity message" - I have it saved on one my many old computers. It is hi-larious.

Liz, I can't tell you how I chuckled when I read "penis-laden" - because gee... I mean laden. Think of it. Awesome. Are they all fucktards? Only if they are dating me, as near as I can tell. My opinion of the male creature has improved substantially since I stopped making out with them. They improve dramatically when there is no making out or any suggestion of it.

Liz said...

Nina,

Your comment, My opinion of the male creature has improved substantially since I stopped making out with them. They improve dramatically when there is no making out or any suggestion of it.
rings so true! When people suggest that lesbians hate men, I always say, Why would lesbians hate men? They have no reason to!

I kiss princes and they turn into toads.

UrbanHippieMama said...

ok, ok.. i take back my advice about calling him back. don't.

great story, though!! ;)

Nina said...

Liz, I like me much better now. I am sticking with this plan until I absolutely cannot help myself anymore.

Urbanhippiemama, I did think about calling him back just because it would be something like fun to see him again and see what all the fuss is about. But nah, perhaps not.