i was a little hasty in putting all my eggs in Tread-Lightly’s basket. let me be real with you, internet. and admit my folly. i’m sorry but i haven’t met anybody i really liked in such a long time. i thought it could be the Real Thing you know. (always so hopeful and responsive…well, these are not bad qualities.)
last week he called and cancelled a date pretty last-minute—he called around 4:30 and was supposed to pick me up at 6. he said he had gotten some horrible news that day—news so horrible he couldn’t face going to work. he had hoped he would be able to psych himself up in time to go out with me—in fact that was partially why he stayed home—but he was still a wreck, so. apologies, can we reschedule. i have to stay home and be alone and maybe call `my folks.’ my God! well what is this dreadful news? one naturally asks. news so horrible you have to stay home from work? well i don’t know. he didn’t want to tell me ‘yet.’ he said if he started talking about it he would start crying again and he didn’t want to do that. he did sound devastated. pressed (lightly!) he said something about leaving a lot of things behind in indiana and the inevitable changing nature of relationships and loss and what in the world does that mean. he says these fortune-cookie things.
of course you want to give people the benefit of the doubt…but since he didn’t tell me what the news was i had no way to tell whether something tragic really had happened or whether he was just acting like a fruitcake. a little background: the week before last we were supposed to meet somewhere and at the last minute he called and said there had been a death in the family and he needed to be available to talk on the phone…logistics, complications, etc…so i just went over to his house and listened to records which was a lovely evening anyway. but my God! who died? one asks. actually not a member of the family at all—the grandmother of a woman he grew up with. ‘we were both only children so we said she was my sister!’ he wanted to be around in case the `sister’ needed to talk to him on the phone. but evidently she did not. probably because she’s a normal person—who was probably sad about her grandmother dying but didn’t need to talk to Tread-Lightly about it. especially since they aren’t related and the grandmother had apparently been suffering with alzheimer’s for years. (a little more background: my actual grandmother actually died two months ago. we were very close. it was very sad; it still is.) (not that sadness is a competitive sport but. you see what i’m getting at here.)
i have a new working theory which is that everyone over the age of thirty—and it goes double for people over the age of thirty-five—who is out there looking is alone for a reason. and self-aware people can articulate the reason. (i just asked Dolor outright—after i told him my reason*—‘so, why are you alone?’ ‘i was really fat for a lot of my 20s and have really low self-esteem.’ bam. succinct. admirable.) it’s not necessarily always a sinister reason. like: ‘i was on a submarine for years and i didn’t meet many women.’ ‘i was in grad school and i was really poor.’ ‘married young went badly.’ etc. i’m just saying that there’s usually just one relatively simple explanation. i didn’t know what it could be with Tread-Lightly, so charming divine and handsome and whatever all i said, but i think i’m starting to get at the reason.
Dolor brought me a paint chip at work last week. while i was working. he just came in, laid it on the bar. i said thanks, felt embarrassed. my boss and my fellow bartender were flummoxed. they being, you know, rather socially adept people. ‘what is it?’ ‘it’s a paint chip. for the color “grayish.”‘ ‘…’ ‘well he was painting his kitchen and he showed me a bunch of the colors he was considering. and i thought this one was hilarious—because you know they all have names like “intellectual gray” and “oysterbeds of maine” but this one, the paint-naming guy was just burned out, he just wanted to get home a little early that day. “this one, it’s just fucking grayish.” uh yeah. so. he remembered that i thought that was funny, i guess.’ yeah. my colleagues were impressed at the social awkwardness on display. ‘it just sums up our whole miserable little relationship! might have been his intent.’ (i texted him to thank him for the gift, asked him what he was up to that evening. ‘Despair,’ he wrote. with a capital D.)
i have an internet date tonight—after Tread-Lightly cancelled so mysteriously last week, i forced myself to consider that i’ll probably be forced to consider other possibilities. as despairing as i feel about that. i am pretty damn unenthusiastic about this suitor. too old for me. and too verbose. i mean i am pretty damn sure it’s going to be an ordeal, plain and simple. i don’t have the moral courage to cancel, though. grayish through and through.
* my affliction, you know.