Category Archives: personal relationships

Being Boring

What is the worst thing about your job? Is it the commute, the annoyingly loud coworker in the next cubicle, anyone from Marketing, the person who takes the last cup of coffee and doesn’t make more, the petty rules, the delay in getting replacement equipment? Well how about your coworkers, or rather, one in particular?

For me, it’s the latter. Most of the people in the department are pretty decent. I mean, there are some arseholes, skivers and generally obnoxious gits, but by and large we work well as a team and like each other. However, there is one person who until recently got under my skin like a deer tick.

Let me elaborate: We have three shifts, the first one running from 5.30 until 2 pm. This is a brutal shift at the best of times as the opener only has 30 minutes to make sure everything is ship shape before opening the department, and  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, as I just can’t imagine having lunch at 10 am. One of our openers, the one who gets under my skin is a middle aged woman who is much, much farther along the Aspergers/Autism spectrum than me. A blind man on a speeding horse could see that, so to say that  it’s obvious is something of an understatement. Her one redeeming feature is that she is very good at her job, and I know that as the mid shift person, I will get a very, very full briefing on all the events of the day so far and numerous updates during the three and a half hours we work together, and that’s where the problems start.

She will perseverate on the smallest of details. Anything that has happened in her life is apparently worthy of relating, including her nieces and nephews not liking whatever she had prepared for dinner, the lack of a product in stock, the arrival of the next load, in fact anything that has happened to her or she has seen in the past week. It used to drive me fucking nuts until like Baldrick, I had a cunning plan.

I would simply tune her out. I will make the occasional sound of acknowledgement, but don’t engage in any meaningful way unless I have to, and I try not to have to. I know she can’t help it, in fact, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even realise she’s doing it as she gets on with her work. Two things still get to me, no matter what I do. She will end even the most mundane of statements or observations by laughing as if she’s just delivered a razor sharp one liner. Maybe she genuinely thinks she’s being funny, but it happens pretty much every time she finishes a sentence. The other thing is her habitual attempts to upsell. If there is one thing I dislike with a passion when it comes to sales, it’s anyone who tries to upsell to me. In fact, if someone does that to me, I just leave and don’t even complete my initial purchase. I know that sounds like going too far, but I refuse to be manipulated into spending more that I have to, or buying something I hadn’t intended to at someone else’s urging, especially if that person has a vested interest in my purchase.

You see, we very often run offers and “Big Board Sales”, where various products may be offered at 60 percent of their regular price. Not just in the deli, but in every department in the store. This is a regular part of our life, and when the deli has anything either on offer, or on the Big Board we get slammed. Big Board items are advertised on standing boards both outside and immediately inside the entrances in font so large it can’t be missed. To give one recent example, we have prepackaged salami on sale, specifically 7 ounce sampler packs, which are selling well due to the number of parties taking place around Christmas.

I may be taking a bit of a leap here, but I work under the premise that all of our customers who happen to be of high school age or above are able to read at least at at high school level and possess the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. Not so my coworker. Several times this week, as she handed a customer their order she went on to describe in great detail the salami, what the pack contained, the price and where to find it. Every time, every single time, the customer looked back without making eye contact, smiled weakly and thanked her before hurrying away as fast as possible to the furthest corner of the store. The only way I can describe it is to ask you to imagine the look on someone’s face as they are accosted on the bus by the guy across the aisle who is expounding on some bizarre conspiracy theory.

She even tried to get another of my coworkers to do the same. As he’s a sensible, well adjusted chap he demurred. She hasn’t asked me, as I’m pretty sure even she gets the fact that I will never upsell. I know all the above sounds mean, and to some extent it is. In fact, George Bernard Shaw put it perfectly when he said:

“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity”.

The problem is that it’s the only way I can keep my sanity. I’m not mean to my coworker. It’s just that she has no conversation, no interests, no opinions on anything other than her family and work. She’s very good at her job, and within five minutes of starting my shift I know exactly what has happened, the state of our stock, anything of note, and for that I appreciate her and am most grateful. I just wish I knew of a better way to get through half a shift with her.

Suggestions on a $20 bill to Singledad Towers, please.

 

 

 

 

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I Know It’s Over

As you are now all painfully aware, the five year relationship with my girlfriend ended a few weeks ago. See “Five Years” for more details.  To use a narrative metaphor, after the climax of a story comes the denouement, the extra couple of minutes at the end of a film, or the last few pages at the end of a novel that bring things to a nice tidy conclusion. In the case of relationships that denouement involves returning all the stuff that has been left at the other’s place over the years.

Even before our final phone conversation I had started to bag up all of her stuff: more toiletries than I had realised, assorted personal items, shoes, a table lamp and lots of clothes – in fact so many clothes that I now have significantly more storage space. We arranged a time and place to meet and I loaded all her stuff into the boot of my car in anticipation of our meeting. There was one thing, however, that I didn’t load. You see, my ex girlfriend has a pet Tenrec.  As it’s a  nocturnal animal, it’s a good fit for her, as she can be at home when the animal is active, something that drew her to Tenrecs, having previously owned a pair of Sugar Gliders. The Gliders weren’t travelers, but she wanted to bring Couscous with her, so she bought a smaller habitat to leave at my place.

I asked her about the “Country House” and she said that as she had nowhere to put it and didn’t need it, I should keep it. I assumed she’d want it back in order to have one for her next/new boyfriend’s house, but apparently not.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, she called me a week ago yesterday to let me know that she was on the boat, so I prepared to head down to meet her. Except that the car wouldn’t start. I’d had some problems with the battery previously, but now it was dead. There was no way the trickle charger would give me enough of a boost in the half hour I had, so I texted her, explained the situation and asked her to come to the house. Wrong move.

She said that she couldn’t take the time to come over as she had to be back in the city in the early afternoon and accused me of playing games. I explained again, and was very annoyed that after five years together she wouldn’t even spare me one hour for this. She told me that I’d have to come over to the city as she’d made a good faith effort. I eventually got the car going and bought a new battery at Costco, (texting her a photo of the receipt and adding the message “See?”) which my son helped my install the next day.

Fast forward to yesterday: We had agreed a time and place to meet in the city and I duly set off and drove up from the ferry terminal to meet her. I couldn’t find it. The name of the establishment was nowhere to be seen, and as Capitol Hill has a bastard of a traffic plan I ended up driving around in squares, occasionally pulling over to read her texts and reply. I found the place almost by chance due to the fact that I was driving north along the street and caught a glimpse of the restaurant she’d mentioned. It was in an above grade mini mall and totally invisible from the other direction.

She’d driven to what she regarded as an easier location, so I had to hang around until she came back as I didn’t fancy another 45 minutes driving around the city. She turned up a few minutes later and took the space next to mine. She was reasonably friendly and we began swapping our gear. I was over the fact that our relationship was over, but I did feel somewhat resentful of her choice, asking “A place that’s impossible to see, you call that a good location?” Her response was to say that decent parking is difficult to find in the city. I can pretty much understand her not wanting me to come to  her house, even though that would be the easiest thing, but I find it hard to believe that a mini mall parking lot apparently built on top of a supermarket in a busy part of town was the best place for us to meet.

I will admit that having such a hard time finding the parking lot and her refusal to compromise a week earlier had put me in a bad mood and I’m afraid it showed. There was one thing I couldn’t get off my mind, so I said ” Just one question, who is he?” she replied “There’s no one else, there’s no one else.” “It always pays to have a back up” I replied, then got back in the car and drove off.

I suppose I could have dealt with the situation better, and in retrospect I do feel somewhat bad about how it all ended, but  I just didn’t have it in me to wish her all the best, good luck, or anything like that.

So, that’s it then, I suppose. Five years of relationship down the Swannee. All those vacations, presents, nights out, nights in, dinner parties, movies, concerts, all now just so much electricity zipping around the neurons of my memory. I suppose I should have seen this coming. She’d been pulling away for a few months, our sex life had pretty much come to a halt as she’d been sick for a while and as a result of going through “The Change” she’d issued a Diktat about how sex would be in the future, which is not exactly the most romantic text I’ve ever received, to put it lightly.

We were never actually going to live together, as she won’t live anywhere except in a city, and I’m not going to move away from the kids. The time we did spend together was almost entirely on her terms: my home had to be adjusted to meet her needs, and my needs had to be adjusted to meet her home. I’m pondering all this as I type, and I do have to wonder if I’m actually capable of being in a long term relationship. I mean, my interpersonal skills are far from the highest order, I’m neither the tidiest nor the most thoughtful person in the world, and even after all these years, I can’t seem to break myself of the habit of keeping secret things that don’t really need to be kept secret.

It really makes me wonder if I’m just wasting my time on dating websites and if I should just give up. My recent form doesn’t really give me much cause for hope, but I simply can’t bear the thought of being on my own for the rest of my life. I realise what an apocalyptic statement that is, but let’s be honest,  my performance in the relationship field has been less than stellar.

Once again, I don’t have a snappy ending for this post as it’s not really that kind of post, but if you have any single female friends, bear me in mind the next time any of them mention that they’re looking for a date. A boy can dream, right?

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Oops I Did It Again.

“Did What again?” I hear you ask. Well, fucked up big time yet again by misreading a social situation. let me start by saying that I’d hoped that this post would be titled “The Sweetest Girl”, partly because Green Gartside has one of the most wonderful voices of all time and Scritti Politti never got the acclaim and recognition they deserve. How this post ended up bearing the title of one of the crappiest songs of all time sung by one of the least talented performers of all time is a cautionary tale.

During the summer I came into contact with someone new. Somewhat younger than me, outstandingly beautiful and very sweet and friendly with a smile that could melt through bank vaults. Over the course of several weeks she was very attentive and we had a number of interesting conversations about a number of subjects including our kids. On one evening we spent a couple of hours getting to know each other and she seemed very comfortable having me around, something I took as a good sign.

For a couple of weeks she was in Europe and had agreed to send me a postcard, and even texted me some pictures from her trip. Just to backtrack a little, a week or so prior to this she had tried to give me her phone number, but being a knucklehead I missed the (alas misinterpreted) cue and only later realised what I’d done and had to scramble frantically to find a way to give her my number. One would have thought that when a woman tries to give you her phone number for no explicitly stated reason, or under some other pretext she must be interested in pursuing some sort of relationship, or at least be open to the possibility.

I ran the details past two friends of mine, one male, one female, and both agreed that based on the evidence it would not be unreasonable to assume that the young lady in question was interested in me, so I took heart from this and waited for her return from foreign shores.

A couple of nights ago I took the opportunity to see her ( lest you get the wrong impression, this was in no way a date, but rather an opportunity to meet her).
We talked for quite a while about her trip and various subjects and as I was about to leave I said “I’d really like to take you out to dinner”. I have never seen so many conflicting emotions cross one face in so short of time as her brain tried frantically to process what I’d just said and clawed frantically at the air, Wylie Coyote style to regain the cliff edge of sanity: confusion, shock, alarm, confusion, panic, dread, confusion, realisation and a number of others.

It was then that I learned the truth. I had been led to believe that she is divorced, but although she was divorced, she is also married. Naturally this took the edge off my good mood as well as giving me the experience of being overwhelmed with a tsunami of conflicting emotions, so I suppose that made us even. The weird thing is that she then apologised for giving me the wrong impression. There was no need at all for her to apologise, as I made quite clear, explaining that I’d come to a wrong conclusion based on faulty and incomplete information. I made my apologies and left suitably chastened.

This is a situation that I have faced before but with different details. One effect of being on the Asperger’s spectrum is lacking the ability to read subtext. It now appears that I lack the ability to read text as well. You neurotypicals have it so easy and you don’t even know it. Seriously, the ability to read between the lines is something you do all day every day. Imagine how much harder that is for someone who doesn’t even realise that the lines are there in the first place!

I guess I should have known that a woman like her wouldn’t be interested is someone like me even if she was unattached. In fact I’m pretty sure that if she and I were the only human beings to survive the apocalypse she’d spend all of her time digging through the rubble searching for fresh batteries. Ah well, you live and learn, well, you live, anyway.

As I’m now single again this incident doesn’t bode well for the future. It was bad enough the last time and seeing as I’ve decided to stay this side of the water I’m looking at a much smaller pool of potential dates. Actually, it’s not so much a pool as a small puddle to be honest. One other thing to bear in mind is that unless I change my social situation completely I’m going to run into her on a regular basis. I really don’t want to do that and I hope that I won’t have to. One thing in my favour is that at no time did I actually hit on her in any way. Our conversations were always on safe topics and at no time did I make any gesture or movement that could be interpreted as threatening nor did I ever take the conversation anywhere near any mildly risque subject. Something else that may make life easier is that I apologised for my misreading of the situation and am not the sort of person who blames someone else for my ineptitude.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person she’s had to disabuse of his perception of the situation and with luck and some delicate footwork I may avoid any awkwardness in the future.

 

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(Just Like) Starting Over.

Editorial: My last post, “Numbers”, resulted in me acquiring five new followers. Thank you to those of you who have just started following me, and welcome aboard. In all honesty I’d really like to know how you found my blog.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

It may come as no surprise to those of you who read “Five Years” to learn that only three days after my ex’s “On a break” phone call I reactivated my online dating profiles as I’d already decided that we were done and saw no reason to sit around moping and wasting time. I did have some trepidation over the whole thing. I’m six years older than I was when I last entered the dating pond, am actually pretty much the same weight as I was then, but I’m a little greyer around the chin and my dating skills, poor as they are, had been rusting for the previous five, like a lawnmower left in a drafty shed.

I also remember how expensive the whole undertaking was, especially when ferry fares were factored in. I therefore made the decision to only date this side of the water, a decision that severely limited my options, but with my work schedule, commuting just wasn’t an option. I duly updated my profile, answered some more of the endless series of questions and began looking. My main fear was that my inability to read social cues as well as general awkwardness around new people would put off potential dates. As it was a choice between biting the bullet, trusting to luck or just giving up, I chose door number one.

I do have to ask, ladies, why the reversion to silence? I can understand not responding to an initial message from someone who isn’t your type, but why just stop sending messages after a few exchanges? Why not say “I don’t think we’re right for each other, good luck in your search”? It would make life so much simpler, and I wouldn’t spend three days waiting for a reply that will never come. Ah well, such is life.

Naturally, I had little response to my outreach and I have to say that the programmers really need to work on their algorithm. Many of the women who popped up in my “Daily matches” tab were most definitely not my type in the slightest. What is the point of filling out a profile and clicking boxes only for the site to send you alleged matches that are totally unsuitable? However despite all this I engaged in a conversation with a woman who lives nearby. We had a mutual interest in a number of English new wave bands and decided to meet for a drink. I will say that I really don’t like the endless game of message tennis that seems to form so much of online dating, as I’d much rather just meet and get it over with. As I said in the dim and distant past, at worst, you’ve had an evening out.

The meeting seemed to go fairly well, and we ended up leaving as the bar was closing. My date’s occupation of “alternative healer” sent my woo detector up to 11, especially as she said she’d developed the regimen she practices. Oh boy! Don’t get me started on hippie wellness woo. In fact, head over to Skeptoid.com and take a look at all the bullshit that litters the field of “Wellness” and you’ll get some idea of where I’m coming from.

My instincts turned out to be right when she said she’d be going out of town on a retreat when I suggested we get together again.  I know what I said in the paragraph above, but she was tall, athletic, interesting and funny, so why not see where it led? Of course, when I texted her to ask when she’d be back, answer came there none. Ah well. I will, however, be visiting the bar again soon, as their IPA was very nice, if slightly too hoppy.

A few days after the date I received a message from someone who did interest me. One of the sites I use is aimed at people in my age group, and although I get messages and views on a regular basis, none of the women have raised my attention. This one was different, though. I won’t give much away, except to say that like me, she’s an immigrant and  has an accent. English is her second language, but not that that matters. We sent messages, then texted and agreed to meet for dinner at a local taqueria. I’d never even heard of it, despite living around here for some time, so it made no difference to me. She arrived before me and was waiting in her car when I parked. She seemed really sweet and her pictures didn’t do her justice.

I know I’m suspicious but I did wonder about her choice of venue. As she talked with the cashier I couldn’t help but imagine that she was saying something along the lines of “This is our first date, if this Gringo gets out of line, can you have Manuel come out of the kitchen and beat the crap out of him, please?” Anyway, intervention was not needed. We sat and chatted for over two hours, she telling me all about her awful marriage in great detail, and me telling her about my less horrendous but equally loveless one.

We certainly got along well, and began texting each other multiple times a day. Five days after our initial meeting she asked if we could talk on the phone. I was home at 7.30, so once I was fed and changed, I called her. We had a 3 1/2 hour conversation. Seriously. I had intended to watch the Liverpool V. Cardiff match once I was settled, so I had to push it back to nearly midnight. I’m not complaining, especially as the following morning we had a long text exchange that I will admit touched on certain subjects that don’t often come up before a second date.

Mind you, a 3 1/2 hour phone call during which we both had a drink, sherry for me, tequila for her, could, I suppose, count as a second date. Things went well, and we agreed to get together the following Sunday, which was yesterday. On Thursday I hadn’t heard from her by mid morning, and it came as no surprise that after contacting her she responded, saying she had pink eye. Hmm, I thought, more like cold feet than anything else. Her later texts announced that she didn’t want to date as her Seasonal Affective Disorder makes it hard for her to be around people, and she hates Christmas. Great. Just fantastic. I knew it was too good to be true, so I left it at that and went back to my routine.

Imagine my surprise this evening when she texted me! She apparently had had second thoughts, and as she’d just eaten, is an early riser, and it was getting a little late, the chance to get together right away had slipped by. We texted for quite some time, and it felt like we just carried on where we’d left off. She likes me, and has said so, so I don’t know what to think. We’re meeting for breakfast tomorrow, as she’ll be up early anyway and I have a late start.

I’m thoroughly confused but willing to see where this goes. I know where I’d like it to go, but I’m certainly not going to push my luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Five Years

About two weeks ago I received a text from my “On a break” sweetie asking if we could talk. I put her off for a few days as I wasn’t really in the mood to talk to her and had already decided that we were done. I did think about sending her a text saying as much but decided not to. By this point I had already been on two dates (of which, more later), having reactivated my dating site accounts about three days after her telling me that we were on a break.

I had already bagged up all her toiletries, but left her clothes in the closet as I don’t really have a better place for them. As you can see, I’d already moved on, having realised that I  was the one making all the effort and getting very little in return. When the phone call did take place, it was all over in about two minutes. Of course, she had decided that we were done, no surprise there, and from my text agreeing to the call, she had reached the same conclusion regarding yours truly.

We had always joked to people that if we did ever split up, there’d be a custody battle over the espresso machine, but as it turned out, she said that I could keep it. Too bloody right, I was keeping it. I know it was given to us by a friend of hers, but she’s pretty much given up drinking coffee, except for the occasional purchased breve, but she also has nowhere to put it in her kitchen as it is too tall to fit in the space between the counter and the cupboards. I told her that I had intended to keep it anyway, and she didn’t argue. She would have been a real dog in a manger to do so, and we both knew it, so it ended there.

I told the kids about it last night, and my daughter claimed that she had “Sort of seen it coming”. I’m not convinced that I believe her, but she is a very astute girl, so I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. It seems a bit weird that a five year relationship should end with such a sudden whimper, but I guess I had seen it coming too.

To be honest, not having to schlep over to Seattle every other weekend either directly from work or very early on Sunday morning has been very refreshing. I’ve enjoyed long lies in, had time to myself, done some cooking and been able to watch the Liverpool game without the need to balance a laptop on my knees and wear headphones. I know the above sounds selfish, but when you have no time to yourself, life can be a little wearing. To be honest, the first weekend I had to myself this year was in mid June when my now ex sweetie was away in Fiji and the kids were in Hawaii. Six months without a weekend to myself. Seriously, is it expecting too much to want some time in one’s own head and not have to fit housework, shopping and all the rest around other people’s schedules? I really don’t think so, at least, not for a single guy. Marriage is a full time commitment, but at least with marriage you have a partner with whom to share the load. Usually.

A lot has happened over the last five years, most of it good. We took several trips, including a week in Hawaii, I’ve learned a bit about wine, been introduced to the music of The Old 97s, seen films I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, visited new restaurants and had my horizons otherwise broadened. I’ll go into greater detail in a later post or two, but my recent dates have been quite encouraging, one of them extremely so, and that gives me some hope. I mean, I’m now five years older than I was at the start of my most recent relationship, and one does wonder about one’s shelf life, especially at my age. I will admit that I’ve lost some weight this year due largely to my decreased drinking, increased walking and improved eating habits, but still, there’s always an element of self doubt regarding one’s own attractiveness to others.

I do also wonder about my ability to maintain a long term relationship. Maybe my Aspergers and general selfishness and lack of empathy mean I’m not going to find someone with whom to live out my years, but that way madness lies, so I’m not going to think about that too much in case I go into an emotional death spiral.

I do wonder, however if she had started seeing someone else before we ended it. She took herself off for a weekend a few months ago, to “Think things over” and I did wonder then if anything was going on. She didn’t travel on her own for the first four years we were together and I admit that I examined the picture she sent me very closely for any sign of a second person, but that may just have been my natural paranoia.

I don’t have a snappy ending for this post, maybe because the end was so anti-climactic and unemotional. However, having made the decision to move on, I feel much better in and about myself. Details to follow.

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Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.

My Dad usually visits from mid June until Late July so he can be here for the kid’s birthdays, however this year his medical appointments meant a later than usual visit. This wasn’t a big deal, as I’d much rather see him than not, obviously, but this meant that his visit would overlap with our fifth anniversary, which my sweetie and I had intended to celebrate with a trip out of town, as is our tradition. Not to fear, though, as I arranged for him to spend several days with the kids and their mum, giving him extra time with them, even though the school year had started and they would be out of the house most of the day.

After some confusion, we found a place, made arrangements and were anticipating a quiet weekend in a cabin with a great water view. So far, so good ( that’s called foreshadowing, folks). We planned to be back in the city on the actual night of our anniversary and I fully expected that as usual we would go out to any one of several very nice restaurants for a meal as eye – wateringly  expensive as it would be delicious. In light of this, my dad gave me $150 to put towards the cost of the meal as a way of assuaging his guilt over forgetting my sweetie’s birthday. A very nice gesture, and not one I expected, although characteristic of him as he regards birthdays as something he should remember, and the two of them get on very well.

I trousered said cash in the knowledge that I’d be able to cover the cost of the meal myself, and would explain all when the bill arrived, the surprise winning my Dad some bonus points into the bargain. We had a relaxing trip and duly headed back to the city on the Tuesday morning. We stopped for lunch on the way home and I asked my Sweetie what she wanted to do about dinner expecting to hear the name of some swanky eatery. Imagine my shock and surprise when she said that she wanted to eat in. Naturally I was disappointed, but didn’t want to force the issue, so I let it go and decided that I would put the cash aside and that I’d take her out to dinner the next time I was in the city.

We had a quiet night in and I headed off to work the next morning thinking nothing more of the situation, apart from a sense of disappointment at not having had the opportunity to dress up for an important night out.

Fast – forward to the last weekend of my Dad’s trip. He announced that he’d like to take us out for one last meal as a way of saying thank you for hosting him, and providing a neat end to his trip. I knew what was coming, but held my counsel. Dad is not a great lover of Mexican cuisine, largely because he doesn’t like rice and never developed a taste for spicy foods. Bear in mind that he grew up in a culture, time and place where turnips were considered a spice! There are no shortage of Mexican restaurants around here and we’d visited quite a few during his trip, so he was pretty much burned out on the idea

He wanted to revisit a restaurant in a nearby town to which my ex had taken him. Sure. He would be picking up the tab for all five of us, so he most certainly got to decide where we ate. This put my sweetie’s nose out of joint as she doesn’t like the town in question, being very sensitive to her surroundings and despising the very thought of malls, be they mini, strip or indoor. She also hates anything that appears “Corporate” even though we’d be visiting a standalone restaurant.

I’d told my Dad about not having a celebratory dinner and my intention to have one at the next opportunity, and during our dinner he made one of his signature stupid jokes, saying that I hadn’t taken my sweetie out to dinner so I could pocket the cash for my own use. Stony silence. Pluto at night cold. Nice one Dad. Seriously, very, very well done. Needless to say, nothing I said made any difference and the funereal atmosphere on the way home persisted. Dad went straight to bed, realising the damage he’d done. My sweetie sat at the table studiously ignoring me as my Son gave her some technical tips regarding her laptop.

Just after my son retired for the night she told me that she was heading home in a tone that left no room for debate and with a look that made Medusa’s stare look like a major come – on. Her final words before driving away were “We’ll talk about this later” in a tone that was all threat.

Not the best way to end an evening by any means, but there was nothing I could do to make her see reality. I explained what he’d done to my Dad the next morning, and he was suitably abashed. Of course, I was very angry with him, but kept a lid on it as his words hadn’t been malicious. On the way to the airport two days later I asked him to write to my sweetie once he got home and explain, but put little faith in it doing much good. With this in mind I sent my sweetie a text asking if we could talk, and the next day we had a very tense conversation during which she steadfastly refused to believe my explanation over my Dad’s joke. I have to say that this has been par for the course over the last few months, as she’s been willing to believe the worst about me and has been drawing away for some time.

Let me give you a brief example: I went over to her place a little while before my Dad arrived and found her in bed. Of course, I joined her, got comfortable and in the way you do, started to make my intentions and affections clear. Her reaction? “I haven’t seen you for two weeks. Sex is the last thing on my mind”. Direct quote. WTF? I mean, seriously, WTF? That put a veil over the weekend, I can tell you.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, she told me that we would be “On a break” , meaning that we would have no communication until she had decided whether the pluses of dating me outweigh the minuses. Well, to quote Agnes Brown, most famous creation of Irish comedian Brendan O’Carroll, “That’s nice”. If you’ve ever seen “Mrs. Brown’s Boys” you’ll know exactly what that means.

I went through the five stages of grief pretty quickly considering we’ve been together for five years, and I have come to the conclusion that no matter her decision, we’re done. I’m done. I’ve had enough of making all the effort, always being the one to make compromises, do all the commuting so we can spend time together, putting up with all her proscriptions, dislikes and biases, always having to justify working retail and my work schedule.

So with that in mind I’ve reactivated my online dating profiles and am once more back in the pool, as it were. I’ve already had some promising responses and had a first meeting with someone last night. I have also met someone through my social group and I have to say that I’m very taken with her, and even though I read subtext about as well as I read ancient Greek, I think she likes me. This particular situation, however is one that I will be approaching very cautiously as I think it will take time and a subtle approach to avoid messing up in my usual spectacular manner.

Anyway, that’s how things stand. I have yet to hear any sort of response from my now former sweetie, so I will just have to wait and see. I wonder which of us will be more surprised by our next conversation.

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A Forest.

It’s been a tumultuous few months here at the new Singledad Towers. I picked up a job at a real estate office, but was told just a couple of months in that I “wasn’t a good fit” for the job, whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean. This left me scrambling for some way to pay the rent, and for no other reason than I found it, I applied for a seasonal job at my local supermarket selling Christmas trees. I got an invitation to an interview which went well and returned home to find a voicemail on my phone. Could I come back in for a drug screening? The interviewers had called me pretty much as soon as the door closed and had hoped to catch me before I left the store, but seeing as I saw no point in bringing my phone with me, the call was waiting for me at home, so I did an about face and returned immediately.

The popular image of drug screening involves peeing into a cup, but hold on. Now it involves holding a sponge against the side of your mouth for a couple of minutes and then placing said swab in a tube. Phew! If you are anything like me, then Shankly help you. No, seriously, peeing in public is not my thing, nor yours, I hope. This happened because they offered me the job.  My sweetie and I had a Thanksgiving trip planned, and so the Tuesday after the holiday I reported for work, went through the initiation period and started the next day. To be clear, I’m the only person working trees 8/5, with other staff being assigned to the post on a daily basis, which means I’m the only constant. Yeah, the new guy is the only person who’s always there. Actually, many people at the store have worked in trees over the years, so it’s not as if no one has ever done the job before. I’m outside for eight hours a day in the PNW winter, which can be a bit nippy at times, but the donning of my patented Bronko Nagurski  long underwear meant that I was proofed against the morning and evening chills, and truth be told, I was often sweating due to the exertions involved.

We receive trees by the truckload which are dumped in the parking lot and then have to be sorted by size and species into a coherent stack. Imagine dragging 250+ trees ranging from five to nine feet tall into organised piles and then moving them over to the sales area. Then imagine helping customers by carrying their tree to the place where we give he trunk a fresh cut and then loading it onto their vehicle. A lot of people have trucks, which makes life easy, but imagine lifting a nine foot tree onto the roof of a Suburban and then tying it down. It takes a while, and involves quite a bit of effort, especially if you are a fat, lazy, unfit bastard like me. Imagine doing that 30 times a day as well as sweeping up loose needles and branches, dragging over fresh stock to fill the gaps and answering a multitude of questions.  To say that I was knackered by the end of the day is an understatement. I know how unfit I am, and this has driven it home to me. My legs and arms ache by the end of the day and only the  prospect of a very hot bath with lots of lavender Epsom Salts and a very large vodka and tonic at the end of the day have kept me going.

The above bitchfest notwithstanding, I’ve really enjoyed myself. My coworkers are all great people who have made me feel very welcome and part of the team. The store has a lot of  long term employees, and I can see why: we are treated very well, get an employee discount and are treated as human beings with feelings. How many companies nowadays do that?  The customers have all been very friendly and understanding, and I’ve had quite a few enjoyable chats with people as I’ve tied trees onto the roofs of their cars.  I admit that I wake up in the night due to the numbness in my right hand, and that I ache all over, but to be honest, being outside all day has been good for me. I’ve had the opportunity to work in a team that actually cares and meet some truly nice people.

I really hope this turns into a permanent thing. the store manager told me one lunchtime that he wants to chat with me about what happens “after trees”, which sounds promising, as does the fact that my department manager has been sounding me out about which departments in which I would like to work. Fingers crossed.

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Filed under Christmas, personal relationships