the end was near

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

It was a dark time. My subconscious was beating me down. I had gone against character and left a job without notice, leaving a person that I liked hanging. It would be many days before I would stop replaying the argument that led up to my quitting in my head. I didn’t care about the person involved so much as I cared about my reaction to it. Those of us with anxiety are doomed to replay difficult events over and over in our heads. My only comfort was that I hadn’t changed my assessment of the situation. There was no way that I could show my face in there again. I still haven’t gone in. And this bothers me because I really want to offer Vinny an apology. He deserves that. I know that his behavior towards me, as disrespectful as it was, wasn’t personal. He liked me as a friend, at least in the beginning, and was fairly good to me. It’s not his fault that I refuse to allow myself to be treated poorly. I did him wrong and I will apologize to him. I’m not afraid, I just haven’t picked my moment. I suppose part of me is worried that he won’t let me get it out. It’s unlikely, but he might kick me out of the store and I wouldn’t blame him if he did. But it would bother me.

The bigger problem was my deteriorating relationship with my girl. I was making an effort but she was slipping away. I really couldn’t figure out what I did or was doing wrong (my go-to is always to blame myself) but something was definitely off. We argued at least once every weekend, the sex was decreasing in frequency and in passion (that part was always good) and when apart we barely spoke on the phone. When we did it didn’t feel right. As for our texts, I made the sad realization that if I didn’t reach out I wouldn’t hear from her at all. I knew it was over when I offered to come down during the week and she said no. I finally decided to call her on it. I knew we would fight soon enough and the next weekend didn’t disappoint. During some stupid drunk argument (her not me) I finally said, “Don’t people who are in a relationship want to talk to each other, and to see each other? Don’t people in a serious relationship think about the other when they wake up and go to bed?”
She made a face that said it all. Sort of a self-defeating “you’re right” face. She then began to tell me that we’re going too fast, that I’m too intense (I seem to remember her being the aggressor both sexually and in the ‘I love you’s’ department but whatever). She wanted to slow things down, let it flow organically. I thought it was bullshit but I said ok and asked her to define it. She wouldn’t, and as I knew it would be, going forward I had no fucking idea how to act around her. Which only added to the tension. She didn’t get that I needed more, that knowing the truth would really help me. It was then that she told me I was too sensitive.

A week later I arrived on a Saturday. I went to sit next to her on the sofa to watch a movie with her and she freaked out, started accusing me of “invading her personal space”. I was at a loss and was not prepared for the argument that ensued. She went to bed pissed off and I sat on the sofa thinking real hard about just leaving. But we had plans the next day to go to a cookout where I had (operative word) been excited about introducing her to my Mason friends. So I stuck around until morning.

I wasn’t very surprised to see her stumble out of the bedroom the next morning as pissed off as she went to bed. Like a frickin’ idiot I still stuck around for a couple of hours to see what would happen. Those hours consisted mostly of her playing with her phone as her hangover subsided. Then she went to the bathroom and when she came out she announced that she wasn’t feeling well and that I should leave. No hug. No goodbye. She just closed the door to her room. At that point there wasn’t much doubt. This ship had sailed. So I left.

I went to the cookout as planned. All of my buddies who had seen our supposedly great relationship play out of FB asked me where she was. I lied and told them that she just wasn’t feeling well, despite the fact that I knew what was really going on.

the notice

*this post is a continuation of a story. It will stand alone in many ways but for missing context please go back a few…*

One week after giving my notice there was an incident. The guy I was training was a young kid my son’s age. I disliked him from the start. From the day I was introduced to him, I could just tell that he was a wise little prick. His smug expression spoke volumes. I had him pegged and it took very little time to realize it. When I tried to show him things he was dismissive. When I told him the expectations of what we do when it was quiet, clean something, help stock the beer cooler, organize the walk-ins and storage areas, etc., he wanted nothing to do with it. He was a “specialist”, he only wanted to make pizzas and helped no one but himself. I was so glad I wouldn’t have to work with him for long.
I didn’t know that day that it wouldn’t be long at all.

As dinner hour arrived he was working alone. I jumped in to help him. It was par for the course to have help on that station at busy times, no one person could handle it. But when I went to help he burst out, “dude, what are you doing?!” in a very loud voice. The place just stopped. I gave him my best watch your mouth or I’ll pound you into little asshole Mcnuggets look. He persisted with the attitude so I yelled back, “what’s the problem, kid?” He went off on me telling to get the fuck away from him, to get out of his way, to get lost, etc.,” He was shouting for all to hear.
I was floored. At that point, I had two choices. To walk away or rip his fucking head off. I have a thing about how I’m spoken to and this wasn’t happening on my watch. Because I am physically much larger than him, old enough to be his father, and because it is illegal to beat the shit out of someone, I walked away. I was FURIOUS.

The kitchen manager told someone to switch stations with me but that was it. I would think that after all the help and goodwill I had shown to my coworkers that someone would say something to him, but nobody did. They just let it happen. I don’t know what they were supposed to do but I felt very unsupported. I told the manager on duty that when my shift was over I was all done. In hindsight, I should have waited for Vinny but he wasn’t there yet and she had asked me what happened. When Vinny got there I knew that he knew. He ignored me the entire night.

I did what I promised, I worked a very busy night to the completion of my shift. As the night wore on, my decision didn’t weigh on me nor did I consider recanting it. I replayed the events in my head. My conclusion was that even if the little prick was right, in any way, about objecting to my assistance it was the way he handled it that bothered me. Cementing my decision was the fact that I could never work with him again, even for a short period, and that the lack of support I received made me too embarrassed to ever show up for a shift again.
The end of the evening came and as promised I left the building for the last time. I crossed paths with Vinny several times that evening and he didn’t even bother to ask me once what had actually happened. Not even as a courtesy. Allow me to be clear, I was not expecting or hoping that he would try to talk me out of it. Not my style. His failure to even try to acknowledge that I wasn’t the problem was all that I needed to know.

I left not necessarily proud of myself. But I knew there was no other way for me to handle it.

A beautiful night for a walk

He stood at the edge of the walking path. It was peak hour to walk the lake and he needed to get out of the way of the bustling foot traffic. He was winded, the pace he had set for himself was too much. Exhausted, he put his hands on his aching sides and tried to catch his breath. His legs were starting to cramp. He looked around and realized he was almost halfway around. Losing motivation, but aware that it’s the same distance back as it is to continue, he started to walk again. His mind was still racing but he furiously tried to control it. The events of his day were racing through his mind and exercise was the only way he knew to work it off, sort things out. As days go, today was pretty shitty on all fronts.

He thought of his late father and his trademark line, “everything will work out, it always does”. He never actually believed it to be true but he loved how his father believed so strongly in it. This shit, he thought to himself, this shit is not going to work itself out.

I wish you were here to talk to right now, Dad. I could use some of that cheerful optimism of yours that I once scoffed at, he mused as he trudged forward. His Dad always seemed to have it together. Sure, he sometimes acted badly in his marriage. He had money problems but he alwaysgot through it. He hated his job, but he always did it with pride and dedication. He never acted like I am right now. I’m a hot mess. I can’t stand my wife, I’m on the brink of foreclosure and my boss is a fucking psycho that I love one minute and hate the next. How would Dad handle all of this?

Bill Marshall was well-known among friends, family, and business associates for his resilience and cheerful demeanor. It was a great source of pride to him that this applied to more than just his public, outside persona. He was also committed to maintaining a positive frame of mind even when alone and talking to himself, which today he was doing quite a bit of. What people didn’t realize is that it required nearly all of his energy to maintain that reputation. There are limits to what any man can take, as he was fond of thinking. despite the fact that he rarely allowed himself such slack. He held himself to an impossible standard. Today, when the walls felt like they were closing in, he decided to give himself a rare break. Snap out of it! he reprimanded himself, you’re not going to fix anything in this state of mind. With the equivalent of a snap of a finger, he let his day wash off of him and he just walked. To keep his mind empty and focused he walked while looking down at the ground and concentrated on playing “don’t step on a crack”, a game from his childhood. This amused him for a while and it wasn’t long before noticing that he was approaching the final stretch where his car sat waiting for him. It was the only car in the lot.

When Bill reached the clearing to the parking lot, he saw a lone figure in the parking lot very close to his parked car. Great, I’m probably getting robbed or vandalized. He began to walk faster, marveling that his day is somehow getting worse.

He felt the phone in his back pocket vibrating. He was tempted not to even look to see who was calling. It was most likely his wife doing the nightly “where are you” call. God, he fucking hated that call. Often, he contemplated answering and saying “as far away from you as possible!” and hanging up but he knew that wouldn’t end well. Then again, it could be one of his kids calling and he grabbed for the phone. Too late, he had missed the call, but it was indeed the wife. Here comes the text, he thought. 2 seconds later it came through.
Where are U?

Bill chuckled to himself despite his annoyance. He called that one. He didn’t respond. He had a walk to finish and possibly a kid to beat up.

Getting easier

It’s been a week since someone pulled my heart out, backed her car over it and then tossed it to the Crows. But I have to say that it is getting easier. It still stings but I have a better grip on it I suppose.

My friends were very surprised when I shared with them my situation. They weren’t so much surprised that I got dumped, but they were surprised at how hard I took it. See, I am famous for concealing or downplaying my emotions. They’ve seen me wear my heart on my sleeve in many areas of my life; Freemasonry, charity work, my children to name a few. I’m not shy about sharing my feelings in most areas. Relationships are different, they are a known sore spot. My romantic struggles are well-documented. While I can’t say that it is all my fault, my penchant for crazy women has been the source of many a conversation. My recent attempts at love, post-divorce, have been messy to say the least. While I have no animosity towards any of them, there is a story to be told and I’m always the one holding the bag. But I famously and typically shrugged it off and moved on with my life. This one was different.
I was in a funk. My friends have never seen me show an emotion like hurt. I was hurting bad and they responded.

Sure, there were a few who offered the standard “fuck her”. It was well-intentioned. They knew that I’m better at coping when mad so they channeled that. Others, those who knew the situation, realized that it was a little more complicated than that, offered sage advice that I am indeed better off. Maybe I am, I don’t know. I would still like an explanation but that’s not going to happen. In absence of any contact I was forced to text my feelings to her. I kept it above board. No insults, nothing nasty at all I simply asked for more than she gave me (by text, classy fucking girl huh?) but she didn’t respond. So I finally sent one long one detailing my frustration and I briefly asserted that I deserved better and that she will find that no matter how many men she dates as she is “exploring” she will not find one that is nicer to her than I was. I know that for certain. I was very nice to her always. Her one response was to ask me if I felt better after all of that and then to tell me that “she thought we’d be friends”. I responded but I never heard another word from her.

There is no scenario in which we can be friends. I don’t need to be that guy that listens to the woman he cares about tell him about all of the guys she is fucking. That is reserved for the gay friends. I’d rather shave my scrotum with a rusty cheese grater. She chose to make us friends, not me. She doesn’t want to be the bad guy. Well fuck that, there is no way that I will ever be friends with someone who treated a genuinely nice guy, sure I have flaws, show me someone who doesn’t please) like the shit that a slug wipes off of his feet. I should have known that someone who went down on me on the first date would burn my ass eventually.

So in summation, I’m angry now. I like anger. I can channel it. And it always fades. Then she will be out of my mind. Just like that. And I have learned a valuable lesson. Listen to the man in the mirror. He knows the right thing to do.

The best revenge is living well. I plan on doing that.

Inconspicuous absence

There will be a funeral for my Aunt tomorrow. A “social distancing” funeral where no more than 10 people at a time are allowed graveside, including clergy. All others are to remain in their cars. It’s a 2 hour drive for me.

I will be inconspicuously absent.

I have an excuse, I have dialysis. As far as the attendees are concerned I made every effort to change my appointment but couldn’t make it happen. Call it my little secret, but I didn’t even try. Why do I care? Most of the people in attendance don’t want to see me. And I couldn’t give less of a shit if I had to.

Riverside Cemetery is in my hometown. An enormous, sprawling landscape of rolling hills and old, massive oak trees providing abundant shade for the eternally resting, Riverside is full of stones with familiar names. The amount of stones with my last name is staggering.

Ellie bought a plot near my grandparents on my father’s side. It’s that section of Riverside cemetery that I don’t want to visit. A place of meditation and introspection for most of my family, to me section C is representative of a house divided. Many of the stones are dedicated to good, honest people with a solid legacy in town. Many others turn my stomach.

Tomorrow, Ellie will be laid to rest next to her abusive brother in law who raped her nieces and beat the nephews. Only when he wasn’t shitfaced and beating her sister. On the other side of her will be the brother that died in prison, a career criminal known in town as a pedophile with three known child rapes and voluntary manslaughter under his belt. I could go on but I won’t.

There is no way that I can tell this story in this blog. I may tell it later. The only thing I can say in order for this to make sense is that many of the people buried in Section C of Riverdale in my lifetime, and many attendees tomorrow, colossally disrespected the most honest man I have ever met. My father.

I thank God every time I visit that he is buried in a different section.

Tomorrow’s attendees may have no problem at all with the shameful past of Section C. I do and always will.

If this story is something that you want to hear more of, drop a note in the comments section.