One more disadvantage to living in a small, rural village is you can’t buy decent flowers after five o’clock.
Convenience Store Girl and I had our second official date on Friday night. After CSG finished work we drove into Ottawa for dinner and a late movie. I did manage to get her flowers, but just barely. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist that afternoon and I was late getting home so the “good” flower shop was closed. The “not-so-good” flower shop, however, was still open because the owner was stuck in automated customer service limbo and her phone cord wasn’t long enough so she couldn’t lock the door.
She only had four types of flowers and most of them had turned. When she managed to find stems with flowers still attached, she started waving them in the air while describing her adventures through voicemail. So I watched the freshest flowers I could find in her tiny display fridge lose their petals as she told me about how her distributer had screwed up the delivery schedule.
I managed to get out of there with a fist full of white flowers and some yellow ones. CSG nearly cried again when I gave them to her. Our date in the Big City was her first in a long time as well. Her favourite fast food place is A&W, so that’s where we went. Then to Chapter’s (a chain bookstore) for an hour.
CSG is deeply into books about vampires, and found one she doesn’t own. I think the cover of every book in that section featured a long-haired chick silhouetted by the moon, wearing leather pants and carrying a weapon of some kind. Which, when I saw CSG playing video games in the theatre’s arcade before the movie, made sense.
We saw, and both enjoyed, Watchmen. I’ve read the comics so I could see where things had been changed and discarded, but as a stand alone movie it was pretty cool.
Then, on the way home, we stopped at a truck stop for a 1am snack.
I think this is going to work out. But there are a couple of things bothering me…
She keeps looking at me as though I’ve done something… wrong and really right at the same time. And it’s starting to freak me out. We talked earlier last week about her separation, and I was surprised she hadn’t officially started the process of getting divorced from her soon-to-be-ex-husband (STBEH). They’ve been living separate lives for almost a year now.
So she set up an appointment this past Thursday with the legal aid people. And I volunteered to be there with her. And I went. I waited with her, then made sure I was the first person she saw when she came out. I bought her little “creme eggs” (she loves them), one for before and one for after. And she kept looking at me… suspiciously.
Her reaction to the things I do for her isn’t bothering me, it’s worrying me. I feel as though she’s holding back. Like I’m initiating the contact, and she’s holding back as though she’s afraid I’m taking off next week. Or like I’m using her or something.
I’m starting to feel like eventually I’m going to accidentally flash my feet of clay at her and she’ll say something like “aha, I knew it was too good to be true.”
Telling her about the manic depression feels like it could spark such a moment.
I know most of this comes from her not knowing a whole lot about my past. Which is my fault. I just haven’t felt like getting into the weirdness yet. She did get some good news about me on Saturday though…
In a weird coincidence CSG’s older sister used to hang out at our wild and crazed parties back in the high school days, and is still really close to Dean, one of my best friends… who happened to come down for a visit this past weekend. So CSG’s sister grilled Dean about me…
Dean told her how I helped him get off his crack habit a few years ago, and gave him a place to stay while he worked out some other stuff.
So CSG feels like I’m less of a puzzle. She’s very happy to find out I’m not a drug-crazed freak trying to take advantage of her and her son. Which is good. Because since I’m not a part of my Village’s gossip machine, there hasn’t been anyone for her to ask about who I am, so she’s only had my word on the matter until now.
Which is the other problem. I’m becoming part of the Village Gossip Machine (VGM).
On Saturday night Dean and I and a couple of other people ended up at the local tavern… which is a post in itself. Dean — who has known CSG since she was a baby — called her at work and invited her over when she was done. And she did. For a few minutes. Then we walked back to my place for something to eat.
As soon as we entered my apartment her phone went berserk. In five, maybe ten minutes, she received more than twenty text messages and four phone calls asking “who’s that guy”. Including a few stupid texts from friends of STBEH, which upset her.
There’s this crazy web of gossip that hangs over this town. It’s indiscriminate and meaningless and filled with the lazy thoughts of ignorant fools who have no imagination.
If they could figure out how to work their way onto the Internet they’d be considered Trolls.
CSG has been involved in the VGM since high school because of her association with STBEH. It’s something I’ve never had anything to do with. But suddenly I know my neighbour recently had sex with my waitress — who works at the only local diner worth eating in, then immediately dumped her.
I like my waitress, she’s efficient and cute. And, because he’s quiet and never talks to me, I like my neighbour. Why was it necessary for someone — CSG’s roommate — to tell me about their problems?
Gossip forces me, in that split second between hearing it and dismissing it, to care about someone. Good or bad, whether I’ve heard of them or not, I have to care about someone for a moment which I’ll never get back.
Gossip also forces me to defend people I care about by confronting people I never wanted to meet. CSG wants to move away from here because of the VGM. I’ve suggested she stop responding to these texts and emails.
My “plan” is to introduce her to sane people, but it’ll take a little time because I haven’t spoken to them in a few months… so, one way or the other — whether it’s confronting the Trolls of the VGM, or having dinner with people I haven’t seen in a long time, it’s starting to look like I’ll be getting socially active again.
So that could be a good thing.
This week we’re mostly staying in and around town. I’m making her dinner on Wednesday night, then we’re having dinner with my parents on Sunday night. I think we’re watching a movie at her place tonight (while her son is sleeping)… and maybe the three of us will be going for a walk later this week.
I’m still not entirely comfortable around him (he’s three)… but I think next week I’ll take them to the Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa. Or something. I want to find something we can do as a unit where I can disappear easily if he starts to freak out.