I Should Have Just Said, “No!”

 I Should Have Just Said “No!”  Mary Latela, 3/25/16

I suppose I should have been skeptical that a fairly nice looking man wanted to spend more and more time with me. … First he wrote me a note, identifying himself as a friend of C & MJ, mutual friends, suggesting we get together some time. Then he totally deleted the note from his consciousness, because when I called his number, he fished for words to make a conversation. Some people should avoid making small talk.

Why did I call his house that day in December, 1971? I was lonely… there! A teenager answered the phone and passed it to him.  Why did I not realize that he was trying to piece together who I was while trying to seem interested? My name did not ring a bell. I almost felt like I had to feed him clues, but no, that would have been too desperate-sounding.  I was not desperate. I was alone. I was working hard. I wanted like crazy to move out of my parents’ place. And that place was packed…. All four of us kids – aged twenty-five down to fifteen – and mom and dad in a three BR, one bath ranch house which had been fine when we were in middle school, but which was bursting at the seams these days.

A blind date! Aye! Our encounter gave new meaning to that hackneyed term. I did not know him, and he did not know me. So we planned to spend a day in Boston together, a snowy day at that, walking the Freedom Trail, in public. What could be less dangerous? It was like falling off a cliff, hanging on, then realizing that the rescuer didn’t care if you fell into the hot oil and drowned.

I am always on time, and I learned little by little, that he was always late. On this first meeting, he was forty five minutes late coming to get me. He said he had stopped to chat with his father in the kitchen at home, and time flew away. I wondered what kind of father would delay a grown son from a date with a lovely girl – on a snowy day – in New England. I learned … his father had no idea where his son was going, didn’t ask. His father would have given me his silk-wool blend scarf if he’d known.

My wardrobe was spare … as I hadn’t gotten around to purchasing gloves or boots. I didn’t need them yet for my quick runs from the car to the school where I was teaching. I should have worn boots that day. I should have worn gloves that day. Heck, there we were in downtown Boston, near Filene’s basement, and I didn’t think to stop in so I could warm my hands and feet up a little.  He was warmed by thick leather gloves and his big leather shoes, in other words, everything needed for a refreshing walk through ever-increasing snowfall.

Did we eat? I suppose so, but it was not memorable. Did we drink hot coffee to thwart the frigid temps? We did not. He did not offer, and I – silly me back then – did not say, “Hey, let’s get some coffee before my tongue freezes up!”

The arrangement was that I would cook him supper after the trek. I had pre-cooked the lasagna so I could warm it quickly in my oven. We sat and talked. I am nearly certain he would have skipped the lasagna, because he said it was very good, but he would have complimented it even if it hadn’t been tasty. Why oh why?

When he left, he was sure to explain that he hardly came up my way, that he was much too busy with school, but maybe he would call me if he decided to have a get-together after the New Year.

After he left, I sat in a hot bath, took my mug of tea into the bedroom, and watched TV until very late. I left no time for post-game analysis.

He will never call again ….but he did!

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