Melissa and I were fighting again. Something that I was finding depressingly common. This time it was about Halloween. Sheila Wood, one of the women from her study group, had invited Melissa to a party on Halloween night and Melissa wanted me to come with her.
Now I had nothing against Sheila, or any of the others from her study group. Well, OK, I didn't like Carl. But the rest were alright. There were eight in the group, three other women besides Melissa and Sheila, and two other men besides Carl. They met once a week to work on the newest assignment for their adult education classes. You know, the ones that working adults take to complete their MBA's. The group met once a month at my condo.
But I wasn't much of a socializer, and I hadn't had fun at a Halloween party since junior high. And I really didn't want to go to a party and fight with Melissa all night. Actually, I almost wondered if we'd still be together in the week till Halloween. But tonight, we were taking a walk downtown after dinner.
The walk was frustrating me as well. Not so long ago, we'd walk hand-in-hand, or with our arms entwined. Now I had my hands at my sides and she had hers stuffed in the back pockets of her jeans.
"You know, Jeff, I really do want to go to Sheila's party. I know a lot of people from school are going, and it sounds like it could be a blast."
"Melissa, you know I don't do parties very well. Shit, even having your study-buddies over gets to me a little."
"Oh come on, Jeff! You can wear a costume and pretend to have a good time for a change, can't you?"
"Yeah, a costume. Sure. I'm supposed to find a costume a week before Halloween? Right," I said sarcastically. "I suppose she has a theme for the costumes too. Care to tell me about what I'm supposed to be trying to find?"
"Actually, you're supposed to dress up like a character from a book or series of books. Of course, with some of these people, I expect to see a lot of comic book characters."
"Melissa, I really don't think I'll go. If your heart is set on going, ask one of the guys from your group. Or go stag." I couldn't see the look on her face at my words, but I expected it to be furious, and we walked on for a bit. The next time she spoke, she was leaning against the display window of a used paperback store, and I was looking at the books without seeing them.
"Jeff, if you'll do this, you can use any book you want, and I'll be whatever character you decide."
I was going to refuse again when my eyes focused on the display, and an idea occurred to me that I thought was guaranteed to end the discussion. If it ended our relationship, maybe that was for the better, too.
"Any book?" I asked.
"Any book you've read, I'll go along with."
I pointed to a book in the window. It had a ridiculously muscled man with a big sword and a cowering female in not much of anything. "Have you ever read any of those books?"
She turned around to see what I was pointing at. "Gor? Yeah, back in college. Why, you want to dress up like Conan?"
Yeah, right, the fat Conan, I thought. "Well, not quite. But how about characters from that milieu?"
"Sure, I can use some of your armor for an Amazon costume." We were both active members of the SCA, or Society for Creative Anachronism, a group that would dress in medieval costume for jousts, "wars" and just fun weekends. I had a pretty good selection of armor and weapons I'd collected over the years.
.... There is more of this story ...