Copyright© 2007 by DB.
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Author's Note: A special thanks to VW and Ian for their excellent and much appreciated proofreading. All remaining mistakes are mine.
It's the classic mistake of the Internet age. Perhaps it's classic because sooner or later it will happen to you, either as sender, or recipient. I was that recipient. Minor details are disguised to protect the privacy of those involved.
Hi D... thought you'd find this interesting... this is from a man I knew in the -- club. I met him the same night I met J-- so he never had a chance. I have never been attracted to him in any way but he has always be ga ga about me. He has been married now probably for about -- years... I also know his wife well... they have been living in the -- area for all their married life... don't know why I've kept up correspondence with him cause he use to irritate the hell out me... he use to advise me when I never asked for it and other times I would tell him something and he would go off about himself... similar to R--'s writings... I didn't write to him for at least 6-8 months after I came here... his writing to me totally changed... I have let him know this many times and he agrees... his marriage is strong and even though he compliments me with every email he writes, there is nothing and never will be anything between us and that has never been my intent but it's emails like this one that keep me coming back for more... let me know what you think
Yeah, that was it. Setting the record straight, I met her years before I got married, and had been definitely smitten on first sight. And then there was something else completely unexpected.
I didn't discover this that first night, nor did she recall it then. It just came out somewhere along the way. Turns out that, twenty years or so earlier, we'd attended the same high school one year apart, and at least somewhere along the way had worked on at least one extracurricular activity together. Can't say there's not some sort of a connection there.
Was I trying to end my marriage? Of course not! And I would've never asked her out once I was committed otherwise. Yet was she someone I would want to date if I were ever single again? Of course, yes! Date, and more. At least at that time.
And had she ever told me any of this stuff in the e-mail to my face before? Never!
It's hard for anyone to understand what "S" was talking about without seeing the e-mail correspondence she was referring to, so I'll include that here next, in a moment. It was all part of a running discussion where I'd been telling her what I was feeling in feedback to her description of what was going on in her life these days. To me, it was nothing more than what I've done with selected other people throughout my life.
Am I psychic? I don't claim to be, and would like to be able to make that claim if I could substantiate it. Anyway, this is what I said to her that generated this response. It was still attached to the e-mail message above:
And you don't consider this scary? I'd expect that my doing this -- and from thousands of miles away no less -- should have sent you running, screaming away. I should stop, because I never want you to leave, but I'm just being me -- and that's kind of hard to stop doing.
If I was describing to someone what you are telling me here, I'd say that Sue has allowed me to touch the innermost part of her being, where she has felt very lonely for a very long time. While it is hard to believe that such a tall, beautiful, attractive, desirable, and sexy woman would ever feel like that, it's true. And this part of her that she has allowed me to touch has to be handled with the most extreme amount of gentleness possible, because even the very lightest touch you can ever manage -- something that makes a feather, or a light breath of spring breeze, seem like a sledgehammer in comparison -- is already almost more than she can bear in this most intimate place inside her. But if you do it exactly just right, her smile will light up the world.
Would you say it is something like that?
And going backwards in time one step further, this is what I'd been responding to with my e-mail above:
-- Original Message --
Sent: Saturday, December 20 7:47 AM
Subject: Re: true confessions
Yes, you're right D--. I should know you well enough by now but I guess you seem surreal to me... I've never had a man listen, grasp, and/or care what I was saying (or not saying) before and that's not an exaggeration... I like the way it feels... validated :)
Okay, you can draw your conclusions about the relationship we had. We never dated because we never were both available for dating at the same time. On the night I first met her, she'd also met someone else who she'd started seeing at that time. And, of course, we never slept together.
What I felt I did have was a close and special friendship here. One with a very sexy lady. One that had lasted years now. One that might — even most likely — would never progress beyond that. In fact, we might never even see each other again, given that we now live on opposite sides of the country and had no reason to be getting together for any reason.
And she's also right that I'm ga-ga about her. At least there was no misunderstanding on her part about that. I'm fortunate to know, and have known, several exceptional women in my life. You could describe me that way about any of them at the time.
Anyway, back to the present. I was more confused than anything else by her response (first e-mail above). Obviously addressed to me (the "D" salutation), and regarding our ongoing discussion (clearly a reply to the last one I'd sent, complete with attached previous messages), yet it didn't compute. And while some parts of it were complimentary, others were clearly harsh — not pleasant to read.
So I was very confused at this point. I couldn't explain what this message meant because, while it was clearly directed to me, it was as though it was written to a third person.
After thinking about it for several days, more confused than hurt yet, I finally devised the only explanation that seemed to fit the circumstances. That S wanted to say some things to me, but couldn't say them directly, so she wrote it as if saying them obliquely to a third person instead. I'd once had another female friend who used that approach on occasion, so this hypothesis isn't that unreasonable.
I finally did respond after those several days with a carefully thought out, equally detached, reply. I wanted to get across that this really wasn't a nice thing that she'd written me, and hope that I'd tease out a better explanation of why she'd told this to me in the first place. I believe I was hoping at the time that she'd mitigate what she'd previously said, given that she had now had several days to think over what seemed to me to be rather intemperate words.
What I wrote back was rather an essay at the time:
Well it's always dangerous to ask me what I think, since I'll often tell you. <G>
As I recall that night at -- restaurant those surprising number of years ago, I felt I didn't have a chance because you'd actually met J-- the night before at a -- Club beach party around a fire where he played his tuba. I was one day too late. I love J-- dearly too, and wonder why he has let you get away when he had such a great opportunity to have you. That strikes me as stupid beyond understanding. I have never felt you pushed him away. I also wish I'd had the imagination to cast a second vote for J-- in the Mr. -- contest that came soon after both you joined. I wouldn't have cared either that he wasn't eligible. He was the very best candidate that night.
Never tell a man you're not attracted to him in any way -- even when it's true. If he finds you fascinating, it really hurts in return. Also those words can come back to haunt you because feelings do change. We wouldn't be holding this conversation if yours hadn't.
Being ga-ga about you grossly understates how truly attractive, appealing, and desirable I have found you since that night at -- restaurant where we have come together, at least in time and geography, for the second time in my life. And why shouldn't I find you this beautiful? You are.
This is a good thing. Everybody, whether they know it or not, need at least two people to wildly feel they are the most desirable person on the planet. One is your spouse, and this is expected. It goes with the job description. The second person is out there to confirm that your spouse is completely correct about this. You can have many more, but everyone needs two.
Used to irritate the hell out of you? How about still do? Or at least, still can?
I'm certain I have never advised you where you didn't ask me to. At least you presented the problem within my hearing. However this is the GREAT MISUNDERSTANDING between men and women. If a woman mentions a problem to a man, the man wants to solve the problem for her. This is what men do. And we don't understand why anything that really is a problem isn't something that any sane person wouldn't want solved as soon as possible. Hey, that's why it's called a problem. However women do this thing men will never understand. Don't ask men to explain it because they don't even know it exists. What is it that women do? Women bring up problems that they have no interest at all in having solved at all. They complain about problems and situations they'd like to improve with no interest at all in actually doing anything about them. They may not even realize they've mentioned a problem because they don't think of it in that way. Yet when a man hears it, and cares enough to want to be helpful, he can't help himself from offering one to many solutions. And the women get irritated with the men for offering unwanted advice, and the men get frustrated with the women who seem to have all these problems and continually ignore excellent advice on how to clean them all up by the end of the day, if not sooner. They both must like sex an awful lot, because otherwise it is amazing that they ever manage to get together at all and keep the human race from dying out given this true lack of understanding between them otherwise. Men absolutely believe that it will impress women and leave them wanting to be with the man involved if he offers her valuable information to help her make her life better in some way she hasn't somehow quite figured out herself yet. What better gift could there be to show the value to that woman in wanting to spend more time -- and sex -- with that man than just making her life a happier place overall. And it never never never works. You see the men some of these women do end up with, and you know it never works. This is God's sense of humor in action, and I'm going to kick him around the block over that one some day.
And if all this isn't enough already, then women get angry when men start talking about themselves. You'd think they'd be happy that for once we're not giving them unwanted advice on how to improve their own lives, but they're not. We can't talk to them about what's really important (solving problems in one's life and moving on), and we can't talk about ourselves and (to show that we are interesting people who do interesting things that they might want to become part of), and we can't talk about girl things (because we haven't got a clue about those things), and we can't talk about the weather (because that's equivalent to ignoring them), and if we start talking about them we come around to giving advice again, so we're screwed there. And we'd better never give an opinion about their hair (How do you like my hair? I've just changed its color and style to bald), or their outfit (How do I look? Isn't grunge a great style?), or anything else about them that is the least bit un-flattering because there's only one answer that they want to every such question. And we can't look at their legs, even if they're the most beautiful legs in the world, especially when they wear heels, nylons, and short skirts to show them off. And we can't look at their boobs, even though men love looking at boobs as much as looking at great legs because this is how men are. And we can't tell them that there are no clothes that will ever be as beautiful on them as they are when they're naked, and that the only thing putting clothes on does for us is to remind us how much we want to get them back out of them again, because only bad men who aren't going to get sex tonight will ever say anything like that. Think it yes, say it never.
I don't understand the reference to "R--'s writings." But who ever it is, it is probably a man.
And I can't really explain the difference in my writing to you before and after. Only acknowledge that it changed, and that it gets a different response from you than before, so I don't want it to change back again.
And while there is no intent on my part to flirt or cheat on my marriage, which might be what you're saying at this point of your e-mail -- nor will I ever cheat on you in a similar situation because that's not the way I am -- it is exceptionally PAINFUL to have you say there will Never be anything more between us. Even if true, it is painful to hear from anyone I like as much as you.
Now that could just be said in defense so that it's clear neither of us are trying to damage my marriage and this way we can continue to be safely close otherwise. Or it could be a foolish statement made without realizing that many things can and do change in life, so it's bad to ever declare what will never happen. I feel you must have said -- probably more than twice -- that you never intended to say another word to me for the rest of our mutual lives, (probably right after I sent you scans of your yearbook pictures), yet we are closer now than ever before and talk often for the moment. It could be something else entirely. Or it could be exactly what it says it is.
We've had two strikes against us already in knowing each other. Two opportunities that we might have found more fun together with each other than we had apart. The first was in high school. Chances are we stood within touching distance of each other more than a couple times, and never made anything worthwhile come out of it with each other. I would venture to say that we both would have been happier off with each other from then forward, than either of us managed in the number of sad years both of us have had between that time and when we met again as adults. And yes, I've had some times through there as sad to me as anything I've yet heard from you about that time in your life.
The second strike came when we met each other that night at -- restaurant. My marriage was no certain thing at that time. We were far apart on many critical items, and even now my wife has often said she should have waited another 2-3 years until both kids were through school and out of the house. If we had waited that long however this marriage would not have happened. Of that, I am certain. It was quite a while later after that night before I proposed to --, and she accepted. On the day I did propose, I felt it was the best -- and last -- chance to do so. I have never changed in that feeling, and am not looking to end my marriage now in any way, but I know how chancy it all was. You and I did have our second chance before that time arrived, and did not take it. Two chances is more than many people ever get.
One more strike -- one more opportunity available to us and not taken -- and we will be out for good. But decades passed between those first two opportunities, and if that third one ever comes I won't be expecting it too soon. You don't need to worry yet on how you will say "No" to me this time just yet.
I'm sorry that you do not find me as worthwhile and appealing in all the same regards that I find you so. I will long wonder why you hugged me times when you refused [hugs to] everyone else. And how being in no relationship is better than being in one with me. Also, that you like what I tell you by email, but you wouldn't want me next to you telling it to you in person.