Edited by Barney R. Messed with by me. All errors are mine
She said I’m sorry
This story was inspired by the movie ‘THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES’ and specifically by the theme song. It is very dark and for me a disturbing film.
I saw her as she was approaching me, and I was in a definite ‘fight or flight’ mode. She looked like a much older “bag lady” than I knew she was. I was shocked and when I looked closer at her I could do nothing but stand there.
She walked up close and said; “Hi Steve, is there any possible way and time I could talk to you for a few minutes? I just need a few, less than five minutes, to say some things to you.” She sadly continued; “I know I don’t have the right to ask, but I am asking anyway.”
My name is Steve Johnson; I was 41 when the confrontation I referred to took place. The woman was my ex-wife Joyce. When the meeting happened, we had been divorced for over 9 years. This is what happened to us.
I am an alcoholic, and I quit drinking when I was 29 because I saw myself doing the same things my father and grandfather, both alkies, did. I am not, nor have I ever been, one of those who could not be around drinking, and I never made a big deal out of someone offering me a drink. I just turned it down and asked for Seven-Up or Club Soda.
I met Joyce when I was 23, and a junior in college. I had spent 4 years in the Navy as an electronics warfare specialist. I had been a drone pilot. I was majoring in secondary education with a business minor. I wanted to be a history teacher. My fall back was to be a salesman.
I met Joyce in one of my business ethics classes and she made herself known to me almost immediately. She came into the lecture hall and although there were over 100 empty seats, she had me stand up to let her by and then set down in the next seat. I thought it was a very rude thing to do because the seat on the other side of me was empty. I started to tell her off when the professor came in and started his lecture.
When class was over, I got up and started to leave by way of walking over the bitch and going out that way. I did not ask, nor did I apologize.
She said; “Hey asshole, do – you – not have any manners?”
“Just as many as you do, bitch. I was the only one in that row and you had to force me to stand to get to a seat when there were 14 others empty in that row. How did you like it?” I said back at her with more than a little heat.
The look on her face was so funny. Then she started to say something and I stopped her.
“If you pull a stunt like that again I will get up and leave where I am sitting to sit where you can’t move to. You were rude, and you ain’t that special that I will put up with it. My Momma taught me to never hit a lady, but your actions showed me you’re no lady. Don’t say anything, don’t do anything, just act like a real human and maybe someone will like you.”
I realized as I walked out of the building to get to my car that I should probably apologize for my words, if not my actions. I heard running feet behind me when a sweet voice called out; “Please stop for a minute.”
I wasn’t sure it was meant for me, but I had not seen a single soul as I was walking across the parking lot. I turned around and here was the girl, out of breath, and looking like she was on the verge of crying.
“I’m so sorry, I just wanted to get your attention, and you were so intent on your notes and looking so good doing it I wanted to talk to you. I realize now that it was not the nicest or smartest thing I did. I just wanted to talk to you.”
“So, talk, I have to get to my job. I don’t have a lot of time right now. I don’t know your name, and frankly, I am not sure I want to know it.” I knew then that I still was mad at her.
“Please, you set the time and I will set down with you I just want to talk.” She said. “My name is Joyce Cassidy, I’m 20, a sophomore, and majoring in Pre Law. Could we please just find a time to talk, I’ll even buy you a coffee.”
As you can see from how these conversations had gone that I have a short fuse and I do not suffer rudeness and fools. In this case, I knew that I had overreacted. I said to her; “Joyce, I have an 11:00 lecture tomorrow, how about you meet me in the student union at 12:15 and we can talk then. I apologize for overreacting. I know better, I’m the one who is sorry.”
“12:15 then,” she said with a smile and then she turned and sprinted to her car. I noticed that in jeans that would never come off without a crowbar that she had a great butt.
I was in the student union a little early, and when 12:15 came, in she waltzed. That is the only way to describe it. She didn’t so much as walk as flow. She saw me and gave me a 1000 watt smile. As she sat next to me she said; “Can we start over, Steve? I know who you are and I wanted to meet you for almost this entire semester. I only did what I did when I saw you going to that class as I left my last class in the same hallway. I don’t even take that class. Like I said I wanted to meet you.”
She looked so innocent and sounded so sincere that I relaxed and asked what she wanted to talk about. “This is going to sound so stupid, but my friend Janet Combs said you were a nice guy who treated people right. I did not listen too well when she also said you would not be pushed around. Anyway, I wanted to see for myself and if you were what Janet said, and ask you to come to our sorority Valentine’s Day Dance. I know that I pissed you off, but you must admit, I got your attention.” She sort of giggled after she quit talking.
I sat there shocked, and for a couple of long seconds did not know what to say. Finally, after a few quick thoughts, I said; “If Janet said I was nice guy to you, that is not what she called me when I tossed her cheating ass out of my apartment when I caught her naked in my bed with a frat boy. We were supposed to be exclusive, so if that is the person you call your friend, I think I’ll pass on your ‘gracious’ invitation.”
I started to get up to leave when Joyce took a gentle hold of my arm and asked me to wait for a second. She said; “Janet knows she screwed up and wants to apologize to you but she also knows that you take commitment seriously and is terrified that you will refuse to talk to her if she asks. So, she won’t ask. As to a recommendation who better than a girl who hurt you and still thinks you are a nice guy?”
“Ok; you got a recommendation. You also know about my commitment feelings; not issues; feelings. So, knowing them, do you still want me to go with you?” I asked.
“Yes, I want to go with you. I want to know the guy who is able to commit and who is not an asshole only looking for a notch on his bedpost”
“Ok, when are you picking me up?”
“Me; pick you up? I was under the impression that the guy picked the girl up,” she said haughtily.
“Think back on this conversation; who did the asking. I changed my mind; I have something important to do Valentine’s Day. I will probably have to trim my toenails. I do not need your attitude, and I do not need all of the high maintenance that you are showing right now. Last time I studied it I found that even ‘nose in the air’ women had to wipe their ass after they take a shit. Please do not bother me again. Goodbye.” I got up and started out the door.
I did not see Joyce for most of the rest of the semester, and when I did see her again I made a big mistake, I stuck my nose in her business.
I was walking across the campus after the last class for the day when I saw two guys that had a girl pushed against the side of a building. I did not know who the girl was, but just as I started over to see if I could get her away from them, the biggest of the two reached out and slapped her hard across the face. I called campus police and went over and grabbed the jerk who slapped her.
The wrong move, I found myself on the ground and getting kicked by both guys when the campus cops showed. I was bruised, but not hurt otherwise. Of course, the girl was gone.
I gave them my account and of course, the other guys said I was lying and had attacked them.
The cops asked them if they wanted to press charges, and without hesitation, they said no they had gotten their revenge.
I asked how long I had before I could swear out a complaint. I was told I couldn’t because even if I was telling the truth, I was not the victim, and I had made the first aggressive move. They did say that if I could find the girl, and get her to file, they would come to get me as a witness.
The jerks left, laughing, and the cop said that while he believed my story, and that the jerks were well known to the cops, they could not do anything about this incident.
Needless to say, I was ‘Doubly Pissed’; I was embarrassed at getting involved and angry that she ran away. I walked to my car to drive home. I didn’t make it. As I opened the door and started to get in, Joyce grabbed my arm; I turned to see who it was and almost slugged her. She had a huge bruise on her face and she was wiping tears from her eyes.
“Why can’t you stay away from me?” She asked. “I need you around like I need a hole in my head. Stay out of my business.” By then she was shouting.
I jerked my arm out of her grip, closed the door and drove away. Some days it doesn’t pay to be a ‘knight errant’.
I got home and took a long hot bath. Of course, the rotten day got worse; the phone rang after I got in the tub. I could hear the answering message finish and then screaming “Asshole, Stay Out Of My Business!” Click. Finally, something went right.
After I graduated, there were no full time teaching positions so I was hired as a salesperson for a medical and hospital equipment supply company. My boss was aware that I wanted to teach and was alright with my putting my name on several substitute teacher lists. I found out I was a pretty successful salesperson. I was earning a very good paycheck, but I still wanted to teach.
I got my chance to teach in an unusual way, I found out from a friend that the local community college was looking for an adjunct teacher for their history and ethics classes. I applied and got the job. The pay was not as good, but it was what I wanted to do with my life; I was ecstatic.
I started with two different night classes in history, and a Saturday morning class in business ethics. Because of this schedule and an accommodating boss, I cut back my sales position to 4 days a week.
My history students were for the most part people my age and generation. A lot of these students were taking night classes to progress in their education while working at full-time jobs. I enjoyed those classes. The Saturday class, on the other hand, was very mixed with some students that thought community college was just high school grade 13 and the rest that were like my night classes. Also, a late addition to the Saturday class was Joyce.
I tried to ignore her when she attended her first class, the second Saturday of the semester. After class, she approached me and asked to speak to me. I motioned to a couple of chairs in the front row and sat down.
Joyce started; “I wanted to make sure you are OK with me being in this class. I also wanted to apologize for the way I have been acting toward you.”
I said; “You missed last week’s orientation so here is the short version. I do not put up with the disruption of my classes. I expect adult responsibility from my students. I expect cell phones off, radios, iPods and mp3 players off. I expect to have absolutely no interaction with any students outside of my office hours or in class. Am I clear?”
I got a gulp and a squeaky “Yes very clear.”
“Now as to your apology, I do not know why you think you need to apologize for leaving me at the scene of an assault on your person. I also do not know why you think you need to apologize for twice calling me an asshole after I tried to stop two bullies from beating on a girl that at the time I did not recognize. Nor do I understand why you would need to apologize for generally being a Harpy. Do you?”
She put her head down and said; “No, I guess when you put it like that, there is no need to attempt to apologize. But I want to anyway.”