Edited by Barney R. The errors ar all mine.
All of the cheating stories have their clichés – I came home unexpectedly – she (or he) stopped or slowed way down on sex – he (or she) started using anything for an excuse to start an argument – bills from hotels that you had not been to – gas receipts from areas that your spouse wasn’t supposed to be in. They are clichés because any and all of them have happened enough that they become somewhat commonplace reasons for adulterous divorces.
Mine happened just that way.
I walked into the bedroom after seeing that my wife was not in our condo. That had been happening quite a bit lately. This time something was different. It took a few moments before I realized what it was. I smelled Old Spice Cologne; my best friend used it his whole life. He had been dead for three years. I don’t use any fragrances. It was coming from the clothes hamper my wife used for her working clothes.
Jennifer Wooten was a classmate in college. She was a sophomore, and I was taking a freshman-level philosophy class as an elective to complete my humanities requirement. I was a senior working on a double major in Finance and Business Management.
I was not having any significant problems with my other classes, but this class was a mystery. Jennifer tapped me on the shoulder one morning as we were exiting the lecture hall.
“Excuse me, I am Jennifer Wooten, I notice that you seem to be having some difficulty with this class. I am the moderator of a small study group for this class. If you would like, I will give you the information and you can join us.”
I had moved to the side of the hallway, out of the way of the student traffic. I spent a few seconds looking this lady over. Jennifer was a very lovely girl. About 5’ 7” tall, nice figure, beautiful blue-green eyes, and a smile that made people (or at least me) lose their train of thought. After the woolgathering, I realized what she had asked. “I need all the help I can get. Thank you, I would be happy to join your group.” Then I added; “Sorry, I am George Larsen, and as I said I need all the help I can get.
That was the start. Jennifer was a very good leader of the study group. Her guidance and the group’s help gave me what I needed to get an A in the class. I asked Jenny (as she asked me to call her) if I could take her to dinner to thank her for pointing me to the study group.
She agreed, and we went to a local Chinese restaurant. After a great dinner and the conversation lasted for over two hours, I asked Jenny if I could call for a regular date.
“Wait, wait, wasn’t this a date?” she laughed; “I would be glad to go out with you, anytime you would like.”
We dated for the rest of my college time and into Jenny’s junior year. I had gotten lucky and found a position with a local financial management stock brokerage company as an OTC stock trader.
We kept dating until about April of her junior year when she started turning down a couple of dates a month. She claimed that she needed to study. I really understood. Her college grades were important for her future career.
But then I saw her one Friday night at O’Kelly’s, a local bar. I was there with some of the guys from my office she was with one of her classmates. That night she had told me she was going to spend it at the library to research a paper. I thought she did not see me as she was too busy playing tonsil hockey with her date.
I stopped calling, but it took more than two weeks for Jennifer to notice and to call me. I got an angry phone call one evening. She went on an angry rant accusing me of dumping her and going out with other women.
After she started to wind down; I quietly asked if I would be allowed to say something. I heard a gasp, and a subdued and quiet “Yes, I sorry for screaming.”
I started in on her; “OK, let me answer all of your questions. I was at O’Kelly’s three Fridays ago with guys from the office. Who was the guy whose face you were hiding with your lips? I did not know that O’Kelly’s bar was a place to do research for a paper. Unless the paper was about the effects of kissing in a public place.”
I heard a sob and the line went dead.
The next morning, I heard a knock on my door at about 10:00. When I opened it, Jenny was standing there looking like she had not slept at all last night. She saw my scowl and just started to silently cry. I waited for her to get herself together. She tried to reach out and hug me.
I stepped back, motioned her in and said; “You never commented on my answers last night, and you did not answer my question of who he was. At least now I know why you have turned me down for several dates this past month.” I closed the door.
Jennifer looked stunned. She sobbed and took a deep breath. “I am sorry you saw me. I am sorry that I lied to you. I was and am afraid of my feelings for you. I don’t know what I want, and I knew that if I said I wanted to date others I would lose you. Now because of what I have done, I have lost you anyway.”
She got up and quickly left.
About three weeks later, Jennifer called and politely asked if I would meet her and talk. I asked her where and when. I just laughed and said no when she said O’Kelly’s. I came back with, “Then how about my office while it was closed.”
She sheepishly agreed.
I was at the office waiting when she showed up. She looked a little better, but I still saw dark shadows under her eyes. I motioned her to a little room that was off of the main reception room. We got a couple of chairs and for a few seconds, there was an awkward silence.
I finally said; “Jenny, you wanted to talk, please talk. I am no longer angry; I am just hurt that you felt you had to lie to me.”
She took a deep breath and started. “I know I said it already, but I am sorry I hurt you. I don’t want you to think that that was my intention. I decided to start dating others and was afraid that if I said that to you, you would stop dating me altogether.”
“You were right; I would have stopped dating you. Don’t forget, you stopped agreeing to go out with me. Then you lied to me and went behind my back with someone else.” I started to feel my anger rising. “You can now date anyone you want. It will not be me as I won’t be going out with you anymore. You may not understand, but I had developed a level of trust with you, and the ‘Incident at O’Kelly’s’ showed me that you did not deserve my trust.”
Jennifer looked ready to cry. Instead, she got up and walked out. I wasn’t surprised, and at that time, I did not really care. I was hurt by the lie, and the lame explanation was not any help.
Work was going great, even as my love life had turned to crap. I was offered a branch manager position at a new branch the company was opening in my home town. I took the job and asked several of my coworkers to move with me. Some did, most didn’t. One of the comments I heard was; “Who wants to go work in that Siberia of the U. S.? The sign at the state line says, ‘Would the last person to leave Michigan please turn out the lights’.”
When I arrived in Grand Rapids, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the office was in a new building and was at least twice as large as the office in the last town. I used the people that transferred in with me to teach the new hires the correct and company procedures when dealing with customers.
We had the office up and running for about six months when Jennifer called me and told me she had taken a job in town. She asked to meet again. I said thanks but no thanks; I did not need the drama in my life.
A few months later, one of my team asked me to go out to dinner with him and his wife. As I had become the target of the wives and girlfriends who joined the ‘let’s get him married club’ I was wary.
I said that I would agree if, and only if, it was him and his wife only. The invitation was withdrawn. I found out that his wife wanted to ambush me with a single girl.
I called a meeting of all of the staff. I was angry. I told them so. I told them that from now on I would not go to any non-business events with any of them. I added I will put a letter of reprimand for wasting company time in the file of any employee male, or female, who tries to set me up on company time.
That stopped the dating drama at work. Then I was offered a position that would be a promotion and a substantial raise in salary. Then the drama in my personal life took a turn for the worse. The job Jennifer had gotten was in G. R.
At the interview for the new position, the national recruiter and his local manager, as well as the local attorney and his legal assistant, Jennifer was on their side of the table. I listened as they threw money and perks offers at me like it was not important to them. I was not raised a fool. I took an offer of twice my current salary and a new Mercedes. Not bad for a guy under 30.
Jennifer smiled and shook my hand with the others when I signed all the papers necessary.
As I was leaving with my papers, Jennifer asked me to wait for a second while the rest left the room. I was hesitant but agreed; however, I was determined to not let my previous (OK still) feelings to cloud my words.
Jenny sat down and started right in. “George, I made some terrible decisions back when I was in school. I hurt you, and by doing that I hurt me. I should have told you of my fear that we were getting too serious; I didn’t. I should not have decided to date others, at least not before I told you my fears. Then I compounded that decision by trying to shift the blame to you when it was all on me for acting as I did on that date at O’Kelly’s that Friday night. I still wish you hadn’t seen that, but not as much as I wish I hadn’t done that at all.”
I did not say anything for several seconds. I wanted to make sure what I said was unambiguous, and still not sound angry. “Jennifer or maybe the best is to say, Miss Wooten, I was hurt. I no longer am hurt. I am leery. I am very leery of you because you hurt and lied to me. You not only lied to me, then you got angry at me because I got angry at you. Tell me; does that sum up what has happened with us?”
She looked at me for a few seconds, took a deep breath, and said; “Yes, that sums up what happened. I screwed up, no I fucked up. I was wrong, I lied, and I hurt you. Now the question is; is there any way we could possibly start over. I miss you, and I will never, ever, ever hurt you again. I will never, ever, ever lie to you again. You may not believe this, but I love you, I loved you when I realized I had screwed up. I was a scared young girl. I had not learned to be a woman. I think I have now.”
I sat there in that office stunned. I knew long before she hurt me I loved her, but I sensed something that kept me from telling her. I did not know if I could trust her. She sounded good, I wanted to believe her, but at the same time, talk is cheap. I made a decision.
“I am willing to try to start again; however, I have two major conditions. The first is that if you turn down any date for any reason except business, sickness or family commitments, we are done. Second, I want a written commitment from you of your never, ever, ever statement. Can you do that? Can you mean that? Can you agree to that?” I was almost shouting when I ended.
Jennifer quietly sat there during my tirade. Then she softly said; “Yes I can do that. Yes, I can mean that. And yes, I agree with that. I need you, and you were the only person other than my family who has ever made me happy to be me.” Then she added, “I have beaten myself up more than you ever have. I knew that I had blown it when you told me you saw me at O’Kelly’s. I will have a letter given to you soon.”
The next day she came over to my apartment and gave me a framed certificate size letter. It said:
I will never, ever, ever intentionally hurt you ever again.
I will never break your trust by lying again.
I will not make a decision that affects both of us without talking to you first.
I started the new job. We returned to the dating/mating dance. One evening in my apartment after about 7 months, I asked her to marry me. She looked lost. “I am not ready, I love you, but I am still harboring some fears about taking that step. When I am ready, it will be with you. I hope you understand.”
“Ok, I guess I understand but know this, I release you from all exclusivity. If you can’t make a commitment to me. You can’t keep those promises. I will send the promise you wrote back to you, and I release you from it.” I continued; “I want you to understand, I will not call for a date again. I will not ask you to marry me again. If you call me, I may decide to date you. Also understand, all sexual activities between us are over.”
After a few months of settling in, and with my extra money, I started playing the penny stock market. (Penny stocks are over the counter stocks that rarely have a share price of over $5.00.) Losers did not cost a lot, and while I wasn’t even close to 50%, I did pick some winners and winners usually were big. I bought several thousand shares of one stock at $ .78 a share, and when they were bought out by a large corporation the stock was worth over $40.00 a share. That was the biggest profit, but I had a few others that netted large profits. I was sitting on a good pile of money and asked my boss for some advice on choosing the best legal way to keep as much of it as I could.
Ralph, my boss recommended the same attorney I had met in his offices when he offered me the job. I called his office and Jennifer answered. I asked for an appointment with the lawyer. It was set up for the first appointment for the following Monday morning.
I arrived at the agreed time, and there was Jennifer. “Good morning Miss Wooten, I am here for my appointment.”
When I arrived, Jennifer started to come into the meeting. When I asked that she leave, and also not have her able to examine any of the papers we might generate. Mr. Anderson looked at me strangely and said, “My assistant is privy to all business I generate, I will not exclude her from any account.”
“OK; in that case, will you recommend another attorney who specializes in financial affairs?” I explained; “Your assistant and I were dating in college and had attempted to restart that relationship after we met at my job interview. It did not work out this time either. I have no desire to have her privy to all of my financial affairs. If you can’t or won’t recommend someone, our business is finished.”
I continued; “I did not mean to impugn your integrity or that of your assistant, but I would not be comfortable with the details of my finances being known by Miss Wooten.”
Mr. Anderson said that in that case our business was done and that he would not recommend anyone for me. I turned and walked out the door.
Jennifer started to follow me and started to say something. I held up my hand and said. “If you wanted to talk to me you have had chances. My phone has not exactly been vibrating in a pocket.”
I turned and walked out of the office.
I found a financial advisor and he recommended me to another attorney that he used. I was advised to set up a trust and draw a small (relatively) portion of the trust out as a salary as a trustee. That way, the money would be taxed as if I did not have it all at once, and the interest would not be taxable to me, but the trust. That is what I did.
With my finances and tax obligations straightened out, I hoped that my life would straighten out. Wrong.
I have not mentioned my family yet. My dad left when I was ten, we only heard from him when he needs money (about four times a year). I am the youngest of three boys, all born just over two years apart. Bob, the oldest is in Washington State; he is a career officer in the Coast Guard. Jack Jr. the middle brother is basically a waste of space. He quit school as soon as he could. He has a police record for many misdemeanor offenses, shoplifting, minor in possession of alcohol, etc. He works any job that does not require any real work or skull sweat. His latest is a dishwashing job at a skid row restaurant. When he isn’t working or in jail, he is stoned or drunk. Neither are married.
My mother, bless her meddling heart, thinks that I, as the youngest and the only one with any marriage prospects needs encouragement. By that I mean any single, divorced or widowed lady under thirty-five is the right one. She has tried to set me up by inviting me to dinner and having a young lady (who just happens to be available) over too.
I was as exasperated with her as I had been with my coworkers. I finally stopped agreeing to come to dinner. I would stop by, but if there was a lady there with mom I left.
Somehow, Mom and Jennifer got introduced (don’t look at me). Then mom started with all of the little comments; “She’s so sorry she hurt you; you really need to give her another chance; she is such a sweet lady.” This went on for about three weeks, and I just stopped going to her house.
Then mom started calling. How do you tell your mother to butt out? I couldn’t, maybe you could. I agreed to dinner at her house with Jennifer. I tried to pull a fast one and explained to one of our female traders that I needed her for a ‘beard’. I asked mom if I could bring a date. She said no.
I said; “OK, I have a date that night now, so I won’t be there.”
I got a squawk from mom and a “please don’t do this”.
I came back with: “Ask Jennifer about the printed and framed promise. Also, ask her why she has messed up every time I have agreed to meet her. (I know I messed some of them up, but I was laying a guilt trip).”
I did not go to that dinner, but mom ambushed me in a different way, my 30th birthday was coming up and she wanted to throw me a party. Both brothers would be there and several of my old high school classmates. I reluctantly said yes. I just knew Jennifer would be there. She was, but she surprisingly just wished me a happy birthday and hung out with my mom.
About a week after the party, I was involved in a car accident that put me in the hospital for three weeks. I was walking from my office to a local coffee shop when some idiot talking on his cell phone dropped his phone and when he bent to retrieve it he pulled the steering wheel and jumped the curb. His car pinned me to a building.
I ended up with a compound fracture of my left leg, and a couple of broken ribs and fingers. The surgeon said that after the swelling went down, He would take me back into surgery and would place a rod and plates in my leg, and then the leg would be placed in an elevated traction device. The driver died, his head hit the dashboard, and he suffered a broken neck.
Mom was at my bedside every day. She kept extolling Jennifer. After a solid week of that, I told her if I heard her mention Jennifer again, I would have her placed on the excluded visitors list. She left and never came back.
The driver’s insurance company attorney came to see me in the hospital. It was Mr. Anderson. He brought his administrative assistant, Jennifer, with him. He started his remarks when I stopped him. He looked at me with a question on his lips.
I began; “If you insist on talking to me while I am in the hospital, in traction, then you need to have your assistant leave. I have told you I have a history with her and will not discuss any business while she is here.” I continued; “If you insist that she needs to be here, we have nothing to talk about. You can talk to my attorney instead. Be advised that regardless of what we talk about today, if we talk, no decision will be made without review by my attorney.”
The pair turned and exited stage left.