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The Stars were aligned with Mars

October 31, 2008


This is an interesting week. The story I wrote for Slice of Life Sunday is also perfect for Writer’s Island and Sunday Scribblings. Writer’s Island prompt this week is “Mysterious,” with Sunday Scribblings offering “Scandalous,”  and Slice of Life Sunday featuring “What was I thinking?.”




The Stars were aligned with Mars

For most of my life I have been a true Virgo. Although I have never put much stock in astrology, and I rarely check my horoscope, I would have to admit that I do possess the traits, from one degree to another, assigned to this sixth sign in the Zodiac: analytical, critical, insightful, precise, meticulous, orderly, methodical, practical, pragmatic, intelligent, inquiring, responsible, reliable, perfectionist, shrewd, witty, clever, conservative, conventional, polite, well-mannered, hygienic, reserved, cool, undemonstrative. No one who has known me for very long would ever assign adventurous, risk-taking, or spontaneous to my personality traits. But, I do have a period of time in my life when these alien traits mysteriously took over my body and I did something that my family and friends still to this day shake their heads in disbelief. The common consensus is I was either possessed by some unnatural force or temporarily lost my mind. I guess it was a little of both which led me to become the talk of the family.

It all began innocently enough during an online trivia game. I would come home after working a full day, make dinner for dad, perform my ritual cleaning duties I had assigned to each day of the week, take my evening shower, and settle in for the evening by playing a game of trivia on the computer. I liked this particular site because it was easy to participate and provided challenging list-type questions which many people could answer during the 60 seconds allowed. The challenging part was being the first to type in an answer that was on the list in order to obtain the point value assigned to the answer. More than one answer could be typed in, thus giving more of an opportunity to earn points. The questions were broad based so almost anyone could play. Once everyone had typed in their answer to a question, then we would have a few minutes to chat while the game tallied up the points. During these chat periods, people could either chat publicly on the main site or retreat to a private room for a personal conversation. I, being conservative and knowledgeable enough to know better, declined invitations for private chats. I just wanted to play trivia and not get involved in a silly online romance. I was actually pretty good at playing the trivia game and consistently gave one or more of the ten possible answers in which points could be earned. Being a human resource manager, I spent a large part of my day typing, so I had a major advantage over the average player. I could type in three answers before they could hunt and peck their way through one. Then came the evening when I mixed up the title to a song.

The question was, “Can you name a Jimmy Buffet song?” I immediately typed in Brown Eyed Girl, Son of a Sailor, and Hamburger in Heaven. During the chat period that followed, “Jackhammer” made a public comment to me, “LOL Cricket, don’t you mean Cheeseburger in Paradise?”  Of course he was right and his comment was followed by many other LOL’s. This began our online routine of meeting each evening to play trivia and chat. A few weeks passed and I accepted his invitation to chat in private. I learned he was both divorced and then widowed, a father of two married daughters, and a grandfather of two. He was employed as a truck driver for a local trailer factory in Elkhart, Indiana. A few more weeks passed and he gave me his phone number because I was being cautious and did not want to give him mine. A few more weeks of telephone conversations passed and I agreed to meet him. He wanted to come to Ohio but I decided I wanted to control the situation and said I would meet him. Using my analytical nature, I figured it would be safer if he did not know where I lived. I agreed to meet him at a restaurant on a Saturday evening in his hometown. I told him I would have to make a phone call every hour on the hour to my best friend who was against my meeting a complete stranger in another state by myself.  She was then going to call my son, who was also against the meeting, and who also had the name and phone number of the restaurant and the local police department in case I missed one hourly check-in call. Yes, Harvey, aka Jackhammer, thought I had all my bases covered. Of course, the truth was no one knew I was playing trivia online let alone planning on driving four and half hours to meet a total stranger.  What was I thinking?

I kept asking myself this question throughout the long drive to Elkhart. I had seen many news stories relating the demise of innocent, and dumb, women who had done what I was about to do.  “Are you crazy?” I asked myself, but I continued to drive. Looking back on this adventurous (?) time in my life, I now see where my lonely and monotonous routine of being a forty-seven year old divorced mother of two adult children with four grandchildren taking care of her aging father while working a non-challenging job with the highlight of my week being a night out with my best friend to play pool at the local watering hole led me into a mid-life crisis. My options for finding someone to spend my golden years with were very limited in the rural area where I lived. I wanted something more. I needed something more.  It was past time for me to take a chance, to think out of the box, to do something completely out of character. So I did.

I pulled into a parking space at the designated restaurant and sat in my car. I had just decided this was a mistake and started to put the key back into the ignition when there was a knock on my window. I looked up to find a man standing beside my car visibly shaking and sweating profusely. “You must be Cricket. I noticed your Ohio license plates.” he said through the glass of my window.  I slowly shook my head yes as I rolled down the window. “Are you Harvey?” I asked, hoping he was a lookout friend who was going to tell me Harvey couldn’t make it. Now, I want to say I have never been one to judge a book by its cover, but the man standing before me was not even remotely close to what I had pictured from our conversations.  He was sort of a John Candy look-alike but with really bad hair, very thick glasses, polyester pants, and really bad teeth.  And, as I said, sweating profusely. “Here, let me get your door.” he offered, as he pulled up on the door handle, but it was locked. “Oh my God, not in a million years. Start the car and get out of here.” I thought to myself. But, being polite by nature, I unlocked the door and walked into the restaurant with him.

Once seated, he apologized for being so nervous. The waitress took our order and then he said he had a confession to make.  It seems his best friend had decided to “check me out” and was actually sitting at a table across the room. “If you don’t mind, I’ll have her join us.” then he waved at her to move to our table. Sherry, and her son, reluctantly picked up their plates and moved to our table.  Introductions were made and we settled in to an awkward silence. Sherry finally said her ex-husband was from Ohio and asked if I had ever heard of Holmes County.  I was astonished and replied that was where I lived. As it turned out, her ex-husband was a friend of my ex-husband, and in fact had lived with us for a brief time with his first wife.  We laughed at what a small world it really was and everyone became more comfortable. An hour soon passed and Harvey reminded me I needed to make a phone call. “I wouldn’t want the cops to come bursting in here. “ he laughed. I got up and went in search of a pay phone to make a pretend call. I made two more such calls before Sherry announced she needed to go. I was sorry to see her leave as we had made an instant connection and she helped the evening to be one of enjoyment instead of what would have been a classic bad blind date.

Just before she left, Harvey had excused himself and Sherry took the opportunity to say, “I hope you will give Harvey a chance. I can see you are questioning whether you want to continue any kind of relationship with him. And I guess that is understandable. You are attractive, obviously successful in a professional career, and very sure of yourself. Harvey is none of those. But, I can tell you he is a wonderful person who has lived through a very difficult life. And he has you up on a pedestal. He has talked nonstop about you for months and now, that he has met you, I can see he is hooked. If you decide you don’t want a romantic relationship with him, I hope you let him down easy.”

By the time Harvey returned, Sherry and her son had left. We talked a few minutes then Harvey suggested we go for a drive so he could show me Elkhart. To be honest, my initial thought was to decline. This was not due to my being afraid to be alone with him, but more because I knew I would not be entering into a relationship with him. But, for a reason I will never understand, I said yes. We drove around for over an hour talking mostly about his life. He had been abandoned as a baby along side of a road. He then endured seven years in various foster homes before being placed in a home for boys, where he stayed until he turned eighteen. He married shortly after leaving the boy’s home due to an unplanned pregnancy. He and his first wife had two daughters and one son who died from crib death. Their marriage ended in a very nasty divorce. He met his second wife several years later and they were married after only knowing each other two months. They were married over 15 years before she died of cancer. We returned to the restaurant after our drive and I said my goodbyes with a promise to call him the next day once I arrived back in Ohio.  I checked into a motel for the night and spent the remainder of the evening thinking about how sorry I felt for him. The next morning he was parked by my car and offered to take me for breakfast.  He admitted he had followed me to the hotel and had actually gotten a room two doors down from mine because, “I wanted to make sure you were safe.” We spent the entire day together, but this time we talked about my life. Three months later we married despite protests from my best friend and my family.

I would like to report our marriage was one for the record books of successful marriages began while meeting on the internet. But it wasn’t. I married Harvey for all the wrong reasons. Sherry was right. He had not only put me on a pedestal, but worshiped the ground I walked on. He was extremely romantic and I had never received so many flowers delivered to my office in my life. My shattered ego from my first marriage absorbed the attention like a sponge. My best friend tried to warn me all this attention would eventually suffocate me. I had seen warning signs during our brief courtship but chose to ignore them. When I said “I do” on our wedding day, I knew I didn’t love him. But I did know he loved me and I thought that would be enough. I did care about him and wanted to make his a better life because he loved me.  And, I will have to admit the sex was great. We spent the next four years trying to smooth out the edges of a rocky marriage. He was a pathological liar, a very bad gambler, extremely jealous, a bit on the lazy side, and very messy. Definitely not a marriage made in heaven or even by the stars.

Mid-life crisis affects people in many ways. I should have bought a red Corvette and saved us both a lot of heartache.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2008 6:33 am

    Often what we need right now, is not what what lasts. We live and learn – and then continue to make mistakes. As long as we don’t repeat one’s we’ve already made, we end up quite well educated.

    ~~Thank you for visiting Stan. My grandmother used to say it was not a sin to make a mistake if you didn’t make it the second time. I have learned much in my life. Cricket

  2. latree permalink
    November 1, 2008 10:41 am

    so sad about the marriage. I had a friend who experienced the same story, but she’s still holding on

    ~~ Thank you for stopping in. In many ways Harvey was a wonderful man, just as Sherry had said. Unfortunately his gambling addiction destroyed any hope of saving the marriage. Cricket

  3. November 1, 2008 12:53 pm

    Too bad. But hold on!



    ~~Thank you for stopping in. I’m afraid we have let go of the marriage several years ago. Cricket

  4. November 1, 2008 2:09 pm

    i have never read a boring post from you…lol…you’re life definitely is exciting! i bet the marriage was cheaper than a corvette 😉

    ~~Hi Gem, thank you so much for your kind words. Actually I think a corvette may have been cheaper. A gambling addiction is a horrible thing to live with and pay for. Cricket

  5. November 1, 2008 5:16 pm

    A red Corvette sounds like a lot more fun!

    ~~Hi Eve, I would have to say our marriage wasn’t all bad, but a car probably would have lasted longer. LOL Cricket

  6. November 2, 2008 7:48 am

    Poor Harvey sounded like he had such a sad life. I would have been torn too. it’s not easy to just dismiss someone you feel empathy for. I’m sorry it didn’t work out. You have led such an incredible life, Cricket. There’s still time for the red corvette, you know. 😆

    ~~Hi Selma, Yes, Harvey had a rough beginning. I am happy he had such a wonderful second marriage before his wife died. She waited on him hand and foot and made him the King of his castle. He wasn’t prepared for me. LOL I had been there, done that – and wasn’t about to return. And of course his gambling was something he wasn’t willing to give up. As for the corvette – maybe, if I win the lottery or have a best seller! Cricket

  7. November 2, 2008 8:47 am

    but had you bought the corvette,, you would never have had this story to tell……

    ~~Hi Paisley, you are so right, and although the story did not have a happy ending, the beginning was quite an adventure and some of the middle parts were pretty great. Cricket

  8. November 2, 2008 6:12 pm

    That you’re able to see it clearly enough to pine for not choosing the Corvette is great. I really enjoyed reading this.

  9. November 2, 2008 6:43 pm

    wow what an amazing story, sometimes things just make have a way of working out and while somethings seem so bad at the moment, you needed those to realize how strong you are, with or without another person.

  10. DavidM permalink
    February 27, 2009 7:24 pm

    Hello Cricket,
    I came here from the link from your “Sweet Dreams” post (a post that I found to be interesting, intriguing, and well-written.) As for this post,
    “We drove around for over an hour talking mostly about his life. He had been abandoned as a baby along side of a road. He then endured seven years in various foster homes before being placed in a home for boys, where he stayed until he turned eighteen. He married shortly after leaving the boy’s home due to an unplanned pregnancy.”
    I have done a lot of research on ‘toxic’ people and relationships; especially those relationships that start off wonderful and people who are wonderful at the beginning and then turn toxic. One red light warning sign of this –is the person telling you, when they first meet you or shortly thereafter, about the horrible things in their life. Whether or not what they say is true or not is not so much the issue as the fact they are sharing something so dark and intimate so soon. Often, it is a sign that the person may be a narcissist, a sociopath, or suffer from borderline personality disorder – sometimes because the horrible life story they have told you is true –i.e they may be narcissistic, sociopathic, suffer from a personality disorder or just be garden variety jerks or jerkettes because of way they are raised.

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