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June 24, 2024

A Youthful Indiscretion

By Dan Mulhollen

Carla's Story

I was young and needed the money. Okay, that's close enough to the truth to work. It really was not all that bad. I am glad that my parents never found out, but that's due to the hassles that would have followed. And I still have a copy, although looking at it usually gives me a case of the giggles. In some small way, that experience helped make me who I am, and I have no regrets.

Anyway, at some point in my life's adventure, I started hanging out at a combination bookstore/coffee house called the Comfy Armchair. The bookstore is a maze of aisles with shelves varying from library bookshelves to ones you would be more likely to find in a supermarket. And on these shelves, thousands of volumes, hundreds of which are unlikely to be found in any shopping mall bookstore.

The coffee shop is not a fancy "Seattle" type, but it does sell a good cup of coffee. And there is an interesting assortment of regulars. There are the college know-it-alls whose lack of worldly wisdom is compensated--in their own mind--by a steadfast belief in some life-changing tome read during their first semester. Then there are the bored, but literate, housewives who come to the bookstore to fantasize about having an affair with one of the frustrated artist-types who also frequent the place.

Yeah, I am in that latter group, and like most, I find the first two groups amusing, if occasionally annoying. Of course, Sadie and Martin are also in that latter group.

Sadie is a lightning rod of neurotic energy. A tall, raven-haired woman who loves making it known that she's someone important, dropping subtle hints regarding celebrities she'd met. She also enjoyed bringing drama into people's lives--men in particular; leaving a trail of broken-hearted, confused men in her wake.

Martin is more fun to be around. He often jokes about his being a Monkey, according to Chinese astrology. True enough, like a monkey, this short rotund man can be wonderfully playful when in his usual good mood. However if his mood turns sour, he can be as nasty as any feces-tossing primate.

Martin's Story

To be honest, Carla scared the crap out of me at first. A pale spectre dressed in black. Sure, she could be cordial, even friendly, but beneath it all was a smothering darkness that provided no real warmth. Where most of the "Armchair" regulars were very open about their lives, she preferred to be a mystery.

I guess that is one of my hangups. When I meet someone, a woman in particular, I immediately want to know her emotional makeup. Most women quickly open up, telling some nice anecdotes about their past. She kept a very solid wall up. So after a few conversations, my interest was drawn elsewhere.

Sadie was different; someone able to weave an elaborate tapestry, unveiling her past layer by layer. She never hid her emotions or her opinions. She was complicated and difficult, and everyone knew it. Maybe there was some bizarre magic she had that drew people to her, the way she was able to appeal to old insecurities. She was like the high school homecoming queen, yet she chose to hang out with the dork who was always picked last for sports.

The "Armchair's" owner decided to have a "weekend out" at a resort in a neighboring state. Carla asked if I was interested in going with her. But how could I? I was looking forward to Sadie's invitation. That weekend together would change things completely between her and me.

Carla's Story

Yeah, I was hurt. We could have had a really good time that weekend. But no, "I have to wait to see what Sadie's plans are." Whatever. What made it worse was how delusional he was being. There was no way in hell Sadie would ever invite him to spend the weekend with her. Oh not Miss Never Wrong, who lives to find fault with others--particularly with men interested in her.

What's really sad was I had been wondering about Martin and myself. I knew he was a good guy and maybe someone I could take a chance with. His flakiness changed all that. Maybe I am a recluse, so what? Stick your head out and get it chopped off. Well, Martin convinced this turtle to keep her head in her shell.

So I just sat quietly and watched as the inevitable happened. Martin was grasping for any hope of winning Sadie's affections, struggling to ignore every red flag she was waving. And I watched her backing away, inadvertently backing herself into a wall. The end was not pretty; a lame joke, an earnest but half-assed attempt to placate this neurotic bitch, and she went completely nuts, charging out of the place calling Martin every name in the book.

Friend in need time, I suppose--although it really was not that cynical. Martin and I began talking more. I did not want to go into some areas, once bitten and all. And as charming as this monkey could be, his teeth were always visible.

Yeah, I put up a few walls with Martin that had not been there before. Maybe that made me seem more distant, but I wasn't going to let myself be set up again just to be knocked down by his moods. And I was not going to let him forget the opportunity he'd passed up.

One evening, we were discussing my need for privacy, and the differences between being private and secretive--always an issue between us. That was when I mentioned it--my youthful indiscretion. It did make him smile. I also admitted that I would have no trouble showing it to someone I could truly trust.

Martin's Story

After things with Sadie blew up, I began seeing past Carla's icy goth facade. I soon realized that I had made a very bad mistake by not accepting her invitation for that weekend. Yet I had a history of being dazzled by women like Sadie and ignoring what was standing right in front of me.

I began to realize how good of a friend Carla had been to me. We exchanged gifts that Chrismas--somethng I never did with anyone else at the "Armchair". She even introduced me to a few of her friends who publish a little literary magazine. It all felt very good; like we were both putting away past baggage.

I can't explain why Carla's secret fascinated me so. Of course, there was the obvious, she is an intelligent, attractive woman. But there was so much more. The fact that even after I let her down, she trusted me enough to tell me about it. There was a bond forming between us, something special.

Of course I wanted to see it. But when I'd bring it up, she'd giggle and say, "you will". Another twelve months had passed and for some reason, I got the notion that she would show it to me as a Christmas gift. She did get me a wonderful gift. Yet, and I am embarrassed to admit this, I was disappointed when my notion did not come true.

After a little reflection, I realize something that personal is expecting a bit much. Still I do believe her when she says it will happen. I guess I just have to wait until she is ready.

Carla's Story

Maybe I am a sadistic bitch, but it is fun watching Martin squirm like that. Of course, he'll never actually come out and directly say what he wants--and his passive-agressiveness can be cloying. But I am someone who keeps her word, and one of these days, that little monkey will be getting a very nice surprise.

Article © Dan Mulhollen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-02-18
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