About Me

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Four years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Loyalty -- i.e. the Girlfriend Rule -- and Forgiveness, and the Dance Last Night

This is a post that I’ve been sitting on for about a year. With some editing and an update, I think I’m finally ready to share.

I date rarely, but I do date. I am not high-maintenance in terms of wanting a man who is handsome, degreed, and wealthy, but I am resolute in expecting integrity, consideration, and competence. I expect that from all my friends, and I am rarely disappointed. My posse, Brother Sushi, Brother Karitas, and the late Brother Stilts, as well as a handful of other good men, provide the yardstick by which I measure all potential romances.

I love how we are just *there* for one another. This is true of my friendships with other women, as well. I was talking about this with a friend who annulled her first marriage because her husband shot at her. One of her bridesmaids (!) married him on the rebound and when that marriage broke up couldn’t understand why my friend didn’t want to pick up the friendship where they’d left it.

I totally get that. She broke the Girlfriend Rule: when your girlfriend finds out that the man she’s been dating [or married to] is a toad, you do not jump into the lily pond and eat flies with him. There is no man worth losing a friendship over. Well, maybe Sean Connery, but other than that, no.

We were talking in church the other day [this would be roughly a year ago] about when the Martin Handcart Company was stranded 700 miles from the Salt Lake Valley, late in the year, and their food had run out. The brethren left General Conference to round up wagons and horses and provisions. The sisters formed circles, facing outward, and took turns standing within the circle and divesting themselves of flannel petticoats to send to the refugees. That is what womanhood and sisterhood is all about.

Maybe I was too cryptic about why I stopped dating Brother Abacus, but I learned [last March] to my astonishment that one of my girlfriends was dating him, knowing something of how he treated me, and knowing that he treated other women shabbily as well.

A reliable source told me then that there may have been 10-15 of us, just locally, that he played, including a dear, tenderhearted friend of mine. I sometimes fantasized that we should all get together with a nice assortment of cream pies and *smite* him. A reasonably nonviolent middle-aged version of “John Tucker Must Die”.

The more I think about dating, the more I like my knitting.

Last April we had one of our semi-annaual General Conference broadcasts from SLC. And one of the themes was forgiveness. One of the Brethren spoke reverently of the devastation to that Amish community in the fall of 2006, and how there was grief but no anger, that they have individually and collectively internalized the Savior’s commandment to love one another and forgive one another, that they have extended love and mercy and forgiveness to the family of the man who killed five of their precious daughters and wounded five others.

That is the depth of holiness of living to which I aspire, and of which I fall so lamentably short. I still get hurt, and I still want justice now rather than in God’s time and way. I don’t take it into my own hands, but I still often wish that I could. I find it relatively easy to forgive those who offend me, and I find it extremely difficult to forgive anyone who wounds one of my children, or somebody else’s children.

Updates. Brother Abacus is not coming to the dances anymore. I don’t know if enough of us called him on his bad behavior, or if he found greener pastures elsewhere, or if he decided to do the gentlemanly thing and properly grieve his late wife and stop taking his pain and anger out on the rest of us.

And as for my former friend, she met someone online a few months ago and is engaged to be married to a man who has been married six or seven times, and whose divorce is not-quite-final. There are two words beginning with A that occur to me. The first is aneurism; the second is adultery. I know her well enough to be sure that she is not permitting improprieties of a physical nature. But I would not have believed that she is so desperate for male companionship. Does she not realize that if he is willing to make a commitment with her before he is legally and morally free to do so, then he is likely to do the same with the next woman?

Nobody seems to be willing to say to her “are you NUTS?” Including me. I was within 15 minutes of the time I had decided to leave, when she arrived at the dance last night. I don’t want to be rude to her. [There are times when “I wish you all the happiness you deserve” is a real slam.] And she is so oblivious that there’s a real chance she would come over and try to give me a hug.

So not happening!

I tried to explain this last year to a dear friend who is a devout Christian but of a different denomination. It’s hard to explain the nuances of LDS culture in general, not to mention the additional complications of singleness as an active middle-aged Latter-Day Saint. There are just not that many guys out there who are active and dating. Not in Texas, at any rate. The ones who are, have their pick of women, from the ones my age on down to the fertile ones. And some of the guys are gentlemen, and others are predatory. I never once had to play slap-hands with Brother Abacus; nevertheless his behavior was hurtful and inappropriate, and while he rarely comes to mind anymore, “pie” still seems like a good idea when he does.

With guys so few and far between, if you’re going to date, you’re likely going to date somebody that your girlfriends have also dated or are also dating. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I certainly thought nothing of it when I was in the singles’ branch after joining the church in my 20’s. But when the man in question has behaved badly, even if technically no commandments were broken, and you know that he has treated one of your friends badly, what does it say about you if you date him? [“OK, I know he was a jerk to these other 25 women, but he won’t treat me that way?”]

Another case in point. I have an ex-boyfriend whom I started dating two and a half years after my divorce was final. Ergo, not a rebound relationship. And he treated me well [not in the buy-me-loot sense, but in the speak-the-truth-in-kindness sense]. And he treated my kids well. I knew that he was seeing others, and I had no problem with it. I met him through one of my friends. And all that I remember her saying about him, when I asked her if she minded if I dated him, was that he wasn’t to her taste. Later, after I broke up with him, she gave me chapter and verse. I did not put it all together beforehand; otherwise, I never would have dated him. Not because there was anything amiss in his behavior toward me, but because other women have had problems with him. And specifically because my friend had problems with him.

He called me a few weeks ago, to ask if we could have dinner and catch up on life. I told him that I was incredibly busy with LittleBit’s senior year and a planned move after that, and to please call me in July. But when he does, I need to find a way to tell him that because of what I have learned about him, I don’t want to see or talk to him again. And why.

I think what still frosts me about the behavior of this other girlfriend is that when he asked her out, she said, “Aren’t you dating Lynn?” and he said that it had all been amicably resolved. But she did not ask me.

Boyfriends and husbands seem to come and go. Girlfriends are forever.

The dance last night was fun. Mostly. The music started out awful and got better. I heard from one of the stake reps that the surveys we submitted have been specific and helpful; they’ll be discussed in a meeting with the local church leaders sometime today. The refreshments were varied and tasty. Particularly the brownies. I had to keep going back for more, to make sure that my senses were not deceiving me.

Brother Sushi is out of town this weekend for a family reunion, and one of the Brothers Good was MIA. I sent him a non-flirty email telling him just what he had missed.

I danced about as much as I wanted to last night. The first dance on Friday is always fun, but the second dance on Saturday is always better, because we’ve all spent the day together in workshops and over two meals and possibly in service projects.

My “dontcha” shirt arrived at the office yesterday, so I wore it last night. And got several rounds done on Anastasia, then came home and tried it on and realized that I needed to frog it back to 66 stitches, because it was too big.

I need to grab some dinner for the missionaries and take it to the ward breakfast and then head over to the singles’ conference.

1 comment:

Rorek said...

This is one of the reasons, that I am not looking forward to dating again. Honestly, at this point, I think I could be happily single for a very very long time.

I'm sorry that 1st boyfriend hurt your friend. You're right in that he was good to you, and that he was kind to us kids. I had no reasons to dislike him, except that he wasn't Dad.

I love you, and I hope that someday, maybe even someday soon, you find the right guy for you. Preferably someone who enjoys life as much as you do.