74: Hello?

74: Hello?

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

Hello?

Home is where you can say anything you like cause nobody listens to you anyway.

~Author Unknown

I received a call from a boy with whom I went to high school. Of course, he’s not a boy now. He’s forty-something like I am but that’s the great thing about childhood friends. When you run into them — after you get over the initial “I know I don’t look THAT old” — it can be like looking at a hologram or one of those Magic Eye pictures.

You look at this rapidly-approaching-middle-aged businessman/ father-of-four/saving-for-retirement individual but even as you do, that puckish, fresh-faced boy wavers into view… then out again… then back. But you definitely catch fleeting glimpses of him in there — somewhere — almost like he’s waving at you from beneath the crow’s feet and laugh lines.

Your own inner cheerleader stirs inside of you and you forget — for a second — that what he’s seeing in you is a woman who forsook her grandmother’s advice, “You have to suffer to be beautiful,” and opted to be comfortable: a few extra pounds, a hairdo that was the height of fashion about ten years ago (but you know how to do it so you keep it) and a body where low-riding anything is out of the question.

So this hunky quarterback from twenty-something years ago called because he’d heard from another former classmate that I’m a writer now and wanted to know if I’d consider ghost writing a book for him.

I would.

I invited him to come to our house on a Saturday when I knew the kids would be gone but my husband would be home working. I figured if this was going to be an ongoing business relationship it was important for things to be on the up-and-up right from the start. Keep in mind that for the past fifteen years I’ve either a) stayed home with the kids, b) worked in the school system where my co-workers were 95% women, or c) worked at home by myself. I haven’t had a male co-worker since 1995.

I put on coffee and he came to the house. I introduced him to my (handsome, successful) husband and we sat in the very next room where David could overhear our entire conversation if he cared to. We talked about the project for an hour. It sounded fabulous and I was dying to sign on. Then we spent an hour or more laughing over old times.

As soon as he was gone, I went into David’s office and told him what we’d discussed — even though he could have heard every word. I was determined to do everything right to launch a platonic business relationship with a former really cute classmate — who, I should mention, has a wonderful spouse himself and four fabulous kids.

I was covering all my bases and then some.

I told David pointedly, “Look, I want to make sure you’re comfortable with the idea before I even consider it. If you have a problem with it, I’ll tell him ‘No’ right now.”

“Whadda’ you mean?” he asked.

“Well, neither Ben nor I have ever done this before and we have no idea how much time we’ll be required to spend together. And I want to know that you’re okay with that.”

“Okay with what?”

“Okay with me spending large amounts of time with another man.”

“What are you talking about?”

That’s when I copped my attitude, “You do still remember that I’m a woman. Right?”

(Deer-in-the-headlights) “Huh?… What?… So do you… think this guy’s good looking or something? Wait, am I… in… trouble here? Do you WANT me to be jealous of this guy? Do I have a reason to be worried?”

(Me, with one eyebrow raised, voice calm to the point of scary.) “Now what reason would you have to be jealous of ME — your annoying kid sister who no one would ever find even vaguely attractive?”

“So… you’re telling me I have a REASON to be jealous?”

“AAAHHH!!!”

(To my back as I stomp out of the room.) “I’d think you’d be glad that I don’t care how much time you spend with other guys. I trust you… Right?”

(Door slam.)

“Wait… can we start this over? I know I can do better.”

Poor David is still trying to figure out what he did wrong.

Ben’s still waiting for me to call him back and tell him whether I’ll do the job for him. I’m making him wait because, frankly, he’s a guy too and I’m basically mad at that entire sex right now.

 

~Mimi Greenwood Knight

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