Two Moms, Two Laps: QuietbyTx Tall Tales©
"Is this what you want, Jeremy? End your relationship like that? I thought you liked her? More than liked her. You're just going to throw her away, over a stupid lunch seating?"
"It's not what I want," I snapped, getting tired of the carping. "I wanted a loyal girlfriend. Someone I could trust when we were apart, not turning to the first guy she sees, the first chance she gets. I'm not going to share her. If that's what she wants, she picked the wrong guy." I stood up. "There, I explained myself. She made her choice. I've accepted it. Time to move on." I turned and walked back upstairs, leaving the meddlesome Mom's in my wake.
It wasn't 20 minute later before Mom was in my room. "Can't you call her, Jeremy? I know you two can work this out. All couples have issues, it's something you're going to learn as you get older. I know she didn't mean to hurt you, and she wasn't leaving you. It's a stupid mistake. Ten minutes, and I'm certain you can get past this. You two belong together."
"Why, Mom? I can't trust her now. What's she going to be up to as soon as I leave?"
"It's not the end of the world. She only talked to a guy."
"She embarrassed me. Humiliated me. Disrespected me. Ignored me, while she spent all her time with that jerk. He was fucking laughing at me, that it was so easy to take her away. Why would I want her back?"
Mom sat down on my bed. "I wasn't there, but it sure sounds like that guy was the troublemaker, and Penny was too naive to see what was going on. She's probably not used to that kind of attention, and he took advantage of her. Why didn't you confront him right away? Insist on sitting with her?"
"I shouldn't have to. She made the choice, not me."
"Baby, guys are going to hit on your girl. She's sweet and beautiful. You need to stand up for what's yours. Nip it in the bud. Make it clear to her what your expectations are. Not abandon her the first time she makes a mistake. Call her, Jeremy. Do it for me, please?"
"No," I answered curtly.
She looked shocked that I would deny her. She got up after a bit, and went to the door. "Think about it, alright? You said you loved her. This, what you're doing, doesn't look like love. It looks petty. I'm disappointed in you. Call her later." That was her parting shot.
Hell. If Penny wanted to talk, she could call me, right? It wasn't like her fingers were broken. She's the one who made her choice.
I was more than a little surprised when Dad walked into my room around 6 o'clock. He sat on the corner of my bed. "What's this I hear about you dumping Penny?" he said.
"I didn't dump her. She left me. She chose someone else." I was getting tired of explaining that.
"Did she tell you that? Did she say she was done with you?"
"No. She opted to show me instead."
"I don't think so. From the sounds of things, she might have made a mistake. You're blowing it all out of proportion. You've got your mother upset, and her mother upset. Seems like the girl is a mess over this. If you've got a problem with your girl, you don't tuck tail and run. You have an obligation to get to the bottom of things. Work things out if you can. You've been dating her for a year, and this is the first fight you've had. Now man up, and work it out."
"Right. Like you 'manned-up' and ignored Mom for two days."
I saw his face turn red. "This has nothing to do with me and your mother. What she did was a hell of a lot worse than talking to some guy in public. You're making an ass of yourself."
"Thanks, Dad. I learned from the best."
He stood and glared at me. "Fine. Sit here and ruin your life. Whine like a spoiled little girl. You know she's crazy about you, and you're going to punish her for talking to someone else? Throw away everything because your panties are in a bunch? Go ahead. You're a man now, right? Old enough to fuck up on your own, and too full of yourself to listen to good advice. Screw this up too, why don't you? It's not like you don't have enough practice making a mess of everything around you." He turned away from me, "I honestly never expected you to grow up to be such a disappointment to me. I'm ashamed you're my son."
By the time I had a good snappy response, he was gone. Well fuck him too.
I was getting good at all this self-pity shit.
* * *
The door opened, and the last person I expected to see walked in. Aunt Marie. She walked over to the side of my bed without saying a word. Sat beside me, and put her arms around me.
I sat there, upset beyond words. Why was everyone hounding me like this was my fault?
But Aunt Marie didn't nag me. She was quiet, holding me, slowly rocking back and forth. After a couple of minutes of silence she spoke softly.
"Young girls make mistakes, Jeremy. We do. Take it from someone who knows, and will pay for it for the rest of her life. We don't have enough life experience to make the right choices some times. Penny screwed up. Now it's up to you to decide if it's worth crucifying her over, or if you can let it go."
I could feel my eyes moistening. I leaned against her, and she kissed my forehead.
"Am I still your best friend, Jeremy? The one you've always been able to talk to? The one who would never steer you wrong if she could help it? Is it over for us too, or can I still be your buddy?"
I caught my breath. "You know."
"I hope so. I'm not so sure anymore. I'm not sure about anything. But never mind us. Let me tell you something about girls." She moved behind me, 'til I was sitting between her legs, her arms wrapped around my chest, mouth inches from my ear.
"There's a window of guilt. Right now she feels horrible about what she did. At some point, that guilt will turn to anger, and all she will remember is how you turned on her. Once that happens, your chance of ever working things out drops dramatically. The longer you two go without communicating, the worse it gets. I'm sorry, but that's the way it goes. If you have any feelings for her at all, if you see any way past this, there may still be time to fix this."
"She could call me. Why do I have to be the one to grovel? She's the one who hurt me. Humiliated me."
I felt her lips press against my neck. "You don't have to grovel. All you have to do is take the first step. Be willing to talk to her. You can tell her how you felt. How she hurt you. Whatever you think you need to say. You just have to make that initial effort. She knows she screwed up. You have to understand, baby, attention is a heady thing to a young girl. We live for it. She hasn't learned yet how to fend off hurtful attention. She doesn't know about predators, seducers, the guys who say all the right things for all the wrong reasons. She's going to have to live with that attention for many years to come, and learn how to deal with it. This was a hard lesson, but I'm pretty sure she learned it."
"It's not that easy, Aunt Marie," I said.
"I know, baby. Let me tell you something else. You were her first. Right now, her heart is in your hands. You can't understand, you never will, what it means for most of us girls. You were her first, and it was perfect. That makes her extremely vulnerable at the moment. You could destroy her, so easily. Crush her. I don't think you want that, do you? Are you going to rip her heart out, because she was too naive to see what that bastard was up to?"
"I...I guess I wanted her to feel some of the pain I was feeling, when she ignored me. What it felt like when that asshole smirked, laughing at me."
"You've done that. Tenfold. Forgive her for a stupid mistake, and let her forgive you for compounding it. She hurt you, but you didn't handle this well at all. You're both learning what it means to have a serious relationship. What you had for a year was nothing compared to these last few days. Learn, while you're young, Jeremy. It's not too late for you two. All you have to do is make the first gesture. Please, take it from someone who knows the value of forgiveness. She loves you, and you love her. Don't let this ruin it."
I turned around, and pulled her onto my lap. I hugged her until my arms ached. "I need you, Aunt Marie. Don't let my stupid mistakes interfere with us, please. You've always been my go-to girl. Always. I'm so sorry I've screwed things up."
She rubbed her face on my shoulder, and I felt the moisture of her tears. "Don't you go worrying about us, Jeremy. We'll be just fine. You and I both know that. We'll have time enough for us later. For now, take care of Penny. The poor girl is devastated."
I kissed her, a long soft kiss, from my fantasy woman and best friend. "I'm going to go over there. I'm sorry I was so stubborn."
Aunt Marie climbed off my lap, and took me by the hand. "C'mon, no time like the present."
"It's late," I told her, the clock on my desk reading almost 10:00.
"Trust me, she's not sleeping. Go."
She walked me downstairs, and I saw my parents sitting on the couch, watching me anxiously. I walked over, needing to make peace at home as well.
"Sorry Dad. You're right. As usual. Don't you ever get tired of hearing me say that?"
He gave me a lop-sided grin. "Not in this lifetime."
"I'm going over to talk to Penny. See if I can make things better. Thanks for trying to help me pull my head out of my ass."
"You, too, Mom. Thanks. I'm sorry about earlier."
"I understand. Go on now. Time's wasting."
I leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, then turned and took Aunt Marie's hand in mine. We walked to the door, and I gave her another kiss before I headed out. "You're the best. Don't ever let me forget that."
I got a quick last hug, before she shooed me out the door.
* * *
I had to knock on the door three times before anyone answered. I looked up to see Penny's father scowling at me.
"I know it's late, Mr. Booth. I'm sorry to be bothering you, but I'd like to speak to Penny if I could."
"Couldn't it wait until morning?" he growled. "Haven't you done enough lately?"
"I think it would be better if we spoke tonight."
He glared at me for a few minutes before stepping back to open the door.
"Who is it, Joe?" I heard Colleen ask. She looked my way and was out of her chair like a shot. She grabbed my hand, tugging me down the hall. "Just promise me you're not here to make things worse," she said softly.
"I hope not," I confessed.
She knocked on the door to Penny's room. I heard the muffled "Come in," and Colleen was pushing me through the door.
If I expected her to leap into my arms, crying, begging for forgiveness, I was sorely disappointed. Her eyes were red and swollen, but I didn't see much in them but anger.
I recalled Aunt Marie's words, and wondered if I'd missed the window.
She didn't say anything, apparently waiting. I took a page out of Aunt Marie's playbook, climbed up on the bed, and wrapped my arms around her, silently, just holding her.
She sat still, unyielding for the longest time. I was in no hurry. I let her get used to my presence, happy to hold her again. I saw her head slowly bow. "You hurt me, Jeremy. Nobody ever hurt me like that."
"I'm sorry," I told her, kissing the top of her head. "I think we both suffered enough the last couple of days. You destroyed me. I...I know you didn't do it on purpose."
"I only talked to him. That's all. Why wouldn't you believe me?"
"It wasn't that you talked to him. You forgot about me. Ignored me. We were on a date, and you let him replace me. I don't know if I've ever been that angry or jealous. How could you do that to me, after the last few days? I thought you loved me as much as I loved you. I would never do that to you."
"You did just as much, and more," she said.
"No. I did it to get back at you, to get your attention, to give you a taste of what you were doing to me. You did it because you forgot about me. Didn't care. All I could think about was what was going to happen when I leave for school. If you could forget me, flirt and date other guys, while I'm three feet away, what are you going to do when I'm 3 hours away?"
"What about me, Jeremy? It's like you stole my virginity, and then the first time you get mad at me, you dump me and pick-up the first slut you run into. Didn't you know I'd hear all about it? You and her becoming 'special' friends at UT, while I'm stuck back here? What am I supposed to be, your weekend fuck-buddy, while you keep a new girlfriend down there? I talk to some guy, and you've suddenly abandoned me at the mall, got a new girlfriend, and are ignoring me. Do I mean that little to you?"
"You could have called me, you know. You're the one that ran away from me at the mall. Left me there with that asswipe laughing at me."
"He's not an asswipe. He's a nice guy. A lot nicer than you, it seems."
"Sure, a nice guy moving in on a girl he knows is taken, ignoring his own date while he tries to get in your pants. I saw you two, Penny. Eating off your plate, teasing, joking, touching. I saw how you looked at him. You never once thought about me, sitting at the end of the table. Never for a moment even looked my way. No, you were all goo-goo eyed for lover-boy. How long have you had a crush on him?"
"I...I never had a crush on him. We're just friends."
"Right. Your 'friend' sure moved in on you pretty damn fast. How long have you two been friends? It sure didn't look like something new."
"Stop it Jeremy. Just stop it. We're friends, Ok? I've known him for a couple of years. We never dated. He's never even kissed me."
"I bet you wanted to, though, didn't you? What was I, second place? First chance you got to trade up you jumped on it?"
She started crying. "No, you've got it wrong. You're my first choice. You always were. I was so lucky to have you. He's just a guy I know. He was paying me attention. It was nice. That was all."
I didn't like to see her cry. I held her, brushing back her hair. "I'm sorry, Ok? I was jealous. Maybe too jealous. I was hurt, and I overreacted. I've never had anyone I was serious about like you, Penny. Don't you understand? I felt I was losing you, and it broke my heart. I thought we had a chance, a long-term special relationship. Seeing you like that made it all seem so temporary, like you were just using me for the experience before I went away."
"Why did you have to beat him up? He didn't do anything. We just talked."
"You thought you were just talking. He knew exactly what he was doing, stealing my girl. You didn't see the way he looked at me, smirking, laughing at how easy it was."
"He didn't 'steal' me."
"Not yet. He opened the door. Got you giggling and ignoring me. I bet he knows I'm going away. Is he going to be around? Get another shot at you later? Where's he going to school, Penny? Locally, I bet. Did he make comments about me leaving you?"
"He said he's going to UNT. He's going to be around. I guess he did ask where you were going to school."
"I bet he suggested you guys get together, too, didn't he?"
"Not on a date or anything. He said we should go out as a group more often."
"A group, when I'm out of town. Who was going to be your date in the 'group', Penny?"
"We didn't talk about that." She shrugged my arms away. "Is it going to be like this every time I talk to a guy. The big interrogation? Getting mad and ignoring me? Don't you trust me, Jeremy?"
"It's not that I don't trust you, I don't trust guys like him. What kind of guy moves in on someone else's girlfriend?"
"So what do we do now? Is it over because I talked to some guy and you didn't like it? Is that how it is? I'm not going to live like that. It's not fair. I didn't do anything wrong other than let some guy sit opposite me. I didn't even do that. I told him I was saving the seat for you, and he said he'd keep it warm until you got there. How come you didn't come and take your seat, if you didn't like it?"
"What was I supposed to do? Tell him to move, in the middle of your intimate conversation?"
"If it mattered so much to you, then yeah. You should have made him move."
"How come you didn't ask him to move, like he promised, when I got to the table."
"I didn't even know you got there, until you were already practically making out with that slut," she snapped.
"Ten minutes after I arrived. That's when you realized I didn't have any place to sit, thanks to asshole lover-boy."
"Can we stop, Jeremy? If you don't want to be with me anymore, just say so. Don't torture me like this. I talked to a guy. I did. So shoot me. I didn't touch him, hug him, get his phone number, take his picture. That's what you did. How would you feel if I'd done that?"
"You did touch him, and he touched you. I watched it. Long before I touched anybody."
"We did? I...I don't remember..." suddenly she was blushing, ashamed.
"I did it to get even, Penny. Hell, your friend suggested it. Why did you do it?"
"Some kind of even. If I had kissed him, what were you going to do, fuck her right there on the table?"
"No, I would have kicked his ass, dumped you and moved on," I snapped.
"Over a kiss? You'd dump me, without even talking about it?"
"I'm not willing to be second place to anybody, Penny. I'm not going to let you publicly humiliate me. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is."
"You were my first. My boyfriend for a year. You've had sex with me, and a dozen blowjobs. Kissing him would have made you second place and you'd dump me just like that? By your rules, I'm second place to your mother, your aunt and even my mother. How's that fair?"
"You're not second place to anybody, Penny. You should know that."
"So should you. I'm sorry I got distracted, Ok? I didn't mean to hurt you, I didn't even think I was. I don't think he was really trying anything, but if you say he was, I won't argue it. He's never going to get anywhere with me. I saw how he treated his own date. But you can't treat me like this. Not if you love me like you say you do. If you're mad at something, tell me. Don't blow up and abandon me. Don't try to get even. Talk to me. I thought that was one of the great things we had going for us. We could talk about anything, then you shut me out."
"I'm sorry too, alright? I just got so angry, the way you were ignoring me, like I didn't matter. Maybe you didn't do it on purpose, but it hurt just the same. The longer I sat there without you even noticing me, the more pissed I got. I'm not going to do anything with that girl, hell, I don't even remember her name. I wanted you to feel as jealous as me. That was all."
"What do you want to do about it then? Are we over? Is that what you want?"
"No! That's not what I want. I want you. I want to be your man. I want you to blow off any guy who tries to take my place. I want to be able to trust you completely. Not worry about which assholes are hitting on you when I'm not around."
"You are my man. Totally. Nobody's going to replace you. I'm not going to let that happen. I've been with one man in my life. One. You. And it was perfect. Do you really think I'm going to throw that away because some guy can make me laugh?"
We'd been sitting there, talking to each other, no longer hugging or touching. I understood what she was saying. I probably over reacted. She made a mistake, and I blew it up. Probably part of it was all the stress at home, which wasn't her fault. Did I want to mess things up between us? Hell no.
"Can...can I just hold you for a while? I'm sorry I blew up. I don't know how to handle what happened, Ok? It was a shock to me. I'll try to do better."
"You gotta take those shoes off," she said, with a hint of a smile.
It only took a few seconds before I was lying under the covers with her, still fully dressed, and holding her. "I'm sorry," I whispered.
"Me too. I shouldn't have forgotten about you like that. I didn't even realize it was happening. I won't do it again."