Sunday, September 29, 2013

Some People

Some Person # One

Part of my Spain/Morocco trip has gone untold. Well, untold viraly. Plenty of people have heard this story first-hand.

But it's time the world was made aware.

Benjamin and I had a very good time for most of our trip. We visited my best friend from college and her family (her husband and I are also distant relatives), who lives in Malaga, Spain, for most of the time, even traveling to Morocco with her.

The last three days of our trip were spent in Madrid with another friend. It's funny that I still refer to her that way after what happened, but I do. 

She and I go way back. A native Moldovan, I taught with her when I was in the Peace Corps from 1994 to 1996. We occasionally had some communication issues, but over the course of time I guess I'd forgotten how much.

My expectations were simple: a few days catching up with an old friend, hopefully some sightseeing.

We arrived around 5:00 p.m. in the evening. She and her husband picked us up from the train station. Her husband doesn't speak any English, but I could tell he was a nice man, especially in comparison to the husband I'd known in Moldova. He obviously doted on her and treated her very well. I said as much a few times.

That evening they took us, on their suggestion, to a palace about a half-hour away. We returned to have a late dinner (which is normal in Spain - around 9 or 10 p.m.). After dinner my friend brought out a bowl full of Moldovan candies. Candies which are so unlike our candies here that I don't enjoy them. I said so, and declined to have any.

The next day Benjamin and I and her son went to tour Madrid a bit. When we got home in the evening Benjamin went upstairs to play on the computer, her son went to lay down, and she and I sat in her kitchen and visited for at least a couple hours. One of the things she asked me about was my divorce, and dating. At that point I was on and had been out with around six guys. That was the number I mentioned to her.

The next morning the plan was for her to drop Benjamin and I off at the train station in Madrid on her way to work and we would find our way to Toledo. In the morning I asked if she had any food we could take with us for lunch. She said no, that if I'd asked the evening before she could have prepared something, but the notice was too late. It was no big deal, I said. I just thought I'd ask. I didn't expect her to prepare anything, just let us make sandwiches and take fruit or something.

So Benjamin and I went to Toledo, our last and favorite stop in Spain. We had a wonderful day, and found our way back to the Madrid train station and from there to the stop nearest her home, where she picked us up.

Up to this point she and I had been having, what I would have said, was a very nice time.

But this is where kray-kray came out.

Ready? Hopefully you can follow along with the following Conversation of Insanity (kind of like the Pit of Despair, but, um, not).

I got in the car and said, "Oh, I thought your husband was going to pick us up. I thought you had
     to work late."
"I wasn't feeling well," she said. "So I came home early. And my son is sick and in no condition
      to pick you up."
 "Sorry to hear that. You know, I think I'm getting to know the train stations around here like the back
      of my hand." 
 "That's good. Because you're going to have to take the train to the airport tomorrow. My husband
      cannot take you as planned."
 "Really? Why not?"
 "He has to work. It came up unexpectedly."
 "Bummer! I was sure hoping he could help us with the luggage."
 "Beth, my husband is not your personal baggage handler."

This is where my first "something's not right" thought hit, but I pushed it aside.

"I don't think he is. It's just much easier to get heavy luggage into a car and out at the airport than to lug it on and off trains."
"Well, that's what you'll have to do."
"Well, if we were going to have to take the train to the airport in the morning, I need money."

She lit into me. "I cannot believe you're asking me to give you money!!"
My thoughts went from "something's not right" to "what the hell?"
When I said, "That's not what I'm doing," she got very stern with me. "Oh yes you are!!"
Every time I tried to say, "No it's not," she interrupted me, bowled over me, and continued to say, quite forcefully, "yes you are." Like she was trying to convince me that I was, indeed, trying to get her to give me money.
I seriously had to wait for her to stop repeating that and then quickly (before she could start yelling again) said, as fast as possible so I could get it all said, "I just need you to take me to a bank so I can take some cash out because I thought your husband was taking us to the airport and therefore I wouldn't need any more Euros so I spent just about all of them today and I know I can use a credit card at the Madrid train station, but I can't at your little one, right?"

"No, I don't think so."
More silence. For about ten seconds. Then she asks:
"So, did you buy anything in Toledo?"
"Yes. I found a pair of earrings and a necklace."
"What about for your friends? Did you buy anything for them?"
"Only for a couple people who specifically asked for things."
"Oh, so you only buy gifts for people who ask for them?"
"No, but I don't often buy people things if I don't know what they like."
"You should always buy people gifts. And in Morocco...? Did you buy anything there?"
"Yes, I found a lot of amazing things in Morocco! I got..."
"But what did you buy me? Nothing, I see. You didn't think to buy me anything?"

This is also the point in the story where, when I repeat that comment, all my friends take in a collective gasp. We would never, in America, ask our guests if they bought us something.

I let out a very hesitant, "Uh...nooooo..."

I'm going to condense some of the rest of her comments now. Partly because, although they didn't all happen immediately after one another, and may not be in the proper sequence, I got almost not a word in edgewise for the next ten minutes or so.  But somewhere in here my thoughts of "something's not right" and "what the hell?" began to equal "holy shit!"

These were her rants:
You know, you really offended me when you said you didn't like my Moldovan candies.
And this friend of yours in Malaga - I called her today. She's very nice. Too nice, I think. The kind of nice that people take advantage of, just as you have taken advantage of me.
I am not here to be your personal chauffeur or cook.
I can't believe you didn't even have money to buy yourselves food today {um, yes I did}. I can tell you I would NEVER take my child to another country without having enough money {I really have no idea where she got this idea that I had no money. Why in the world would I take a trip overseas without the means to pay for it?}.
Your son is very well behaved, and I have no idea how that happened, because you obviously don't have the skills to teach him that {yes, she said this while he was in the back seat of the car}.

By the time we got into her house, she was on a rant roll. Except now it had gotten really out of hand. She accused me of going after her husband. "You've got six men at home," she said. "How do I know you are not trying to make him number seven?"

What the...?????

I realized later that she evidently thought I'd been SLEEPING will those six men, when in reality I'd only been on dates with that many. Maybe in her culture dating = sleeping with.

And maybe I had been a little too complimentary to her on her choice of a husband??

I tried to explain to her that a lot of this was cultural, that we were having communication and  custom misunderstandings.

"You always have an excuse for everything!" she screamed at me. {Umm, we haven't talked in about 15 years...}. "I've talked to people at work and they are appalled at your behavior!"

Well OF COURSE they are! I would be, too, if I was getting her version of things.

She even spit back at me, "Well, I'm not!" when I told her I had been enjoying visiting with her again.

Then she tells me she doesn't even trust me in her house for the evening. We need to pack our bags and get out.

When she said that I questioned her as to where we could go. She said she would take us to a hotel in Madrid.

We headed upstairs to start packing.

A few minutes later she appeared and said, "I've spoken to my husband and for the sake of your son you can stay here tonight, but tomorrow I will drop you at the train station."

"Fine. But can you take me to a bank? I still need money." {Not yours, for the love of Pete!}

So about an hour later we climb into the car and have a VERY SILENT ride to the bank. She pulls up to the corner, points out a few banks, and I get out of the car. There's an ATM on the outside of the building. So I walk to it, stick my card in, pull out a 20 Euro bill, knowing that will be more than enough to get us to the airport in the morning, and get back in the car.

"That was fast," she says. I make no comment. Because, whatever.

"I've never had a bank machine give me money that fast." Again I remain silent. Am I supposed to comment on her comments?

By the time we got to her place I was getting another earful. "All you did was say hello to the bank machine. You never needed to go to the bank. You already had that money in your purse." {Yeah, because at that point I really wanted to be alone in the car with Crazylady for no reason}

"Show me your reciept!" she yells.
"I don't have one," I say.
I never get receipts. Here or anywhere. I don't like the paper trail. I always just check online to see all my spending activity. Now, had I been thinking, I would have done that, but I was speechless when she retorted, "Everyone gets a receipt in Madrid. {Crap, did I miss that rule in the travel brochure??} You're lying, and I will not have liars in my house!"

So I pull the 20 out of my wallet and hand it to her. "This is what I got out of the machine," I say. She takes the bill, examines it, exclaims, "This is not the kind of money that comes out of the bank machine!" and throws it at me {I'm still wondering to this day what kind of money she thinks comes out of those machines}.

I practically run up the stairs as she's shouting, "You're a liar! Get out of my house!"

She even came upstairs while we were packing, to make sure I didn't take anything of hers. She also then said to Benjamin, "I am so sorry this woman is your mother."

Then she drove Benjamin and I not to a hotel, but to their tiny town train station and dropped us off.

I had no idea where to go. I didn't know the language. It was 8:30 p.m.
Thank goodness I knew enough about the train station to know how to get to Madrid.

And sorry, but I'm not going to tell you the ending to that evening, although everything turned out alright. Actually Benjamin and I ended up having a wonderful experience that night. But I'm not going to tell you that part because this story is not about the ending. It is about a woman that is so nuts she made up her own reality, shoved it onto me, and believed every bit of it. It was the most amazing show I've ever attended.

And it's about why I'm not angry or upset at her, although I'll never speak to her again. How can you have animosity toward someone who is obviously certifiable? {Although, if you ask Benjamin, there's definitely some animosity there. He's very well aware that the things she said were crazy and that no one in their right mind would ever turn someone who didn't know the language lose into an unfamiliar city. He still talks about it and will probably never forget}.

{And for the record, here's my "receipt"}:

Some Person # Two

So there's this guy I used to climb with. 
Every other weekend for a year.
If you know Eric, think him {personality and looks}, just taller. 

But I was sort of OK with the similarities, because we were just friends.

Although I did get comments like, "Where did you find Eric's twin?" quite often.

Still, climbing was usually nice. 

Except when he was mad at me. Or jealous. Or both.

Then I would get things like him pounding his steering wheel in anger, threatening to not climb with me, saying derogatory things to me, showing up on my doorstep at 6 a.m. demanding I come out to talk to him, walking away from me in parking lots, crying... you know, just everyday things like that that normal adults do. {Oh, sorry. Is my sarcasm showing?}

Once, when we were on a climbing trip to California, I was even afraid for my life when I was with him because he was so angry at me. I had gotten together with a bunch of girlfriends for dinner. I'd invited him, but told him that the topic of my current boyfriend was going to come up, and he was going to need to be ok with that if he joined us. He said he would be, but ultimately he wasn't. He made a comment about how my boyfriend looked like O.J. Simpson and stomped out of the restaurant. I got screamed at for such a long time after dinner that I was actually afraid of what he would/could do to me.

Due to all the above issues, about six months ago I cut this person out of my life. I had to. I just don't care to have "friends" like that. What solidified the decision for me was hiking the Peak with a different friend one afternoon and realizing I'd been bitching about this guy for almost a year. And another friend who pointed out, "You know, you don't have to settle in ANY relationships, not just romantic ones." Those two things opened my eyes, and I said goodbye.

But a few days ago he called me and left a message. 
"It's been six months since we've talked," he said. "I was wondering if you'd reconsider. I really miss you. Just let me know, ok?"
Well, since I'd want the same courtesy shown to me if I asked someone to get back to me, I did the nice thing. I texted him. Texted him to say thanks, but no thanks.

I said, "Sorry it's taken a couple days to get back to you. I don't like to just drop people from my life, but it was necessary at the time. I still have a hard time thinking about your anger toward me at times, your jealousy, etc. It just all left a very sour taste in my mouth. Also, my life is not like it was 6 months ago. I'm in a serious relationship, so most of my time is spent with him. If it means anything, it's not like I would avoid you if we ran into each other or anything. That's the best I can do." 

Now, "that's the best I can do" to me meant: I have no desire to be friends again, but I won't avoid you if we ever run into each other.

But he texted back eight times.
EIGHT times!

Like he didn't get it, and was all, "Yay, the lines of communication are back open!"

1 - I had a short relationship myself recently.
2 - So I completely understand. I just wanted to be on speaking terms if that is OK.
3 - I will give you your space.
4 - I don't have any bad feelings any more. Just good ones.
5 - Would you like to see my Wind Rivers climbing pictures? It was amazing.
6 - You should go!
7 - Did Mandy ever get back to you? She and Peter broke up.
8 - Ok. I'll leave you alone. Thanks for talking to me. You are a very wonderful girl.

But I'd already seen the climbing pictures. Well, a couple of them. See, right after I texted him, I went on his facebook page, which is public. But the pictures weren't the only thing there. There was also a picture of him and I. He'd written something about it having been six months since we'd talked and how he missed me and etc. And other people had commented, of course. But he also made a comment about how people that drop out of your life just suck. And a friend of his had said that people who do that just can't take responsibility for their part of the downfall of the relationship.

So I texted him back the next day suggesting that he not post that kind of thing any more, especially  right before he decides to contact the person he's posting about.

And I got a whole handful of texts back again. I've deleted them all now, so this won't be verbatim, but they were something like:
That wasn't about you.
It was about a friend's ex.
I didn't know you looked at my FB page.
I deleted it.
I posted an apology if you want to read it. 
I've been very sad lately.
Jesus, now I'm going to start crying in my office.
Are we OK?

I was and wasn't surprised at his reaction. I wasn't surprised because this guy is as emotional as an angsty 16 year old girl (and I told him as much).
But I was surprised because - hell, why in the world was he crying when we'd not been in contact in 6 months?!!???

But when I texted and said, "Crying? Seriously?" he thought I was making fun of him {when the proper emotion I was experiencing was extreme incredulity at his level of immaturity}. So he called again, leaving a message saying, basically, "You know, you don't need to make fun of me. I'm sorry this is important to me. It obviously isn't to you. I assume you don't want to talk to me anymore."

Umm...wasn't the last six months of silence a clue?

But, unfortunately, some people don't get it.
I had tried to take the "nice" approach.
It didn't work.
I am not often bitchy, but sometimes you have to go there.
Try the nice. Fail. Pull out the mean.

I ended with:

Don't call me.
Don't text me.
And don't post anything about me.

And you know what he did?

He freakin' texted me!!! 

The next text from my phone {but the fingers of my man, not me} said, "Out of curiosity, what didn't you understand about not texting? Do not contact my woman again."

So now you're thinking he finally left me alone, right?

WRONG! He texted again!

It was at this point I stopped reading the texts. Every time one came in I just handed the phone to my man and let him respond. And though he was trying to be a bit on the nice side at first, Mr. Kray-Kray just kept texting back, forcing him to get mean, too.

Finally my man said to me, "You know, this is bordering on harassment. If I need to, I'll go to the police."

Now, with anyone else, I would have thought that was going a bit overboard. But we're talking about a guy who, as I mentioned above, has displayed a lot of anger toward me, someone I was truly afraid of at one time, showed up on my porch in the early morning like a psycho in a movie, and someone who is obviously not leaving me alone. So we texted him that, as well.

And guess what he did after the "I'll contact law enforcement if I have to," comment?

Texted back again!!!
With, "Jesus, shut up already."


I guess maybe it had to be HIS idea???

Lesson Learned

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll know that it's been a very growing couple years for me. And because I am trying to learn something from most things I go through, at the end of many of my posts, I write down what my "lesson learned" is.

Here's the one for this post - a quote I saw almost a year ago, laughed at, and held onto. Who knew it would come in this handy?

Lesson Learned: