Smell of a Man 6/19/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Let’s start this off with a disclaimer. As I write this, please keep in mind that it is told from my perspective and have no intention of casting blame or aspersions. Nowhere do I intend to make “blanket statements” about women. In fact, I intend to make no statements at all.

In fact, I’m not convinced that there is much of any point to this post, save to put on paper a couple of things that happened to me, probably just to sort them out in my own mind. Twice in my life I believe I was used by a woman to pressure another man to take her relationship with him to the next level. If I am correct, it seemed to have worked once, but I don’t believe it worked the second time. Please allow me to explain.

Both of these happened while I was in graduate school in Boston. It was the late ‘80’s/early ‘90’s. The first one was a wonderfully neurotic woman I met fairly early on. Before moving in with my friends, I had met her at a house party where I rented my first room. It was an interesting house, an old, large mansion originally built by a coal magnate. It was beautiful; the woodwork was incredible, it had two stairwells one of which was for the “help” that lived with this original family. Eventually, it was purchased by a well-known but cheap-brand cookie company that used it as a vacation spot for executives. The landlord that purchased it rented out the eleven rooms individually, and considering that it is Boston, for a very reasonable price. Reasonable enough, in fact, that as a graduate student, I could afford to live there. Barely, but I could afford it.

As a side note, among my ten roommates were some “interesting” personalities. I got along with all of them, but am currently in touch with none of them, although I’m sad that I lost touch with Linda. One of these roommates clearly had a huge crush on me, but I was not interested in her. She was attractive, but our personalities just didn’t mesh. She eventually became the lover of another roommate, who she dumped as the year ended. It was very sad; he had confided in me that he had purchased an engagement ring and planned to propose, but never had the chance. She simply said “Okay, thanks, bye” when the lease was up. I suspect her feelings for me was at least in part the cause. Sadly, several years later, I ran into her in New York City. She told me that she was still single, and that very same day, she said, he had reached out to him and was also in the city. She then proceeded to say that she was going to go out with him, but since she knew I was in the city she was going to tell him she changed her mind. I tried to convince her to go out with him, but I don’t know if she did. She seemed too excited about me, but I tried to make it clear that I wouldn’t be in the city long.

Anyway, at a house party, I met one young woman, a friend of one of my roommates although I don’t know which. She was cute. Not gorgeous; I think her body style would turn a lot of men off, but I thought she was very cute, and I enjoyed her company. She had the laugh of a pony. I don’t say that to be mean; she literally laughed with a high-pitched whinny. I asked her out, but she informed me that she had a boyfriend. A year or two later, we ran into each other, and did end up dating. We went out, and yes, it was a sexual relationship. I thought that we were in a serious relationship, so I guess it was my fault since we never discussed being exclusive. I had decided to take a rare vacation before we started dating, but for maybe a month or so after.

Now, this was before cell phones. So, no, while we were apart, I couldn’t text, and since long distance calls cost money that I didn’t have, I didn’t call. A week later, I returned, anxious to get back together. But I noticed that she was rather aloof when I tried to reach out. Eventually she came over to the house, where she told me that her boyfriend had proposed. I was stunned. I assumed that she had broken up with him when she agreed to go out with me, and, although it’s old-fashioned, especially when she went to bed with me. Something she said made me believe that she became involved with me to coerce him into proposing to her.

The second time was obvious, and frankly, I think kind of humorous. She worked in the college where I was a graduate student in the records department. She was also very cute, but we never dated. I must have asked her out because I knew she had a boyfriend. When I successfully defended my thesis (the final step for graduation with a doctorate) I stopped by to tell her goodbye. She was so excited because that meant she could delete my file on the computer, which is something she loved doing, and, don’t ask me. I still don’t understand that. Anyway, she asked me my plans, which were to drive back to Ohio to see my parents and drop off their car.

See, my car was “on loan” from them, and I had taken a post-doc position in New York City and frankly didn’t want a car there. Especially since parking spaces cost as much as my apartment did. When she heard that, she got excited and said, “Oh, can I go too?” Basically, she invited herself.

The entire trip, she held one of those key chain maces in her lap. Something else I never understood, since I never tried to kiss or pressure her, and since she invited herself along. Seriously, if she didn’t trust me, why would she have done that? I even told her at one point on the highway that, even if she used it, we’d probably both die in the ensuing crash. “It just makes me feel better,” she answered.

My parents were generous and let her stay with us, albeit in a different room than me which, since we weren’t lovers, was fine with me. After she left, and I moved to New York, my mother would periodically remind me that she never did receive a thank-you note from her. It struck me as petty, but it seemed to really bother my mother, so at one point I did call her up. The conversation eventually turned to the trip, and I asked her why she wanted to go. It was then that she told me that she wanted her boyfriend to propose to her, and if she disappeared for a week without a word it might pressure him into the proposal. I asked her if it worked but couldn’t help but laugh out loud when she told me that he didn’t even realize that she was gone.

Like I said, no real point to this blog. For some reason, it’s been on my mind of late. Maybe it’s because I miss being used.

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