The day of my meeting with Mr. Unusual arrives. It’s also the day my daughter takes her middle school entrance exams. The exam she’s been tutored to take for six months. The exam on which, just one year ago, she could not answer a single math question, so great was her test phobia.
I slept just fine, for at least an hour.
But I’m up in time and looking good and she’s up and fed and seems reasonably calm, even though she didn’t sleep much either. We drive to the school and arrive 40 minutes early, because of all the nonexistent traffic I made allowances for in my planning.
Parking presents a bit of a challenge: The Seattle side of the bridge is not as SUV-friendly as my side of the bridge. I attempt to parallel park – and fail. Space too small. I find another, seemingly larger space. It’s not large enough either.
I drive around the block twice and on the third orbit, discover the school has a parking lot.
We check The Child in for her exam with 20 minutes to spare, and take seats to wait in the school library. I text my friend:
The child and I take in the library. We talk iPhone games with the family next to us. We talk in whispers as though some school librarian is going to walk by and shush us at any moment.
My phone pings with a reply.
You are hilarious and interesting to talk to! It will be fine.”
And then, immediately, another text:
Woke up sick
Need to reschedule. Very Sorry.”
One of the things I am trying very hard to do is listen to my gut. I could have avoided two lousy marriages if I’d just listened to my immediate reaction to people and their actions – and responded with my actual feelings, instead reacting with the nice, polite response I offered up in reaction to what I hoped, rather than knew, to be the case.
This is a test. The Child and I both have important tests today.
I reply to my friend first:
“He just bailed. Said he was sick. Bite me.”
“Did he reschedule?
He could get sick you know. It happens.”
Well, he said he would reschedule. Actually, he said he needed to reschedule, not that he would, and I’ve got a long list of things I need to do and may or may not get to anytime soon.
I’m trying really hard to listen to my gut, and my gut is telling me that this guy was in fact lining up match.com options, penciling them all in and then choosing the best of those options.
In short: I think his date last night went well, and he couldn’t get away for coffee this morning.
None of which is my problem. My problem is I’ve got three hours to kill in Seattle and now, because of him, no way to kill them.
Also, I’m completely sleep deprived.
Not to mention, I’m afraid to drive anymore because I’m not sure what will happen if I try to park again.
I reply to his text:
“Right. Feel better.”
It’s as close as I can get to what I’m actually thinking, while allowing for the infinitesimally small probability that he does actually have food poisoning or incipient flesh-eating bacteria and will actually reschedule if he should recover and his iPhone isn’t stolen while he’s unconscious in the emergency room.
The Child goes off to take her test and I am overwhelmed with guilt and fear and anger. She should have had my undivided attention this morning. Undivided!
Instead I was trying to look nice for someone who has so far had “a laptop disaster” and some undefined illness keeping him from keeping plans that he himself initiated.
I am enraged, and mostly at myself.