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May 12, 2005 - 7:09 pm

LONG RANGE PLANNING

Talking about Earl the maintenance guy the other day reminded me of The Best Stalker I Ever Had. Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you all about it!

I’d had other, less notable stalkers over the years, mostly just the run of the mill stuff: a few weeks of daily Polaroids of a guy’s crotch in my high school locker followed by a few weeks of baggies of pubic hair (sexy!), road block signs or orange cones placed in my driveway every day for a week so I couldn’t back out without moving them and seeing the little love notes attached, a clipping from a guy’s big toe nail left on my drafting table in my studio with a love note underneath (super sexy!), a serious marriage proposal (in letter form) from a guy I’d met one time at a lecture, the Algerian hotel desk clerk who came into my room and left me a gift on my bed every day while I was out sight-seeing, the miscellaneous whining phone calls in the middle of the night promising suicide if I didn’t start loving them IMMEDIATELY (to which I always replied, "Promise?") You know, the usual stuff.

But the guy I’m about to tell you about wins the prize for patience and fortitude. And the best car.

It was just after college graduation and a three-month trip abroad. I moved to Atlanta, broke up with a really nice guy who had been waiting for me to come home (I know, I was restless), and moved into a fabulous apartment by myself in the Virginia-Highland area of Atlanta. I was “dating casually” at the time (read: lots of meaningless sex!) and free-lancing residential design work out of my perfect apartment. Just me and my cat. It was the happiest I’d been in more years than I could remember: man-candy whenever I wanted but no free-loading slacker hanging out on my couch when I got home (besides my cat, I mean). Ideal.

Anyway, one day I went to an art supply store for some drafting stuff. The guy who helped me was really nice and pretty cute too: tall, thin, dark, wavy hair, clear blue eyes, soft-spoken, the whole bit. A few minutes of flirty banter and suggestive eye contact and he asked me out. I said yes. He was putty in my hands.

He came to pick me up in a Porsche. I guess it was nice and all, but I don’t really care about that kind of thing. As far as I’m concerned, as long as the car is fairly clean and doesn’t smell bad and you can’t see the road through the floor, it’s fine by me. But apparently Morgan (totally not his real name, but equally Harlequin Romance-y) was ALL INTO HIS CAR. That should have been my first warning. He “picked his way down the road” (his words, I swear) to the restaurant at about five miles an hour so he wouldn’t hit any pot holes or reflectors. He parked WAY the hell away from the front door so no one would accidentally bump his car door. He even – get this classic asshole move – took up two spaces to leave extra room between cars! I mean, come ON! It was a ten year old low-end model, for crying out loud, not a brand new [insert fancy car name]!

I guess this should have been a warning, but I’m nice and all, and I cut people a good bit of slack most of the time. I thought, hey, if this is his one big flaw, he’s not THAT bad and maybe I could get used to it. Plus he had really big hands, and I was kind of curious.

A few more dates, a few more make out sessions (no sex yet – I thought this guy was really sweet and didn’t want to start right off treating him as a sex object) and I begin to realize that – how should I put this? – I wasn’t really…um, doing it for him. If you know what I mean. A girl can tell if a guy’s glad to see her, you know? But the thing is, he kept telling me how sexy I was and how no one had made him FEEL like I did. You know, kind of hinting that I WAS doing something for him, the way no one had in a REALLY LONG TIME. I admit it was sort of odd for me and I didn't know how to react. His lips said, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” but the non-existent bulge in his pants said, “Uh, not tonight.” But he would never bring it up directly, and god knows, I wasn't going to either. Fortunately the issue never came to a head (tee hee).

After a month or so, I realized that, besides erectile dysfunction, he had no plan in life other than to work at an art-supply store, and had no conversation skills or interests in anything besides his car. Not really a winning combination in my book, and besides (more importantly), I just didn’t feel that connection you have to feel with someone in order to get really close to them. So, one night on our way out to dinner I told him that I liked him, but I didn’t see this going anywhere, and I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time, and I thought we should end it now before things went any further. I said I thought he was a great guy and would make some girl really happy, but that girl would not be me. I also said I totally understood if he wanted to just turn around and drop me off rather than go to dinner, but he didn’t. We had a pretty nice time anyway, and that was that, our last date.

Or so I thought.

He started dropping by my apartment with little gifts and cards. He mailed me newspaper clippings he thought I’d like. Once he left a pot of scented paste or something outside my door that smelled up the hall of my building for weeks. He called a lot and hung up.

Eventually, though, he just went away.

Or so I thought.

Flash forward FOUR YEARS LATER. It’s New Year’s Eve and John and I are sitting on the couch in our house drinking champagne and watching the ball drop. The Girl and the Boy are both sleeping. The phone rings and John and I look at each other like, “What the hell? It’s midnight.” He answers it and then hands me the phone with an accusing look on his face.

Hello?

Samantha?

Yes?

It’s me, Morgan.

Who?

You know, Morgan. With the Porsche (swear to God he said that). Was that John who answered the phone?

Oh! Morgan!…Um, how did you…? Uh, how are you?

Wow! It’s so good to hear your voice again! I’m fine! In fact I’m better than fine! I’m an electrical contractor and I just finished the biggest skyscraper in Buckhead! I’m doing so great, you have no idea how great I’m doing!

Well…that’s…good. I’m happy for you.

You have two kids now, right? I’d love to meet them in person!

Uh, well…I…

You know, not one day has gone by that I don’t think about you. I never stopped thinking about you for one minute. You’re so beautiful and sweet and nice and smart. I don’t even care that you’re married. I’d love to take you and your kids out to lunch, you know, just to catch up and get to know them.

I don’t think…

You know, you were the best girlfriend I ever had. And you didn't even wear any make-up! (Not even true) I tell everyone that. No one ever broke up with me as good as you.

Listen, Morgan, (calmly freaking out) I really have to go now, but, hey, happy new year, and I’m glad you’re doing so great. It was nice to hear from you. See ya’ later! Don’t call me again, kay? Bye!

All I could think was that maybe, just maybe, Viagra causes exuberant chattiness.

After I hung up and told John who it was, he accused me of obviously not breaking up with him well enough. Oh, yeah?That’s not what Morgan thinks.

I think I can safely say, “No one ever broke up with me as good as you” has to be the most pathetic line I’ve ever heard. And I’ve heard a lot of them. I mean, what did he think I was going to do? Leave my husband because he’d gotten a J.O.B.?

I never figured out how he knew John’s name or that I was even married and had kids. And I never heard from him again after that strange, enthusiastic phone call. But sometimes I wonder…

Is he still out there? Watching me from afar? Waiting for his moment to strike?

I pray I never find out, but wherever he is, I sincerely hope he’s happy and that at least his car is in good working order.

~Samantha

recommended:
reading -Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
viewing - The Postman Always Rings Twice
listening -"76 Trombones" from The Music Man

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