There were a lot of strange things about my girlfriend Sue. One thing that was unusual and rather nice was that she wasn't in the least jealous.
In any case, I think the following incident took place after we had officially broken up. It's hard for me to be sure, because at the time it was never quite clear when we did break up. We had rather carefully scheduled a break-up, but for a while after that nothing seemed to change at all, and then there was a time when she still came over to my apartment from time to time, and we still sometimes had sex, but I got the impression that it was mutually understood that we no longer had a relationship. (I was trying to let Sue take things gradually and not provoke one of her frequent crises. Furthermore, it was often hard to be clear on these things. A direct question to Sue often didn't get a very informative response.)
In any case, one night I was sitting at the bar in Anna Bannana's, talking to a woman named Carolyn. I knew Carolyn as the girlfriend of my friend Bill R., and I also knew that they had recently broken up. I just automatically assumed that he had dumped her, because that would have been typical for Bill and in any case I never could understand what he saw in her.
Carolyn was obviously fairly drunk and was being fairly affectionate towards me, which was fine but not especially exciting. Finally it got close to closing time, and she remarked that probably it was too late now to get the Number 4 bus.
In fact, I knew quite well that the last Number 4 had gone by more than an hour before, because it was the bus I usually took myself. I had been planning to simply walk home myself -- it was about a twenty-minute walk -- but now I said gallantly, ``I'll get us a cab, if you like. And if you'd like, you can come back to my place.''
After a pause, I added, ``That part's optional.'' I took it for granted that she wouldn't come home with me, but I'd made the offer partly as flirtation, and partly just to prove to myself that I wasn't afraid to ask. (Learning to take the initiative with women was quite important to me then.)
``That would be fine,'' she said. It wasn't quite clear immediately just what she'd agreed to, but if she'd just wanted the cab ride to her own apartment, that would have been fine. (I knew that she lived somewhere in my neighborhood.)
To my surprise, though, she actually did come home with me. To me, this was a big deal. I'd never had a woman come home with me from a bar before.
Since she was hungry, I heated her a frozen burrito in the microwave, and then we went into the bedroom and lay on the bed, still fully dressed, and started kissing. After about five or ten minutes of this, she passed out cold.
Well! Not only was she lying smack in the middle of the bed, but she was lying on top of the bedspread and top sheet. But somehow I managed to move her over to one side and get under the sheet enough to go to sleep.
Sometime in the middle of the night, she got up to go to the bathroom and discovered that the apartment had another bedroom, and went back to bed in there.
I woke up very early the next morning went into the living room and checked the answering machine, which was blinking.
There was a message from Sue: ``I've decided to accept your offer of some money to help pay for my tuition and books at Kapiolani Community College.'' (Why this woman, who was in her late thirties and already had a Bachelors degree, was now going to a junior college is a story I won't go into now. Everything about Sue always requires quite a bit more explanation than most people really want to hear.) ``I'll need the money right away, so I'll come by your apartment at eight tomorrow morning to pick up a check.''
Well, and well indeed! Sue had never before come over to my apartment early in the morning, and almost never came without prior agreement, and of all mornings, she had to choose this particular one to break her pattern.
Carolyn was safely hidden away in the back of the apartment. Her purse and shoes were lying in the hall close to the front door, but I could easily get rid of those. What I couldn't get rid of, though, was her perfume, which permeated just about the whole apartment. And Sue, I knew, was especially aware of smells.
``This,'' I thought, ``is going to be very interesting.''
Carolyn was still asleep, and I didn't want to wake her up to chase her out of the apartment, but I thought I would at least do what I could to try and avoid a situation where she would come wandering out of the back bedroom while Sue was in the apartment. So I went back and touched her hand to see how soundly she was sleeping.
She woke up right away. I said to her quietly, ``You don't need to be alarmed. Everything's going to be okay, but my girlfriend's going to be coming over in about half an hour.''
``Your girlfriend's coming over! However can everything be okay? If she's coming over, then I can't be here. I've got to get out immediately!''
At this, she got up, went into the bathroom, and then seemed to rather aimlessly run back and forth from one place to another in the apartment, doing everything except leave.
Finally, though, she did finally open the front door and step out, only to immediately come back in again. ``There's someone coming. It's probably her. I've got to hide.''
And at that, she ran into the kitchen.
It was a typical apartment kitchen with no walls, and furthermore it was the first room you got to when you came through the front door. This was clearly not a woman who had ever played Hide & Seek.
Sue knocked on the front door and waited for me to open it, instead of just coming in as she normally would have.
I stepped outside and said, ``Something really interesting happened to me last night. A woman came home with me from Anna Bannana's.''
``Oh, that's great,'' Sue said.
I brought her inside, introduced her to Carolyn.
Sue was quite unperturbed, but Carolyn was completely freaked out. I asked her, ``Do you want to stay for a cup of coffee?'' But she was out the door almost without taking the time to say, ``No thanks.''
Sue and I went into the living room. I said a couple of sentences explaining how Carolyn had wound up coming home with me, and she said, ``That's nice. Now I've made up a list of the books I have to buy, and these are the prices, so the check I need from you is for....''
She had more important things on her mind than talking about women I picked up in bars.
There's actually more to the story, although the rest of it doesn't relate to Sue. In some ways, this incident marked the end of my friendship with Bill. Because it turned out that, contrary to my assumption, he hadn't dumped Carolyn; she had dumped him. And when somebody told him that I'd taken Carolyn home with me, his was extremely angry.
``But I knew you'd broken up,'' I said. ``I assumed that you'd dumped her.''
``You shouldn't make assumptions. You should have checked with me.''
Great! The one time in my whole life that a woman agrees to come home with me from a bar, and I'm supposed to tell her, ``Wait. Before we do this, I need to check with your old boyfriend to see if it's okay.''
Unlike Sue, Bill was the jealous sort. There must have been at least a dozen times when he said to me, ``Okay, I understand. It's okay. You made a mistake, but you've apologized and it's all right now.'' And then the next week he'd be yelling at me about it again.
In any case, that was about the time he gave up painting houses and started dealing drugs full time, and after that I wasn't very comfortable being friends with him anyway.
June 1, 1998