August 12, 2012

The Ring

Another part of the H5 saga.

H5, as you may recall, was an old friend from the very old days when I was young and lived over an Irish bar. He and his buddies, all programmers or atom smashers of some sort, frequented the bar as did I, since doing so meant I could both be social and not have to clean up my own livingroom. The bar was my *other* livingroom.

The boys were the center of much of my social world. They were much older, had read all of the books that Classicists are supposed to read, and were fairly fluent in Old Norse. I'd just finished studying the Sagas myself, so we had a fair amount in common. Except they retained the stuff and I didn't.

They also had real jobs and I didn't. I was beginning my spectacular waitressing career that kept me just ahead of the rent, then $210. So they'd often buy me dinner in order for me to continue the evening's revel. We'd discovered a terrific French restaurant, Andre's, whose namesake chef loved to make our tummies happy.

One night after going to Andre's, H5 dropped me off and I noticed a certain tension, as if I were on a date I didn't know about. I ignored it, because I didn't want to know that he was sweet on me. It helped that I had a boyfriend (who also provided his grandfather's WWI French army uniform for me to wear to Andre's on Bastille day). They boyfriend was around only a little, and then not around at all. At that point I had no cover.

One day, I got a call from H5. A typical phone call from him would start like this: "This is.............[H]. Happy Einstein's birthday" (or Autumnal Equinox or whatever). We'd be talking for a while and then he'd say something absurd like "The boys and I were talking and we've decided that we'd like to create a religion with you as its figurehead." Awkward, right? Conversations like this happened with greater frequency until the day.

I came home from work, rehearsal and shopping to find that there was a sewage leak in my apartment. Funky brown water stood in my sink and my bathtub. I'd brought home mussels to cook, so I was filling a pan while trying not to look into the sink. The phone rang. It was H5.

The conversation went something like this:

"Hello, this is.............[H]. Happy [insert esoteric holiday]." This was followed by smalltalk on his end. I didn't have time to tell him that I was surrounded by vats of my own waste. It got worse. "I was wondering if you would consider...........marrying me?" There was no prelude to this, no holding hands or kissing or sharing of reading material. I said "Can you hold on for a sec?" I ran to another part of the apartment and screamed into a pile of dirty laundry. When I could put off returning to the phone no longer, I grabbed the phone but didn't know what to say. "Think of the advantages," he said. Unfortunately I couldn't think of the advantages, and my selfish self could only think of how awful it was to be caught off-guard in this sort of circumstance.

He'd done the right thing. In the chivalrous world he'd constructed for himself in his mind he'd found a damsel in distress (me), fallen for her, tried to protect her from her bad boyfriends and poverty and pay for her laundry (I never took him up on the laundry part). The only problem was that he never fully filled me in on his fantasy and I didn't want to know about it.

Today I ran across a ring he'd given me. A friend of his had made it out of coin silver. He hoped that if I ever needed money I would sell it. I don't need the money now, but I think I'll sell it and give the money to the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). He never quite got on with them, but they believe in a romanticism that's as deep as his.

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