Happy holidays, I hope you all had a great time with family and friends this season! Thanks for visiting the blog and welcome back if you are a regular reader. As always, I appreciate your visits, comments and referrals. I look forward to entertaining you throughout the New Year. Much love ~ MB
So back to my friend Hank: When we last left off Hank’s Mom, Julie, found out that his father, Frank, was having an affair. It appeared that Julie had given up attempting to control Hank and his other siblings thereby creating a less the welcoming home for her husband. Though she did sense some stress in her marriage she did not know that Frank was having a yearlong affair with his coworker, Jan.
Frank and Jan worked together at a general contracting business. It was Jan’s job to book home improvements and make appointments for Frank’s clients. Compared to his wife, Jan was a rather simple looking woman. Jan had a hard appearance that suggested life had not been kind to her. Her tan skinned bordered on leathered and her mousy hair was in need of serious conditioning. She was not at all like the fair-skinned Julie whose cherub face was home to her sparkling blue eyes. Their personalities were almost polar opposites. Though they were both mothers, Julie was sweet and compassionate where Jan was more reserved and came off stoic. To an outsider, Julie was clearly the more attractive of the two and seemed to be a better overall companion. It did not make sense that Frank would start a secret life with Jan without trying to work through his problems with Julie. Nevertheless, start a secret life he did.
Years ago, when Jan and Frank started a working relationship, Jan was married to a firefighter. They were married at a young age and as they grew older, the relationship started to deteriorate. Her husband was the controlling type and Jan was not one to be controlled. Through her divorce, she leaned on Frank for advice and he helped her achieve independence. Frank met Jan’s young children and began to enjoy spending time with them. Slowly, Frank found himself visiting Jan’s home after work instead of going home to his own. Jan’s quiet tone and subdue lifestyle only highlighted the craziness that awaited Frank when he came home to Julie at night. He started to resent his marriage and own children and yearned more for Jan’s less complicated existence.
Julie never had the benefit of knowing any of this. Frank never explained that the kids and their friends were stressing him out. Julie was not given the chance to understand Frank’s problems and try to fix things for her husband. Frank never had a conversation with Julie to express hat he needed their environment to be more relaxed. Frank never even approached his own children about the parties; instead, he just retreated to Jan’s house for his solace. He found a way to get what he needed and did not see the point in fixing what he already had. It seemed easier for Frank to move onto “plan b”, a double life with Jan and her family. Frank gave up on his marriage to Julie assuming that thing had been a certain way for so long and therefore they would be impossible to change. He didn’t give the woman that he married the slightest benefit of a doubt.
Instead, Frank split his time between the life that he wanted and the life that he had let spiral out of control. He enjoyed his time with Jan, the woman that he now loved and resented his time with Julie, the woman he reasoned could not understand him. Frank assumed that Julie would perpetually allow her children to run wild, putting their need for fun above the needs of her husband. He ASSUMED that his marriage was not fixable and that Julie and his children would not change. So, when the evening came that Julie found out about Jan, Frank left Julie. There was limited conversation or explanation just a packed duffel bag and a promise to divide the assets in a fair manner. Julie was blindsided and powerless over the sudden failure of her thirty-year marriage.
Way way back in the day, high school to be specific, I had a best friend, Hank. Hank was good looking and out going. He was the youngest of four siblings, which meant that he always had access to an instant party. His mom was lackadaisical and gave up on trying to enforce rules, even big ones like underage drinking. Hank’s dad was never around and clearly detested party central aka his own home.
In my mind, Hank had the ideal situation. He had a big fun family and constant socializing. I yearned to be part of his inner circle and live in the party that was his life. My friends were blown away by the sheer size and qualities of Hank’s parties. There was a never-ending supply of booze and plenty of cute attendees. It was just like those over the top parties you see in teen movies…the fun never stopped.
Even though I worshiped Hank, common sense urged me to hang up my party hat and go onto college. Over my holiday break, I found my self-back at his place enjoying the old scenery. Things had not changed much except for the crowd. Those that came back from college were interspersed with a new group of high school people. With a wink, Hank introduced me to his new closest female friend, Lindsay. She had barely turned fifteen.
Hank was an eighteen-year-old local celebrity and with that status, things like college and a “real job” did not rate.
Eventually the revolving door of young party people wore on Hank’s dad. He was spending less and less time at the house. So much so that Hank’s mom grew concerned. When he failed to come home one New Year’s Eve, she called his business partner. After significant grilling, the partner admitted that Hank’s dad was having an affair. He was spending the holiday with the other woman. Hank’s mom confronted her husband who copped to the affair and announced that he wanted a divorce. He sited their home life as part of the problem; there was no peace and quiet.
That marked what I would say was the downturn of Hank’s life. The thing about his life that he enjoyed the most crippled his parent’s marriage. He felt that on some level, he was to blame and in ways, I agree with him. Get ready to hear the tales of Hank’s romantic history and gain understanding of how the past spins the future.
As you might have been able to tell, the Laura and Peter saga is from the ghosts of friendships past. After the moving out/move back in fiasco, my friendship with Laura faded. Recently, I caught up with an old acquaintance that also knows Laura. She told me that Peter and Laura are to be married in 2011. My opinion on their relationship is not valid based on how stale it is. The drama and the shadiness happened over seven years ago back in college and most likely does not play a factor in their current situation.
If anything, Laura is a more tolerant woman then I will ever be. I do not have the ability to forgive and forget as she does. Knowing that Peter cheated at least once would put a roadblock in my ability to trust him. I can only hope that their choice to get married is based on growth, maturity, and the evolution of a rebuilt relationship.
The mutual friend sighted some evidence that things between Laura and Peter haven’t changed much, that the way that things are pretty much status quo from where I last left off. For Laura sake, I hope my friend is wrong. I hope that love is driving her to marriage and not the need to find validation in material wealth.
There is a moral to the story: We all have holes in our hearts. In Laura’s case, the loss of a parent created quite an emotional vacancy. She chose to fill it with purses and shoes. If you recall, I tried to fill the void with vodka (See “Vodka is not a Band Aid for a Broken Heart”). Sometimes now, I catch myself filling it with food and vodka. Here is the thing though, filling the hole with anything isn’t going to heal it. Time, patience and honesty mend the hole…filling it with stuff just prolongs the healing. Bad metaphor? Maybe. But, hopefully you get the point.
Eventually Laura and Peter’s relationship evolved but it was more by osmosis then healthy progression. The late night booty calls turned into sleepovers and the sleepovers became all day hangouts. Peter had premium cable and ordered unlimited take out on his parent’s credit card. They often had no reason to venture outside his well-stocked pad, not even for class. Peter had a job waiting for him in NY once he graduated, so studying was low on his list of priorities. Easily influenced, Laura’s class attendance started to suffer too. Spending luxurious days with Peter was far more gratifying to Laura then making good grades.
Peter bought Laura Prada sneakers and a Burberry scarf. Laura could even be spotted driving Peter’s BWM across campus once in awhile. At Peter’s parties, Laura played the part of hostess and to many it appeared that Peter and Laura were in a committed relationship. However, people close to Peter knew differently, he had not surrendered his philandering ways. Rumor had it that Peter still dated other women behind Laura’s back; he allegedly even fooled around with some of her acquaintances. It is sad to say, but publicly, Peter and Laura’s relationship was known to be one sided.
Now and again, Laura’s true friends would confront her about Peter’s indiscretions. Laura refused warnings about Peter and pointed to gifts in order validate Peter’s love. There was no hard evidence that he was cheating on her and she would not bother upsetting Peter with mere suspicions. Instead, Laura moved more of her own personal affects into Peter’s apartment. By being a constant presence in Peter’s life, she could ensure that she was the only woman. She cried when Peter left the apartment without her and used Peter’s friends to keep abreast of his activities while they were apart.
One weekend, Laura had to leave University to attend a function in her hometown. She invited Peter who had no interest. Begrudgingly, Laura left for the weekend only to be unpleasantly surprised when she returned to school. Instead of going to her own apartment, Laura went right to Peter’s place when she got back. She entered the apartment (with the key she had made) and noticed that things were not as she had left them. Her clothes were in a trash bag in the closet, her Prada sneakers were hidden under the bed and the picture of Peter and her together was stuffed into his bedside drawer. The pinnacle of it all was a used condom in the garbage. A tearful phone call to Peter confirmed her fears. This time it was undeniable.
Laura began to pack her things and called a friend to help her move her stuff from his apartment. Knowing Peter’s reputation, the friend was not surprised to hear of the discovery (one guess who the friend is). Laura’s friend packed her car and was ready to help Laura get situated in her old apartment. As they were leaving the parking lot Laura turned to her friend and said, “Stop the car.” Laura asked to go back to the entrance of Peter’s apartment. Thinking that she left something behind, the friend reversed back to the double doors. Laura got out of the car and began to unload her bags back onto the sidewalk. The baffled friend demanded and explanation but there was no rational behind the change of heart. Plain and simple, Laura did not want to give up the lifestyle. She loved the apartment and all of the extras that went along with living there. Letting go of Peter meant going back to coach after a year in first class…she would not do it.
A couple weeks later, Peter had a birthday party for Laura at his apartment. It was a half-assed affair thrown together at the last minute. Her friend came and watched her open her gifts. Peter gave Laura not one, but two pairs of designer sunglasses. They were gorgeous, lavish and obviously very expensive. The friend felt a pang of jealousy knowing that she would never have a real pair of Channel sunglasses. However, the envious feeling faded as her friend realized that she had something that Peter could not buy Laura…self-respect.
As I mentioned before, Peter was quite the playboy. The money and the designer duds helped him achieve instant popularity on campus. He was affiliated with an on campus fraternity and was a regular attendee of all the hip parties. Laura had easy access to Peter and would often approach him mid-fiesta. Eventually, they started leaving social gatherings together and spending time together became a regular occurrence.
Laura and Peter were having a fling but she could hardly call herself his girlfriend. Take Halloween for example: Laura and Peter had been hooking up since early September. Once Halloween rolled around, Laura figured she was on track to be Peter’s date to the fraternity’s annual costume party. The date approached and Laura was not invited. She confronted Peter and demanded to know the reason. Peter looked her right in the eye and told her; he had invited his ex-girlfriend from New York instead. She was driving down and would be spending the weekend in order to attend the party.
At this point, the majority or women would pull the plug on Peter. He was clearly not interested in Laura and frankly did not care about her opinion of him. As it was, a platonic male friend invited Laura to the party. She was dolled up and waiting for Peter when he walked in with his cute as a button NY ex. Peter walked right on by Laura, not even acknowledging her presence. Despite her devastation, Laura planted herself in strategic locations to see and speak with Peter throughout the night. She was desperate to bait him and prevail over his former girlfriend. Alas, the night ended with Laura heading back to the dorm alone and Peter and the ex heading back to his lush off campus apartment.
Fast forward a couple days, it is a random weeknight and some friends get together for an impromptu drink. Laura and Peter are both present. The ex had long since returned to New York and Peter’s hormones were raging he was looking for the evening’s lucky lady. Laura, missing the comfort of Peter’s Egyptian cotton sheets made herself available for a one on one after party. Later on, Laura would explain that she took the opportunity to confront Peter about Halloween. According to Laura, Peter explained that spending a final weekend with the ex helped him move on. This satisfied Laura although she had to ask if they had slept together. They had. Laura had mixed emotions but she let the need to be part of Peter’s life and lifestyle prevail. She spent the night with him, and many nights after that one.
In college, I had a roommate named Laura. I did not see it back then, but Laura was somewhat of a troubled soul. Her Mom was dying of cancer and the tragic nature of her situation took its emotional toll. Going away to college gave Laura psychical space from the hardship at home but of course, she carried her mother in her heart and mind.
In the beginning, college was about parties and meeting new people. Fellow college students opened Laura’s eyes to a completely new world, a world of wealth and material things. You see, Laura grew up in a very middle class town. Name brand clothing was Billabong or Nine West, she never heard of Louis Vuitton or even Gucci. It seems hard to believe now, but where Laura was raised, labels did not correlate with popularity. University however, was a different story. Students were plastered with labels and Laura noticed that those who donned came from a much different upbringing then her own. These kids that had carte blanche access to Mom and Dad’s credit card to fund drinks and dinners at upscale establishments. For example, Laura’s next-door neighbor bought new clothes in lieu of doing laundry (why bother?)! Appearing to have money attracted the attention of those students who actually had money and thus a taste of their lifestyle.
Laura was nothing short of obsessed with the notion of becoming part of the élite crowd. This my friends, was the evolution of what one might call: a gold digger. From that time on, Laura only wanted to date the wealthy men on campus. If you drove a BMW or a Range Rover, you were prime season for Laura. Good looks were a bonus, but far from the main requirement. Personality and loyalty hardly mattered if you were willing to buy Laura new Channel sunglasses. She was out for status that she felt could only be bought.
After over a year of dating random well to do men at the University Laura set her sights on a specific man, Peter. Peter was a third year transfer student from upstate New York. His Dad was a famous designer and his family was well connected politically. He drove a BWM and was known for his lavish parties. When Laura introduced me to Peter, she was quick to point out his Prada sneakers and Brooks Brothers shirt. He was friendly and somewhat attractive; Laura felt she had found the man of her dreams. Peter was your typical college playboy. He was used to being deemed important in New York society and knew how to charm women. Peter was not the relationship type but he always enjoyed the company of a lady. He welcomed Laura’s advances but had no real intention of long-term commitment.
Now as I mentioned previously, Laura had some serious business going on at home. After a year in college, right before she met Peter, Laura’s mother passed away. Laura’s grief was profound. In hindsight, maybe there was a correlation between the trauma and the sudden materialistic needs. I am willing to guess that the money and the status served to temporary fill a void in her life. Stockpiling beautiful and expensive handbags was a distraction from the pain she was masking. Yet again, we see how our own problems can manifest in our dating habits and determine the partners we choose. More credibility towards the “fix you first” dating model. Wouldn’t you say?
There is more on Laura and Peter to come. Believe me when I tell you…this one gets interesting.