This is the story of my old loveseat, RIP, and how I acquired it via the first of many psycho white chicks I would encounter. I'll call this one "Sheila."
The loveseat is gone now. It had been sitting in the walkway between the front and back of the house I live in since I moved into the basement. I tried to take it with me into the basement, but there is a sink built into the wall right at the doorway, and the mini couch wouldn't squeeze past it. So it sat outside the door in the walkway until I felt like moving it to the garbage, but my aunt kept telling me to wait until specific days so that the weekly garbage men could scoop it the very next morning, but she never told me which days would be good. Finally, with me moving out of the basement and onto the first floor, my aunt's husband got sick of looking at the thing and set it on my back lawn for three days. I thought he was going to leave it there until I moved it, but when I came back from picking up my Memphis friend from the airport last week, it was gone. Guess he was waiting for that mythical garbage crew. I told my friend that it was a good sign that she never crossed paths with the loveseat because with all of the action on that thing between me, "Adrienne," The Co-Worker Who Must Go Unnamed, "Sarah" and her vibrators--not to mention it was where I sat when I gave that skank "Karen" her Christmas presents--it represented my old ways vanishing into thin air just before she came to visit me for the first time. But the story behind the woman who gave me the loveseat is funny. Oh, I was pissed at the time, but it's funny now.
This was late 1998, and I was working at CBOE, living in that roach and mouse-infested studio and about to move into my first one-bedroom apartment. But I was hurting for furniture, since I was throwing out the couch my uncle gave me for the studio because it was very uncomfortable. I happened to be in the company of a couple of generous people at my job. A blonde named Aiden who did her job basically a foot or so from me every day knew that I was moving to a bigger place, and her mother had recently died, so she gave me some of her mom's dishes and bought me my first cordless phone as a housewarming gift. I still have most of the dishes. I smashed the cordless phone after losing a bet, probably that jackass Keith Foulke getting lit up again back when he pitched for the White Sox. But anyhow, the other person feeling generous towards me was a woman who was very quiet and introverted and hardly spoke to anyone. Sheila caught my attention because she seemed to be, like me, socially awkward and much more likely to keep to herself at all times. I am the one who started trying to talk to her because she didn't seem to have any friends at all. She worked behind the electronic book at the station I worked at, but she floated around and helped at different stations, so I didn't see her all the time. Not only that, but if I talked to her for more than a minute or two, she would pretend like she had to wander over somewhere else and help out, even though nothing would be going on. But I kept trying to get closer. After all, she was shy like me, and she was thin and pale and a plain Jane, which has always attracted me.
Now, when I tell you about these two red flags, you're going to wonder what the fuck made me keep pursuing her, but I'm telling you, at the time my self-esteem was so low that I legitimately figured that the stranger she seemed, the better chance I had. The first red flag was that absolutely EVERYONE I talked to about her either said that she kept to herself and they didn't know much about her, or...they warned me to stay away. This old white man who never had a bad word for anyone even told me, "I don't think you wanna talk to this one, son." The general consensus was that she was either a little or a lot crazy. They cited episodes where she would start crying under the pressure of a lot of work, or start banging her head against the computer monitor, or start screaming. That was my second red flag--I witnessed her reaction once when the trading floor became active, and let's just say that it involved said head-banging as well as pencil-chewing. Her face turned even more pale than it already was, and at least one person tried to console her, to be rebuffed angrily. I think the traders in my crowd and Aiden all looked at me at this point, as if to say, "See? We told you she was crazy!"
Undeterred, I kept trying to speak to her daily, if only to say hi. One day, I was able to get enough of a conversation going to tell her that I had moved into an empty apartment, and without hesitation, she volunteered an old loveseat she had at home if I wanted it. I admit, I said yes more because I wanted to see her outside of work than because I cared about the loveseat. We played phone tag one weekend, with her not getting back to me on a Sunday until after I had bowled in my league, and I wasn't going to move shit at that point. But the next Saturday, I rounded up "Ronnie" and "Drew," got an older playcousin to bring her van, and told Sheila to hang tight at her apartment, which as it turned out wasn't very far from the place where I moved. When I went down to the garden apartment, it was about six o'clock in the evening, and it had been snowing lightly. So when she opened the door with her reading glasses on, in the twilight surrounded by the winter setting, my heart melted to butter. Sheila had always been polite and kind to me, nervously running away after a couple minutes of chatting, but she had never been crazy when dealing with me, and for some reason this scene made my imagination run wild, and I basically decided at that point that she was in my sights, no matter what. I even stifled a laugh when I saw the loveseat, which was--and you can't imagine how hideous this thing looked--orange with white swans all over it. Hey, it was hardly used, so what the hell. We moved it out, and I tossed some line upon leaving about how I should take her somewhere some time to make up for it. She giggled.
At this point, I was still Mr. Chickenshit and couldn't just step to her face and ask her out, so I asked a female friend who worked close to her to ask her for her e-mail address, and then give it to me so that I could ask her out by e-mail. Yes, I have no balls. I sent the e-mail, but I didn't have my own computer at the time, so for about three or four days I would come to work in the morning, say hello to her, wait for some kind of reaction to the letter good or bad, get nothing, run to one of the computers on the trading floor on my break, and check my e-mail to see if she sent a response there instead. Finally, one morning she continued to ignore me, but there was a response in e-mail form. I tried to save it over the years, but I lost it somewhere along the way, and I'm very mad that I did because it was so fucking funny. Basically, she said that she couldn't go out with me because we have "class issues," I guess meaning that she had it and I don't, and because I'm fat and she's skinny, and because her sister dated a Nigerian last year and her parents were very upset, and because she just came off a relationship with a younger guy and she didn't know if she wanted to go there again. (She explained that she was 40, which shocked me, because she sure looked much younger, that is until she stopped dying her hair black and the gray streaks multiplied daily.) It was a four-page e-mail. She shoved some bull about how I was a nice guy in there too, but basically she totally slammed the door in my face. I had my usual mature reaction, writing back, "Don't let your parents know that there was a black man in your apartment taking your furniture; they might disown you. I'm so sorry that I bothered to ask you out."
Cue the Fatal Attraction music.
Sheila called me the night that I left that e-mail in tears. I remember that I happened to be watching sports over the phone with Ronnie at about 10:45P, or else on a normal night the phone's ringer would have been turned off and I would be fast asleep. I clicked over on call-waiting, heard her sobbing, and clicked back and simply told Ronnie, "Um, Sheila's on the other end in tears. Let me talk to you tomorrow." Sheila then spent about 45 minutes bawling and apologizing for hurting me, and I don't remember much of the conversation because there wasn't much to it. She just kept crying uncontrollably and saying, "I didn't mean to hurt you!" And I just kept trying to calm her down and tell her that I didn't mean to react so angrily, but I was hurt. Basically, her excuses for not going out with me were total bullshit, so to this day I still believe that I didn't react as badly as I could have. But for the sake of ending that phone conversation and keeping the peace, I apologized for my e-mail, eventually we said no hard feelings, and I got the nutcase off the phone. We never spoke at work again, and a couple of months later, she was no longer working at CBOE.
I didn't learn any lessons from that episode other than when the WHOLE FUCKING WORLD is trying to warn you that someone's bad news, listen to them. But every time I laid some cow on that loveseat, I thought about Sheila and how I so wanted her to be the person I was with. I wondered what kind of incredibly melodramatic episodes I may have escaped by Sheila not being the person on the loveseat with me. I used to chuckle and think that I escaped some real crazy shit by not hooking up with her. But the last time I looked at that thing before it disappeared from my back lawn, I actually didn't think of Sheila at all. I thought of the women that I did have on that couch, and the black hole I fell into over the last couple of years as I ran around desperately looking for someone to love. And now I can't help but wonder if the hell I may have endured with Sheila could possibly have been worse than the hell I endured without her.