Casual Confidential

I am casually acquainted with a man, who is falling apart before my eyes. I meet him on the sidewalk where he tells me what malady has recently befallen him. I can’t remember how the casual confidences began. Recently, we had a conversation about his ability to work. He told me he had no choice but to work, however slowly, because he is not eligible for disability. It pains him to work, as it pains him to do everything else. If I catalogued all that has been replaced in his body, you’d wonder if the original man could survive without all of the artificial parts.

Last week, on the sidewalk, he told me, he will never have sex again. He cannot tolerate the muscle contractions.  He is sad, so sad that his worries are aired during our sidewalk encounters.

I’m trapped in a male dominated industry, which is challenging on the best days and trying on the worst. I happened to waste almost an entire day, last week, tolerating a meeting than ran on and on and on, while every man there got his two cents worth in and, in most instances, it wasn’t worth two cents.

I was relieved to find time to talk with a woman, working with one of the businesses represented. She took my hand in both of her own and told me she knew she could trust me. She can. She went on to tell me a long story about something she did 20 years ago, before she was married to her husband. She lived with the secret for 20 years, punishing herself for something she had done that involved a sin of omission, averting disclosure. Over the years she’d worried, wondered, and sometimes felt threatened by her secret.  Finally, the secret exploded in extortion. She ignored her fears and went directly to her husband to tell him what she’d done before they had married.

She said, “Twenty years ago I had sex with your cousin. It didn’t mean anything to me and it didn’t mean much to him. It was a mistake and I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier. He is trying to blackmail me.” She and her husband were very quiet and careful with each other for a few days. Finally, he told her he wanted to talk about something. He asked if she’d mind if they bought two alpacas. He said he’d always wanted some and since the dog died, last spring, he’d been considering it seriously. Then he said, “That business with Jack is ancient history. I know who you are and I love you. Jack won’t bother you again.” She showed me a picture of her husband feeding  the alpacas.

About elroyjones

Married, no children, responsibly self-directed, living happily.
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16 Responses to Casual Confidential

  1. judithatwood says:

    I think I would feel completely trusting of you, if we met. You are that kind of person. But protect yourself, too, remember. These confidences can take the shape of burdens. Still, they are both lucky to have you to talk to.

    • elroyjones says:

      You are exactly right, Judith. I used to work in HR and employee problems were a burden. As you know, I am pro-labor so staff would come to me to say, “I need some help.” I invested in the outcome so I worried. At this stage of my life, being a battle scarred veteran of family tragedies, I am more interested in the story and less interested in facilitating an outcome. People will do what they will so their choices shape the meaning of their lives.

  2. Oh I so didn’t expect that ending…and I was so happy to read it, brought tears to my eyes.
    I want two alpacas too..and that is not code for anything past, I just want them!

    • elroyjones says:

      It was touching and strengthened my faith in the partnerships we choose. I love the idea of alpacas. There is an alpaca farm not far from where I live. The animals have the most gorgeous eyes; I just want to hug them they look so sweet!

  3. cecilia says:

    What wonderful and sad stories, I agree that the alpacas were a surprise at the end, but this man on the street, what an intimate relationship.. not really casual but casual.. c

    • elroyjones says:

      The alpaca ending was wonderful. Young people don’t have the experience to judge the possible future consequences of their actions. Guilt made her fearful for all that time; in the end, love triumphed.
      My sidewalk friend lives alone. He needs an empathetic ear to calm his fears.
      Struggles are common, nobody seems to escape them and revealing them is cathartic. We’re not alone.
      Thanks very much for taking the time to comment.

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  5. Yeh, but have you ever seen how those damn alpacas go on and on during a meeting. Another beautiful post.

  6. You are a wonderous wandering spirit bringing solace to various and sundry folk throughout the land…

  7. George says:

    Wow on multiple fronts!

    You must have a “presence” in presence. (I hope that makes sense.) You are an empath who attracts the interesting among us. I’m thinking—and I don’t mean to be facetious—that there’s an aura surrounding you that says, “I’m okay: you can trust me.” That’s a good thing—perhaps a great thing—but likely a burden at times. . . .

    • elroyjones says:

      I’m no Mother Theresa, George. Part of the reason people tell me things is my irreverence for all things pretentious. We’re all people, we all have bodily functions, you can dress it up with sequins and pearls and it still ain’t pretty.
      I am so HAPPY to see you, I’ve been thinking of you guys.

      • George says:

        Don’t sell yourself short: you’re got something that many of us can only wish that we had.

        No worries on me and the gang here: we’re okay. We’ve had some curveballs here and there and we’ve all been BUSIER than crap—haven’t had much time for reading & writing. I’ll elaborate more when time permits.

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