While I have been "funemployed" for the last two months, I have had ample time to assess my priorities in life, tackle those tedious home projects, and really use my time wisely to work on my character and. . .
Yeah, no, I'm just shitting you; unless you consider vacuuming UNDER the coffee table, I've been about as productive as Lindsay Lohan on Nyquil. But I HAVE had the opportunity to mooch an unholy amount of free meals from my employed friends, which brought me to Gina's office yesterday at noon.
Walking through the lobby of her posh law office, I waved cheerfully at the receptionist and entered Gina's inner sanctum. She was busily tying on her iPad and gave me the index finger straight up and then tapped her Bluetooth so I'd know to remain silent while she was being all lawyer-y. Wrapping up the call with a terse "We'll see" she sighed and plucked the earpiece from her shiny black hair and tossed it on the stack of case files before her. I shook my head and gave her a s-l-o-w c-l-a-p.
"What?" she asked.
"Wow." I stared at her incredulously. "A Bluetooth AND an iPad with video capacity. Now, if you could just find a way to make your Pandora station pound out some teeth-chattering bass you may just complete the trifecta of douche."
Flipping me off amiably, Gina leaned forward on her desk. "So, where are we going for lunch?"
"I don't really care." I shrugged. "As long as I eat. My fridge is emptier than a Jenny Craig on Fat Tuesday."
Gina sighed. "You know, they have these things called 'grocery stores'; they're really quite useful. And when Children's Services comes a-knockin' it might be a good idea to actually have food in the house."
"Oh, there's food!" I argued. "However, you could harvest stem cells from what I saw growing on most of it."
Gina crinkled her perfect nose in disgust. "Do we need to have the discussion about adequate food storage again?"
I shook my head vehemently. "No! It's perfect! I don't have health insurance right now, so if I get sick I can just open the fridge and, BAM! Free penicillin!"
"Did your mother drink when she was pregnant?" Gina asked in awe. "C'mon," she said, standing and grabbing her jacket. "I'm feeding you before your blood sugar gets low and the crazy shows up."
Following her out of her office, I glanced at the business cards on the table near the door. "Wait a minute," I said, plucking one from the pile. "Does this seriously say 'Follow _____ Law Offices on Twitter'?"
"Yeah. So?" Gina asked, pulling her sleek hair into a ponytail.
"So, isn't social media for a law office a little. . .weird?"
Gina shrugged again. "Everything's on Twitter now, Jen. Hell, YOU'RE on Twitter."
"Well. . .yeah." I agreed. "I mean, I'm technically on it, but I never actually use it. For me, tweeting is like masturbating: a lot of mindless fingering and you're really only satisfying yourself."
Gina stared at me in stunned silence. "That may be the most magical analogy you've ever made. You have officially out-Dennis Miller-ed yourself."
"Why thank you, milady!" I cooed, dropping a benevolent curtsy. "Now take me out and feed my broke ass."
Making our way through the streets of downtown Portland, Gina pulled out her iPhone and began chuckling.
"What is it?" I said, craning my neck to see.
Gina held up the phone. "It's today's 'Dear Abby'," she chuckled. "Abby totally NAILED this guy!"
"Wait a minute," I shook my head in confusion. "I thought 'Dear Abby' was dead."
Gina nodded. "She is. . .technically. But someone else writes it now and just kept the name."
I made a face in horror. "Isn't that a little effed-up and creepy?"
Gina tilted her head in thought. "I dunno. . .maybe. Anyway the column was really funny today; do you want to hear it?"
"No thanks!" I deferred. "If I want a dead person's opinion, I'll listen to Larry King."
Shaking her head in annoyance (I get that a lot), Gina pulled open the glass doors to our favorite downtown bistro. As if on cue, our ebullient waitress appeared with glasses of water and asked if we would like some bread to start.
"Oh, yes, please!" Gina beamed. "And could you bring a side of gub'ment cheese for my friend here? She's on the dole." I glared daggers at Gina's cherubic face as she slowly began whistling Elvis Presley's 'In The Ghetto'.
"Dicks." I stated firmly. "You can eat a steaming bowl of dicks."
"Speaking of dicks," Gina deftly segued, "talk to me about this new guy you're dating. He's obviously serious if you made him 'Facebook Official'."
I grinned at my menu. "Yeah. . .he's pretty special. I just need to stop overthinking everything and slow my roll a little."
"How's that workin' for you?" Gina asked, arching her perfect brows.
"Baby steps." I admitted. "Fortunately he's an overthinker too so he calls me on my shit when I start getting all obsess-y. I just tend to. . .live inside my head and read into things that aren't there."
"With good reason!" Gina cried. "You have 15 years of conditioning of being abused, lied to, cheated on, and thrown aside. It's hard to NOT look for those markers in any relationship. But you ARE doing so much better. You don't cry all the time and constantly 'worst case scenario' everything like you used to."
I nodded. "I'm really trying hard not to. He's an amazing man and I always know where I stand with him. I just need to back off and trust the process."
"Hmmm." Gina nodded sagely, chewing her bread. "So, what's his glitch?"
I tilted my head in confusion. "His glitch?"
"Yeah," she shrugged. "every guy you've dated has had at least one major red flag waving over his head like the Sword of freaking Damocles, so what's his?"
I threw my hands up in frustration. "Not EVERY guy has had a 'glitch'."
Gina set down her bread and leaned forward. "OK. So, is this guy still secretly married?"
"Euw, like Tim? No. Divorced. . .very divorced." I replied with a shudder of disgust.
"Does he have a secret Facebook girlfriend on the East Coast?"
"No. But in his defense, Dylan and Miss North Carolina are very happily married now."
"Was he recently fired for sexual harassment?"
"I thought we agreed to never again speak of THAT debacle."
Gina smirked. "OK, you get a mulligan on that one. Is he in a cult?"
"Wait. . .what? I never dated anybody in a cult."
I rolled my eyes. "Geen, Tyler was Mormon, that's not a cult."
She snorted derisively. "Yeah, you just keep telling yourself that, Katie Holmes."
"No, he's never been arrested for harassment, no he isn't in a cult, yes, he has a job."
"So far so good," Gina concluded, "sounds like the real deal."
I leaned forward and went nose to nose with my inquisitive friend. "Gina, he is a man. A real, true, respectful and respectable grown-ass man."
"Wow." Gina leaned back in wonder. "He sounds almost. . .dare I say. . .normal!"
"I know!" I cried, almost knocking over my water glass. "Now if I could just stop overthinking everything and enjoy the normal I'll be fine."
"But that's hard for you, Jen." Gina said with a soothing pat on my arm. "The last couple of guys you were with lied to your face on numerous occasions and fed you and your kids a lot of false future promises. You've got years of conditioning to overcome. But you're getting there. Your hands don't shake any more, have you noticed that? And when you call me now you're laughing instead of crying. And your eyes. . .they look. . ."
"Softer?" I smiled. "Yeah, that's what Christian said too."
Gina smiled. "He's good for you. NORMAL is good for you, Jen. You deserve to be in a relationship with someone who is honest with you and treats you well, and he does. . .I can tell. Just don't freak out at every little thing; I know you -- you are so used to being rejected that you look for it at every turn, but a real man, a NORMAL man won't just do the 'slow fade' on you or boot you into the FriendZone overnight because that is some cowardly douchebag shizz right there. With a normal guy, you'll always know where you stand because he'll actually man up and TELL you."
I nodded. "I know this. . .rationally. And I'm getting better at understanding it each day and just living in the moment without future-tripping but old habits die hard. I've never dated a 'normy' before and it feels. . .different."
"Different bad or different good?" Gina posited.
"Different good." I said with a smile. "I feel like I'm at peace now; not just with him but even when we're apart. I trust him. He may not tell me what I want to hear, but he will always tell me the truth. And he never makes a promise he doesn't fully intend to keep. This is virgin territory for me."
Gina grinned. "So, when do I get to meet 'Normy'?"
"You will meet Norm soon," I promised, raising my glass in a toast. "Because if he can survive meeting all of my friends that will be the true test of how much crazy he can handle."
Gina laughed. "I'd say we'll behave, but I think we all know that's not going to happen."
I scowled. "Can we leave Alex at home?"
"How about Jamie and Shellie?"
"Trial by fire, Babe."
I sighed deeply and took a long swig of my water. Be afraid, Norm. . .be very, very afraid.