What's Wrong with Being a Recluse?

After spending three hours at the garage the other morning, the owner came up to me. "We're still waiting for the part to be delivered. Let me drive you home and we'll pick you up before closing."

That was a kind gesture. And a way to save the proprietor's marriage. For his wife worked the front desk and my constant babble in addition to a phone argument with an acquaintance drove her mad.

On the way to my house, the owner said, "You know, I go very often on your back road for my other customers and always see your car parked there. Do you ever go out? Do you have any friends?"

"Yes. One or two."

He peered over at me before stopping in front of my house. "At least today you were out of the house. You should get out more often."

I've heard my share of that phrase, "You should get out more often," for the past decade. Prior to that, I went out all the time, almost every evening. It got to the point where I called my apartment, "The Closet." Yet, after my mother died, I lost my inclination. Not to mention the age factor.

Over the years, it got more and more difficult to find a partner in crime in going out. My wide circle of girlfriends narrowed when they married, moved away, had kids, grew careers or got in committed relationships. Very few had the time to jump and see the latest concert, hottest play, eat at the most talked about restaurant. Being impulsive and mostly a free agent, I didn't rely on the boyfriend at the moment to do these things: most men I dated never wanted to do the same things as me, a bone of contention. All they wanted to do was eat, have sex and complain, something I can do all alone with better results.

Around that time, one of my married girlfriends introduced me to her friend, a recent divorcee with several children. "Ginger's free and loves to party. You girls would have a great time. Besides, you should get out more often."

I accompanied Ginger to a private party midtown NYC. En route and on the subway, Ginger whirled around and pointed with her chin at a woman seated behind us. "A woman dressed like that has no friends or a mirror."

Initially surprised, I burst out in laughter. While I suffer from a bit of self-delusion, I knew there and then that Ginger was a lunatic. As I once tweeted, in a room of 100 people, I'll naturally gravitate towards the one who lines their windows with tinfoil. While slender, Ginger was out of shape and hid her thick waist with a hawaiian-patterned polyester empress blouse that emphasized her flaccid bosom. She was far from a natural beauty and covered that up with lots of make up. At least she succeeded for she resembled a hooker. What a fucking mess. Next to her, I looked like a Pollyanna. All I needed was a bow in my hair.

We arrived at the location. It wasn't a real party; it was a singles social filled with every desperate man and woman in NYC who lack the graces to interact with people. Yes, space aliens do walk among us. In two seconds, I wanted to hightail out of there. I turned around to tell Ginger good-bye when I noticed she was no where to be found. Finally, I spotted her tucked away in a niche, with a guy whose tongue was deep down her throat.

I guess my version of going out was different than hers. I enjoy cultural activities. But a disco-themed social party to hook-up? Fuck no. For Ginger was on the prowl. I was not. And that was the major difference. Every two weeks, Ginger phoned to invite me to these social events so she can snare a potential husband.

"Ginger, I really don't want to go," I said. "It's not my scene."

"C'mon, it's healthy to get out of your apartment once in a while."

"I do go out, Ginger. I go to work every day."

Moments later, our mutual friend phoned. "What the hell? Why don't you go out? Meet new people. Have fun! Is there something wrong with you?"

In reluctance, I joined Ginger and watched her make out with every available man while drinking to excess. Bored out of my skull, I waited until 2am when she hooked up with a guy and then I took a cab home alone, grousing over another wasted evening with horny Ginger.

Then, one time, Ginger hit the jackpot. We were at a local club and she met a fellow at the bar. After they necked for an hour, she took him home and in days he moved in. To my relief, she fell off the map. The few times we talked, it was rife with disappointment with him, their living situation and the fact that he was unemployed.

And one night she was so disgusted, she called me, her wing man to join her at another party.

"I really don't want to go," I told her. "I'm rather busy." I was. At that time, I dredged Five-Star FLEECING from the hard drive and dedicated my time to it. Yet, I didn't want anyone to know.

"When was the last time you went out?"

I thought back and realized how much work I did on my novel. "Not since the last time I saw you."

We met at the club. This time, she picked up two guys, flirting outrageously with both of them until she settled on one, Sage. They were not the kind of guys I normally associate with, but they seemed nice enough as humans. At the end of the night, we did the customary exchange of phone numbers. I knew I'd never hear from them again.

Ginger reunited with her boyfriend and I was finally left alone.

Six months later, I got a call from Sage. He had to explain who he was; I didn't recall him at all.

"Say, do you know how I can get hold of Ginger?"

"Did you phone her?"

"Yes. I left a few messages, but she didn't return my calls."

"She might be busy," I ventured, "call again."

"Oh. Well, here's the thing. I rarely get off from work early enough to go out to dinner at a normal time. Sorry for the short notice, but it just so happens I'm free tonight." He hesitated. "Not that this is a date, because I'm interested in Ginger, but are you free to go out ? I don't want to eat alone."

I'm a mercenary when it comes to free meals. "Sure," I said. We made arrangements to pick me up and selected a local restaurant.

While we walked inside, he said, "I don't understand why she can't go out with me. She seems interested, but busy."

"Well, considering she's living with a guy, I guess that may be the reason why."

He stumbled. "She's living with a guy?"

"For the past year. Oh, she neglected to clue you in?" I seethed at Ginger's antics.

We had a nice meal. He told me a bit about his life and I shared a few of my stranger stories. Afterwards, he took me home. I turned around and said, "Listen, I had a great time. Thank you so much for the meal." He leaned forward and gave me some kiss. I pulled back. "Wait, I thought you're interested in Ginger."

"No, now I'm interested in you. May I take you to dinner some time in the future?"

"Sure," I said. When pigs fly, I thought.

The moment I got in my apartment, my phone rang.

"Say, that guy Sage's been calling me like crazy."

"I know. He just took me out to dinner."


"He couldn't reach you, so he took me out."

"How dare you go out with him!"

I laughed. "Ginger, you always told me I should go out more. What the fuck do you want with this guy? You're living with someone."

She hung up. Ten minutes later, she phoned. "Oh, he said he took you out only as a friend."

"What the fuck?" Now my head exploded. "You phoned him???? I guess that French kiss he planted on me was a friendly French kiss. Just to clue you in, he asked me out to dinner again. So what's with the sudden interest?"

She went on, "Besides, how can he possibly be interested in YOU?"

That's when I lost it. Totally lost it. "I'm not going to fight over a guy I've no interest in other than a free meal. Enjoy both your men."

I should've listened to my gut. Since then, I don't let people coerce me with the, "You should go out more" card. If I want to go out, I shall. Right now, I'm perfectly content doing what I'm doing. And that's what it all boils down to.

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1 comment:

carol freed said...

love the blog, I to am a recluse, it seems like every time I do go somewhere and meet new people, it's like stepping into a Twilight Zone episode