If I could have had those ten or so years over again I'd have done things very differently. First of all, I'd have never taken a chance on second-best. Listen to me, don't do it. What you see is what you get, no more no less. People don't change, other than getting older. When you choose a partner, and mean it to be for life, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, just make sure you get it right. I drew one good card, I got richer. He helped me achieve that. But being the ungrateful bitch that I am, that wasn't enough. Our relationship disintegrated, and there I was, a business owner, and effectively, emotionally, alone.
So every day, I would leave my beautiful home, climb into my fantastic car, drive to my dreamy little store, and sell delightful bits and pieces to a wide range of interesting people. I bought lovely clothes, ate delicious food, and went to fascinating places.
And it was all so wonderful that every night I'd slip between the silk sheets of my deeply luxurious bed, and cry myself to sleep.
Yes, that's right. I married him for his money, his status, and his charm. He was, to everyone who knew me, a Good Catch. Handsome, suave, and generous. We honeymooned in Bali.
Well at least we never had children. That would have complicated matters. At least when shortly before our ninth wedding anniversary I found out I wasn't the only pretty thing in his life being lavished with gifts, that he'd found someone still interested in him after I no longer was, I suddenly had a way out, and I was able to get myself a good lawyer and cut loose. I got a good pay-off.
So am I a gold-digger? Plenty of people think so. Well, as a matter of fact the money is no compensation for those years. Sure, it let me get a place to live and keep the store, but I'd have given it all away to have that time back, and the right man. That was my big mistake, I married the wrong man. The Good Catch wasn't, and I knew it. I knew it right from the start but I married him anyway. The man I really wanted didn't exist. I gave up searching for him, and took the best offer that came along. How many women realize after they marry that the boy from High School was the one she really should have taken? I didn't even have that memory to get by on.
Let me try to explain this to you, because it's somewhat peculiar. I don't know where to start. OK. Back when I was younger, and I'm talking High School years here, and probably before that, I had a thing for guys in glasses. Yes, I know, not so unusual, you hear people say it all the time, but for me it became an obsession. I went through a time when it affected my schoolwork, and my life really, because I was always thinking about it. Until you've had an obsession you don't know how it takes over. I thought I'd grow out of it, but I didn't. It followed me through college and into adult life, and the only thing I could do was repressing it. Isn't that what you're supposed to do with these things? So I got married to a man who didn't wear glasses, but was otherwise extremely attractive, and as I've explained, it didn't work. I kept thinking about what I was missing out on, our sex life was affected, and eventually, well, our marriage dissolved. Yes, I really do think my obsession was part of the reason.
I'm not as bad as I seem. I must seem appalling, or maybe just weird. Maybe you don't like me already. Maybe you think I didn't know when I was well off? Maybe you think I should have sucked it up. I wouldn't blame you. But the funny thing was, it went both ways. He wasn't what I really wanted, and I wasn't what he really wanted either. We just started to bore each other. He bought me the store finally, to give me something to do, and I made a success of it. The only joy I had.
Next door, was another small store that sold books and posters, and funny odds and ends like statues and clocks. It was a good match to have side by side. The old guy who ran it was retiring soon however, and I was a bit concerned about what I'd get instead. I didn't want anything to change. I'd found myself a little piece of happiness and I was hanging on tight. You can imagine my relief then when he told me his grandson Dean had decided to take over the business. This was my world.
I met the new owner shortly after that, and I took an immediate liking to him. His plan was to keep things pretty much as his grandfather had done, with some new ideas. He was very personable and rather attractive too, had I been interested. But my experience had put me off men - that's an understatement, and despite being really terribly lonely, I was not going through that again. So he took over the running of the place, and brought in an assistant too, because he wasn't always there. He did some teaching at the community college, and when he was occupied with that Cassie came in. We got on famously. She'd also had a disastrous marriage, so we had plenty in common. Quite often when Dean came back, instead of going home she'd come in and help me for free, just for company and fun. Then when I needed a day off I used her as my assistant too, so we shared her. Looking back, she was just loving being a sort of double agent, because I confided in her, and I wasn't the only one.
I told her straight out that I thought Dean was gorgeous, but that I wasn't interested. She never said much, but her eyes twinkled.
Meanwhile unknown to me, Dean was telling Cassie how he was interested in ME, but wasn't ready to do anything about it because he knew I was recently divorced. She never repeated what she was told, either way. So for a while there we just took care of business, everything went along quite well, and it was actually a happy time.
Then, one day, out of the blue, I was idly looking out the window and Dean arrived back to relieve Cassie, and it was just a brief glance, but I was SURE I saw him wearing glasses. It was like a flash, made me reel, and then he was gone - into his store. I couldn't leave mine as there were several customers in there, so I just had to get my head together and serve them. Was I imagining it? Was it my obsession taking a new twist - hallucination? If not, I was suddenly overwhelmingly interested. All the pain of the last ten years had gone in an instant, and I was man-hungry again. It wasn't long before Cassie arrived, and I immediately asked her to watch the store for me for a while. I went straight next door with no reason prepared; I just had wings on my feet. There was Dean, smiling at me, but no glasses. I was mortified. My head was in a total fog and I felt like an idiot. Of course he must have wondered what I was doing there and no doubt why I looked like I'd just seen a ghost, but he was kind enough not to say, instead he had something for me.
"I forgot to send this round with Cassie, it was delivered here by mistake."
I said a feeble thanks and he looked concerned. There was nothing else to say, so I gave a weak, forced smile and slunk back to my store. I guess I wasn't very much fun because Cassie didn't stay long, and I was out of it all day. Some of my regular customers noticed how distracted I was, and I was suffering so much that I told one old lady, who always came in for lavendar water, "I thought I'd found the man of my dreams, but maybe it was just a dream". She took hold of my hand and said "Dreams sometimes have to be chased down honey".
Over the next few days I recovered, but now it was always there in the back of my mind, did I see what I thought I saw or not? Was I going crazy? Wishful thinking from the depths of my subconcious? But then just when I had decided it was a trick of the light, I saw it again. It was late one night. Getting close to Christmas I stayed open until the customers all went, and Dean was doing the same thing. When I finally closed I walked past his store, glanced in, and there he was, and, no mistake this time, wearing glasses. I stopped dead, unable to take my eyes off him, he looked so good. There before me was sheer human perfection. Then he disappeared up the stairs. The door was locked, he was closed. What should I do now? Stand outside and wait for him to leave? Wouldn't that look a bit strange? So, I figured it out. I walked back to my own door, and when he came out I would just pretend I was just going by. I didn't have too long to wait, and out he came. No glasses. This was too much; this was cruel and unusual punishment. But at least I was SURE I wasn't imagining it. So I shook myself hard and tried to talk to him quite naturally, about business and all that, but he was in a hurry. He had somewhere to go. I didn't. I just drove home and got drunk. I was in love.
Over the next few weeks I got more sightings like this. It was never more than a few moments, and it was never really face to face, but always a glimpse round a door, or a corner, or while one of us was hurrying somewhere. I took more opportunity to talk to him, every chance I got. We were getting along so well I was almost ready to bite the bullet and ask him out for a drink, but the romantic part of me wanted to be asked instead. I decided this was the only way to proceed now, to start dating him and get to see him in his glasses that way, and find out what the hell he was playing at, because it was unbearable.
One quiet afternoon it occurred to me that I had a customer who I'd noticed sometimes in glasses, sometimes not, and I asked her about it. Luckily she didn't think my question too weird, and she explained that sometimes she wore contact lenses. It depended on a lot of things, she said, not least sheer whim. That made sense. I had wondered if maybe he wore contacts the rest of the time, or just wore his glasses for certain activities, although I could never quite figure out any pattern to it.
Luckily I got my wish before too long and he finally asked me out. OK, it wasn't a date. It was his 30th birthday and he invited both me and Cassie, along with a bunch of his friends. He'd booked a huge table that took up a whole side of a restaurant, seating 12, although only ten seats were taken, and I sat opposite him. It just worked out that way. I spent the entire evening staring into his eyes looking for contacts, but they were so dark it was hopeless. Then a couple of late arrivals joined us - they were his brothers. One was much younger, one a little older. The older one was hysterical. He brought gag gifts, told outrageous stories and was obviously very used to playing to a crowd. He was a very sharp dresser, and I guessed he was in business. The younger one was quieter, more casual, but pleasant, and he wore glasses. Neither of them was as good-looking as Dean, but they weren't bad either.
I was having a wonderful evening, until big brother made a speech. He seemed determined to embarrass Dean, and started out with tales of childhood, of guilty secrets and wet pants. There was no reaction but a warm smile. I could tell this had been done many times before. So he moved on to stories of all he'd done for Dean, an elder brother's drunken bragging, none of which had any effect on the birthday boy, not even when his early dating stories came out. That is until he told a story of how Dean made an idiot of himself on a double date because he'd been too shy to wear his glasses. I got the feeling that one bothered him, even all these years later. He looked across at me like he was asking something. But his brother wasn't finished. Apparently the teenage Dean was so shy about his glasses that he'd retrieved his elder brother's discarded contacts from the bathroom trash and used them. Now he looked really uncomfortable, and I was hurting for him.
His brother moved on, but Dean was visibly bothered. Gradually everyone left, but I didn't. I made sure I was last and left alone with him. I hadn't got anything in mind to say, I just wanted to make it clear that nothing his brother said had put me off him, because you just don't know how stuff like that can feel belittling. I suddenly had an idea, I offered to drive him home as he was going to have to get a cab otherwise, he'd had far too much wine to drive. I said it as a friend would, and he accepted graciously. He lived on the opposite side of the city to me; it was a small apartment building, nothing fancy. I was willing him to ask me in, and it worked.
Unfortunately the conversation was stilted and awkward, but somewhere inside I knew this was a good thing, that it meant we were both trying hard to impress, and we were both holding back a lot. After three cups of coffee I knew I'd have to wait for another occasion to really get to know him, so I excused myself, but tried to do it as nicely as possible. I gave him a tiny kiss as I left, and he almost fell over. Yes, I thought to myself as I drove home, shaky start, but this has potential.
I had to reach Dean. I had to have him. Now you think I'm bad again, I know. Well, you're not alone.
I know I shouldn't be this way, but I am, OK? I mean no harm. But I'd spent so many years living a lie, and now I'd found a man who was what I really wanted. So I wasn't about to let that opportunity slip away. I spent every chance I could get talking to him, and I really cared for him so much. We became good friends, but that wasn't enough. You can imagine my horror when I found out he was going out with someone.
Cassie told me. She was pleased for him. I don't know why she didn't realize that I might be hurt to find out he was seeing someone, because she knew I was attracted to him, but then, hadn't I told her I wasn't interested? Yes, I had. It just never clicked to her that I might have changed my mind. So now when I was watching him come and go, with Cassie filling in for him more often, I had to watch him with her. He even brought her in to my store and introduced me to her, with a
"Hi Sandi, this is my girlfriend Alessa,"
And I was supposed to say pleased to meet you and smile politely, but it felt like a knife being twisted in my gut. She was beautiful. She made me look very ordinary, and I hated her for it. And I looked at him and my eyes pleaded for mercy, but none came. I'd shown him I was interested in him, so how could he do this to me?
Late one night I was at home and there was a knock at the door. It was Dean. I didn't even know that he knew where I lived. He had an important looking letter for me. Apparently it had come to the store after I'd left, Cassie had locked up for me, and was going to bring it over to me at it was the long holiday weekend, and she concerned it might be something I was waiting for. When she told Dean this he'd asked her where it had to be taken, and offered to bring it himself, as it was less out of his way, which wasn't true. It sounded to me like he grabbed an excuse to come over, so I didn't complain. I asked him in.
The letter wasn't important, but I was so glad he'd come. Now I had to grab the opportunity with both hands. I offered him a drink, poured him a double and we sat down to talk - to begin with it was awkward again, but after a second top-up of whisky he relaxed. I told him a little bit about my life, and he told me a little bit about his. Neither of us exactly opened up fully, but it was a start. I made him laugh, and then I made my move. Returning from the kitchen with yet another drink I sat beside him on the couch instead of my armchair. He looked very uncomfortable, but it didn't take him long to relax. I turned the conversation a little more personal, and when I thought the moment was right, I kissed him. Not too much. But when I pulled away I made sure I was still within easy reach, and it worked. He pulled me back and kissed me harder. The rest was easy, I led him willingly to my bed, we made love, and I felt victorious. But when I awoke the next morning he was gone.
It was much later when he phoned me. He said he was sorry, that he'd had too much to drink, and he hoped it wouldn't spoil our friendship. I just didn't get it. I tried to explain that it had been a beautiful thing, not a mistake, but he was adamant. The rest of my weekend, alone, was hell.
Tuesday morning I arrived at work not knowing whether I was coming or going. I kept myself busy but at lunchtime couldn't avoid seeing him leave with Alessa. I guess he was on a guilt trip because he'd cheated on her. I just wanted rid of her. So I set him up.
I threw a party for no reason, and lied and said it was my birthday. I invited him and his woman, and managed to get hold of his loud brother too. I got Andy to come over early to help me on the pretext that I need a strong man to help me move stuff, and his ego made him accept. I told him how funny his stories about Dean's teen years were and how Alessa would love to hear them, and could he add a few more? Then, after my guests were all settled and chatting, I made sure I kept his glass full, and kept him loud. It all worked to perfection. I had a nicely placed grouping so that he had a crowd to play to, mostly people he didn't know, and when the moment seemed right, he did as I'd asked and launched into "funny stories about Dean" with aplomb. As he got to the contact lenses stuff, and went into even more detail about how the nearsighted teen had made a complete fool of himself, Dean looked like he wanted to die. I had a pang of conscience then. I didn't want to hurt him, and I was. I just wanted to put her off. Andy kept it up until I thought I would have to stop him, but I couldn't, because if I protested he could have turned round and announced, "Hey, you asked me to do this". No, I had to sit and watch Dean suffer until Andy bored and moved on, but at least I thought Alessa looked uncomfortable too. Her smile disappeared, and she didn't come to Dean's defence. She looked sullen. Maybe it worked. But my heart was breaking.
The next time I saw Dean he actually apologized for his brother. I double-bluffed:
"It was my fault for inviting him, I just thought he'd be amusing."
I then learned, listening between the lines as it were, that Dean had a problem with Andy's "way". No mention of how Alessa had reacted. Well, we'd see. I continued to show a lot of interest, to talk to him every chance I got, flirt a little, which he obviously enjoyed but never reciprocated, and to watch everything he did. Maybe once a week I got a glimpse of him in glasses and I cherished those moments as if they were religious visions.
When spring came I decided to redecorate the store and I closed for week to give it. Halfway through he came in to see how things were going, and he was wearing his glasses.
In my defence I had waited months for this moment, when I'd finally be standing close to him and could really look him in the eye when he was wearing them. I realized now that they were much stronger than I'd been able to tell from quick glimpses at a distance, and I liked that. He had me at a disadvantage therefore, and it wasn't long before I found myself moving closer to him - and he backed off visibly. He tried to keep the conversation on the work being done, he tried to avoid too much eye contact with me, he tried to pretend that the signals I was giving out weren't getting to him, but a man can only stand so much, and finally he said:
"Sandi, please ... don't do that."
I played the innocent, but he wasn't buying it. So I went for it.
"I'm sorry Dean, but I've been alone a long time, and here you are, you're standing right in front of me and you are a very, VERY attractive man. I've tried to show you how I feel about you so many times, and it's like you don't see me. It's very hard for me."
"Sandi, you KNOW I'm seeing Alessa."
Well, I had hoped that would fall apart, but clearly not.
"Well, if you ever stop seeing Alessa, just know that I'm waiting for you"
He looked at the ceiling.
"I didn't hear that Sandi. We have to see each other every day. Don't make it any harder for me."
So he WAS interested! So it WAS mutual! So I WAS getting to him...but he'd decided to try and make a go of it with the tall, elegant blonde. He'd decided, consciously, to resist the small weird brunette. OK. It was like a red rag to a bull.
My next scheme was to pretend I was angry with him for rebuffing me. It worked like a charm. Within a week I had him falling over himself to be nice to me because I was so obviously cool with him. I had learned this sort of manipulation from the master you see, my ex. He knew how to wrangle people's emotions. He always got what he wanted. Friday night I had just got home when the phone rang and of course, it was Dean.
"I'm sorry Sandi. I'm just sorry. What can I do to put things right between us?”
I heard a deep sigh.
"Come over, I can't talk to you on the phone like this."
I heard an even longer sigh.
"OK. I'll come over. To TALK."
He gave it a real try. He drank only coffee. He sat in the armchair. But I seduced him anyway. It was like taking candy from a baby. Somehow I made sure I woke next morning before he did to make sure he didn't escape. I didn't move, just waited for him to wake, and then I kissed him.
"I have to go ......"
"No, you don't. You don't have to. Do you want to?"
He gave a muffled cry of pain.
"Why me Sandi? There must be plenty of available men out there?"
"But they aren't you are they? They're someone else."
He just looked at me, and I could see his contact lenses. They had to go. They look hideous when you actually look at them. I mean, it was a good thing to see, because of what they MEAN, but there's something very ugly about them anyway. And glasses are so beautiful. I couldn't tell what was on his mind, but he looked troubled.
"Do you love her?"
"Do you love her or is she just a pretty thing to have on your arm?"
He shook his head and went to get out of the bed, but I pulled him back. I knew. I knew because it was SO obvious. The truth does that to a man. And I knew he wanted me, so I didn't give him any time to think twice or try to leave again, I gave him the best, the VERY best blow he'd ever had in his life, of that I was quite sure. He said nothing more. He got up, dressed and left.
Monday morning Cassie told me that Dean was feeling low because he and Alessa had split up.
I gave it a couple of days to let Dean sort out his thoughts, and I waited for him to make the next move. Yes, I was being manipulative, but you do what you know. After ten years of living with an exceptionally manipulative man, I learned every trick in the book. It's all about timing.
Sure enough, Dean phoned me at home. He'd been discreetly avoiding me coming and going from the store.
"Hi Sandi. Guess you heard the news, huh?"
I acted ignorant. So he told me that Alessa had told him it wasn't working out, which he claimed was a total surprise to him. To me it was obvious they were incompatible, and he was fooling himself that they were. Anyway, I thought she was boring, and I told him so, but he didn't comment.
"So," he continued "Is that offer still open, if I'm left on the shelf, you will be waiting for me?"
The correct thing to do at that point was to play hard to get. But I didn't have the patience. The times we'd spent together had been wonderful, and I knew they could be even better. So I told him we should give it a try.
After 8 dates, which had been otherwise just fine, he still hadn't worn his glasses while he was with me. Not only that, since we'd become a couple he hadn't worn them at work. Not even once. Everything was fine, we had fun, we had great sex, we had deep talks, it was going really well, except that this was my glasses man, and he never wore them. So now what? Come right out with it? I couldn't. I was just too embarrased. I had no idea what his reaction would be, and I couldn't chance it. He was perfect in every other way, and no matter what, I didn't want to lose him.
Then one day, out the blue he suddenly announced he was going in for LASIK surgery. I was absolutely mortified. I wanted to scream "No don't!" and lock him in my home to prevent it! But I had to deal with this carefully. So I tried to stay calm.
"Why would you do that? It's risky."
"Oh, not that risky now, they're very experienced."
"Even so, surgery, ewww, sounds horrible, having someone cut into your eyes."
"It's better than the constant nuisance of contact lenses."
This was my opening of course, but I had to phrase it just right.
"Well, you always have the option of wearing glasses, not too uncomfortable....." and I held my breath.
"But I HATE wearing glasses Sandi, I always have done."
That was bad news. If he'd simply worn them for vanity, all I had to do was say I loved a man in glasses and it'd be happy ever after, but somehow I had to overcome his ingrained mental block. And fast. I had 3 weeks.
The best part was however that prior to the surgery he was not supposed to wear his contacts. That was why he'd told me, I guess, to warn me he'd be wearing glasses. Thank goodness at least for that, or he might just have gone and had it done as a surprise, and it would be too late!
Sure enough the next day at the store he showed up in his glasses, and he looked FANTASTIC. I just greeted him as usual, trying not to rush into my worship, but when we went out for lunch I told him earnestly
"Actually you look really good in glasses."
No reply. Nothing AT ALL. Not as much as a forced smile. He just changed the subject. This was going to be much harder than I thought. So I let it go, and left it for 3 whole days. Then it was Friday and he came to my place for the weekend. He certainly seemed uncomfortable in glasses. He adjusted them almost constantly, which I loved to watch, but I didn't like knowing he was unhappy.
You are, I'm sure, thinking that if I really loved him as much as I claimed to, that I'd simply enjoy my three weeks, and then be happy for him when he had his surgery. You are also thinking that I didn't really love him for who he was, but for his glasses.
Well, perhaps you spoke too loud. Perhaps he heard you.
I waited until we had just had some incredible sex, and he was telling me how much he loved me, when I next tried. He had taken his glasses off when we went to bed, and I had told him he didn't have to, but he ignored the remark. So, when he was laying there in the afterglow I approached it fairly directly.
"Dean, I don't understand. Why do you hate your glasses so much when they look so good on you? I really love you in them..................
A very deep sigh.
Foolishly, I continued.
"OK, I can understand they are a bit annoying, but if you liked my hair long, I'd keep it that way for you..........."
He laughed now, and it wasn't a kind laugh.
"It's really not the same thing st all Sandi.....anyway, forget it."
And with that he rolled over and went to sleep.
I didn't know how to proceed from this point, but time was running out. I put it off a few days, but I had to try again. For now I would leave aside my pleas, but I at least wanted to know why he hated them so much. Perhaps I needed some help. As always, my scheming little brain dragged other people into my plots. Poor Cassie was my foil this time. I arranged to meet both of them at the bar after work on Friday to celebrate by third year in business. Cassie had been set up to interrogate Dean on his forthcoming surgery, and for reasons I don't understand, when she asked him she got a straight response!
"I'm just tired of being dependant on them. I started wearing glasses when I was 12, and everyone made fun of me. I got contacts as soon as I could, but it's still a constant nuisance. I've been looking forward to being free of corrective lenses for years, and finally I got the cash together. I can't wait!"
With that his face lit up into a smile and he propsed a toast to his forthcoming surgery. How could I celebrate? I must have looked horrified. I KNEW I was supposed to be happy for him, but I couldn't even bring myself to pretend. Suddenly I felt tears welling up in my eyes, and I quickly got up and walked out. I felt a fool, but I had to go, I just had to. I drove home and cried myself to sleep.
I had no idea what would come of this. I just waited for Dean to call, but he didn't. The weekend was hell. I stayed home waiting for that call, and by Sunday I could stand it no longer. I just got in the car and drove to his apartment. He came to the door, in his glasses of course, and all I could feel was desire for him. But his face was cold.
"Well," he said "I guess we better get this over with."
My heart was sinking. Of course, I knew what was coming. He wasn't stupid, and he was a man with feelings.
"I'm sorry if I won't be the man you want me to be after my surgery Sandi. I'm sorry because I can only be me. I can't be a toy for you, a perfect toy in glasses."
Of course I broke down, and of course he held me. We'd had such a wonderful time together, but I also understood why he was breaking it off now. He was right of course. I would forever resent him taking away the part of him I loved the most. And he would always know that. We were doomed. It was hopeless. I left him, and went away to life without him.
Dean took a week off work after his surgery. I hadn't expected that, but perhaps he was in more discomfort than he expected. My dark side wanted that to be true. All my feelings for him were a troubled mixture of desire and resentment, and always would be. I felt that everything had just fallen apart, and it couldn't get any worse.
But it could.
Dean's surgery didn't worked out right. For some reason not only could they not correct his vision, but the damage done in the attempt prevents him from wearing contacts. He has to wear glasses, just as before, and always will. Now I see him in them all the time. He looks utterly desirable. He is friendly, he'll wave and chat to me, but that's all. The one joy in my miserable life is seeing him in his glasses. But constantly seeing him, just as I want him, and not being able to have him is a daily torture. I guess it serves me right.
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