“Would you like to go to a spa with me next weekend?”Jerry asked Brenda.
Brenda was delighted. He raved about this spa, how they had hot baths and cold ones and a sun room to relax in. They would go for a walk in the woods, have a nice supper together. She could think of nothing better than to spend some romantic time with him.
“I’ll send you the information in your e-mail tomorrow,” he said, “and you can have a look at it.” He plunged his hand into her blouse.
That was Sunday evening. She told her friends about how she thought that their relationship was on the right track. She spoke to Jerry every day since then and saw him last night but he had failed to mention the spa.
Then when he called Thursday morning she asked, “what about the spa?”
“Oh, I called and they’re all booked for the weekend. It’s labor day.”
“Why didn’t you tell me,” she said. She was disappointed and offended that he had so little consideration for her to not even consult her on this. The province was littered with other spas they could have chosen together.
Had he even called the spa at all she wondered?
This was not the first time he had told her that he would take her somewhere but never did. She had let it pass – even though it insulted her – that he wanted to invite her to his country club, “later, when they have specials,” he said. In fact, he had the bad habit of saying we’ll go here and there but never really going anywhere. Was he merely a man of cheap talk…blah…blah…blah and zero action? Was this his classless tactic to lure her into bed and nothing more?
If she was to invest herself in this relationship Brenda needed to know that she was more to him than a basement discount date. After all, she had never asked a thing of him and he had never bought her anything not even a sentimental trinket.
In between her yoga class and a meeting with her writing group she called him up and invited him over to her place that evening. She wanted to test him. To see how much she meant to him. Up until now she had been patient and tolerant with him. But that was quickly running out.
He had often said, “just tell me what you need and I’ll be happy to get it.” For the first time in the months they had been together she asked, “would you mind picking up a couple of bottles of wine for me.”
“Sure,” he said.
She gave him the names. A Penfold Shiraz and a Robert Modavie Fume Blanc.
When she returned from her writing group he called her from the liquor store.
“This bottle is twenty-six dollars.”
“I know,” she said. “The other bottle is thirty-seven.”
“I don’t spend that money on wine,” he said. His voice was firm. Abrupt. Controlling. He ranted on how he could just buy one bottle why did she need two. She had consciously asked him to pick up the wine. Not to pay for it. But his fear of having to part with his money engulfed his mental focus causing a strain on his brain cells that he flipped his lid.
Brenda was infuriated. He had failed her test; unwilling to offer her what she had asked for; unwilling to part with sixty dollars of the hundreds of thousands he hoarded and when she told him this he said, “Nice knowing you. Have a good life.” And hung up on her.
Brenda was crushed and humiliated. Her shoulders slumped and tears filled her eyes. All he was interested in was a bargain price relationship. He reminded her of a junkie cut off from any emotions or concerns about hurting people who cared for him.
Him who had repeatedly told her that if she was happy he was happy. Him who had said you have to tell me what you want. Him who had more money than most men she had ever dated and was the least generous of all.
With heart-wrenching anguish Brenda realized how it was all a façade for him. She was horrified and deeply hurt at the flaccidity of his spirit. She bitterly reproached herself for not having detected this loathing flaw of his earlier in their relationship.
She thought of the bottles of vodka he had drunk at her place. The wine bottles she had brought to his apartment and left half full for him to drink. But what did all that matter. She had never wanted to count. She had only wanted to feel special. That was all.
She wrote him a short e-mail believing that sometimes it is more effective to say less. Good luck in finding your low-budget lover. She signed it Brenda.
That night Brenda dreamt of Jerry. He was old and dying, alone lying on his bed covered from head to toe with all his money. His crippled fingers grasped the bills as if he were holding the hand of a lover, a substitute for flesh and blood, a substitute for love. “Don’t take my money away,” he pleaded. “It’s all I have. It is all I have ever had!”
Brenda awoke. She sincerely felt sorry for him.