Just like Tom
“I think it’s funny that you feel threatened by Nate. Nate is no threat to you. Not by a long shot,” Tina said.
I realized the similarities with the relationship my ex-wife had with a friend of mine. Those two had their buddy dates with increasing frequency towards the end of my marriage. It was beginning to make me uncomfortable. I knew Cris always carried a torch for Jessica. I imagined he helped push her along into divorce territory and once we were divorced, Jessica and Cris committed the cardinal sin of beginning a romantic relationship. Cris and I aren’t friends anymore.
“He’s your Cris. He’s worse. Cris would never have even dreamed of asking Jessica to spend a night with him when we were married. Never in a million years. Where I come from that kind of thing gets your ass kicked.”
She seemed disturbed by that notion. “I asked him.”
“I asked him if I could stay at his hotel.”
I didn’t believe her, but said “Where I come from, That gets you broken up with.”
She nodded silently.
“Am I missing something? Is this a generational thing? Fuck, you’re making me sound old, but in my day, none of this would be considered even remotely OK.”
“No. It’s not a generational thing. My friends would feel the same way.”
“Then what the hell, Tina? Is this your way of forcing me to break up with you?”
She shook her head
“It’s working. I don’t understand what’s going on here.”
Maura came into the room. “Are you guys doing OK, here?” she asked, concerned.
“No. We’re not OK,” I said. I briefly told her a story about a woman I’d met who had made sexual advances on me, but I’d only maintained a friendship with and asked Maura what advice she’d give Tina if I told her I was spending the night at my friend Donovan’s, but she found out I was really in a hotel room with that woman who I’d turned down for sex.
“But she wants to fuck you,” Maura said.
“Yes. I’ve only been friends with her, but she wanted me sexually. What advice would you give Tina if she found out I lied to spend the night with her?”
“But Nate doesn’t want to fuck Tina.” Maura didn’t want to answer that question. Of course, it was obvious and meant to be rhetorical to help them understand my feelings. For all they let on, they were oblivious to the obvious.
“I mean, he would if I’d say yes,” Tina said, “but I could go into a bar any night of the week…”
Maura’s eyes flashed daggers at Tina.
“You’re a grown woman and you can do whatever you want,” I said, “but if what you’re doing is hurting me, I can’t be near you.”
“No. Now, that’s just not right. You can’t say that, Dan,” Maura jumped in excitedly.
I was taken aback. That really offended my sensibilities.
“What?! Of course I can. I have a right to protect myself. If something is hurting me, I have every right in the world to say something and to get away from it! I have feelings, too! I’m a person. So, what, My feelings aren’t supposed to matter? I’m just supposed to shut up and take it?”
“Oh God,” Maura sounded incredulous. She was getting personally invested. “He sounds just like Tom. Just like Tom! Doesn’t he sound just like your Dad, Tina?”
Tina, sitting cross-legged on her bed, nodded emphatically, her eyes lighting up with recognition.
“Of course,” I said, realization dawning on me. All kinds of stories I’d heard bits and pieces of about the disintegration of Tina’s family started to fall into place. “Of course,” I repeated. “Of course Tom would act like this if his own wife and daughter were both lying to him all the time.”