Last night J and I went to get chicken wings at a local place. It was late, we were hungry but we were our normal people watching, joke cracking selves. It wasn’t busy but service was slow for some reason. By the time the waitress brought me a fruity rum drink I was on a starving empty stomach. A few sips and I felt my mouth moving and my brain floating around somewhere taking my filter with it. J, bless his heart is patient. Kind. Oh so sweet. But I can tell he is quietly rolling his eyes and slightly terrified of my pending tipsy antics.
For the record, I was on my best behavior. Ish.
We made some cracks about the waitress, the music playing in the bar was clearly being chosen by a 25 year old girl who was trying desperately to re live her high-school days.
A few feet away was a group of 20-something guys. Man buns, beards, tattoos. I labeled them “Bar Bros” they all had apparel that had some initials on them. I thought they were in like some kickball league or a beer league maybe. So I googled the shirt logo. Turns out it was a local apparel company and it started to look familiar. I saw who founded it and I realized I knew him. Then one of the bearded “Bar Bros” Came into focus and looked familiar. He was one of the guys who started the apparel company. And I knew him. Well I knew his father. He didn’t know me. But his dad did.
As it all came to light, J was watching, listening to the revelation. I realized I had to explain. And then I realized this was a story I don’t always like telling. Or talking about too much.
Back in my old life, when I was a wife. My house had an unfortunate issue with plumbing leading to my floors flooding. When insurance gave us money, we chose to seek out a family friend to help us out with the new flooring. My parents’ neighbor worked for his cousin and I contacted him to get us an estimate. My husband was working and I was home alone the day he came to give us an estimate.
When he arrived it wasn’t like talking to a stranger. I knew him and had conversations with him in the past. We’ve even shared a bottle of vodka he brought to a party we were at. He has a thick eastern European accent as he moved to the US from Croatia in the late 90’s. Bald shiny head, tall, dark goatee. He has a very commanding presence and I only ever saw him a friendly person.
We made small talk and I showed him around the house. He asked my where my husband was and I told him he was working. I got talking about the house and I told him about a bar we put in the basement. He asked to see it so I obliged. When we were down there we sat at the bar and he eyed my husbands Stoli vodka. He poured two shots. I laughed. I said it’s the afternoon on a weekday, I cannot do that. So he downed both. Then he straddled me on my chair and tried to kiss me. I freaked out and backed away. I said I’m sorry no. I was scared. I was alone. He could do anything to me and I wouldn’t know how to stop him. He tried again and I told him to stop. I even remember saying “please”… like manners meant anything in that moment. He then laughed at me and told me that I would be surprised how many people cheat on their spouses. He told me that life is more like Desperate Housewives that I believe. He even told me that I should cheat on my husband before he has the chance to do it to me. Looking back, this comment is slightly amusing now. But at that time I remember thinking this guy is a raging ass hole and he is full of shit.
He got a clue and he said he will leave now. I showed him out to the front door because I am a big fat idiot who still tried to maintain my manners. In the door way he shoved me against the door frame and put his hand down my shirt getting a very aggressive handful of my breast and and thrust his tongue in my mouth. I pulled myself away and I said again “Please stop that” and he left.
I was shaking and upset and I cried and cried. My ex texted me asking how the estimate went. I told him we will talk when he got home.
That night I showed him the estimate, which he felt was too much money. He asked me to call him in the morning and see if we can get it any cheaper. I froze and I told him I didn’t want to use him. I told him we can shop other places. My ex was fuming with me, he just wanted the floors taken care of and he didn’t want to shop around anymore. He asked me why and I told him just because. I didn’t tell him. Finally about a week and some time later he asked me one last time. “Why don’t you want us to use XXXX?” I said “I won’t tell you why right now but when I am ready I will. But all I will say is that I never want to talk to him or deal with him again.” He didn’t question me he just said “OK”.
It took a month for me to get the courage. I told him. He immediately was upset with me. Upset I didn’t say something sooner. Upset I let him go to the bar and drink his liquor. He told me I was probably flirting with him. Proving to me the exact reason I didn’t want to tell him about it.
After I told J all of this he looked at me and said, “No secrets babe. You have to tell me about something like that. I need to know. But I will NEVER blame you for that.”
He is right. That is bad secret. But I was legitimately scared in those days.
In the days since that encounter, because our families are very loosely connected I have kept track of him, his life. He even manages to send me invites to events at a bar he owns through social media. And when I was teaching his son was in one of my classes.
As we left, I saw J totally mean mug his son at the bar. And he grabbed me, super close and squeezed me tight.