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Intervention or, Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife?) - The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

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Intervention or, Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife?) [Jul. 24th, 2005|06:42 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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Intervention or, Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife?)

"Are you a pedophile?" Laura asked me, her round brown eyes poring into my grey-greens like X-rays.

Are you a pedophile? is probably the most uncomfortable question to ask of a 40 year-old man who is living with his 18 year-old girlfriend. Certainly, it is the most uncomfortable question I have ever been asked by my 18 year-old girlfriend.

I was momentarily silent, while Laura watched me close, and as I contemplated an answer. To simply say, "Well no, I'm not," seemed less than adequate.

We were seated at a patio on the north side of Bloor Street, somewhere between Dufferin and Ossington, not far from where I lived until some 7 years ago, during which time I had my last affairs with a woman my age and another, with one 8 years my senior. Since then, I have been alone or involved with women significantly younger, though none reached the 22 years that separate Laura and myself.

We weren't supposed to be there, but Laura had had a very bad day and needed a drink. No details – those are for Laura to to tell (or not). Suffice it to say that, on pretext of meeting her father Thursday afternoon, she was instead confronted by Mom, Dad and her nearest sister, 25 year-old Natasha.

I have met Dad a number of times and liked him as much as one can a man with whom one shares only love for his daughter. He seemed to understand that in Laura he has sired a most remarkable person and, due to that, I felt a kinship.

I’ve shared meals at his former home, dined him at my own and rented a car to drive him to visit one of his sons outside of Peterborough only this past Father’s Day.

Natasha, who, upon learning of my existence and of my place in her life, had declared a desire that she see me “beaten to a bloody pulp”, had lately seemed to have changed her mind. A couple of weeks back, we were both invited to a party at ‘Tasha’s and she treated me only as Laura’s boyfriend, not a monster.

Mom I’ve seen, but never met. Last winter, Mom and I both attended a performance by Laura’s drama class and Laura had made it clear I must be invisible to the Old Lady. She was not likely to approve of Laura’s choice in men.

Recently, another sister spilled the beans and Mom had proclaimed me an Evil Pedophile and made it clear to Laura that she must make a choice between Family and Monster.

I and – I think – Laura had thought Laura’s rejection of the ultimatum was it, at least for the time being.

I had been more than a little impressed by Laura’s phlegmatic acceptance that her mother had closed the door on her.

But on Thursday afternoon, it opened again. Instead of only her father, it disgorged not only her father, but her mother and sister Natasha as well, an angry (and concerned) triumvirate speaking with a single voice.

The four of them went to a park, not far from Mom’s home. (“I should have known something was up,” Laura said later.)

“It was an intervention,” she said, such as people are known to do for drug addicts and alcoholics.

Come home!

We’ll put you through university!

Geoff is a pedophile!

Geoff is taking advantage of you!


And ...

If you stay with him, you’re no longer one of the family.


After an hour or so of “discussion”, Laura simply walked off. It was clear that nothing she said was heard, let alone listened to.

She met me right at our appointed time at Dufferin Grove Park, where we had planned to explore the organic farmer’s market at Dufferin Grove Park.

She briefed me, briefly, on her day and neither of us felt much like shopping.

Laura needed a drink and I was more than willing to join her.

And so we found ourselves, pints in hand, eyes locked on one another’s.

Are you a pedophile?” she asked me.

She was 17, I 39, when we met, the same gap between us when we first shared my bed, now nearly a year and a half ago. My two previous girlfriends are both still a few years shy of 30. It’s been a decade since I’ve been involved with someone my own age, let alone older.

There can be no denying that I tend to be attracted to women younger than I am.

Am I a pedophile?

“No,” I said, “I’m not.”

Laura waited for more. I didn’t believe she thought that I was, but it was a question she needed to ask. She needed more evidence than a mere denial could provide.

We met (of course) over the internet. “Did I lie to you about my age? Did I tell you that I am anything that I’m not?”

Laura shook her head. “I told them you didn’t,” she said, and I let flow a massive breath I hadn’t even known I was holding.

We were silent for a while, hands intertwined, thoughts perhaps not so close together. My mind was a chaos of relief, of self-doubt, of concern.

Laura’s? I can only guess.

Disowned by family, from anyone else I would have expected tears, or roaring rage,

Instead came a question. “Do you think I made the right decision?”

I was silent for a while. How could I even pretend an honest answer?

But she wanted one, and I did the best I could.

“I think so,” I said. “But take my words with a pound of salt – I am far from a disinterested party in this.”

“I know,” said Laura.

“Tossing aside my prejudice as best I can, I think you’re dealing with blackmail, no matter that the motives spring from love and concern.

“I think that going back home would be to walk into a trap – would be trade your freedom as a human being for the slave’s comfort of childhood.

“You can leave me any time you want.”

“What would you say if I agreed to try it? To move into my mother’s, maybe for a while ...?”

I nearly swallowed my cigarette, but tried hard to stay cool.

Laura’s mother is wealthy, I am not; I can offer her love, subsistence and the promise that we will deal with post-secondary education when the time comes. Mom has on her side a big house, free room, board and tuition, and probably a car in the very near future.

I am short, balding and more than old enough to be Laura’s father. My dreams of artistic wealth and fame are not far removed from those I harbored when I was Laura’s age.

For a moment – for two moments – I wondered, Why wouldn’t she choose comfort over risk?

Maybe she sensed my panic; maybe we actually are as sympatico as it so often seems.

She squeezed my hand. “I’m not going to do it,” she said, and squeezed me again. “I’m not.”

And mostly, though in part I wanted to dig deeper into her psyche – where were her tears, where the anger? - for the most part we spoke of other things through the rest of the evening. The Harry Potter books, our failed attempt to quit smoking, our near-disastrous financial situation, the problematic division of house-hold labour.

I don’t understand Laura’s ability to be so calm in the face of what would cause in most of us an emotional crisis (at best), but I am both grateful – because that is what I want – and proud of her – because her choice is the hard one, the “road less travelled” - that she has taken the decision she has.

From some perspectives, our life isn’t easy. Our financial straights are not dire, but neither are they easy. We live in a one-bedroom apartment and she is used to the ease of spacious homes. We both want a balcony and a yard for our cats. Paying for her post-secondary education promises to be difficult. And we are both too easily put off to tomorrow, what should concern us today.

But she has chosen the rocky path and I am (more than) glad she has done so, because I have, too.

We’ll work it out (or not – forever is a very long time). And meanwhile, we will share that mysterious whatever-it-is that we have, and live our lives today, thinking of tomorrow, remembering yesterday, and refusing the bondage of what-might-have-been.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: saoilsinn
2005-07-25 02:27 am (UTC)
Wow. That's not easy.
I'm putting this entry into my memories as a reminder that things can be very tough but still right.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-27 12:02 am (UTC)
No, not for Laura it's not - although she seems to be dealing with it far better than I would.
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[User Picture]From: sooguy
2005-07-25 02:52 am (UTC)
Geez Geoff, you're scarce around these parts for so long and then you blind side us with such heavy grist for the mill. Couldn't you have warmed up the audience with a little song and dance first?

All kidding aside, I know these kind of junctures in our lives can be very ponderous. We are never certain we made the right decision. I think that's in part why people have interventions. The intervenors need the others to agree that they are doing the right thing by sticking their nose in.

I agree with your assessment that regardless of your relationship with Laura, if she was to capitualate to her mother's wishes would only giving her mother power over her and her life.

I hope you guys manage to find a path through this.

Try not to be so scarce!
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-27 12:03 am (UTC)
Couldn't you have warmed up the audience with a little song and dance first?

All right, all right, I'll try to get around to posting some pictures of me in a minishirt soon. And to try not to be so scarec ...
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[User Picture]From: sabotabby
2005-07-25 03:26 am (UTC)
I'm probably projecting here, but I do believe when given ultimatums, one is always best to go against the ultimatum, as the people who say, "It's him or me" are not the sort of people one wants in one's life, at least not until they come to see the error of their ways.

It makes it harder when it's family, of course, especially because family feel entitled to do such things.

My best to both of you.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-27 12:07 am (UTC)
Thanks, man. Ultimatums have always stuck in my craw as well, particularly when dealing with someone you believe is only at risk of hurting themself.
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From: venividivici3
2005-08-05 12:54 am (UTC)

Short and Sweet

Im of the same school of thought as you are, Rachel. I'm not too keen on them either. It shows insecurity and a lack of being able to reach a happy median through reason or thought.

See you soon, maybe?

-laura
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From: slightlymish
2005-07-25 03:47 am (UTC)
Man.

You guys have the strongest relationship of any couples I know. I'm just...wow.

But I think, even though I hardly know you, that you're both doing the right thing and that you'll pull through.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-27 12:09 am (UTC)
You guys have the strongest relationship of any couples I know.

It's far and away the best I've ever had ...
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[User Picture]From: miyyu
2005-07-25 10:57 am (UTC)
I think you gave her an excellent answer. What her family did is blackmail, pure and simple. Regardless of their motives, that was a horrid thing for them to do. I'm sure in part that her choice was made easier because you do exactly the opposite and allowed her to make the choice.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-27 12:11 am (UTC)
I'm sure in part that her choice was made easier because you do exactly the opposite and allowed her to make the choice.

Likely so (Laura?) - but also, what her family doesn't seem to realize is that she is old enough that no one can "allow her to make the choice".

She's a free human being - she may (she will) suffer consequences (as will we all) for the choices she makes, but the choices are hers.
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[User Picture]From: mollymolekular
2005-07-25 02:42 pm (UTC)
I agree with the blackmail part 100%. I can't believe how strong Laura is not to completely lose it, though. No matter how in the wrong they are, that kind of situation hurts so incredibly much. If your family ousts you or threatens to for some lifestyle choice, it makes me wonder just how strong a bond there was to begin with. If they have to bribe and blackmail her to come back . . . they completely lack the ability to communicate with her at all.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-27 12:12 am (UTC)
I can't believe how strong Laura is not to completely lose it, though.

Yes, her ability to deal rationally with the irrational blows my mind, often.
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[User Picture]From: karinablack
2005-07-25 03:41 pm (UTC)
wooooow...
haha gee I wonder why you're having a hard time quitting smoking! :)

I dated a guy in his 40's when I was in my early 20's. Dated... uh. I use that term pretty loosely... but still, yeah. Conversely, I dated much younger men when in my mid-20's. Weird dichotomy. Got more crap for the latter, but both is still uncomfortable.

Funny how family tends to overreact and look at just the black-and-white's of things, hi-lighted in their own prejudices.

Which is weird coz I've just lambasted my father (in his 50's) for specifically dating women younger than I am simply for the fact that they are young and pretty, instead of by personality... and then wondering why he gets shafted every time :)
But that's neither here nor there.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-27 12:15 am (UTC)
Which is weird coz I've just lambasted my father (in his 50's) for specifically dating women younger than I am</i> simply for the fact that they are young and pretty, instead of by personality... and then wondering why he gets shafted every time :)</i>

That sounds less like prejudice (though prejudice might be a factor) than it does like sound analysis. If your father is dating women just because "they are young and pretty" I don't think he has much of a chance of building something lasting. I too would start to roll my eyes if he wondered about it.
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[User Picture]From: pbprincess
2005-07-25 08:35 pm (UTC)
I don't have an opinion on all of this...how could I really, not knowing either of you terribly well, but it's good that these things get talked about, I think.

(I also still have your copy of Catch22 whenever you want it back from internet limbo land.)
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-27 12:16 am (UTC)
Ah yes, Catch-22. We should arrange to get that back to me one of these days ...

I hate making plans - would you care to kick things off?
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[User Picture]From: pbprincess
2005-07-27 01:34 pm (UTC)
I will, but not until I've moved...maybe August 5th?
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-27 02:56 pm (UTC)
That's a possibility, but don't be in a panic about it - there's no rush.
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[User Picture]From: offermeescape
2005-07-25 11:23 pm (UTC)
Wow. This must have been a pretty tough situation for you two. Kudos to Laura especially - it must have taken incredible strength not to completely break down and lose it. I think what her family did was absolutely terrible - and I don't even believe it was a product of love, but rather, a product of fear within themselves. Love is love, and as I've already met you, I don't believe your intentions are ill-concieved at all. You just have to believe. That's all.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-27 12:17 am (UTC)
Yes, to Laura especially - truth is, it hasn't been that hard on me. I don't much like being hated by people I barely know, but beyond that - amazingly - there hasn't been any fallout for me to deal with at all.
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[User Picture]From: carnivalnights
2005-07-26 01:50 am (UTC)
If she moved back, I don't think it would be her choosing comfort over risk anyway. (That would obviously be shallow and materialistic.) She obviously loves you, but you can imagine how torn she is right now. I think it would just be her choosing family, despite the attitudes of some members. Obviously, family is important and should never be discarded. But I agree with you; I view it as blackmail. Personally, if I loved the person I was with and my family was threatening me, I wouldn't give it a second thought. Family is supposed to be there to support you no matter what, and her family is obviously not doing a good job respecting her choices or beliefs. It's just really hard when things involve your own family. I would be a complete mess right now, so hats off to her for keeping it together.

As an outsider it's hard to say you both made the right decision, but frankly, I think her family will get over it and you guys will be just fine. Call me optimistic (or don't because I am truly not; that statement is sheer irony), but I do believe they will, despite their strong and harsh opinions right now.

Good luck to the both of you. I'm quite sure, as a couple, you will be able to work through this. You've both shown a strong sense of commitment, and that can get people through even the rockiest of roads. Just ask Sean. ;)
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-27 12:25 am (UTC)
If she moved back, I don't think it would be her choosing comfort over risk anyway.

Yes. The weird thing is, that I suspect she doesn't consider it a risk at all. Or rather, that she knows it is a risk (most relationships don't actually make it 'till "death do us part" in any case), but that she is - eyes as wide open as they can be at 18 - willing to face the risk, and deal with the consequences, should they appear.

Which is something I understand, probably because I've taken more than a few "risks" in my time (and am now, come to think of it, putting my heart in Laura's hands). I have taken such plunges as dropping out of both high school and university, moving to new cities, hitch-hiking across the continent, and fallen in love, and I have known every time that most people would consider those decisions ill-advised at best. And in fact, on occasion most people were right.

But the mistakes were mine, thank you very much, and though I might have done things differently had I known then what I know now, I don't regret many of them.
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[User Picture]From: vienneau
2005-07-28 05:30 am (UTC)

You're in a really tough situation.

From the outsider's viewpoint, especially outsiders who care for her greatly, I suspect what they see is someone who thinks she's in love but how could she possibly know that when she's only 18. Meanwhile you should have attained the wisdom by this point to realize that it isn't real and thus are harmful by continuing the charade. In hindsight, I was definitely not as mature or wise at 17 as I thought I was and I suspect most people have discovered the same thing. It's difficult to watch your children (or younger siblings) make decisions that you "know" are mistakes through greater experience. In those situations you want to defend them with everything that you have and may become desperate enough to resort to ultimatums to finally "get it through her head" that you really think she's messing up her life.

As the textbook says - what would a 40-year old man see in an 18-year old girl that leads to a long-term relationship. Generally it's about sex, or an unhealthy sexual appetite (ranging from immaturity to abuse). If you're a betting man, that's what you put your money on.

And to make things worse, you don't offer the financial incentives such an age gap would normally bring, you in fact bring financial difficulties. Though I suspect that actually acts in your favour in terms of sincerity (Laura is obviously not just paid-for arm-candy)

What you have to decide/prove is whether you two have defied the odds. It's definitely not impossible that a mature 18-year old could find exactly what she needs in a youthful 40-year old and vice-versa. But it's very, very unlikely, especially when she's so young.

That being said (and at 1:30 in the morning, perhaps I've said too much), I suspect it boils down to two things:

1) I think it's great! I'm greatly enjoying reading about the two of you and the fun times you have. I want it to be the real thing if only to prove that it can happen as I like mixing things up.

2) All the analysis in the world doesn't matter and both of you should do what makes you happiest. Even if the family is right and it won't work out and Laura will regret the choices she's made, it would be a horrendous crime to give up current happiness for a "what if?" Someone has to win the lottery and you've already purchased a ticket - what's the point in ripping it up before the draw because the odds are against you? Enjoy and prosper!






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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-28 03:20 pm (UTC)
As the textbook says - what would a 40-year old man see in an 18-year old girl that leads to a long-term relationship. Generally it's about sex, or an unhealthy sexual appetite (ranging from immaturity to abuse). If you're a betting man, that's what you put your money on.

Quite true, in general (though this doesn't include the possibility that some young women might simply enjoy a fling with an experienced older man just for the experience - but I digress, as none of these possibilities (I hope!) apply to Laura and I.

And to make things worse, you don't offer the financial incentives such an age gap would normally bring, you in fact bring financial difficulties. Though I suspect that actually acts in your favour in terms of sincerity (Laura is obviously not just paid-for arm-candy)

No, that's for damned sure. If she was looking for a sugar-daddy she could be doing a lot better than she is through me.

In any case, I'm pleased you're enjoying our little soap opera. In any event, I believe we shall persevere - and that, at very worst, if it comes to an end, we will regret that it ended, not that it happened.
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[User Picture]From: amaaanda
2005-07-28 08:33 am (UTC)
I hate how you guys have so much societal bullshit that keeps getting between you, or atleast trying to. I admire the both of you for staying so strong through all of this. Star crossed lovers, ye be.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2005-07-28 03:28 pm (UTC)
Star crossed lovers, ye be.

Aaarrrgggh, matey - glad I be to see ye back thee inter-web! The stars crossed may be - yet so far we sail straight and true!
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