(In which Young Geoffrey displays his petty side; if you have somehow romanticized me as some paragon of enlightened virtue, just move on to the next post on your list.)
By and large I've been pretty happy these past few months, notwithstanding my inability to meet women who are not either involved or loopy.
I have told myself - and others, sometimes to a certain amount of scepticism - that I am "over Laura" and moving on with my life. And mostly, I think it is true. But it is also true that I think of her more often than I would like. I don't want her back, but I am still angry about how she (mis)treated me.
I've fantasized - too much - about running into her, usually somewhere on Queen Street (because that is where I spend most of my time, no need for any Freudian - or any other kind - of analysis).
In the fantasy, she is with someone - a man - and approaches me to say hello, and to apologize.
"Who's that?" I say, and jerk my thumb towards her companion. "Your boyfriend of the week or just a john?"
"My boyfriend," she says, looking sad. "I'm not like that any more."
"That's good to hear. I wish I could believe it."
Uncomfortable, she nevertheless wants to talk. She notices that I've lost weight and tells me I look good.
"Thank you," I say. "And you still look like a lying, cheating, thieving sack of shit. Whether you live or die is a matter of supreme indifference to me."
And I stalk past her, without a backwards glance.
Well, tonight, I sort of had my chance.
I got in around 7:30 (I stopped in at Java Hut to work on a review of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion - coming soon, folks!) and shortly after I had fired up the computer the telephone rang.
I trotted to my bedroom to answer it.
"Good evening sir," said a strangely familiar voice, "I am calling from the [Blah-blah-blah] Dance Studio. May I speak with Geoffrey Dow?"
"Who's calling?" I asked, in my normal, who-the-hell-is-this tone.
"Geoff, it's Laura."
"Yes, it's me. I'm working for this telemarketing company and -"
"I'm really not interested," I said, and started to reach for the ... that thing you press when you want to disconnect a call.
"- and I thought of calling you."
"Laura," I said, "you're a lying, cheating sack of shit, [yes, I forgot "thieving"] and I have nothing to say to you."
But my heart was suddenly beating like a rattle in the hand of a child suffering from ADD and I didn't hang up the phone.
"What do you want?"
"I was thinking of you and, I guess, I just wanted to say I'm sorry." She paused, and I couldn't think of anything to say. "How are you?"
"I'm good," I said. "I'm very good." And the habit of politeness led me on. "How are you?"
"I'm great," she said. "I'm not in the sex-trade anymore, and I'm in a relationship -"
"Laura, I'm not interested in your relationships, or anything else."
And then I paused. A small part of me, a part that isn't angry at her, but that remembers the woman I believed she was, was thrilled to hear her voice again.
And so I still didn't hang up.
"I'm not like that anymore," she said. "My lying and cheating almost got me into trouble with my partner -"
"I don't want to hear about it, Laura. You lied to my face for a year and I can never forgive you for what you did to me."
"For more than a year," she said. "But I'm really not like that anymore." Suddenly she sounded like I imagine someone who has really gone through a 12-step program sounds like, someone who is bravely facing up to the sins of her past and asking forgiveness from those she has wronged.
But my anger was taking control again. "Laura, it's almost good to hear your voice, and I hope it's true, but I can never forgive you for what you did to me. I wish you well, but I don't want to talk to you. After all that happened, I can never trust you. So don't call me again, and if you see me on the street, just keep walking. And fuck off."
And I placed the receiver in its cradle (somehow, I didn't slam it).
I was literally shaking when I came back to the computer. My bloodstream was flooded with adrenaline.
But, having typed this far (thank you, Gentle Readers, for giving me an outlet for the venting of my speen).
Truth is, I don't feel good for having said, "Fuck off," and I do feel good about it.
There is a part of me that recognizes, first, that Laura is a great deal younger than I am and, second, that people sometimes do change. But at the same time, I know that I - when I was 18 and 19 - would never have been able to say "I love you" to someone for "a lot more than a year" when I didn't mean it.
I am calm again, and I suspect if I could test it, my adrenaline levels would be back to normal. I think I am glad she called me, that she gave me the chance to say, "Fuck off" and then hang up the phone.
And I hope that, when I take my shower tomorrow morning, I won't waste my time imagining what I might have said anymore.
Maybe now, at last, I am not only over Laura, but rid of her, too.