Peter and the Story of Lois – Part 1

My life had reached its nadir as 2001 drew to a close. On a personal level, I had moved to the basement of our house in Brampton in an attempt to deal with a toxic marriage. There were a number of changes coming at work, and Christmas was always hard because there would people who didn’t qualify for Employment Insurance, hence would have no money. We were  still reeling from the horrors of 9/11, an act which had truly changed our world forever.

I needed the physical and emotional and intellectual intimacy of a relationship, but I took a month to “clear the cobwebs” i.e. go to work, come home, drink, read, feed the cat, go to bed, get up, go to work  repeat as necessary. I decided to use telephone dating because I was too worn out after a day at work to come home, shower, change, go out and be charming and witty. Besides, telephone dating would give me a larger “catchment area” than the 3 bars within stumbling distance of Chez Montreuil. (A primer about telephone dating for the uninitiated. You got an electronic mailbox, chose a category such as “long term relationships” as well as an age bracket, composed an ad, and then, once it was approved,  phone in to see if you have any responses, as well as to listen to ads of people who might interest you).

You heard the same plug in words and phrases much of the time, such as “I’m a divorced white female, 53 years young”, or “I seek my soulmate”, or “I workout at the gym 5 days a week” or “I’m a professional female”. When I composed my ad, I mentioned that “I work with a Jim 5 days a week”. I was going to say “I’m an amateur male”, but on playback, it sounded like I was saying “I’m an immature male!” so that version landed on the cutting room floor, as I imagined numbers of women throwing their hands up in disgust and saying “I had one of those for 12 years!”

Lois’ ad interested me a great deal. I replied to her, she replied back, we played “boxtag” for a few days. Note that neither of us had the other’s phone number at this time. I left her one message, didn’t hear anything for 3 years, or so it seemed. I messaged her and said that I was confused, I thought she wanted to meet for coffee, why the silence? Meanwhile, in another part of Toronto, Lois had become fed up with telephone dating, the no shows, the cheapskates, the weirdos, and she was going to drop the whole thing…..until she got my “confused” message.

1800 hours, February 6th, 2002. I am standing by the cash at the Tim Horton’s across from Varsity Stadium, which is filled with university students chattering like magpies. Lois showed up 5 minutes late, smiled as she recognized my baseball cap, but then her face fell. I walked up, introduced myself and suggested we go somewhere else for dinner, so we could really get to know each other. We went to Gabby’s on Bloor St W. (Our personal landmark was later torn down to build….condos!) We had a wonderful dinner and agreed to meet again. Our relationship grew, I would wait for her after work, we would go to dinner or a movie or both (but not at the same time!) Her cat Jessica liked me and things were going really well. However, in May 2003 I was hit by a car and seriously injured. Comatose for 5 1/2 weeks during the SARS epidemic, I had to battle depression and mood swings and anxiety. I pretty much succeeded, but only with the help of a number of dedicated people who cared about me when I didn’t really care about myself. My absence from work lasted over two years.

While our relationship wavered during that rocky time, it never completely fractured. It was a couple of months before I was fit to travel to Toronto again. We began restoring our bond once we had better contact than the telephone. We were able to go out to dinner or just sit on her balcony and talk. Lois worked in entertainment, so she is very “up” on movie and television stars. One day she mentioned Tova Feldshuh. I established my “cred” by saying that I knew of her and mentioning some of the shows I’d seen her in. Lois was quite impressed. She also confessed that she’d looked crestfallen when we first met because she thought I was going to tell her that since she was late, I was going home to Brampton.

However, things at home for me were deteriorating quickly. My wife at the time had two adult sons who wanted the privileges of adults and the responsibilities of pets as far as the daily upkeep of the household was concerned. I started to feel like I was funding a drop in centre for “Generation Y bother” as their friends hung around a lot. Her behaviour became increasingly erratic and I began to withdraw into myself. It was pretty bad when I began to view my job as an escape. My relationship with Lois began to suffer, and she stood by me as long as she could.

The opposite of “love” isn’t “hate”. The opposite of “love” is “indifference”. I take the blame, I wasn’t a very nice person sometimes, so Lois and I drifted apart. We had both given everything that we could, but the tank was empty.

One afternoon some time later I was sitting at my desk at City Hall when an email popped up from Lois. The subject line read “Tova Feldshuh”. Fearful of what it might mean, I prepared to open it….

See you soon

=====

Errata In my otherwise kneeslappingly funny column on things children say, I misspelled Lily’s mother’s name. My sincere apologies, Lindsay, signed Uncle Petre

P.S. The lesbian colonel I mentioned several columns ago has been since promoted to the rank of “Brigadier General”.

=PJM=

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