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Posts from the ‘Stories’ Category

My Stint as a Concierge – Part 2

The beautiful young woman with long, dark hair stood with her large breasts resting on the counter of the concierge desk. When I looked up, her plunging neckline and erect nipples were staring me in the face. No, I haven’t started writing erotica. If so, that would have been a terrible stab at it. She handed me an earring and a large gemstone and said, “Can you fix this?” She reached up and put her hair behind the ear that was wearing the match to the broken one. “Can I have the one on your ear so I can look at it?” I asked. She took it off and handed it to me. I studied them both. I wasn’t a jeweler, but it appeared to be costume jewelry so I wasn’t too worried about saying, “I can crazy glue it.” She smiled and said she’d be back for it in an hour.

She was a prostitute hired by the Los Angeles Bond Club (bail bondsmen) to accompany a group of about 30 men to the hotel for the weekend. It was just she and one other girl. The men were there for their annual convention (golf/drinking/sex with hookers), and what was left in their wake were stories the staff would talk about for months, especially the Housekeeping Department.

Being a concierge was an interesting job. If you got the right gig, it could be very lucrative and you could be dialed in to everything going on, especially in a big city. The perks can be phenomenal. Later on in my husband’s career, he was managing a hotel in Los Angeles where we benefited greatly from the relationships the hotel concierge had fostered. But that was a little different from the job at Spanish Bay. A posh golf resort wasn’t the same as a big city hotel because of all the things a big city has to offer. Still, you never knew what would be thrown at you. For the most part, it’s talking about where to go and what to do and what to eat and scheduling dinner reservations and massages and babysitters and tee times, etc., etc., but occasionally you are hit a little sideways with requests that leave you slightly speechless while you process how best to accommodate.

Like the time a 40-something year old woman, who was very plain and soft-spoken walked up to the desk and stated that she had forgotten her compact at home. First I said, “Did you check the gift shop? We have some cosmetics there.” She said, “Yes, but you don’t carry Clinique.” I thought, So what the hell do you expect me to do about it, run to Macy’s for you? I hesitated, then said, “If you can tell me the shade, I can send a porter to Macy’s.” A month or so later, I found out this woman was a “secret shopper” hired by hotel management and in her report she described our interaction to the letter. It went something like this, “Jodee was very pleasant and helpful with getting the compact I told her I forgot at home, though there was a slight initial hesitation.”

On very busy days, the concierge staff would have to jump in and do some of the porter duties. Occasionally I parked cars. I once drove a Bentley to a parking spot. I also drove a 20-something passenger bus more than once. The first time the doorman came in and said, “Jodee, I need to you shuttle a group to The Lodge,” I said, “No way. I can’t drive that big bus.” Yes, you can,” he said. So I did. It was full of a group of golfers from Japan who spoke very little English, but tried to ask me questions while I held their lives in my hands and in that bus. It went okay, and truth be told, I often volunteered to drive the bus even though I don’t think I was legally supposed to. I seem to recall a special license (?), but maybe not.

On another busy day, the doorman walked in holding the elbow of a man holding an ice pack to the side of his head. “Jodee, I need you to take Mr. White to the ER.” He had been hit in the head with a golf ball and was actually knocked out briefly. He refused an ambulance, but the hotel insisted he get checked out. As I was getting in the driver’s seat of the hotel Town Car, the doorman whispered, “Don’t let him fall asleep.” That poor man. I talked his ear off and asked him questions the entire drive to the hospital. I could tell he was annoyed. I finally said, “I’m not supposed to let you fall asleep.” He said, “I know.”

I mentioned in the first part of the story that my immediate supervisor, David, would become my second husband in less than a year. So yeah, that was going on; his trying to “court” me, and me resisting (initially). He made it pretty clear from the beginning that he was interested, though he was always professional. I recall him saying, “There’s something I really want to ask you, but I’m not sure I should.” I said, “You want to ask me out?” He said, “No, I want to ask you to marry me and have my children.” I laughed and walked away. I had a crush on the bartender in the Lobby Lounge. I was once hiding behind the bar having a coke or something when I heard David walk up and ask the bartender if he had seen me. He said, “no.” That was my cue to go out the back door of the bar and run as quickly as I could through the back hallways to the employee lounge and act like nothing.

Eventually he won me over so we went to Tahoe and got married. Within two weeks, the General Manager of the hotel called David in and said, “I don’t think Jodee should be working here now that she is your wife.” And that was end of my stint as a concierge.

My Stint as a Concierge


My friend Renee called me one day and asked if I would be interested in working as a concierge at The Inn at Spanish Bay. “I don’t think so,” I said. I was working as the daytime bartender at the Monterey Plaza Hotel at the time and I liked my job. Renee and I did some part-time modeling together and in the relatively short time I had lived on the Monterey Peninsula, I considered her my closest friend. I was recently separated from my first husband and things weren’t easy, but my little boy and I were settling into life in a one bedroom apartment a few blocks from the beach. “John is recruiting,” Renee said. John was Renee’s husband. He was in the hotel business and if I took the job as concierge, he would be my boss. He was a great guy, but the thought of changing jobs during such an unsettling time in my life sounded like more than I wanted to deal with.

A month or so later, John called me himself. “Come on, Jodee, just come down to the hotel and let me show you around and tell you about the job.” I agreed. The Inn at Spanish Bay hadn’t been open too long and was part of the Pebble Beach Resorts family. The historical Lodge at Pebble Beach was (is) its sister property. Both are located on the world famous 17-Mile Drive and both have world class golf courses. It was beautiful. The resort itself wooed me. When John and I finished walking the property and talking about the job, I was smitten. It didn’t hurt that he timed my visit with sunset, and the bagpiper who plays and pairs beautifully with that time of day.

A concierge takes care of a hotel guest’s every need, though you aren’t required to break the law, and you can refuse to help a guest if they ask you to cross the line, though that line is never actually spelled out. Of course you aren’t allowed inside of a guest’s room, other than the short time you are pointing out the workings of their room after you have escorted them to it. You see, that was how Spanish Bay had this position structured. You were either one of two employees behind the concierge desk, or you were posted in the lobby awaiting arrivals. If that happened to be you, the front desk clerk would introduce you by name, “Mr. Jones, this is Jodee. She is going to escort you to your room, tell you about the hotel, and answer any questions you may have.” But I’m jumping ahead.

We didn’t have bellmen. We had porters. Porters would be posted outside as hotel guests pulled up to the porte-cochère. The hotel was set back from the road. There was a guard gate at the entrance. The person working in the guard gate would inquire whether the person entering the property was checking into the hotel and if they were, the gate person would call the doorman and let them know that Mr. Jones was on his way up in a blue Mercedes. Mr. Jones would then be greeted by name by the doorman and then whisked to the front desk clerk and introduced where he would promptly get checked in before being handed off to (a concierge) me. Mr. Jones would always inquire about the car and his bags, but he would be told not to worry about that. While one porter was parking his car, another porter was already on his way to the room to drop off the luggage before we arrived, and when he is surprised to see his luggage and inquires about tipping, he is told that a 15% gratuity is added onto his folio so he is not to tip anywhere in the hotel other than the restaurants and lounges. Sometimes guests would push cash into your hands and not take “no” for an answer, but you would never know if they were a spy so you tried to resist as best you could. Not taking “no” for an answer was a pretty good clue that they weren’t hired by management to “secret shop” on your ass.

My second husband, David, was my immediate supervisor. He was John’s assistant manager. I didn’t know he was going to be my second husband when I met him, but he would become that in less than a year’s time. My first day on the job was shadowing David as he told (and showed) me everything about the hotel. It was crucial to the job that I know everything about the hotel, the restaurants, the company, etc. We also drove over to The Lodge at Pebble Beach because I had to be familiar with that property as well. My one standout memory of that day was when we were driving to The Lodge and I told David about my son Jarrod, who was five at the time, wanting to change his name to Arnold. David laughed to tears.

To be continued…

Honeymoons

I haven’t had very good luck with honeymoons. Or marriages, come to think of it. Though I would actually call both of my marriage successful despite their ultimate demises. My son was a product of the first, and I would hardly call a 20-year marriage a failure. We succeeded for a long time, but I’m actually writing about honeymoons today. Specifically, the first one because there’s not a lot to tell about the second one as you will discover at the end of my story.

Two marriages equal two honeymoons with two different husbands and both to Hawaii, though they were on different islands so I didn’t have to suffer the fate of remembering being in the same place with Husband #1 when I was with Husband #2.

Husband #1 was only interested in buying weed. We spent a week on the island of Oahu, and he spent six days trying to score weed. Of course I knew before I married the guy that he liked his weed, but I didn’t think his smoking habit would infiltrate our honeymoon.

There was a casual mention of him wanting to buy some “good shit” in Hawaii a few weeks before our wedding, but I didn’t give it too much thought. I envisioned him asking the bellman at our hotel about it when we arrived, and then perhaps the bellman coming to our room that night with enough to last him the week and that would be the end of it.

I also envisioned us sitting on our hotel balcony overlooking the ocean drinking Mai Tais or some other exotic tropical drink and then walking hand in hand along the surf as the sun set, but that never happened.

The bellman did come to our room that first night, but only with one joint. The next morning Husband was on a quest to find more weed. I found myself running along behind him on the streets of Honolulu while he looked into the eyes of locals hoping they could read each other’s minds. “Got weed?” his eyes would say, “Yes,” the stranger’s eyes would say, and then they would duck behind a building or dumpster and exchange money and drugs. As the lookout, I became an accessory to these crimes.

For whatever reason, he could only get a small amount at a time so these were our daily excursions. I took to wearing a disguise. We did have a few nice dinners in between our hunts for illegal drugs, and the Luau that the hotel put on was a memorable experience. But what I remember most is following Husband and a local dude into a rundown apartment complex where we entered the unit with an upside down “B” on the door, and while Husband was conducting his final transaction with four strange men lurking, I envisioned them taking what was left of our money and slitting our throats.

Obviously that didn’t happen, because nine years later I was on the island of Maui with Husband #2, who didn’t like marijuana due to the paranoia that would envelop him each time he’d tried it.

We had a wonderful time sitting on our hotel balcony overlooking the ocean sipping exotic tropical drinks and taking nightly walks along the surf at sunset. We dined at wonderful restaurants, went on a snorkeling excursion to Molokini, swam in the ocean, read books on the beach, and even tried parasailing. We did all the touristy stuff.

What we didn’t do was have good old-fashioned sex. Instead, we asked the concierge at our hotel where the nearest pharmacy was so I could stock up on Monistat because I was hit with a raging yeast infection on Day #2 of Honeymoon #2.

I grew a tree

Actually, I grew more than one tree. Ten years ago or so, I opened up a few pods from a Mesquite tree and put the seeds in the ground in the backyard of my house in Southern Arizona. Today the trees are massive, and knowing these beautiful trees are there because of me makes me feel like I did something good. This was different than going down to your neighborhood nursery and buying a tree in a pot. This was me helping nature by scattering seeds and growing something that will still be standing in 100 years.

My husband, David, had made a somewhat impulsive decision to buy a house in Tubac, Arizona after visiting his parents one winter. They had retired to Southern Arizona and the town of Tubac was about an hour away from them. He bought a completely staged (furnished) brand new home in a development that was within walking distance to town, which wasn’t much more than four square blocks of art galleries, a coffeehouse, a few restaurants, a saloon, and one gas station. I had never been there. He returned to our home in Palm Springs with the news.

We then impulsively rented our house in Palm Springs completely furnished, put a few things in a storage unit, loaded our two vehicles with personal belongings and three dogs and then drove to the state next door where we would live for the next two years, which brings me to the day the Mesquite pods came into my possession.

We had gone to visit my in-laws and after a lazy afternoon and early dinner, we stood in their front yard chatting before saying goodbye. They had a very large Mesquite tree next to their driveway that was shedding pods. My father-in-law (who I also must give credit too) picked up a handful and gave them to me. He said, “Take these home, open them up, and put the seeds in the ground. You might get a tree.”

Mesquite pods

Mesquite pods

Our backyard was all rock, very sparse, and with only a few desert cactuses and shrubs. It wasn’t pretty. In addition, the development had a rule about the height of your fence or enclosure. We had a four foot wall that overlooked a park to the back and an adjacent neighbor on one side. There wasn’t much privacy. I told David that I would try to grow four trees. Three on the back wall and one on the side closer to the house.

Before trees

Before trees

The seeds sprouted very quickly. I was ecstatic. When our desert dwelling days came to an end, the trees were about as tall as me, but still wispy. We visited Arizona when we could and it was always joyful to see their growth, but as the story goes there came a time when that house was no longer my house and the ex-husband got custody of the trees.

Happily, the story doesn’t end there. Knowing what those trees meant to me, David sends me pictures every time he visits Tubac.

View from the back wall of one of my trees.

Look at that tree!

 

Finally Telling: A Girl’s Guide to Speaking Up

A couple of nights ago I told my boyfriend Mike a story of something that happened to me many years ago. His response was, “I have no idea what that kind of fear feels like.” Of course he doesn’t. Because these types of stories almost exclusively belong to women.

Telling the story was prompted by reading a blog earlier in the day that had gone viral and shown up on my Facebook newsfeed. The blog could have been written by ANY woman. Not because the woman who wrote it isn’t a good writer, quite the contrary, but because I don’t think there is a woman in this country who couldn’t put herself on that page. She wrote of what we women are subjected to on a daily basis, because we are women, and how we choose to handle it, which is to minimize and de-escalate.

The title of the blog is The Thing All Women Do That You Don’t Know About and it’s worth reading. In fact, you should click on the link and read that blog before you continue reading here.

The part where she says, They don’t know struck a chord with me because I had a story I’d never told until the other night. Actually, I have many stories I’ve never told, and a few I have. The dodged bullet story has been told, but why do we minimize and de-escalate? We do it for a variety of reasons, partly because, “It happens all the time. And it’s not always clear if the situation is dangerous or benign,” says the author of the blog. And she’s right.

I’m not sure if I was in danger, though at the time, I honestly felt I was. The man I’m going to write about crossed the line and made me extremely uncomfortable. I should have told someone, but in my youth and naivete, I began to question my judgement after the fact. Maybe I was letting my imagination get the best of me. Maybe it was an accident when he brushed the front of himself against my shoulder when he was fixing my hair. Maybe he was just going to get his mail when he got in the elevator with me. I can’t ruin this guy’s reputation without being sure that something was going to happen.

But something did happen. He was wildly inappropriate and I was too afraid NOT to pretend he wasn’t being wildly inappropriate. I chose to act as if it was not a big deal to keep the situation from escalating. Perhaps that was the right thing to do to protect myself, but not telling someone about it was bullshit. I was a young girl without the confidence to tell the story when it should have been told.

So here it is. Sadly, it’s not a special story. I imagine most of us women have these kinds of stories; some not quite as scary, and some much more terrifying. Maybe it’s time we all start telling our stories. Like the author of the blog said, “Just listen.”

I was 19-years old and still fairly new to the modeling world. When you are new and don’t have a lot of work experience behind you to fill your portfolio with “tear sheets,” your agent will suggest you “test” shoot with photographers. This can be expensive so there is often a list available of wannabe fashion photographers trying to break into the business who are willing to test for only the cost of the developing and prints. I chose one such photographer.

When I made the date with him over the phone, he said we would be shooting at his apartment in San Francisco and that there would be one other model there. That was fine with me.

When I arrived, I met his wife who was on her way out the door. They seemed like a nice young couple, probably in their late 20s to early 30s. There were no red flags whatsoever at that point.

The other model and I took turns shooting against a white wall in his kitchen that was next to a big window that had nice natural light. While she changed outfits, he would shoot me, and vice versa. The apartment was small, but there was enough room in the bathroom for her and I to cram all our stuff in there where we could refresh make-up, change our hair, and change outfits.

The photographer seemed okay, though he had a nervous energy about him. He appeared to know what he was doing and had the right equipment. Back before the digital age, there was always a Polaroid camera used first to check lighting, etc., before the photographer would use actual film. The Polaroids looked good and he was secure enough with his abilities to suggest minor movements for the best shots.

After a few hours of the other model and I taking turns, I was getting tired and hungry and was ready to call it a day. Things seemed to be winding down when he told the other girl that she could leave. He said he had enough shots for her and that he just wanted to do a few more with me. He told me to put on the white top that I had previously shown him; the one that when I first had shown him he said, “white won’t really work.” When I said, “I thought white won’t work,” he told me the lighting had changed and it should be okay for one last series of photos.

This was my first moment of uneasiness. I didn’t really like that I would be alone there with him. While he seemed nice, our rapport wasn’t easy. I’d shot with quite a few photographers at that point and I had never felt uneasy around any of them, even when I was alone with them.

I shook it off, said my goodbyes to the other girl, and went to the bathroom to change my outfit. When I came out he had me sit on a stool. This is when things started to get weird. He became much more touchy. It was common for photographers without an assistant to fix out-of-place hair, or adjust your clothing during a shoot, but he had only done that to a bare minimum. Now he kept touching me; fixing my hair, lifting my chin, moving my head…

There was a very definable shift in his behavior with this shoot compared to the others that day, but I was minimizing everything he was doing. I was having an internal battle with myself. I told myself he was married. I told myself I was blowing things out of proportion. I actually let him unbutton the top button of my blouse and pull it open more. He said, “We have enough wholesome shots, how about some sexy ones?”

I didn’t respond, but I did exactly as I was told, including “lean forward and purse your lips.” Ugh. The original duck lips. I was afraid to not comply. I was afraid things could turn ugly. My instincts were telling me that as long as he didn’t sense my fear or see that I was uncomfortable, then I could control the situation, but I was also thinking very clearly on how I was going to get myself out of there. I’d had enough. I said, “Can we stop for a minute, I need to use the restroom?”

I walked into the bathroom and quickly gathered up all of my things and shoved them in my bag. I made a mental note of where my coat was, which was on a chair by the door, and then, with my keys in my hand, I took a deep breath, walked out, and said, “Actually, I think we have enough today. I need to leave now if I’m going to beat rush hour traffic.” I could see that he was stunned as I walked toward the door with all of my stuff. His eyes were wide. He said, “I’ll go down with you.”

My heart leapt to my throat. Why, I thought. Why does he want to go down with me? He lived on an upper floor in an old building with an elevator that had a gate. The hallway was dark and dank. I had no idea where the stairs were and in my attempt to act as normal as possible, I couldn’t see a way out of not getting on the elevator with him. So I did. I pressed the button for the ground floor as he closed that gate on us and then stood there on high alert. Almost immediately the elevator stopped and the door opened one floor below his. An elderly man opened the gate and stepped on, and with him, the biggest sense of relief washed over me. I said hello to him with probably a little too much enthusiasm, but at that moment, I felt like that old guy was my savior.

I drove home.

I didn’t tell my parents.

I didn’t tell my boyfriend.

I didn’t tell my agent.

FullSizeRender-3

 

 

 

Purple Mountains

We left the train station very early in the morning for an across the country adventure. Me, mom, dad, and my brother. I was five. I never felt like we were poor when I was growing up. In fact, I’m sure we weren’t, but we certainly weren’t rich. I say this because we apparently couldn’t afford sleeping cars. As a parent, I can’t imagine traveling coach with a five and nine-year old on a train for four nights and five days, but that’s exactly what my parents did and the memory of that trip has never left me.

We were bound for Wisconsin to see my mother’s side of the family. It’s interesting that this was the only time we made the trip by train, though we visited almost every year thereafter by car from California. Perhaps the memory of the train trip isn’t quite the same for them as for me. Perhaps they wondered what they were thinking.

I’m pretty sure I was an angel on that train trip because the only time I remember crying was when my dad and brother got off at one of the many stops and they weren’t back in their seats when the train departed. I remember screaming, “Daddy!” No amount of reassuring from my mother that they were on the train would convince me otherwise until I saw my dad walk through the door of our car. I was a nervous kid to begin with. I remember not wanting them to get off. I remember being afraid the train would leave without them.

We once lost my father and brother in San Francisco. It was just one of those misunderstandings, I guess. My mom and I would look in this store while my dad and brother looked in that store and we would meet somewhere after. An hour or so later that seemed like an eternity, holding the hand of my very pissed off mother and running to keep up with her, we rounded a corner and found them sitting at a picnic table eating hamburgers outside of a food truck.

But back to the train. I remember moving around the car a lot because not every seat was taken and shyly sitting next to a girl we called Oriental back then. She was probably almost a teenager. She seemed so grown up to me and so pretty with her long black hair. She had a large selection of paint-by-numbers sets and she shared a few with me. We sat for hours painting. I asked her why her mountains were purple and she said, “For purple mountains majesties.”

The restaurant cars were the best. I couldn’t figure out how they kept changing. One day the benches would have blue checked fabric, the next they would be red, and then they would go back to blue. I loved the French dip sandwiches the best. I learned how to say “au jus” on that trip.

It was winter and it was dark when we arrived in Wisconsin. We were there for Christmas and the ground was covered in snow. Oh! That’s the reason we took a train. It was the only time we visited in winter.

purple-mountain

 

Best Day Ever

It might not be the best day ever, but that’s what we called it when it ended around midnight and I found myself still wearing the same T-shirt I had slept in the night before. It was just one of those unexpected days that unfolded without a plan and yet seemed to be carefully scripted to perfection or perhaps just written in the stars. There was nothing over the top about this day. Absolutely nothing at all. If I were to lay it all out, “we went here and there and did this and that…” it might sound boring, but it was anything but.

It was a day that began because of the way the night before ended, which was very late. It was the kind of night where your car stays downtown and your feet deliver you safely to your front door, and then to your bed. Alone. Almost not alone if you had bothered to shave your legs. Sometimes your prickly legs save you from yourself.

On the best day ever I woke up with an aching head, a dry mouth, a smile, and a text saying, “Let’s walk downtown and get our cars, and let’s have one Bloody Mary.” I tried to resist. No I didn’t. Just one, I texted back. It was a sunshiny beautiful morning with a breeze. Not a light breeze. I could hear the wind. I got up, guzzled water, brushed my teeth, donned yoga pants, sneakers, and a sweatshirt over my slept-in T-shirt. I didn’t brush my hair or put on make-up; just sunglasses.

We were two girls and one boy. All just friends. All feeling about the same. We walked downtown with the warm wind whipping our hair around and relived the events that occurred several hours earlier with playful ribbing. We arrived at the same bar we said goodbye to the night before and were presented with three spicy drinks that seemed to put our heads on straight. I was ready to go home, pull the curtains, fry a couple eggs, and get horizontal on the couch with the remote in my hand.

Instead, we ate eggs together, and then we watched little girls play basketball, and then we washed crispy tacos down with cold beer, and stretched out on benches in the sunshine, and played billiards, and laughed until our sides ached.

And then we left our cars again and walked home. I lost my sunglasses. I didn’t care.

Two Cats

Every morning I feed my cat. I talk softly to her while filling her bowl and then I set it down in front of her while she sits quietly on her round red rug. I feed her after we have risen from bed and walked together the dozen or so steps into the kitchen, where I start brewing my second cup of coffee because the first one was consumed while still in bed, delivered by my boyfriend a few minutes after my 6am alarm sounds. It’s my absolute favorite time of day.

I can’t recall a morning since I’ve had my cat that I didn’t wake up to her laying right next to me, her body under the covers usually stretched out the length of my left side, her head peaking out from the covers resting between my neck and shoulder. When the alarm sounds, I reach with my right arm to my bedside table and turn it off. She doesn’t move. We snuggle until the coffee arrives and then we just stay there for a little bit longer.

Every morning I feed another cat. I arrive at work, head to the kitchen to put my lunch away and fill my water bottle, walk to my office, turn on the lights and my computer and then fill a plastic bag with two heaping scoops of kibble from the big bag that sits behind my desk. I walk out of my office, up some steps to the crush pad, across the ramp where the trucks deliver grapes during harvest, and then down some other steps where a little house sits for the feral cats. They don’t really use the house, but it’s there if they need shelter and it’s in that house where I dump the food into a bowl made from the bottom of a large plastic Folgers coffee container.

As soon as I start down those steps I softly call, “Baby,” or “Momma,” or sometimes “Babymomma.” She’s not always there and I worry if I don’t see her for more than a couple days, but most of the time she comes running through the bushes and waits on the concrete ledge for me to put the food in the bowl and walk away. Then she eats. The other ferals stay out of sight until I’m gone. She has come to trust certain people.

These two cats are the mirror image of each other with eyes of gold and a splash of caramel from chin to chest. They share the same person, yet they no longer know each other. One is safe behind four walls, the other is in a constant state of alert. One loves scratches behind the ears and the other has never been touched by a human. But in their vastly different worlds, I think they are both happy. I know the one that lives with me is happy, and I sometimes spot the other with her guard down. Sometimes she is meandering through the vineyard and sometimes she is asleep in a sunny spot. I give them both updates on the other. “Your baby girl is doing fine,” I’ll say while I’m pouring kibble into the makeshift bowl, and then when I get home at night I say to the baby girl, “I saw your momma today.”

MommaMaeby

My First Escape

Another rough excerpt:

The neighborhood was familiar, though I had no idea whose house he just went into. I sat shivering in the passenger’s seat of the car. I pushed my skirt down over the big rip in my tights that exposed my left thigh. My shoes were gone, thrown out the window somewhere along the way to this house. I ran my left hand through my hair and gently pulled a handful away from head. For a moment, I stared at the tiny pieces of my scalp attached at the ends, and then, not wanting to drop it on the floor of my own car, I rolled my window down enough to toss it into the wind. I wanted to disappear into the wind. Instead, my tongue found my stinging, swollen upper lip. I tasted blood. The gash my tooth had opened from the smack to my face last night was open again. To this day, I have a scar.

My thoughts went to where he said he was going to take me, and what he was going to do to me. I’m going to die today. I don’t want to die.

I looked around the neighborhood. Though it was just before noon, it was deserted. I wondered how long it would take for him to buy more drugs. Should I leap from the car and take off running? Should I knock on someone’s door? What if no one is home? Would anyone be able to protect me from him? I was paralyzed with fear. I couldn’t move. He had hissed, “Don’t move,” before he left the car. I knew the minute I opened the door to run, he would walk out of that house. And then I saw them. Keys. He left the keys in the ignition. Without any hesitation, I climbed into the driver’s seat. I am not going to die today.

Mr. Roper – Part 2

Moving day wasn’t too big of a deal. It was just a couple suitcases, a few boxes of Jarrod’s toys, and a few other boxes of toiletries and pilfered kitchenware from my parents’ house. I was excited. The place was adorable. The front door led right into a kitchen with a small table and two chairs and off of that was the main room with two beds, and a bathroom beyond that. There was one good sized closet, but no laundry. I could live with that. Not far in Pacific Grove there was a very clean laundromat that connected to a cafe/bookstore. I had been there once with a friend and while her clothes dried we had coffee and read books.

The one downside to our new little place was the front door. It was solid glass. The exact kind you find in business establishments. It made no sense and there was no curtain or shade. The door was situated in such a way that no one could see in unless they were actually coming to the door, but it still bothered me. The day after moving in I went to Cost Plus and bought a paper shade and figured out a way to hang it in front of the glass so we would have complete privacy while in the kitchen. It was the shade that prompted the first knock on my door. I peered out to see Mr. Roper standing there.

In his rough and gravelly voice he asked, “What’s that?”
“It’s a shade,” I answered.
“Well, I know what it is, but why is it there?” he asked.
“Because the door is glass and I don’t feel comfortable with it,” I answered.
“Well, why?” he asked. I couldn’t believe the conversation I was having. My heart was sinking. I knew right then and there that I couldn’t live behind this asshole. He couldn’t understand why I put a shade up?
He said, “No one can see in that door.”
Finally, I said, “I’m the one living here and I have to feel comfortable.”
He turned and walked away mumbling under his breath as he left.

It was the beginning of the end. Within the week I had started searching the classifieds again. Allow me to give you a sampling of why:

He looked out his back window at me almost every single time I came and went.

He yelled at Jarrod for being too noisy while playing on our patio. The third time I yelled back at him and told him he was not to speak to my son that way.

One Sunday morning I was sitting on the patio with a girlfriend and we were having mimosas. He walked out and told me that it was in the signed rental agreement that I couldn’t have parties. I said, “I’m not having a party, I’m having a friend over. Are you saying I can’t have a friend over?” Again, the turning away and mumbling under his breath.

Another day my toilet overflowed. Not wanting to deal with him, I called a plumber. Of course Mr. Roper came right over to see what was going on. The plumber pulled an ugly crystal nightlight out of the toilet. Mr. Roper said, “Is that yours?” I told him I had never seen it before in my life and that it must have belonged to the previous tenant. He grumbled that he would go and get his checkbook. When he came back he told me he would split the cost with me. I tried to argue that I shouldn’t have to pay, but then I decided it wasn’t worth it. I wrote my check for $35.00 and then he asked me if I would write his for him because of his eyesight. I did that, he signed the check, and then he asked me to record it. He had a balance of over $65,000.

I once had an overnight guest that I thought I did a very good job of sneaking in to the house. The next morning there was a note tucked into the front door telling me I owed him $10.00. It was in the rental agreement.

There was only one week of peace in that place. It coincided with my second month of rent being due so I knocked on his front door. The girlfriend opened it about an inch. I had only seen a glimpse of her and we had never been introduced.

I said, “Is Mr. Roper here? I have the rent check.”
She said, “No,” and not kindly.
I said, “I haven’t seen him around for a few days.”
She said, “He’s in the hospital,” and before I could say I was sorry or inquire she added, “He’s not going to die.”

He didn’t die. He came back in time for me to tell him I was leaving on the very day I was leaving. I was supposed to give him 30-days notice but I had no intention of giving notice because I wasn’t sure how he would react in the time leading up to my leaving.  He came outside to see what was going on and I told him I was leaving. He didn’t seem surprised. He just wanted to know why.

I said, “Do you really have to ask?”
And then he shocked me with, “I really like you, Jodee. You’re a good girl and you have a sweet little boy.”
I said, “What?! How would I know that? You were not nice to us at all!”

And then he turned around and walked away mumbling to himself.

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