Life has a way of sorting itself out. It doesn’t matter what happens, or what kind of bad shit goes down, it’ll all work out in the end. If it’s not worked out, it’s not the end, and the fat lady hasn’t done her number yet.
I read that somewhere on Pinterest, but it’s a good philosophy, right? I’ve always thought so, anyway. Even now, at the age of 44 — I mean 32 — whenever things aren’t going to plan, I try to hang on to the idea that good things happen to those who wait.
Like, within reason. I can’t stay 32 forever, irregardless* of what that doctor who shoots me up with Botox says. A girl can wait only so long for the good times to roll around, especially if she’s being driven insane by her husband Jeffrey.
Jeffrey Connor. How in God’s name did someone like me wind up with someone like him, you ask?
I’ll tell you how. It was his cute British accent. Like Sean Connery’s James Bond. Very English. I’m a sucker for guys with British accents. They’re so much classier than your average Joe’s accent round here.
Jeffrey and his wife at the time, Shelley, ended up renting my house after I moved to a new condo. One thing led to another — I’d collect the rent check from Jeffrey on evenings when Shelley was out at book group, and pretty soon we were making jokes about me being the highest paid call girl in Woodhaven. Or rather, he’d be making jokes about call girls in that classy accent of his — he said it was an Essex accent, but whatever, he sounded like Sean Connery to me — and I’d be all, “Say something else! Talk to me some more!”
After four years of it, though, I had to call timeout. By that stage I’d realized his accent was more like Russell Brand’s than Sean Connery’s, and the jokes about call girls were so not funny any more. Four years is a long time for anyone — Patsy Traynor said I deserved a medal — though I guess it was less if you don’t count the year he was still living with that boring wife of his.
The weird thing is, I hated Shelley at the time, but now I just think, you poor woman. I’d had Jeffrey for four years, but she’d had him for ten, and he’s gone back for more. Jeffrey, I discovered, is boring, and boring is contagious, so no wonder Shelley bored the pants off of everyone she met. I might have found out Jeffrey was boring too, if I’d listened to what he was saying instead of drooling over the accent he was saying it in.
I found out soon enough when we were married, though. Twenty-four hours after we stood in front of the minister in that Vegas chapel — getting a five-minute wedding in Vegas was probably the most exciting thing Jeffrey had ever done — he suggested that we drive to see the Grand Canyon.
What the hell? Drive 300 miles to see a big ditch, when we could have been playing blackjack in the Bellagio? Or even, dare I suggest it, having sex in our hotel room? This weekend away had turned into a honeymoon, after all, and that’s what you’re supposed to do on honeymoon. What you’re not supposed to do is drive 300 miles in a beige Ford Taurus to see a hole in the ground. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we’d rented the Porsche or the Corvette at the airport’s Avis place, or hell, even the Mustang, and we could have driven those 300 miles in a little style. But no, Jeffrey was all “Oh no, honey, I can’t afford that. Not with maintenance payments for the kids as well.” And I was like, “Well, Jeffrey, you should have thought of that yesterday before you got yourself a trophy wife!”
I know. Trophy wives are usually younger than the husbands, and technically Jeffrey is nine years younger than me. But at the time I said I was 28, so that makes me a trophy in my book. Plus I was a successful realtor with two houses and no kids — well, I have two of those as well, actually, but they’re with their father in North Dakota. They never come here, and obviously I never go there, because who in their right mind visits North Dakota?
Anyway, as I stood on the south rim of this big ditch in the middle of Noplace, Arizona, while Jeffrey took gazillions of photos of sky and rocks and things, I thought, Oh. My. God. What have I done?
Then I thought, Come on Melissa. You know things usually turn out good in the end. This happened for a reason.
So I waited for the reason and for things to turn out good, but you know what? They kept on getting worse. I was just dying of boredom, and I got to thinking that if it didn’t kill me soon, I’d help it along some with some Prozac and a few Jack Daniels chasers.
But then, this time last year, everything changed.
We had a big winter storm that cut the power to all the houses in town, and I was worried about my tenants, Libby and Oliver, so I went to see if they were all right. No one answered when I rang the doorbell, so I let myself in with the spare key. You hear bad stuff about people dying of carbon dioxide poisoning** and landlords getting sued, and I thought I’d better check no one was lying dead in the bath tub or anything.
So there I am, walking around upstairs with a flashlight, and I trip over a sweater on the floor and nearly fall over the railings to the floor below. At this point, Mrs Libby High-Horse Patrick walks in the house as if she owns the place — which she doesn’t, because I do — and orders me out of my house because, she says, I’m invading her privacy and sniffing her husband’s sweatshirt.
Sniffing her husband’s sweatshirt? Puh-leese! Oliver’s cute and all, and I don’t mind admitting I used to have a little crush on him when he and Libby first moved in, but she made me sound like I was a bunny-boiling stalker. Which I’m not. But I was prepared to forget what she said, so I went round a few days later, and you know what? The bitch had gotten the locks changed so my key didn’t work.
Of course, I went to complain to the HR department where Oliver and Jeffrey work, because they’re the people who pay me Oliver’s rent. I told them I wanted the Patricks out of my house because they’d changed the locks and brought a dog to live in the place without permission. And the snotty guy in HR read over the lease and said they were perfectly within their rights to do both those things, and maybe I should have a proper lawyer draw up a lease next time if I didn’t like it, because as long as I was getting my rent on time, I didn’t have a leg to stand on.
So we had a yelling match right there in the office, and I guess I must have been too loud, because another guy walks in and wants to know what it’s all about. I tell him, at length and in detail, and halfway through, the guy from the HR department rolls his eyes and leaves the room. These Brits are so rude. But I keep on ranting at the second guy, because he seems to be listening carefully, and I think I may get somewhere. Besides, he’s kinda cute.
“And let me tell you,” I say at the end, when I’ve run out of things to say, “no one messes with Melissa Harvey Connor in this town!”
“You’re Jeffrey Connor’s wife?” he says. He’s got this awesome accent. Hugh Grant! I think. Older than Hugh Grant, though. Like George Clooney before he went gray.
I nod. “Technically,” I say, as he takes me by the elbow and leads me into a very classy office with a window and a view over the River. He closes the door behind him, pulls out a chair at his desk for me to sit on.
On his desk there’s a brass nameplate. Terry Michaels, President, American Operations.
I’ve heard Jeffrey talk about him. The boss of the company on this side of the Atlantic, no less. And let’s face it, who cares about the other side anyway?
“Why don’t we talk about it some more?” he asks. “Are you free for lunch? I’m sure we can sort things out to everyone’s satisfaction.”
* * *
And that was how I met the real love of my life, Terry. His wife Caroline is a nut job and he’s thinking of divorcing her, so no one must know about us, he told me. If she knew about us, she could get very nasty, and Terry has no intention of living in poverty so that Caroline can max out her cards at Tiffany.
So we were careful, and for a long time, no one suspected a thing. Then the housing market plummeted, Jeffrey finally got the message that I wasn’t that into him so he went back to his ex-wife, but not before he got me a job in his office, working for Oliver of all people. It was a great cover story — I flirted nonstop with Oliver, and let the rumors fly. Terry said he’d heard from Caroline that the gossip among the English wives was that Oliver and I were having a passionate fling. Too funny, right? I hoped it would get back to Libby. Serve her right for changing my goddamn locks.
Then in August, Oliver queried some overtime I’d done. Nine hours in one week. “Of course I did it,” I said. “Ask Mr. Michaels. He asked me to stay behind to help him.” And so he did, although of course it wasn’t filing he’d had in mind.
Oliver stared at me for a long time. “I’m sure he did,” he said, and walked away.
“He knows,” I told Terry later.
Terry told me not to worry, that he could sort Oliver out. “He’s due for a pay rise,” he said. “Now that Jeffrey’s left, we could do some restructuring. I’ll have a chat, man to man. If the job offer is good enough, he’ll see sense.”
But that was nearly a month ago, and Oliver still hasn’t taken any promotion.
* * *
* Everyone knows ‘irregardless’ is not a word. Melissa, however, back in the day, paid less attention to her high school English teacher than was advisable, and doesn’t take kindly to helpful editing suggestions. Sorry.
** She didn’t pay much attention in Chemistry, either.
© 2012 Kate Allison