Apparently, I left you all hanging just a little too high at the end of the last post. So, I will now continue the story I began yesterday.
First of all, Jim pointed out that I gave you the expurgated version of our first meeting. I did not relate all the thoughts that were going through my head at the time. While we were sharing that bottle of wine, all I could think about was how nice this man was. I could not believe how we just started talking and it seemed like we had known each other forever. I lusted for his body. Did I tell you how cute he was in his dungarees?? Shamelessly, I tried all my best wiles on the man, and he remained oblivious to them.
When we had finished the bottle of wine, he left to go back to his ship, and I have to admit I was quite disappointed that I was going to be spending the evening alone. But we made an appointment to meet the following Saturday. In the betwixtwhiles, both of us started perusing the “Apartments for Rent” ads. I was shocked at how much they wanted for 2 bedroom apartments in San Francisco.
We began our search the following Saturday, armed with the paper. We spent a pleasant afternoon trekking from place to place. Quite often when we arrived we would be informed that the place was already leased. Often apartments that weren’t taken were moldy dumps. One was a quite beautiful place, but it was above Geary Avenue in a business district, and I just couldn’t face the idea of listening to traffic noise all day and night. Besides, that place had the most amazing shag carpet in the bedrooms. One bedroom had carpet that was bright lime green, the other sported an electric turquoise blue. If the traffic noise didn’t keep me awake, that carpet certainly would. The sad thing was, it was laid over beautiful hardwood floors.
After a couple of weekends of looking at dumps or being told “Sorry, already rented,” we decided to invest $25 in an apartment rental referral service. We went to their office, filled out their forms and paid them their fee. Immediately, after they asked us what our price range was, they gave us a list of several addresses. We hopped in Jim’s little car and drove to the first address on the list. It was out at the western edge of the city in the Sunset district. The place was half a block from Golden Gate Park, and a block from the beach. And it was quiet! We walked in, looked around the place and rented it on the spot.
In order to not cause a lot of eyebrow raising, we told the landlords we were married. We also told them that my sister was going to be moving in with us later, and that we had a cat. They were cool with all that, and so we signed a lease and paid them our first and last month’s rent and a damage deposit, and they gave us the keys.
It was then I discovered just how many resources Jim had. He went out to his parent’s place in San Rafael and borrowed his father’s truck and trailer, and enlisted his brother as a laborer, and in one fell swoop all my worldly goods, including the spinet piano I was renting, were moved to the new place. Since I was breaking my lease at the old place two months early, I did not get my damage deposit back.
Jim contacted the military long term storage and instructed them to bring all the stuff he had stored with them to his new home. He hadn’t seen the stuff in the couple of years since he had left his last shore detail. They told him it would arrive sometime in the next couple of weeks. We camped out in the apartment with my stuff until then. His goods had still not arrived when his ship was ordered out to sea for a three day refueling detail. There was an aircraft carrier out there conducting flight training, and they needed jet fuel. Off he went, and of course the very next day a moving van arrived with his stuff.
The guy in charge of it wanted his signature before he would start off-loading it. I explained that Jim was at sea, and the guy just basically wasn’t going to leave all that stuff with some broad that wasn’t authorized to sign for it. So, I told him that we had just gotten married, that was why he had moved off the ship. And that was also why I did not have a military ID yet, we hadn’t had time to get one. (I know, I was just a terrible fibber.) Well, that made things all different. I signed my name, “Mrs. Jim etc.” with a great big flourish, and an amazing amount of STUFF was immediately carried up the stairs to our flat.
There were couches, a bed, a dresser, book cases, and numerous boxes that in spite of my willingness to lie to get them delivered I was not willing to open in the absence of their owner. When Jim’s ship got back and he came home, we had quite a fun weekend unpacking. It was just like Christmas, only he knew that everything in those boxes was something he wanted! There was a wonderful stereo system packed in those boxes, and an amazing amount of cooking equipment. There were antique crystal wine glasses, books, records, linens. When a completely unopened box of 12 place settings of fine china that he had purchased on a whim in Japan emerged, I expressed complete amazement and disbelief. Jim’s response was, “I’ll bet you didn’t expect me to have such a good dowry.”
Well, we got all the stuff sorted out and put away. We discussed some roommate rules, and chore arrangements. One of the things that endeared this guy to me right away was when he mentioned that in previous times, he had had an arrangement with his roommates that he would do the cooking if they would do the dishes. Was I amenable to this sort of division of labor?
Was I! I had already tasted his spaghetti, and I was certainly willing to do dishes in return for cooking. Besides, I had already noticed that he had more cookbooks than I did, not to mention French saute pans and antique cast iron pots. Oh, and lasagna pans. Did I mention that he was usually the guy who made the lasagna for the unit parties when he was stationed in Washington? He wasn’t an ordinary bachelor, that was for sure.
In the course of all this unpacking and arranging, no one had forgotten that my sister was going to arrive on the West Coast of North America in short order, especially not Jim. He was all agog, it was obvious that he was looking forward to seeing her. She was due to arrive in San Diego, where her ship would do some unloading, and then it would transit up the coast to San Francisco.
Finally the great day arrived. He had arranged to take a couple of days leave so he could be in San Diego when she arrived. Her ship was due in on a Friday, so he left Thursday evening so he could be there in plenty of time to meet her ship. He was planning to spend the whole weekend in San Diego, and drive back up the coast in time to hit Alameda just in time to go to work on Monday morning. He was nervous, excited, happy, scared — all at once. He drove off, and I settled in for a quiet weekend of practicing my viola, reading, and catching up on my harmony homework.
Imagine my astonishment when I heard his car screech into the driveway around 8 or 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. The car door slammed. The downstairs door to the apartment slammed. The inside door to our apartment opened rather crashily and he stalked through the place to the liquor cabinet, which was in the kitchen above the refrigerator. As he transited the living room, I said, “What are you doing home already?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he snarled in reply. He took a nice 10 oz. water glass out of the cupboard and filled it about a third full of bourbon.
“What happened?” I asked, dying of curiosity.
“I said, I don’t want to talk about it,” was the surly reply. He drank the bourbon in one gulp.
“I take it things didn’t go well,” I observed, as he poured some more bourbon in the glass.
“No. They didn’t go well.”
And that was about the extent of what he said for the rest of the day. Quite a lot of bourbon was consumed. Dinner was a pizza we ordered out.
I sat there that evening, in my room. I looked at my checkbook, which was pretty much empty with no hope of being refilled in the near future. I knew Jim’s checkbook was in a similar condition. His household goods had been taken out of long term storage, and if he wanted to put them back into storage all that stuff was going to be his own responsibility until he received orders to another station.
I was broke, and trapped in an apartment with a depressed angry and hurt man who really didn’t like women with the last name of Smith.
Oh yes, and he was drunk. Quite drunk.
To be continued…
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