There’s a personality-clashing prelude and epilogue to my last meeting with ArmyDude. Earlier that day, we were bickering because he had disappeared from the earth which initiated an awkward ‘is everything okay with us?’ message from me. I can’t stand being in the position of feeling the need to do that.
I’m not likely to die without regular attention, but the deviation from our usual daily contact spooked me in the old investigative way of looking for the usual among the unusual and the unusual among the usual. This was not usual and I wanted to stop my mind spinning and understand what was going on. He replied saying he was under pressure at work and home and quite frankly didn’t understand my issue. I became cranky at his laissez faire lack of empathy and said that was fine (FINE!) but I wouldn’t have caused a stir if I didn’t genuinely have a concern.
He said he had a wife at home and didn’t need another one. I replied that simple communication would reduce the need for others to act like his wife.
He disappeared to cool off. A few hours later, little messages popped up on my e-mail and mobile phone enquiring about my day, the past weekend, movies I’ve seen, books I’ve read and generally driving me nuts with overcompensation. I asked him to stop contacting me out of obligation and his mood darkened again because he couldn’t do a thing right (fair point but I was too angry to concede).
We settled our differences before meeting and not a word was mentioned again until *after* we’d had sex. We were chatting convivially during recovery time and he started retrieving some of my earlier messages and reading them aloud. Cunning, smart, pre-meditating sewer rat of a man had a confrontation planned all along but didn’t want to risk me walking out before getting him off. I asked him to stop trying to embarrass me because the issue was dealt with.
He lifted himself from the chair, towered over me and instructed that I was never to assume anything was wrong if he disappeared for more than a few days. He will tell me if something is wrong and until then I am not to assume otherwise.
So, this is the former soldier under pressure, hey?
I don’t fall for military shit where soldiers are taught not to talk back when junior and never to be questioned when in the more senior ranks. The uniformed people I know are generally terrible debaters and even worse in an argument because they don’t know how to exchange differences of opinion without becoming defensive or aggressive.
I regained composure, returned his eye contact and replied, “Understood.” I don’t have The Waiter’s thousand-yard stare but I have a useful Wide-eyed Gaze of Hateful Obedience that absorbs everything and doesn’t let a skerrick of emotion or reaction out. While he was scrambling for a sentence to address at my vacant face, my mind was spinning silently with, “Fine, buddy, next time you message me looking for validation through attention, I’m AWOL for a few days. And all with your permission.” I also hoped that I had stretched his arsehole wide enough for him to be shitting liquid for a week. The petulant child in me is almost looking forward to the next time he disappears and I take my time responding.