All Those You Can’t Trust
I’ve kept very little from the woman who is to become my wife, yet the one thing I’ve hidden may ruin everything we’ve built.
Every day, every week, every moment is an adventure with her.
We’ll randomly spring to get coffee and read in the park. It’s also not uncommon for us to just bum out at home — Play Galaga and order in. The past five or so weekends in a row we’ve volunteered at our local library and while I’ve enjoyed giving my time, I can’t help but feel it’s all a waste of time.
You see, there’s something dear to my heart that I haven’t shared with her in the three years we’ve known one another.
I am a cynic.
It isn’t that I’ve actively lied to her about it. I’ve tried to change the way I see people but the truth that they are and continue to be self-obsessed arseholes will never change.
That’s not a fault in me! That is the way people are!
I’d love the people of the world to act out kindnesses and for every recipient of said kindness to pay it forward but the world is shitty and shitty people have spoiled kindness for everyone.
She sees more good in people than I think is truly there. She’s not gullible or careless but she’ll trust a stranger to hold her purse for a moment after just meeting them. She says she’s a good judge of character and can tell within a minute what someone is like.
I say she’s just been lucky.
I wasn’t always this way.
Again, I’m not saying I’m the bad guy in any of this, but there was a time when I had more faith in people. I still feel children possess a certain innocence and can be made to understand that it’s better to turn the other cheek than to enact revenge. But we’d be doing more harm than good and I’ll tell you why.
My grandfathers both died when I was too young but our next-door neighbor when I was attending high school was a retired widower who endowed me with much wisdom about life and living.
I became good friends with him.
I even called him grandpa despite him being black and generally a curmudgeon and me being a chubby Filipino kid. I used to do my homework and hang out at his house after school just about every day for a little over a year until he had a stroke and his lazy son stuck him in a home two states away.
In our time together, he relayed countless stories to me of his marriage, his children, his profession as a construction foreman, and his love for muscle cars. He never made enough to buy any such cars when he was young or married, but that changed after his wife passed and he sold much of her quilt collection.
He made enough from her things to buy himself a 1974 Plymouth Road Runner. He painted it yellow in her honor but later told me it was to commemorate Daisy Duke from Dukes of Hazzard.
His life was full of despair, the way he told it.
He found out very late in life that he was adopted. His eldest son robbed him and his wife of twelve grand to sustain a gambling habit. Despite regularly suffering insults and bullying at his work, he remained employed at the same construction company for 41 years. And although he made foreman in his last 15 or so years, he watched on as others who’d been there less than half his time get promoted and take on cozy positions with offices and their own dedicated coffee machines.
I became angry for him and with him.
He wanted very little in life and yet the world just didn’t give a shit about him.
One of the last few times we hung out, I remember helping him rebuild a shed he’d had in his yard to store old tools and a lawn mower he seldom used anymore but refused to sell off.
For the first time in all of the time I’d known him, he cried in front of me.
He was recalling when he first bought his house and brought his wife to see it many many years ago. There were neighbors out walking about, all well-to-do.
Proud to be new homeowners, he and his wife introduced themselves to the neighbors and were invited to join their community’s homeowner association. It was customary, they were told, for the newest member to host the others at their home for the next monthly meeting. They were charged with putting together a small welcoming event for themselves and catering for at least 40 others.
Being new to such things, he and his wife didn’t think it odd they’d been put responsible for such a function so quickly after enduring a move but obliged all the same.
The evening of the meeting, they had gotten a local seafood restaurant to cater their event and even hired a jazz band to perform. It was only later, well past sundown, that he as the host began to suspect something strange.
Their realization came too late that no one was coming to the dinner and meeting they’d organized. Plates of food sat idle on the benches he’d built to accommodate guests. While the band played later into the night, the restaurant caterers requested full payment after 9pm and gathered their crew and left shortly after.
Even being a teenager listening to his story, I could tell the embarrassment of that night never left him. Strong-willed, though, he remained in that very community. Not a day would pass that he wouldn’t wave to those very residents who’d made a fool of him.
It didn’t gain him anything.
Those people got to remain smug their whole lives, I’m sure. As he completed his story, he tacked on his advice about people.
“Never give of yourself first. You gotta watch people. Like a lion, you gotta watch every single person before you make a move. Because, put ya money on it, they will take your meal and make you watch while they eat it.”
He used to say that a lot, “put ya money on it.” He never gambled, especially not on people, but something tells me he would’ve won every bet against them if he ever found himself in a casino.
I trust people.
I’m not so blind as to follow grandpa’s words, but the truth of his stories still remain with me. While my future wife and I have spoken about children, part of me wants nothing to do with them. They will one day be fully formed humans, entirely too capable of robbing from me and my wife, as well.
Why set myself up for such an outcome?
There are many conversations I’ve yet to have with her but I’m hoping she can see things my way. There’s no definitive ruling that children are essential to living a fulfilling life — Right?
Perhaps she already understands me better than I’m giving her credit for. And perhaps, she’s already helping me grow to love and appreciate people more and I’m just to stupid to realize it yet.
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