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Chapter 79, my tortured love life offers up another near miss with another dear miss.

 



DESTINY


CHAPTER SEVENTY NINE: 
JENNY

Written by Rick Archer

 


SUBCHAPTER 357 - JENNY

 

July 1978 marked the four-year anniversary of my Dance Project.  I had to laugh.  I had committed to this Dance Project specifically because I believed 'Dancing' would someday cure my Phobia.  I had invested the past four years of my life learning to dance as a way to find a girlfriend and not once had it paid off for me.  Could anything be more ridiculous? 

However, I wasn't bitter.  Not at all.  The Dance Project had helped me overcome a legion of emotional problems.  Thanks to Gaye and my recent success at building the dance program, I had gained an amazing amount of self-confidence.  The Disco Tidal Wave was no longer chasing me, I was surfing on top of it. 

 

Four years earlier I had taken the advice of The Courtesan.  The book's advice on dancing had been clear... 'Women love to dance, so use it to meet women.'

What the book did not say was that some men take longer to learn than others.  In my case, it was close to an eternity.  It had taken four years, but now I was ready.  The time had come to cash in on those dance lessons with the Fair Sex.

Now that I was the star of my nightly show here at the dance studio, I was constantly surrounded by attractive women who offered inviting glances.  Although I had been too busy to take advantage of my playground, I could plainly see the book's advice had been absolutely correct.  

The real key had been the development of my dance career.  Now that I had a job I was proud of, I was ready to look the Rachels and Katies of the world in the eye.

This was an amazing turn of events.  I was pleased to see the Dance Project I had started four years earlier come to such startling fruition.  Not only did I have a job I really enjoyed, I was rapidly becoming less gun shy around women thanks to the constant attention.  My Phobia barely had a pulse these days.

For the past six months, I had virtually no free moments for dating.  I not only worked five days a week, I worked five nights a week.  I did private lessons on Saturday and I had side jobs on the weekends as well.  Despite the constant presence of beautiful women, so far I had been much too busy to get into trouble. 

Although the whole point of the Dance Project had been to meet women, I still had not one serious romance to show for my investment.  Not that I was complaining.  I had been handed a career instead, something I considered a pretty wonderful consolation prize.  But now I wanted it all.  Here in July, I told myself I was ready to try again with women.   The time was right. 

 

To my delight, virtually the moment I decided I was ready, I met a wonderful woman named Jenny.  Two weeks after after my disappointing performance at the Ritz, I noticed Jenny in one of my dance classes.  I was immediately attracted to her.  I was more interested in Jenny than any woman since Katie back in 1975.

Jenny was a curvy brunette of average height, very attractive.  From afar, she seemed older than me, maybe mid-30s.  That wasn't unusual.  At age 28, I was younger than 80% of my students.  After noticing Jenny watch me carefully in class, my eyes returned to her frequently. 

One time she smiled at me and I smiled back.  Jenny's bemused smile and watchful eye felt like a signal.  This made it much easier to approach her when the class ended.  Imagine my satisfaction to discover I was right.  Jenny was pleased I had sought her out.

This was an important moment.  For the first time since the onset of my Phobia back in the days of Vanessa five years ago, I had finally reached the point where I could make the first move with a beautiful woman.  I could not possibly have been more proud of myself. 

Unlike Becky and Katie from years back, I had no trouble asking Jenny out.  Those days were over.  Thanks to my Dance Project, I was supremely confident whenever I was on my Stage.  Any dance floor gave me the chance to shine.  If there was a dance floor nearby, I was no longer shy about approaching women.

 

Jenny turned out to be ten years older than me.  I didn't care.  We hit it off from the start.  What I liked best about Jenny was her lightning-quick mind.  Jenny was very smart.  I liked that a lot. On our first date, we had a fascinating conversation about relationships.  This was an area I was quite inexperienced at, so I was willing to soak up any advice I could find.  Jenny's ideas knocked my socks off.  She was so darn interesting!

By the time we had our third date, I could feel myself falling for Jenny.  We went to see a movie.  When I touched her fingers, I felt an actual electric shock of some sort.  Jenny noticed it too.  We became lovers that night. 

With two jobs, I did not have much spare time to date.  This was not a problem with Jenny.  She lived close to the studio.  I would simply drive to her house after dance class and spend the night, then go straight to work in the morning.  No doubt my dogs Emily and Sissy missed me, but I was having a great time.  I spent the night with Jenny every other night for the next two weeks.  I was in love, so I would have gone every night.  However Jenny put her hands up.  Jenny explained that our marathon late nights were exhausting, so give her a chance to recover. 

As our relationship entered the third week, one night Jenny didn't look the same.  I had driven over after finishing dance class.  One glance was all I needed to get a bad feeling about this.  To begin with, I noticed several cigarette butts in the ashtray.  Jenny didn't smoke.  Uh oh.  Jenny was pale as a ghost and looked like she had been crying.  Her arms were folded and she quickly covered herself with a pillow as she sat down in her comfy chair.  She was clearly upset about something.  Considering I hadn't done anything wrong, I was baffled.  What was this all about?

Jenny didn't waste any time.

"Rick, I have something to tell you.  I have been hiding something from you.  I am in a long-term relationship with another man.  His name is Randy.  He and I have an understanding that allows us to see other people if we choose to.  Last night, Randy and I had a long talk.  Make that a very long talk.  Unfortunately, I am going to have to stop seeing you."

I felt like I had been punched in the gut.  Jenny's words hurt something fierce.  Memories of Rachel and Vanessa came flooding in.  Another goddamn triangle... here we go again.  Me and Sue and that guy too.  Once I was able to breathe, I took a long look at Jenny.  She was crying hard.  I hate it when women cry.  Jenny had just delivered a knockout blow and now she was crying.  Good grief.  What about me?

While I waited for Jenny to compose herself, I couldn't help but compare her to Vanessa, my tempestuous lover back in Colorado.  It had been nearly five years since I had formed feelings this strong for a woman.  And yet somehow I had managed to pick another one with a secret boyfriend.  Just my rotten luck.  Do attractive women ever come without strings attached?  I decided the answer was 'no'.

Unlike Vanessa, at least Jenny had the guts to tell me to my face.  That in itself impressed me no end.  Jenny was a keeper.  So how was I going to win Jenny over this Randy guy?  Finally she calmed down a little, so I spoke up. 

"Jenny, this doesn't make much sense.  The last time I saw you we couldn't get enough of each other.  How do you explain this sudden change in the weather?  I cannot believe you were faking your passion.  Nor do I believe you can turn it on and turn it off.  Since I am convinced you have feelings for me, your decision seems artificial.  Will you explain the reason why we have to break up?"

"You are right.  I do have feelings for you.  Randy and I have what is known as an open relationship.  I am not cheating on him.  I can see other men as I chose to without guilt.  We have had this arrangement now for nearly a year."

"How has that worked for you?"

"It worked fine up till now."

"What went wrong?"

"You came along." 

"Pardon me if I forget to apologize.  Just for the record, what did I do to ruin things?"

"You made me fall in love with you.  When Randy realized how serious I was about you, he realized things were too far out of control to continue our arrangement.  Randy said that once feelings get involved, this open arrangement becomes unstable. 

Randy wasn't mean about what he said.  He is a very good man.  He simply asked me to choose between you and him.  It wasn't easy, but after some thought, I said I would choose him but only on one condition.  I told Randy that he needed to let me see you one more time to explain.  I felt I owed this to you.  Randy was so surprised that I had chosen him that he didn't argue.  In fact, he broke down and cried.  Apparently Randy had expected I would choose you."

Hmm, so why didn't Jenny choose me over Randy?  As I listened, I was upset, but not as upset as I thought I should have been.  For one thing, I was absolutely fascinated with this conversation.  For another thing, the way Jenny explained things, I didn't feel that I had come up short in any way.  Of course I was sad, but I really admired this woman's honesty, especially considering how Vanessa had told me one lie after another in a similar situation.  In addition, Jenny had just told me she was falling in love me.  For a guy who hadn't had much luck with love, I was proud to know I had the ability to touch the heart of this woman I respected so much. 

Jenny was quiet for a moment.  I could see this conversation was upsetting her tremendously.  Give the woman some credit.  Most women would not have had the decency to sit there and lay it all out in the open like this.

"Knowing what you knew, why didn't you keep things superficial with me?  Why did you let me get close enough to upset the apple cart?"

"Rick, you are special.  I don't know how you do it, but you pry stuff out of me I didn't even know existed.  I cannot believe all the things I tell you.  I must trust you a lot.  I have never met someone before who I felt was on the identical wavelength as me.  Well, I take that back.  I felt the same way about Randy when I met him."

"Out of curiosity, what does Randy do for a living?"

"Randy is a psychotherapist.  He does family counseling."

I smiled grimly at the irony.  Jenny must like therapists, even lapsed therapists like me.

"Does Randy typically recommend open relationships for his clients?"

"Oh, heavens no.  Randy thinks that free love is very risky.  This thing between Randy and me is his pet psychology project."

My eyes widened.  "Just my luck to be one of the lab rats.  Do tell."

"Don't be so sarcastic.  One of the reasons I care about Randy so much is he is willing to take risks.  The guy is really brilliant.  He asked me to do this as a way to explore human sexuality.  He read some book called the Harrad Experiment that espouses a free love philosophy.  The whole idea is that human beings are capable of loving more than one person at a time.  Jealousy is something people can learn to overcome."

I frowned.  This was the second time the Harrad Experiment had crossed my path.  I grew very silent as my mind raced back to Mark and his ill-fated Love Triangle in February 1975.  At that time, I had just finished reading the Harrad Experiment and had disagreed with its premise.  I was incredulous to find I had inadvertently fallen into another love triangle and that this book of all things was in the mix. 

"I suppose Randy's experiment includes having sex with more than one person at a time?"

"How did you guess?"

"If you only knew.  Have you done this before?"

Jenny blushed.

"Well, yes.  You are the fifth man I have been with during this project.  The other four men were great guys, but you are totally different.  You absolutely take my breath away."

That hurt.  Her words thrilled me, but they also really hurt.  I had been tough up to this point, but now the pain began to creep in.  Losing this woman was really going to sting.  But maybe I didn't have to lose her.  Maybe if we kept talking, Jenny would change her mind.  Historically, I always lost the girl to the Better Man.  But Jenny was worth fighting for, so I decided to hang in there and keep talking. 

"Out of curiosity, are there any rules to Randy's game?"

"Yes, I am supposed to have Randy's consent.  He wants to be kept abreast of developments.  He says it is not right to carry on more than one intimate relationship at a time unless it is with the knowledge and consent of the other partner."

"I don't mean to be rude, but can I assume that at some point you discussed me with Randy prior to inviting me into your arms?"

"Yes. I told him about you right after our first date."

"And now you are breaking up with me?  I thought you had permission to see me."

"Well, I did, but when I told Randy I had fallen in love with you, Randy flipped out."

"Are you saying you can have sex, but falling in love isn't permitted?"

Jenny laughed ruefully.  It wasn't a happy laugh, but rather the kind of grim laugh one gets for an ironic situation.  

"I respect Randy a lot.  I don't honestly believe he is using this project just to get laid a lot although the thought has crossed my mind.  Randy is a very honest guy.  He is really fascinated with the human psyche.  We had been dating off and on for a year when he brought this up.  Randy revealed that he had taken a couple lovers during our first year without really discussing any ground rules.  To his surprise, I said I had done the same.  So Randy had an idea.  Why not keep track of who we see and try to learn from it?  We could share notes afterwards."

This Randy was a brave guy.  Knowing my propensity for jealousy, I could not imagine pulling this off with a woman like Jenny.

"What do you mean by 'keep track of it'?  Do you guys actually discuss each lover in detail?"

"Well, like I said, there were no ground rules in the first year.  Randy and I avoided talking about it when we slept with other people.  He wouldn't call for a while and I wasn't going to wait around.  Randy's a big boy.  He knows my phone number.  In the meantime I had some men asking me out.  A couple guys were interesting so I let things develop. 

Then one day about a year into our off-and-on thing, Randy said he had something to talk to me about.  When he came over, Randy said he had driven past my house the other night.  He saw the car outside my house and had gotten the distinct feeling I was with someone else.

I didn't see any point in lying about it, so I told the truth.  I expected him to walk out the door, but to my surprise he stayed.

Randy said he had a confession to make.  Over the past year, he had been seeing a couple of women in addition to me.  However, he always felt guilty.  He said he had come to realize he had some strong feelings for me. 

When Randy said that, I laughed awkwardly because I had felt guilty too.  I have never been fond of this 'love the one you're with' strategy.  But I didn't know he liked me that much. 

Randy got the strangest look on his face.  I actually thought he was going to ask me to go steady.  If he had, I would have said yes.  That's what I had wanted to do all along, but it isn't my style to give hints.  Instead Randy absolutely blew my mind when he suggested we continue to see each other but deliberately take lovers on the side.  In addition, he wanted to openly discuss our experiences and how we felt about them."

"Sounds difficult and risky.  How well did it work?"

"Actually, it worked pretty well.  I like sex a lot better when I don't have to feel guilty.  Plus they were nice guys, guys I met on business trips, you know, one-night stands.  I wasn't lonely afterwards because I had Randy as my center.  I never came close to developing feelings for the other men.  It was fun, recreational sex with some interesting men."

"So why did you develop feelings for me and not those other guys?"

"Well, I broke a personal rule for you.  Previously I made sure not to mess around with men from Houston whom I was attracted to.  Too complicated.  But I had a thing for you in dance class.  I liked your sense of humor.  I had intended to avoid you just because you interested me.  If you hadn't approached, I would have never returned.  But you tracked me down before I could leave.  After we talked, I couldn't help myself."

"Don't blame me.  It's your own fault for smiling at me.  Let me ask you a question, Jenny.  During your experiment, don't you ever get jealous of Randy?"   

"Oddly enough, I haven't gotten too jealous so far.  Whatever Randy is up to, he always comes back to me and shares what he has learned.  Yeah, I feel a twinge from time to time.  However, he never seems particularly gaga over the other women so I don't care.  I just make sure I am having fun pursuing other men.  If I am going to share my boyfriend, at least I am going to get something out of the deal.  I like not feeling guilty.  Even better, I don't feel used in any way.  What's fit for the goose is fit for the gander."

"What about Randy?  Does he get jealous of you?"

"Well, not until you came along.  Mostly Randy was mad at me because I let things go too far with you.  His ground rule is to break it off when the feelings started to warm up.  This was never a problem before.  None of my other guys stuck around long enough to worry about getting attached.  I guess the difference is that business trips are flings, temporary.  Having you in my arms all the time pushed me over the edge.  Randy accused me of breaking the rules.  Randy said that a major feature of our project involved closing the door when things heat up.  He was mad that I waited too long to tell him how serious I was about you."

"You're kidding, yes?  You are supposed to check in with Randy and let him take your temperature during your flings?"

"Yes, but I think it is a stupid rule.  If I want to have sex with a man, I don't intend to call Randy on the phone and ask his permission to have an orgasm.  I want to have sex and enjoy myself.  Talking with Randy about his free love project would ruin everything."

"I imagine so.  Did you ever get around to telling any of these other four guys about Randy?"

"No.  I saw a couple of the guys a second time when my trips brought me back to their area, but things never heated up to the point where I thought it mattered."

"So what about me?  Were you planning to tell me about Randy?" 

"Yes, I suppose I was going to have to tell you about Randy sooner or later.  But Randy moved up my time frame.  I never expected he was going to pull this stunt."

"How did Randy find out?"

"Randy lives down the street not too far from here.  He comes by my house every night on his way home from work.  I suppose he counted the number of nights your car was parked out front.  I should have told you to park around the corner.  I didn't think I had to be sneaky about this."

"So tell me again what the rule is.  If either of you develops feelings for someone else, then you are supposed to report in to the other person?"

"Yes, that's pretty much it.  But I wasn't going to tell Randy.  I was enjoying you too much."

"So what about me?  Was I going to get permission from you to pursue other women?  I mean, if you can have Randy, was I supposed to have similar rights?  If I were to get a second girlfriend, would that cool things back to an acceptable level between us?"

"Don't be a smart ass."

"Why not?  What do I have to lose?"

Jenny laughed ruefully.  "Rick, you can be so sarcastic.  You really get under my skin."

"If I stop being sarcastic, do I get to keep you?"

Jenny didn't answer.  She took a deep breath and tried to settle down.  She was having trouble maintaining control.  That made two of us.

"So I have another question, Jenny.  Isn't your behavior exploitive of me?  What makes you any better than Vanessa, the woman I told you about?  I had no idea you were sleeping with another man.  When exactly were you going to tell me what was going on behind the scenes?"

"I had decided I was going to have to tell you pretty soon.  I figured before we got more involved, you needed to know what you were getting into."

"Why didn't you tell me at the start?   Three weeks is a long time to keep me in the dark."

"I wish you hadn't asked that question.  I didn't tell you because I didn't want to take the chance that you would hit the road.  i didn't want to lose you."

"But now you are willing to lose me when you can have me?  How much sense does that make?  If I had my druthers, I would prefer to stick around.  If I have to share you with Randy, I will take that over losing you completely."

I took a long, deep breath.  Considering my jealous streak, I couldn't believe I had just said that.  But I meant it.  I was willing to share this woman if it meant seeing her again.  In the back of my mind, I thought Jenny liked me better.  That gave me the courage I needed to fight for her.  The longer this three-way continued, I might get the upper hand.  If Mariah could steal Sean from Mark, maybe I could steal Jenny from Randy.  It was about time Cupid's arrow flipped in my direction for a change.

"You know, Rick, you have a point there.  I begged Randy not to force me to choose.  I said I needed more time.  It was too soon in my relationship with you to make a decision."

Oh my goodness.  That hurt.  It sounded like my hunch was correct.  Jenny saw potential in me.  Maybe I did not have to come in second after all.  At this point, I took my own pulse.  So far I wasn't devastated.  To be fair, I had not been completely blind-sided by tonight's bad news.  I wasn't quite as naive as I used to be.  I had started dating Jenny knowing full well there might be other guys in the picture.  Jenny seemed to know her way around men, so I had deliberately kept my guard up.

My therapist-friend Gaye had opened my eyes on that issue.  She said at the start of any relationship, I should always expect surprises.  Gaye explained that pretty girls always have several men to choose from.  Like ice cream, they taste a little bit of each and eventually decide which flavor they like the best.  I decided Gaye was right about that.  So to protect myself, I decided to assume from the start that Jenny might be seeing someone else.  Jenny's alternating-night strategy had served to further arouse my suspicion because Vanessa had used the same trick. 

Now I was beginning to be angry at Jenny.  This situation was borderline-Vanessa.  Jenny wanted to have both men just like Vanessa did without warning me.  And I was also upset at myself.  It bothered me that I had not told Jenny about my suspicion.  Long ago I had told myself I would never let myself be deceived again and yet I had let it happen anyway.  Then I told myself not to be so self-critical.  At a certain level, I had known.  I had simply chosen not to act on it yet. 

I felt my jealousy creeping in, but I wasn't nearly as stupid as I used to be.  I could have picked a fight the same way I had with Rachel.  However, I knew damn well if I did that, the game was over.  The better strategy was to stay cool.  I believed if we kept talking, Jenny would change her mind.  There was no longer any doubt in my mind that she preferred me to Randy.

So I decided to disguise my anger and jealousy.  Rather than chew Jenny out for deceiving me, I decided to explore the subject.  You never know, maybe I would face this same problem again some day.  I decided to let Jenny educate me as much as she possibly could. 

"Jenny, you might be surprised to know that I agree it is possible to care deeply for two lovers at a time.  I have never had two lovers at the same time, but I have been on the other end of the stick.  My problems with Vanessa long ago forced me to wonder about all the ramifications.  Any time you have a triangle, the problem arises when your two lovers discover each other, correct?"

Jenny nodded.  "Yes, that is what I am worried about, Rick.  Things become unstable at that point."

"I recall being angry at being deceived.  I remember being hurt because I didn't feel important any more.  Then I felt used.  I know all about these angles because I lived this with Vanessa back in Colorado.  Vanessa wanted the same thing as you do.  You want Randy and me at the same time.  Vanessa wanted Kenny and me at the same time.  The only way Vanessa could have us both was to lie about it.  There is no doubt she would have lost one of us if either of us had known the truth.  So I have to hand it to you for having the guts to explain what is going on.  Now tell me what Randy said.  If he so clever about open relationships, then why did he force you to choose?"

I stared at Jenny for a while while she thought about her answer.  I was curious what she would say.  Personally, I believed Jenny and Randy were playing with fire just like my friend Mark had years ago.  I could not help but remember how much trouble my gay friend Mark had gotten into with his three-way.  Taking a huge risk, Mark had eventually lost both Jim and Mariah.  These were strange times we were living in.  Can't anybody settle down with anybody?  Have the Swinging Seventies made it impossible to be faithful to one person?

"Well, last night Randy was supposed to come over to check on how our relationship was progressing.  When he walked in the door, the first thing he did was mention your car seemed permanently parked in front of my house.  He asked how you and I were coming along."

"Okay, what did you tell him?"

"I made the mistake of telling Randy the truth.  I told him you are practically a carbon copy of him, only younger.  I said the same things that had attracted me to him now attracted me to you.  I told him I liked your openness, your searching attitude, and your willingness to share all your doubts with me.  I told Randy you reminded me of him with your openness.  I thought Randy would take that as a compliment, but instead he turned white.  Randy suddenly became scared to death of losing me to you.  I never knew it before, but Randy can be insecure too.  Randy confessed he visualized you as a flashier and more vigorous version of himself.  I didn't have the heart to tell him he was right."

Ouch.  Now this talk was hitting too close to home.  I had just realized that Jenny was probably what people refer to as a soul mate.  This woman and I clicked on some of the deepest levels imaginable.  Her brutal honesty was painful, but it was also impressive.  So far I had been brave, but now I was weakening.  I wasn't crying, but my eyes were watering at the thought of losing her.

Some girl once told me there is always another fish in the sea, but I wasn't so sure there was another fish like Jenny.  I doubted I would find another woman like her for a long long time.  Noting the three-year gap between my unfulfilled crush on Katie and now this interrupted love affair with Jenny, would it be another three years before another special woman appeared?  I didn't want to wait that long.  Right now it hurt like hell knowing I was headed back to Heartbreak Hotel. 

The words to the Lou Rawls song popped into my head... 'you'll never find another love like mine.'  Well, Jenny already had another love just like mine.  Since I had the short end of the stick, I was the one who would be forced to begin the lonely search again.  Well, I hadn't lost Jenny yet.  Keep talking...

"So Randy didn't like it when you developed strong feelings for me.  What happened to Randy's free love philosophy?"

"Apparently you blew it to pieces.  As long as Randy shared me sexually, he could handle that.  But once he found out that I had powerful feelings for you as well, he freaked out.  I think the thing that hurt him the most was when I pointed out you are just as smart as he is.  Somehow Randy never believed I would find someone as good or better than him.  Now he feels threatened and he is losing his mind with jealousy.  I really don't know.  I just wish I hadn't been so candid.  Maybe if I had fibbed a little I could have avoided the big showdown.  But I thought I was doing what he wanted me to do.  Randy said this experiment wasn't about sugar-coating things.  He wanted the truth.  So I gave it to him and Randy discovered he couldn't handle it."

"So if I hear you correctly, Randy's personal Harrad Experiment is over?"

Jenny laughed again... that same grim, rueful chuckle.

"Yes, I think so.  Randy realized something.  What he cherished the most from me was my regard for his genius.  Randy knew that no matter how many guys I slept with, he was still the special one.  You took that away from him.   Right now, he is ridiculously jealous of you.  He says he lies awake at night visualizing me having sex with you and laughing at your insights and clever little teases.  I think that's what bothers him the most.  He worries that you fascinate me just as much as he does.  He doesn't feel special any more and it's killing him."

I nodded.  That made sense.  We all need to feel special.  I remember how Rachel took my feelings of 'special' away when she had sex with Aaron, the Rice professor.  Unfortunately, just like Mark, Randy's risky experiment had backfired.  Triangles never work, at least not in my opinion.  I was skeptical that humans are genetically wired to share, but they always try anyway.  It must be human nature for everyone to want their cake and eat it too.  That's when they find out the hard way that sharing leads to pain.

"Jenny, now that I know what is going on, what if I consented to a Triangle?  What if I said that I understand this pre-existing situation and I would become willing to share you with Randy?  What would you say to that?"

Jenny shook her head 'no' in frustration.

"Believe it or not, I asked Randy that.  I begged him to at least let me run this option by you like we had planned.  I reminded him over and over again it was his dumb idea that got us in this fix to begin with.  How would we learn anything if we threw in the towel at the first big hurdle?  I told Randy you were different than the other men.  Maybe you would give it a try."

"So what did he say?"

"Randy said it wouldn't work.  It was too late to put this genie back in the bottle.  He said he had made a mistake.  He couldn't share.  This Triangle was deadly.  Randy decided that keeping me in his life was more important than his stupid experiment.  Given the power of my feelings for you and how possessive he had suddenly begun to feel, something had to give.  Randy broke down in tears and said I had to choose between you and him.  He said he couldn't stand sharing me any longer.

Randy said that if I chose him, he was ready to give it all up and become a one-woman man.  He said he had learned his lesson.  Randy said this situation convinced him the ancient rules were the right path.  In the long run, it is better to have a solid one-to-one monogamous relationship.  Now he believes that deep down, humans are just not capable of sharing someone they really really care about.  Randy said he is ready to commit to me and be monogamous."

I was absolutely floored with Jenny's candor.  I could not believe the things she was sharing with me.  I was also surprised that Randy had reached the same conclusion about monogamy that I had.  At this point, a wave of futility washed over me.  My gut had just warned me that Jenny was unlikely to change her mind.  I was in a lot of pain now as the reality of losing Jenny was sinking in.  Throughout my conversation with Jenny, I did not cling to any illusions.  After all, I always lost the girl in these situations... Vanessa, Rachel, Emily.

I realized I had been in shock up till now.  No wonder I didn't feel anything.  Now I hurt all over.  I frowned.  Oh well, if I was going to lose this woman, at least I wanted to know the whole story.  I had the same morbid desire to get the details from Jenny that I had with Rachel.  Let's find out why I came in second again.  Tears began streaming down my face.  It took me a while to compose myself, but I resumed my line of questioning.  I wasn't going to stop until I got every single question out of my system.  Meanwhile Jenny had covered herself with about six pillows.  I assumed she was feeling vulnerable.

"So Randy says he can't share you anymore under any conditions?  It's got to be him or me?"

Jenny nodded yes. 

"So here's another question, Jenny, and I prefer the truth.  Unless you are just saying these things to soften the blow, I am probably the more attractive of the two men right now, yes?"

Jenny nodded.

"Yes.  Without a doubt."

Now I laughed that painful laugh.  This was absurd.  I was the winner.  Or was I?

"Okay, help me out here.  In the animal kingdom, this is akin to the situation where the young bull has beaten the older bull.  Typically the older bull slinks off and licks his wounds while the young bull celebrates his mating rights.  Unless you aren't telling me something, I have won a head to head battle.  So tell me, why exactly does Randy get to keep you and not me?"

At this point, Jenny started to cry.  I just sat there and watched.  Oddly enough, now that I was resigned to my fate, I was feeling stronger in a weird way.  I was the loser, yet strangely I felt this woman had given me one of the finest compliments I had ever received.  This parting talk was her gift to me. 

"Oh, shit, I don't want to lose you, Rick.  You are absolutely perfect for me.  But I am also absolutely certain that I am not perfect for you.  You know I can't have any more children.  I know that someday you will leave me for a woman who will bear you children. 

You also know that I have a young daughter that I love dearly.  You haven't met her because she is away with her father for the summer.  My daughter adores Randy.  She looks at Randy like he is her own father.  No matter how wonderful you are, I cannot bear the thought of putting her through the pain of losing Randy.

Furthermore, all my friends are also Randy's friends.  I have an entire social life wrapped around Randy.  I have no idea how you and your weird dance job will mesh with my life on a full-time basis.  It is thrilling when we make love, but there's more to a relationship than sugar and spice.  I am already certain that my life with Randy will work, but I would be taking a real gamble if I were to chose you.

My decision is the safe one, not the bold one.  You are traveling in a much different life space than me.  I know this sounds cold, but Randy fits the place I am in right now a lot better than you do. 

Rick, my sun is setting.  I have my daughter.  I have my career.  I have my painting.  I have a witty, intelligent boyfriend who is popular with everyone I know.  You, you are on the move.  Your sun is rising and you have an entire world to conquer.  And I know you will.  There's something about you that will never give up.  That is just as plain as day. 

Damn it, Rick, you have given me more sweetness in the night than I ever thought possible.  I can't believe I am pushing you away, but I have to.  I will hate myself, but I am certain this is the right choice for me."

At this point, Jenny threw her pillows on the floor.  She climbed into my arms and bawled her head off.  So did I.  We just sat there and cried our parting tears.  Except that we didn't part. 

Don't ask me how we did it, but we spent the night together.  As we made love, we both cried the entire time.  And I cried some more as I walked out Jenny's door in the morning.  Leaving Jenny was tearing me to shreds.  I had a curious thought as I walked to the car.  I turned to look at her one more time.  Jenny couldn't even stand up.  She was leaning against the door crying buckets.  I had the strangest vision.  Now I knew how a woman feels when the man has to go off to war and she knows full well he may never return.

Sure enough, I never returned.

As a footnote to this story, I never lost my fondness for Jenny.  Believe it or not, I actually agreed with her decision to keep Randy over me.  I realize it sounds crazy, but she explained her reasons for picking him over me so well that they made sense to me too.  How crazy is that?

Yes, I felt regret.  But I never felt bitter.  Jenny made me feel better about myself.   For that I was grateful.  Jenny was a class act.

 


MAGIC CARPET RIDE

CHAPTER EIGHTY:   TEMPTATION 

 

015 030 045 060 075 090 105 120 135 150
INTRO CSU HUBRIS MOONDANCE CATASTROPHE TREACHERY COINCIDENCE DR. HILTON CHILDHOOD TERRY

001

002 003 004 005 006 007 008 009 010
ABANDONMENT ST. JOHN'S FATE TWO MOTHERS INFERIORITY BASKETBALL MR. SALLS LEPROSY PAINT IT BLACK COMEBACK
011 012 013 014 015 016 017 018 019 020
LOSING MY MIND LITTLE MEXICO COLLEGE FEARS SELF DESTRUCT ABYSS VISITOR M BALLANTYNE TWILIGHT ZONE PROPHECY FINISH LINE
021 022 023 024 025 026 027 028 029 030
HEARTBREAK JOHNS HOPKINS BLIND SPOT SUSAN & WITCH MAGIC MYSTERY RIDERS STORM GOOD BAD LUCK LRNED HELPLESS CONFRONTATN COURTESAN
031 032 033 034 035 036 037 038 039 040
PHOBIA LOVE POTION RIVER OAKS 7 PROPOSITION KARMIC TEST REMATCH HELEN GLORIA MARK RACHEL
041 042 043 044 045 046 047 048 049 050
INTERVENTION STRANGER LOVE TRIANGLE MORLOCK MANIMAL CELESTE KATIE BLACK JACK WANDERER GODZILLA
051 052 053 054 055 056 057 058 059 060
PATSY SWAYZE ELENA YEAR OF CAT RUBAIYAT OPPORTUNITY SNF CROSSROAD MAGIC CARPET JET SET CLUB KINDNESS
061 062 063 064 065 066 067 068 069 070
TALE 2 CITIES BROTHER SISTER GEORGE MITCHELL PISTACHIO CLUB SCREAM IN NITE ERIC THE RITZ I, CLAUDIUS JENNY TEMPTATION
071 072 073 074 075 076 077 078 079 080
                   
 
  TIMELINE
   1978: July  Cold War with Stevens and Cliann, I bid farewell to Patsy Swayze and Gaye Brown-Burke, Gaye as a Godsend (49), Jenny
   1978: June  Crisis Four: The Ritz Disaster (48)
   1978: May  Crisis Three: My worst nightmare Eric appears,  Eric's Cosmic Stupidity (47)
   1978: April  Crisis Two:  Intermediate Partner Dance Ordeal, I begin work to create the Advanced Disco class, Scream in the Night
   1978: March  Crisis One:  Gary-Suzy-Sue Ann-Janie help me create the 'New Yorker' partner dance system (46)
   1978: February  Jet Set Club, Mrs. Ballantyne's Surprise visit to Stevens of Hollywood (44), Mr. Salls-Mrs. Ballantyne-Rick Archer Triangle (45)
   1978: January  Spotlight Effect (41), Incompetence Effect (42), Crossroad Synchronicity (43), Nicholas at Courses a la Carte
   1977: December  Saturday Night Fever debut, Robert Stigwood Synchronicity (40)
   1977: October  Opportunity Three: Disco Line Dance class at Stevens of Hollywood (39)
   1977: September  Opportunity Two: Disco Line Dance class at Memorial JCC
   1977: August  Graduation Night at Rubaiyat (38)
   1977: June  Opportunity One: Disco Line Dance class at the JCC
   1977: April  Bomb Scare class: substitute dance class in JCC parking lot (36), I write a line dance syllabus,  Rosalyn's Gift of summer dance class (37)
   1977: February  Dancing with Elena at the Rubaiyat
 

1977-1979: Magic Carpet Ride

 
   
   1976: December  Lunch with Rosalyn
   1976: October  Rosalyn's line dance class at JCC
   1976: September  Patsy Swayze explains I do not have enough talent to join her dance company
   1976: June  Godzilla plays volleyball
   1976: April  Patsy Swayze's jazz class
   1976: January  Lance Steven's Whip demonstration at Stevens of Hollywood, Roberta's request asking me to take over her class (35)
   1975: September  Gaye Brown-Burke at Vocational Guidance Service (34), Ted Weisgal, Becky at Sundry School Line Dance Class
   1975: August  Katie Disaster at Melody Lane, Mark says goodbye (33)
   1975: July  Sundry School Ballroom class, Katie
   1975: April  Disco Dave ends his class, Phoney Baloney Dance Studio, Morlock Dominates Rice Volleyball
   1975: March  Lucky Break at Rice University (31), Manimal (32), Celeste, Second Office Club
   1975: February  River Oaks Seven vanquished (30)
   1975: January  Farmhouse, Mark's Love Triangle
  1974: December  Juicy and Lucy, Talk to Elena Project, Mark meets Sean, Stranger in a Strange Land
   1974: November  Rachel (28),  Casa Mark, Mark and Donna's Dance Intervention (29)
   1974: October  Gloria (27), Mark
   1974: September  Dilemma, The Prize
   1974: August  Rematch with the River Oaks Seven
  1974: July  Courtesan Book (21), Yolanda, Stalled Car Incident (22), Drag Queen Lynn (23), Rejection Phobia develops, Dance Path Synchronicity (24),
 River Oaks Seven, Disco Dave, Dance Class from Hell, Parking Lot Inferno, Karmic Test of Fire (25), Magic Mirror (26)
  1974: June  Couch Catatonia
 

1974-1976: The Lost Years

 
   
  1974: May  Dismissed from graduate school
  1974: April  I teach my experimental Psychology class
  1974: March  Debbie and the Cow Eyes Incident
  1974: February   Jason takes me under his wing and tells me to keep trying, Learned Helplessness, Negative Self-Image, Point of No Return
  1974: January   I begin five months of therapy with Dr. Hilton, Epic Losing Streak
  1973: December   Rocky Mountain Menstrual Cramps, Vanessa leaves for Portland, I receive a 'D' in Interviewing, Jackie reveals the truth about Vanessa
  1973: November   Love Affair with Vanessa begins, showdown in Fujimoto's office, Vanessa makes one excuse after another
  1973: October   I meet Vanessa, Portland Woman song (20), butting heads with Fujimoto
 

1973-1974: Colorado State

 
   
  1972-1973: Interlude  Arlene, Mental Hospital, Letty and the Cooler incident
   
  1971-1972:
  Senior at Hopkins
 Disillusionment with the Magical Mystery Tour due to problems at Colvig Silver Camp the summer of 1971
  1970-1971:
  Junior at Hopkins
 Camp Counselor Daydream (19), Colvig Silver Camp in Colorado
  1969-1970:
  Sophomore at Hopkins
 Connie Kill Shot, Dr. Lieberman, Depression Realization, Susan and the Witch at Quaker Meeting, Magical Mystery Tour,
 Antares-Astrology eye injury (17), Sťance with Vicky, Ghost of Terry (18)
  1968-1969:
  Freshman at Hopkins
 Emily at the Train Station (16), Sanctuary at Aunt Lynn's house, Car stolen in December, Night School Computer class
 

1968-1973: Johns Hopkins

 
   
   1967-1968: 12th Grade  Mr. Salls asks me to apply to Johns Hopkins, Mom's Cosmic Stupidity regarding child support check (09), Little Mexico, Cheating in Chemistry
 Christmas Eve blowup with mother
, Father gives me Edgar Cayce book at Christmas, Foot in the Door Strategy, Father's $400 insult,
 Off Limits Chemistry Restroom, Caught cheating in German (10), Lost Jones Scholarship to Katina, Edge of The Abyss,
 Mrs. Ballantyne fails to connect with me at SJS for 9 years (11), Cosmic Meeting with Mrs. Ballantyne at Weingarten's (12),
 Ralph O'Connor hands me a scholarship to Hopkins, Close Call Car Accident (13), Senior Prom Cheryl (14), Heartbreak with Terry,
 Senior Year Blind Spot (15)
   1966-1967: 11th Grade  New identity forms at Weingarten's, I buy a car
   1965-1966: 10th Grade  Locker Room fight, Set of weights appears (07), George Broyles is paralyzed, Second skin operation,
 Father denies third skin operation, Weingarten's job (08)
  1964-1965:  9th Grade  Profile of Mr. Salls, Acne Attack (05), Basketball strike on swollen face (06), First skin operation
   1963-1964: 8th Grade  Knocked unconscious playing football due to blind eye, quit 8th Grade basketball team, Caught stealing at Weingarten's,  
 Granted full scholarship to SJS, Summer Basketball Project, Discovery of chess book (04)
   1962-1963: 7th Grade  Katina Ballantyne joins my class, Illness at Boy Scout camp leads to invisibility, I feel I don't belong at SJS, Uncle Dick pays my tuition at SJS
   1961-1962: 6th Grade  Mom's suicide attempt at the bayou, Terry runs away in Hurricane Carla, Blue Christmas (03)
   1960-1961: 5th Grade  Dad remarries, Obsession with the St. John's Mother's Guild, Comparisons between my mother and Mrs. Ballantyne begin
   1959-1960: 4th Grade  Divorce, 4th grade at St. John's, Mom begins to fall apart, Dad abandons me for  his girlfriend
 

1959-1968: St. John's

 
    
   1955  Cut my eye out (01), Near Death experience with Stock Car (02)
   1949  Born in Philadelphia
 

 

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