Newport Beach, California, December 1985: Taking the Startel job was a colossal blunder. It’s very clear now, but not then. All women wish to be loved, cherished, and protected. I was married to Lori, but I failed miserably to show that I cherished her, and I failed to protect her.
And that brought me the most painful days in my life.
Do you believe that all events are foretold? I do. Lori and I had written our marriage ceremony, and when I gave it to Father Bob Cromey, he read it and said, “There’s nothing in here about commitment. That’s a mistake.”
He was referring to the lines where it said, “I will remain with you as long as it shall please you.” Father Cromey was correct, and so were my written words. I was with her as long as it pleased her.
This was back in the time of books like Open Marriage and such tripe, but I was turned on by these ideas. And although I never became involved with other women, when I began to ignore her, concentrating on work, building the Line Seizer device, working on computers … when I ceased being fun, when I ceased paying enough attention, when I ceased demonstrating cherishing … she started going out, I’m sure of it.
It started innocently enough, with Oz Koosed’s jitterbug class at the Avenue Ballroom. Lori, as tall as I, kept trying to lead. Either I wasn’t strong enough or focused enough. And when it came to a move called ‘The Drop’, I didn’t have the physical strength. This is a movie-move, where the woman, with body rigid, tips over and almost hits the floor. By strength of arms you hold her just inches above the floor. I couldn’t hold her. Big mistake.
She started going out to dance with the brother of a friend. I’m pretty sure it became the horizontal mambo. And idiot that I was, because I’d thought this openness was good, I put no stop to it. That was the beginning of the end.
One thing led to another. When Lori asked me to move out, I yielded to anger rather than handling the danger. Soon after, around my 40th birthday, I was offered and took a job working with Startel in southern California, and moved far away.
Oh, the business reasons made sense. We needed some equipment to advance the answering service we ran together. She already ran operations, and my marketing department already had a manager. I would bring in a lot of money. Blah blah blah.
I loaded our Volkswagen, which blew up in the desert heat along the way, continued in a rented car, and stayed with her folks in Covina while I began selling answering service equipment for Startel Corporation. Then I bought a Pugeot, rented the house in Newport Beach, and really shouldn’t have been so surprised, that first Christmas here in Southern California.
Because late at night on Christmas Eve, lying in the dark together in a bedroom at her parents home, she had something to tell me. I can still hear her voice in the darkness. She said that she’d fallen in love with another man.
I saw my errors crashing around me, shattering like glass, like mirrors, timeless and cruel as stone.