Like a little kid before their birthday I found myself rushing home every day to check the mail hoping to find a card, a letter, anything from Bobby. In my brain I had calculated how long it should take to hear from Bobby, five days for the letter to arrive, three days for him to answer, five days for his response to be delivered, a total of thirteen days. Looking back I am not exactly sure how or why I decided it would take three days for Bobby to respond. Maybe it was because his birthday was on the 13th? Sometimes there is no explaining how my brain reasons.
Two weeks passed, still no response. I was silly enough back then to believe in signs. The guy in the navy lacrosse t-shirt had to be a sign, he knew Bobby, he was able to get me his address. Wasn’t that a sign? I was not gong to lose faith, the card had to work. It was going to work, I knew it. I felt it.
A month passed with no answer. If the address was incorrect, the card would have been returned by now. In my mind I had selected the perfect card. I was confused. Why didn't it work? I was losing faith. I kept wondering maybe there are no signs. Was I crazy, obsessed? Did I need to forget, move on?
As a single mom my life consisted of two things, work and taking care of my munchkin. Life was busy, life was good but it was also incomplete. I am not sure why I carried such strong feelings for Bobby. I am not even sure I can describe what was going on inside of me. I felt like there was a constant pull on my heart when I thought of him. A feeling I was not where I was suppose to be. I felt like I had made a major mistake that left me lost, alone and there was no correcting it.
I loved watching my little girl grow. Every day there was something new she would discover. She was always smiling, always giggling. She made me happy yet every once in a while no matter how much I loved her, I would feel empty. There is the happiness a child gives you and there is the happiness that another person gives you. The two fill your heart. My heart was half full, it was missing the other half. I was longing for someone I could not reach, could not find. My heart longed for the impossible.
I began to question myself the way I had questioned Bobby so long ago. Did I truly want Bobby? Was I missing him so much because he had not answered my card? He was in essence saying no to me? Was I upset I was now losing the 'game'? Or was I missing him because I still wanted to be with him? Since I had first met Bobby, there was something in me that was uncontrollably attracted to him. I did not understand it, but I felt it. Was this the reason? Was I not letting go because he was no longer interested? Two years earlier, Bobby was not able to answer those questions. Now I was having the same problem. Once I discovered the answers. I would understand the crazy attraction, I would know what to do.
A few weeks later, I had dressed my little girl, carried her into my room so I could finish getting ready for church. Always the active child, she kept running around and climbing on my bed making it impossible for me to concentrate, get ready on time. To avoid the inevitable crash, the five minute meltdown that would follow, I picked her up and sat her on my dresser. To occupy her as I finished applying my make-up I handed her a bracelet from my jewelry box.
My little one, she loved jewelry more than anything, especially mommy's “sparkly” jewelry. When she was little, I loved watching her play, holding up each piece of jewelry to the light as if she was determining it’s value. That morning instead of amusing herself, she threw my bracelet on the floor. As I scolded her, she stood up on my dresser, began staring at herself in the mirror. I laughed, I watched her pat her hands on her own reflection. She began to talk to herself, smiling into the mirror when Bobby’s postcard from Pensacola caught her attention. She began to chant "Momma, Momma, Momma" then she reached over to try to grab the postcard off the mirror. I quickly scooped her up, whisked her off my dresser, away from the postcard. Determined not to give up, she stood on the floor pointing at the postcard, then began opening and closing her hand, her universal sign for give me that please. After a few minutes of grunting and pointing she finally asked in her sweet innocent voice, “Please?”
I laughed at her persistence then told her, “Sorry darling, you want the postcard, I want him. Neither one of us are going to get what we want. Looks like we are both out of luck. You need to give up.”
As I said those words, "You need to give it up", I thought to myself, maybe I need too as well. I scooped her up, put her coat on, before leaving the room to head out to church, I reached up and touched the postcard as I had done many times before in the past. Only this time I said, "I just don't know anymore."
After this long, when Bobby had not answered my card, there was no other explanation, I failed. I missed my opportunity. I had done my best the past few weeks to place Bobby in the back of my brain, remove him from my thoughts, forget him. When the words “I want him” came rolling off my tongue with no effort, no thought, I knew driving to church he was still very much present in my life. Sunday morning was another example of the numerous times without reason or explanation Bobby would invade my thoughts. When I first met Bobby what I felt for him scared me. Now the hold he had on me terrified me even more. I was confused. I was angry at myself for allowing what I felt for him to have so much control over me.
I sat in church waiting for the service to start. I wondered if now was the time to really let him go. Start to move on, not totally forget Bobby, but try not to remember, want him as much. I questioned, was it time to take down the postcard, the subtle daily reminder of Bobby from my mirror. Pack up his soap on a rope, his postcards, the napkin and his Christmas card, place them out of sight? Pack them away from the temptation to hold and read them?
When the organ started, when the service began I prayed to God to let me find peace. Help me learn what was going on in this crazy heart of mine, guide me to what was best for myself and my child. To please help me see what I needed to do. When I finished my prayer, I said a prayer for Bobby. I asked God where ever Bobby was, whenever he flew, please watch over him, always be with him. I told God if he only could answer one prayer of mine that day, please always be with Bobby. That would be enough. I walked out of the service that morning, I felt the sunlight hit my face, a calm came over me and I realized I knew. I had always known what I was feeling. I had always known what I should do.
After spending the night with Bobby in Pensacola, I was scared, terrified of what I was feeling. How strong those feelings were. I used Martin as an excuse to send Bobby away. Suddenly I realized, I sent him away because I was afraid of the hurt that would come if he left me like every man had done before. I was so afraid of the relationship ending, I didn't allow for the possibility we might have worked. By sending me flowers, silly gifts, postcards and cards, Bobby was saying, relax and see what happens. He wanted me to trust what I was feeling, not run away. He simply wanted me to give him a chance. I finally understood his persistence. We had one amazing night together. We both wanted more, he sensed it, yet I said no, I ran. Who walks away after an incredible night like that? Who does not want to see where it might lead? He scared me and I made no sense to him. Yet for a time, he did not give up on me.
I finally understood why he could not answer the questions I had posed to him that night in Annapolis. I at last comprehended how stupid those questions must have seemed. I no longer needed to be the girl he wanted to be with. I accepted, I was yes to both questions. Yes, he didn’t like losing, chasing me was a game. Bobby definitely did not like no for an answer, so he persevered trying to win. He wanted to change no to yes. I was the prize for winning the game. Once I understood the game, there was no denying the other reason he kept coming back. Why he kept trying for as long as he did. Part of him wanted to be with me again. For Bobby, at that time, the two questions were hand in hand, there was no separating them. He understood something I did not, only time would tell him which I would become, the game or the girlfriend. He was, I believe, willing to find out. I wanted to jump immediately to girlfriend not understanding, no matter what you feel, how much you are attracted to someone, you have to play the game first. I understood why he might not be willing to write back. If he wrote back, he had to wondered if I would assume it meant something more than what it was to him? With that awareness, I realized I wouldn’t respond to a flirtatious card like that, so why did I expect Bobby would? Instead of flirting, being funny I needed to apologize, write a normal letter. Allow him to get to know the real me.
I learned from Bobby if you want something bad enough, you have to play the game. It was now my turn to play the game. I accepted what I had felt for Bobby. I was still afraid but I was no longer going to run away from what I was feeling. I was ready to take the risk, good ending or bad. I needed to relax, have patience, have faith in myself, in Bobby and play out the game.
Bobby tried over and over to get me to give him a chance, get me to respond to him, acknowledge him. He wanted one more night to see if that would lead to another. If it did, great. If not at least we tried. He waited a long time before finally giving up on me. I owed him the same. I understood there was a very good chance after this long, he had found someone else. Bobby at times was intense, he loved life, lived hard and fast. If there was not a special someone, he was definitely dancing in the local bars, drinking at the officer's club, meeting women and having fun. All that did not matter. I knew what I felt made anything possible. The only obstacle I was afraid of, the only one that I might not be able to overcome he no longer wanted to see me. I dreaded the game we played before left him tired of me. He felt I was too insecure, too confusing, too exhausting. I feared Bobby had determined in his mind I was only going to be the fling from his past nothing more.
Bobby was in Guam. Instead of being afraid of the distance between us, I embraced it. I realized it was the perfect opportunity to do what I should have done long ago. If I was lucky, if Bobby allowed me, I was going to get to know him. I was going to be his friend. No longer afraid of what I was feeling, I was going to trust my instincts. Trust where I believed the friendship would lead us. I knew he needed to live, needed to have fun, before anything could happen between us. I needed to mature, learn to believe in myself. I had no doubt all we needed was time before we would both be ready for each other.
After tucking my daughter into bed, after saying our prayers, I headed back to my room, grabbed a pad of paper from my drawer. I smiled when I saw the soap on a rope and the post card from Whiting Field neatly stacked next to it. I repeated to myself what Sister Mary Rose had told me, "Have faith. I can make this work." I must have torn up a dozen pieces of paper that night trying to write the perfect opening. After two hours, I finally finished my letter to Bobby. I did not write much, yet I said everything that needed to be said. I told him about my job at Macy's. I joked around that I was learning his home state of New Jersey traveling to training sessions and meetings at the various Macy's. I told him, if you give me a Macy’s, I could tell him what exit number it was on the turnpike. I finally understood why in Pensacola he spoke with such passion about growing up in New Jersey. From everything I saw, the people I met, it was a great place to live. Although someone definitely had to explain Newark to me. I could not find anything positive about Newark. I wrote him about my daughter, her crazy stubborn personality she obviously got from her mom. I loved how each day she seemed to change. I apologized for being stupid after Pensacola. I thanked him for the flowers, for the postcards etc. For now I wanted to see if we could be friends, see where that might lead. I closed the letter, repeating what he had said to me many times in the past, “When you are ready I will be here, Denise”
Monday morning on my way to work, I placed the letter in the mail. Unlike in the past, after mailing the letter I did not rush home to check my mailbox everyday. I did not set any silly time lines on when I should receive a response. I was for the most part patient. From time to time, I would still look at his postcard on my mirror and wonder what he was doing. Bobby was flying, at least I knew he was happy.
It took me a while but I understood what Sister Mary Rose tried to explain to me after my daughter’s birth. I had to have faith in what I felt, and I had to have faith in Bobby. Not in what Bobby did or did not feel but faith enough to trust him that he would always do what was best for me. He had always looked out for me in the past, he was a good man. I finally knew I could trust him with my heart He would be true to his word, he would not hurt me. I was no longer rushed for instant answers, I believed I had time. I was learning to let go of the fear and trust in faith.
Weeks passed, still no card, no letter from Bobby. I didn't panic, I didn't lose hope. On occasion I would find myself dreaming of the morning we first met or of our night in Pensacola. The longing was still there, it never left me. I tried to ignore the feelings, put them on the back burner, concentrate on work, on being a mom. After I mailed the first letter, I decided I did not want to appear to be desperate. I would wait for a response from Bobby before I would write another. Christmas was almost here, his birthday was in March. If I did not hear from him before then, I would send him a card for each. After all it is no big deal with a friend sends a simple card.
The Macy's where I worked was the newest store in the chain. My department carried all the high end designer clothes. An order for my department to survive in our area I was in charge of developing and keeping a client base. I worked hand in hand with the personal shoppers at our store. To help reach my sales goals, at least once a month I was sent to an older more established store so I could see how they displayed the clothing, arranged their department. Learn how they established/built their client base. Take what I learned and translate it to success in my department. With the passage of time, I learned to change my longing for Bobby, turn all my misplaced energy into drive. I worked hard and did my best to excel at our store, in the company. Every month, my department sales rose. At night if I felt the urge, the need to write Bobby, I would pull out my weekly reports, work on projections. Look at sales from around our division, see what store I could trade merchandise with. Rid my department of what wasn’t selling and bring more merchandise in that was. Several times a year all managers from the various stores were sent to Newark or New York to meet with the buyers. Get a sneak peak at the clothing lines being delivered for the upcoming season. The first 3 months I worked at Macy's I traveled to Monmouth, Paramus, Cherry Hill and Newark. Every time I entered New Jersey I was reminded of Bobby. I was reminded of the longing that never left me no matter how hard I tried ignore what I was feeling.
A week before Thanksgiving Cheryl and I spent our lunch hour in the hallmark store picking out various Christmas cards to send to our friends and family. The insanity of holiday shopping was fast approaching. In retail, once black Friday arrives, an hour long lunch would be impossible. Twelve hour days, short lunches and short dinners would be normal. I sifted through the cards, after a few minutes I found the perfect Christmas card for Bobby. On the outside of the card a radio announcer speaking with his “eyewitness news helicopter" asking about his eye in the sky reporter about Santa On the inside was a drawing of a helicopter with Santa spinning in it's blades above. It was stupid funny, it was very much a me card. Worried I would be too exhausted in the coming weeks to write a coherent sentence. Later that night I wrote a quick note on the inside of Bobby's card, signed it then placed it in my drawer. I did the same with all the cards I had purchased. I determined I would mail my cards on the way to work Black Friday. My cards would get to their destinations on time but not too early. I of course placed Bobby's card on top of the soap on a rope. It seemed like the perfect place to store it.
Right before Thanksgiving Leigh and Cathleen's roommate from college came to visit the munchkin and I. We use to joke around that Janice was going to be the only one of us to marry a Naval Academy grad. She loved midshipmen and dated quite a few of them but never of them ever held her interest or heart long enough. Janice had stopped by to tell me, she was in love and was pretty sure he was going to ask her to marry him. She was hoping for Christmas he would give her a ring.
I was happy for her and amazed at the same time. As we sat in the living room, Janice told me all about the man she was convinced was going to marry her. I was surprised to learn he was not a Naval Academy graduate. At one point as we talked, the munchkin came running by and that oh so familiar odor came wafting after her. It was time for a diaper change. I told Janice if she was brave enough, she could follow me into my room, we could continue to talk as I changed my child’s diaper. As we continued our conversation, Janice noticed the postcard on my mirror, the large lettering White Sands of Pensacola caught her eye. She asked who it was from? I responded Bobby Bianchi. Once again one of my friends unknowingly reinforced my insecurities about Bobby. Janice smiled in amazement, then said, "Damn he's hot. I can't believe he sent you a postcard. Nothing personal but he is so out of your league." Then she added, “I tried to pick him up once, he blew me off. So damn how did you do it? How did you get him?”
I had the option to laugh or cry at her statement. I chose to laugh, responded, "I have no clue."
Then almost as a second thought Janice added, "I heard he was in love, getting married or something" Trying to stay calm, I asked who told her? Was she sure it was Bobby? She answered she was pretty sure. She heard it from on of the guys she knew at a bar. If I wanted to be sure, I should call Leigh. The irony, the one person I believed I could not ask about Bobby was Leigh or her husband. Maybe that explained why he never answered my card, my letter, he was in love with someone else and did not want to hurt me, lead me on.
I should be apologetic, ashamed, I had sworn months earlier, I would never let myself drown in self pity again. Yet there I was having a pity party before going to bed. In my prayers I asked God, what was so wrong with me? Leigh was married and living in Guam. Cathleen was married and living in Pensacola. Janice was happy and in love. I learned Bobby was in love. I wasn’t perfect but honestly Janice finding love before me? I reasoned with God, I pleaded my case, I tried to be good, so why didn't I deserve to find someone who loved me? Why did God allow me to have these crazy longings, feelings for Bobby, when he was in love with someone else? How was that fair? That night I fell asleep with questions saturating my brain and tears filling my eyes.
The next morning I awoke with a new attitude, not a good one but a new one. Hell with love, hell with men, I didn’t need either. I had my job, I had a beautiful daughter that was enough. The morning after Thanksgiving on my way in to work as I had planned, I mailed all my Christmas cards, all except for Bobby’s. I debated sending the card for a moment before I threw it back in my drawer next to the soap on rope. I had lost faith in myself, what I felt, what I knew to be true in my heart.
In retail, every season the managers are sent to the buyers office. In the heat of the summer, managers preview the upcoming winter fashions. When the leaves are falling, the cruise and spring lines are highlighted. It was freezing, it was cold, meant only one thing, time to preview the upcoming summer lines. February 1987 Cheryl, Kristen and I loaded up in Cheryl’s car and headed to Newark to meet with our department buyers, get a first look at the summer lines. We left Marley Station earlier than normal, we were stopping in Short Hills to pick up Lisa. She was the Attitudes manager in Paramus. Lisa and her husband lived in Short Hills. We had decided when planning our trip, after our buyer's meetings we were going to have dinner at a local restaurant Lisa loved.
The beauty of my department, it was not carried in every store, so my buyer’s meetings were always short, on time. Not as many managers equals not as many questions, in and out quickly. Lisa and I sat in the employees lounge drinking coffee, waiting for Cheryl and Kristen to finish. Soon Kristen joined us, an hour plus later Cheryl joined us. Lisa and Cheryl wanted to check out the Newark store, see what clothing they had that our stores did not carry before we left. Four women talking and shopping, the afternoon floated by without anyone really noticing. It was a little after six when we finally started back to Short Hills. Lisa took shotgun so she could direct Cheryl where to go, how to avoid traffic on the way back. Sitting in the backseat I felt my heart drop when I saw the sign for Maplewood, Bobby’s hometown. As we drove by, I wondered how far were we from the house Bobby grew up in? I looked in the distance, wondered where Columbia High School was? Where was the field he played lacrosse on? I looked out the window, wanting to see him, wanting to hold him, if only for one more time.
We were all exhausted when we arrived in the parking lot where we had met Lisa that morning. We decided we were all too tired for dinner. As I got out of the car to move to the front seat I remembered I had Lisa’s papers and notebook in my briefcase. I had placed them in there when we were shopping. I asked Kristen to hand me my bag. Lisa and I stood under the lights with my briefcase resting on the hood of the car. As we talked and I searched for her papers, they had some how intermixed with mine. While I was standing there a weird sensation came over me. I felt as if someone was staring at me. I am not sure if I was too tired or too scared to look, either way I ignored my gut, the feeling and kept talking to Lisa. Cheryl got out of the car to stretch her legs, say goodbye. We talked for a minute longer. I hugged Lisa goodbye, threw my briefcase in the back, then hopped in the front seat of the car.
I buckled my seatbelt, then Kristen announced, “Wow Denise there was a really hot guy staring at you for awhile. I kept trying to get your attention so you would look. I even banged on the window, but you ignored me.”
I asked her where was the guy. She pointed to the right of us. As Cheryl pulled out of the parking space, I rolled down my window to try to see this "really hot" man. As I looked, all I could see was the back of his head, as he turned around heading to join a small group in front of him. As Cheryl pulled out of the parking lot I found myself questioning out loud, “Bobby?”
With that one word, saying his name outloud, Cheryl slammed on her brakes. The sudden stop startled me, I told Cheryl no, it was just my wishful thinking. Bobby was in Guam. I looked back again. one more time trying to see if I could get one last glance, see who it was. As we drove off Kristen stated, “Bobby or not, he was gorgeous and he was taking you all in. We should go back and have dinner. Maybe he will come over to our table, we can find out who he is. Find you a man!”
I answered annoyed, “Just what I need another guy from Jersey breaking my heart. Let's please go home!"
When I arrived home, my munchkin was sound asleep. I brushed her hair away from her face, dropped the side of her crib, lifted her sleeping body out, sat down with her in the rocker. As I began to rock, she awoke for a second, put her arms around my neck, then nuzzled against me and fell quickly back to sleep. I sang to her as I rocked back and forth. After a few minutes, I closed my eyes, when I did, I was back in Pensacola, sitting on the deck, seeing Bobby's smile once again. I surprised myself, I didn’t cry, there were no tears. I continued to sing to my daughter, and enjoyed the memory of that night in Pensacola.
A few nights later, my phone rang. As I rolled over to answer it, I looked at the time 1:11 a.m. Triple ones. Expecting it to be Cheryl or another one of my friends who couldn’t wait to tell me about their hot date, I answered the phone, “This better be good”
I heard, “What if I told you I saw a girl that reminded me of you?”
“Oh my God, Bobby?”
“You know one day you might try saying hello when I call”
“So does this mean there is a possibility you might call me again?”
Bobby paused for a moment, then answered very matter of fact, “Yes, it's possible.”
At that moment, when I heard his answer, when it registered in my brain, my heart exploded, I was happy. I did not want to blow this. I knew I had to control myself from saying something stupid, ruining this second or third chance I had been given.
I asked him if he received the card and the letter I mailed. Without hesitation, very matter of fact, he replied yes he had. Maybe it was nerves, I am not sure why but I began to chuckle. He asked what was so funny. I questioned, “You didn’t answer me because you threw my letters away? Did you at least read them first? It’s okay, I don’t blame you. I get it, I would have done the same thing.”
Before I let him answer, I asked one more question, something more important to me, “If you didn’t answer my letters, why are you calling me now? I am just curious.”
He was honest, I can't fault him, he always had been in the past. He admitted he thought after everything, he didn't want to see me. Then when he saw someone that reminded him of me, he realized he was wrong. For some unexplainable reason he wanted to see me, at least talk to me. Then he paid me one of the nicest compliments a man has ever given me,
“I tried hard to forget you. But you are one impossible woman to forget." Then he added, "I have a feeling you might ruin my reputation one day”
I smiled, then I admitted, I was having the same problem. I didn’t understand it, but I couldn’t forget him either. I joked around it must be that damn shower we took! Which started us both laughing. I knew he was smiling when he said, “Yeah we definitely need to do that again.”
I couldn't believe how easily, “Yes we do!" came out of my mouth in response.
I apologized for my stupidity in the past, I would do my best not to let that happen again. Bobby surprised me when he asked about my daughter, her father. I was honest, maybe not totally honest. I told him about the pros and cons list, how that night I realized I did not want her father. I could not see myself marrying him. I did not tell Bobby it was him I realized I wanted that night. I asked Bobby a question, a question I was afraid to hear his answer. I asked if it mattered that I had a child? Did it matter who her father was? He was painfully honest, he answered he didn’t know, he didn't think about her father, only me. Time would teach us both how to handle the situation.
He then asked about the letter I sent. He was confused about what I wanted, what did I mean by let's try to be friends? To him, that statement is what you say when you don’t want to see someone, you are simply trying to be nice.
I explained to him before I gave birth to my daughter I had screwed up everything in my life, especially relationships. I confessed I was immature, I had a lot of growing up still left to do. Once I became a mom, screwing up was no longer an option. I had to do things right, my daughter depended on me. Sometimes doing the right thing means taking two steps backward before moving forward. I hoped I was right, but it seemed now was the perfect time to get to know each other. Then if he wanted we could move forward from there. I told him I knew he had a lot more “womanizing” to do. He had a lot of fun to discover before he was going to be ready for me. Ready for anything more than friendship. He needed to get it all out. I needed to grow up. If what I was feeling was right, I would be here waiting for him. He asked me why now, what changed? How was I so sure? I replied to him, “Army Navy you said and I quote, ‘you think, I know” Well now it is my turn to say, you think I know."
“Yep I do. I definitely know."
"Should I ask what you know?"
He changed the subject and asked me, “I am positive I know the answer but thought I would ask anyway. Hear the answer from you. Do you still want me? Do you ever think about just doing it again? What it would be like now?”
I took a deep breath, gathered my courage and answered, “Yes, always have. And more nights than I would like to admit”
Then I added, “Why else would I keep your soap on a rope?”
I heard him laughing. He couldn’t believe I kept the “cheap” soap. I exclaimed. “Cheap I know. You left the price tag on it. Nice to know I am only worth four dollars!”
He interrupted, “Plus postage.”
I continued, “oh, yeah, sorry six dollars. By the way, the paper towel wrapping, smooth, very smooth.”
I added it was a good thing he was gorgeous, it was the only reason I let the paper towel wrapping slide. Normally that would have been the end. He would have been crossed off the list!!
He told me he instantly thought of me when he saw it hanging in the drug store. He couldn't resist, he had to buy it. He added, he was only trying to be helpful. After all I kept dropping the soap in the shower. That is when I interrupted, pointed out he did not seem to mind I kept dropping it. He kind of enjoyed it, I enjoyed it. I reminded him he even asked me to drop the soap one more time. He interrupted, pointed out I did not grant his request, I did not follow instructions very well. I wasn’t going to win this dispute. How do you argue with someone when you are blushing from head to toe, remembering the best night of your life? It is impossible to win an argument with someone who leaves you speechless. I cried Uncle.
As Bobby spoke I soaked in the sound of his voice. I wanted to hold on to him as long as possible before he had to hang up. I wanted to be able to remember everything about the conversation. His tone changed when he asked how work was going, what was my schedule like that week. I told him crazy, there was a cycle to the madness of retail management. We prepare for sales, have a sale. Never fails after the one day sales, we have to stay late to prepare for a store visit from some big wig or another. When we are not doing all of the above, we prepare for buyers meetings. Projections, sell through, weeks supply all part of my new vocabulary. I liked my job, who I worked with, but this was not going to be my career. I went on to tell Bobby I had to work the next 9 days straight. The majority of days irons, twelve hour shifts. The bonus, at least I was earning comp time, by the end of August I would have a week of vacation, as of now fourteen plus days of comp time to go with it. I would have a year to use it all. I could use the comp time and vacation separately or I could combine them and use them all at once.
I joked around, yet at the same time I was serious. In August, if he still wanted to see me, my vacation time was all his. I would beg my parents to babysit. I would pack the soap on a rope, name the time, the place, I would be there. He was quiet for a moment. I could tell he was debating what to say, then I heard him say, “ That might work. We'll see. Promise?”
Then he made a joke, asked me a question that haunts me to this day. “While you are handing out promises. Promise me you are not going to let me die an old man not knowing what it’s like to be with you again?”
I was grinning ear to ear when I answered, “I promise, scouts honor”
“Are you sure?"
“Yes Mr. Bianchi, I am sure. Very sure.”
“Just checking, we do have a past history to worry about. Promising then walking away”
Then I asked him how long I was going to be given grief about my prior stupidity. His answer was forthright, direct, and very funny, “Until I decide to stop.”
Honest once again.
Then I heard Bobby take a strange pause, like he was taking a deep breath, debating what was going on in the conversation, if he and I were both saying too much. I asked him what was wrong. He explained, he knew when this got out, he was going to be given shit for years. I tried to lighten the moment by joking, "I think I am worth it. At least I hope I am." Then added, “ If it helps I think your brother might like me”
“Kevin, yes he does. He has reminded me on several occasions you are gorgeous.”
“Yes, gorgeous" Almost annoyed he questioned, "You really have no clue how desirable you are?”
“No, all I have been told over and over, by everyone who knows both of us, you are out of my league. Way out of my league”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t sleep with ugly women.”
I couldn't help it, I jokingly asked, “Even when you’re drunk?" I paused, then adding, "Just kidding. Thank you I get the compliment, understood.”
I rolled over in bed, looked at the clock, it was a little past 3 in the morning. I told Bobby we needed to hang up, the phone bill was going to kill his paycheck. He laughed, said, no it wouldn’t he was using his brother Kevin’s calling card. I wasn't sure if he was serious or joking. Either way I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud. I asked exactly how was he going to explain the bill to his brother. He wasn’t, he hoped Kevin wouldn't notice or blame Jimmy, it would better that way. He explained, if Kevin knew, he would try to get even with Bobby. He could see his brother picking me and the munchkin up on his way home to Jersey from Pensacola. It would be show and tell time at the Bianchi household. Kevin would proudly announce, “Hey Mom look what I found” By the time he was done the entire neighborhood would be over at the house, wine would be flowing, photos would be all over the local paper. I had to admit, it was funny. I could definitely see his brother doing something crazy. I told Bobby don’t worry his secret was safe with me, I knew nothing. If anyone asked we never talked.
I sighed as I explained to Bobby the last thing I wanted to do was hang up, but I needed to get some sleep. My natural alarm clock was going to be waking up in a few hours, plus I imagined he had happy hour and wild women waiting for him. At the time it never registered with me when he said it was a little too early for happy hour.
Before I hung up I told Bobby go have fun, be wild, in time, if he still wanted to 'take a shower' with me, I would be here. I added for once, I would relax, wait to follow his lead.
He made a joke, an off handed comment, asking me to try not to fall for any of the Navy guys still hanging around in Annapolis. I assured him from past experiences he had nothing to worry about. He asked what I meant. I explained, I tended to fall in love with you Navy boys, you all never fall in love with me. I can still hear his voice when he responded, “I wouldn't be so sure.”
I hated to end the phone call but I knew if I didn’t we would talk until daybreak. I apologized to him, I really needed to sleep. Then I asked a favor of him I made him promise me he would be safe. I told him to have fun, but be sure to bring his gorgeous ass back home. I was looking forward to one day using the soap on a rope with him. He promised me he would. He was also looking forward to putting the soap to good use. He added try to behave while he was gone.
I responded, “Not a problem remember I am a boring mom now”
“There is nothing boring about you” was his reply.
“Thanks for calling. Night Bobby, be safe”
“Night Denise, I will”
I was happy, I was tired, I was excited. I opened my dresser drawer, picked up the soap on a rope, held it for a few minutes before putting it back, closing the drawer and falling fast asleep.
(Use the links on the left to continue on to part 7)