Even though I met my second husband when he was 16 and working for my first husband
in a fast-food restaurant at the time, I clearly did not make an impression on him. He was the best friend of my younger brother; he soon became very close to the entire family, embracing the moniker “Camaro Chris” to distinguish him from my brother-in-law “Big Chris”.
My husband, children and I soon moved over 700 miles away and would only come back for brief visits, so I did not see him after that, and he apparently forgot about me, even forgetting my brother had another sister. For the entire time he knew my family, my brother, both of my sister’s and my older sister’s family all lived in the same house with my parents. Additionally, my parent’s house was peppered with wall to wall pictures of family; in the living room there were three graduation pictures, my older sister, my brother, and my younger sister. Then, every square inch of the rest of the living room and all down the hallway the dusty paint did not even show through for the pictures lined up one after another of my brother, sisters, brother-in-law, parents, niece, and nephew. There was not a solitary picture of me or my family; not for lack of their existence.
So, when my first husband and I separated on December 31, 1994, and I arrived in Reno at the beginning of February, 1995, I was sitting on the couch, when in walks this young man of 20, almost 7 years my junior. “Hey, who are you?” he asks me boldly, sitting down on the couch like he owned the place.
I was stunned. He looked exactly like he had when he was 16; long hair, almost to his waist, thin, and smoking a cigarette. “Uhm, I’m Jimmy’s sister,” I replied, using my brother’s boyhood nickname that he hated; I am the only one in the family who refuses to call him James, something he has insisted on since his voice changed around the age of 13.
“Wow. That’s weird. I didn’t know James had another sister,” came his response.
Looking around the house I could see how he might feel that way. Still, if he had paid any attention four years earlier, he may have known that there was another sister; perhaps I should have been a little more put off than I was.
It was not long before we started spending a lot of time together, flirting, talking, staying up all night chatting as he worked on his car; I was lonely, and he was shy. He didn’t date a lot and I had just been dumped by my husband of seven years, so it felt good to have some attention. We dated for several months; then, it was going to be his 21st birthday and I thought I would treat him to a special dinner at his favorite steakhouse in town.
He picked me up and we made small talk as we drove to the restaurant, for some reason I was still nervous when we went out; we had been dating for several months, but we had not been intimate, we were taking things slowly. I ordered wine and appetizers, he had iced tea, he does not drink at all. Right before our dinner came, we started to talk about our relationship for some reason; his exact words to me, “You are actually a lot older and heavier than who I would typically date.”
I believe in being honest with people, I have always been known as somebody who does not mince words, and everybody always knows where they stand with me; but, there is a time and a place. For him, the time would have been before we started dating, and the place would have been anywhere but there. I stood up, placed enough money on the table to cover the entire bill and walked out of the restaurant, heading toward the door. He sat there for quite some time because he found me across the street walking the direction of the five mile walk home. Eventually, he talked me down off of the proverbial ledge and gave me a ride home. Somehow, we recovered and continued dating after that.
In retrospect, I should have walked away that day and never looked back, as that them reverberated throughout my marriage to him like a sonic boom. Years later when my weight ballooned and we had been separated for three years, he came to me and said, “You have to lose the weight, it just isn’t attractive.” I accepted it with as much grace as I possibly could, it hurt, but he was right. I lost over 90 pounds in less than a year, and I was proud of myself. What was a little bit more difficult to take was having to step on a scale in front of him every day, and still going out to ice cream parlors, ordering pizza, and going to the movies while he and the girls ordered popcorn, all while drinking only water; sometimes it just felt cruel.
Even after losing 90 pounds and the rest of my family started to call us “The Skeletor Family”, he would still say “You need to tone up some”. I was working out three times a day and we could not spare the $30 a month for a gym pass so I worked out in the Nevada cold, snow, and wind 365 days a year. When I would ask about the gym, while earning over $50K a year, less than he did, it was just not a priority.
The final straw should have been when he would constantly comment about young girls that were 18, 19, and 20; my bruised ego from being left for a 17 year-old in my first marriage had never healed. I thought, I can lose as much weight as possible, starving myself and working out like an Olympian, but I will always be almost 7 years older than you.
That night at the steakhouse was the beginning of the end. It should have just been the end.