As a young woman my misconstrued mirror image confirmed that my thighs were fat and my hair was flat. I was cute, not pretty. I was witty, not smart. I had a tainted past, lacked a higher education, was not well traveled, and had no accolades I could boast about.
To reinforce my compulsion of feeding my self-loathing, I journaled. After purging my flaws and vowing to repent, I wrote poetry about lost love and short stories on the idiosyncrasies of a mundane, twenty something and single, existence.
By the time I hit my late twenty's, my plan was to become a stay at home wife and a romance novelist. My journals revealed a deeper truth. What I wanted was to feel worthy of being loved.
I dated a lot and I wasn't picky. Everyone deserved a second glance. I had a rating system that I'd tally up on my fingers, sometimes being so bold as to jot it down on a bar napkin - in clear sight. Anyone still in a plus category after two drinks would be given my home phone number.
I was fraternizing with my best friend at our favorite haunt - the Georgetown Salon in Ridgefield, Connecticut - when a stout (-2), mousey looking man (-2), offered to buy me a drink (+1), and I accepted.
After 15 minutes, I discovered that he was British (-1), with terrible teeth (-5). He was well educated (+2) and gainfully employed (+2) as an advertising executive for J. Walter Thompson, in New York City (+4). His claim to fame was being the campaign director for French's Mustard (+2). This included the wildly famous, Grey Poupon commercials (+6).
"Perhaps you'd like to accompany me on a date?" he asked.
"But of course," I answered.
And so our relationship began.
After a romantic dinner, we returned to his home - a renovated former gristmill nestled alongside the Connecticut River. After a tour of his well appointed abode, which included an extensive collection of water lily paintings and photographs, we retired to the living room where he lit a fire and poured from a bottle of what I was told was a rich, rare vintage, Russian River red that he had been saving for a special occasion.
With the fire now roaring and the bottle half empty, he clumsily steered me into his bedroom. As we rounded the corner of his four-poster bed, my sweater caught the tip of a rough-iron, closet door latch and it creaked open - revealing a well organized collection of women's clothing.
Cross-dresser I wondered?
The dresses were veiled in clear, dry cleaning plastic and the shoes, although primarily red, were somewhat sensible and looks two sizes too small for his burly feet.
In need of more proof, I turned towards a doublewide dresser and, without asking, pulled opened the top drawer. It was filled with laced panties and padded bra's.
"Cross-dresser?" I questioned. This time, out loud.
"No, No, NO!" he defended.
He went on to explain the untimely death of his beloved wife. How she suffered. How he missed her. How he deliberately kept this from me in fear that I would pity him.
"How long has it been?" I asked.
"Two years," he sighed.
Consumed by his blatant lie, I gathered my things and left vowing never to see him again.
In truth I was jealous. Sure she was dead, but I wanted a man to love me this way. To love me so much that even after two years, he couldn't bare to get rid of my things - that the mere mention of my name brought tears to his eyes. Still, always.
But he was persistent, professing that he was desperate to start over - build a new life with a lovely, vibrant woman such as I.
To prove this to me, he would put his house on the market and spend his time at a flat that he recently rented on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
After hearing this, I agreed to meet him for dinner - this time in the city. Afterwards I asked to see his "flat" and he was eager to show.
It was your typical bachelor pad - sparse, disheveled, and bland. The closet was filled with suits, ties and starched shirts. The drawers were packed with wrinkled undershirts, gym shorts, sweatpants and boxers.
Because I wanted love, not sex, and was convinced that, (based on his elfin sized fingers) his paunchy appearance was linked to a petite, gherkin sized penis, I declined his advances. And because I needed to be at work by 9:00 am, and my office was an 45 minute train ride away, I declined his offer to spend the night.
This became our pattern. His advances were met with resistance and like Cinderella, I'd leave before the stroke of midnight.
Eventually, my curiosity got the best of me, and after an evening that included flaming shots of tequila and a dimly lit room, I agreed to share his bed.
He was clumsy and his charms were not captivating or climactic. Suspended above me, his puffer fish face and passion swept hair mimicked that of a troll. Once, in the middle of his hog huffing, I yawned.
I sought refuge in his shower before his buttocks hit the bed sheets. Twenty minutes later I was gone.
The following morning, tucked safely in my bed, I slept through the alarm and after a twenty-minute shower, two cups of coffee, and four Advil, I arrived at work an hour late and was greeted by a bright yellow post-it note on my desk.
It was an urgent message from the Troll. I balled up the note and tossed it into the waste paper basket. Less than 10 minutes later, he called again. I declined his call. Five minutes later, he called again, this time, demanding I speak to him.
Reluctantly, I took the call.
He was angry.
"What did you give me!" he spouted.
"Give you?" I asked.
"For Christ's sake women, what did you give me!" he screamed.
I was confused and he was panicked.
"My penis is covered in spots - RED SPOTS!" he roared.
"I'm sorry to hear that," I mumbled, trying my best not to laugh.
"I'm going to the emergency room, tell me what disease you gave me so they can treat me accordingly," he pleaded.
This troll had me seeing red.
"Gave you? Gave YOU! How dare YOU!" I screamed and hung up the phone.
My office consisted of twelve women, most of whom were married longer then I had been born. After hanging up the phone I turned to find all of them huddled behind me, eager to hear the catastrophe of a twenty something single.
They did their best to hide their disapproval behind palm covered, open mouthed gasps. All of them agreed that a trip to the gynecologist was in order and that I should waste no time getting there.
"I'll drive you," offered a coworker and confidant.
Instead of going to the gynecologist, we went to a local pub for a greasy cheeseburger and a beer or two. We returned tipsy about three hours later.
"He called again!" yelped a coworker.
"What did your doctor say?" asked another.
"It's too early to tell," I lied.
On their insistence, I returned his call. This time he was calm and down right sheepish.
"Oh my," he confessed, "I'm so sorry to have troubled you. This whole mess is rather embarrassing."
He went on to explain how he had grown accustom to my dismissal of his sexual advances. And because of this, he had taken the matter into his own hands - literally.
To get himself in the mood, he fixed himself a bloody mary, topped it off with a limp stalk of celery, three olives and a freshly squeezed lemon. Unfortunately, he forgot to wash his hands after squeezing his lemon and before stroking his gherkin and that, coupled with a lack of lubrication, caused an irritation.
"I truly am sorry," he professed.
Without speaking a word, I hung up the phone.
The following weekend, with the sting of the troll still weighing heavily on my mind, I returned to the Georgetown Salon with a friend - intent on line dancing my cares away.
There, at a corner table, beside a roaring fire, sat a refined looking redhead and... the troll.
"He wasted no time," said my friend.
Quickly, grabbed the hostesses attention, and quizzed her on the cozy couple.
"Oh that's Mr and Mrs. Turpin," she boasted. "They're regulars here."
"Turpin?" I questioned, "Not Thompson?" I asked.
"Yes, Turpin, I'm certain" she insisted.
I marched up to the bartender and demanded clarification.
"Do you know who that is sitting with Bill?" I asked.
"Bill who?" asked the bartender.
"Bill, Bill Thompson. The man I met here. The man in the corner, with that raunchy looking redhead."
The bartender stretched his head up high, opened his eyes wide, and question, "Do you mean Bob?"
"Bob?" I asked.
"Yes, Bob. Bob Turpin"
"His names not Bill Thompson?"
"No silly," laughed the bartender.
"Who's the women with him?"
"That's his wife."
"His wi-wife!" I stammered.
"Didn't he tell you he was married," roared the bartender.
All the information I needed about the troll could have easily been uncovered, and my embarrassment could have been averted, had I taken the time to quiz the friendly, open-eared, bartender.
Turns out the trolls wife wasn't dead, she was a public relations executive for Aerosmith and often accompanied them while on tour. She had just returned from a 6 month European tour with the band and they were celebrating their reunion with a romantic dinner.
I did what any foolish, scorned woman would do - sent them over two bloody mary's, rimmed in cayenne pepper and lemon, and called it a night.