There was a painter, a wall painter. He worked for the County of Utah, like I did. He was an older guy, 35 probably to my 27. He used to come on to me. I laughed it off. One day it occurred to me that maybe he wasn't joking. I firmly let him know that I was a happily married woman. He said he was just joking. But the joking stopped after that.
One day he came by my office and asked if I had ever been on the roof. I said, "No." He offered to take me up. Said it was a lot of fun. I liked going to the unnormal parts of buildings. (One of my dates with my soon-to-be-husband had been a romp through the fine arts building on the campus of Brigham Young University.) So, I went up to the roof with him. It was a sunny Utah day and he pointed out some buildings that were landmarks to him. I just looked around. I loved the perspective of being high up and seeing things in a way that I normally didn't. He joked around and then made some advances. I declined. I told him I wanted to go back down the stairs. He got real serious and said, "I have a bet with a friend that I couldn't get you up on the roof. I have to stay up here a certain amount of time or I lose the bet." I went along. We stood quietly as he looked at his watch and then said, "Okay. We can go now."
Months later I gave birth to my first child, a boy. Before returning to full-time work I took my son in to meet my co-workers. I traipsed all over the building showing him to one and then another person. Women love babies, you know. The comments were pretty much, "Wow! He looks just like his Daddy!" and "No doubt about who's the father. Who's the mother?" We all laughed.
One woman asked if this was indeed my son. I thought that an odd question but just said, yes, this is my baby. I didn't really know her. She worked in another department somewhere. It wasn't until today as I was looking back on this episode that a different more sinister view of that comment presented itself to me. The painter had been telling tales. My husband had never liked the painter, which I couldn't understand as the painter was basically jolly and harmless. Now I know why.
About 5 years ago, the man I had lived with for 14 years following my divorce left me. I've never really known why. I had noticed that he had been a bit distant since a trip to Maine the preceeding summer but he never said anything. Seven months after he left me he married another woman. Six weeks after his wedding I was feeling down and called his mother hoping she could give me some insight into why her son had left me. We chatted. I finally broke down and sobbed for about 20 minutes.
I told her ever since that trip to Maine the previous summer something had been going on with her son. Something had happened.
"Oh, you think so do you??" she asked with a hint of anger as if I had done something and was trying to cover it up.
"Yes," I said. "I don't know what happened."
"Oh, you don't do you?"
"No. I really don't. Do you?"
There was a pause. "Well, maybe you didn't..." Then, "Well, it's too late now!"
At the time I was too upset to give it much thought but when I related this story to someone else I could see that my friend's mother had been covering up something.
During that summer we were in Maine I had made a plan (which I was very open about from the beginning) to take a hike up a mountain around the middle of the week to just get away. I'm an introvert. I need to be alone, especially when I'm packed in a trailer surrounded non-stop by people 24/7.
Comes the day for the hike, hope springs eternal that my friend will come with me. "No," he says. He's staying home with his mother. "Okay," I say. I take the car, drive to a park not far away, and hike up the mountain.
It was a lovely sunny day. The sky was clear and blue. When I got to the top of the mountain there was a beautiful view to enjoy and I was quite alone. On the way up, I had seen a couple with a child and a few solitary hikers. At the top I saw no one. I sat and enjoyed the view for a long time. Finally, some random guy in hiking boots and a backpack came by and kept on going through the trees. I looked in the direction where he had gone and saw that there was a dirt road with a building of some type next to it. Pretty stupid. I hike up the mountain and there's a road that goes right to the top! Next to the masonry hut was an old red pickup truck. An older man, some kind of construction worker type, was getting in the truck. He looked once at me, got in the truck and drove off.
When I got back to the trailer, my friend asked me about my hike but he didn't seem very interested in the actual details of the hike itself. He asked who I had seen and I remember him describing someone to me and asking if I had seen him. I thought that odd. I hadn't seen the person. He asked me twice. He seemed irritated and it made no sense.
Apparently someone had been telling tales about me. Tales that my friend and his mother (who knows everything that happens in her part of Maine) believed. Some one they trusted.
A couple of summers ago I found a screw in my tire. I had parked on the street a mile away from the office. Screws don't just screw themselves all the way into your tire. Apparently someone is still telling tales about me.
Nothing has happened recently. Given my track record I don't think I'm due at the moment. But you can never tell. If you hear anything, let me know.