I should have just stayed next to him on the couch that night, but I was bored with the martial arts movie he insisted on watching. I wandered into my bedroom.
It was the first thing that I laid eyes on as I flicked on my light, sitting on my dresser next to my car keys. My heart skipped a beat.
You see, he had developed the tendency to have very private phone conversations. This was of course very intriguing to me. Several times I would get up in the middle of the night to find him talking on the phone. Other times, he would make sure to leave the room, or even take a walk outside. If I was in the room or car when he got a call, he would speak in such vague and ambiguous language I could not possibly tell who the hell he was talking to. Of course, I never asked. I knew better than to start that fight. He clearly had something to hide, and curiosity got the better of me. Just a quick look, I told myself.
I knew I had to hurry before he grew suspicious and came looking for me. I hurriedly flipped his cell phone open, praying I could figure out how to turn it on quickly. It turned out, I could.
I quickly selected the “recent calls” menu and within seconds was staring at a list of several names. My stomach recoiled as I read the most recently dialed numbers: “Tammy”, “Annie”, “Sharon” and several others I didn’t immediately recognize. I was floored.
“How could that be?” I thought to myself, frantically trying to put a logical answer together in my head. I really could not.
“Tammy” was a girlfriend that I knew about, but that he said he broke up with six months ago. So, if they were broken up – why all the calls? I supposed it was about their dog or something. I opened a text message from her from earlier that morning: “Is everything okay?” it said… I was honestly stumped.
If Tammy had been the only one who he had called, I really would not have been shocked or cared too much. After all, he was my ex – not my boyfriend. But the fact that he also had contact with the other two was extremely disturbing.
“Annie” was a girlfriend he broke up with years before I met him. I knew they were still friends, but I was surprised to see they had talked just that day. What the hell was going on?
And then, the last name. “Sharon.” That was his high school girlfriend. She was by far the most perplexing contact on the list. A wave of nausea washed over me at the realization that this girl was somehow still in the picture. The notion that he had stopped talking to her after he met me instantly vaporized into thin air, and I cursed my stupidity.
I immediately got the feeling that I may have been tangled within some kind of sick plot. It was utterly surreal and inexplicable why he would have talked to three of his ex-girlfriends, four if you include me, all that day. This was unprecedented. I felt hurt and used, but somehow my only reaction at the time was shocked laughter.
Instinctively, I grabbed a marker and wrote all three of their numbers on the back of a CD case lying nearby. I even threw in some other girls’ numbers that I didn’t recognize, for good measure. I had absolutely no plan formed to call anyone or do anything at the time. I just knew I could not waste the opportunity to record the information to possibly gain some little bit of power over him.
I walked back out to the living room and glanced at Randy, still lounging on my couch. He looked right at me. “I have to get something out of my car!” I called out nervously, as I ran outside. He shot me an odd look but kept watching his movie.
I went outside and stood next to my car and started calling people. I called my roommate Sarah at work but got voice mail. Disappointed, I hung up and tried my friend Jen. She answered on the first ring. I didn’t waste any time.
“Hey I just looked at Randy’s cell phone and he has called three of his other ex-girlfriends today. TODAY! How can that be? What planet am I on? What should I do?!” I said, out of breath. I glanced at the apartment to make sure he couldn’t hear me.
“And…you’re surprised?” Jen said, unimpressed. She had been through many tales of woe with Randy and myself and she did not like him, not one little bit.
“Well… yeah, kind of! Don’t you think that’s a bit ridiculous?”
“No, he’s an asshole.” She said, clearly unwilling to entertain any more of my “Randy” saga.
“Sarah’s calling me on the other line can I call you back?” I asked. Maybe she would be more…supportive.
“Yup. Good luck with that. Later.” Jen said and hung up.
I clicked over to the other line.
I breathlessly recounted the entire story. Before I could even finish, I got the reaction I was looking for.
“That Fucker! Holy shit! Get his ass out of my apartment! I’m fucking coming over there!” Then there was some commotion as she dropped the phone or something. I can always count on Sarah to be just a little too dramatic.
“No! I can’t do that. I can’t even tell him that I looked at his phone, or he’ll get pissed. I can’t really say anything! He’s not even my boyfriend!” I realized I truly could not do anything without looking like a lunatic.
I glanced toward my apartment building. He was walking outside onto the porch! I quickly opened the door to my car and started grabbing a bunch of random stuff. I grinned back at Randy and gave a little wave, trying to act natural.
“FUCK THAT!” my roommate shouted into my ear, continuing with her rant. She had seen me get hurt before by his actions, and was obviously of the opinion that I should not give him the time of day.
“Listen, he’s coming out here, I’ll talk to you about this later okay?” I whispered. I hung up while she was still talking.
I looked up at Randy smiling at me from up under the porch light. I just wanted him to stay with there with me, regardless of anyone else in the world. My addiction to him needed to be satisfied. At least he was there with me, for the moment. I couldn’t let him go yet. I still couldn’t bring myself to push him away.
From the very first day I met him, I was head over heels infatuated. He was charming and sexy and he was my first love. But at the same time I had a subconscious awareness that I could not fully trust him. And I could never put my finger on why. It grated at me, inspiring jealousy, suspicion and making me feel insane. I wanted to trust him more than anything in the world.
Since we broke off our "official" relationship status 5 years prior, I never really knew what was happening in his personal life anymore. I knew that he was likely dating other people, but I was under the impression there was no one serious. He tried to hide it from me as long as he could, but over time it was revealed he was in a much more committed relationship with Tammy than I thought. I still wanted him back so much, as badly as the day we broke up. He always said he still loved and missed me too, we would talk on the phone for hours and we would fly back and forth to visit each other every few months. While staying at his house in Florida over the years, I could see that no one was living with him. However, he would always have to "run errands" and would go off alone for 2 or 3 hours at a time. I was a complete fool.
Despite his unclear relationship status with Tammy, my involvement with Randy continued. The following January, he came up for another visit.
This time the visit only lasted about a week, and at first it was just like old times. As days went on he started to pick little fights with me, accusing me of this and that or saying hurtful things to start a conflict. He was making many private telephone calls. I knew what was happening. He was apparently done with this particular visit, and starting a fight was his way out. He knew that leaving me suddenly was the worst punishment of all. Maybe he would call me up the next day. Or maybe he would vanish for 6 months.
He stormed out of my apartment, on foot, disappearing just as fast as he came. In desperation, I ran after him and blurted out that I had found phone numbers during his last visit and I threatened to call Tammy. I threatened to tell her he was in Maine with me and also tell her her about the other phone numbers I found. I told him that I did not believe that they were broken up, and I began to cry. He did not like this. He looked me straight in the eye, arrogant and defiant, and proclaimed that he did not give a damn who I called, because he could convince any girl in mere seconds that I was nothing but a psychotic liar. He laughed in my face and told me Tammy, and anyone else for that matter, would take him right back. I did not know what else to say. As I watched him walking away from me I saw him pull out his cell phone.
I wondered just how long my beloved had been a vicious wolf in sheep’s clothing.
It was the next day when I called Tammy.
I had first spoken to Tammy the previous October, right after I initially found her phone number in Randy’s cell. That time, I made an anonymous call to her and asked her if he was her boyfriend. I just wanted to know either way, and I wanted the answer from her, not him. However, she would not answer my question and instead demanded to know my identity. I became flustered and muttered “never mind” as I hung up on her. This time I was driven by sorrow and anger.
As I dialed the number, I envisioned that Tammy would tell me off right before she hung up on me. When she answered, just in case, I barraged her with a torrent of information right of the bat. Somehow, within 20 seconds of hearing her say “hello” I rattled off everything that had happened between Randy and me -- behind her back -- over the prior couple years.
When I finally stopped talking, she did not scream at me, but calmly said: “I know about you. He told me about you.” Then Tammy began asking some questions of her own.
“What day did you say you picked him up at the airport? Where do you live? When did he leave?” I could practically hear the wheels turning in her head as she listened to my answers. Her questions seemed specifically geared toward proving or disproving some piece of information that Randy had told her. I started to relax, thinking she would surely believe me, and if I was “lucky” she would never speak to him again. But out of nowhere, her questions turned personal.
“If he is so awful to you, why do you keep trying to see him? Aren’t you dating anyone else?”
I was not prepared for those questions. I rushed to come up with any answer that sounded plausible.
“I don’t know – I’m in love with him… I can’t help it… And yes, I have been with other people since we broke up but nothing as serious…Randy stays in my life just enough to fuck with my head. I don’t know...I don’t know why…” I was unimpressed with my own response, and realized there was not really a good answer to that question.
Tammy then shocked me by saying: “Well, maybe he knows what he’s doing and that’s why you haven’t moved on...maybe he isn’t letting it happen.” She sounded angry. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t defending him.
We talked a bit longer and she said she was going to call Randy at his sister’s house in Maine and confront him, and call me back to tell me what he said. I knew he was going to be furious…
Later that day, I was sitting in my room with my sister when Tammy called back. I sucked in my breath.
“She’s calling back.” My sister said, clearly amused as she glanced at the Florida area code flashing across the screen of my cell phone. I grabbed the phone from her hand and stared at it. It was still ringing.
“Hello?” I said into the phone, trying my best to sound totally casual, with maybe just a hint of boredom. There was a brief pause. My heart pounded.
“Um…Hi…it’s Tammy.” I felt a surge of adrenaline rushing through my veins.
“So did you talk to him? What did he say?” I asked, although deep down I knew what the answer was probably going to be…
“Um, well, he said…” she hesitated.
My mind started to wander as she gave the expected response. While at his house during the last visit, I saw her picture. She was blond with long, mascaraed eyelashes and shiny lip gloss. I wondered why he said in the past that blondes were "not his type." I wanted to know if he was really a liar.
Tammy was still talking as I snapped back to attention. “…he said you are lying…he said he has only been at his sister’s since he got to Maine. He said you are talking to his friends online to find out when he is going to be up there and that’s the only reason you even know he is there…”
She continued talking, reciting Randy’s carefully-calculated tale of how I was “stalking” him. I had to give him credit for being so committed to his lie. He was determined to beat me and this was playing out exactly like he said it would. This was clearly his game, not mine, and I was going to be the loser.
I tried to explain things to her. “Whatever. I told you he would say that! I told you he would. You know, you can believe anything you want. I just wanted to let you know that this has been going on since last summer. He’s the one that’s lying, but whatever. We’ve been sleeping together all the time and he’s been saying he still loves me and he never stopped, blah, blah, blah, and stupid me believes him. Then he just disappears without speaking to me when he’s done with me. He said I should move back to Florida so we can get back together. He said if I were there, he would be with me. He said all that stuff and I believed him. He’s ruining me…whatever…he said the only reason he even sees you anymore is because of your dog.”
My voice trailed off and I made a mental note to quit saying “whatever” so many times, like a moron. I was losing my cool. I took a deep breath.
“No. We are together…” she mumbled.
The words made me cringe. Tammy didn’t say anything else and I could sense she didn’t know what the hell to believe at that moment. I really didn’t either. Why should she believe me? A rude girl who stole her phone number and called her out of the blue to announce that she was screwing her boyfriend?
“Just realize that every single time he comes to Maine, we hook up. It’s the absolute truth.” I said to her. “He told me you guys broke up last year.”
“Yeah, for like a month!” she said exasperated, obviously pissed.
I started to wonder why I even bothered to “warn” Tammy about Randy in the first place. What was I even thinking? I obviously just wanted to get even with him for hurting me. Maybe I just wanted her to be miserable, because that’s what I was. I was complaining to her about her own boyfriend, and I suddenly realized: Why should she care about my problem? She obviously has enough of her own…
She sighed into the phone. I continued with my pleading, not having a clue as to how to convince her that I wasn’t crazy.
“I swear he was here, okay? Believe what you want but I…I have pictures of us from Friday!” I blurted out, suddenly recalling the only shred of evidence I had to offer. “Did you see what he did to his hair right before he came up here?” I asked.
Since Randy had recently been released from the military he was no longer required to get a haircut. Apparently, he decided to exercise this right for several months. When I picked him up at the airport the week before, he was sporting hair that was twisted into several dozen tiny little points all over his head. Despite the shock of seeing my normally hot ex-boyfriend in this condition, I decided to still let him in the car - but quickly asked about the monstrosity happening on top of his head. He claimed to be starting a set of dreadlocks. Later, my brilliant camera-happy roommate snapped a bunch of photos of the three of us (me, Randy, and the hair.)
“How did you know about that hair!?” asked Tammy after a brief pause. Bingo, I thought. I knew I got her as the sound of her voice revealed that she must have seen “Spike” right before he flew up.
“She was probably the one that did his hair like that” whispered my sister, laughing. I elbowed her, signaling her to shut up.
“Yeah, I knew about the hair. What’s your email address?” I said authoritatively, smug over the ingenious introduction of the photo into evidence. I was about to expose and prove Randy’s lie. I wondered if she would dump him for good this time (as I still secretly hoped.)
“Okay, yeah, can you send it to me? My address is, um, Tammy Sue, T-A-M-M-Y, S-U-E, twenty four, one word, no, wait, UNDERSCORE, then twenty four, so, yeah, Tammy-Sue-Underscore-Twenty-four, got that? At aol.com…”
I rolled my eyes as I jotted down what I judged to be the stupidest email address ever created. I started wondering what Randy saw in her, but soon found myself wondering what she saw in him. I was sure the Randy that was her boyfriend was probably a complete reinvention of the Randy I knew.
Tammy and I ended that second conversation once I had agreed to email her the incriminating pictures. I also told her about the other girls' phone numbers and that I suspected he was messing around with other women too. After that, Tammy and I never spoke again.
I sat down on my bed feeling defeated, wondering where the sense of vindication was that I was expecting. I felt nothing but foolishness.
The following month, I found out - via Myspace - that Tammy was pregnant with his child and they were getting married.
Shortly thereafter he cut me out of his life for good.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Seacoaster (author) on July 24, 2020:
OMG you’re him, aren’t you