I was so excited about Thanksgiving. It had been a long time, I think, but I was finally going to meet Calvin's parents. I'm not sure how long that usually takes - my only real previous experience dating was in high school and everyone kind of knows everyone in that town - but given that he met Momma Kamen and Karla pretty quickly, it sure seemed like we were lagging behind on that count. I know we're more local, and I never had the feeling that he had to tiptoe around me being black or having a kid, so maybe it wasn't anything important.
I did make sure I packed the sort of dress I could wear to church, though, and spent more time on what shoes to bring than I ever thought I would as a kid. Even shoes with just a couple inches of heel take up space in a suitcase! I almost considered a perm or pulling out the wig I inherited, but, nah. They're going to have to get to know the real me soon enough. I get Moira bundled up and we head to Calvin's apartment.
He doesn't say anything when we ring the bell, just buzzes us up, which isn't the usual but not weird enough to notice. I do notice that the TV's on and he's not already in his coat, and ask if we're early.
"No, Kiki, you're right on time."
I do that thing where you pull your head back in confusion. "What's with the new nickname? Is that how you've been referring to me when talking to your folks or something?"
"You know what it is." I must still look confused, because he hits a button on his remote, and then a video starts playing. I recognize his friend Big Stu and a couple of other folks from that guy's Halloween party, but I can't really see where they are until someone says to put your hands together for Kinky Kiki, the phone swims around to capture a stage with a pole, and just as I realize what's about to happen, the original Krystle struts out in a sexy schoolgirl outfit while that old "Hot For Teacher" song plays.
I quickly move my attention to my daughter. "Moira, go in the kitchen and play!"
Her eyes are glued to the screen. "Mommy..."
"That's right, Moira, that's your Mommy."
I've barely got time to shoot Calvin a dirty look before squatting down and turning my daughter away from the TV, then unlocking my phone and giving it to her with one of her favorite games opened. "Moira, go play. This is grown-up stuff." She looks upset, but does it, dragging her feet.
I'm furious as I turn to Calvin, nothing on my mind but why he would want to embarrass me like that in front of my daughter. I'm about to ask that very question when he says that this is his favorite part.
Apparently this was Stu's friend Ned's bachelor party, and Krystle is leaning over, pushing her breasts right into the groom-to-be's face, her blouse already on the floor. Someone is sticking a five-dollar bill into her bra, and she's licking her lips.
In that moment, I can't imagine how Calvin thinks that's me. I don't think I've ever had that expression on my face, her arms are skinny, she's got no abs, her breasts haven't been through nursing, her hair is straight and she's wearing a ton of makeup, and even when I've got heels on, my butt doesn't do what hers is doing as she walks. I actually say "that's not me", not loud, but to myself, the way I used to when looking in the mirror.
Calvin doesn't get that, of course. "Of course it's you! Stu thought he recognized you right away but wasn't sure until he remembered the video, which he sent to me with a giant thumbs-up." He crosses his arms and glares at me, although his eyes are also dating to the screen where Krystle is twerking in her pleated skirt.
I take a deep breath and try to center myself. It's been a while since I really had to worry about Krystle's history, but I used to, and I'm not a scared kid anymore. "Okay," I say, "I used to do that. It's not like I wasn't ever going to tell you, it's just, you know, not the sort of thing that comes up in everyday conversation. It's not me, you know, any more." I smile nervously, hoping this is where he sees how embarrassed I am and forgives me this little white lie.
It is not. If anything, he looks angrier.
"I think it is. I think you've just been leading me on because you accidentally wound up with a kid and you think I'm stepdad material."
"What? No! I mean, you are stepdad material, and we probably wouldn't still be going out if you weren't, but that's just something you think about when you've got a daughter, you know?"
"Drop the act!"
"What act? This is me! That on the video is the act!" Well, maybe it wasn't at the time, but it sure would be now.
"Riiiiiiight. You just somehow got bad at walking in heels and doing your makeup and everything by the time you met me. And suddenly your father was part of your life until recently, and you'd always gone to church, and only had sex that one time you got knocked up!"
"I--" All of that was true, which was why it was how I always talked about my life with him, but it was not true for the original Krystle. "I wasn't pretending. I can't explain it to you, but I wasn't pretending. I woke up different one day, and I literally couldn't live like I had been. You won't believe me, but I didn't know how to be that kind of girl."
"Just stop lying! I wouldn't have cared that you used to strip, but this whole alternate reality you made to seduce me is sick!"
"I didn't try to seduce you! We just met and liked each other! Are you going to say I picked your pocket so that I could look all innocent returning your book to you?"
"That would explain a lot!"
"Are you kidding me with this? Do you really think I saw you at the RMV and made an immediate plan to land the intern by pretending that I'm no good in bed?" Sure, this made a lot more sense than what really happened, but it sounded stupid too!
And I was just angry, too angry to be smart. Everyone else I know who has been someone else for over four years seems like they've figured out how to make some explanation up for this on the fly, but I haven't. Plus, I was being called some sort of scheming, deceptive woman for actually being as honest as I could with him, and it just made me angry.
Plus, the whole thing got kind of, I don't know, gross at one point, like now that the idea of slutty Krystle was in his head, he kind of wanted that, asking why I've been holding out on him.
Suffice it to say, we didn't wind up going to his folks for Thanksgiving, and it felt really lonely - Momma Kamen had decided to pick up some overtime since Karla and I would both be with our guys, and of course everybody else had plans. I was halfway through dialing my father's number, but then I found myself debating what would be worse - nobody else being there, so I could be lectured about how they had told me that staying Krystle would end in tears, or friends who wouldn't believe I was Jonah even if we told them, meaning I have to pretend to be some black-sheep cousin, and agent I trying to avoid lying?
Fortunately, it's not a big deal to Little Moira, especially since we could watch the dog show and the rerun of the parade. I even talked myself into it actually being pretty cool to have pizza delivered for Thanksgiving dinner, especially since, as a woman, I was probably going to get put to work in the kitchen otherwise.
That lasted right up until Moira asked how the trip went. I tried to play it cool, like some minor incident had kept it from happening, since I was hoping that maybe Calvin would call and say he'd overreacted, but then more came out. I honestly couldn't remember whether I'd ever told Moira about the stripper stuff, but she was awesome about not acting like it was a big deal either way. Thankfully, she knows better than to try and cheer me up with spa days or the like, but she is great about asking how I doing when she sees me, and getting me out of the house to do stuff with her namesake.
And then, last night, I finished up work, sat down at the bar for a second, and just started crying like I haven't since realizing I was pregnant.
Fortunately, Ashlyn was working the bar, so I could tell her absolutely everything. She patted my back a few times, and finally said she sometimes forgets I'm so young and skipped a bunch of steps. "This is your first hard breakup, isn't it?"
"I... I guess?"
"Well, I'm not going to say it necessarily gets easier with practice, but look at it this way. You're getting a lot of your learning done at once. First breakup period, first as a woman, first because you're not quite the woman you appear to be..."
"There will be more?"
She choked back a laugh. "Oh, honey, you didn't think you were going to marry the first guy who was nice to you, did you?"
"Oh, no, trust me, just having been men doesn't mean we're going to be good at this - God, look at me! I should be where Penny is by now, but... It's hard, kid.
"But I didn't--"
"Yeah, I know. I hate to say better luck next time, because it sounds flip, but I'm guessing you're not going to quit."
She's right, of course, although I don't know that I need to get back out there right this minute. Let me get through the holidays and then worry about being back on track by Valentine's Day.