July 18, 2018: The Day I Got Dumped, Hit On, and Disowned (Part 2)

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As I drove Dad's car home, I daydreamed about turning onto Highway 20 and driving straight west through the mountains, not stopping until I hit the Oregon coast. There I would sit on the rocky cliffs and let the sounds of the rustling trees and crashing waves drown out every stressful thought in my head. Lured into a peaceful nap by the warm sun, I'd forget all about my disappointed hopes and my soon-to-be disappointed family.

I didn't want to face Dad and listen to him say, "I told you so." I didn't want to face Mom and tell her she'd have to choose between The Burbs or The Bridge. Most of all, I didn't want anyone on planet Earth to find out that Winston Collins declared his love for me by quoting extensively from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Maybe in a year or two, I'll be able to tell the story of The Self-Help Seranade at parties, and it will be hilarious. But right now my failure is too humiliating, and the consequences of it are too serious, for even me to laugh about.

How could Winston believe I had a crush on him? Was it my fault? Had I flirted with him unintentionally? Sure, I'd gone out of my way to curry his favor. I flattered him. I baked his favorite dessert. I invited him to a party. But if bending over backwards to be nice to someone means a woman is in love, then every woman in America must be in love with all of her neighbors, her kids' teachers, her bosses, and her in-laws.

No, Winston's bizarre interpretation of my actions wasn't my fault. I was angry at myself for even considering whether it was my fault. It was one-hundred percent Winston's fault for believing that Mars and Venus drivel.

Although, as I discovered when I stepped into the kitchen at home, the misunderstanding might not have been one-hundred percent Winston's fault, after all.

Mom shuffled back and forth on the tile, her purple robe billowing behind her. She said into the phone, "No no no, Winston. Lizzie is head over heels for you! She can't stop talking about how wonderful you are! She's just painfully shy around men, the poor thing."

I dropped my purse on the table with a thud. I should have known. There isn't a thought in Winston's head that wasn't put there by someone else, whether it's Catherine de Bourgh, Stephen Covey...or Lucy Bennet.

"Oh no no no, she didn't mean any of that! She said she ran away because she was overwhelmed with happiness. Yes, yes...she'll call you soon. I'll make sure of it."

Mom hung up and rounded on me. "I'm disappointed in you, Lizzie. You're supposed to be the smart one."

"Not smart enough to figure out what was going on. How long have you been whispering in Winston's ear, undermining me?"

"I'm not 'undermining' you. I'm helping you. Did you really believe Winston would give us a hundred thousand dollars for a cherry pie? Don't be stupid."

Kitty and Lydia slunk into the kitchen in their pajamas, yawning and stretching. "What stupid thing did Lizzie do now?" Lydia asked.

Mom answered, "She doomed us all to a life on the streets, that's what. She chased Winston Collins away, and now he'll never give us that loan."

Through gritted teeth I said, "He was the one doing all the chasing. I did the best I could to convince him to help, but he wasn't interested in anything I had to say."

Mom said, "Of course he wasn't interested in your words. The only two things that interest a man are power and sex. If you want to get something out of him, you have to offer him one or the other."

"I'm not going to trade sex for a mortgage! That's insane!"

"Oh, Lizzie." Mom shook her head as if she pitied me. "With your skills, how else are you going to get a roof over your head?"

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