You had to be very careful with her. Watch what you said. Walk on eggshells. She’d blow her top if you took what she perceived to be any little misstep, believe you me. It had gotten increasing embarrassing really.
At the time.
I hadn’t seen her for what, two or three years? Yes things got a bit tense between us back then, what with arguments welling up over everything and her getting into the habit of causing a spectacle most anywhere she went. She’d gotten so edgy that she took everything personally, from her day-to-day encounters with friends and family, random people on the street and to even the news, cussing out pundits and politicians and ranting and raving at the TV about the coming end of things as she saw it. Everything had started off harmless enough between us, but oh, what’s that expression?: The people you love the most are the ones you know the least?
It wasn’t easy to finally put it all behind me.
I went to a Chamber of Commerce banquet last night. I went straight from the office, being there was no time to take the ride home to change and regroup, plus it was on the way. It’s been nice to be so active again. I mean after being sick for so long and feeling hopeless for so long. That’s when I spent the most time with Belinda, back when I was sick. That’s when I learned that our world views were so different as to be irreconcilable.
That’s how it happens sometimes, right?
I walked into the banquet room to the usual faces, the local bankers and realtors and mom and pops and townsfolk. Tonight the local United Way director was on the slate to give a presentation. The group had been working hard to educate the community on their goals and accomplishments and because they were struggling to stay afloat, the evening was also a fundraiser. When I walked in that’s when I noticed her. Belinda that is. She was sitting up in the front row. I was surprised to see her here of all places and made way toward her.
“Belinda, how are you?”
She certainly was dressed for the part. Corporate attire, coiffed and on stage. “Theo, is that really you?” She rubbed her eyes to focus, and stood up and threw her arms around my neck. “I’d wondered where you’d been hiding. As a matter of fact I just asked Trish about you the other day and she said you upped and disappeared on everyone.” She stepped back and looked me up head to toe, a smile and a glow on her face.
Not the reception I would have expected.
“Of course Belinda it’s me. I must say you do look terrific.” She was still smiling. “You haven’t aged a bit. If anything you look like you’ve drunk from the Fountain of Youth!”
It was the truth.
She liked all this and the smile was genuine too, I could see in her eyes. “Well things have changed a lot since I last saw you, no doubt, Theo.” She shook her head in the affirmative for what seemed a little too long and put her mouth to my ear and whispered, “I’ve gotten away from my old negative self. I’ve been transformed.”
We took our seats. Me next to Belinda on one side and a couple of fancy broker types I didn’t know on the other. And those guys seemed to be quite smitten with Belinda too, the three very chummy and animated. We sat through the introductions, presentation and question and answer period and then broke for dinner.
Belinda tailed after the two broker types and I tucked into the restroom for number one before I joined the big schmoozathon in the dining room. I wasn’t a big fan of these type of networking events generally, but must admit that once I get into it I ‘m always glad I went. Tonight particularly, as the room was filled with the who’s who of our modest business community as well as elected officials. On my way back through the crowd I saw Belinda standing at the start of the buffet line, lingering, surveying the room. There really is something different about her I can’t put my finger on it. She’s so flashy, so gregarious. That’s so out of character for her.
It reminded me of when we first met.
I got in line for the buffet, put some fruit and cheese on a plate and Belinda was upon me. “Theo you look good. Are you still sick?”
“No Belinda, I’m much better now.”
“I’ve learned that you probably brought that on yourself Theo. I’ve taken some really good seminars lately that have changed my life.” Her tone was casual and light. “I mean all your bad luck Theo. It’s because of your negativity.”
I put some shrimp cocktail on my plate and turned around and looked at her. “My negativity?” I busted out laughing at the inanity of this. “Now isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black? My Lord Belinda, how could you say such a thing?” It was ridiculous.
I shook my head as I piled on some chicken barbecue.
“Why are you laughing Theo? It’s true. It was your negativity.”
“Belinda, I have to say. It was a miserable time when I was with you, I mean you were miserable. Nothing made you happy. And I wasn’t so great myself. I’ve been trying to just forget about the whole thing.”
“No, I mean what I’m saying Theo. Haven’t you heard about The Secret? Those are the seminars I’ve been taking. Your negativity attracted me back then. That’s the Law of Attraction I’ve learned.” She asked the chef behind the buffet line to carve her some prime rib. “I was so negative and bad off myself ya know, so that’s all I was attracting. Well I’ve got positive thinking now Theo and it’s like a fire raging inside me. The world is my oyster now.”
How does one respond to this?
I found a seat and dug into the grub. They put on quite a spread this Chamber, I guess my two-hundred dollars a year pays for something other than lobbying huh? Belinda came up to the table, with her broker types in tow. “You don’t mind if we sit here do you Theo?” They sat and I couldn’t help but gaze at Belinda. She looked so beautiful and yes, happy. She was making quips and keeping the broker types laughing and was charming all around.
“Theo, this is Mark and Dennis, from over at Jones Harrington”? I nodded at them. “They know about the Law of Attraction too and it’s made them RICH!” They were grinning and laughing and shaking their heads in agreement.
The band started playing and a couple got up to dance. Belinda leaned into me, her green eyes inches from mine. “Theo I should have treated you better. I should have had higher expectations for you. Then I could have positively influenced your reality .” She paused and was reading my face. “I probably contributed to you getting sicker Theo. I shoulda remembered Pygmalion.”
Okay now this is just too weird.
“Belinda, this is just too weird. What the hell are you talking about?”
“Theo don’t think you’re a bad person because of how bad things are for you. Like attracts like ya know. It’s a universal law.” She paused while I chewed on some shrimp.
And she eyeballed me.
I tried to keep my voice even and spoke slowly and with deliberation. I didn’t want to rattle her chain. “Belinda, if everything’s so wonderful for you and I’m such a bad person and now you have The Secret and like attracts like, then why are you sitting here talking to me?”
She sat back and folded her arms and looked at me with exasperation. This was the EXACT look I remember- the hot under the collar, incredulous look. “Theo I can see you haven’t changed a bit.” Her glow was now gone and to be honest, it scared me. She began raising her voice. “Why don’t you try changing your frequency and thinking positively already? What’s wrong with you? Our thoughts are magnets Theo, can’t ya see? Your thoughts are BAD Theo and that’s why you’ve always been unhappy and will always be unhappy.”
She turned to the broker types who were now rapt with attention.
I picked up my fork, looked down at my plate, dug into my barbecue and said with my mouth full, “I haven’t changed a bit Belinda?”
She always hated when I talked with my mouth full.
I haven’t seen her since that night. And even now, this many years later, what stands out most isn’t pretty. What I learned is that some people are just rotten to the core, no matter how they try to package it. You know what I mean? They’ll rot your core too if you let them. There’s no other explanation for it is how I see it. Just rotten to the core I’m sorry to say.
Isn’t it a shame when we lose our innocence?