Love & Marriage Across the Hate Barrier
"I can see that Mama liked you a lot," Melissa confided as we left behind the crickets and jasmine. There was a long silence before she added, "I'm sure Papa liked you too. You just can't tell much by the way he acts. He's so corporate."
My heart sank. So that was just the way the old man treated everyone. I had been nothing more than another social obligation to be handled in a businesslike manner. I could have been Jack the Ripper and would have gotten the same cordial reception. I didn't trust myself to breathe a word just then. I was suffering too much.
"I mean, I'm sure he liked you," Melissa added a long time later. "How could he not?" Then, after another long while, "Did he say anything to you?"
"He told me to work on my second serve." I tried to sound cavalier but the words came out like a death sentence.
There never were any words of significance spoken by her father to me, ever. In the end I was more spooked by his "corporate" front than I would have been had he raged against me. And yet I found I lacked the courage to test that front to see what lay behind it. I think that's why I decided not to tell Melissa about the child before asking her to marry me. That would prove to be my big mistake. Rather than accepting right away, Melissa felt it would be better to seek her parents' blessing first. That evening she went alone to visit them. Late that night I was awakened by a call from her.
"Is it true?" she sobbed.
"Is what true?" I was barely awake, but shedding my sleepiness fast.
"That you have a child?"
"How did you find out?"
"Never mind how I found out!" she screamed and hung up. She didn't wait five minutes before calling me back. "How could you do this to me?"
"I was going to tell you..."
"When, after we're married?" She hung up on me again.
The conversation continued in this anguished fashion for another hour before I finally got dressed and drove over to her apartment, determined to resolve the impasse one way or the other. Before long we were both sobbing, alternately screaming at each other and clinging to each other. By dawn we were exhausted and confused, but agreed on one thing: her father had used investigators to dig up dirt on me, then sandbagged me in hopes I would make precisely the kind of misstep I did make. He had figured that would be the best way to kill off the relationship. Both of us were devastated by the degree of cold, calculating hatred behind her father's course of action.
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“In the end I was more spooked by his "corporate" front than I would have been had he raged against me.”
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