“Whatever you do, stay away from Hal Wallace,” he said as he drove. “Half the women will be ex-wives and the other half he’s dated… and they’re all still mad at him!” Peter laughed and Judy nodded. Hal was the noted compulsive liar of my sister’s social network.
I’ve had experience with this. Saw that movie and the sequel. I planned to stay as far away as possible from Hal Wallace. Who needs that in their life? Then I saw him. Hard as steel, wide chested in what was easily a six hundred dollar shirt perfectly fitted over abs. His shoes probably cost a week of my salary. He smiled and checked me from top to bottom, lingered his eyes on the interesting parts. Of course he did, I was probably the only woman at the party who would speak to him.
NO man had a right to be that handsome and he was so annoyingly comfortable with his sexiness. That’s the difference between men and women. Females obsess about slight perceived flaws but a handsome man knows when he’s got it. He is confident in his stature. Hal leaned against the doorframe hips jutted forward, fingers combed through silvery brown curls. Dark seductive eyelashes framed cool green eyes.
So I did what any gal should do when confronted with that much pheromone and aftershave… I ignored him… and it just about drove him crazy when I didn’t perform the anticipated acts of gaping and drool.
“This is Judy’s sister, Anna. Anna, Hal.”
“Nice to meet you.” I made to turn but he grasped my hand. His left embraced my forearm and a thousand tiny sparks grazed my skin like neurons afire. God almighty, this man had it going on. “Have you seen the garden? It’s beautiful this time of year.” He smiled with perfectly whitened teeth.
“Hey Judy,” I yelled, “Hal wants to show me the garden. Should I go with him?”
“No,” echoed the room, half seemed disgusted, the other half laughed.
He dogged me, as I dodged him. Not because I was special but because I was uninterested. That piqued his curiosity. That made me prey.
I admit that I enjoyed the game, but I am sooo over gorgeous men who think they own the world. Beauty is mostly an accident of birth. I want a man of substance, one who has acquired wisdom and kindness, not a border-line narcissist with evocative body language and insufferable pick-up lines.
I made quick getaway to the car to have a toke. Hal appeared out of nowhere and asked if I’d share. I handed him the vape. “This is my car,” he said, pointed to an E Class and expected me to be impressed.
“Couldn’t you find a reliable car like a Honda?” I asked acerbically.
“It’s a beautiful car.” He opened the driver’s door. “Just sit in it.”
“I don’t think so.” I shut the car door admiring the solid sound of German precision, and I was suddenly in his arms, kissing, kissing this handsome liar and enjoying it way more than a reasonable woman should have. I can never trust me on pot.
That’s how it started but I knew his game. There was no chance that I would ever love him. He had none of the qualities I’d look for in a friend, never mind a lover. But what was the harm? No one would get hurt. Hal was the kind of man that you had fun with but you didn’t get serious about.
That was four years ago. We have been occasional lovers for longer than most of his marriages have lasted. We have a great time. He’s a good date, great chemistry and once I learned to live with the lying, I was fine with it. I even thought it was funny and I would make up comeback lies just to amuse myself, to make fun of him. Sometimes I thought it was cute. Awe he made that up just to make me think he’s a better person, how sweet is that?
Last week he called me. “Anna, I, umm, I have FTD,” he said.
“What do you mean? You have an STD???”
“Not STD, FTD, you know, like the bread truck?”
“You mean like the florist?”
“That’s what I mean,” he said.
Oh, crap, my heart sank as I Googled it, Frontotemporal Dementia and he probably has had it for years. He fit the profile, a lack of empathy, an inability to connect, filling in memory loss with blocks of trying to sound normal. All the times that I’d laughed at the absurdity of his lies I’d been laughing at his illness. All the people who scorned his behavior loathed his disease. And it illustrated to me exactly why I should not pre-judge.
“I am so sorry.”
“I know. It sucks.”
“Hal,” I said. “I’m your friend and I will stick by you with this.” We ended the call and I cried. For the first time in four years I knew that I did in fact… love this man… just enough to make my heart ache.