Ruby Tuesday

Tuesday was my first league match day. The only agenda on my schedule was a lunch with another group of tennis lunatics. But my little crackblackberry gone mad the night before, refusing to wake up no matter how loud I yelled and how hard I shaken it. When the phone carrier told me that either wait for them to mail me one or go to Hicksville to pick up one. I opted to pick up. Can one live without a phone for a day or two nowadays? The replacement of the crackberry wasn’t new nor whole: they used my old battery and old cover. Lord, they’re cheap but I was thankful that I have something in hand.

Tuesday should have been a relaxing day before the night match. When I rushed to the buffet restaurant after picking up the cracks few players were already seated and eating. Among them was someone I wasn’t expected to be seeing. Ok, someone I didn’t want to see for we broke up in an ugly fashion more than two decades ago. I marched into the small alcove and sat at the larger different table and immediately engulfed with my buddies. In between bits and chats, I managed a few words with my buddy about my old feuds. Next time I looked, my former roommate was gone.

Our relationship started off fabulously. I shared my friends. When we cooked too much for dinner, Eric (my pseudo brother) would be called. Our little dingy apt was often packed with orphans like us – Chinese transplants. I learned how to cook 白切鸡 from her – just dip the bird into the hot water!! We had fun.
When Golfer called for the first date, she was next to the phone.
Golfer: “.. let’s go to a light show after dinner at amnh ..”
“Ok, we’ll go to the live show.” Light into my ear, after the processor it became live out of my mouth. I thought I said light. My language skill has always been superb.
Then I saw her eyebrows rose up considerably.
After I hung up she said in disbelieve, “this is the guy you met .. but you said he’s very nice ..”
Still had no clue, I defended him, “Of course he’s nice .. ”
“Do you know what a live show is?” Light or live, it beats out the chess club outing by large margin. Oh well, this blog isn’t about my dating ..

One winter day she was sick with flu and overworked so I made chicken soup for her .. few days later she took us out for dinner to reciprocate. Those kind exchanges happened often between us. Personally I did it for the joy of caring for a friend. At the bill time, she insisted to pay for it, citing she had few comps from work from overtime, would expire if unused.
(Later when things didn’t go well between us, she would telling everybody that she not had to buy me dinner but my boy friend also. This, did NOT sit well with me. Golfer isn’t a free loader .. ..)

Around that time, she decided to buy a house and asked me to lend her money for down payment. She also asked Eric. Although I could only fork over a meager amount but I was more than happy to help her out anyway I could.

One day she sat in the living room red eyed. It turned out the land lord was giving her hard time for moving out; withholding her deposits unless certain conditions were met. It was the clueless Irene went to bat for her, telling the landlord she was wrong should refund my roommate’s money immediately. ya da ya da ya da “Mom, don’t bother with her, I’ll call the policy .. ” The old woman’s daughter threatened me.
“Go ahead.. ” Guess I was a raging bull. The old woman told me to get lost and shut her door on my face. I often dumbfounded by my own little heroic doings for I neither possess the size to intimidate nor the oration to negotiate.

Anyway, it went without saying that we (another friend Alan and I) would all move to Bayside with her, regardless the inconvenience of transportation, etc. to help her out as renters. Once she became the landlord, things changed drastically. Our rent didn’t include electricity. In the winter, she won’t supply enough heat. The remedy? She bought electricity heaters for each room. On top of the over charged rent. I didn’t find this out until I moved out that Alan checked around and realized the rent in that area was far less for what she was charging us. He soon moved out too.

I didn’t remember what prompt our blow out. Perhaps the built up over the months. The following day after our fight she came home and returned my money.
“Irene, here is your money, with interest.” When she saw my distort face, she asked,
“You don’t think it’s right?” She arrogantly pointed to numbers listed on the piece of paper:
“I checked money market interest rates over the past few months. I’m repaying you with interests.” Then added,
“If you don’t like it here, feel free to move out.”

I was mad and hurt. It was like you handed your heart out on a plate but the receiver knocked it to the floor without any appreciation. I didn’t lend her money to earn the interests. The bank paid far better interests. It was really out of friendship.
On another thought: if she could secure the money from the bank, would she have borrowed from friends?
Beside being belittled isn’t a nice feeling. She knew I wasn’t fluent with financial terms and she played the
sophisticated banker, toying with a FOB.
Eric told me quietly,
“Take the money.” Then wondered when could he get his money back now that his wife had arrived. He eventually did get his $5,000 (?) back.

I forfeited my deposit, moved out that Saturday without giving her a month notice. I’d rather saved the friendship than have a last laugh, and I’m not sure it was the last laugh. Losing a relationship is always hard, more than any one willing to bear.

We ran into each few times in Flushing. Once was weekend in a restaurant, she was clad in a white fury short coat with a man who looked very provincial. Another time on the street; then we both boarded the LIRR. I had the feeling she was following me. As the train rambling on, I debated if I should say hello.

No one is perfect, that includes myself. I’m simple and straightforward, appreciate the fundamental quality of fairness, honesty and consideration in a person, regardless my friends or foes. What got to me most was the fact I helped her to fight her landlord but in return she treated me just as bad and unfairly as the landlord she loathed.

In a way, I always felt she needed me to be her friend and protector. She lived rather solitary life, dating a boy friend who lived in Toronto with a wife in China. Then the feuds over come the caring or whatever was left of our once close friendship. As the train pulled into station, I got up and left.

Do I hold grudge? Not sure. Probably not. I think time has grinned any hard edges off that parcel. But whenever I saw her, it brought back the hurtful feelings .. and my naïve .. that I’d rather not to experience hence I don’t want to see her.

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