Some texting before The Pedant came by for that last visit:
Pedant: I had to stop before I got on the bus and take a call from work. My ETA is now closer to 3pm [The Pedant won’t take work calls or other important phone calls while he’s on transit if he can possibly help it. There are tunnels and things where his cell signal cuts out, it can be loud, etc.]
Me: Noted. Philosophical question: why not get on the bus anyway and call them back at the other end? If your timing had been different by five minutes, that’s what would have happened anyway. And the world would not have ended.*
Pedant: They couldn’t wait the 20 minutes I’d have been on the bus before I called them back, unfortunately [but he only KNOWS that because he ANSWERED, dammit…he seemed to be missing my point…]
Me: But if you’d already been on the bus when they called, they would have had to wait for you. If the building would literally fall into ruins without you, they should have two supervisors so as to have full coverage or pay you to sit by your phone on your days off, ready to spring into action. [Then, realizing that I was feeling angry out of proportion to what was happening:] Meh. This is stirring up a bunch of old psychological scars from my marriage. Continued conversation will not be productive. Setting aside for now. [But then, realizing the issue with The Pedant and I might be a disconnect in what we think things mean:] Suffice it to say that given a choice, I think I’d rather someone show up on time but need to immediately make a phone call than be late because of a phone call. The former implies to me that I am a priority but that ohter life things do occasionally need to be attended to. The latter implies to me that I am last on the priority list.
When The Pedant arrived, he said “I’m sorry for making you feel like you’re not a high priority. That’s not the case. There’s just this whole huge thing going on at work and I’m kind of in trouble right now so I really had to take that call.”
I wanted to point out that taking the phone call instead of getting on the bus to see me in a timely fashion is actually the definition of prioritizing something more highly than me. But it seemed pointless to bring that up, since it sounds like the call really was important and needed to be taken right away and I do get that sometimes work has to come ahead of social stuff. I put my work ahead of The Pedant sometimes, too. It happens; I get it. Really, what The Pedant probably meant by “you’re a priority” was “work is a necessary evil that has to be attended to sometimes but you make me way happier and are therefore more important to me in the grand scheme of things.” So, I chose to hear what he meant rather than what he said, and I didn’t nitpick.
The Pedant then said that in his mind, it would be way ruder to come over and then ignore me while dealing with his work call. He feels like the thing to do is get that shit out of the way and then once we’re together he can focus on me (and he does, generally; he’s ignored phone calls before while he was here). I said that I could see his point of view, but reiterated that I’d still probably rather he get here when he says he’s gonna and then call work back or whatever. That conversation kind of never resolved itself; I mean The Pedant never actually said “Oh, okay, in future I’ll do it your way.” But it was still comforting to understand that he was trying to be respectful and we just have different ideas of respect.
And then there was sexing and movie-watching and showering together and sushi and al that good stuff, and somewhere in there I mentioned that my ideal submissive would do domestic duties for me rather than just submitting sexually, and then finally it was two days later and I had to leave for work and told a still-groggily-in-bed Pedant to stay as long as he wanted and let himself out whenever. And a few hours into my shift I got this text:
Pedant: Hey, so, yeah, try to remember that my showing up late for work-related reasons isn’t you being less of a priority. [new message] A friend ended up being free for lunch, so I had to run out at around 11. I tidied up a little on my way out: the dishes are soaking in a sink full of soapy water; the V8 is in the ‘fridge;; and the bedroom door is closed to keep the cats from attacking the bedsheets.
So that made me melt. Although that first bit about “just because I put stuff ahead of you doesn’t mean you’re less of a priority!” still made me wanna go “YES THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT IT MEANS ACTUALLY” and I had to bite my tongue again to keep from saying it. What I really want, let’s face it, is for him to have a different job that doesn’t fuck with our together-time. But that is not feasible right now, so there’s no point whining about it. Although actually when we were here The Pedant said, of his own accord, that hopefully at some point he could score a security job elsewhere that paid as well as his current one but wasn’t a supervisor position, so that he wouldn’t have to deal with so much work shit after hours anymore. So he at least wants to not be dealing with this shit.**
Tangent: I was thinking lately about how buried The Pedant is in bravado and other emotional safeguards. And I was remembering the book The Self Made Man, in which a woman goes undercover as a man to see what dudes do and say to each other when they think there aren’t any chicks around, and the book talks a lot about how limited men are in their self-expression. How parents force their little boys to “toughen up” and not admit to even having feelings. God, how hard it must have been on The Pedant – a geeky boy with asthma and chronic nosebleeds and preternaturally keen senses. A boy whose tongue would hurt from a single grain of black pepper on his food. A boy whose ears would hurt from just the noises of being outside in the city. A boy whose father was a volatile asshole and quite possibly (from what The Pedant tells me) mentally ill in some way. The Pedant must have gotten the message (from his parents; from society) that everything about him is unmanly; unacceptable, needing to be fixed and changed and hidden. He would have had to put up all those walls just to survive growing up.
So now we have a Pedant who compulsively makes certain issues about other people, not him (it’s not that he’s got an unusually sensitive tongue, it’s that restaurant chefs who automatically put even one little sprinkle of black pepper on anything are assholes and how very dare they!). We have a Pedant who has a really, really hard time asking for things, or saying that he likes a thing (I asked if he’d like me to keep fizzy drinks on hand for when he’s here. He said “that seems like a good idea.” I asked if he wanted to spend next weekend here; he said “that suits me.” I came back to his idea of using some sort of vibrating sheath on his cock, and said that I have a long-standing interest in forced orgasms so if that sort of thing seemed interesting to him…he said “I think I can manage that.”) We have a Pedant who’s afraid to be vulnerable, because god only knows how he got mocked and reprimanded and punished for that in the past.
Lord, I just wanna kiss him better in all the places. And I’m wondering if it would be at all possible to tell him outright that I understand the reasons for his bravado etc. but that he doesn’t need it with me. Would that accomplish anything at all? Would he feel safe and understood, or awkward at me having seen through him, or is he so un-self-aware that he would have no idea what I was even talking about? Probably this is not a conversation that we can have directly, not least because saying “trust me” doesn’t generally make someone trust you in and of itself. You have to show yourself to be trustworthy. My plan henceforth is to be very careful never to seem surprised when The Pedant doesn’t know things (like the times he asked if I’d had an orgasm and I blurted out “seriously?!? You still can’t tell?!?!?”) because really, I think he gets so focused on not looking stupid that it makes him not pay attention to things properly. His fear of looking dumb is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can help him be more attuned to my orgasms (and whatever else) by being patient and never, ever acting like he should know a thing about me that I never specifically taught him.
New topic: toward the end of The Pedant’s visit, he was weirdly tired and just slept pretty much right from mid-afternoon through to the next morning. During that time, I carried DickFace the kitten out of the bedroom so she wouldn’t bug him. DickFace startles easily, and when she startles, she scrambles. I was supporting her back end with my hand and nudging the bedroom door open to let her out when The Pedant’s pants fell off the doorhook with a loud sound, causing DickFace to springboard off my hand, gashing my palm with her claws in the process.
I let out some sort of cry or scream or swear word or something. Nobody likes sudden, unexpected pain, but it freaks my whole nervous system right the fuck out. Basically I launch straight into a panic attack. The Pedant sleepily asked what was wrong; I managed to tell him. He asked if I was okay. At length I said “I will be. Probably.” My voice sounded strained and my breathing was all over the place; I fought to get it under control.
And then I locked myself in the bathroom for a while because I couldn’t stop crying and I hated for The Pedant to see that. It made me feel about seven years old, to be inconsolably sobbing because a kitty hurt my hand. I ran the sink water as cold as I could, rinsed the wound until it was numb, and sprayed it with rubbing alcohol to sterilize it, which burned so much it made me gasp and cry harfder. Then I ran my hand under the water again to re-numb it. It had looked like a neat, possibly just surface-scratch at first, but by this time it had begun to steadily ooze blood.
Truth be told I was a bit disappointed that The Pedant hadn’t come to check on me. I guarantee you the incident would have sounded pretty serious, despite my efforts not to start openly bawling. I mean when he asked if I was okay I paused for a long time and said I probably would be eventually for Pete’s sake. As in, I am not fine now. And I do not know precisely when I will be fine. This seems like something a person should investigate.
But, The Pedant had been half asleep, and when he’s tired he’s just totally toast. I assumed that my initial shriek had stirred him slightly from his torpor but then he fell back into it again.
Except that when I finally came out of the bathroom I saw that he’d gotten up and put his pants back on the hook before going back to bed and continuing to sleep.
So that’s…not great.
However, I don’t feel like I can officially be mad about this. I didn’t tell him the scratch was bad or that I was freaking out about it. I actively tried to hide how much I was freaking out. I can’t blame him for not reading my mind, and if a similar incident happens to me again I’m gonna specifically tell him I need comforting.
The next day when I showed him the big long scab on my hand he said “Jeez, you never said it was that serious! I just thought it was a minor scratch” which was kind of validating.
*This is the same argument I used to have with my ex husband when we were still married. He shoved me aside for work stuff allll the fucking time, saying that work needed him and couldn’t get by without him. I was like “so if you were in a car accident and had to be rushed to the hospital, work would expect you to return all their calls, still? While bleeding out in a hospital bed?” “No, of course not.” “So the business would not in fact go under if you didn’t call people back immediately.” “No, it wouldn’t go under, but…look, I need to go return their call now, okay?” Please understand that I was not saying that my ex spending time with me was at the same level of importance as him having time to heal from a terrible injury. I was simply trying to make the point that the business didn’t need him that much. Like, I’d ask him to sit down and watch one episode of a tv show with me and he would invariably jump up to take a work call before it was over. I just wanted twenty-two uninterrupted minutes of his time every couple of days, and he wouldn’t give it to me. However, when the new Star Wars movie came out he took the day off work, turned off his phone, and went to see it with some friends. Soooo yeah. I did not feel very important to him.
**Which puts him ahead of my ex-husband, who claimed to hate his high-pressure, high-responsibility jobs but actually seemed to thrive on them and kept taking them. One time, when he was between contracts, some friends of his proposed that he be the software developer for their brand new start-up company. I begged him to refuse that job and take something more stable and profitable instead; this would be the third or fourth unstable, brand-new startup he’d worked for and I couldn’t take it anymore. The other ones had all folded after a few months and not been able to pay him the full amount owed for his work. He told me he would turn it down for the sake of our marriage, and had me come with him to the meeting to act as moral support so he’d have the courage to tell them no. I came along. They made their pitch and he told them yes. If I’d had the financial or emotional resources, I would have walked out at that moment, booked myself into a motel, and started divorce proceedings. But I was unemployed, too, and severely anxious and depressed, so I yelled at him all night and then stayed in the marriage for another five years instead.