Wednesday, September 08, 2004

It's Not Easy Being Green

It was completely innocent. His mother was just asking for help, trying to remember who had been present during a certain event in his life. But as soon as I heard that name mentioned, I felt myself bristle. "Oh, [name of ex-wife] was there", he answered her. Long pause. "And Rosemary."

Damn it all, I really shouldn't care about her, not even a tiny bit. I shouldn't be upset that she was in his life for a while, between ex-wife and me. It's ridiculous and stupid. She was his transitional woman, ferchristsakes. And yet, my green-eyed monster reared her ugly head again.

It would make a lot more sense if I was upset about his ex-wife. She was the woman who was in his life for the many years they were married, and who is still in his life as a good friend. They talk at least once a week, compare notes about the important issues in their lives, and we socialize with her, with or without her boyfriend, fairly frequently. I know from the comments of several of my girlfriends that the average woman might find this uncomfortable, especially since there are no children forcing the issue of contact. But she and I get along well, and it's been friendly between us since our very first meeting.

That's what is so very puzzling to me. Why should I be completely reasonable and accepting about this woman who has been such an influence on his life, and continues to be such, when the mere mention of this other person makes my jaw tense up and only enhances my TMJ?

Maybe it has to do with the fact that Rosemary and I met while working on a project together, and I found her to be irritating and smug. I'm sure that she has her redeeming qualities, but I was not introduced to them. Instead, she was constantly complaining about being put upon, while in reality she was dropping the ball constantly on tasks that were her responsibility, or making snide remarks about how others were performing their duties. She was unprofessional and inappropriate in several instances, and she was beyond catty about an "office romance" that had sprung up between two other people working on this project, venturing into being mean-spirited and acting jealous. To sum it up, she left a really bad taste in my mouth.

It was while working on this project that I met J. He was brought in at the eleventh hour to help us out with a gaping hole in our plan, and I didn't realize at first that Rosemary and J had once been "an item". He was introduced as a friend of hers, which at the time was technically the truth, since they had broken up the romance but remained friends.

It wasn't until J and I began talking and getting to know one another that the green-eyed monster within Rosemary showed herself. J and I would be having a friendly conversation, when all of a sudden Rosemary would launch into the room, step into the space between J and myself, and start talking to him with her back to me, loudly and very obviously pretending to ignore my presence. As I said to a friend later, why didn't she just claw a piece of bark off of him and pee in the corners? I've never seen such a hostile display of territory marking outside of the feline or canine world. It actually became terribly funny, because she would just maul him pathetically, and he would stand stock still, with a bewildered look on his face. It was bewildering, especially since she had a boyfriend come and visit her at work, and he had been introduced around. What was with all the territory marking?

J and I were at the shy beginning stages of courting, where we would walk out to our cars together and talk for ages, and I finally got up the nerve to ask him what was going on between them, and was I stepping on someone's toes? He explained that it was long over, and that her behavior was puzzling to him, too, so I took that as a clear green light, at least as far as he was concerned. But that didn't mean that I trusted her as far as I could throw her.

And the thing is, these several years down the line, I still don't. I trust J completely, and he has given me no reason to feel this way. And yet, since I don't want to sound like a jealous harpy, I don't ask him if he is still in contact with her. And since I suspect that his ex-wife passed along our conversation about her, wherein we both confessed dislike of Rosemary (she was rude to ex-wife, too), he is probably loathe to bring her up in conversation, even for the most innocent of reasons.

So here we are, me bristling at her mere mention, and him tensing up, probably feeling the tension from me, until the vague odor of her name leaves the room. It's dumb, it's a time-waster, and it's such a non-issue. I truly wonder why it bothers me. But it does.

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