Last night as I was about to fall asleep I suddenly thought of a person who passed through my life very quickly, but she left a memory that has stayed with me for almost 30 years.
Deanna (* Not her real name. But this is a true story.)
As a university student, summer meant four months to earn enough cash to cover tuition and books, and maybe a quick holiday before classes started again in the fall. One summer I worked for a small company, keying invoices and work orders. There were 4 of us in the order entry department – a supervisor, two full timers and myself. I was about 25 then, and was the youngest by a few years.
We four had nothing in common. I was single, in university, and didn’t have many real commitments or demands of my time. The other three were all married, with mortgages and complicated lives.
I didn’t socialize with my coworkers. We didn’t go for lunch, or make plans to meet on the weekends. Sure, when you’re sitting together in a small room all day there is some chatter, but if there were whispered discussions of marital problems or drunken weekends, I didn’t hear them. I guess you could say that I really had just a passing acquaintance with these women, and that was absolutely fine with me.
One week midway through the summer the team supervisor, Deanna suggested we all have an evening out. Against my better judgement, I agreed to go along.
She suggested we meet at a well-known hotel bar. When I drove in to the parking lot the sign out front said, “Ladies Night”. Then, as now, Ladies Night existed for just one reason – to get women into the bar so the men would follow. But this place didn’t have just cheap drinks, this particular night there was the added attraction of male strippers.
Not to brag, but I’d seen male strippers (aka ‘peelers’ in Canada) before. And honestly, watching exotic dancers is just not my first choice for entertainment. I’m not a prude – I can just think of other things I’d much rather watch.
So I went into the bar and found Deanna. Our two coworkers stood us up, but she had two other friends with her. We had one drink, then maybe another. I remember women hooting and hollering and groups singing along to “Living on a Prayer” when suddenly there were cheers and bouncers rushing the stage. Some random 50ish woman had climbed up on the stage, taken off her top and was straddling a stripper.
Really? These women need to get out more … or drink less.
I told Deanna it was time for me to go. She assured me she would be fine with her friends, wished me well and I headed home.
At about 3:30 the next morning my phone rang. When I answered, a man asked for Deanna. “There’s no Deanna here”
“Is this Janine?” he asked
It was Deanna’s husband. She had told him she was going out with me, spending the night at my place, and had left my phone number.
What? This was wrong in so many ways. Not only did she lie to her husband, she must have opened up my personnel file to get my phone number because it was unlisted, and I certainly hadn’t given it to her.
I repeated that I didn’t know where she was, and she’d been at the bar when I left before 9 the night before. I gave him a description of the friends Deanna was with and hung up. After that I probably spent the rest of the night tossing and turning as I tried to figure out how to confront Deanna without getting my butt fired from a summer job that I desperately needed.
By the time I got to work the next morning she had already called in and told one of my coworkers that she wouldn’t be in because she was “sick” … after a guy she met kept her up all night. (Oh seriously? Gag.)
That night Deanna’s husband called me again at home – demanding to know where she was. I told him to quit calling me.
Three days later Deanna came back and cleaned out her desk. She told us that she’d felt a deep connection with one of the strippers, had gone home with him that night, then subsequently left her husband and moved in to a no-tell motel with her exotic dancer friend.
She offered me no apologies or explanations of why she’d chosen me as her alibi. Maybe she thought that I was young enough and single enough that I’d be okay with her lies.
That August the director told me that my composure through the whole Deanna saga had convinced them that they needed to find a way to keep me, so I worked there part time throughout the fall and winter. Deanna stayed in touch with someone in the office and I recall hearing that she had realized her mistake after about 3 weeks of motel life, and her husband had taken her back. If I could remember her last name I’d definitely do an internet search.
Funny where life takes you, and who you encounter along the way.