I open Now Magazine before I go to bed and find an ad for a chat line that has a green and purple logo. Not knowing what I am in for, I dial.
A crazy female voice comes on and asks me to choose if I am a man or a woman. I press woman. Then, it asks whether I want a fling, a date, a casual relationship, or a long-term relationship. I press long-term relationship. Diane’s life is too crazy for me. I do not need to go to the nut bin again for anyone or anything. My mama tells me so.
“See who is on chat now!” The voice says. “You can choose who you want to talk to and have an intimate, one-on-one conversation.”
I listen to the male voices. It is only near the end when I hear this deep, rich, beautiful voice that sounds as though he is a radio announcer. I press that one.
“Hello?” He says quickly before I even have a chance to reenergize my courage. “Hello?”
“Yes,” I say.
“What is your name?” He asks.
Hmm, I think, that is a nice name.
“When is your birthday?” He asks.
“August twelth, 1972,” I reply. This guy sounds like fun, I think. “When is your birthday?”
“July twenty seventh, 1956,” he says quickly. “Do you work?”
“I do freelance radio,” I say.
“You have a beautiful voice,” he says.
“So do you,” I answer. “That’s why I chose you,” I venture.
“I’m glad you did,” he says. “What do you look like?”
I hesitate. I look myself up and down.
“I’m tall, thin…I’m black,” I’m worried he won’t want to talk to me anymore. “You don’t sound black.”
“No, I’m not,” he says and I can hear the smile in his voice. “I love black women and I am Irish. My eyes are blue. My hair is blonde.”
I shift on my patterned green sofa. Well, what’s next?
“Where do you live?” He asks without a break in the conversation.
“I live downtown.”
“So do I,” he says. “Can I come over to your place?”
I think of my dad next door. What would he think? I would not want him thinking I am anything like Diane.
“Well,” I start. “We can’t have sex. I am on my period.” Which is true.
“That’s fine,” he says deeply. “I just want to see you. I just want to talk to you.”
The feeling of being overwhelmed leaves me a little.
“Where do you work?” I ask him.
“Donna, I work for the government.” He says.
Well, CBC is a crown corporation. “I guess I do too.” I say.
He laughs. “Do you work for the CBC?”
“Yes,” I reply.
“I listen to CBC Radio a lot.”
I nod my head and fall silent.
When he asks me for my address, I give it to him. He arrives at my door in literally ten minutes.
We are the same height. He is wearing light blue jeans and a vertically striped dress shirt. He tells me I am beautiful. He is older, but in good shape and I tell him I like his eyes. I show him around my apartment. He says it is nice. While he is in the washroom, I step outside for a cigarette and see his cute cherry red Toyota parked in my car port. I enter smelling like smoke.
“I didn’t know you smoke,” he says. “You shouldn’t.”
“I know,” I say, putting the Gauloises yellow pack on the Salvation Army wooden table beside my door I got for five dollars back in Montréal. “I’m trying to stop.”
“I can help you,” he says. “My dad died of cancer.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I say sincerely.
“He was a big smoker,” he says looking at the pack of cigarettes.
I look at the clock above my sofa. It is almost ten and I have not taken my medication.
“I should be going to bed now.”
“Do you have bipolar disorder?” he asks.
I am shocked to stillness. How did he know? No one had ever asked me that. They only know when I tell them.
I nod my head. “I guess you want to leave.” I say.
“No, no,” he says. He sits down. “I work for the Ministry of Community and Social Services. I administer ODSP to people.”
“What’s ODSP?” I ask.
“It’s the Ontario Disability Support Program,” he says. “We give money to people who have disabilities if they cannot work. You are lucky you are working. When is the last time you were in the hospital?”
“Last year,” I say grimly. “It will be my last time.”
He nods his head.
“How did you know? Do I seem crazy?” I ask. “Maybe it was crazy for me to let you come here.”
“No, no,” he starts, and I am taking in every one of his words. “I saw your medication in the bathroom and I know many psychiatrists usually prescribe that for bipolar disorder.”
I nod my head.
“I would not have known,” he says. “You seem lucid.”
“Well,” I say heading to the bathroom to get my medication. “I am when I take my meds.”
Sean sits silently on my couch while I am in the bathroom swallowing my pills with bathroom water. I forgot to hide these pills before he came. He came over so bloody fast. Now he is going to think I am some crazy he needs to take care of. I don’t need to be taken care of.
“Are you done?” he asks as I reenter the living room.
“Yes,” I reply.
“Do you take vitamins too?”
“No,” I say. “I used to a long time ago, but they’re expensive. I don’t make enough money for that.”
“Cut out smoking and you could afford to do that,” Sean says.
We talk, or argue, all night long. I really like him. Before he leaves, he asks me to marry him. He lives just up the street.