“It reminds me of prison.” Man refuses to eat stew for dinner cooked by girlfriend’s mom.

Mary Duncan

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*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a friend who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.*

If I were to think of one person in my life who has had the worst luck in love and relationships it would be my friend Thea.

Ever since we were teenagers in high school she was the type of girl who never wanted to be single. She saw having a boyfriend as a status symbol, and if she didn’t have one she was somehow inferior to other girls who were able to snag a guy before prom.

I watched Thea jump from boyfriend to boyfriend during college and then after, and it didn’t seem like any of those relationships lasted more than six to nine months, tops. In my opinion, it wasn’t often the men who were the problem, it was Thea’s ridiculously high expectations she had for them.

She expected to have her needs met without stating what they were - in essence, she wanted a man to read her mind and anticipate her every whim. If he failed to do this, that meant that he was an inconsiderate boyfriend, or too daft or immature to know what women wanted and deserved.

There were an awful lot of nice guys she passed over that I would have been happy to date, but on the other hand there were a few choice men that I wouldn’t have touched with a ten foot pole.

As important as it was for Thea to have a boyfriend, it was equally as important for her to have a very attractive person, in fact, I think looks are the number one quality she went for in men.

It didn’t surprise me when she started dating a guy named Jerry who looked like the reincarnation of James Dean. He was the quintessential “bad boy” type: tall, with flowing dark hair and hooded, mysterious dark eyes. He drove a motorcycle and wore a leather jacket everywhere he went - including to Thea’s parent’s house the first time she invited Jerry over to meet them.

The had a three month rule, that she wouldn’t introduce men to her family unless they’d been dating three months already. When that time with Jerry came and went, she scheduled dinner with her parents and two sisters and they showed up dressed in their best.

Thea could tell right away that both of her little sisters were enamored with Jerry, that they thought he was totally gorgeous. Her mother also seemed to take to him, because he was very polite to her and had a good sense of humor.

It came time for dinner though, and the whole tone of the evening changed.

Thea’s mom served everyone a big helping of steamy beef stew with a biscuit on the side. Everyone dug in except for Jerry, who sat in his chair staring at the stew and not picking up his spoon.

“Is there something wrong with the stew, dear?” Thea’s mom asked him.

“I’m sorry, I can’t eat it,” he said, pushing the bowl away and frowning apologetically.

“Why not, dear?”

“It reminds me of prison,” he said matter-of-factly, and the room went silent.

Even Thea hadn’t known that Jerry had spent time in prison, this was news to her - news that totally turned her off despite his devastatingly good looks.

They somehow made it through the awkward dinner and left, and when they got back to Thea’s apartment they sat in her car where she told him:

“Neglecting for three months to tell me you spent time in prison is a total deal breaker. Get out of my car, I don’t want to see you again.”

Jerry didn’t try to argue to keep Thea. Maybe he had been in this sort of situation before. Regardless, that may be one of the bigger man-bullets that Thea has dodged.


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Hi, I hope you enjoyed this story! I am a freelance writing single mom trying to create a better life for me and my daughter through words. If you enjoyed this, please consider leaving a small donation: https://ko-fi.com/maryduncan

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I write about relationships and parenting, life, society, people, and sometimes also beer.

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