April 1986

First House in Christiana Delaware - Just off I-95

First House in Christiana Delaware – Just off I-95

We bought a house. It is awesome. Nothing big, and it needs a lot of work, but I love it. I got a job at Playtex in Dover, Delaware. Lou’s in a new job too, working at Coopers and Lybrand out of Philadelphia. Since Dover is far enough away from South Jersey, Playtex paid for our relocation expenses, which included temporary living for me in a hotel as well as movers and such. We had been having problems at our apartment that they weren’t fixing, so Lou withheld rent. I went to renter’s court to fight our case, and we actually won, so the last few months of rent were free, which went right to the down payment on this house. We had looked at a bunch of houses with a realtor, and then Louie and I went out to dinner at Howard Johnson’s in Wilmington, and I found a classified ad “for sale by owner” listing in Christiana that sounded perfect. Lou called, and we went right over to see it. It was already dark outside, but as soon as we drove up the street, and I saw the house at the top of the hill with the lights on, I got goose bumps and told Lou that this was definitely it. It’s a four bedroom bi-level house, with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room and living room on the top floor, and the lower level has a huge family room, a half bath, and a bedroom, as well as a laundry room and access to the attached garage. There’s a pretty big yard, with a two-level deck, and an outdoor hot tub built into the lower deck. The colors in the house are really 70’s. There’s bright orange carpet in the living room, and brown shag downstairs. The kitchen has wallpaper with birds and orange stripes, and yellow linoleum floors, and the bathroom has metallic blue wallpaper. We will have plenty of work ahead, but with all of Lou’s handyman experience, we will be able to do it no problem. We don’t have furniture to fill the place yet, but that will actually make it easier to do the remodeling. The upstairs living room and dining room are empty, but we are using the family room downstairs, and the master bedroom. Lou has his desk in one of the other bedrooms that we will make into an office at some point.

I like my job at Playtex. It was a tough start, since they use COBOL, and I overstated my knowledge of COBOL. But I was living in a local hotel on my own anyway, so I had a lot of time to put into work and stayed late just about every night to get my projects done. Nobody figured out I didn’t have the language experience, they just saw me working hard. I have the language down now, thanks to a couple books. The actual biggest skill is in knowing how to write and test programs in general, the language itself isn’t such a big deal. That’s what I told them anyway when I interviewed, and I think it’s true. I didn’t lie. I said COBOL wasn’t my strongest language. I don’t like to lie at all, but when I do, I usually say something that is true, even though I know it is misleading. I worry that if I lie about something, I’ll have some sort of karma retaliation. If you call in sick when you’re not, then you will get sick; that type of thing. If I’m being deceitful, then I prefer to avoid any conversation about the topic all together. So far, that’s worked the best in life. I guess it would be better if I was up front and honest about everything though. Yeah right.

On the night of April Fool’s Day, I was bored in my hotel room, and wrote a really long letter to Alan. I made up this story about how I was drinking in the bar by myself and ended up having way too much, and started hanging out with a few guys, and took them back to my hotel room for sex. At the end of the letter, I told him it was just an April Fool’s joke, which it was. I thought it was pretty funny, because he probably was freaking out thinking I had finally really lost it. If I sent that same letter to Lou he probably would have been jerking off thinking I had really done it. Lou is always talking about stuff like that when we’re in bed, and wanting me to get into the fantasy of it with him. I just kind of “mm-hmm” back, but it really doesn’t turn me on in the least bit. He likes porn star type sex, and keeps introducing me to people saying, “this is my wife, Jo Joy… doesn’t that sound like she’s a porn star or a stripper?”  I smile and I laugh. I’m tired of it though.

Lou has been doing a lot of travel for Coopers and Lybrand. He goes to a company up north in Pennsylvania every week, coming home only on the weekends. I think he is a lot happier there than he was at Price Waterhouse. He was gone so much of the time that I had to do all of the legwork in buying this house on my own. I was so nervous about getting approval on the mortgage. The real hurdle was that we were both changing jobs at the same time, and neither one of us had a good long-term employment history to point to. I’m proud that I was able to get it all done though.

I finally met Lou’s dad. He called one night while we were still living in Jersey. Lou was out of town. I don’t know if his father had been drinking or not, but he was obviously very depressed. It sounded like he was basically calling to say goodbye forever. I talked to him on the phone for a really long time, and arranged for him to call back again and see if we could set up a time to meet. I think he’s living out of his car. Since he got fired with the rest of the striking PATCO air traffic controllers, he hasn’t had any steady work, and no place to stay. He owes Lou’s mom so much money he just signed over the house to her. After I got off the phone with him, I called the suicide prevention hotline to ask for some advice on what I should do or say to help him. They basically said that what I did was good, to let him know that there are people who care and to give him something to look forward to.  He called back when he was supposed to, and talked to Lou for quite a while on the phone. We drove to Long Island to meet him, and had dinner at the local pizza place near where Lou grew up. We got there first, and while we were waiting, the bartender recognized Lou and asked him about his father, and whether or not he was back from Saudi Arabia. Lou just said, “yeah,” and excused himself. His father never went there, and we have no idea what kind of story he had been telling around town. Louie says his father is a chronic liar, and will just make stuff up like that. His dad showed up, and we talked for a long time, but it was all about trivial stuff. He smoked Camel cigarettes pretty much non-stop. Lou says that’s how it always was. His dad would buy himself a case of beer and sit outside and just drink and smoke all night long. His mom smoked all the time also, but inside the house, usually in the kitchen. Lou has never smoked, but his sister does. He still has no clue that I smoke sometimes when he’s not around. I don’t even know if he’d care one way or the other, but I’d rather not find out.

His mom tells the story about the day “Louis” was born on Christmas in1957, and Lou’s dad was hammered. She left him when Lou was little, but they soon got back together. There were a lot of stories about drunken fights and threats. She treated her Louis like gold though. He was always dressed perfectly, in matching sweaters and socks. Quite the little man. Quite the Momma’s Boy, actually, until his father made her stop sometime in middle school to keep him from becoming a total dork. She idolized her son, and would ask his advice, and take it, even when he was little. One of her favorite stories was her asking Louis what greeting card she should buy, and he gave an answer, and some lady said, “And the children shall lead us.”  I’ve heard that story so many times. She goes on and on about how wise he was beyond his years. I think the being born on Christmas Day has a big impact on how she saw her kid. Lucky for her she never found his stash of porn hidden in his room. She’s very religious and would have freaked at that. From what she tells me, the last time she had sex was the night that his sister was conceived, which was about 20 years ago. Right now is the first time since I’ve known Lou that he’s actually talking to everyone in his immediate family. His mother actually likes me now. The turning point came when she had surgery for cancer, and I went on my own to be with her in the hospital and at home. I didn’t do it to make her like me, but in her drug induced fog, she thanked me for caring for her, and said she was so wrong about me, and that I was an angel.

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