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"Give Me Back My Mustard!" (Anal Retentive Control Freaks)
by Debbie Millican

I am a little bit of a neat freak myself and if you were to ask my youngest son, he would probably go so far as to say I’m mildly anal. I am the person in the office who can work circles around most people because I know where everything is located. I have colored labels on all my files and everything has its place. At home, I have all fifty-two pairs of shoes labeled and neatly organized in my closet by color and heel size. I truly believe cleanliness is next to godliness and think everyone should agree. I tell you all this because it is important to know the extent of anal retention one must have to annoy me.

I met Carl on Match, my favorite internet-dating site. We did the usual e-mailing and then a phone call. Carl was very quick to ask me to meet him at a restaurant for drinks. I agreed and we met in Duluth, the halfway point between the two of us, on a warm Sunday afternoon in July. He looked exactly like his picture, which was a pleasant surprise. He had dark hair, blue eyes, and stood about six feet tall with a very athletic build.

We enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine as we engaged in somewhat meaningful conversation. He was very complimentary about my physical appearance and asserted what good taste I had in clothes. He was very open about his life and just as inquisitive about mine. After about three hours of chatting, I left the restaurant feeling very good about our first date.

Carl and I saw each other a couple of times during the next week. I had the opportunity to visit his beautiful million-dollar lake home and the country club where he frequented for tennis and golf. I took a ride in his car that he referred to as “his baby” alias Porsche. Yes, things were looking up, and I was already fantasizing about being a “country club wife”. I could spend my days working on my tennis game with a private tennis pro and maybe engage myself in learning the game of golf. I’d always dreamed, as I got older, closer to retirement age, I would take up the sport. I could shop for shoes, spend some time at the spa having manicures, pedicures, and facials and then return to my lakefront home for a dinner of grilled steaks served by our own cook.
Carl and I would spend our evenings playing tennis together after dinner or just relaxing on the deck in the cool breeze from the lake sipping on yes, a martini. We would take these awesome romantic trips to Italy and Greece where we would hold hands and plan where to purchase our retirement home, maybe Costa Rica or the French Riviera.

The following weekend I was elated to return to Carl’s home for our fourth date. He told me earlier in the week I was welcome to stay over in his guest room so we could spend the entire weekend together. Now I normally have a three-date rule, no sex until after the third date. I feel this gives me an opportunity to see if I want to move to the next level of the relationship. I find you know nothing about a person after the first date because everyone is guarded and pretentious, including me. Being this was our fourth date and things were going so well, I packed an overnight bag anticipating a romantic evening with this wonderful man.

Carl had made mention the first time I visited him how I did not park my car properly in his garage so I paid close attention to my driving and tried to park just as he suggested during my previous visit. He met me at the back door with open arms and gave me a very nice embrace. I handed him the bottle of chardonnay I brought for dinner, and he placed it in the refrigerator to chill.

He insisted on making me a fruity martini with a fresh peach. He knew it was my favorite so I was flattered he’d made such a concerted effort to have all the ingredients. He was putting together an appetizer for us as well and told me to take a seat out on the deck. I eagerly went out remembering how pleasant it was out on his deck, which overlooked the lake. I sat and enjoyed the smells of the summer while a family of ducks waddling in the water further entertained me.

Carl came out shortly and brought my martini and Brushetta. He looked at me for a minute, got up, and moved toward the chair where I was seated. He leaned over and said “I can’t wait any longer” as he kissed me softly on the lips. We sat and conversed for a while and he asked me if I brought my things to stay overnight. I told him I did bring an overnight bag. After a few minutes, he decided we needed to go to the store to pick up something for breakfast and a couple of items he needed to finish dinner.

I offered to drive since his Porsche was bedded down in his extra garage. When we got into my car to leave, he began complaining again how I parked in the garage. I kept my mouth shut but was a little hurt after the effort I put forth parking my car upon arrival. We drove to the grocer and picked up the two items he needed for dinner; a jar of jam for me to eat with toast the next morning, and a bottle of horseradish mustard.

I must explain about the mustard in detail because it becomes an important part of this story. I found this recipe for grilled salmon that called for horseradish mustard. I told Carl I would reciprocate his hospitality by trying out the salmon recipe for him the following week. While we were strolling down the condiment isle, I told him I wanted to check to see if Kroger carried this particular horseradish mustard. When I found the mustard, he said he would buy it for me. I tried to talk him out of buying the mustard assuring him I could get it back at my local grocer but he insisted. He placed the mustard in the basket and we headed for the self-service checkout isle.

While I was scanning the few items, Carl stepped over to the cashier for some unknown reason. By the time he returned to pay, I had already bagged and gathered the groceries. We walked out to my car and got in. The car was very hot so I was shocked when he decided he must return to the store to get the receipt I failed to pull off the machine. He left me without car keys so I was unable to cool down the car. When he returned, I asked him why the receipt was so important since he had only purchased four items. He was apparently irritated with me for failing to secure the receipt and snapped he might have to return something. After this episode and the earlier complaints about my parking deficiency, I begin to feel a little apprehensive about my date. I was really trying to keep an open mind as my trips to Greece and Italy flashed in front of me.

We arrived back to his house, and he put the groceries away. He took the mustard immediately to my car placing it in the passenger’s seat. I asked if I could do anything to help him with dinner but he insisted I relax on the deck while he finished. Shortly thereafter, he brought out our salad and poured us a glass of the chardonnay. He noticed the sun was making me squint and thoughtfully went inside to find me a pair of sunglasses. We ate the salads, and he took the plates inside. It was several minutes before he came back, and I wondered what was taking him so long to return.

By this time, the sun was down and I no longer needed the sunglasses Carl loaned me. I got up, went inside, and placed them on the kitchen counter. I realized then what was causing his mysterious delays from the kitchen. Carl was washing the dishes, drying them, and putting them away between each course of the meal.

While I was in the house returning the sunglasses, I decided to visit the powder room. On my return to the kitchen, Carl eagerly congratulated me for closing the door properly. He noticed my perplexed look so he proceeded to explain the bathroom door was half-open when I went in and I had left it in the same position upon my exit. He seemed compelled to continue by saying his brother and nephews visited often, and he had been unable to persuade them to leave the bathroom door halfway opened. He ranted on for at least five minutes on how this was best for airflow and needed to be the way all doors were positioned in the house to increase heat and air efficiency. ‘Oh my gosh’, his absurd comments and peculiar actions were mounting, and I could see my designer shoes and days at the spa disappearing right before my eyes.

Carl sliced us both some key lime pie and we returned to the deck together. When he noticed I was no longer wearing the sunglasses, he asked me what I did with them. I told him they were on the kitchen counter. He immediately jumped out of his seat and went quickly into the house. I watched him through the French doors as he picked up the sunglasses and put them in the drawer of the coffee table where they belonged. He couldn’t enjoy dessert until this item was in its proper place. I knew at this moment this guy was totally anal retentive and controlling.

I was very uncomfortable from this point forward and he could feel me getting apprehensive about the evening. He asked me what was wrong, and I explained to him in a delicate way that I was concerned about his compulsion to clean and return everything back to its proper place immediately. I told him I wanted him to relax and have a good time. He answered he had gone to a therapist about his compulsion and also about letting women use him. Then out of the blue, as if he had been withholding his feelings about me, he added he I could gain some help from a therapist as well. At this point, I decided it was time to leave.

I thanked him for the dinner and told him I thought it was best for me to go back home for the night. He then became very defensive and argumentative. He made it very clear to me I’d disappointed him and also commented I’d lied about my intentions to stay. I reminded Carl I had made no commitment to stay. I was feeling more and more uncomfortable as this discussion escalated into an argument so I picked up my purse and headed to the back door.

I told Carl good-bye, and said we would talk later after I had time to think. I headed for the back door that led into the garage with Carl closely behind on my heels. We got to the garage and I casually got in on the driver’s side of my car. Carl quickly opened the passenger’s door and leaned in. I was expecting him to apologize for his rude reaction to my decision not to stay but instead he did the most inconceivable thing I could imagine. He grabbed the bottle of mustard he had bought earlier and said, “I guess you won’t be cooking for me after all so I will just take back the mustard.” He slammed the door, and I hurriedly pulled out of his garage.

I thought to myself as I made my way down his street of beautiful lake homes. “I guess I missed my chance to be a country club wife, and on top of that I will have to buy my own jar of mustard, damn!”

What I Learned: No matter how much money a man has, he is not going to control me. I am a little anal myself. I like clean houses, tidy desks, and neat spaces, but I discovered a new meaning to anal retentive and controlling after dating this man.

How to Spot Them: Be concerned if a man sends his food back to the kitchen in a restaurant and checks the silverware several times before using it. Also, if he begins suggesting how you should handle certain situations early in a relationship, he probably has control issues.

From the book, "Over 40" Dating Pool: Where the pool is deep but the dating is shallow.

Published: Jan 10,2009 11:02
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