by Ocean Elf
Her name was Sarah Who.
His name was Sheldon Whoston.
They had a few basic things in common that eventually made them acquaintances; music, religion, and a love of their local professional sports teams.
They sometimes happened to be at various local functions, not together, but they would eventually meat up, often to compliment each other when and if either of them performed any music at such functions. Both played piano. They would chat to catch up on the latest sports news, or Sheldon would initiate a conversation with Sarah about classical music.
It must've pleased him greatly to have someone else, especially a girl, who actually could hold her end of such a conversation instead of just tuning out and changing the subject or making an excuse to end the discussion and go mingle with other people.
Eventually, sheldon and Sarah discovered they had a religion in common, which pleased them both, although Sarah didn't talk religion much.
Sheldon had been planning with Sarah since the early spring, to put on a joint Christmas concert for as many friends as would come to their house, whoever's place it would be. Sheldon would do the bulk of the performance, and Sarah, one or two pieces since it was too much trying to come up with a whole new repertoire by memory in less than a year.
One day in late spring, Sheldon invited Sarah to a classical concert being given by another pianist who had studied under the same teacher as Sheldon had.
Sarah was delighted at finally being asked out to something by a friend, since most of her old friends had since moved away, her best friend Indy was recovering from some bad experiences and Sarah didn't want to pester her, and everyone else seemed too busy with their own lives. So, she jumped at the chance.
They had a pleasant time, but for Sheldon's flustered distracted driving on the way there and back, and his lack of etiquette one they had arrived.
Sheldon was so flustered at getting lost that he complained about having to go back and retrace the route from 5th Street, and then he complained about the extra gas that was going to cost.
Sarah volunteered to pay for the lift both ways.
But when they got to the place where the concert was being held, Sheldon sat down with Sarah for a few minutes, then went to talk to the man who was performing that evening - in the same room, while forgetting to introduce his companion and the performer to each other. So Sarah sat quietly and listened while the two talked about their times together and catching up on how they were doing in the present.
After the concert, Sheldon and Sarah went backstage to meet the pianist in person.
Both went home that night, feeling happy and hopeful.
But Sheldon was hoping for something that Sarah hadn't seriously considered.
Sarah got en email a few days later from Sheldon, asking if she might consider taking this budding friendship to the next level and being his girlfriend. He had said he was planning to marry some day, but that Sarah was under no pressure.
Sarah, knowing she and Sheldon had a couple of big things in common, only agreed to be his girlfriend because he had said he would not pressure her to marry. Her impression of Sheldon was that he was gentle, and because he was a friend, maybe this was a good time to give a relationship a try. Sarah had always told anyone who talked with her about people in romances, that her idea of one was to first be friends, and then if romantic feelings developed from that, so be it. She didn't feel romantic about Sheldon yet, but she figured that might or might not come. If it didn't, they could avoid a crushing heartache because of their friendship.
Sarah wrote Sheldon back, telling him she liked what little she knew of him, and was willing to give dating a shot, but that marriage was out of the question until such time that they had enough to do with each other and were sure they really were compatible. She told him that she trusted him not to mistreat her, and that she wouldn't mistreat him either, but she was not willing to rush into anything. this was only a trial, it was not an engagement.
Sheldon seemed pleased with that.
The next get-together was to be their first official date. They planned to go to the movie Mountainville Slide. It was an action thriller about a fictitious mud slide devastating Mountainville, a town to the east of Whoville.
Sarah had told her friend Indy about the concert, and when she told her about the movie invite, Indy kidded, "Is that a date or something?"
To Indy's surprise and dismay, Sarah laughed and said, "Yes, actually, it is."
Sarah couldn't see Indy's concerned, cast-down expression.
"Oh, Sarah," Indy thought, "I sure hope you're not becoming another LJ or Brenda-Sue." Aloud, she started asking Sarah concerned questions.
Brenda-Sue had been Indy's sister, and she was so addicted to romance and desperate to have one that worked out that the last ruin cost her life.
LJ had been a friend of Indy's who, like Brenda, had fallen too hard, too fast for a guy, who broke her heart.
But Sarah was behaving differently than they had when Indy showed concern. She didn't push her away or dismiss her concern as over-protective. Sarah simply told Indy that this was a trial, not an engagement, and that she had no plans for marriage.
But what still bothered Indy was that Sarah had also told her Sheldon had said he wanted to marry someday, and that meant he might try to pressure Sarah at a later date, regardless of what he said at first.
Sarah assured Indy that he may very well marry one day, but it wouldn't be her if they didn't work out.
Indy didn't seem all that relieved. That might've been because LJ and Brenda had both tried to allay her concerns by playing down how serious they had gotten about their own various crushes.
Still, Sarah and Indy started talking more after that point, and Sarah remained forthcoming and never lost patience with Indy's concern. this gave Indy hope that Sarah really was being level-headed about this after all.
The nest email from Sheldon went something like this:
"I just wonder what to say if anyone says anything about me taking you to the movies because you are blind. I'll try to come up with something to tell them."
Sarah gaped at the email. "Oh, seriously?" Immediately her fingers hit the keyboard as she hastily typed out a response that went something like this:
I've been out in public, including to the movies, many many times before. No one has said anything about it and no one ever will unless they are complete ignoramuses. And if somebody makes a big deal about it, I will be the one to tell them to knock it off.
and I don't want you giving that a second thought. Yes, I do have some special needs because of my blindness, but I will be the one to let you know if some situation has an impact relevant to that.
I don't want sympathy or patronization, and if anyone has a problem with my blindness, I have a problem with them.
So forget about it. No civilized person is going to look down on you for going to a movie with me, or see me as some sort of alien."
Sheldon wrote back, indicating he got the message, and he didn't bring it up again.
Sarah wasn't the only one disappointed by Sheldon's backward attitude, Indy was incensed. If she had been in Sarah's place, she would've given Sheldon the heave-ho immediately. As it was, she really wanted to give him a telling off, for such a shabby attitude toward her best friend for something she couldn't help and never asked for. But Indy knew better. Sarah was no pushover, and the fact she set Sheldon straight on the matter showed Sarah was not going to sit in some corner crying about it or let some guy push her around the way so many others had done to Brenda-Sue.
A couple of days before movie night, Sheldon emailed Sarah, asking if she would mind a change in plan and have him come over to put on a performance instead? he couldn't get into the early showing because of his work, and the late showing was too late. Sheldon had a habit of hitting the sack early.
Sarah was fine with that.
So their first date was at Sarah's house, and it went off swimmingly until Sheldon started talking about moving house. He told Sarah all about his plans and hopes of moving into a better place by the next year.
Sarah had nothing to say about it, and only reacted with what she hoped would look like general small talk-style interest.
Inwardly, warning bells were sounding off.
Later, Sarah told Indy about it, and she too, was disconcerted.
"Why would he talk to you about moving house? And on your first date?"
"I'm not sure, but I have no plans of moving in with him, if that's what he's thinking. I told him right off that marriage was out of the question until the distant future which is a very giant maybe," and then, knowing her friend Indy, she added reassuringly, "but probably not…"
This seemed to satisfy Indy, but she still had suspicions about Sheldon's changing the plans from the movie to just a date at Sarah's. She hoped Sarah wasn't still getting in over her head.
More warning bells dinned in Sarah's head when she got an email from Sheldon a few days later, asking her for her input and help in house-hunting.
"I would really like your input and want to include you in that." he had said.
Sarah wrote back with:
"I don't know the first thing about buying a house, I don't know the best options, and I don't plan on moving out of here any time soon. When I do, I'll get a house that suits me best, so I suggest you do likewise. If it turns out that we are suited for marriage, then all that would need to be done is decide which one of those houses to move into. But I'm not thinking about that at all. Let's just not worry about that. We're just dating, we're not anywhere near engagement."
Sheldon wrote something about how he wanted to "get married before God calls us home." He made more references to the end times.
Sarah grimaced. "What a cockeyed notion. What is wrong with this guy?" She thought.
She hadn't figured him for the morbid, controlling type, but that was just it, they still barely knew each other.
She wrote back, "Nobody knows. I don't dwell on that and marriage is not among my priorities before "God calls us home" so let's just live from day to day and see how well we get along before making any big decisions."
When sheldon wrote back, he admitted he loved dwelling on the end time stuff, and Sarah, wondering just what she had gotten into with this dude, told him she did not, and would not, and that was that.
Sheldon didn't overtly press that issue further, but that didn't mean he hadn't scrapped his future plans altogether. He could still try to get Sarah to comply by another angle.
Feeling annoyed, Sarah complained to Indy about sheldon's attitude.
Indy winced. "That's rather morbid, if you ask me."
"and a stupid reason to get married."
By the end of that conversation, Indy was starting to feel better, at least for the moment. But although Sarah was keeping her head about this for now, Indy was still worried that Sheldon would eventually manage to wear Sarah down and impose his will on her, and cause her to make some very bad choices, like Brenda-Sue, LJ, or Isabelle before her.
Since they were already emailing, Sarah decided that continuing to communicate through that medium was probably the best way she and Sheldon could get to know more about each other. Sheldon was emailing her more frequently now anyway since they had made girl/boyfriend status official, but his emails consisted mostly of talk about classical or what was considered "serious" music. so Sarah took the opportunity to email things that she also liked, and observe his responses if any.
Sarah emailed Sheldon web links to various kinds of content, from Youtube to pages with fictional stories on it that ranged from light-hearted humour to ponderous and emotionally deep.
Sheldon had mentioned some other movies to Sarah that he liked, but they were all on the rather depressing or sappy side, and all supposedly conveyed some sort of moral or other. Most tended to be designed to jerk the sympathy centre of the brain.
Sarah found his idea of good movie entertainment dull and stifling. So when Sheldon picked out one of Dawne's stories that dealt with forgiveness/redemption, as a favourite on a fiction site, Sarah was hardly surprised.
She rolled her eyes behind the computer screen. "Outside of sports and maybe classical music, do you not ever just have fun and genuinely like something? Does it always have to have some kind of deep moral, environmental, or "Godly" type statement for you to get into it?
It didn't matter how varied the content was that Sarah shared, Sheldon only talked about classical music or hymns, "serious music" and showed no interest in any other.
the week of truth and whether or not Sheldon and Sarah would fly together for longer, or crash, came with the local Whoville Day and week-long summer fair it kickstarted.
Sheldon asked Sarah via email a few days prior, if she wanted to go see Mountainville Slide on Whoville Day.
"What - really?" Sarah shook her head in disbelief. "he's asking me to an ordinary movie we can go see at any time, on Whoville Day, when there are so many once-a-year festivities going on?"
Sarah looked up the events around town for Whoville Day on the web, and emailed Sheldon back with, "I'd rather do something more to do with Whoville Day. Like these. The events at Sneech Belly Park and Sam I Am Station really sound great, I would love going to any of those. How about you?"
The list of events was fairly long and varied, surely there was something in there that Sheldon might be interested in, right?
Sheldon's reply sent Sarah into a near fit of eye-rolling and face palming.
"That's okay, I'll go see Mountainville Slide with my brother.
I am going to listen to the WBS radio Whoville Day radio programs. They are going to feature works by Whoville composers. All three movements of Whobrich's Town Square symphony, OP 2-2, then the Grinch Fugue in D Minor by Whoschev, Op 43-9, Whomatelli's Horton Concerto for flute, Op. 3-5, and all eight Pieces For Piano And trumpet also known as Trumpet To Mount Crumpit ."
These were pieces of music that the average man on the street probably never heard of, and wasn't likely to care for.Sarah was really starting to wonder if Sheldon really liked all of that stuff or if he was just trying to prove or be something.
Even the movie "Mountainville Slide" contained a message or had content with which a person could read into it a moral type message about being separated and then deciding to stay married after the mud and rock slide had put the main couple's lives into perspective for them. It creepily tied in with Sheldon's marriage and end times mindset too.
Sarah was bowled over by Sheldon's utter gauche. "So," she thought, but didn't say to him, "You'd rather go to a non-celebratory and everyday movie with your brother, and sit at home and listen to a boring radio program of neoclassical music than do something special and fun with me that I really would like to do. So, first you ask me on this run-of-the-mill type date, and then you just wham, cancel the whole thing when I have other ideas...? Wow, this is bad dating comedy at its finest."
Already she had her mind made up that if this was any indication of how he would treat her down the road, it would be better to call off this whole dating thing and any notion of a relationship. She wasn't even sure she wanted to remain friends with him. Sarah could feel herself getting repelled by his stifling inflexibility.
So she wrote back, saying she would just do something with her parents instead.
When she told Indy about it, Indy agreed that was seriously bad form on Sheldon's part, but she was surprised he even tried asking her out to the movie again. "When he canceled the movie date the first time, I thought he did that because he was too embarrassed to be seen with a blind girl at the theatre." Indy smouldered.
Sarah scowled, recalling that email, then shook her head. "No I'm sure that wasn't it. If he's trying to be such a good Christian, he wouldn't be making up lying excuses, and we already settled that issue. He hasn't mentioned it since. But what I can't get over this time is that it's got to be something he wants to do or it's no deal. Way to do a date."
Indy chuckled. But of all the things Sheldon did, his attitude toward Sarah's blindness was so patronizing was what she could not forget. Subsequent problems Sarah told her about would often make Indy wonder if his behaviour was still influenced by seeing Sarah as some kind of subhuman or second-class citizen.
Sheldon new Sarah wanted to get out and do something, so he offered to take her to the fair grounds a few days later.
Sarah accepted, but only because none of her other friends or acquaintances had invited her to go with them. No one else was interested or else they were just too busy with their own lives, and Sarah had given up reaching out for companionship long ago because of this.
Growing up, Sarah had a wonderfully active social life with her friends from school, but most moved away from Whoville after graduating, and the few that remained plus some newer friends/aquaintances just didn't have time for her any more.
Sarah was sick of initiating things, only to get rain checked or no one could be bothered returning the favour and inviting her out. This made her feel especially alone, left out, and bitter when she read about her friends of friends on Facebook posting statuses about their plans to go out and make a day of it, or statuses about all the fun they had at some event or place. It was enough to make her scream inside her head at every last one of them. Just because she was unable to drive herself around or hop on a buss and get herself anywhere did not mean she was content to be forgotten and left out to just sit there and let life pass her by.
The only friend she did anything with occasionally was Indy, someone who actually remembered Sarah as a friend and gave enough of a darn to treat her as such. But now after Indy's hellish ordeal at the hands of Tonya Harper, who had nearly killed her, Indy was still trying to cope with the trauma, day by day. So Sarah didn't want to impose on her or make plans that might fall through later when Indy suffered an emotional collapse.
That left Sarah's parents. They certainly couldn't be expected to go with her, they were in no condition to weather a crowded fairground with all the long lines, loud music, sparse resting areas, and much of the food unappealing or would disagree with them.
So going with Sheldon was the only option available.
And Sarah had serious doubts about that.
Sheldon didn't like the rides, he showed no interest in fireworks, mentioned nothing about any favourite carnival food. He only mentioned a couple of indoor shows, one he said he loved, but it didn't appeal to Sarah at all, the other might finally be some common ground beyond "serious music" at long last. No, it was not a musical show.
Sheldon also told Sarah that he planned to have a good breakfast before going.
This was not only silly, but another bust as far as Sarah was concerned. She wanted to at least enjoy some food at the fair since she couldn't go on any of the rides. Even grabbing a snack to take into the indoor show Sheldon wanted to see might helped Sarah's time with him at the fair to be a little less disagreeable. She couldn't figure out why he'd rather fill up on stuff back at home that he had every day instead of treating himself at the fair to something different and delicious. Sheldon was sounding more and more like a real party-pooper.
Sheldon also detailed to Sarah how he had taken a Whoville composers course at college, and listed still more high falutin music compositions Sarah hadn't heard of.
"Gah! Who cares?" Sarah thought, rolling her eyes. "Is this guy for real?"
She couldn't care less about the lists of serious music compositions Sheldon studied in college or planned to hear on the radio, especially not when there was so much more to life outside and beyond that. She was not about to go to Youtube to listen to them all and then email Sheldon words of appreciation for them.
Whether Sheldon meant to come off as boasting or not, that was the impression Sarah was getting. Either that or Sheldon was really this limited by his own narrow-mindedness and eccentricity. Apparently for Sheldon, it wasn't good enough to be a Whoville marching band playing some arrangement or other that was meant to enhance the feeling of celebration, it had to be either hymns, classical, or some other 'serious' music. The kind of stuff written by Whoville "composers" trying to be classical musicians imitating some aspect of Whoville by making elaborate concertos, symphonies etc. with extensive theme development that made it look impressive on paper but never became well-known and loved by the general public. Music that was so heavy, discordant, chaotic, and ultimately boring that it had lost the very essence of what music was supposed to do, please the listener.
Feeling quite vexed by now, Sarah thought, "I really don't think this is going to work."
Sarah finally wrote back.
"That stuff doesn't interest me in the least."
Then she listed a few types of music she liked and why.
This must have worried Sheldon, who may have taken this as Sarah beginning to pull away. and he would be right.
his next email was alarmingly desperate in tone. It reaffirmed Sarah's apprehensions and sent her running scared.
There was more of his usual annoying one-track minded talk about classical/serious music, which was making her feel more claustrophobic with each email.
But, there was also this:
"Sarah, I am hoping that we will have a definite idea about our relationship by the time we've gone to the fair. I have been praying every day for God to work in us and help us to see our way and make our relationship stronger."
Aghast, Sarah's eyes widened and her mouth gaped.
They had only had one official date. It had been barely a month ago when Sheldon first asked her to be his girlfriend! If he was hoping for an agreement to getting engaged, he was out of his skull!
She didn't even finish reading the rest of the email, but began feverishly typing a reply as her head was filled with tumultuous thoughts, fears, frustration, and even indignation.
The fact Sheldon had said he was praying every day for it to go to the next level and that he had set the fair date as a kind of deadline, got her back up, and creeped her out all at the same time.
Sarah sent him an email which she hoped would drive her point home.
Some of what she said was:
"I'm not praying for us in terms of this relationship and I don't want you to either. I have no plans for us, and you are over-thinking this way too much. We're still trying to figure out if we could even get along, so there is no progression to the next level unless we can, and that takes time. Don't think about the future, just live now."
Sarah hoped Sheldon would get the hint and back off, discarding the idea of planning out both of their futures.
Sarah's mind reeled with thoughts directed back at him, thoughts she did not express in her emails.
"Praying about this every night? Eww, creepers, you're obsessed, obviously you intend to move this in a direction toward marriage, and you're hoping I'll step neatly in line with that goal. I'm not impressed over how much you pray. I thought prayer was supposed to be a private, humble act. How dare you drag God into this in order to try getting me to bend to your will? Is this your game every time you want to get your way? Invoke God's name so I might feel obligated to just crumble and do what you want? Forget it! How dare you try to use me to fulfill some item on your bucket list? I had thought better of you than that! If you're still angling for marriage, count me out. I thought we had an understanding about that when I agreed to give us a try."
Sarah kept those thoughts to herself.
Sheldon's next email was the one that decided the future once and for all. And it wouldn't go his way.
"Sarah, I thank you for your honesty re our friendship. Let's see what happens, but to be honest, it is my goal to be married, Lord willing, soon, but I definitely do want to be friends."
That was all Sarah needed to take a firm stance, and make the "idea" of the relationship's direction clear at last. Sarah hadn't determined she would never marry, but she just never thought about it at all. Being in love would have to come first, and that was definitely not happening with her and Sheldon.
But Sheldon wanted marriage soon. So that just was not going to happen with Sarah.
So now everything had changed. "Let's just see if we work out or not" had now turned to "No chance, it's over." From this moment on, Sarah stopped being Sheldon's girlfriend.
And Sarah was really getting irritated with Sheldon's over-use of "God" this, and "Lord" That.
Sarah, though a Christian, didn't talk religion much, not even to those who shared hers, because there were vast differences in attitudes among people even if they belonged to the same denomination, and that tended to make the atmosphere tense. She didn't believe in lacing her conversation with religion the way some other people tended to. She found that made conversation stilted and unnatural, not to mention just plain annoying. God was not going to fade away if he was not mentioned every two minutes.
It was not just Christians who behaved like that. People into personality type theory such as the MBTI tended to make liberal use of terms like ENFJ into their conversation. Fangirls did that with whoever they were fans of. Sarah found this type of behaviour, no matter what the person always went back to, obsessive and annoying,
and in the case of religious people, this behaviour seemed a bit sanctimonious as well, indicative of an overly-religious individual who likes to show off how Godly they want people thinking they are.
Furthermore, it seemed as if Sheldon's invoking of God's name was some kind of means to get God to listen harder and make up Sarah's mind for her, to be agreeable to the idea of marriage. Or by using the word "God" that might ensure Sarah's feelings of obligation to comply with Sheldon whether she really agreed or not. Or maybe he just wanted to impress Sarah with how Christian he could be. Sarah didn't know which it was, or if it was a combination of these, but she found it annoying and off-putting.
To her dismay, Sarah knew she couldn't jam out of the fair outing, because Sheldon had already bought the day passes.
But she could lay everything all out on the table and do her best to get him to forget about including her in his future.
"Sheldon, if you are wanting to get married, and soon, then I’m definitely not the girl for you. But - even if you find a girl who has more in common with you, including this goal, it still may not work out in the end.
and I really don’t think I’m the sort who would be compatible as a mate for you in the long run. We can go to the odd concert, especially classical/romantic music that’s on the lighter side, and this Whovill Days outing, but beyond that, what do we really have in common? I think I’m a bit too much of a live-wire for you.
Look at Whoville Day, and the parade, and how completely different we are about those. You were content to go see a movie - something that can be done any old time of the year. Not me. I wanted to get out and into some festivities.
You said your parents had watched the parade. You listened to some classical/romantic music on the radio - I assume instead. I would be going for the parade. I could never be contented with “serious” music radio programs instead. Again, the symphonies you can listen to any time of the year, but it’s only once a year we get Whoville Days, so I love to make the most of it. Even the fireworks business. I don’t think that’s your idea of fun either.
We agree on a few entertainment things - I would’ve been happy to go see Mountainville Slide on any other day but Whoville Day. But other than that and the odd classical concert, I doubt we really have enough in common. Look at our movie choices. From our discussions about the few movies we mentioned in our emails, commonality is looking a bit rare. Even when it comes to stories, the only one you mentioned from the fiction site that you liked was the one that had a definite forgiveness/redemption theme. and I have a feeling the only reason you liked that one was because of that moral statement it projected.
But some of those stories have themes like that, and others do not. That's fine.
The Mountainville Slide movie, same thing, another deep message about staying together, especially in the presence of danger/death - yeah, I get why you like that movie. And you mentioned Gremlins a couple times or referred to it and I told you why I thought that story/movie stunk, and I'll bet that environmental message at the end delivered by that old geezer was exactly what you liked about it.
Our approach to religion is vastly different too. I do not want to think about the end of time, or “When God calls me home” I know I explained that in an earlier email and why. Fear of the unknown. People who go on about it make me feel anxious, nervous, and a bit hemmed in and depressed. I don’t believe in bucket lists of any sort.
I don’t believe one should try to set goals that involve other people based on “When God calls us home”. It is no reason to get married. God will not judge you based on that, and the only reason people should marry is when they are really in love and they have enough of a lot in common to see that love and relationship through. And, we are absolutely nowhere near that. We still barely know each other. We are moving from acquaintances to friends, but that is a very far cry from love. And love must always come before engagement and marriage.
Too many people rush into things, only finding out later that their partner really loves, or doesn’t like (insert pet/hobby/vacation spot/anything here) and it causes cracks in the relationship that get wider and wider.
I must suggest that if you are looking for a girl who is even kind of agreeable to the idea of marriage, that you count me out, and all the best of luck to you in your search.
Sheldon wrote back, agreeing with Sarah that he needed to slow down, and he did acknowledge they had less in common than he had realized.
But he didn't indicate whether his taking things slower was still meant to apply to him and Sarah, or if he understood her to mean that he should forget about her and move on and take things slower with the next girlfriend.
That, too, made Sarah uneasy. As far as she was concerned, she and Sheldon were over, and there was no trying after this point.
She was dreading the outing to the fair, and knew she would be glad it was over.
Sheldon told her he would be later than planned, due to a doctor's appointment, but he would call her when he was on his way.
Sarah was glad of that, an was fully expecting him to be later with the call.
Instead, he ended up arriving much earlier than expected, without calling first, and Sarah had only dragged herself out of bed and barely gotten showered and dressed, she hadn't even time to drink anything or have a quick little bite to eat.
As expected, the fair food smells were very appealing, but Sheldon wasn't looking at what might be a good thing to eat, he was looking at the prices, and as he listed only a few basic foods off to Sarah, items that can be bought anywhere else at any time of the year, he also mentioned the price.
Nothing he mentioned appealed to Sarah, who knew there had to be corndogs and funnel cakes and mini-doughnuts and other interesting things around.
She thought her eyes would roll right out of her head when Sheldon asked "Do you have a limit on how much you want to spend?"
"No." Sarah said irritably. "Look, let's just forget it and see if we can get into that zoo thing."
She thought, but didn't say out loud, "Gah! So that's why you were planning on coming to this fair on a full stomach, so you wouldn't have to buy anything to eat? You're only looking for what's cheapest, I'll bet. What a tight-wad. First, no festivities, then no rides, now, no fair food, why in heck did you still want to bring me here? Oh, right, the dog show and this whole relationship thing. Well fooeyy on that!"
On the way to the building the show was going to be in, Sheldon ran across one of his old acquaintances or friends, and he told Sarah they were going to stop and talk to her for a bit.
But he made the same gaff as he did at the concert. Sheldon dragged Sarah over to where this friend was, and started talking to the woman, and he completely forgot to introduce the two women to each other.
Sarah stood there, looking away to hide the unhappiness from Sheldon'f friend. How she wished she could be somewhere else, with anyone else. Even being home alone was preferable to this.
When the two were done talking, Sheldon lead Sarah off, never even thinking to introduce her just before saying goodbye to his old friend.
Sarah said nothing, but ranted inside her head about how rude and inconsiderate Sheldon was, and that his extensive knowledge of serious music could never make up for his lack of manner.
Sheldon was unaware of Sarah's inner smouldering at him.
When they were in the building of the show Sheldon wanted to see, he mentioned a Chinese food place where they could have lunch after the show.
Sarah agreed without enthusiasm.
Things looked much better when they checked out the reptile exhibit. Sarah had heard they had a live kangaroo there, and she wanted to get up close to it in the worst way. The kangaroo had become her only reason for going to the fair. It would be the one ray of sunshine in this whole miserable experience.
Sheldon was not great at relaying information about the surroundings to Sarah. he walked around, sometimes mentioning things, but he actually didn't tell Sarah right away when they were at the kangaroo enclosure.
Sarah put her hand out a bit and felt the cage in front of her, and asked "What's in here?"
"The kangaroo is there." Sheldon said, and turned his attention back to his smartphone. It was an old, cheap phone and it decided not to work that day, even though it should have been fully charged.
Sarah let go of his arm and felt herself smiling for the first time that morning. She crouched down to get a better idea of the creature's presence and size should he come to her side of his enclosure.
Sure enough, the kangaroo did just that, and he sniffed the back of Sarah's hand.
Then, the kangaroo began trying to eat her shirt sleeve.
Sarah kept pulling it out of reach, but every time she forgot and put her arm up against the wire, the kangaroo would try to eat her shirt again.
"He's just like a goat!" She laughed, and from what she could guess, the kangaroo must've been around the size of a small or miniature goat as well.
The kangaroo seemed to be just as curious about Sarah as she was about him. Or at least, he really wanted her shirt, because he stayed right with her for as long as she was at the enclosure's side.
After that, the man in charge of the exhibit apparently noting her blindness as well as her excitement over the roo, asked her if she would like to touch a snake.
"Sure!" Sarah had never been afraid of anything as long as it didn't hurt her.
So, Ray guided Sarah's hands to and gently over the milk snake, taking care she didn't get her fingers too close to its head.
The snake was smaller and smoother than the boa constrictors Sarah remembered touching in the past. She was very impressed with it, and with the man who was so willing to show it to her.
After that, Sheldon and Sarah wandered around the rest of the exhibit until it was time for the dog show.
They ran into an unforeseen problem when they needed to wash their hands after handling things in the display. There were no water fountains or hand sanitizers available, not even in a small booth anyone could use.
They had to go into the washrooms, which meant Sheldon could go in while Sarah waited, but Sarah needed help into the ladies' room, and Sheldon certainly couldn't help out with that.
Thankfully, a kind woman came along and noticed Sarah's predicament, and she offered her an arm inside.
Sarah was very grateful, and once in the little girls' room, washing up, she felt much happier in the presence of this complete stranger than with Sheldon.
She returned to Sheldon outside, and they made their way up into the bleachers to watch the dog show.
The reptile exhibit was to put on a program after the dogs, but Sarah said she didn't want to stay for that since she had done all she wanted to do there, and Sheldon had seen and enjoyed the display without having to sit through a presentation.
Sheldon mentioned a show that would be on later that day, one that featured jugglers and acrobats, sort of a circus type show.
Sarah really was interested, until Sheldon mentioned the time it would be on. 4 P.M.!
"Four?" She repeated, making sure she heard right. She wanted to see that kind of show, but was not willing to hang around the grounds with Sheldon until then. "That's a bit late." She said.
They planned on doing lunch and the agriculture building after the dog show was over.
At the dog show, the place was rather dark, which wasn't bad except for the fact there was a large crowd of people, and they were exceedingly noisy. This was especially hard on her when some costumed character showed up just before the program, and the children in the audience were supposed to scream for him as loud as they could, with the promise of having a "selfie" taken with him.
Oh, how Sarah detested that word. And it was being used everywhere. In the past year or so, nobody was adult about mentioning taking pictures of oneself, everyone had embraced that dumb sounding word "selfie".
The dog show had some nice music, and lots of interaction features for the little kids, which Sarah could appreciate, but she thought the whole thing was corny as all get-out.
The theme for the show was a tribute to Hollywood, only they called it Hollywoof.
Sarah rolled her eyes.
Sheldon was sure enjoying himself, he laughed out loud, and often. He also participated in the audience interaction bits.
"Laugh it up, buddy, at least *you're* having a good time." Sarah sneered at Sheldon in her thoughts.
One part of the show had the audience divided in half to make two cheering sections for two dog teams. They were the "Woof Woofs" and the "Bow-wows". The audience was to cheer on their teams during a few competitions with "Woof woof!" and "Bow-wow!"
Sarah rolled her eyes and thought, "Oh, are you kidding me? If you think I'm gonna yell out 'bow-wow' or 'woof woof,' you are nuts!"
So here she was, feeling a little tired, hungry, thirsty, at some uber lame show she couldn't care less about, with someone she no longer wanted to be around. Sarah just didn't want to be there, and she couldn't wait until it was over.
Sheldon should have noticed by now that something was off about Sarah too. She was just not the same cheerful, smiling, bubbly, friendly Sarah he had known when they met during previous functions. She hadn't talked during the ride there, and she remained silent and sullen, with rather disinterested or snappish answers when he asked her anything, until they got to the kangaroo. Then for a brief time, the old familiar Sarah came back.
But now, she wasn't cracking a grin, she did not applaud when everyone else did as the dogs did their runs, jumps and tricks, and she did not engage in any of the audience participation. She remained stone still and silent next to him.
Sheldon had planned to make a day of it, staying until around 8 or so. What he didn't know was that Sarah was aiming for 4 o'clock at the latest, and that time had been moved up to 2 o'clock since they did manage to catch the earlier dog show.
Sarah was willing to do her best to give the show a chance, but all that went out the window when they inserted that animal rights propaganda telling people to "adopt" a dog from the pound rather than get a dog from a breeder, pet shop or private family.
Sarah scowled. "Gah, this *really* sucks!" She fumed silently, unable to suppress a groan of disapproval.
To Sarah's delight, the show turned out to be only half an hour long, and that was definitely enough for her.
As they headed out of the bleachers, she said to Sheldon, "We don't have to do the agriculture building if you don't want to."
But he said "That's fine, we can do that." And he sounded like he actually wanted to.
"well, if it's all the way across the grounds," Sarah said, hoping that it was, and it would be a good enough excuse to not go there after all. Sarah loved petting the animals there, but she was in no mood for that now after sitting through that deafening crowd and dumb show for the past half hour. She was not just hungry, but feeling dehydrated from being so stressed and upset.
"It's not that far away," said Sheldon as he continued guiding Sarah out. "We can do that and then come back here to that Chinese place for lunch."
But Sarah was very hungry by now, and she thought having lunch first would save them walking over to the agriculture building, and back here again to eat. She also wanted to avoid being faced with another awkward washroom situation. After petting the animals, she would certainly have to wash somewhere before she could eat, and what if there was no one around or willing to help her out the next time?
So she suggested, "Maybe we should have lunch first, then go to the agriculture building."
"But I'm not hungry." was Sheldon's reply.
Appalled at his selfish lack of consideration, Sarah screamed inside her head at him, "But I am, dammit!" But she said nothing out loud and just sullenly followed Sheldon outside.
Though she had started to cough from dehydration, Sheldon didn't offer to take her to buy a drink. He had brought her a soda pop when picking her up, but he hadn't handed her the bottle, nor did he suggest she take it with to the fair. He only told her about it being there and put it down on a shelf. Sheldon brought along a bottle of water for himself. This must've been another way to avoid spending any money on drinks at the fair ground too.
As they continued slowly along, Sarah was feeling more and more hemmed in by Sheldon, and by her own steadily rising displeasure with him. Her thoughts were little more than silent bitterness toward him now. "I even told you I didn't have time for breakfast this morning. But it's got to be only what *you* want, when you want it? I used to think a lot better of you than that.".
Sarah was really wishing he would just change his mind and suggest they not go to the agriculture display after all, but they only kept moving. He seemed oblivious to her dissatisfaction.
Then, everything that was full of the promise of fun and celebration surrounded Sarah again. The people milling about, talking and laughing. People screaming and laughing on rides. The delicious smells of food. All kinds of things she would've enjoyed but was not allowed, because she was stuck with the biggest killjoy she had ever met this side of her deceased grouchy old grandpa.
Everyone was having fun around her.
She was not.
Finally, Sarah could stand no more. If she didn't go home now, she was afraid she would either blow up at Sheldon right there or burst into tears. She knew that would only add embarrassment to the equation, for both of them. But her discontent with Sheldon was mounting steadily, threatening to boil over if something wasn't done to relieve it soon.
Suddenly, Sarah stopped, and refused to walk ahead any further. "Let's just forget it," she said.
"What?" Sheldon was puzzled.
"I've had it, I'm done." Sarah said firmly.
"Are you sure?" He said.
Sheldon was baffled. This was just not the Sarah he thought he knew.
This was one time Sarah was not giving in to let it go his way. She persisted. "I get really stressed in crowded indoor places, I can handle outdoor crowds better, but being in there with all those screaming kids and everybody's voices just coming right at me from every direction is like my church basement full of people. I can barely last a half hour in there and this was like that, so I've had it."
"You really want to go?
"I 'm calling it a day, Sheldon," Sarah insisted, "I really need to get out of here now."
Sheldon was hesitant at first, but he finally agreed, saying "Yeah, I'm a little down too, my phone's not working and I should really do something about that."
"Yeah, you should. So let's just go." She said.
Although Sarah noticed he was still reasoning that maybe going home was a good idea because of his phone was again motivated by what was good for Sheldon, she was actually glad he had that to be concerned about. Otherwise, he might try to argue and convince Sarah to let him have his way and stay longer, and then she would just lose it.
So they finally headed out of the fair.
Sheldon tried talking to Sarah on the way home. He said he had a good time.
Sarah said nothing aloud, but "Well hurray for you." in her head. "My good time should be starting in just a few more minutes."
When they were almost home, Sheldon tried to engage her in conversation again with, "Now I'm starting to get a little hungry."
Again, Sarah did not respond aloud, but she thought, "Too bad for you. It's nothing your same old everyday humdrum sandwich can't fix."
She remained silent the whole way home, practically counting the seconds down. she knew she didn't have to put up with him for much longer, and she could hardly wait to be away from him.
Once home, the goodbye was hasty. Sarah did not ask him in. When Sheldon began to leave, Sarah dashed inside, shutting the door tight.
Then, she had herself a little rage party, vowing to never ever go anywhere with that guy again.
As she was subsiding, she reflected on the whole experience starting from the month before. By now, she had experienced enough through emails and the day's miserable time at the fair to know the relationship had soured to the point of toxic. She wanted nothing more to do with Sheldon, not even to be casual friends. She just wanted him to stay away from her indefinitely, in email and otherwise.
Much later on that day, after Sarah had calmed down, she checked her email.
Sure enough, there was one from Sheldon again.
In it, he said he was sorry their time at the fair was so short, but he was torn between staying longer, and leaving because of being upset about his phone. In the end, he claimed he thought it best to "honor" Sarah's wishes and leave.
Sarah rolled her eyes and hissed through her teeth. "How noble and heroic of you." she sneered. "Face it. You really blew it."
Sheldon then brought up the subject of the joint winter concert with Sarah, which was really mostly going to be him anyway, and talked again about having it at her place.
She grimaced as she read the email, then wrote back, and this was the last email she intended to write him.
"You needed to do something about your phone. The kangaroo was the highlight of the whole morning. My piano has some keys that gave you a little trouble last time you played it, and I haven't been able to fix one of them, the problem keeps coming back, and it can be pretty distracting, so you should just have it at your place."
She hoped he would get the hint and not email her with anything that made it necessary for her to email back again with something even more direct.
But he wrote back.
"I will think about the winter recital I'm having. I wouldn't want to give the wrong impression having it at your house, but I thought a change of perspective would be good."
Sarah sighed. "Do I really have to spell it out? Is this all he does, plan out his future? That's months away. What 'perspective' is he on about? Never mind, I really don't want to know. But I never even thought his holding the recital at my place (which isn't happening now) would give anybody the wrong impression. Holy crud! Is that what started this whole mess? Because I suggested last year that he have it at my place, he took that as an in to start dating one day and try to plan out a future for two people right then and there?"
this time, Sarah was going to tell him straight out they were through.
"You should have the recital at your place. Good point, not wanting to give the wrong impression especially since we are no longer girlfriend and boyfriend and will never be again. Besides, we have newish neighbours on one side, and if the piano gets too loud too late in the evening, it could echo all the way into their house and keep their kids awake."
Sarah hoped that would be enough excuse and strong enough hint.
From Sheldon's indifference to anything Sarah introduced that wasn't part of his sad shrunken world, to his deplorable standing her up on Whoville Day for a radio program, to the disaster of an outing where everything had to go his way, and his thoughtlessness when he brought Sarah into the company of his old friends, and finally his next email which helped her to reach a grim realization.
Sheldon wrote back.
"Okay, it's settled"
Then he went on to some small talk, among other things, detailing how he drank tea the night before.
Sarah chuckled bitterly. "Really? That was easy."
Sarah was even more revolted. There was no way she could even be casual friends with Sheldon after this.
She realized that Sheldon didn't seem to know or care much about what friendship was all about, nor did he want a real girlfriend, or even a real wife. He wanted a cardboard cut-out girl with no personality of her own, one who would be content to hang on his arm, love only what he liked, and do only what he wanted when he wanted. A little puzzle piece that would fit neatly into the part of his life and future he determined for her, with love fitting nowhere into the equation. Sheldon may not have been physically violent, not the type of person to hurt a fly, but there were other ways he would surely crush a girl's spirit if she let him.
So Sheldon didn't just lose a girlfriend, he ruined what could have grown into a good friendship if he hadn't been so wrapped up in trying to plan out the future. Now Sarah would no longer email him, and she would do her best not to deal with him if they ended up at the same public venue. Sarah was not just walking away from him, she was bolting in a cloud of dust.
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