Fishing on Facebook, Chapter Twelve: Ojai Cafe Emporium

Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

–Sir Walter Scott

Don’t confuse intelligence with honesty. Just because someone has an articulate, respectable appearance doesn’t mean they are trustworthy.

From the website, Out of the Fog

Just because you meet someone at a Full Moon Meditation at Meditation Mount or a talk at Krotona, a yoga class, a Green Coalition meeting, a booth on Earth Day or any one of dozens of other “spiritual” “conscious” “green” scenarios, does not mean you should not scrutinize that person the same as if you met them at a party, a bar, or any other setting. We tend to give people a pass when we meet them in settings that we assume attract people who are honest.

–Excerpt from a conversation I had with a reader who called me after reading this story.

 This is Chapter Twelve of a true story.  All of the names except the author’s have been changed to protect the innocent, or not so innocent, depending on your perspective.[Please note that in a few places bold and italic formatting are unintentional. The blog  program put them there and I can’t remove.]

Now we come to the part of the story where I finally meet Diane, the woman Adam lives with.

The fact that Diane had sent me an email the night before, made it a thousand times easier to call her.

 I waited till mid morning to be sure Adam was out of the vicinity. I got her answering machine but decided not to risk leaving a message. He might be home when she played it back.

 I felt a teeny twinge of guilt. Like I was being disloyal to Adam (which I was) and doing something behind his back (which I was) and like I was breaking some sort of taboo (which I was) .

 I called again an hour later. This time Diane answered.

 In my calmest, clearest voice I said, “Hello, this is Suza. Is this Diane?”

 Hi,” she said.

 Pause.

 To get past the initial awkwardness and establish friendship, I said, “Thanks for contacting me.”

 I’m sorry to ruin your day,” Diane replied, in a half-joking voice.

 You did not ruin my day. I’m grateful that you reached out to me. “

 It’s too bad we have to meet under these circumstances.  I understand that you are a very nice person, but I think you are lucky that I finally decided to  contact you.”  

 I silently agreed. 

 Soon Diane and I were talking like old friends – about our mutual old friend, you might say.

 Even though Diane had already communicated that she harbored no ill feelings toward me, I wanted to be sure to set the record straight.

 I hope you know that I would never knowingly date a man in a relationship with another woman, “ I told her.

 I moved from my kitchen into the yoga room and sat down on the floor. I could tell this was going to be a long conversation.

When I first realized he was seeing someone I could not bear to tell my son.  He has not liked Adam from the get-go, but tolerated him for my sake.  

” Adam and I dated in 2000 for about a year, she continued. Then we dated again four years ago and Adam moved in with me.  

“He can be very charming when he wants to be, and very cold and cutting when he doesn’t care. 

“I would hope that our four years together has had a positive impact on him.  Our four years together has had a very negative impact on me. 

“I try to take the good out of a relationship and dump the bad. But, to quote Adam, “He has gotten everything out of this relationship and I have gotten nothing.”

“I hate to say this because it makes me look like an idiot, but he is right!

“I am 100% happier knowing we are no longer a couple.  I have not been happy for a long time, but I felt responsible for him and didn’t know what to do.  I knew he was having a relationship with someone, but didn’t care enough to find out.  I figured it would surface eventually. 

“On Thanksgiving Day my son told me he thought Adam was having an affair with someone.  I suspected as much.

It was pretty obvious. When a man starts taking more showers, washing his hair, caring about his appearance, you know something’s going on.

“After Liz told me that she saw Adam waiting outside after your yoga class,   I was very pissed at him because he made me look like such a fool in front of all of my friends.”

I interrupted her and said, “Diane, I cannot tell you how angry it makes me that he started a relationship with me while still in a relationship with  you.

 

After I found out he was living with you, Adam assured me when I questioned him that the two of you led completely separate lives. That you hardly ever saw each other. He said that he might see you in passing in the hallway.

And,” I made sure to add, “He said he had his own room.”

Own room?

When she explained that Adam did not move into the guest room till well after Liz’s outburst in the yoga room I felt sick to my stomach.

Hadn’t I told him at our first lunch date back in November at Farmer & the Cook that I don’t date married men (any idiot understands that includes “living together”) and that the one thing I demand is complete honesty?

Diane went on, “The first morning we slept in separate rooms he asked me if I missed having him in bed. 

I said, “Do I miss having the covers pulled off of me all night and having to fight for covers? Do I miss someone hanging over on my side of the bed with his pillow, breathing in my face? Do I miss someone snoring all night? Hell  no!”

Then she added, “You should not let the fact that Adam is living here bother you.  Even though we shared the same bed we have not had any type of romance in our life for way over a year

The day we decided to no longer be a couple I asked him if there was someone else in his life.  I knew there was.   He said “No.” Then a couple of days later this whole thing blew up.  After he spilled his guts he came over to give me a hug.  I told him, ‘Don’t even think of touching me,’ and he left the room.” 

Suddenly I felt very content sleeping with Honey and my three cozy cats.

I am a serial monogamist. I didn’t care how celibate their bed was. After Adam told me those tall tales about how he and Diane hardly ever see each other, the idea of them in the same bed fighting over the covers felt like a kick in the gut.

 

Then Diane said, “He told me that when you found out about me that it bothered you for half day and then you were back to usual.”

That made my blood boil.

I told her, “Adam conveniently forgot to mention that when I first found out about you he fabricated an elaborate story about how you were an ex girlfriend that was having a hard time and he was helping you get back on your feet. He described to me how he hardly ever even saw you. It sounded like he had a huge house and you lived in one end and he occasionally saw you in the hallway.

 

 He also told me how your mother had Alzheimer’s and that’s why you  needed a temporary place to stay. So you could take care of your mom. And not put her in a nursing home

 

 Well that got her dander up. “He told you he was letting me stay in my house!? I own this house –not Adam,” she reminded me.

 

But the biggest bomb was when Diane started talking about Adam’s ex wife.

When I heard her say “ex wife” I actually thought, “she must be making this part up.”

I flashed back to our romantic date at Casitas Lake. How we sat close together on the hill overlooking the lake, talking about nature and the nature of love. I had asked him again why it was that he’d never been married. Adam adamantly stated that marriage was always something “just out of reach,” extending his arm as he said this, and that he had “never walked through that door,” (the matrimonial door).

 But that wasn’t what totally blew my circuits.

While sorting out how Adam was talking out of both sides of his mouth, I started telling Diane about his trips at Christmas and New Years.

Trips?”she said, “What trips? He was home for Christmas. He was home for New Years. I swear he was here. I’ll have my son come over and tell you himself that he sat right next to Adam during Christmas dinner.”

“We broke up just before Christmas. I even asked him, “Why aren’t you with Suza for Christmas? He said you were out of town with your family.”

I told Diane, “That’s a lie. I was home. He said he was spending Christmas with his niece and her live-in boyfriend.

Suza,” she said, lest I doubted her word, “I swear that Adam did not go away at Christmas.  He had Christmas dinner with us.  I had made a prime rib and my son Bob, Adam and I sat at the table.  He would never go out and spend time at Jean and Sam’s house during the holidays. They both work.  Christmas is one of their busiest times of the year. 

I swore to Diane that I would keep our communication confidential. But in my heart I knew from the get-go that the best thing for all concerned was to let Adam in on the fact that the two of us were talking – and confront him.

Diane and I made plans to meet on Thursday, 9 am, at Ojai Cafe Emporium.

 

After I hung up and absorbed it all, the first thing I began obsessing over was how Adam had lied to me about going on trips at Christmas and New Years. I reread his emails.

My Dearest Suza: Had a very enriching and rewarding stay at a cabin along the mighty Kern River north of Bakersfield. The Kern was really roaring. The conifer forest trees were covered with snow on their branches. Brrrrrrrrr was it cold. Saw several robins and six young weasels out and about in places where there was no snow. I have always thought that the Kern River Canyon was one of the most beautiful spots in all of the Southern Sierras…

It sounded so sincere and real. I re-read the parts about nature and felt so duped, betrayed and manipulated. He knew those images of him alone in a mountain cabin would get to me.

And when I saw him after the trip he continued to describe his fictitious saga.

In my heart of hearts I still hoped Diane had it wrong. In fact, I wrote four emails asking if she was sure.

I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

I googled “liars,“ and found a website, Out of the Fog, that described exactly how I felt.

When you discover that you have been lied to, it can make you feel as though you have been taken advantage of, made to look foolish, had something stolen from you. You may feel anger, disappointment and fear all at the same time. You may feel the urge to get even, get justice, settle the score, clear your name.

I emailed Ann:

Ann, Adam is in LA and Diane and I were on phone for two hours. Found out so many things. Alas, he is a pathological liar. He has been married before, possibly twice. She told me everything. I will do a background check these next few days and sort things out.

 

Am exhausted — both sad and  relieved to find all this out.

 

He has no spell over me any more. At this point I want to gather facts –sort out fact from fiction. It is hard because the whole thing is mixed up with nature and politics.

 

Saturday night, March 5, Ann wrote:

Wow, Suza. I’ve just read all of today’s emails. Wow.

What the hell do you do now? Can you really break the spell Adam has cast?

 I wrote back the next day:

Ann, there is still a part of me that wants to give Adam the benefit of a doubt. Am gonna try to type up everything Diane told me.

 

 I wrote in my journal:

Nothing is as it seems.

Of all the things Diane told me the thing that struck me the most is that he went home to her bed.

That just gives me the creeps.

I mean the creeps!

The bizarreness of the whole situation is just beyond the pale.

All the loving words (as I type this I think of the cliché, “all the loving lies.”)

It sounded so sweet and sincere when he said, “Please be patient with me. I am really trying with the tools I have.”

On Monday, March 7, I emailed Diane:

 

Diane, are you sure that Adam did not go away for Christmas? 

 

Below is a copy of the note he sent me on 12/26, when he came home from his trip to visit Jean and Sam.

 

Sunday, December 26,  adam1@gmail.com  writes:

My Dear Suza,

I am home. Wonderful to visit the high desert. A real adventure to visit Jean and Sam (my cousin and her lifelong boyfriend). No rain up there. Got to see all the snow though in the high country above the Antelope Valley. Took a hike in Saddleback Butte State Park. Played with Jean’s  two cats and they took me out to dinner at Wendy’s (big event for them).

Good to be home. Had one inch of rain in my rain gauge. Saw the snow on top of Topa Topa… beautiful.

Will call you in the AM…plan to come up to Ojai midday on Monday or Tuesday.

Give Honey a hug for me.

Love,

Adam

Diane’s reply:

I can’t believe he would lie to you like that.   Why did he have to tell you he had to go away.  He broke our relationship two days before Christmas.  We were invited to an open house Christmas eve and I went alone.  My friend asked me where Adam was and I remember telling her we were no longer a couple. He could of seen you at that time. I don’t know why he lied. 

 

After that I sprung into action.

I went to People Finder and did a record search.

A search for Adam Francis Johnson along with his date of birth and current city brought up a list of addresses from 1980 through 2008. He uses a PO Box so perhaps that was the reason his current address at Diane’s house was not listed. This same list included two women who lived at different points in time at the same address with him.

I know these searches are not always accurate so I asked Diane for more background details.

She said, I asked Adam about Janet Johnson three years ago and he said she was just an older woman with the same last name. 

 

  It is so odd why Adam has repeatedly told me that he has never been married. He went out of his way to explain to me that he and his last relationship a were never legally married. And that they did not live together

I decided I had to find out if this other woman was his first wife.

I googled, “How to find out if someone has been married before,” and wasted $19.95 on a phony website that claimed to deliver marriage and divorce records within minutes. They charged my credit card but no records showed up.

While I was searching the Ventura County Courthouse marriage records I got another email from Diane.

I’m telling you, truth is stranger than fiction.

Diane wrote:

Suza, you won’t believe this! I just came back from the gym and the gardener next door leaned over the fence and yelled, “Hey Diane, did Adam tell you I dated his ex wife?” 

I said, “You mean Priscilla? (The one I already knew about.)

  He said ,“No, Janet Johnson.”

  I said, “Oh my God so he has been married twice! “

Three years ago when my son looked Adam up on People Finder her name popped up with his. I asked Adam about her and he said she was just someone with the same last name .”

Suza, I’m not making this up! The gardener told me all about Adam’s marriage to Janet. So now we know for sure that Adam has been married twice.

Don’t you dare mention this to him!  He is sleeping now, but when he wakes up I am going to tell him what I found out.  I can’t wait to hear the lie about this one. 

Suza, I hope your eyes are wide open and you are taking all this in.  You cannot make excuses for this man and think that things will be different with you.  

I know that you are very much in love with him. Take off the rosy glasses. Discuss this with one of your closest friends.  I know it is difficult for you to believe me 100% as I am the ex-girl friend. 

Maybe tomorrow at breakfast when we meet you will see that I am a completely honest person.  I have never lied to Adam. As a matter of fact, I am beginning to feel like a creep going behind his back like this  I wonder how many more lies he has he told that we don’t even know about. 

 

I immediately wrote back:

 

Dear Diane,

 

Tomorrow we will have a heart to heart talk!  Coming from the gardener next door this latest revelation about Adam’s first wife is just to much! Am looking forward to meeting you in person. I have as long as we need to visit–I do not teach tomorrow. 

 

Please let me know what Adam says about his first marriage!

 

Suza

Diane wrote back a little later:

Of course I am not one to mince words or beat around the bush.  When I got off the computer Adam was in the kitchen eating some grapes.  I started in with the gardener story and asked if it was true that there was another ex wife.  He said “Yes.”, Then I reminded him that I had asked him who this woman was and he said an older woman with the same last name. 

 This time he said the marriage was such a long time ago it didn’t count!

Supposedly he was forty when they married and it only lasted two .years.  I asked why it lasted such a short period of time and he said he got bored. 

Then I asked him about the second marriage since that was also only for about two years. He said they had some kind of agreement.

So there you have it in a nutshell.  The first one was a long time ago and the second one was an agreement marriage, so neither one counts. 

So I was married in 1968, that was a long time ago, so basically I was never married either.  Not to mention I divorced in 1982 and that was a long time ago also. 

I am telling you, Suza, who would have thought I would have heard this news from the next door gardener. ! You never know.  The whole time I am hearing this news I couldn’t believe it myself. 

Adam acted very unconcerned about the whole thing. No big deal. It’s not a big deal to me either because I am no longer involved with the man, but I am stunned at how he lies and at the things he has told you. 

Did you get your running shoes out of the closet yet?

Wednesday evening, March 9, 2011:

Diane, this is unbelievable! I was married in 1968 at age eighteen for about nine months. I guess that doesn’t count either. And in the mid 1970’s through 1986. I guess that does not count either. Then I got married a third time. And to think I believed Adam when he assured me he had never ever been married. I must have asked him at least four times when the subject came up. And he teased me about my three failed marriages. Of all the nerve!

It shows a total lack of conscience that he is unconcerned about lying about this!

  

Amazing you heard this from gardener next door. Reminds me of that Sunday when Liz stepped out of the yoga room and I heard her say, “That’s Adam. Diane’s boyfriend!”

 

Half hour later another email from Diane:

Suza, I cannot believe the timing of this whole thing.  First Liz in the yoga room and now the gardener next door.  How quirky is that?  Kinda gives you the chills when you think of it.

 

Have you thought how you are going to handle this whole thing when you meet up with him?

I emailed back:

Diane, it is an amazing coincidence how the gardener next door told you about the first wife right at this point in time!

I think after we meet tomorrow I will have a better sense how to handle this. See you in the morning.

I had already decided that we needed to tell Adam we were talking but I wanted to negotiate this with Diane in person.

I shared all this with Ann, who was out of town visiting her grandchildren.

She wrote:

Wow, Suza. I’ve just read all of today’s emails. Wow.

What the hell do you do now? Can you really break the spell Adam has cast?

On Thursday March 9, 2011, I wrote Ann:

Adam called just now and left a sweet message. His voice tugs at my heart.

 

But when I feel sad and sorry for him I think about his lies. And all the times I missed him so much.

 

Ann, I have a clear conscience sharing all this with you since Diane suggested that I talk about this with a friend. It’s a dilemma for me because Adam does so many good things. I don’t like saying anything negative about him.


He’s coming to Ojai today. He said he was having lunch at the Garden Terrace and  wished I could join him. So I called back and said I would meet him there at 1pm.

 

I am going to have to tell him what I know. I had planned to have this conversation Sunday but looks like it’s today.

 

Ann wrote back:

And you’re meeting Diane this morning, yes? What a day!

 

Thursday, March 9, 2011,

Diane was waiting for me when I arrived at Ojai Cafe Emporium. . We sat outside. The waitress was a friend I went to Nordhoff High School with back in the 1960’s. When she took our order I clued her in.

I joked, “You’ll want to hear this conversation. About a man.”

The three of us laughed – just like teenagers. Because on one level it’s all so funny!

Diane was much more attractive than Adam had described her. She had a smiling, friendly, pretty face and nice figure.

We had already talked so much on the phone and emailed back and forth that we could enjoy meeting each other face-to-face and having breakfast together.

I ordered my favorite tofu scramble. She had a vegetable omelet.

I right away told her that I was meeting Adam for lunch at Garden Terrace. And that I planned to break up with him. But I waited till later for a good time broach the subject of telling Adam up front that we (Diane and I) were talking.

Diane revealed more about her life with Adam.

I couldn’t help but laugh as she described how much he eats. Sounded like she has this big kid eating her out of house and home.

 

Two hours into the conversation I said, “Diane, let’s talk about what I’m going to tell Adam.

“We’re going to have to tell him sooner or later that you and I are talking. I can’t just tell him I found out all this stuff on People Finder.

“I know I agreed to keep all this confidential but now I’d like your permission to tell him that I met with you this morning. It’s much cleaner that way.”

I was relieved when Diane saw the wisdom of this course of action.

However, she was still a bit worried Adam would sway me in the wrong direction.

She said,   “Something tells me that even with all this information you have, you still love him and would still want to have a relationship.  You think you are different from other women and things would be different with you.   All he has to do is confess his lies and promise not to lie again.  Yes or no?”

No.”

 

Then she hit hard to be sure I got the message:

I worried about you falling into his trap.  Remember he told me he gets into trouble with his mouth and gets out of trouble with his mouth.  This has been going on for a long time now, he will never change.  It is an ego booster to think he can get women back after they found him out.

 

I am so glad you found out now and not three or four years later what kind of guy this is.   No woman deserves to be hurt by him in this fashion. 

It just doesn’t phase him. He just moves on to the next woman. Lord help us all.  You just wonder when he is going to get his due.”

As we prepared to leave, Ann said something that really struck a chord

You know what is so sickening about this whole thing is that Adam is really a soft and gentle person.  I don’t know why he has to lie.  And not just to build himself up but about stuff that makes no sense, like going out of town on that Christmas trip.  I just don’t get it.

I said, “Has he ever seen a psychiatrist about this lying? It makes no sense to me either. It’s very sad! “

By the time I got home it was almost noon. Time to rest in the Goddess Pose and get ready for lunch with Adam.

To be continued, Chapter Thirteen: Garden Terrace

Chapter Fourteen

Afterword on Writing Yoga

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10 Responses to “Fishing on Facebook, Chapter Twelve: Ojai Cafe Emporium”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Classic sociopath! He just moves on without any sense of guilt!
    Looks like he was nice and comfy with Diane. Actions speak louder than words. Probably wanted his cake and eat it. Well done Suza! All the characters really come to life!

    Like

  2. Tom Erickson Says:

    I feel much better now! Can’t wait for the climax!

    Like

    • Suza Francina Says:

      Tom, I so appreciate your moral support and caring…I still shake my head in disbelief that I had this experience… two more Chapters and an Afterword, to go!

      Like

  3. janeson Says:

    Suza – love the double entendre in this sentence “Please be patient with me. I am really trying with the tools I have.” *really trying* indeed!

    Like

    • Suza Francina Says:

      Thank you, Janeson, I honestly don’t know how sincere –or not–his “trying” was…. will explore this more in Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen…

      Like

  4. Emerald Says:

    Suza, I was married to a pathological lying sociopath for a quarter of a century. I was way too busy with 2 jobs to see what he was doing to me. When I finally caught him, it felt like I was punched in the stomach. In all that time I never saw empathy or conscience in him, no guilt for what he did to people. A relationship like this eventually makes you feel like you are the one that is screwed up, not the sociopath, and of course he wants it that way to get you off his track. I hope you will publish this story as a book so other women can see how easily they are duped, that a sociopath to your face will be everything you ever dreamed about but is leading a double life and has a split personality.

    Like

    • Suza Francina Says:

      Emerald, thank you for leaving your important comment. Yes, I’m planning on publishing this story as a book. You nailed it when you wrote, “so other women can see how easily they are duped, that a sociopath to your face will be everything you ever dreamed about but is leading a double life and has a split personality.”

      Like

  5. Richard Says:

    Hi Suza,

    This guy needs help…anyone who would use a “humanist, naturalist” persona to hurt women is the lowest of the low…

    Like

  6. Richard Says:

    I say send Seal Team Six after him….

    Like

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