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Chapter 5

A few days later, Peggy arrived at the bank employee’s parking lot to go into work. She immediately became concerned when Ralph Tarrance pulled his flashy BMW in beside her car.

Peggy, and all the other female employees at the bank called him “Ralph the ogler.” Ralph was a reasonably good-looking bachelor. He was an assistant vice president, after all. But, there was no way any woman could ever trust him. He made all women, especially the good looking ones, feel like an object.

Peggy thought, the proper word to describe Ralph would be, ‘greasy.’ No, that wouldn’t be right. Ralph keeps himself too well coffered to be called ‘greasy.’ It’s true he wears his long hair slicked back and covered with some gluey substance. The best word to describe Ralph would be ‘slippery.’ You just can never trust what he says. A woman needs to protect herself from his lecherous ways.

An assistant Vice President is really a minor position with a glorified title. Ralph gloried in it. He was constantly overbearing. The staff went out of their way to avoid him whenever they could.

As Ralph got out of his car Peggy managed to look busy rummaging through her purse. She did not want to be forced to walk into the bank with him. She shuddered as she recalled what had happened a few days earlier. It began early one afternoon when she needed to drop off some papers in Ralph’s office.

“Ah Peggy,” smoothed Ralph, in his beautifully articulated snobby eastern drawl, “How nice of you to drop into my lair. I’ve been meaning to call you. You’ve saved me the trouble. Would you have dinner with me on Saturday evening?”

For some time, Peggy was certain this dreadful invitation would come from Ralph. Her body shivered every time he ogled her. She felt a definite aversion to being in his presence.

She began her planned response. “Ralph, you’re kind to offer to take me to dinner. But, I’m not ready to start a social life. I have Ned, and my schooling. I really don’t have time for anything else. Frankly, Ralph, I’m just putting one foot ahead of the other all day long.”

“Now Peggy, your husband’s been deceased for over two years. It’s time you started a new life. I know you would enjoy having dinner with me. We could try a new restaurant I know about over in Sunset. It’s only a 20 minute drive.”

“Thank you very much, Ralph. I’m…. I’m just not ready,” she exclaimed as she fled his office.

When Peggy returned to her teller window after the encounter with Ralph, there were no customers. This gave her a minute to think. Ralph has a lot nerve of nerve asking me out. He knows I’m a recent widow. It is true; except for those three dates with Myron, I haven’t been near a man since Peter…... Well, I have been out with Jeb. But he’s simply a friend who happens to be male. So far, Jeb has asked me on only one official date.

One thing for sure, if I ever think about a man, it won’t be that creep Ralph!

Besides, I’m not ready. And for sure, Ned’s not ready. Anyway, I don’t have time. I may be 33 years old; but, I’m still not ready.

The next morning as always, Peggy set her alarm for 5:00A.M. Three days a week, she ran for 20 minutes. Running helps clear my head and control my depression. It also creates an effective study period in the early morning. I really enjoy ‘hitting the books’ before breakfast when the old brain is truly sharp. In addition, early study means I don’t take any time away from Ned who usually sleeps until 8:00 or so during summer vacation.

After her run, she showered. As she dried herself, she took a rare glance in the mirror. I’m certainly not beautiful. Way too many freckles. However, I do have a pug nose and a twinkle in my eyes. In addition, the old figure is still pretty decent.

She looked down at her left hand. On her finger were her wedding and engagement rings. I remembered Peter’s excitement when he gave me the diamond. I promised to wear it forever. But, he’s been gone for over two years. Mother is constantly nagging me to remove my rings.

Margo would say, “You’re never going to find someone new, if they think you’re already married. Do you want to be involved with a man who makes a pass at a married lady? I don’t think so. You want a nice respectable man who could be a father for Ned. You’re not going to find a decent person if you continue to wear your wedding ring.”

Mother’s arguments are true, but how can I go back on my word to wear Peter’s ring forever?

Is there a way to compromise? It’s been a long time…… An idea hit. What would happen if I switch the rings to my right hand?

Slowly, Peggy removed the two rings. As she slipped them onto her right hand, it felt…… proper. Perhaps it’s what Peter would want me to do. She looked at the rings on her right hand a long time. Is it Ok, Peter?….. I have to go forward….. I never imagined it would be this hard.

As she finished dressing, she began to wonder….What would Ned think if I found a real boyfriend? I mean, Jeb’s a nice guy, but I don’t consider him husband material. He’s just someone who’s there. I made a huge mistake not warning Ned about Myron. It’s been over two years now. Maybe I should feel Ned out a little bit.

Seconds later, she picked up her purse and hurried downstairs.

At breakfast, she told Ned, “Ralph Tarrance asked me for a date.”

“Who’s Ralph Tarrance?”

He’s a guy I don’t care for, so I told him I wasn’t interested. He did mention it’s been over two years since your dad died. He thought it was time I started seeing men. I suppose he’s right on that score, but it won’t be with him.”

Peggy continued, “You know, Gram keeps saying I ought to get married again. She thinks it would help you to have a father figure in your life. What do you think, Ned?”

“I thinkGram’s crazy. There’s no way I want some other man trying to take my dad’s place. Daddy was my best friend. His memory’s special. I sure wouldn’t want anyone else hanging around here. It would be gross!”

Peggy thought a minute. “I understand how you feel, Ned. In fact, I agree with you. That’s why I haven’t started accepting dates with other men….. Well, except for that one date with Jeb. But you know, Ned, someday a person might come along who’s attractive to me. Would you feel badly if I accepted a date with a nice man?”

“Gee Mom; I never thought about it since you shot down Myron…. If a guy took you out, would you have to kiss him and stuff?”

“I never thought about kissing. That’d be awful. I guess I’m not ready. I don’t see how anyone could make me want to kiss him.”

“There’s never gonna be anyone who can take my dad’s place.”

“You’re absolutely right.”

Later, on the way to the bank Peggy thought, I just learned a lot. Even if I wanted to date someone, it would be excessively traumatic for Ned….. Ned’s only ten. How does he know about kissing? Do boys think about kissing at age ten??? Oh Peter, he’s going to be a teenager in less than three years. How am I ever going to get through those teen years without you?

As she entered the Bank, she took a cursory glance at the bulletin board. A new official notice had been posted, so she stopped to read it:

We are pleased to announce the promotion

of Mr. Ralph Tarrance to Vice President.

His responsibility will be all bank tellers.

He will assume his new duties on July 1st.

Peggy was stunned! The creep was going to be her boss!

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