Category Archives: Romance

Clowning Around For Life (A Story)

Against the serpentine and changing ocean shoreline, Bret curled his toes into the cool, textured sand. The sun disappeared over an hour ago, yet he still stood there, watching the lights of the beachside hotel and the occasional silhouette of a person moving in front of the lights. Elizabeth told him she’d be back in a few minutes so that they could take a walk along the shoreline.

He knew she was terrible with directions and often quickly lost her way. The hotel wasn’t THAT big, though. And it wasn’t THAT far away from the beach. As he turned and began walking towards the hotel, he could hear her voice calling.

Her voice was always a little higher than most. The modulation of the waves made her voice faintly waft toward him. He shook his head, wondering what mayhem her internal GPS had caused. He stopped and listened for her next shout. He heard her again when he walked around the building and the service area. A large block wall separated the parking lot. He laughed. Somehow, she had exited the hotel from the service exit and trapped herself between the walls.

“Hold on a second, Elizabeth!” he half-shouted.

“Bret? Get me out of here!” she shouted back, her voice going up another half-octave.

“Go back the way you came,” he offered. “I can’t see the opening. And quit laughing.” He laughed even harder.

“That’s what she said!” she added.

From the other side of the wall, she squealed with delight. “Heads up!”

Before he knew what was happening, a bucket flew over the wall.
Bret laughed again and shook his head.

“Sweetie, why did you just throw me a bucket?”

“Duh!” she replied incredulously. “So you can stand on it and climb over the wall to come get me, dumbass.”

Bret laughed hard. “Umm, you could have used the bucket to climb over the wall yourself, so who’s the dumbass now?”

“Damnit!” She yelled while giggling.

Bret grabbed the bucket and threw it over without any warning. He turned and walked fast around the corner, turning to gain access to the barrier. When Bret rounded the corner, Elizabeth was up against the high brick wall, turned sideways, reaching to get her fingers across the upper edge. He carefully walked up behind her and goosed on the back of her upper right thigh.

One leg kicked backward, pushing the bucket away while her knee jerked forward, hitting Bret in the nose and knocking him to the ground. Her crotch landed directly above his broken, bloody nose. He still managed to laugh and smile and say, “Nice landing!” which made her howl with laughter at the absurdity of the situation.

As Bret stood up, the blood ran down his chin. “Let’s go to the ocean,” he said and laughed.

Elizabeth knew he wasn’t joking, so they walked hand-in-hand around the wall and back toward the waves. Bret’s other hand gripped each side of his painful, oozing nose. They didn’t stop at the shoreline. They continued to step out into the gentle waves until the water was at their knees. Bret leaned over and washed his face as best as he could. They both could only imagine what someone watching might think. Neither cared. That was one of their superpowers. Bret stood up and circled his arm around her waist, pulling her close. They’d go back inside in a few minutes to see about Bret’s nose.

When they woke up the following day, Bret’s nose was very swollen, and he had two black eyes. Elizabeth took one look at him and began laughing uncontrollably.

“That bad, huh?” Bret asked.

“I’m sorry to be laughing so hard! I know that has to hurt! I was just thinking about all the stories we’ll be able to make up to tell people why you have black eyes in our wedding pictures!!!” Tears were running down her face because she was laughing so hard.

“We could have someone be a stand-in for the pictures!” Bret replied. “Is that hot guy from your favorite show available?” He laughed.

“No, I already called his agent. You’re stuck! Besides, you look kind of hot with those black eyes. Bad boy, even. It could be a knee-jerk reaction for me to say so, though,” she added wryly.

“Oh, I’ll give you a knee-jerk reaction, all right,” Bret replied as he rolled over on Elizabeth and gave her a quick kiss, mumbling, “a wee-nee jerk reaction!”

Elizabeth laughed. The weenie joke was one of her favorites, even though it was so stupid and old. It made her laugh every time they used it.

That evening during their beachside wedding ceremony, Elizabeth kept giggling. Bret thought she was tickled at the two witnesses he found that agreed to be there for their wedding. Witnesses that she did not even see before the ceremony. One dressed in an inflatable T-Rex costume, and the other was a clown. He wouldn’t put it past her to use a fake marriage officiant, either. The pastor laughed when Bret leaned in and whispered, “This is a legal marriage, isn’t it?” The clergy replied, “Lord help you if it isn’t.”

Elizabeth giggled out her vows and “I do.”

Bret knew the clown and dinosaur were funny, but not THAT funny. She had tears streaming down her eyes from holding back laughter.

After their first kiss as husband and wife, Elizabeth let out a massive howl of laughter and bent over at her waist to catch her breath. Bret had never seen her laugh that hard.

“Do I have a big booger on the end of my nose or something??” asked Bret.

Elizabeth waved her hands and shook her head no. She was still laughing too hard to speak. Finally, she pointed down.

Bret looked at the bottom of her dress.

She slowly raised it to reveal that she was wearing a ginormous pair of clown shoes and rainbow stockings under her elegant, white dress.

She had also hidden two clown noses in her bouquet for a few pictures after the ceremony.

“Something else that kept getting me tickled was that I noticed how the colors of the sunset matched the colors of your black eyes!!!!” as she roared with laughter again.

During their wedding dinner that night, which was Pizza Hut pizza-of course!-they hatched a plan.

They would send out their wedding picture as their Christmas card this year. Each card would have a different story explaining why Bret had black eyes and a swollen nose in the picture.

When December came around, their stories ranged from a seagull attack, that he wanted his eye shadow to match the colors of the sunset, and “This is what happens to Bret when he tries to use his hemorrhoid cream as a moisturizer.”

I think these two are going to be just fine.
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Relationships With Men

A friend said something to me recently that made me promise to compile a list of dating and/or relationship advice for her. I give you my guarantee that you will find something in here to love and laugh at. It’s not finished. Yes, I’m a hypocrite.

If you’re older, you’re in a quandary. Any man you find is going to have a history. If he’s been alone for a long time, he’s telling you he either is very happy staying that way or he’s been traumatized by the process. Either one will wear you out if you’re with him. The other alternative is that he’s been with a lot of women without commitment. That brings its own issues. People are meant to be with people, no matter how much we piss each other off and disappoint one another. “I don’t need someone” is a yellow flag.

“Sex is like the playground. Intimacy is foremost. But you shouldn’t expect each other to sit on the bench at the playground. The equipment is there for enjoyment.” – X

That tingly feeling, or butterflies you feel? That’s your common sense fleeing your body.

Find a man who looks at you like a piece of cake or his favorite beer.

Don’t expect a man who’ll ask if you want something to drink. Find a man who will know what you like and bring it to you without asking.

Find a man who doesn’t hesitate to give you reassurance. It’s not needy. It’s normal. In my opinion, anyone who balks at doing so doesn’t have the empathy required to love deeply.

If you’re interested in someone, tell them. As soon as you can muster the courage. No man worth having will worry about not being the one to initiate.

In the initial stages, if you find yourself waiting on him to call or text, shout “Next!” He’s either playing games or letting you know he does indeed have connection issues with you.

Men find the time if they are blazing for you. They call. They text. They make plans and keep them. Anything else is at least a yellow flag. Don’t accept less. “Next!”

If your potential partner kisses you with firm, hard lips, he’s no good. You think I’m crazy? Think about it. That includes pecking.

Do your best to not chase someone who seems to be reluctant. It’s hard, I know. It’s an adult response to tell them, “I feel like I’m chasing you and I don’t do that if I can help it. It’s time to move on.”

“I’m not looking for a relationship” versus “I’m not ready for a relationship.” Those are two vastly different sentiments. The latter should be a warning to you. They are hedging their bets. That reluctance will translate into problems for you if you don’t know the difference.

“I’m not interested in being spoken to like that” is one of the most powerful things a woman can practice saying and learn to say. A man who likes you will listen. A man who will use you will be defensive and threatening.

Enthusiasm is a great predictor. Are they excited to see you? About life? About having to unload the dishwasher? No one with a lackluster attitude makes a good partner. This is doubly true if you’re generally outgoing and optimistic. They’ll make you feel stupid for being energetic.

If your partner puts in a lot of effort, make sure you do the same. Unequal partnerships tend to fail. If your man isn’t showing effort and patience, he’s not the one for you long-term.

Don’t be with someone who hides their feelings, even if they are otherwise good or good-looking. They are hiding more than their feelings. You’ll be trying to fix this forever.

Expectations are not standards. Expecting a potential partner to behave a certain way is almost impossible. But standards regarding any behavior are yours alone to determine. These standards translate as boundaries. Know what they are before you start dating. And communicate them as directly as you can. If he screams in anger in the early stages (much less threatens physical harm or actually doing it), he’s going to do much worse after you’re invested in him.

Find a man who knows that the bathroom is yours and he has just enough space for his five items. A man who has more than deodorant, a razor, soap, and the cologne you like is too metro to put up with. Yes, that’s only four things. YOU get to pick the fifth item. Fight me if I’m wrong.

Likewise, having two bathrooms will save a lot of relationships. But most of the second one is still yours, too, even if you want to put up horrid guest towels and decorative soaps.

If someone gives you the silent treatment early in a relationship, it will only worsen later. Communication will diminish to the point where anger builds a nest around your heart.

Most men know what “catch and release” means. Remind them of that if they aren’t the one for you. The longer they are out of the water, the worse it is for you both.

“Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.” – Joan Crawford If you can’t open your heart fully, it doesn’t matter what the intentions are of the person you’re with. Everyone – and I mean everyone – has been burned by love. But it’s essential to living a full life. It doesn’t have to be romantic love, but we are wired psychologically and emotionally for one component of it to be that kind of love.

Men don’t like pillows all over the bed and couch. Learn to laugh about it.

Don’t be an option for anyone, no matter how many butterflies are swimming inside you.

“Ask a man the best book he’s read since high school. It doesn’t matter so much WHAT the answer is. How long it takes him to respond or how he answers will tell you all you need to know about how elastic his mind is.” – X

“If a man watches SportsCenter an hour a day while you’re dating, he’s gonna watch five hours a day after you are.” – X This is gospel. If you’re okay with that, that’s cool. If not, get another man.

Never date a man who won’t drink after you – or let you drink out of his. A corollary to this is that you should take it as a red flag if he legitimately objects to you eating off his plate.

“Love, at first sight, is possible, but it pays to take a second look.”

Unknown

A red flag for a man is if he keeps his truck or car detailed. Men who love moments don’t worry about the aesthetics of their vehicle. There are very few exceptions to this. His car should be cluttered – just like yours.

Keep in mind the Rhianna joke: unless you are her, tell your man that you are not going to love the way he lies.

In any relationship, make sure that you are the crazy one. It will save you a lot of tears. And unless you’re an onion, that will wear you down.

“Once someone told me: ‘Put your finger in your partner’s nose. If it disgusts you, it means you’re not in love.’” – The Internet

Treat a man like a magazine subscription. Get a few months of issues in your life before you pay for it.

If you’re older, it is safe to date a man who isn’t great-looking. No risk of passing on his ugly genes because you’ve already had your kids. You can love a man with a sense of humor and just turn off the lights. It’s easier than being with someone super attractive.

Being wanted while wearing a bikini is easy. After six months, your man should love seeing you in a t-shirt and with your hair messy. And if your hair isn’t a mess afterward, he is not the right one.

Lingerie is highly over-rated. It might be a component of his fantasy life, but he will be just as lit up by your enthusiasm and Royals t-shirt as he is by crazy, frilly underwear.

Never be with a man who is afraid of therapy, or looks down on those who need or want it.

If a man wants to be honest with you, even if it’s painful, see it as a gesture of love. If he didn’t want to be with you, he would do like most people do and just leave, to avoid potential conflict or discomfort. Staying and saying the hard things is a nugget of pure gold.

“Honesty is the key to a relationship. If you can fake that, you’re in.” — Richard Jeni

When a man tells you that you are beautiful, believe him. Likewise, he needs to be able to say that yes, your butt does look big in those jeans or that your favorite shirt reminds him of a jailbreak. You’ll know by the way he touches you that you light him up.

“The ideal husband understands every word his wife doesn’t say.” — Alfred Hitchcock

“Love is telling someone their hair extensions are showing.” – Natasha Leggero

If you both don’t have a lot of laughs, you can’t be happy. Yes, it is that simple.

Don’t fight about the color of the couch. Fight about who gets the last bite of ice cream. And always offer it to one another.

Always choose a man who wants you to be pleased first. It’s one of the biggest red flags. Yes, in bed. And everywhere else. If both of you have this attitude, it’s hard to ruin.

The clever way to express the above paragraph is this: “Nice guys finish last.”

“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.” – Oscar Wilde

Trust your instincts if you feel this way!

If you haven’t wanted to use a skillet on him at least a dozen times, it means you’re not experiencing the depth of love characterized by depth of feeling. It also means that you’re avoiding conflict. Anyone worth having will have habits that drive you nuts. But it will also keep your life interesting.

“Only time can heal your broken heart, just as only time can heal his broken arms and legs.” — Miss Piggy

“Always kiss after an argument. Even if you tell him to kiss your ass.” – X

You cannot be happy with a person who doesn’t text you back, or comfortably say “I love you” when you do. There are exceptions, but someone who can’t say “I love you” when the fire is burning hot will piss you off exponentially later.

“I don’t dance” is a red flag. Even if they look stupid, they will dance with you in the living room.

If your man doesn’t randomly reach out to touch you, hug you unexpectedly, or want to sit with you, even if it’s intolerably warm in the room, he needs to be left outside.

If your relationship is healthy, no man will ever utter the words, “This is how I am. Take it or leave it.” Leave it and find someone willing to change and adapt.

He should show you appreciation each day, even if only to acknowledge that you haven’t kicked him in the shins. Because he’s certainly done or said something stupid. Little things matter just as much as the big things.

Quality time matters. But so does incremental time. A good man will seek connections that are quick, too. They will share moments or interesting things. If they don’t, although you would be reluctant to trust me, it means that he doesn’t love you creatively or intimately. “Strong and silent” always ends up, “Strong and gone.”

A good man will be afraid for you to meet some of his family. Because some of them are crazy and don’t want him to be happy. He will take you anyway, trusting you to respond with humor when the lunacy starts. Even when Uncle Steve hugs you in a weird way.

Never be with a man who hesitates to tell anyone that you are together. There is almost no exception to this rule. If you ignore it, you’re in for trouble. It’s possible for him to be going through a divorce or separation that necessitates VERY temporary privacy. Everything else is a large waving red flag if he wants to limit who knows about you. It’s toxic and if you acquiesce to it, you’re asking for trauma and heartache.

Ask for a man’s credit report. If it’s bad, he will still gladly show you.

If your man has one DWI, he might be worth it. If he has two, throw him back to the sorting pile. And if his mother answers to the name “Butch,” pick again.

Ask your potential man, “Tell me a story where you did an ex dirty or behaved badly.” All men have at least one such story. If he won’t or can’t, he’s misbehaved a lot and you’ll be next.

“Do what you did at the beginning of the relationship and there won’t be an end.” – Anthony Robbins

Never date anyone who has nothing positive to say about any of his exes. If they are all bad in his mind, either he has poor decision-making ability, or he is the bad one.

Likewise, if he is really close with one or all his exes, be very cautious. Good partners can be friendly with exes, but it should be extremely transparent and you should be welcome to have a voice and presence in these arrangements. If you don’t both agree and have the same expectations, find another man before investing a lot of time with him.

Every relationship is work sometimes. But clock in and grab his butt. Light-hearted intimacy is a glorious indicator of both interest and enthusiasm. Just because it requires work doesn’t mean it doesn’t pay well.

What do you do if your boyfriend walks out? You shut the door. If you smile, another man will knock. Trust me.

From Beth on Yellowstone: “Because you have all the p****, and half the money…”

“Men with pierced ears are good. They already experienced pain and have experience buying jewelry.” – The Internet

The joke in today’s world: you can touch each other, but not each other’s phones. Keep that in mind.

The Phone Enthusiasm Rule: if your potential man is sitting on the couch tired and his phone rings… if his level of energy jumps and he suddenly starts sharing with whoever is on the other end, it’s a signal he’s not engaged with your conversationally and probably emotionally. This is a generalization. But it’s exactly like watching a co-worker greet everyone else with a bright smile and energy while mumbling “hey” to you. There’s a reason for that and over time it becomes almost subconscious for them.

If a man is really into you, you won’t have to beg for texts, phone calls, or time. He already has shifted his life to make time. That some men can do so means that most men can. They just don’t want to. Find another man.

If a man tells you that you’re asking too much, you are asking the wrong person. Don’t dampen your energy, your laughter, or your need for intimacy. For any man. Emotionally unavailable men easily convince women that they are unreasonable.

If you feel like you have to chase a man for attention, time, or energy, get another man before you’re too far down the road. It is easy to fall in love despite that feeling.

“You wouldn’t know love if it kicked you in the fangs.” — Lorena (True Blood Season 7, 2010)

“You can of course find someone special using online dating. But you can also use YouTube to teach yourself how to take out a kidney.” – X

Relationships fail when the boat has too many passengers. Your canoe should hold two tightly and three if one of them is in the water. Keep your partner in your mind and close. Leave everyone else outside the boat but in your life.

You can’t be happy with someone who won’t provide you with the physical intimacy you crave. If you outmatch them, they will be threatened. And if they outmatch you, you will wonder where they learned it. Remember that it doesn’t matter how they got there, it only matters where they end up.

Ask and you shall receive. And if you don’t, ask it of another. Seriously. You know what you like and what you love. Ask twice if necessary, but never a third time.

True love is halitosis and still kissing.

Love is unconditional. Relationships have boundaries. It’s hard to keep that in mind and separate them. Almost impossible.

The Kink Rule: if there are sexual things you enjoy that your potential partner doesn’t like, it greatly decreases the odds you will be happy long-term. It’s one of the reasons it is better to scare him off as soon as possible if he’s not compatible. The same holds true for him.

You need to openly talk about sexual rejection before you fall in love. These expectations erode relationships when each person has different reactions to it. Talk as candidly as you can. Your sexual energy will decline eventually. Your intimacy doesn’t have to. You need to be prepared.

Your partner should be the one who hears about your ups and downs first. If you don’t do this, over time your connection will erode. Find someone who actively wants to hear about yours – and share theirs, too.

Don’t romanticize who a person could be or their potential. Start a relationship with the idea that they’ll probably BE that person.

Unless you’re a handyman or handywoman, don’t plan on fixing anyone.

If you love someone and you are both happy, your relationship doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. Stop letting prevailing notions affect your partnership. It’s all between you and all the shoulds disappear if you’re both happy and satisfied. No matter what it looks like to others.

Telling someone how you feel can’t ruin a good relationship long-term. If you are afraid to share with your partner, it is hard to blame them when they are reacting to a version of you. It’s a popular cliché to say that talking about your feelings should never lead to an argument. If it does, that dynamic is waving a red flag to you both.

Note whether someone “can’t” with you, but “can” with others.

If a man drinks or uses drugs often (and especially so when you don’t), it greatly increases the likelihood of disengagement and unacceptable words and behavior. There are exceptions – but not enough to warrant a serious look.

A good man will say nice things to you and about you. If they stop, the honeymoon is over. If a man noticeably stops complimenting you, you’re in trouble. Likewise, if he’s overly critical of you or begins to swap compliments for criticisms, it’s time to talk.

A good partner shouldn’t have trouble regulating his emotions. There’s a fine line between passionate and batsh!t crazy.

A good rule of thumb: the hotter a man is, the harder it is for you to be rational. Our biology is the culprit. I’m not recommending that you find an ugly man, but if you’re with someone who is eye candy, remember what too much sugar does to you. You’ll put up with a lot of crap from someone who is better-looking.

Avoid men who criticize instead of complaining. It’s a subtle difference and hard for most people to put their fingers on. There is a difference and one will wear you down emotionally.

Find out whether your potential partner has different ideas about what ‘tidy’ and ‘clean’ mean. You’re going to argue in the long-term if your man isn’t as ‘tidy’ as you are. 9 out of 10 times it’s the woman maintaining your place, fair or not. Also, don’t let a man avoid doing his share of the chores, housework, or cleanup. Even when dating.

As comedian Simon Taylor said: “Ahh, Tinder. The crystal meth of online dating.”

If you think you’re in love with someone but it’s draining you, you need to listen to the voice in your head and how much loneliness or feelings of unworthiness are keeping you from finding someone who listens to you and lights you up.

I don’t remember who said it, but these are wise words of dating advice:

Don’t. If you do, be careful. Lastly, you’re going to do it anyway because chemistry and biology inevitably drive you bonkers if you don’t.

If you are independent and stable, red flags aren’t warnings: they are deal-breakers. You need to decide what those might be before falling in love.

You are not selfish for wanting the same love and enthusiasm you give to your partner to be returned in equal measure. If you feel like you are, you need to look hard at your relationship expectations.

If they give you distance when you need love, find another man. Life is short and the primary purpose of a partner is love and companionship.

“Someday you’ll meet someone amazing who just gets you. And they won’t want to date you either.” – The Internet.

Be who you are so that you don’t have to worry about slipping up or being inauthentic. The man you’re interested in is going to find out anyway.

Whether you think so or not, most men are intimidated by you.

Everything is negotiation. If he won’t, move on. If he pushes you too far past your comfort zone, examine it closely.

The Magician’s Observation: you’ll look at him like everyone else has disappeared.

An easy way to learn a lot about your potential man is to fold your arm around him in public when you start dating. Or reach for his hand to hold. If he is reluctant in the first stages, he’s going to be a royal pain in the ass long-term. There are no exceptions to this except in cases where a man has no hands or arms. If he shows reluctance around certain people or friends, he’s hiding something.

The Friendship Reciprocity Rule: it’s okay for your man (or you) to have friends of the opposite sex. But… the only way it will work is if you’re always welcome to be friends with them, too, and be with them comfortably. I learned and earned this one the hard way. Each case is different. But if he has female friends you don’t know, can’t communicate with, or anything less than transparency, run. If he’s flirting with his female friends, sexting, or anything across your boundaries, he’s keeping his options open or using the attention. Whether it’s harmless to him or not, if it bothers you, it is not harmless to you.

Most people are “independent” until about 11 p.m. at night. It’s an old joke. It’s true, though. Take note of how your interactions spike and at what hours of the day. If a potential partner puts you mostly on hold until sundown, it generally is a bad sign.

It’s also a bad sign if he won’t commit to making plans short-term. Trust me, he’s making plans with someone. Most people, with some exceptions, have their phones on them most of the time. “I’ll let you know by 5 p.m.” is a hell of a lot better than silence or something vague. Ten seconds is all it takes to send a quick reply or emoji. They can’t be playing Diamond Crush all day.

The Four Horsemen, as they are called: contempt, criticism, stonewalling (or withdrawal), and defensiveness. Especially when arguing. It’s not about WHAT you fight about, it’s how. Any of the four will kill your chances. Pay attention.

Although I touched on it earlier, if your man generally has a low opinion of all women through his comments (not just his exes), run. Most people of both sexes are generally good people and want to be happy. Anyone focusing on their experiences to justify statements such as “all women are _______” has larger issues that you’ll have to endure.

Most men don’t care if your nails are done. Most don’t even notice them. Men also don’t care if your legs are perfectly shaved, either. In fact, I personally believe that ones who do are prone to being a&&holes.

When someone is pissed off, you are not speaking to the person, you are speaking to the mood. Learn early if they need a little space or prefer to argue without using it as an excuse to be mean-spirited.

A good man will want to share his tastes in music with you. But he’ll be equally fascinated to know yours, too. If he’s selfish about it, take it as a larger sign.

When you first get to know a man, use these questions: “What kind of washing detergent do you prefer?” “Does your vacuum cleaner use bags or is it bagless?” “How do you like to cook your vegetables?” They seem innocuous but convey a lot more information than you’d think. Pay attention.

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The above list is not all-inclusive, nor universally applicable.

Love, X

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just a chair

the chair too teensy

yet made immense by enthusiasm

(like life)

eleven elbows and twelve knees, it seemed

i paid a burdened price for my gaffes

yet decided to surrender to yes

instincts certain, my mind girded with laughter

fused into the chair

interlocking and surprising pieces

murmurs, whispers

time postponed yet winged

the chair, both metaphor and corporeal

you can fit if you will it

you can find a place for your too much or extra

and let the river of wrong

flow anew

just sit

Personal Post

This is a post about my past, much of it written long ago. Not to dwell on it, but to expunge it from my head. I am not in this place mentally anymore. I’m actively choosing a reset and finding happiness.

Because the thunderstorm was about to commence, she decided to bring inside the two plastic oval feeders that jutted off the balcony. Instead of placing them on the floor, she put them on the stove. She was drinking, of course, a ritual that started as soon as she came home from work. A routine might have given her sanity, but it erased her ability to live a normal life. Many mornings, she woke up very early and started drinking. “It’s just beer,” she’d say, drinking all day and night.

Much later, I got tired and wanted to lay down. She was in her energetic yet lethargic music mode, cycling through a good yet repetitive list of music from her past. She often spent hours blasting music at high volume. While I loved and enjoyed much of the music, she irritatedly refused to let me pick music almost all the time. She would withdraw into herself as I sat there next to her immobile and waiting for her to engage me. Much less give me affection or attention. She often danced to highly sexualized dances while she listened to music that way. If I tried to touch her or respond appropriately, she would push me away and say, “beep beep.” Later I deliberately practiced asking. The answer was no every time I tried.

At some point, I felt her lay down next to me. As she stumbled up out of the bed, I opened my eyes and for some reason had a little trouble breathing. Light filtered through from wall plugins and light in the bedroom or kitchen. I couldn’t clear my eyes because everything looked cloudy. As she entered the kitchen I heard a strange piercing scream. I literally jumped from the bed, coughing a little. I ran into the kitchen to see her standing in front of the stove. Thick smoke and flames for shooting up from its surface. She grabbed the burning and molten plastic bird feeders as both the feeders and the contents burned. She flung the contents into the sink, onto the floor, and around her. Although I couldn’t understand what was going on, I knew she might be burning herself as she grabbed the molten plastic feeders. I intervened as best as I could and tried to determine if she was burned or injured.

The apartment was filled with thick smoke but luckily the fire had not progressed. The burners were ruined from melted plastic and it smelled pungent from the burning plastic and birdseed.

I looked into the sink. She was so confused that she had confused the round bird feeder with a skillet and had cracked an egg or two into it to cook the egg. And then lay down next to me as the feeder began to burn.

She began to wail and cry in frustration and anger. I tried to calm her but she was wild with confused embarrassment. She laid on the floor half-naked, her robe barely covering her. She screamed and cried in bursts. I was scared for both of us and I wasn’t sure how far down the mental rabbit hole she might go. I have pictures of the mess and it evokes a lot of mixed feelings.

I spent an hour cleaning even as I tried to calm her down and console her.

I finally got her to lay down. The next morning, I changed out her burners with mine. And then went about the long process of cleaning.

Because she stayed in bed really late, hours past her normal waking time, a friend of hers had reached out to me asking if she was okay. I did the best I could to explain away everything and say that she was okay. I chose my words carefully. One of the things that had always stuck between us was that she insisted that our relationship be kept secret from her male friend. It was a huge red flag and I tried communicating repeatedly about it. It’s not her fault – it’s mine. Had I to do it over again, I would have said, “No” at the outset. Despite what she says in her narrative, I carefully navigated the line to let her friend know she was okay but had experienced a brutal night.

I don’t know how to characterize her mental state when she got up. But you can imagine… I had hoped it would be ‘the’ event to get her to stop drinking.

That was also the day she decided to do multiple hits of psychedelic mushrooms.

I was still confused and upset, and also nervous because of what had happened the night before.

Though she had promised me she would have no one else around when she did drugs, the allegedly concerned friend came over without invitation, another thing that she told him he couldn’t do. They proceeded to sit on the floor and cuddle and kiss while I was in the room, repeatedly telling each other how much they loved each other and what their friendship meant. She was deep into her mushroom hallucinations. It did not look like friendly cuddling though. At one point he lay on top of her as she lay on the floor. I had to tell her twice to close her robe because she was exposed.

As a result of the hours of laying on the floor, she had bruises all over her body.

Not only had I survived a near-miss with possible death due to the fire, but I had to witness what I consider to be a nervous breakdown exacerbated by alcohol and mushrooms. Adding insult to injury, I had to witness her being very inappropriate with a so-called friend. She and that friend had previous interactions, as well as interactions with his ex-wife. And although she had friendzoned him, it was obvious that he always wanted her and loved her. You can imagine that internal conflict inside me. Because the intimacy between her and I had come to a standstill, the hurt was amplified. I’d communicated my longing and needs multiple times, each time rebuffed. To see her behave that way with someone who obviously wanted her was beyond indescribable. She definitely did not cuddle with me like that, or tell me she loved me in that way. I tried to interact with her, but she pushed me away and made several hurtful comments ridiculing me. The friend also provided her with a mushroom supply.

Coming out of that confusing night and drug-filled day, the same friend reached out to me. I know that he already knew that she and I were together. Anyone would. Only she believed he didn’t really know. She on the other hand had insisted for months that our relationship be kept a secret from him. No matter how I explained the pain that caused me, she violently insisted. I asked her more than once to just tell him and sort the consequences. This confused me too because she too had been in a previous relationship where the other person was ashamed of her and demanded that she be kept a secret from his life. That evening, because the friend was hinting, I told him that of course, I had been with her all night.

The next day and for days later, even though I had been there for her and cleaned up the incredible mess, she was most focused on the fact that I had allegedly ruptured her demand that I do not say anything about our relationship to her friend. The friend’s possible reaction dwarfed being in a relationship with me.

She couldn’t understand that I had not planned it or the incredible circumstance she had put me under the night of the fire or the entire day with the mushrooms.

Much later, too late, I decided I could not tolerate her secrecy anymore and told her I’d had enough. All the months of me being communicative and honest and open with her had not worked. I should have said no to it all from the very beginning because all the red flags and warning signs were there. Secrecy is always a problem. And that kind of friendship with someone who wants you in that way was always an ongoing problem. It too was exacerbated by the fact that they were drinking buddies and his presence made it impossible for me to be around her when she wasn’t drinking. And it robbed me of conversations that we should have had together. It’s not her fault. It’s mine. I ignored my instincts and boundaries because I loved her and feared losing her and the loneliness that would ensue. I did have multiple conversations with her, trying to explain the hurt that she was causing by refusing to see it from my point of view. It’s okay to have friends, but not ones who spend their fantasy life imagining being with the person you love.

When she stopped drinking entirely, I think she understood the gravity of that night and what she put me through the next day.

I will never forget it.

Part of any relationship is the negotiation of boundaries between both people. I have learned the hard way. It is perfectly okay to have friends, but it is equally true that there has to be a discussion and acknowledgment when it’s not working. And to me the principal ingredient is secrecy. If the interactions are transparent and nothing is kept from the other, it’s healthy. I experienced something before myself that was similar. For 90% of the time, it was just friendly. If the relationship is working and there is physical intimacy between you and your partner those sorts of things almost never cause a major rift. But when one person is not being listened to and not getting what they need out of the relationship, the danger increases tenfold. Not getting the attention you want inevitably leads you to look for it elsewhere.

After the birdseed night, she wouldn’t let me be around him, and she continued to have him over and drink with him. I wasn’t allowed or invited. Anything above board and open would be okay, but to be excluded knowing how I felt was a red flag that I should not have ignored. Whether she sees it that way or not, she was more concerned about his feelings than mine.

My therapist had me write down a bunch of my stories and to see how they looked written out. Had they happened to another person, obviously I would have said that I was being disrespected and to get away until she changed her behavior.

People who knew me asked me why I was dormant some days, with both my blog and social media. I wrote three dozen entries, not with the intent of disparagement. Rather, to get my thoughts on paper and look at them like a third person. It’s a story of constantly asking for attention and affection. And yes, intimacy. Drinking was the third person between us. Her friend was the fourth.

The good thing that came out of it is that I flat out told her I was done explaining sharing my life with anyone I wanted to. And then I wasn’t going to explain or defend her insistence on secrecy.

Having a secret relationship is not privacy. Telling the other person he or she can’t talk to people about the ‘us’ should have been a deal-breaker for me early on. Factoring in that I couldn’t even be around him, much less have our relationship known to him, or discussed after he already knew, seems toxic to me now. She had stopped interacting on social media with me, too, and never publicly acknowledged me. Due to covid and her tendency to be a hermit, drink, and follow a hellacious sleep routine, we did not go out once as a couple.

That night she sat on the couch next to me and texted a previous interest nude pictures of herself, ones I had never seen, that about killed me. She angrily defended it until she stopped drinking. The person receiving the texts is one I had warned her about, and a person who everybody believed that the two of them had an affair. He is married. She also behaved inappropriately with him at work, something that really bewildered me, given how she angrily pretended she barely knew me under the same circumstances. She would die of shock if she knew that everybody knew that she had behaved that way with him. She drunkenly insisted that it didn’t mean anything and that it wasn’t sexual, even though they were beautiful nude pictures of her when she was younger and the language they were using was extremely graphic. She said they were pictures of her before so they couldn’t possibly be sexual. I had the same visceral reaction, in part because she was not being intimate with me for several weeks at that time. It is difficult to reconcile being physically starved while watching the person you want to be with be flirtatious most verbally and physically with other people, much less sexting while you are sitting right next to her and being ignored.

That she had shared stories of being with people she worked with reminded me that words and actions must align. Secrecy should have been my biggest red flag.

I asked her to let me see all those pictures four times. She said she would but never did. When she was angry with me, she insisted that she was going to text me all of them. She didn’t.

She also told me that there was a website out there that a few people had access to, pictures of her when she was younger and very sexual. I never got to see that either, even as other men out in the world had access to them. I can’t believe I tolerated that or that she thought such a repository of pictures and excluding me would be anything other than deeply hurtful. I’m not complaining that the pictures existed. I’m complaining that I wasn’t allowed to see them.

There is no shame in me admitting that her sexuality was explosive from the very beginning. It’s true that it was always while she was drinking. But I had never experienced anything like that. She told me crazy stories of her sexual past. She opened me up to new things. I of course did not begrudge her the past. My arrogance shielded me from realizing that I was just another person in the pattern, one with feelings who was about to learn what it feels like to be slowly starved of those things. And she did starve me. Both for what I call routine affection and physical intimacy. It was a terrible affliction to be in the best shape of my life and to want someone like that and be unable to express it.

I insisted she stopped drinking. And I also asked for more intimacy. She stopped drinking but couldn’t provide the hugs, the kind words, or her hands on me. I hated to give up asking. As it turns out I never got to be with her once when she wasn’t drinking. So I don’t know if her wild sexuality is really a part of her or a residual symptom of something else. I do know that she reeled me in with that wild sexuality. And then turned it off. She wouldn’t hear any compromises, no matter how serious or heartfelt they were on my part. I have a feeling she’s done this before. No one wants a relationship without physicality.

People become more uninhibited when they drink, but just like hypnosis, they don’t do or say things they don’t want to. They just become uninhibited about doing so.

Weeks after she stopped drinking, I found her friend has indeed come over and brought alcohol. She had some. It’s hard to believe that anyone who cared about her would expose her to drinking again. It’s not that he is a bad person – it’s his right to behave as he sees fit. He wasn’t the problem, not in the relationship sense. But to an extent he needs her to be the person she was before, for a variety of reasons. She maintains contact with people who bring discord and needless stress to her life, one that she needs to leave behind to be happy and satisfied.

When I wrote on social media about HSV2, she was not happy. I didn’t name or her or point fingers. I did it because I don’t like secrecy.

My part of the story is mine to tell, even if I do so without naming people or hurting them needlessly.

I tried to show her the normal attention of someone who appreciates her and life. Most of my efforts were treated as intrusions while she drank.

Our biggest problem other than her drinking was that she could not see that I was not exaggerating my need for love and affection. I was made to feel crazy and “extra” for wanting it. I wanted her to be happy and to have a normal relationship. She’s getting older. The old patterns won’t serve her anymore. I couldn’t continue having a life bereft of what most people would consider basic affection and intimacy.

I know this is a rambling, weird post. I’m tired of it mocking me in my draft file.

NSFW: The Siren Of Sex

This is an unusual post. Its theme might bother you, so be warned.

I reverted it to ‘draft’ form for several weeks because people kept personalizing it. It’s true I understand a lot of it.

This isn’t my story, but I was asked to retell it in the way that only I can.

I am not saying some of it doesn’t resonate with me, though. The parts that resonate with me are what allowed me to flush the description and agony to life.

Again, though, this is NOT my story.

I’ve seen countless retellings and versions of it on TikTok.

You’ll see her thirsty and carefully crafted social media. There aren’t many candid, spontaneous photos because she’s apparently unsure of herself. It will confuse you because she will have one persona in private and another one around other people. The public one is effervescent, vibrant, and wily. Even with male colleagues and male friends. The pictures she does share though are thought out and send an undeniable message. Multiple men and exes will follow her and make innuendo. She texts many of them. It’s her life so, of course, it’s her right. You’ll feel stupid for feeling a bit threatened by it all – that blatant sexuality that she says she’s oblivious to. You’re not a jealous person and you have learned not to begrudge anyone their sexual history. All that matters is that she is with you now. Over time, those intrusions will noticeably detract from your intimate time, even conversationally. As your physical connection lessens, her contact with all those previous lovers and potential replacements will begin to infect your head with previously unknown worries. Truthfully, had the physical connection not dwindled, it wouldn’t be a problem most of the time. Connection begets intimacy and usually evaporates one’s self-doubt. Without it? It exponentially worsens a troubled, lonely mind. You can easily be replaced by any number of people, all of whom will have to undergo the same pattern you did. They are very willing and motivated based on what they see and perceive. Our mental windows open due to what we see and experience.

Sidenote: I could write a book on how self-aware she is about her effect on people. It’s possible that she is blind to much of it. Her brilliance, on the other hand, makes it hard to reconcile. If you are attentive and communicative, you tell her about her effect on you and other people. Not from jealousy but from observation and wanting her to know. That’s how love works, even when mixed with incongruous sexuality and feelings. If you love her, you don’t want to think she is in fact self-aware to know how she portrays herself that way purposefully.

She’s beautiful in a way that is hard to define. She is certainly attractive and sexual. Intentional or not, she exudes an aura of sexuality. Her full red lips, her wide eyes, her hair either loose or pulled tight across her head, and her upper body, once defiant to gravity but still immensely provocative. Whether she has tattoos or a tongue stud, these things are signals to most people. She’s brilliant, quick-witted, and loves to tell dirty jokes and endless quips of sexual innuendo. She’ll share pictures of herself, boudoir pictures from the past, or recent ones that imply availability and carefree pleasure.

If you are the jealous type, you’re in trouble. A lot of people have seen her nude and more have seen her pictures, some of them professionally done. You won’t get to see most of them, though, even as you share the most intimate of words and actions with her. She will tell you that she was sexy and proudly so when she was younger but now feels unsexy and unattractive. All the signals and behavior around her, though, will continue to coalesce and add up to wildly mixed signals. She sees that you are inflamed but points back to her self-confessed past, one of sexual mistakes and inactivity as a penance.

She’s experienced. She’ll tell you stories of her multiple partners, her brief encounters with women, and eventually, she’ll tell you that she goes through prolonged periods without sexual expression. And though it is not that uncommon, she won’t be able to experience pleasure with you. Because of the fire in you, it won’t be an issue in the beginning. Then, you will discover she needs a certain kind of visual stimulation, alone and never with you, to experience it. If you’re faint-hearted or not accustomed to the content of her visuals, it will undoubtedly excite you further. You’ll convince yourself she will eventually share that secret part, the part that good lovers want for their partners; she won’t though. You’ll have to survive imagining it. It will feel like a wedge over time. Being able to witness the sexual explosion is a huge part of intimacy. She can have it alone, she says, but never with you. And always with content that will titillate you. One day, the finality of knowing you probably will never experience it sinks in so deep that it almost capsizes your sanity. You can’t explain it to her; when you’re truly with another person, these things are not things to be kept private unless both people can live with the decision.

You’ll discount it, though, because when you are first together, she will be seductive, crafty, and adventurous. You’ll likely experience things you’ve never encountered before. You will be on fire with desire. Anything COULD happen. She starts out 0 to 60. The stories she tells you will captivate, entrance, and pile a truckload of fire onto your urge to be with her.

At the outset, she will exude sensuality even during her cycle and share stories of encounters even during those. You won’t experience it though. You’ll just have her recounted memories to imagine. You’ll ask her what has changed, or why she won’t be expressive that way with you, now. Her answers will vary and you’ll be tormented. That she was that way casually before, absent love, but won’t be with you, in the now, is a huge pill that increasingly grows in your throat.

Slowly, over time, those chances for joining wantonly will diminish.

You’ll be left with an open burning libido and nowhere to go with it.

“I told you from the beginning that I was this way,” she will tell you.

Yes, but she didn’t SHOW you that, not in the beginning.

And you’ll start to feel crazy.

You’ll try to express your wants and needs and how much she delights you, both visually and because of who she is. Because she’s incredibly smart, she will have the words to turn her lack of interest back to you as a shield. Who would want to engage sexually with someone who says they aren’t interested, even if it is part of their long history of dormant periods? It’s a trick question. Because you will want to. There are two of you in the relationship. It’s not all sexual, of course. It’s hard to get past the defenses of someone like her, to allow her to realize that two people have to come to a mutual understanding. Otherwise, one of you is going to be suffering without intimacy. It’s akin to discovering the best food in the world only to find that the restaurant is slowly and unpredictably closed or open, often without any way to know when. A loving partner doesn’t shut the water off when their person is dehydrated.

As your encounters wind down, she will still engage in the sexualized banter with other people, even other men. “It’s not sexual,” she will say. But it is. And more so because it makes you feel like you’re an idiot because you’re unable to explain to her that sexual banter and innuendo with other people while withholding from you is a blow to your self-esteem and difficult to live with. She will slowly stop bantering with you like that. She has both your heart and your libido and she has the control. Your purposeful but increasingly difficult silence will become too massive to contain.

The encounters will dwindle after the initiation, like a shotgun pattern on a graph board. You’ll notice the decrease and find reasonable explanations. The need to ask for more attention and yes, the scarcity of intimacy will come to drown your ability to distance your reasoned mind from the attraction that singes your head. You will chase after her, being needy, trying to find the right combination of words to show her what you’re experiencing. Or that you’re drowning.

You’ll be bitter with yourself and distant at the end.

And if you love her? Her physical absence will be a spinning poker in your heart, one you can’t quite get her to understand. We are all physical beings – and most men (or women) haven’t known someone so vibrantly sexual.

As it ends, she’ll tell you that she doesn’t want to just give herself freely. Even if you still desire her or love her. This will be the nail in the coffin in your head because her sexual past tells a different story. Though she is a different person now, her arc of history put her in the position often of having sexual experiences in the moment, even absent love or even acquaintance, ones you’re imagining from her retelling them to you. You will be crushed by the incongruity of it, your heart filled with longing despite the pain. When you love someone and it is mixed with such a volatile and visceral desire, it is indeed almost impossible to approach it with rationality, logic, or decisiveness.

She will change the narrative and minimize the love in favor of believing you to be with her for physical intimacy. Even though the composite of your gestures and affection tell another story entirely. It’s normal for people to villainize their exes, to reconfigure and adjust their biggest weakness. It blankets out the love and affection.

Adult relationships require being wanted both physically and emotionally. With consistency.

When the physical component is so out of proportion and dwindles, it is a natural reaction to chase after it. Sexuality is one of the most sublime and delightful of all possible interactions. It causes people to literally lose their minds.

It’s already written.

If you read any of this and see yourself, it’s already written.

Fire keeps you warm. But it also can burn you. Or become ashes and leave you frost-bitten. You’ll still remember the fire, though, intensely. And a small part of you wants to stick your hand willingly into that painful fire just to experience the pleasure and agony. We are biologically driven toward sexual experience. And emotionally capable of infinite mental gymnastics to engage in behavior that isn’t healthy for us.

The best possible relationship is one filled with equal parts love and intimacy. We all know this. Most of us crave it. Some of us are lucky enough to find it. Sometimes, though, we find it and the burner burns with a flame that reaches the ceiling.

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Scenes From a Country Church (A Story)

Josh drove along the country road, the smile on his face wrinkling its way up to his eyes. Next to him, Susie sang with abandon, her voice exuberantly mouthing the words to the Billy Joel song on the car’s media center. It was a song Josh knew well. He once disliked the song but loved hearing Susie sing it. She didn’t know that he hadn’t been a fan. Josh wanted her to sing it every time she heard it. He didn’t need to appreciate the song to love the person accompanying it. Susie didn’t know that the song was Billy’s favorite of all his songs.

Before their second date, Josh spent hours learning everything he could about Billy Joel. Susie shared a fascination with trivia and details about people’s lives. Susie listened in wonder as Josh recited all the facts that he’d learned about Billy Joel: that he had been a boxer and quit after his nose got brutally broken, that his ancestors were Jewish but that he had attended a Catholic school, only to end up as an atheist. Susie was horrified to learn that Billy also suffered from depression and attempted suicide by drinking furniture polish. She laughed in delight when Josh told her that Billy’s success came after failing to end his life.

“I learned to play the piano when I was very young, just like Billy,” he had told Susie. She raised her eyebrows in dubious surprise. “I hated it then but learned that music was as much a part of me as breathing. My mom told me that music would keep me sane. She was right. I can’t sing to save my life, though.”

Susie laughed. “We will see about that,” she mysteriously told him.

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“Where are we going, Josh?” Susie laughed as she stopped singing long enough to utter the question.

“You’ll see. It’s a beautiful drive. Just sing a little more. We’ll be there in a couple of minutes.” Josh smiled and kept driving.

The road became less maintained as he drove. Fences that were previously metal became loose barbed wire, and the number of houses decreased precipitously.

As he neared the old country church, he slowed and turned between the narrow confines of the ditch on either side. The church stood against a backdrop of old trees. The white steeple looked brilliant against the intermittent sun that peeked through the clouds.

“It’s beautiful, Josh. I love old churches!” She almost squealed. Her enthusiasm always bubbled up.

“I know. That’s why we’re here.” He pulled up closer to the church and shut off the engine.

“Want to go inside? I have a key.” He grinned.

“You have a key? Wow. Of course I want to go in.” Susie immediately opened her door and jumped out of the car.

Josh scrambled to undo his seat belt and follow her. She was already walking up the few steps to the door by the time he exited the car.

As he walked up to her, Susie turned and gave him a light peck on the lips. Josh laughed. Her affection still caught him off guard. He’d spent a lot of his life imagining what such attention would evoke.

Josh unlocked the door with the large key in his jacket pocket. He pulled the door open, and Susie darted in ahead of him. He shook his head in amusement.

As he entered, he flipped on the lights. The inside of the church flooded with sudden illumination. The wooden pews shone with the proof that someone still took the time to polish them. The wood smelled divine.

Josh took Susie’s hand and led her to the front pew. Her fingers folded effortlessly around his.

“Sit here, Susie.” Josh gestured to the front pew. A single piece of dark chocolate lay on the bench. Susie looked at Josh in surprise, realizing he’d planned this. Her eyes grew wide, and she smiled. She said nothing as she sat on the pew. She picked up the piece of candy, unwrapped it, and savored the bitter flavor as she chewed it. She nodded.

Josh bowed toward her as he turned. Both of them smiled. The church was quiet as Josh’s feet echoed faintly on the wooden floorboards. He walked behind the small altar and to the right. He sat at the old organ and looked at Susie.

“Did you know that Billy Joel considered himself a better organist than a pianist, Susie?” Susie shook her head “no.”

“I do too. And this one is slightly out of tune. I love the way it sounds. Imperfect enough to give this song the new life it deserves.”

Josh’s fingers began to play. Instead of the expected four bars of notes to precede the lyrics, he played an improvised version, much like Billy loves to do at his concerts. He looked over at Susie as he began. He was delighted to see that she was slightly shocked. The sound of the old organ flooded the church with melody and life.

“A bottle of red, a bottle of white, perhaps a bottle of rosé instead,” Josh sang, his voice cracking with emotion. Susie clapped in delight.

Josh continued to play and sing, his audience of one feeling the emotion he brought to the song. Time stopped as the wood structure of the church filled with melody and vibrated.

He played an improvised closing melody that faded into a hum as he finished the lyrics. “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” had never been played with so much love by someone who once thought it was a terrible song.

Susie had tears across her face as she sat in the pew in front of Josh. She smiled.

“Look under the pew, Susie. I left another surprise for you.”

As Susie locked eyes with Josh, she already knew what awaited.
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I won’t tell you what happened next. If you’re full of life, you already know. You can smell the wood, feel the melody as it dissipates. And you can imagine Josh and Susie and the life that followed them out of the church.

Ice Cream Smile (A Story)

“What’s for dinner?” he asked, knowing the answer.

She was already wrist-deep in her bowl of ice cream, her legs tucked carelessly under one another in her favorite chair.

She smiled, letting a gush of liquid ice cream run across her lips. She tried to slurp it back inside but the ice cream dripped across her shirt. She looked up at him, sheepishly, then smiled all the way across her face.

He shook his head. “What am I supposed to eat?”

“Duh!” she half-hollered. “Get over here.” She winked.

He walked across the floor and sat next to her chair, his arm draped across her legs. As she spooned another bite of ice cream, he closed his eyes and opened his mouth wide. She airplaned the spoon toward his face and put the spoon inside his mouth.

He opened his eyes and laughed, savoring the ice cream.

He said, “Yum” in a gravelly voice at least fifteen times, knowing she would playfully object to his exaggerated enthusiasm.

“Here, have another bite of MY ice cream, then.” She airplaned another bite into his mouth.

They both laughed.

As he stood up and gave her a peck across the top of her head, he said seriously, “What’s for dessert, though?”

She threw her head back and laughed, her voice dropping an octave.

He gave her the look.

The evening melted away.

I Can Work With That

I love this phrase.

It belies humor, deprecation, affection, and in the right context, a bit of risque.

It’s going to be harder to use it so freely for a while.

You can use it exactly like “That’s what she said.” Or you can use it to circumspectly say something under the radar of the obvious conversation.

“I need five minutes.” Yes. “I can work with that.”

“I’m getting dressed.” Yes! “I can work with that.”

“I need someone to tell me it’s going to be okay.” Definitely. “I can work with that.”

Words and context continuously morph in life. Sometimes, they take on a tinge of remorse. Sometimes, happiness.

I need a minute.

I can work with that.

Love, X

A Very Busy Life (A Story)

A Very Busy Life (A Story)

The shadows were long across the living room floor, the early afternoon light approaching and creating diagonal tapestries across the wood. The to-do list went untouched since yesterday afternoon. None of their movies or shows in the queue had been noticed. They both put their books down simultaneously, looked at each other, and laughed.

“We should really do something today,” she said.

“Yes, there’s a lot to do,” he acknowledged.

They both shrugged and laughed again.

He stood up and placed his book on the cushion of the green sofa. She did the same.

He walked into the bedroom and pulled the comforter back and jumped into bed like an amateur gymnast. Without a word, she followed him and dived onto the bed next to him, her arms wrapping around him as she laid her head on his chest. He yanked the comforter over them both, creating a cocoon around them.

And they lay there for an hour, just letting the bed warm them and each other. Their arms adjusted as they cuddled.

For an hour, they accomplished nothing.

It was the perfect afternoon. Nothing done, yet everything they needed.

The Melody Of A Banjo (A Story)

They sat in Adirondack chairs away from the illumination of the back patio light, their faces covered in faint shadows. The firepit nearby threw orange glints of color across their faces as the breeze passed over them. They didn’t need to see one another to know that each of them had a half-revealed smile dancing across their lips.

For an hour they’d sat, bantering like every word needed to be uttered before the moon faded. He playfully strummed the banjo nestled across his knees, the notes elicited both discordant and comforting. Every once in a while, his fingers seemed to accidentally hit a lyrical chord. The banjo was a prank as well as a talisman for them, a joke that was taken so far that he had dared surprise her with one for her birthday.

They spoke simultaneously, the tumult of both extemporaneous and considered words tumbling from their respective lips. “You go first,” they said in unison, then laughed.

As their laughter faded, a young voice yelled from the confines of the house, “Geez, knock it off already! It’s time for bed.”

They looked at each other and snickered.

He picked up the banjo and pretended that he was going to play it.

She laughed.

And then his fingers melded with the banjo, his left hand structuring a chord.

“Surprise,” he whispered. “You have to make something new and surprising each day.”

As she watched in amazement, he played “Colour My World” by Chicago, a song she had not appreciated until that moment. He sang the few words contained in the song, his voice cracking with emotion. His voice was not trained, though his heart echoed in every enunciated syllable. Her mouth opened wide and in shock. Something broke inside her and the laughter transposed into warmth, an ocean of feeling. She closed her eyes and swayed, a smile playing across her face.

He let his fingers strum the melody one more time, a coda of promise, regret, and longing. He knew that the melody had somehow conveyed the optimism that filled him. The firepit cracked and spit sparks as the song faded.

He stood up and reached for her hand. Their fingers intertwined as they walked toward the house.

The world was indeed full of colors. And banjos.

P.S. I hope each of you has a metaphorical banjo, and someone who shares both laughter and their presence with you.

Love, X
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