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Showing posts from 2013

The Girl on the Fridge

Standing in the kitchen, my back to him, Jones pushed his fist into the knot in my shoulder. “What did you do to yourself?” he asked as he worked out my pain.

“I have no idea. It must have been you,” I said mischievously, stepping away for a minute to grab a drink from the fridge.

“You can’t say it wasn't worth it,” he said, one-upping me.

Jones continued the massage as I guzzled a Gatorade. I turned my attention to the gallery of photos on his fridge and noticed a recurring face.

A young woman, squeaky clean and innocent, smiled like a darling in at least a half a dozen pictures with her head on Jones’ shoulder. In the middle was a photo of the pair at a football game wearing matching Redskins jerseys. Another of her with Jones in a beautifully intimate pose, their eyes closed and foreheads touching.

It didn't upset me. Jones and I were longtime friends who provided only occasional distractions. We had no higher expectations of each other. I was curious, so I asked. “Who’s th…

(Reprise) It's not a vacation until you...

Lose count of how much plastic surgery you see within five minutes of arrival at LAX. Help your host select a lemon tree at Home Depot on the way to Palmdale. Kiss two months of sobriety goodbye with some margaritas. 


Split a bottle of wine after the margaritas and paint each other’s toenails. Go out for Mexican food after you should be passed out in bed. Spend the next morning touching up the errors in your toenail polish. Celebrate a friend’s return to the States over beers and half a tri-tip sandwich in San Louis Obispo. Have more beer and take a nap with The Who. 


Let everyone sleep in your hotel room because theirs is just too scary. Go wine-tasting in a limo with a stripper pole. 


Learn how to properly sniff wine, but don’t get frustrated when you can’t tell the difference in any of them. Drink a $150 wine without swirling or sniffing. Vogue in front of a boxcar. 


Take a nap in broad daylight while a party rages around you. Learn the hard way that there are no cabs available in Paso…

To the Moon

One moment I was hanging from Perry’s shoulders, my arms around his neck, a movie in slow motion. The next moment was a series of film frames in fast-forward: My arms rubbed his arms as we pulled apart. Our hands found each other and connected. They loosened and the tips of my fingers grazed his palm, slid over his knuckles. Our fingertips dallied before our arms fell to our sides. Then, the void I was dreading. Roll credits.

One hour ago, we were standing in a smoky bar. It was the last day of finals, and I had just come from a five-hour work shift. We tried and failed to have a conversation because the band was much too loud for the size of the room. I was exhausted, and a bar was the last place I wanted to be. But for Perry’s last night in town, I would have gone to the moon. It felt like I'd been rocketed there already, anyway.

One night ago, we were sharing a twin bed, innocently, his head on the pillow and mine on his shoulder. I was asking him, no, begging him not to go. I …

Fashionably Challenged

Amir was holding my shoe in one hand, my bare foot in the other. Surreal, it was, as we sat by ourselves in the cafeteria on the ground floor of Harborside eating pre-packaged sushi.  Twin towers leered at us through the window from across the river. We tried to talk about the corporate merger, but Amir just wanted to talk about my new heels.

“How much?” he asked. What he really wanted to know was if I’d bought them on sale. I told him I paid full price. “Garden State Plaza?” he asked next. What he really wanted to know was if I got them in the city. I told him I did.

For reasons unknown, Amir was always tapping my fashion sense. I was a broke, small-town hippie turned big-city yuppie, and I couldn't see why rich, Manhattan-bred Amir would want to talk to me about clothes. The Versace clique would have been much more helpful.

“Want to go to Short Hills after work?” he offered. I couldn't resist his soulful brown eyes. I nodded my answer. He was still holding my foot, gently ru…

Vice

My pen scribbled frantically through the pages of my composition book. Normally I would have been typing, but my computer was off and I couldn't wait for it to boot up. The idea had come to me only moments before, and it was spilling out of my head and expanding faster than I could put it on paper. I was on my third or fourth glass of wine, I wasn't sure anymore, and I was at that familiar place, the perfect buzz point where my creativity was rich and my internal editor was on leave.

Twelve pages, uninterrupted.

I still felt inspired, so I picked up my guitar and started strumming chords to some of my favorite songs, inserting my own versions of lyrics. I’m sure my adjoining neighbors wanted to kill me, but I played until the bottle was empty.

The next morning, I made some coffee and opened up my composition book to last night's starting point. I read what I wrote, expecting an illiterate, confused, drunken mess of silliness while I rubbed my aching head.

The result was th…

Vacation Me

It was only 5:30 in the morning, but I was awake already. It was neither an alarm nor a bad dream that roused me; I’d simply slept enough and the sunrise was calling me. My still-unconscious friends were undisturbed as I changed into the clothes I’d pulled out of my suitcase the night before. I tied up my sneakers, filled up my water bottle, grabbed my phone and key card, and practically ran down the hotel hallway. I couldn't stand being inside a minute longer. I headed down the canal trail under the sapphire blue sky. The sun emerged from behind Camelback Mountain and made a silhouette of everything in front of me.

Vacation turns me into the person I aspire to be. When I’m at home, 5:30 looks more like a grumbling lump under a pile of blankets, an orange cat at the foot of the bed, and a loud and irritating alarm that has been snoozed almost to its maximum allotment. My hiking shoes sit hopefully by the door, pitiful under a thin layer of dust. “Tomorrow,” I always say as I hit t…

The Red Envelope

Candles lit, wine poured, cupcakes frosted, filet mignon in the oven, and a bowl of conversation hearts on the coffee table. As the final touch, I placed the red envelope against the vase of fresh flowers in the center of the table. Brian was on his way over, and I was a tangle of excitement and jitters. Valentine’s day, for the first time in my life, was going to be romantic and wonderful, like it was supposed to be. I wanted it to be perfect. I didn't want to screw it up.

Brian arrived with a bottle of champagne in one hand, a box of Godivas and a DVD in the other.  His smile showed off his dimples – Oh! Those dimples! – and his eyes twinkled as he said “Happy Valentine’s day, sweetness.” I kissed him before he was even through the door; we lingered on that kiss for a moment before we went to the kitchen. I exhaled, calm again.

I served up bacon-wrapped filet with mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach. With a California Merlot, we toasted. “This is perfect,” he said of the steak. …

Boomerang

I heard the thumping bass as I drove past the place. The building looked like it was once a house, one of those depression-era homes with two stories, no shutters, and white siding that was scuffed with dirt and mold. It was the kind of place that didn't even look like a destination, just another house along a row of buildings that looked exactly the same, except for a small square sign hanging over the front door.

Five blocks away, I found a parking space. In an attempt to remember which old, white house my car sat in front of, I tried to count my steps. I lost track when my cowgirl boots kept slipping in the snow that still covered the sidewalks. It had been more than 24 hours, why hadn't the neighbors bothered to shovel yet?

I could smell cigarette smoke oozing from the place. Crap, I thought, it’s been years since I've been to a bar where smoking was still allowed. I should have left my coat in the car. And my scarf. And my boots. And myself, I briefly considered last …

Stuck in the Middle With[out] You.

My phone rang at 2:00 am on a Saturday morning. Rather than being alarmed, I pulled myself out of sleep and reached for it. I didn't even look at the number; I already knew who it was.

“Hey,” I answered in my raspy, middle-of-the-night, just-woke-up-from-a-dream-about-you voice. My inflection was deliberate. Perry and I, we’d done this a million times.

“Hi, honey,” I heard on the other end. I felt prickles through my arms and legs. Not at all the voice I was expecting.

“Oh, hey Rob,” I replied as casually as possible despite the fact that my heart was exploding with every beat. If Rob knew I was expecting a call from another man at this time of night, especially Perry, he would flip.

Rob knew that Perry and I had a past, so he assumed that Perry and I also had a present. The truth was that the present was nothing more than witching-hour phone calls that often wandered towards sunrise. Perry and I had a close bond. Nothing wrong in my book, but Rob’s book was much different.

“I'…

A donut would have been nice.

“Can I give you a hand with that?” said the man in the liquor store parking lot. I wish I had known that that would be the last time I heard those words all night.

I was standing there in the cold rain, wearing a dress, heels, and wool overcoat. I was a half-mile from my house, stopping for a bottle of wine because I knew I was going to need it. I didn’t want to deal with my evening’s project in my work clothes, so I planned to go home and change into a raincoat and grubby jeans first.  “No, thank you sir,” said I to the kind man. “I live down the street, so I’m just going to take it home.”

I drove home, slowly and carefully, on a very flat tire. My mind and body had kicked into what I call “survival mode”. I recognized it immediately, because it wasn’t so long ago the last time it happened (the Derecho/epic power outage/absurd heat wave/car crash of June 2012). I was starving, and I’m pretty sure I had to pee, but I forgot to deal with either basic function because I was focused on …

Old maids tell no old wives' tales.

My little paperback dictionary defines “Spinster” simply as “an unmarried woman”. That’s an overly-simplified definition for a word that carries such stigma, so I prefer the more descriptive offerings that Word provides for synonyms: “Unattached”, “Bachelor”, and my personal favorite “Free”.

Spinsters today seem to gravitate towards the term “Cougar” when narrowing their entire essence into one word, but that also carries a lot of negative connotations. Based on my own observations, when I think of a cougar (in the non-feline sense of the word), I envision a woman at least a decade older than me dressed up like a woman at least a decade younger than me going out to a bar that I haven’t been to in at least a decade and wholeheartedly trying to bring home a man (boy) at least two decades younger than herself. Not one stitch of me fits that description.

Now that I’ve arrived at an age where people seem genuinely concerned about me simply because I’ve never been married and don’t seem to…