The woman in the discount section of the B&B

I had an interesting experience this weekend at the Barnes and Noble bookstore, and it wasn’t the date I had via eHarmony. That was a dud. The woman wasn’t. She was nice and smart and funny and accomplished but we didn’t click, not even a little. I hate when that happens but more often than not it does.

No. That was Saturday. I’m talking about today, Sunday, in a different Barnes and Noble bookstore (sigh — I miss Borders…anyhoo….), the one closer to my house. I went there because, while waiting for my date at the other B&, I started reading this book entitled Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, which is very cool but that is not what this post is about. It is only the catalyst. Because I don’t  usually buy books anymore: I get them from the library, but I didn’t want to wait. That’s why I was at the bookstore today.

And while I was there I saw this woman and for some reason I was instantly intrigued by her, drawn to her. She had long, straight, blonde hair, but not like bimbo bleach blonde, like natural blonde, you know. And she was waring a flowery sundress, at least I think it was flowery. She wore sandals. And had glasses, that were very interesting, kind of retro 50s but still contemporary, you know. She had a tattoo on her right shoulder I’m pretty sure; it looked like something with wings. I didn’t want to stare too intently for fear that she would be creeped out by me. Also, she had this sort of old/vintage -looking white purse, like something my mom would have carried in the 70s. I dunno. It was cool. She was cool. And she had on this fragrance — it was intoxicating. Trust me, I know how cornball that sounds but it is true.

She stuck strictly to the discount books. I found myself watching her but at first didn’t think much of it. She was pretty, so I noticed her. I was there to get my book, which I did. I even scoped some other books. But I kept checking for her. She was still over there in the discount section so I returned. I purposely passed her again, and put myself in a position to walk by her, hoping to catch her attention, but she was so focused on perusing the books. Maybe the fact that she didn’t seem to notice me is what hooked me. I don’t know.

All I know is that I wanted very badly to talk to her. And I did, once. I said, “Excuse me” as I passed by her. She returned the comment. I looked for a sign that I could maybe talk to her but saw nothing. I did not want to creep her out. Or get maced or kicked in the balls or anything. I mean, honestly, do strangers just walk up to each other in public places anymore and introduce themselves? It does not seem possible.

Eventually, I got the feeling that she sensed I was watching her, even following her, and that was why she did not explore anymore of the store other than the discount section. She paid for her books and I walked over by the Nook display because I knew she’d have to pass me on her way out. I thought maybe….

But instead she asked for the restroom and went to the back of the store. So of course I took up a position where she would see me when she came out of the bathroom but not so close as to seem as if I was stalking her. I stood by the Lego’s of the the White House and Space Needle etc. She did not seem to notice me.

I watched her go. I though to follow her out, but couldn’t do it. Too late did I go to the window of the store to check the parking lot to see her drive off. And just like that she was gone. I thought, oh well, like anything was going to happen, right.

But here’s the thing. I can’t stop thinking about her. And I don’t know why. I can’t remember the last time something like that happened to me. Maybe it’s a sign of how desperate I’ve become. I don’t know. But I can’t help thinking, Could I find her? Would it be possible? Could I utilize facebook somehow, and perhaps other social media, to find her, to find someone I don’t know and have never met, someone I only know a few scant details about? Is it even worth. Is it advised? Would she think I’m crazy or even dangerous? Yikes!

What do you think? Please advise, opine, and debate. Thanks.

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Back by Request

A friend made a request of sorts, that I post again, because apparently my wrecked romantic life is so incredibly entertaining. Well, at least it is good for something. Nice to know, if nothing else, my love-lorn misadventures spark smiles and a bit of glee perhaps. Twisted, I know, but I can dig that. I like twisted. And let’s face it, I am a bit of whore for the attention. Speaking of which…. (does this even require a winking emoticon?)

First let me dispense with one woman who dispensed with me before anything really got started. We’ll call her — Lois. Yeah, I’m not particularly fond of that name either but for me it conjures up images of overly-tanned, chain-smoking retired snowbirds in Florida, which this woman is well on her way to being. I suppose that’s why I’m not very torn up over it not working out, or even getting started really. I don’t really want to date a smoker, and while I like the sun and the beach and a bit of color on my skin as well as a woman’s, I’m not all that interested in dating someone who bares a striking resemblance to an old baseball glove. Of course, that is an over exaggeration. She doesn’t look that bad…yet, or bad at all really. But it was clear that she thought I could use some color and preferred it, said she thought it “looked healthier.” Why do people think that? Seriously this looks healthy:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Anyhoo… this woman does not look like that….again I stress yet.

We didn’t meet on a dating site. We connected via facebook. She was/is(?) an old childhood friend. Well, not even that. We sort of knew of each other in our youth, you know, but didn’t really know each other. It was one of those things — we friended each other because we knew each other’s names. Anyway, we went out for lunch when she was in town — she lives 2-hours a way, which presents a challenge but also perhaps an advantage in a way too, if you think about it — and texted and talked on the phone, and then I was supposed to visit her for the weekend, which she had originally suggested. Then the weekend came and she copped out. Good thing I made an effort to confirm otherwise I would might not have known it wasn’t going to happen. It was kind of annoying, but hey, what are you gonna do. She was apologetic and there was even the possibility of trying for another weekend, but it became clear that she was not interested and simply would not say so. Or perhaps she just wanted some attention, which is something I am finding a lot of women want, as much as they can get.

Which brings me to the mid- to late-twenty-something type who admits to seeking attention outside of her “relationship” and having Daddy issues and having a high sex-drive, so much so that she could never see herself being with only one man for the rest of her life, but yet her current man is so good to her and is willing to tolerate her that she could never leave him, but she just can’t help wanting more blah blah blah. I won’t even give her an alias, but I will give her a description. She is what Tyler Durden from Fight Club would call a “Predator posing as a house cat.”

But those were just two quick hits on the way to my most recent dalliance, this time with an exotic, international beauty with dark skin and a big dark eyes, and long lush black hair. And who had a knack for keeping me on the phone so long that my cell bill this month is going to kick my ass. I can forget about any road trip vacations for the near future dammit. I’ll call her Tia. Why not? It’s as good as any name. Meh

Here’s the difference this time. I copped out on her. It became clear that her,um, lack of relationship experience had her pining for some kind of mythical true love romance that couldn’t exist in the most syrupy of fairy tales. And her obsession with shopping and brand name labels was annoying as shit. She actually wanted to meet to go shopping. Ugh! Why don’t women get that men hate shopping. Stop making us go, dammit! Go. Buy your shit with your girlfriends and let us stay home and watch sports or whatever the fuck it is we do.

I attempted to let her down easy, saying I didn’t think we were compatible, to which she proceeded to lobby hard in favor that we were. I listened, doubtfully, counting the minutes that were costing me $0.49 per and finally, and stupidly agreed tocontinue, although in what form was unclear. What the point of all this was lost on me. Until the next day when she texted me that essentially she didn’t believe a romantic relationship was possible, which made it clear that her whole compaign the night before was so that she could then “reject” me. This was fine with me, since it was what I wanted anyway. So I proceeded to delete her contact info, including blocking her on facebook, which she did not like at all. She wanted to know why I would do that? To which I replied, Why not?

Now she continues to text me asking banal questions such as, How was your day? And, how was work? And, wasn’t the weather nice today? Until I wanted to fucking shoot myself! And when I am non-responsive she gets pouty, like a child.

Something I realized, though. And that is this: I may not really have an interest in a serious relationship right now. Before I was married I wasn’t really interested in one. That was a relationship born out of circumstances and manipulation. Maybe I’d be more comfortable just being on my own. Apparently more and more people are opting for this option. In fact, according to this new book entitled Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, by Eric Klineberg, the single person household is more prevalent in this country than the standard nuclear family.

It’s quite interesting. Check it out.

In which I cast into the past and snag a barracuda

So last weekend and early this week was a whirlwind of online dating drama, but things have since mellowed, which is cool only it doesn’t provide much in the way of fodder for this here blog.

To remedy that allow me to turn back the clock, to when I first started online dating, signing up pretty much on a whim and plopping down a whole year’s subscription on eHarmony — why not just a six months, or only three even, just to test the waters? Why? Ah, well. Matters not now. Nothing to be done about it.

This particular cast into the past lands us firmly at the end of October, just before Halloween, the most Generation X of all the holidays in my humble but masterfully astute opinion — do not question my author-a-tie! In fact, it was exactly the 30th of the month, when I was first matched with the first woman I would ever date via any online service — I was on yahoo singles (or whatever it is) briefly during my separation but had no luck with it, unlike my ex but that’s a whole other gripe. Anyhoo… back to my online first, the woman who popped my online dating cherry. Let’s call her, oh, say ….Lydia.

Lydia was anything but a tatooed lady — trust me I had ample access and time to investigate — but she was very cool all the same. Or so I thought. What snagged me was how much we had in common in terms of movies and a penchant for reading and TV. Also, she was quite witty, at least at first. Plenty of witty banter  via eHarmony email, which Lydia suggested we abandoned for regular email since being eHarmony wasn’t very, in her words, “work friendly,” by which I now understand her to mean that she was at least slightly embarrassed to be utilizing. I wonder, is she still? Meh. Hardly matters now, does it.

What followed was a barrage of emails, at first, and then chatting via gmail chat. The more we communicated the more we seemed to click. Finally, Lydia suggested we meet. I was all for that. I suggested either Royal Oak or Ferndale as there is much to do  in both places. She put the kibosh on both. “No Royal Oak. No Ferndale,” she insisted. Fine by me although I was more than a bit curious as to why. What was wrong with these places? I supposed I would find out in time. Instead, we met at a bar in Troy, little neighborhood place. We had  drink and talked, and were comfortable enough to order some food. We talked some more. And it seemed to me that the more we talked the more we seemed to click. I was excited to hit it off with someone so quickly. I had been more than tad skeptical of the whole process, and not willing to get my hopes up. But I was wrong. This chick was cool.

And then… Well, apparently for our second date I was not nearly Johnny-on-the-spot enough for her likingI was chastized via chat for not asking her out in the right way, in the right time. Would we have ever gone out had she not suggested it? Fuck if I knew. I was instructed that I needed to ask her out early in the week so that she could properly plan her week and weekends. And fuck me if I didn’t agree. Anyone I told this too insisted it was a red flag. And I did not deny it but for some reason I ignored the warnings.

So we went out on a few more dates through November, leading up to her birthday, for which I decided to get her something. Nothing serious, something fun. I got her days of the week underpants because we both liked the movie “When Harry Met Sally”. I did not expect her to ever even wear them. Also, I got her Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups because chocolate and peanutbutter are her favorite. And a little convertible Hot Wheels car because we’d had a joke — she’d asked me what I was getting her for her bday, and I said, nothing big, just a car. She requested a convertible. There was also a card and a collection of short stories that I hoped she might like, “Bad Behavior”, by Mary Gaitskill. She seemed to like the gifts all around.

Things progressed into December and we actually spent part of Christmas Day together. I introduced her to my brother and his partner. They seemed to like her. My birthday came up and she got me two seasons of SCRUBS on DVD. And we made plans to spend New Year’s Eve together, which we did. I made her dinner, homemade pasta and meatballs, a salad, some wine, a dessert. By New Year’s Day she was done with me. It was clear. She just wouldn’t or couldn’t say it. And for some reason I hung around. Still not sure why.

There were plenty of other red flags and drama and gipes I’d love to expound upon. But I’ll get into those next time. I’m tired.

Digging deeper….

It’s late. I was out with a couple of old high school buddies. But I am determined to get a post in tonight before bed.

So the question was: Beyond physical attraction what do I look for in a potential date?

Well, on eHarmony there is a section in the About Me tab entitled The Last Book I Read and Enjoyed: If I like your pics (and again let emphasize that I’m not looking for super model 10 good looks, just something that attracts me — eyes, hair, smile, etc. Could be anything, but something) I will usually go straight to this spot. I am a big reader. I love books. And so it is only natural that I would want to be with someone who also likes to read. Perhaps not to the degree that I do, but to some degree. However, I do have particular likes and dislikes. Not everything published and placed between a cover is worthy in my opinion.

Some examples of reading habits that do little if anything for me and my likely responses to them:

1) I don’t like to read — you’re pretty much done

2)Why read when you can live life — not likely

3) I only read for work — boring

4) I only read magazines, like People and Cosmo. — nah, probably not going to happen.

5) Strictly romances — ugh

6) James Patterson, Dan Brown or Daniel Steel — you’re done

7) The Secret — you’re done

8) Spirituality and/or pop psych — not doing much for me

On the other hand if you are you standard mystery, thriller, popular fiction reader that’s okay. I mean, I’m not getting an instant boner, but my dicks’ not turtling up either, so….

If you like serious non-fiction books about science, history, math, politics, biography, or other assorted subjects I am listening.

If you dig a variety of fiction, from b-list and literary novels to more bestseller list titles, I’m getting a woody now.

If you say you dig literary short stories and novels, classics and contemporary, I’ve got a raging hard-on. BOING!

I also look at movie interests. As I put in the caption of my profile pic, if you can name the that this quotes comes from you have my undivided attention: “News said its raining in New York.”

I guess initially I’m looking for shared interests, because I think that this is important. It is a good base building block. Of course, one needs to go even deeper to look for points of connection, while a the same time looking for red flags.  You have to read into the details, infer from them, read between the lines, and other cliches.

For example: Any profile littered with too many cliches, such as “I love living life to the fullest every day” is a red flag for me. I take it as a sign of a lack of creativity, you know. I mean, what does that even mean anyway? Taken literally it is bullshit. Really, you’re living life to the fullest each morning as you brush your teeth and take a crap, shower, dress, eat breakfast and head off to your job. Wow! You wild woman you! It’s just lazy. And shows an unwillingness, or worse an inability to delve deep enough into yourself and come up with something genuine.

One of my biggest gripes about dating sites is the lack of authenticity in the profiles. It’s as if everyone (or most everyone anyway) is afraid to say anything really interesting or unique for fear of chasing away any potential dates or perhaps even offending someone. And that might indicate someone who is simply afraid of being alone, and I don’t want to be with anyone who is looking for someone because they are afraid of being alone. I don’t want just anyone. I want someone special.

Anyhoo…. you want to know a big, big turn on, something that will really gets my attention, beyond physical attraction and shared interests?

Well, guess you’ll just have to come back for the next installment to find out. Nanny nanny boo boo.

Stay Awake: stories

I haven’t written anything in awhile.  I had planned to write about my new job, working in an office that is an interesting mix of Gen X and Millennials, with a few Boomers thrown for good (or not…) measure, but that hasn’t really happened, now has it.

Yesterday, though, on my way home from work, I had to stop at the bookstore — Barnes and Noble because there are no more Borders (B-o-o H-o-o) — to by a copy of “Stay Awake,” a new collection of short stories by Dan Chaon.

I have been waiting for this book to come out ever since I first learned of it’s existence, which was some time ago, although how long exactly I can’t quite recall. No matter. It is here.

I have been following Mr. Chaon since his very first collection of short stories, “Fitting Ends,” was published in 1995 by Triquarterly Books.

I  was still a graduated student in the MFA program at Western Michigan University, hoping to be a writer of short stories myself some day. I must have come across this book at John Rollins bookstore in Portage, MI, right up Westnedge from Kalamazoo, where WMU is located. That was a great independent bookstore. But I’m not sure it exists anymore. A google search does not turn it up. <sigh>

Anyhoo…. I recall being so taken by the stories in “Fitting Ends” that I wrote to the publisher in hopes of contacting the author, Mr. Chaon. This was before it was so easy to track someone down via the internet. To my surprise, the publisher passed on my letter to Dan and he eventually wrote to me. For a time we exchanged letters and emails, which was a fresh technology at the time. Eventually, though, the correspondences ended and life moved on.

I remember I was in the Borders on Woodward in Birmingham, I’m pretty sure, when, scanning the shelves for something to read, I came across Dan’s second collection of short stories, “Among the Missing.”

I remember sitting and reading it but ultimately not buying, perhaps because it was in hardcover and I was a new father and concerned about money and therefore didn’t feel right about dropping that kind of cash on a book (huh, if only my ex had felt the same sense of fiscal responsibility when it came to her hair or clothes). But later I did buy it in paperback.

A few years later, not long after I started my job at the Baldwin Public Library, one of the hot fiction books at the time was Dan Chaon’s first novel, “You Remind Me of Me.”

I spent my early lunch hours absorbed in this exceptional novel.

And of course I was super duper excited when, years later, still working at the library, I saw that Dan’s new novel, “Await You Reply,” was to be released. I counted down the days until the book was available. And immediately devoured it once it was. Of course, because I was the main copy cataloger at the library I was the first one to get my hot little hands on this novel. I had the first hold.

In fact, I believe I wrote a blog spot about it.  Ah, yes. Here it is. In it I identify Dan Chaon as a GenX write, a label he agreed with, you’ll see in his reply to my post. Of course, I was tickled that he’d managed to find my meager little post on my meager little blog.

I remember being exceptionally fascinated with the premise of this novel, at least in part because it was about characters who “just walk away” from their life. I made a comparison to the movie “Grosse Pointe Blank” because it deals with the same sort of thing with John Cusack’s character, who had walked away from his life abruptly one day. I can’t help wondering now if that interested me so much because at the time I secretly wanted to walk away from the life I was living — the oppressively soul-crushing marriage to a narcissist part NOT the being the father to the sweetest little girl in the world part.

Anyhoo…. this brings us back to Mr. Chaon’s new collection of short stories, “Stay Awake,” which, after reading the first two stories, I am sure is going to be exceptional from beginning to end, and which is going to be on of my favored collections for years to come, if not eternity. Well, my eternity anyway. I wonder. What will my daughter do with all my books when I am gone? Will she just donate them? Toss them? Keep perhaps a few? I should probably discuss this matter with her at some point. But probably I should concentrate on getting her through middle school and adolescence and all of that first, hug.

These stories, so far, are hard stories. Harsh. In fact, there almost seem like horror stories in a way. Very grim. Unsettling. But I love them for that very quality. Unlike the  reviewer on amazon who didn’t like the collection because people suffer in it, because it troubled him. This is an attitude, frankly, that I don’t get. What do people want? Short stories are not TV shows; they are not meant to make you feel good so that you’ll be in a receptive mood for whatever advertising comes between portions of the show. But…everyone is entitled to his/her opinion….for good or ill.

What really struck me about the first two stories in the collection  — The Bees and Patrick Lane, Flabbergasted — was how for each main character there is this confusion between what is really happening and what is just a trick of the mind or perhaps a dream or even something else, something unexplainable, and how these worlds, real and imagined and otherwise, mash and mix together. It’s the kind of thing that I like to experiment with in my own writing from time to time, particularly in a longer piece (novella length) that I have been working on.

Having said all that, perhaps far too much at this point, I am eager to get back to the book now.

Because of John Cusak: a story

 

Because of John Cusack


It was because of John Cusack that I contacted Josie.

I was watching that movie “High Fidelity” (based on the novel of the same name by Nick Hornby) in which John Cusack plays a character named Rob who owns a record store in Chicago and who has made rather a mess of his relationship with his current girlfriend and in an effort to understand what went wrong with his life he looks up five ex-girlfriends, the top five.  I’m not sure if Josie even qualifies as one of my top five ex-girlfriends since we were never really together to begin with. (We never got the chance to get to that point. Our relationship, such as it was, never got passed the hooking up stage. How could it? I was sort of dating my now ex-wife at the time. And Josie was in the process of relocating from Michigan to California for her job. We met at work.) But she was special, I knew that. She was smart and sweet, and I liked talking to her, a lot. I thought talking to her now might offer me some insight into where I’d gone wrong in my life.

I have to admit, though, it was more than that. Because even though our relationship never got passed that initial charged infatuation stage, I was sure that the strong feelings I had for her were genuine. I just never got the chance to tell her how I felt. Like an idiot I let her leave without divulging my true heart to her. I was too scared too. And now, now that I was divorced and truly free to pursue something with her, I guess part of me wondered if it wasn’t possible for us to pick up where we’d left off.

I found Josie on Facebook. It was amazing how little time and effort it actually took. But once I did find her I was suddenly leery about contacting her, recalling how abruptly I’d cut off communication with her. Josie hadn’t left the company that we worked for; she’d only taken a position with a division in California. Even so I figured I’d probably never hear from her again. Or maybe I just hoped that I wouldn’t. You see, by that time my now ex was pregnant with our child. It was not planned. In fact, it happened at a time when we were probably on the verge of going our separate ways. My now ex had found out about my relationship with Josie and we’d broken up but for whatever reason we weren’t done with each other. Thus she got pregnant. Anyway, we decided that we wanted to have the baby and we figured we should at least try to do it together, as a couple. Of course, that turned out to be a mistake. In a way, I knew it was mistake from the beginning (I didn’t really love her) but I didn’t feel as if I had much of a choice, and I thought it was the right thing to do. But as it turned out I did hear from Josie again, although she wasn’t the one who made first contact. I had to contact her for a project that I was working on because she had previously worked on it, before moving to California. I sent her an email. It was professional, all business. She replied in kind, answering my questions. But later she sent another email, a casual one, which essentially left the door open for some kind of friendship. I never responded, because I didn’t feel as if I could, because I knew my now ex would not have approved, would have in fact been pretty pissed. So I just let it go. Josie never sent another email. Because of that I thought she might not be very receptive to a message from me now. In fact, it might piss her off. Even so I could not refrain. I had to at least try. So I did. I sent her message via Facebook, hoping she would friend me. And then I waited.

I’ve done other things in my life because of John Cusack. Well, because of his movies anyway. For example, because of his portrayal of Lloyd Dobbler in “Say Anything” I was, in high school, inspired to stand outside of Debbie Kanacki’s house with a boom box blaring a love song in hopes of winning her heart. I did not; she was mortified and her old man threatened to kick my ass. But that didn’t discourage me from dressing like Martin Blank from Grosse Point Blank – black suite, white shirt, thin black tie – for my ten-year class reunion and telling people that I made my living as an assassin for hire. Some people found it mildly amusing, most didn’t get it, though. I’m not sure why exactly but for some reason I identify with John Cusack. I think of him as my famous doppelganger. We’re approximately the same age and sort of look alike, or so I’ve been told. If a movie was every made of my life, I’d want John Cusack to play me. And I’d want Diane Lane to play the love interest, like in “Must Love Dogs,” because she is a “…rare constellation of attributes.”

When, after a couple of weeks, I didn’t hear from Josie, I figured she just wasn’t interested in communicating with me and I gave up hope of ever hearing from her again. That was that. I’d tried and failed, which was starting to feel like the story of my life. But as soon as I resigned myself she responded. And she was actually glad to hear from me. I was over the moon, filled with a sense of possibility that I assumed had escaped me for good. However, my excitement was soon deflated when I learned that she was married and had a child. That was disappointing, to say the least.

So there was no chance of rekindling any flame that had once existed between us. Fine. That didn’t meant I that I didn’t still want to talk to her. I did. I hoped that by talking to Josie I could gain some perspective on my current circumstances. Also, I was eager to hear Josie’s take on our relationship back then, what it meant to her, because I was sure that she had felt it was special, short-lived perhaps but intense and real. I wanted to be reassured at least that we could have been together had our situations been different.

Unfortunately, Josie was reluctant to discuss such things. She was glad to hear from me and sorry that my marriage had not worked out but she wasn’t really interested in rehashing the past. I told her that I understood, even though secretly I was crushed and wanted to beg her to please reconsider. I did not, though. I swallowed any such impulse.

My restraint was rewarded, however, when a few days after our initial email exchange Josie contacted me and for whatever reason was willing to talk about our past but only under the condition that we talk about it once and only once and then never again. From then on we could be email friends and discuss books or movies or whatever but never again our romantic past. I agreed.

I wanted to know how she remembered our relationship. I wanted to know if it jived with how I remembered it. She said she recalled it as being fun and interesting, that she’d found me smart and funny and enjoyed hanging out with me and talking. I was encouraged because what she said matched my memory of things, generally. But then she said something that profoundly disappointed me. She said that ultimately she hadn’t taken the relationship seriously, that she considered it just a casual fling. In part, because she was moving on and she hadn’t wanted to get to deeply involved with anyone, but also – and this is what really bothered me – that she didn’t consider me to be the kind of guy to get seriously involved with anyway, because, she said, I struck her as the kind of guy that was only interested in sleeping with a lot of different women. She said that wasn’t a judgment on me, just an observation. Even so I couldn’t help feeling hurt. I wasn’t mad at Josie, she was just telling me the truth. But it did make me sad. I was glad that we were not discussing this matter in person, and that she could not witness my dejected reaction.

Despite that I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what she remembered specifically?

What did I mean by specifically?
I didn’t want to lead her in anyway. I wanted her to remember things on her own and my hope was that what she remembered is what I remembered. But clearly she needed a little direction. So I said, Like the day we spent in Arbor. Do you remember that?

Of course, I remember that day. Quite fondly in fact.

Yes. But what do you remember about it?

Well, I remember you coming over to my apartment. And we went and had lunch at that thai restaurant. I remember walking around downtown Ann Arbor holding hands and spending several hours in Borders bookstore. Mostly what I remember though was going out to dinner with my sister and her husband. I remember how proud I felt because I was with this smart, funny, good-looking guy. And I remember later that night back at my apartment giving you really great head.

I of course remembered that too. How could I forget? It was the best blow job I’d ever gotten, before or since. When I came in her mouth I felt as if I was sinking into the floor and out of my physical body. It was amazing, almost transcendent. And I remembered everything she detailed, but there were other things that I remembered that she didn’t mention. Maybe she’d forgotten them or maybe she just didn’t bother to mention them, didn’t consider them important. Maybe she just wanted to get through this exercise and be done with it.

That night in Ann Arbor, I was supposed to be spending the night with my college friend, whose apartment was in Ypsilanti, but instead I drove into Ann Arbor to meet Josie. (This was before my now ex found out about my involvement with Josie.) I went to her apartment. We fooled around in her bed, making out and getting naked. We didn’t have sex. We did everything but. Afterwards, we lay holding each other and I distinctly remember her saying to me, “I’ve got you, I’ve really go you, don’t I.” I didn’t say anything. I just nodded, because I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by that, but it seemed significant, genuine and true. I’d wanted her to remember that detail specifically, but she hadn’t.

I also wanted her to remember her saying to me – not that night, but another time – that she wanted to have six babies with me. I know, it sounds crazy, but I’m sure she said it. Maybe it was just a wild notion that popped into her head. Maybe she didn’t realize what she was saying it at the time, or didn’t recall saying it now. But I do remember her saying it, because is scared the crap out me, and yet it pleased me a great deal. I wanted the same thing, I just didn’t know that I’d wanted it.

And the other thing I remember was her suggesting that I come to California with her. I actually asked Josie if she recalled saying that, but she didn’t. I believe that just she didn’t remember saying it, but that she actually did say it, I know that she did. Maybe she was the kind of person who just said things carelessly and so forgot about them later.

My romantic construct of my relationship with Josie was slowly eroding. And I didn’t like it. But what could I do. I wanted the truth, as much as that was possible. And I was getting it.

I told Josie that I wished that we’d had sex just once before she’d left, but she was glad that we hadn’t, she thought it was better that way. I disagreed. Maybe it was just one of those things that men and women differ on, fundamentally.

The first time I saw the John Cusack movie “Serendipity” – not in the theater, on cable, late at night while my now ex was fast asleep in our bed – I found myself thinking of Josie. I hadn’t thought of her in years but suddenly there she was in my head again. It was intoxicating, just as our relationship had been. Just like the relationship between John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale in the movie. In the movie the two characters meet serendipitously (thus the title) one night and fall instantly in love but since both are with other people they part, casting their faith in the belief that if they are meant to be together they will somehow meet up again one day. Maybe it’s not a spectacular movie but I was really hooked into it and in the end when the two get together I cried, silently, bitterly. I slept alone on the couch that night.

For a time Josie and I maintained a convivial correspondence, mainly through emailing but every once in awhile we’d chat online. I was enjoying our renewed relationship, such as it was, just having her to talk to was…rejuvenating.  And then out of nowhere Josie asked me if I wanted to meet for a drink. She was going to be in town for business. Of course, I jumped at the offer.

I couldn’t wait to see her. I felt that same giddy excitement that I felt when I first met her. I tried to tell myself that we were meeting as just friends, that this was not some romantic tete-a-tete, because Josie was a married woman with a child, but at the same time I couldn’t help wondering if there might be something more to our get together than just two people having a friendly drink. Maybe there was something specific that Josie wanted – no, needed to tell me face-to-face, something very important.

I arrived at the bar early and grabbed a table. I didn’t want us to have to sit at the bar. I wanted to be able to look at her, right into her eyes when we talked. I wanted to feel that spark, that soulful connection that I remembered.

When she didn’t arrive at the time we’d agreed to meet I didn’t think anything of it. She said she might be running late, because she had a long busy day at work. But then fifteen minutes passed and then a half hour. And then past a point that was reasonable. I wondered if something had happened, something bad. Like a car accident. Because if she was hung up at work wouldn’t she have called? I checked my cell phone even though I knew it was pointless. I would have felt the vibration. Maybe she’d texted me. But no, nothing.

I had another drink and waited.

I don’t know why I didn’t just call her. I mean, I was entitled to know why she was late, wasn’t I? But for some reason I couldn’t make myself dial her number. I guess because I knew what she would say, that she wasn’t coming. This way there was still a chance that she might show up. There was still hope.

I can imagine her entrance, like something out of a movie.

Tracing the grain of the wood table top with my finger, I look up just as she enters. She’s dressed in business attire, a dark skirt and white blouse, but she’s let her strawberry blonde hair down, probably undid it out in the car before coming inside, running her hands through the silky mass several times while checking  her look in the rearview mirror of her rental car. She smiles when our eyes meet, a little coyly, blushing slightly. The world seems to stop as she crosses the room, all eyes focused on her. Finally, she reaches the table and slides into the chair across from me. She beams beautifully at me. And I know that I’ve got her, I’ve really got her.

But of course that didn’t happen. Life isn’t like a movie. I just want it to be.

The ice melts in my glass.

Voldemort vs Darth Vader: a new generational debate

After seeing the final installment in the Harry Potter series this past weekend with my daughter a discussion was sparked. I asked my daughter who she thought was more evil — Darth Vader or Voldemort. Upon reflection she said Voldemort, reasoning that it was because it took seven movies to kill Voldemort and only six to kill Darth Vader. Furthermore Darth Vader wasn’t even Darth Vader and therefore not even evil until the end of episode 3. So really, according to my daughter, it took like 3.5 movies to kill Darth Vader. Plus, Darth Vader redeems himself in the end, at the end of Return of the Jedi, when he saves Luke by tossing the Emperor’s evil ass over the rail and into…whatever that was.

A pretty good argument, I thought.

I didn’t argue against it, although I suppose I could have said that fact that Darth Vader was once Luke’s and Leia’s father made his intentions all the more evil, since he was trying to recruit his children to the dark side. I mean, come on, what kind of dad does that? But, in the end, he didn’t. He redeemed himself. So, I suppose that’s not much of an argument.

Speaking of redemption one of my favorite things about the final Harry Potter movie was the Snape story line, how he turns out to be a redeemable character in the end,  who played a very dangerous duplicitous role with Voldemort all in the name of saving Harry in the end. And why? Because Snape loved Harry’s mother Lilly so much, that he was dedicated to her to the end. I knew there was something about Snape’s storyline that I liked. Of course, I suppose I would have known that had I read the books but I never finished the series. I only read the first three.

My ex-wife and I used to read them aloud in bed together when she was pregnant. She kept reading them on her own while I stopped. I suppose I could always pick them up again if I find that I don’t have anything else to read. I could read them along with Addy. She’s just started the first one. She and I could read them together.