A Farewell to Harms (Or, I know what I didn’t do this summer)

August 27th, 2009 was the night I stopped believing in the whole happily ever after thing.

It was a Thursday night and it was raining pretty good when I called her up. She’d left a series of manic texts to which I refused to respond, because I hated feeding into her drama almost as much as I hate arguing in text. Our phone conversation wasn’t so much a lover’s spat as it was a natural disaster. Our two and a half year association had been spiraling into a forgettable ending for months, but somehow you never see the end until you’re busy making it.

Her presence in my life had possessed all the qualities of a dream. There was the hazy glow of a perfect place happening all over me; as if my veins were pumping incandescent light. Still, I always carried a sense of foreboding; the kind of invisible weight that tugs at the back of your brain when you’re cognizant of the fact that you’re swimming through a dream- a finite proposition whose answer is light.

The light of recognition began in flashpoints. A tiff here, a full blown argument there. We never reconciled the matters of little consequence so much as we placated them; as if fearful of the well we were borrowing from, full of old wounds that had never truly healed. We were both damaged and I think we both knew the risks we incurred by living separate lives in separate places when so much wrong was courting our steps into some future semblance of together.

I first came to know her through a story she’d written. She possessed a barbed wire prose that tore at the hem of my deepest, darkest places after which she spilled them into the kind of trouble only a great writer ever gets to claim. And I knew, from the very first thing I ever read of hers, that I was swimming in the deep- both as a writer and as a man.

When we split, I took the phone off the hook, emotionally speaking. It took weeks before I could cry about it, a little longer than that before I completely lost it. I called up a friend and it was somewhere inside a rambling mess of words that I declared my moratorium on the whole happily ever after thing.

His reply was predictable for someone who was working on no sleep and who probably needed a few shots of something friendly just to deal with my shit. He told me it was just the breakup talking. He assured me there would come a day when a different girl from a different place would talk me into a different idea of what tomorrow was going to look like. I knew this was bullshit, so I thanked him for his time and I hung up and I took absolutely nothing from his thoughtful advice.

With a little time came a new thing. Something that made all the sense in the world. For me. She was beautiful, smart, accomplished and most importantly of all she had her own life going on. She wasn’t looking for happily ever after, she was just looking for happy.

For six years, she was my disco lemonade. She rallied me, she made me see the error of my jaded belief that a love thing should come with sedatives and a match. Her style was Marilyn Monroe meets Irish gangster meets hippie chick, and our meetings in the middle of it all were the kind of sexy goodness that convinced my spirit to figure out the peaceful easy feeling and yanno, dispense with the bitching.

And then May came along and before it ended, so had we. It wasn’t contentious, it wasn’t August 27th, 2009. She had effectively exorcised those demons for me.Our six years worth of together had saved me from myself, and I didn’t even know it was happening until we ended things. Which is why I wouldn’t change a thing from that beginning, that middle or that end.

The only moratorium I considered this time around was to forego any female companionship of the horizontal variety. For the entire summer. I thought it a good idea to abstain from perfume and curls in order to reflect on the last six years. And umm, mission accomplished.

With my Labor Day whites packed in mothballs, perfume and curls rang my bell. Jen is a thirty something girl with the spirit of a twenty something, the experiences of a forty something and the body of a stripper. See? I am a hopeless romantic, as long as you keep the two separated.

She texted me last weekend to ask what my week was looking like and I hit her back with the mundane particulars. Then she asked if I wouldn’t mind helping her move the rest of her things up to her new place in Wilmington. As a man, I’m blessed with the innate ability to find the prospects of sex in the most obscure, pointless exchanges. It’s called having a penis, and really . . I don’t recommend it. So I placed a phone call to confirm things.

“What’s up with your car?”

“I’m gonna load it up, but it’s pretty small. Yours can take the rest.”

“Jen, I have a Volvo . . not a moving van.”

“It’s just the small shit, no biggie.”

“So your offer is this. I help you pack up both our cars . .”

“Yours, mine’ll be packed up.”

“So I get to pack my car . . .”

“Mmm hmm.”

“With your shit?”

“Mmm hmm”

“And then I follow you to Wilmington. On my day off . . .”

“Yup, and I got dinner.”



Of course, I was in before she offered to buy me dinner. I figured it was going to do me a lot of good to get out and do something with a woman. Never mind that moving is right up there with painting the house and having a vasectomy as far as un-sexy activities go. I’m not discriminating, more like pathetic.

We talked on the phone for most of the hour long trek in our separate rides, and it’s where I detected the slightest, sweetest of changes in her tone. Gone was the stubborn residual of a Minnesota upbringing, replaced with this amazing lilt straight out of every single Carly Simon song I’ve ever heard. Her laughter carried fire and her verbs shimmied and her pauses dripped with honey. That’s what three months without curls and perfume does to your imagination. 

Moving her stuff proved to be less painful than I had anticipated, but that’s only because Jen is a hot chica. It took exactly one back and forth before she attracted the attention of a couple of middle school aged boys.

“Need some help?”

“Oh, you guys are so sweet.” She giggled.

She had them blushing like first graders and working like mules, because that’s how a hot chica gets things done. They helped cut our workload in half and after we thanked them on their way, we toasted with a couple of frosty Coronas before heading out.

We held court at Ulysses American Gastropub, a new age public house that lives inside a strip center. We ordered drinks- she went with a pint of Dogfish Head and I tabbed a Brooklyn Porter. It was somewhere between the drinks and our entrees that we figured out what the rest of the evening was going to look like. This is called Christmas Eve for grownups- that gloriously indefinable moment when two people realize their vertically directed rejoinders are plotting a horizontal culmination.

I began drinking her in as we moved through the rest of our meal. The way her caramel eyes danced whenever she broke into laughter. The way her lips moved in silky waves of heaven and hell. And that dirty blonde wisp that fell across her face with more fury than a lightning strike and fuck . .  did I happen to mention it had been three months?

Seriously, I gave up a lot of shit after my blood pressure started reading like a Golden State Warriors box score back in June. I gave up bourbon, I gave up smokes and snacking. I cut back on my beer consumption to such an extent that I have become the very person I used to make fun of. I’ve become a responsible drinker. And while losing the gut was a nice perk, still . . the no curls and perfume thing was beginning to feel a tad excessive. Or is it moronic? Both.

Before I could argue myself out of another round, she pulled the ultimate hot chica move and teased my mouth open with a bite of her filet. This is a term of endearment to which I have no defense. So as I swigged down the last of my Porter, I began looking for the waitress to fetch me another drink.

I ordered coffee. Jen made it two.

All this time and I never considered the idea that moderation and sex could co-exist. Who knew? I mean, I’ve successfully gone rogue on my rogue. Hemingway would be ashamed of me, if he hadn’t shot himself in the head. So, there’s that.

We ended up back at her place where she fired up some tunes and we got down to the Yada Yada of things. Tomorrow wasn’t a part of the negotiations because she’s got her new life to be getting to and I really do like sleeping alone, if only because I’m a pillow hog. Listen, I get it. I’m a lousy salesman as far as this happily ever after thing goes. Maybe there’s no cure for what’s ailing me, and maybe I don’t care in the blessed least.

Alls I know is that I couldn’t help feeling as if August 28th was finally making the scene.





The Muse

His eyes were still heavy with sleep as he watched her move from the bed, readying the matrimony of steps and sunrise into a day’s plan. He fetched glimpses as if frames of a moving picture. The sexy provocation of her saunter, the patterned ease, the lithe flow. Encapsulated gestures, invisible to the world, but for his. He trespassed the frames in boyish delight. The innocence that warmed his insides was running busy with song, stealing time back to a place where such feelings once ransomed his heart to skips and flutters borne of a beautiful fright.

He plundered the lonely span of silence with magnificent ideas, matching a sin to each of her movements. His knowledge was a consecrated plan of action whose place inside his soul seemed capable of outliving the most stubborn constellation. Watching her, dressed in a natural ivory with freckle blossoms conniving their way into random spots of belonging.  The only cover came in the form of those caramel ribbons of hair that scattered a rebellious plunge across her shoulders and back.

He pretended sleep so as to study her pace and rhythm, unencumbered from the channels of waking moments and their demands. He studied her as a painter would observe the undulating notes of nature’s timeless sweep before deciding on a palette’s answer to the question.

The question he had in mind could no longer be muted by the budding promise their moments engendered. His curiosity was throwing caution to the winds of someplace else. Tonight, he would ask for her hand in marriage. It was madness, to believe the universe was revolving inside their whisper, seeing as how they had first met in an airport coffee shop exactly one month prior. But he was lost inside her spell.

And then she turned and caught his eyes as they came into focus. And then the room went black as night as if a page usurped from Milton’s pen.

“Sorry, I really wanted you to sleep a little bit longer . . but I’ve never been good at keeping surprises.” She said.

“You’re not Katie!” He cried, attempting to steady his voice but failing miserably.

“Oh Edward, stop whining . . . I never was Katie. You saw her because that’s the way it’s always been for you. Seeing what you want to see and then charming the pants off of it. But I really had you this time, I mean . . we shagged like, three, four times and you were ready for the altar? You never minded the fact we lived in different cities . . you were cool with strange towns and red eye quickies . . you had it bad!”

“What the fuck is going on? What the hell did you do to Katie?!”

“I  told you there is no Katie! Take a minute, take a pill . .  but stop pissing me off. You’re smarter than that.” She laughed.

“This isn’t happening. You’re not happening!” He screamed.

“It’s funny, two minutes ago you thought you had forever in your back pocket.” She said, moving to the night table on his side of the bed and extricating the diamond ring Edward had bought for the occasion.

“Oh, you shouldn’t have.” She laughed, placing the ring on her finger in a mocking ceremony.

He tried stopping her but he couldn’t move. He was trapped inside an undertow whose power seemed absurdly disproportionate to all manner of logic. Her eyes bore into him as if white hot needles and her smile turned vapid. The sound she emitted was no longer foreign to his senses, but a lexicon whose trespass signaled days of a new and horrible cause.

“I don’t understand.” He said feebly.

“Of course you don’t.” She replied. “But think . . . you’re the writer. How does a plot thicken?”

“What are you talking about?”

“For fuck’s sake Edward! Unpredictability!” She shouted.

His face could not mask his confusion.

“When you met . . the girl you thought you met in the coffee shop that night. What happened?”

“I fell in love. With her!”

“Try again.” She said.

“Fuck you.” He replied weakly.

“You met the girl of your dreams in a coffee shop while running. From me.”

He could feel the crystalline properties of his memory banks transform to Jade as she introduced the truth of things.

“You saw me walking in your direction and you ducked into that coffee shop. And then . . thanks to Katie, you missed your flight. I’m a sucker for romance, even when I’m well aware it’s bullshit.” She laughed.


“You don’t remember, I mean . . why would you? It meant nothing to you, our time together.” She said.

“Yes! Yes I remember! Six years ago . . . Reading, and that fucking apartment out of a movie set! You gave me nothing!”

“Oh honey, don’t make me rip your jugular out just when this relationship was getting good. I gave YOU nothing?! You? . . of the traveling circus in your pants? I gave YOU nothing?!

He cowered inside the depths of her growl.

“No, Edward, I gave you everything and it got me killed.”

“So there’s no Katie . . .” He said.

“Sorry. And no Rachel from Reading either . .”

“Have you . . .”

“Been wasting the last six years of my eternity impersonating every girl you’ve gotten your rocks off with? Uh . . no. I was touring Europe for most of that time. And I took up lesbianism in my spare time. What . . a trip! To be able to scream like that and mean it?”

She jumped onto the bed and mounted him, her mouth drawing close to his neck and her nose breathing in his scent.

“What . . . are you going to do?” He said.

“I’m going to own your tomorrows.” She said, licking the salt from his neck as she purred a response. “You don’t remember, do you?”


“Eight years ago, we dated. You were on your way to divorce court and I was running from my latest failed romantic project. I knew you were rebounding and you understood I was fragile, at least, you pretended to understand.”

She removed herself from him, placing the diamond engagement ring on the night table and wiping her finger clean for effect.

“We had an arrangement, no strings. And then you told me you were in love with me. You changed the rules and I followed because I had nothing left to lose. Or at least, that’s what I thought.”

“What. . . what was your name?” Edward asked.

“Was . . . yeah.”

“I’m sorry.” 

“No, you’re sorry about this night . . but you weren’t sorry, not on that one.” She corrected. “My name was Karyn.”

“I remember,” He said.

“You’ll forgive me if I withhold your prize. So one week you’re telling me it’s time to think about you and me and the next week you were done. I was a mess when I left your place, so I decided to put you in the rear view with the assistance of a heavy handed bartender. And that’s when I met tall, dark and disastrous, after which I ceased to be a morning person.”

“I didn’t turn you . . .”

“Ya didn’t help. For what it’s worth my . . sponsor was a real asshole, too. Which is why I introduced him to solar panels and went solo.”

“What do you want from me?”

“Did you not hear me? Your tomorrows.”


“I want your writing.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Here’s the thing, you’ve always treated love as if it were a rugby ball, while writing on it as if you knew what the fuck you were talking about. That . . is dirty pool. So what to do? Turning you isn’t an option since that would only serve to strengthen your destructive lust, and shit, there’d be no living with you then!”

“Fuck, Karyn . . . I’m never gonna trust another woman again, because I’ll never be certain it’s not you! Isn’t that enough?!”

“It’s ironic, yes, but it’s not enough. So you’ll write on love, as you were. Only you’ll mean it now, because it’s in your best interest. To mean it now. Writing is the only love you’ve ever known, so that’s what I want. That’s what I take.”

“And what happens next?”

“Well, your first order of business is to fetch the receipt for that diamond. After which you can get to writing.”

She lit a smoke as she opened the door to leave.

“Yanno . . as if your life depended on it.”

Sunday Morning Coffee Love- The Art of the Witch

I dated a witch once.

Mind you, I was never presented with an actual letter of authenticity other than her Match.com profile in which she identified herself as such. Being I was only shelling out like twenty bucks a month, I figured it was great value- to meet a witch, even a self professed one.

It was early on that I began to doubt the veracity of this witch business. She owned an impressive collection of books, yet try as I might I couldn’t find a single copy of damnable proof. No pentagram puzzles, no How To Hex Books, No Wicca for Dummies, no Jong or Rice . . not even a Rowling.

The only witchcraft I witnessed came when we would steal the moon away by holding court in never sleep coffee shops. We would immerse ourselves in these thick and varied conversations- from politics to music to the sitcom as cockroach.

She would rant on about how she wanted to emulate Salinger’s success as an author one day. Write a novel and then disappear into the ‘burbs.

I didn’t really believe her when she said these things. It felt more like a caked up postulate, a pipe dream she could accessorize to fit her mood. Pretending you don’t want to be famous is a favorite pastime of people who desperately want to be famous. It doesn’t make you a witch. Unless we’re talking Kate Gosselin.

Thing was, she engendered such an espirit jeune that I found it impossible not to believe whatever she said. She also happened to possess these sensational legs.

Her stories were groovy expeditions; especially the ones where she would rappel into adventurous vignettes. Such as the cross country trip she took or the time she bummed around France for a month on city benches and hostels, living on cigarettes and crusty bread and getting by on her good looks and long legs.

See, here’s the thing. Women concern themselves with stuff like finances . . children . . commitment. A guy worries about legs. Meeting legs, getting to know legs, holding on to legs- figuratively, literally, perpetually. The truth is, when it comes to perspective? Men rent the space that women own outright. So for those of you who really believe all that shit about men ruling the world? Go back to sleep.

Ask a guy about global warming and he might be able to give you eight seconds worth of opinion. Ask the same guy about legs, and then pull up a chair, bake a cake, take a nap, call your relatives in California and go visit them while you’re at it.

I remember the night when she convinced me that she was, in fact, a witch. We were sitting along this grassy bank overlooking a pond and waxing metaphysical, when she removed herself from my embrace and began undressing before plunging into the water.

In that moment, I was ashamed of myself for ever having doubted her.

The Strip Club Post! (PG- Parental Guffawing)

I don’t get the strip club scene.

Perhaps it has something to do with my female-centric upbringing where respect for a woman’s private moments was the expected behavior. As an adult, I am all about the mystery, the chase.

Not to say there haven’t been moments in my life where I corrupted my hard wiring. There were business associates who preferred to brain storm under cover of perfumed lap dances. There were friends whose sole ambition was to fall in love for less time than the cost of a real romantic involvement. And yes, there were random weeknights before I settled down when it was a last minute phone call that put me directly under a stripper pole with loose singles at the ready.

But it never stuck, never mattered. Probably because I lousy at it.

There is a model to which the strip club frequenter is able to abide that is simply lost on me. There is a requisite , and it comes in the form of all that whooping and hollering which usually ends with them going Rambo with their neckties. Quixotic it ain’t. More like idiotic.

I never could play the fool like that. Especially when it comes to the female persuasion. It seems so sophomoric. And while I certainly do not reckon myself Don Juan, I’m no Don Rickles either. I kinda look at it in that sporting vein: Act like you’ve been there. You know what I’m saying?

To my way of thinking, if my waitress at Morton’s Steakhouse unsheathes her sexy tux and dances over me, THAT’S worth a whoop and maybe even a holler while I’m at it.

Now for the point of my story. Ta . . . meet Da . . .

A friend of mine is celebrating the big 5-0 this year. And of course, he wants to spend the evening at a strip club. I’m thinking a trip to Vegas would have been so much more worth it, but it’s his day and our money, after all.

So guess who became the event coordinator for this shindig? Yeah, this guy. I did my due diligence and called the venue, speaking with a general manager whose name was Rocco. I don’t believe that’s his real name, not for a second. He was sponging off the talent by granting himself a stage name, but I can’t prove it and really, why would I want to?

The limos and the custom cake and his home away from home filed away for safe keeping, I called up my friend and let him know we were set. I kept my true feelings about this excursion to myself, as well as the fact my girlfriend is all into coming along. Because well, yanno, that’s another post happening.

He was ecstatic. “Thanks man. Hey! Drinks on me this week, whaddaya say?”

And that, my friends, is why I drink well with others.

You know who parties to a natural disaster? People who aren’t affected by one, that’s who.

I was invited to a Hurricane party tonight.

Considering that I’m located far enough inland to make hurricanes a topical accoutrement rather than a tropical nemesis, I declined the invitation. Maybe I should send a gift though. Hey, I know! Scotch tape, a ream of multipurpose paper and a bag of diapers–in lieu of duct tape, plywood and balls.

By the time most hurricanes make it here, they’ve already blown off more wind than a Senate sub-committee. It’s about as anti-climactic an event as you can find this side of Ben Affleck’s post Good Will Hunting body of work. We don’t need plywood in this neck of the woods so much as a ginormous spit shield because hurricanes are carrying less torque than a grossly overweight ballerina by the time they hit town.

Rain, we get that. And with the mass of this Hurricane Irene, we’re certain to get plenty. Enough to fetch Noah that CEO gig at Virgin Holidays Cruises if he wasn’t such a PETA nut.

Of course, the ‘Hurricane’ Partay had absolutely nothing to do with end of the world occurrences.  It was all about hooking up, drinking up and well, finding a spare bedroom.

Actual phone conversation:

Friend: “Dude, we’re having a hurricane party tomorrow night. You in?”

Me: “No, I’m not in. You always start with the same bullshit. Are you in means bring the good beer. I’m not wasting the good shit on a crowd that thinks Miller Lite is fine dining, sorry.”

Friend: “Come on man. It’s not like that.”

Me: “No? Well if it’s not like that, it must mean you’re trying to get laid. Who’s the poor girl?”

Friend: “Maria. The pharmacist?”

Me: “Oh yeah, the redhead. She’s the one with the Kanji tat. Yeah, she seemed nice. Really? How’d that happen?”

Friend: “We went out last weekend and she drank me under the table. Dude, I woke up on the couch at her place. It was wild.”

Me: “Just think, some day? You’ll have a cute story to share with your grand kids.”

Friend: “So you’re not in?”

Me: “No, Johnny Bravo. I don’t need to aid and abet your lack of female companionship. The fact that you’re using a hurricane as your wing man is pathetic enough.”

Friend: “That’s cold.”

Me: “Say hi to Maria for me. And tell her to stock up on Prozac with her employee discount. She’s gonna need ’em.”

Friend: (Laughing) Fuck you!


All kidding aside, I abhor the very idea of having a party to honor a natural disaster. What’s next? Are the Brownies going to make up the diff on their shrinking profit margins by holding “Quake Bakes”?  Are we going to see “Tongue Twister” love shack shindigs? What about a party for crafty folk? Coin it “Tsunami Origami”.

Now, I could brave the elements tonight if I really wanted to. But my power boat is out of service- as in, I do not own one. And besides, I have plenty of candles, water, food and most importantly, alcohol.

It sure beats the hell out of waking up on Maria’s couch tomorrow morning.


Kid drops, revisionist history and the system

Youth may be wasted on the young, but immaturity is most assuredly the domain of overgrown kids who really should know better.

Here’s a case in point . . .

Tonight, a friend of mine dropped her kids off with the ex for the weekend. If you’re divorced, you know the routine. You agree on a drop off time with the ex and then hope for a quick transfer. You want to remain unencumbered by the weights and measures of their rebooted domesticity, since real life has nothing to do with a Woody Allen movie.

For some, the transfer is seamless while for others such as my friend, it can be quite precarious.  She’s a newbie to the scene, divorced a little over a year. Her ex husband has been giving her a piss poor ‘brand new man’ act ever since she left, but to no avail. It would have been an easy thing for her to do, to fall back into bed with familiarity when the nights were long and lonely, but to her credit she never did so.

Doing things the right way paid off handsomely when she met a guy whose inexplicable interest in rock climbing matched her own crazy passion. Ever since they first met, she’s been taking the steps, slowly and with careful attention to her emotional GPS, while at the same time allowing her foot to dangle in mid air whenever they kiss. It’s cool to see her this way, replenished and hopeful again after what was too long a time away from the person she used to be.

And then she walked into a hornet’s nest tonight. Her ex ain’t digging the new guy so he threw his dime store logic out there, manipulating every single fact along the way for his convenient fiction. His embellishments were nothing if not unique, his revisionist history was comical. It’s what an ex will do when they can’t face the fact that it’s too late to change things. When they refuse to accept the role they played in writing up that forgettable ending.

She responded to his unreality like a grown up. No tit for tat bullshit, just straight talk. It’s one of the hardest things to do when the person you’re standing across from has grapefruit sized cojones and a pea sized brain. It takes a hell of a lot more guts to tell someone the way things are going to be than to simply tell them to go to hell. I was duly impressed.

“I don’t feel like such a hero,” She said, completely sapped from the exchange.

The vortex of yesterday and tomorrow can be a bitch of a thing to kick your way through, I know full well. My pal needed a little friendly advice and I wasn’t about to let her down. So I told her to turn off her phone and kick some boot.

Dr. Phil would’ve told her to consult a family therapist. What a putz.

Neil Sedaka Never Said Breaking Up Was Easy To Do

I have this dream that one day the term “bad breakup” will be eradicated from the planet. I know I should be rooting for the end of cancer, poverty and famine but I guess my dreams just aren’t that energetic.

What is a bad breakup anyway? Isn’t it the same thing as a breakup? I mean, if you enjoy a good breakup, then how good was the relationship to begin with and why the hell were you in it? Seriously. Breakups are meant to be dramatic trespasses into the fourth act of a three act production. They make you weepy and depressed and borderline suicidal/homicidal. It’s called romance.

Figure it this way. Demand for the supply of flowers, candy, books, movies, sex toys and diamonds never, ever, ever wanes. So we’re talking powerful stuff here. And like the saying goes, with great power comes great, big pissed off balls of anger. Or something like that, you get my drift.

Good breakups? It’s like good vanilla ice cream. Good water. It’s best definition is reserved for sitcom spin-offs. No one ever remembers a good breakup and there’s a reason for that. It’s boring as shit.

I had the amicable divorce. The one where I remained friendly with my ex wife. But make no mistake, the actual separation was kerosene on a campfire with roman candles mixed in for good measure. After which things got heated.

That’s how breakups go down once commitment becomes a distant memory and she feels trivial and you feel marginalized and you both HATE yourselves for having loved the other.


All I’m saying is it’s redundant to have bad dancing around clumsily with breakup. Because it’s an explanation so rife with overkill that even Lions Gate wouldn’t pony up some advance money on a treatment that sported such a title.

Here’s a thought for the boys and girls out there who blog and facebook and tweet all about their bad breakups . . . Don’t. We’re all adults here, and we really do understand.

dreaming a little dream of me

Rainy days bring to mind Karen Carpenter, turntables and M&M’s.

The former evokes those haunting lyrics she left us before going away much too soon. As an adolescent, turntables were the only profit of a rainy Saturday morning that caged my restless gallop. I can’t figure how the M&M’s became married to my rainy days. It’s probably about melancholy as well, since the old recipe was far superior in my humble opinion. Except for the minis, which happen to rock of the old days.

Every now and again, a dream behaves this way. It’s familiar, strangely so. It has a definition to it, an answer to its meaning that is always a silver of a close shave quicker than my brain’s forensics lab. Moss grows more thickly than the gloss which is attempting to illustrate the purpose of these moving pictures.

In the dream I am sitting in a makeshift boardroom overlooking a square. The scenery in this dream is fitted as if it were a business trip to some exotic location in which I will never see the light of day before I have to catch a flight back home. And in the dream, my ex. The one who shall never be named. She who inhabits the darkest recesses of my mind where tax audits and dentist appointments reside.

We are negotiating, divvying up our respective emotional markers. It’s business like, completely so. She is approachable and persistent while I tend to the common ground we are foraging with desperate little attempts at small talk. She is having none of it so I finally give in to the idea that this will be our final time in each other’s company. I realize I will not be allowed to retrieve her smile as compensation for the forgettable end she helped to create. And I know she wasn’t alone in torching the thing we had to the ground. The meeting is over soon enough. There are no goodbyes offered or exchanged. Just a fade to blackness.

And the next thing I know I am standing outside my kid’s school. Apparently I have volunteered to switch off the power box which controls the lights once dawn shakes the rust off. Even in the dream the economy is sucking wind to such an extent that manual labor is needed in order to save a few cents on the energy bills.

Unlike my dream about the ex, this one seems random. There I am, standing dolefully outside the gates awaiting the first branches of sunlight so I can do my parental duty. That’s when this couple saunters up to me without introduction. The young man is disheveled. He is wearing a week old beard. The woman is an equal mess, but the moment I see her I wish we were alone. She is dressed in ratty jeans and a black hoodie which is unzipped to reveal her breasts. I am holding a chain in one hand and a bic pen in the other. I begin brushing across her open jacket to agreeable results. And then the man is gone and she is asking me to take her some place safe.

And then I wake up. Dawn is pushing up and the rain is falling and I have a primal craving which needs no explanation. My first thoughts are grasping at cobwebs and my next round of thoughts come up blanks. It’s only after coffee that I find a logical trespass into what it all meant.

I don’t tend to forgive, or forget.

Living my happily ever after

Us singles get a bad rap.

We’re typecast as lonely vagabonds. Sad miscreants of an unforgiving moon. We plead, beg and steal nights away in the darkest places, crying inside the shadows of our happy as peach peers who have mates and playdates and form. Not having that other half is the reason we are mistrusted, pitied and talked about once we leave a friendly get together of scrabble.

Match.com is no advocate of ours. They do business with unsustainable results, professing to tea party results out of first dates that hold as much chance of a ten year mortgage as faulty banks would. Devotees of such a thing have to charge their membership to a credit card with lenient tendencies for good reason.

I’ve been single for six years after having been married for ten. In all honesty, the loneliest times were those years at the end of a crumbling marriage and a couple of bad luck relationships that came later. You haven’t felt lonely until you’ve been in a relationship without grip. Being very single doesn’t even come close to that kind of isolation.

As time goes by, so have the incarnations I have experienced. I began my second chapter of living single much like the first. The women were young and the tempo was frat house (lower level) in nature. Sure enough, the RPM’s on such an arrangement kicked my ass in no time flat. Being a late thirties bachelor required far more elasticity than I was ready for on the flip side. My twenties self was adaptive to the maintenance required in lifting the corners of a new day, just so long as the gas tank was full of high-octane Columbian coffee and a brand spanking new pack of smokes. That shit didn’t work so well once I was a single father with bills coming out of my pores.

I persisted. It was an innocent climb- or as innocent as a man inching perilously close to mid-life can experience. I tried Vegas and had a one night stand just to see if it was the kind of thing I could tuck into a daily routine full of absolute requirements. The answer came back in the form of Not Really. I was sitting by the pool, dialing up this hottie in the hopes of a second round when I was greeted by a stiff rebuke wrong number. It turned out I was not nearly as hip as I’d imagined myself the night before when her drinks had been free and safe sex had been assured.

Since then, I’ve taken a couple of sabbaticals from sex. They never lasted very long. There were always too many curled voices full of angst and passion to go around and too many nights when the kids were somewhere other than home. And then I met the girl of my dreams, to failing grades. I committed the cardinal sin of singlehood: I ignored all those pesky little red flags because I felt it was time to settle down.

And finally, a respite which led to peaceful resolutions where I discovered how much I love sleeping alone and Saturday night poker arguments with the guys and cold pizza. A respite which allowed me to resist the curious metaphors of bows and arrows full of true loved acronyms not so fully adjusted to individual needs.

I have found my place and it happens to be single. For now, and for however long from now. No pushing or shoving or matchmaking voodoo. Just me and my life and what’s left of chance.

Single life isn’t nearly as frightening as that Vegas bar I once made bargain with. A place where I shoved elbows with strangers dressed in marriage rings and pre-med students full of litmus they couldn’t bankroll and girls with adopted names. I should have known it would only get better from there. And it has.

The other side is just fine.

Irish Eyes Don’t Smile, They Warn You Pleasantly

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” -Yeats.

Forget the idea that holidays are the hardest on single people. Plenty of committed relationships suffer equally if not greater loneliness. Holidays do not discriminate. They’ll bury you in emotional quicksand just as easily if you’re coupled.

This isn’t to say the holidays aren’t fraught with complications for us single people. Consider the perils of matchmaking, holiday mixers and parents who want you to find a nice someone and settle down. It’s a mean group of days if you buy into the idea that there is someone for everyone.

And it just so happens to be the most unequivocal bunch of nonsense since Hallmark replaced the sincerity of a handwritten gesture with lamely worded and overpriced stock syrup.

St. Patrick’s Day is different.

I’ll admit it. I need the comfort of a woman for this celebration. It’s the only holiday I feel this way about. Whereas Christmas and Valentines Day remind my pocketbook as to the infinite beauty of Oneness, there’s something about St. Paddy’s Day that begs female companionship.

I’ve had the great fortune of an Irish girl for the last four of these holidays. Two different girls who held the same mystical ability to drink me under the table. I’ve experienced all manner of Irish fare, where Guinness is actually considered dinner all by its lonesome. There has been the miracle of life and the permanence of death to consider. I’ve navigated long distances with ease while stumbling inside the short walks.

It has been from this vantage point of poets and kings that I have come to understand that the nature of comedy and tragedy is identical beneath the polar-opposite surface.

And it’s why I’m spoiled to imitations. It’s been a while since I spent St. Paddy’s Night with a girl who couldn’t carry a brogue to save her life.

She was Puerto Rican and we became fast friends in a pub. She was the most antithetical of portraits with her long black hair and olive skinned complexion that was (surprise!) freckle free. But she had two things going for her that night- she was wearing an Ireland soccer shirt and she was talking to me.

In the morning she was talking to someone else. Actually, she was screaming a blur of foreign curse words into the phone. I’d been on the receiving end of such exchanges enough to recognize it was a man she was talking to, a boyfriend more specifically. I don’t remember getting dressed so much as impersonating the 82nd Airborne.

As I walked into the living room where she was seated, she saw me. Cupping the phone momentarily, her scowl was replaced with angelic repose. “I made coffee, go get a cup in the kitchen,” she smiled softly. For an instant I seriously considered the offer. And then I heard the other end of the line come alive again. His voice wasn’t so much angry as it was a semi-automatic promise.

“Don’t leave. Fuck him! He doesn’t want to deal with being a father so he can deal with my life!” The fact that they were no longer involved did nothing to appease me. I decided not to investigate her paranthetical confession of motherhood, which had been disguised quite effectively by our inebriated state the night before. I didn’t want to learn more about her ex and what his real place in her life consisted of for fear he would have a new (and temporary) place in mine if I stuck around.

From then on, I’ve taken to Irish Eyes on the Holy Day. If she hates the Miami Hurricanes and Oliver Cromwell with equal intensity, I’m willing to walk those 500 miles and then 500 more just to show up at her door with a six pack and reservations at the pub in the offing.

Granted, the other 364 days of the year are a challenge. But at least I know an Irish girl would never let me suffer the indignity of being murdered by her crazed ex. She’d do the job herself.

Drink O’ The Day- Guinness. It’s not over yet.