Category Archives: communication

Smoked Him

for Everett

“You mean, on a date?” she asks.

“Well, if that’s what you want to call it,” he says. He kicks at the grass growing up through a crack in the sidewalk. “I was thinking I’d pick you up, we’d get some dinner, see a movie, and then I’d bring you home. Yeah, I suppose that is a date, if that’s what you want to call it.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she says.

“Why not?”

“Because of the smoking.” She leans back against the white picket fence that lines the sidewalk and exhales from of one side of her mouth to avoid clouding his eyes.

“But I don’t smoke,” he says. You’re the one who smokes.”

“Yup. That’s the problem. I’ve been through this. I know exactly how it’s going to go down.”

“What?”

“Okay, see, I’m going to end up liking you, probably a lot. Enough, I’m sure, to quit smoking for you, and that will ruin everything. Now, don’t get that look on your face and try to argue with me. I know for sure that I’m going to systematically ruin our relationship, in three succinct phases. Want me to explain?”

He watches her toss her cigarette to the ground a few inches from his foot. He worries briefly about fire when it lands on top of a wrinkled brown leaf and then relaxes as he watches her grind it into the concrete with the toe of her shoe. She picks up the crushed butt and puts it in her pocket.

“Sure,” he says. “Enlighten me.”

“Okay. Think of it as a bell curve. We start out on the far left, the place where things are new and fun. I fall for you, and this is Phase One:  Dedication. I convince myself that smoking is bad for me, and that you’re a really amazing guy and I’d like to get closer to you, and what the hell, I’ve quit before so this will be easy.

“We’ll get about three weeks of that before we plateau at the top of said bell curve. I call this Phase Two: Elation. We’re having a great time together, everything is sunshine and roses. I have a sense of accomplishment. I’m feeling good physically, I’ve conquered my demons, and I’m happy. The duration of this phase is unpredictable – in my experience it could be a month, maybe even a year, but what’s right over the hump is Phase Three: Resentment and Hatred. This is the phase where I realize that I’ve changed for you, that I’ve lost sight of my personal promise to never change for a man. This is when I remember that I deeply love smoking; that it’s not hurting anyone, and furthermore, I can do anything I damn well please so back off, mother fucker!

“And on that lovely sunlit evening you’ll find me here, leaning against this fence and waiting for you to come pick me up for a date. I’ll have a blazing cigarette clamped between my fingers and a look in my eye that says, “Go ahead, asshole, I dare you to say something.” And, that, my friend, is how it’s going to go down. The end.”

“You’ve got it all figured out, don’t you?” he asks.

“Well, yes,” she says, “Yes, I do.” She takes the butt out of her pocket and drags it along the fence in a long black smear.

“Well, then,” he says. He leans forward and kisses her. On the cheek. “As long as you’ve got it all figured out,” he says. His feet crunch in the fallen leaves as he walks down the sidewalk and away from her.

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it was then

It was Wednesday, yes, it was Wednesday and I can only bear to speak of it now – it was Wednesday and on my way to lunch I approached a set of double glass doors, and as I was headed out, a gentleman was headed in, and as he stepped back to hold the door for me, it was then, as I looked up into the eyes of the most handsome man I have ever seen, it was then, my friends, it was then, that I tripped and stumbled and bounced the right half of my body off the adjoining glass door. And it is there that my story ends.

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Hang Ups

It’s 1981, you’re 12 years old.

You wait for your parents to leave, you know they won’t approve of what you’re about to do. You watch until the taillights of the family Pinto disappear around the curve of your cul-de-sac, and then walk to the kitchen.

Leaning against the door of the pantry, you reach over and lift the receiver from the phone on the wall. You inhale deeply and exhale slowly as you dial his number, your index finger moving in seven separate, arduous arcs.

One ringy dingy. Two ringy dingy. Three. The butterflies in your stomach take flight and fill your throat with a sharp tickle of panicky giggles. Four rings. “Hello?” answers the voice of the cutest boy in school. You slam your hand on the hook, ending the call, and quickly hang up.

You can do this all night. He’ll never know it was you.

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Bitches Be Crazy

2015-10-20 20.49.40This is what it looks like when you make chocolate chip cookies on the Georgie. It would be a waste of energy (Washington Gas) to heat up the whole oven for just two cookies, and it’s too much energy (oh, my aching back) to climb up to the shelf and get the toaster oven, so I made cookies on the Georgie.

I swear my friend J told me she did this before with good results. But that was in the late nineties, when we got all “holistic,” ate quinoa, went off our meds, and did things like make cookies on the Georgie. “Bitches be crazy” comes to mind.

Last night I shared my cookies and some stories I wrote with my neighbor. I turned my head to look out the window while he read, but I could see the reflection of his face in the glass. He smiled some. He shook his head some. More shaking than smiling. When he finished the last story, he tapped the papers together and looked at me. “Is this true?” he asked.

“Well,” I said, “I change the names and sometimes add things here and there, but mostly it’s true.”

“No, I mean the way the women act. Don’t they have any self-esteem? They keep chasing after guys, well, pretty much the same guy – the one who is the least interested in them. They’re totally disconnected from reality. In every single one of these stories they have a chance to learn something, to change, but they don’t. They just blow it all off with some crap about true love and keep right on making themselves miserable. What the hell?”

I folded my hands in my lap, lifted my chin, and took a deep breath. “Yes,” I said. “It’s the curse of being a romantic.” My neighbor groaned. “That’s bullshit and you know it,” he said.

“Let’s say you’re right,” I replied. “Let’s say there is no such thing as true love. Can’t you pursue it anyway? There are plenty of people looking for the Loch Ness monster, Atlantis, buried Aztec treasure. What if dating is your hobby? What does it hurt if you keep playing the game? When the game involves phone calls, and dresses, and dinners and heartache? It’s exhilarating. It feels. It’s fun.”

“Did you say fun?” my neighbor asked.

“Yes, and entertaining, too. How else could Harlequin and Hollywood stay in business? Women love this stuff.”

“Women. Well that explains it. Bitches be crazy.”

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Dating is Like a Chocolate Pecan Cupcake

Yesterday I wanted Pecan Pie. I also wanted Chocolate Cupcakes. So, I decided to put the two together. Seeking guidance, I turned to the internet, where I found dozens of recipes, all written by witty ladies and teeming with glamorous photos of food.

My photo doesn’t look like that. Mine looks like this:  20150809_115211-1

Messy. Complicated. A work in progress.

And so, I bring you: Dating Is Like A Chocolate Pecan Cupcake.

The photo shows you my first tentative efforts. I’ve got the ingredients, I’m ready to go. I’ve told all my friends I’m going to pursue this, so I’m pretty much committed.

The internet ladies didn’t mention that there would be a cat in the kitchen, the one that wove itself between and around my legs while I tried to cook. The cat represents the things about the dating relationship that were cute at the beginning, but soon become a major annoyance, like his snoring or the way I sing Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” all day on Sunday when I do, well, the laundry.

Let’s say you get past the cat (although it never leaves the kitchen), and you make it to the point where you’ve got all the ingredients mixed together, the batter in the little fluted papers, and the pan in the oven. You look on the counter and there you see the pecans, which were supposed to go in the batter, and the Hershey’s Cocoa, which wasn’t even in the recipe. These are the little things you didn’t expect, like his friends being complete assholes or your insisting that he go with you to the “80’s Retro Dance Party” on the third Saturday of every month.

You try to recoup by pulling the pan out of the oven and sprinkling the pecans on top of the half baked cupcakes. The pecans are the guy in the accounting department who you keep flirting with, just in case your new relationship crashes and burns and you need a last minute date to your cousin Yvonne’s wedding next April. Speaking of crashing and burning, the pecans begin to smoke. No need to explain this, you all know the beginning of the end when you smell it.

But you remain hopeful, and leave the cupcakes in that 350-degree heat for another little while.

When you finally admit that they’re done, your friends look at your ruined cupcakes and put on fake smiles. “It’s not that bad,” they say. “You can try again another time, maybe use a new recipe.” That’s what all happily married women with 2.5 beautiful children say to their hopelessly single friends.

And now you’re stuck with the dishes. You’ve used every pot and pan you own to make this mess. You fill the sink and squirt in the detergent, you pull on the worn yellow gloves. You can hear your friends telling you that it won’t take as long as you think it will, that you’ll feel so much better when it’s done. You vow that next time you’ll do things differently, you’ll read the recipe all the way through, you’ll, you’ll – oh screw it, there is no positive spin to this. Everyone hates to do the dishes.

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TGIF, Really?

“TGIF!”
“What?”

Leah is in the breakroom, mournfully stirring Coffemate into her cup of decaf. Out the window she can see the rain falling on the morning mess of traffic on 23rd street.  Across the street there is sodden mess of a construction site, all lumber and blue tarps and puddles of mud.  As bright and perky Dan comes into the breakroom, Leah feels her grip tighten on the cup in her hand.  There are small scratch marks where her nails press into the styrofoam.

“What did you say to me?” she asks Dan.
“TGIF!” Dan sings. “Thank God It’s Friday!”
“Really?” Leah says. She takes a deep breath and sets her cup down on the counter.  She looks up at Dan and exhales, turning to face him head on.  “Really? Did you know my husband is out of town so it will be just me with our twin 5th graders all weekend? Did you know it’s mid-June and summer vacation is almost here?  My kids are crazy excited that they’re about to get out of school, they’re crazy angry that they still have a week left of school, they’re anxious and antsy, they’re belligerent and sullen, they’re hot and they’re cold and dammit Dan, did you know it’s going to rain all weekend? I’m stuck inside with them for the next two days! So no, Dan, TG I am Fucking not!

Dan takes a step away from Leah and fumbles in the pocket of his blazer. He extends his hand to her. “Here, you need this more than I do,” he says. “TGIC.”

Readers: What is the “C”?561

 

 

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Spa Day

pedicure

Angry asian rat

Gnashing teeth

Attacks my tender nubs

Razor edge

Snapping jaw

Sandpaper

Until all’s that left are stubs

facial

Wrap me in a warm rag

My face feels like a teabag

Moist happy mummy

massage

Let’s not talk

We only have an hour

Push pull moan groan

Pressure points

You knew I’d like the lemongrass

But c’mon, now,

We both know it’s not loveall is well

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