Tag Archives: love

The Players

I only date chefs, musicians, and writers. Here is a retrospective, although I haven’t included the one night stands (neither one of them).

  1. Writer. Every bouquet of flowers came with a limerick.
  2. Musician. Bass guitarist in a ska band. I’ll give him points for being a Writer, too, since he wrote several pages of brilliant prose to tell me he preferred sleeping with my best friend.
  3. Chef. Pesky cocaine problem.
  4. Anomaly. Engaged two years.
  5. Chef. Bad habit of stealing from the company we both worked for.
  6. Musician. Said he wrote a song about me, but I heard the Muzac of the original playing in an elevator.
  7. Anomaly. Married seven years.
  8. Writer. Well, his autobiographical statement on Match was compelling, anyway.
  9. Musician. Said he didn’t write a song about me, but that one about the daffodils definitely was.
  10. Chef-ish, Writer-ish. He had a way with figs, and he once wrote a blog post that moved me to tears.
  11. Musician (opera); Chef (first breakfast: pancakes with real blueberries); Writer (wrote a haiku for me every day for sixty-seven days). He was the trifecta. Alas, it just wasn’t a good fit.
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Coffee Clutch

for David

Coffee. That’s how it starts. “Buy you a cup of coffee?” “Meet me for coffee?”

Plastic to-go cups of iced coffee on a hot summer evening, you wondering how it’s going to turn out. You know that if it goes badly, your second cup will be a decaf and you’ll go home. But, if it goes well, you’ll go home with him, so that second cup will be regular. Maybe espresso.

Coffee in steaming mugs, the two of you cocooned by shared blankets, watching the leaves fall and float from the trees in the cool autumn air.

Delicate cups of gourmet coffee in the bistro where you had your first real date; you gazing out the window as the snow piles up outside. He plunges the French press and pours. Taking a sip, he says, “I’m not feeling it.” You laugh. “Maxed out your caffeine tolerance?” you ask. “No, it’s not the coffee,” he says. “It’s you.” He pushes his chair back from the table and sets down his cup. “I thought I’d be feeling something by now, but I’m not. Sorry.” He leaves, and you stare at the widening stain on the tablecloth where his coffee sloshed out of the still-full cup.

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Crushed.

I’ve known him for years, he’s the flirty guy with the perfect teeth and a penchant for giving hugs. Big hugs. The pick-you-up, squeeze-you-tight, and swing-you-around type of hugs. The kind that are just a few moments short of being inappropriate when bestowed upon me, a woman who is nine years his senior and in a committed relationship.

So, I have to ask myself, why would a woman, nine years his elder and in a committed relationship, allow herself to be picked up and swung around by this other man? Why haven’t I told him to stop, if not after the first time, then why not the second? Or the twentieth? The answer is simple. It’s the reason most people do most everything they do. I keep letting him hug me because it feels good.

True, I have a crush on him, but who wouldn’t? It’s nothing more than that. I have a boyfriend; I certainly couldn’t date the hugger. Once, when no one else showed up to supper club, it was just the two of us for sushi, but that wasn’t a date. I did put on lipstick, but it wasn’t a date.

He hugs all of us, all of the women in supper club. But lately he’s been texting me, inviting me over to his apartment to watch football, or offering to buy me éclairs. Éclairs are absolutely my favorite pastry, he knows that. I don’t know how he first found out that I like them, but when he showed up at Carolyn’s picnic with a dozen of those Bavarian cream-filled, chocolate ganache-drizzled delights, I knew he brought them just for me. He insisted it was a coincidence, he claimed he only got them because the bakery was out of brownies, but I don’t believe it. He also said he didn’t know I was going to be at the picnic, but I don’t believe that either.

I’ve been having sex with the hugger. He doesn’t know about it. Whether I’m with my boyfriend or by myself, I think about the hugger every time I’m naked. He’s the one racing through my brain while my body soars and sighs. I don’t know when that started, but I can’t make it stop.

He texted me this morning and asked me to meet him at the bakery. I wanted to say yes, so I did. I lied to my boyfriend and told him I was meeting Carolyn, and then waited until I had pulled out of the driveway before I put on my lipstick.

When I walked into the bakery I was enveloped by the warm, musty smell of sugar. I wondered how long my coat would smell like that if I took a few steps backwards and walked out the door, if I just got in my car and drove home to my boyfriend.

The hugger was there, standing at the front of the line. As he turned and took a step toward me, I felt my heart skip and sputter, like a drop of water in hot oil. “Don’t!” I said. “You’ll lose your place in line.” He smiled and reached out to me.

“I can get back in line later,” he said, pulling me to his chest. “But what I want now is a hug.” It was a seven-second hug. I counted. Seven seconds is a wonderfully long time to be hugged, especially in a crowded bakery.

He bought a box of two éclairs and a bag of brownies, and I followed him outside to a picnic table. He sat down on the bench beside me. I ate my éclair while he told me about last week’s Cal State game, and predicted how they were going to win this afternoon. “Fourth quarter, fake punt and thirty yards to score.” He stood and extended his leg to kick at his outstretched hands. He looked strong and confident, like the MVP of a championship team. I didn’t mean to, but I sighed out loud.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Kick-off is in ten,” he said. “Gotta head out.”

“Aren’t you going to eat your éclair?” I asked. Beads of condensation had puddled on the chocolate, and the cream had oozed over the sides of the pastry onto the cardboard box.

“No, I got those for you,” he said. He shook the bag of brownies. “These are for me. Are you ready to go?”

I rose to my feet but then thumped back down on the wooden bench. “But, I thought we were hanging out,” I said. He cocked his head to the side, leaned over and smiled as he brushed his hand across my cheek. I closed my eyes and lifted my face up to his. “You have chocolate on your lip,” he said, then turned toward the parking lot. I swiped at my mouth with a napkin, smearing the chocolate and my lipstick with the paper, then stood and followed him. When we got to my car, he took me in his arms, picked me up and swung me around, just like he’d done dozens of times before. He didn’t say “This was fun,” or “Let’s do this again,” or “I’ll call you.”

I don’t know why I’m so spun up about this. It’s not like I ever had a real crush on him. That would be ridiculous. I am a grown woman in a committed relationship. The hugger and I are just two people who hug and happen to like baked goods. If I had a crush on him, replaying this afternoon over and over again in my head, like I am doing right now, would make me miserably unhappy, but I’m definitely not. I’ve hardly even noticed that he hasn’t emailed me. Since I don’t have a crush on him, I’m not mortified that I sent him a selfie of me eating the second éclair and he texted back a one syllable acknowledgement. And not having a crush on him means that I’m not at all hurt that my follow up text celebrating Cal State’s win got another one-word grunt. It’s okay. He’s probably busy. It doesn’t matter. I never really liked him in the first place. I’m telling you, seriously, it’s no big deal if he never hugs me again. It’s not like I’d be crushed, or anything like that.

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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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Cold Chicken, Hot Bun, Not What I Expected.

Why do we assume anything that includes the words “Hot Bun” is going to be about sex? At what point did radiant heat and flour/water/yeast become so licentious? I certainly don’t know, and I didn’t mean it that way.

Today’s lunch didn’t turn out as expected. I made a sandwich of cold chicken, served on a hot bun (stop giggling). Cold chicken is sublime, completely different from warm chicken, and a mini-baguette, hot and crisp, is much better than tepid white bread. Add mayonnaise and a leaf of romaine you’ve got the makings for a tasty and satisfying lunch. But it didn’t turn out that way. The crispy bread shattered upon contact, and the chicken fell out and hit my plate with a mildly wet smack. I got mayonnaise all over my face. It occurs to me that the last sentence, paired with ‘hot buns’, has the more lascivious of you rolling in the aisles. Notice that I used Licentious, and Lascivious to describe you people, as if SAT words could ameliorate your libidinous minds.

So, appearances were deceiving. I seem to have many stories about the deceit of appearances, and I doubt I’m the only one who has fallen deeply in love with someone who turned out to be as hollow as, well, that flaky bit of golden brown bread I tried to enjoy for lunch. I also seem to have a lot of stories about falling and failing in love – but hey, I’m an artiste, we’re known for the angst of our amour and besides, never since Romeo and Juliet has a tragic love story failed to entertain.

His name was Cameron. Six foot three in his bare feet, muscular, quiet in that stoic, brooding way that I can’t resist. There was a frayed denim jacket he wore everywhere. And, he drove a gold Trans Am, white firebird emblazoned across its hood. Everything about him was manly.

Now, you don’t know this, but I have sat here at my desk for an hour and have used over 700 words to explain, in a languorous and extremely boring way, how I finally ended up in that gold Trans Am with Cameron. But life is short; at least I’m sure your attention span is, so I’ll get to it. I strapped myself into that passenger seat, put my hands on the dashboard, and braced myself for the ride I’d been waiting for. I listened for those six cylinders to rev, for the squeal of rubber on pavement and the snug knock of the gearshift as Cameron slammed that thing into second for a mindboggling lurch of a jump start. It was not what I expected. Instead, Cameron carefully set his foot upon the clutch, gently turned the key, and cautiously looked both ways before he eased into the street. There was no ‘foot to the floor’ as I’d dreamed of; there was just a gingerly tap of the gas pedal. I’d thought we were going to race around the hairpin turns of the Asheville mountains, but no, Cameron chose to use the turn signal every time we went around a bend. My grandmother channels Mario Andretti compared to this guy. I have to say ‘guy’ now. I can’t say ‘man’. There was nothing manly about Cameron, he was about as lame as warm chicken on a cold bun.

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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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