Everything in this book is true, everything really happened. Except the stuff that isn’t true, and never did. Except for the hyperbole nestled against reality. Except for the conversations I wish I could’ve had, the letters I wish I could’ve written. Except for the outcomes as how I wished them to be, hoped they would be, thought they SHOULD be…Yep, everything in this book is true, except what isn’t: and only those of us who were involved will truly know the difference.
Love in the Cloud
It started innocently enough, a private message spurred by some Facebook contact or another:
“You’re Gorgeous. But what’s needed now is comfort.” Followed by “I always wondered why you were so accepting of me, so welcoming, back when we met.”
It took her three tries to get her reply right:
“Why wouldn’t I accept you? Why wouldn’t I welcome you? You’re a part of this wonderful “family” of ours of amazing and wonderful people. You’re ALWAYS welcome!”
To be honest, his message had shocked her, kind of unnerved her. For one thing, his wife had just left him a few months before, this was no time to get involved with him, it wouldn’t be good for either one of them…”Comfort is what’s needed.” Well, ain’t that the truth! And she could do that, be his friend, be there for him. She was good at that. Besides, she had always liked the guy, thought he was nice, and sincere, and sweet…and God knows, he didn’t deserve the treatment he was getting.
For another thing, and this she realized in retrospect, wasn’t this about the same time that she was getting reaccquainted with that OTHER guy, the guy from 30 years ago, the one she had ALMOST kissed, way back then, before she broke the moment by putting her key in the ignition, starting the car and saying “Well…gotta go!”
That had turned out pretty much the same as it had back then: apparently the broken moment was never gonna be unbroken…
And this guy, the hurting one: they talked online for months and months…a year…a year and a half….a lot of comfort was shared in that time, and, honestly, it went both ways, and they got to know each other. They’d never really been more than acquaintances before, but now they became friends. During this time she forgot that he had started the whole thing by saying “You’re gorgeous.” It was no wonder she forgot: She certainly didn’t FEEL gorgeous! She felt frumpy, and overworked, stressed out and TIRED! She had stopped dating YEARS ago,when it became apparent that she was STILL dating the same kind of guys and she figured it just wasn’t fair to her kid to be raised by a depressed mom who couldn’t get out of bed because she was too busy crying over some lout that couldn’t treat her well!
But Geez, she certainly hadn’t intended for her “hermitage”, as she called it, to last quite so long! Fourteen years, it had been. Fourteen years! Her son was a grown man now, living with the same girl he’d been with for the past four of those fourteen years…at least HE was good at relationships, she had taught him that, even if she herself hadn’t quite been able to muster them!
Now, to be honest, she hadn’t been celibate the entire time…there were a few guys, three to be exact, during that time. The first two, well over a decade ago, did to her the same mortifying things that she had done to guys for years: Instant relationship, just add sex! The first guy helped her with a building project, and to be sure she learned a bit from him, like how to build a bay window by cutting the framing at 22-1/2 degrees . And she got to use a nail gun for the first time! (“Sweet! Those puppies are FUN!!!!!”) But when he said to her, in all seriousness “We’ve done this together before. We’ve known each other in a former life!” she knew she needed to run for the hills, the highest hills, far-far away, and FAST!
Well, since they were near the beach, the hills weren’t terrifically high, and besides, it was HER house! So, she did the only thing she COULD do: She acted like a “guy” and never again returned his phone calls!
She always wondered, too, if this WAS actually a break in her celibacy? I mean, do blow-jobs count? And, since this was very close to the time of Bill Clinton, the answer was right there:
No. No they don’t! Unless you’re a republican. And she wasn’t!
She acted like a guy with the next one too: She’d seen him around for years, even had a conversation or two with him. Yeah, she knew he was a bit “classic-rock” for her tastes, but he was HOT! So, she went out on a date with him, and one thing led to another….Yeah, of COURSE one thing led to another! During that one thing (or the other!) she discovered that, while he was incredibly endowed in one important aspect, he was far less endowed in another…his brain, people, I’m talking about his brain! Now, dumb as a box of rocks, he wasn’t! Not quite…BUT! She has an IQ of 155, likes science, and Shakespeare, and Philosophy and ART!!!! A match made in heaven it wasn’t! And, to make matters worse,while they were right in the middle of THE MOST AMAZINGLY MEDIOCRE SEX SHE’D EVER HAD(!!!!!!!) He starts talking to her about John Lennon and Jesus! JOHN LENNON AND JESUS!!!!! She’s a punk rock chick from waaaay back, always hated the Beatles, AND, she’s more or less a Goddess loving Pagan! JESUS CHRIST AND JOHN LENNON? OH MY EFFING GOD!
So, this one wasn’t gonna work either…and, like I said, she had seen him around for years, he was in her group of friends, she saw him all the time! The poor guy basically followed her around for the next 3 years, trying to get her to give him another chance. It was sad really; even when he had another girlfriend, he still would have thrown her over for our’ girl…She learned something important through this, though. She learned, that if she ever got back into this whole dating/relationship thing, and if she was ever tempted to “play the game” (which she was pretty sure she’d never do) she now knew at least ONE of the rules: if ya ever want someone to fall madly in love with you, sleep with them, then shun them.
She thought that was pretty sad too!
Now, the 3rd guy, well, she didn’t break his heart, but she did run, all the same. By this time, she had become what she called “The Queen of Ambivalence”…and this guy was INTENSE, and highly sexual, and she was only KINDA attracted to him, and, did I mention that he was intense and highly sexual? It was all just too much for her, the sex came too soon, the ambivalence was too powerful,and ,she began to wonder if maybe, just maybe she didn’t really like sex all that much, anyway, and maybe she never would!
Now, as the narrator here, as someone who knows how this story unfolds, when it’s unfolded to at least the place it’s unfolded as I sit and write this, let me just tell you: in this concern she was very, VERY WRONG!
So, our girl went to sleep, emotionally and sexually anyway. She concentrated on raising her child and running her business. She relocated a time or two, which was very convenient:
“How on earth could I start dating that guy, when I’m moving 500 miles away?”
She stopped combing her hair so often, let the gray grow out, seldom put on so much as a bit of lipstick. She seriously didn’t CARE if she was attractive or not, because dating was the LAST thing on her mind…and, when she inevitably got hit on, usually by a contractor in Home Depot, her interior response was along the lines of “Duuude! Seriously? My hair’s not brushed, I have no lipstick on, I’m gray as fuck, and I’m wearing the same clothes I’ve been wearing for four days straight and they’re covered with paint and drywall dust!” Then she would pretend not to notice and walk away…
Over time she put on a nice layer of fat in the hopes of further dissuading those pesky men—now, this of course was another retrospective realization for her, she had not intentionally gained weight in the hopes of keeping men away. But at the end of the sojourn of alone-ness, she looked back and realized that she couldn’t have gained ALL this weight through menopause and Jack In The Box alone…there MUST have been some sneaky, sinister, interior-ulterior motive at work here.
All in all, the weight gain as an off-putting device didn’t work…she STILL got hit on, by the contractors in Home Depot, by men at the Supermarket, and, also…by the twenty-somethings! Now, these boys caused many a “WTF!” moment for her…I mean, really? Half her age-ers? Where did THAT come from?
Okay, so which one to tell you about first? The 24 year old in the pick-up truck who propositioned her at the ATM in Tampa with the line “Excuse me “M’AM”” ( M’am???) “weird question: Would you like to have sex with me????” or the cute Sci-fi loving boy that worked for her in Michigan and told her he was pushing 30?
Well, since the Tampa story just pretty much told itself, we’ll go for Michigan Boy:
It began when our’ girl and her manager, another late 40’s mom, were having a heated and detailed discussion about “Dune” (one of her favorite sci-fi book series) and what it all meant, and WHAT Muad’Dib’s place in the entire scope of allllll the stories was.
Michigan Boy is looking on in amazement. Finally he blurts out with “I am SO turned on right now!” Well, the mom’s stop their conversation for a moment and look at him, simultaneously thinking “Awww, isn’t that sweet! The twelve year old thinks we’re hot!” Then they went back to “Dune”.
(Now, you must know, that to any woman over 20, any guy that is young enough to be below your’ dating range automatically becomes twelve. It’s just the way it is.)
This exchange is pretty much ignored and forgotten, though there are a few more comments offered in the next couple of weeks, the best of which was:
“You are so COOL! My mom doesn’t like punk rock at all”
Now, like I said, our’ girl is not really in the mood for dating, so she doesn’t really think anything of all this, except that it’s cute and sweet and flattering!
Then, in mid winter comes the Facebook Flirtation: Michigan Boy friends her, and they do some fairly intense online flirting. Now, it’s at this point in time that he tells her he’s “pushing thirty”. (she had,of course, been resisting the flirtations of the “twelve year old”) Our girl thinks, “Well, nineteen years age difference…that’s not SOOOOO bad…and his birthday’s soon, so that’ll make it 18 years…” She’s trying hard to rationalize it, cuz, he’s AWFULLY cute, and she’s TREMENDOUSLY flattered. So, they go on like this for a couple of weeks, it’s sweet and fun, and she’s enjoying herself…
Then, the subject of the age difference comes up, and Michigan boy says to her (and she’ll never forget this!) “In point of fact, my father’s four years older than you!”
REALLY? She’s not sure how she feels about that, but she’s pretty sure it falls into the “not so good” camp! So, our girl does some facebook sleuthing, and finds some fairly disconcerting pictures of parties at his house: They definitely have a frat boy feel to them, filled as they are with bongs and empty beer cans and college sweatshirt wearing young twenty-somethings! But, besides that, and this is even MORE disconcerting, she comes across his MOTHERS facebook page and discovers that his mom is “IN POINT OF FACT” three years younger than our’ Girl is! Oh my!
But wait, it gets better! The next night when it’s time for their facebook flirt, Michigan Boy finally fesses up and it turns out, that not only is he NOT pushing 30, he’s really just BARELY pushing twenty five! Oh Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, this boy is only FOUR years older than her son!
(Now, we’ve all seen “Garden State”, right? That scene in the kitchen? Well, our’ girl is NOT going there! She’s already raised a boy, she’s NOT gonna raise another one…especially if he wants to sleep with her!
Ladies and Gents, you heard it here first: Cute, darling, delicious, sci-fi loving Michigan Boy is, if not in “point of fact”, then at least in our’ girls viewpoint, actually…only… TWELVE!!
So our’ girl goes back to sleep…not as deep a sleep as she was in before, after all, her son is grown and out of the house, she could get back to dating, it might be fun…and she WAS all alone in this great big house….
Now, in the 14 years of loveless reverie, our’ girl had created all sorts of stories about herself: You’ve heard about the Queen of ambivalence, and the idea that she didn’t really like sex…she also had this story about how she was oblivious to the attentions of the opposite gender. In truth, there WAS something to this story…but it was a reach! Seems that years ago, long before the fourteen years began, she was with a group of friends at a show, some concert or another. At some point in the evening her best friend grabbed her and said
“Girl, what is your’ problem? That boy has been practically doing backflips to get your’ attention, and you’re completely ignoring him! And he’s CUTE too!”
Our girl was left spouting “What boy? Who,Where?” In this instance she absolutely was oblivious. She hadn’t had a clue…but, this one instance became an oft repeated story in her life. And, with every repeating, the story became more solid, more real until this absolutely WAS how she was…in her own mind at least!
She added to the story that she didn’t know how to flirt, had never known how to flirt, and, of course, didn’t know when a guy was flirting with her. She became, in her mind, someone who was completely clueless as to social cues…this despite the fact that this present story completely contradicted her OTHER, oft repeated, set in stone story, the one she had created many years ago when she was much, much younger: In THAT story she was so GOOD at interpreting unspoken social cues because her Dad had been so quiet! Sheesh! Girl, Make up your’ mind!
The new story took over. She even had herself convinced that since she was so BAD at picking up on all those social cues that she MUST be somewhere on the autism spectrum, maybe Aspbergers, yeah,that would make sense! After all, hadn’t her mom told her that when she was a baby she didn’t like to be held, that she would stiffen up like a board whenever she was picked up from the crib? There it was, PROOF! No wonder she was so weird! No wonder she was alone! No wonder she SUCKED at relationships! She had Aspbergers!
Yeah, that was it! It made total sense! She was smart too, so that fit…
Never mind that she never did any of the rocking/flapping things that are the hallmarks of the austism spectrum…never mind that she had absolutely no problem maintaining good solid strong friendships, with lots of people; never mind that she LOVED a good raucous party and had no problem whatsoever with meeting new people in noisy situations and turning them into new friends; never mind that she had absolutely no problem being physically close to her son!
Never mind ANY of that, she was on the autism spectrum, maybe just a little bit, but she WAS! She definitely was!
Then she happened to read an article in “Scientific American” that talked about how artists were neurologically similar to those on the the autism spectrum, but without all the socially inept bullshit…
Oh thank god! She didn’t have Aspbergers! Oh thank goodness! She was just a freaky weird artist! Hell, she’d always been a freaky weird artist! Cool! This was awesome! She didn’t have autism! She was pretty much normal!
So, back in college we used to have an expression for people with the kind of bizarre thought processes that our’ girl was going through. It went something like this:
“Man, that girl? That girl needs to get laid!”
And so it came to be! Well, not just like that, of course, there was a bit to how it all happened, but, when you get right down to it, the hurting guy, the one we talked about at the beginning, the one she had spent the last year and a half getting to know…well, that guy woke our girl up!