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Hopeless Romantic

I met a woman once.

Yeah, I know. What’s so unusual about that? Normally I’d agree. It’s a pretty common occurrence. But there was one woman, an extraordinary woman, that I met many years ago. About thirty or so. You can stop doing the math in your head, yup, I’m that old. Anyway this was a circumstance so exceptional it still haunts me to this day. In a good way.

When I lived in Las Vegas there was a period of time when I was somewhat unsettled. I was up and down, happy and sad. Sometimes all at once. I’d been through a few things that I let drag me to the very bottom and I navigated the depths of quasi-despair for a few years. I drank a lot. And I drank often. I wasn’t quite a major league drinker but I was playing AAA ball at a variety of bars.

One of my frequent hangouts was Sidelines located on the outskirts of Henderson, Nevada. Great little place. Of course it’s gone now. Had to make way for bigger and better money-suckers. One of the bartenders, Melissa, was a good friend. We dated a bit, off and on. Never seriously. She was always waiting for the right firefighter to come along. Hope she found him.

One evening I dropped in after work and saw Melissa behind the bar with another young lady whose back was to me. Then I remembered she told me her sister was in town visiting prior to going back to Ohio to get married. Ohio, four letters. Tim’s number three rule of dating is never date anyone from a state with four letters in its name. This whole evening was one of the reasons for the evolution of rule number three.

I walked towards the two of them. About the same height. Melissa’s hair was longer and a little lighter than the sister’s. It took me a moment to navigate though the usual patrons who had to say high, give me a slap on the back, tell me how great it was to see me. Bar regulars are a chummy bunch. I was almost to the end of the bar when Melissa waved and her sister turned. Our eyes met and it was one of those moments you see in corny romance flicks when they do the slo-mo and the woman’s hair does this twirly flip thing as she turned my way. To this day I think everyone in the bar stopped talking at once. The music that was annoyingly loud faded away. My heart seized up. Literally. I felt my stomach tighten. I must have taken the last few steps but I don’t remember them. I’m sure Melissa introduced us. Her name was Trish. Patricia, actually. I could see a resemblance but they were also very different people. Trish was softer. Years of bartending can do that to you, I guess. I reached across the bar to shake her hand and I felt as if the very essence of life flowed through our fingers. I could tell she felt it, too. A slight widening of her eyes and a brief intake of breath. It seemed as if we stared at each other for an hour while Melissa continued to talk, telling me all about her not a word of which I can remember. I finally came around enough to look at Melissa who was telling me she’d been holding Trish hostage behind the bar to keep her from being hounded by all the drunken males in the place. On any other day I would have been part of that group but Melissa trusted me. Still don’t know why.
She asked me to keep an eye on Trish and keep her entertained until her shift was over. I must have agreed because I found myself holding a chair while Trish sat. That’s when I caught the first whiff of her perfume. Don’t ask me what it was. I didn’t ask and I still don’t want to know. I’d probably have a nostalgic bottle stashed away somewhere that I’d drag out and snarfle after a few shots of Irish whiskey.

People use the word intoxicating to describe such a moment. Though trite and over-used that is the best description I can muster. I sat and asked her what she’d like to drink while Melissa stood by and answered ‘Oh, she doesn’t drink alcohol’. My rule of thumb is when I am with a lady who does not imbibe neither do I so we opted for club soda and lime on the rocks. Yeah, really original. Melissa left and the two of us sat silently for a moment and continued the unabashedly shameful staring. I could barely breathe. My heart had started up again but was fluttering at a frightful pace. I have no idea how words started between us but they did. We talked and laughed. And talked some more. We found out we had almost zero interests in common. Different tastes in everything. But she graciously listened to my stories and I was enraptured by her charming discourse. Twice she reached across the table to touch my arm and she withdrew suddenly when she realized what she’d done but not before that little bolt of electricity passed between us. Our legs would occasionally touch and I’d start back embarrassed. It was the most amazing two hours I’ve ever spent with a woman I’d just met. About an hour in I realized I’d fallen completely in love with her. Don’t ask me how I knew. If you’ve ever fallen hard for someone you know what I’m talking about. And I could feel the same emotions coming from the other side of the table. Never had something felt so completely right that was utterly, completely, hopelessly wrong.

I’ll digress from my tale for a moment to tell you I haven’t fallen like that again. I’ve had some lady friends, known some wonderful women. But that singular moment has been missing from every encounter. I don’t mind being alone. It doesn’t make me unhappy and I don’t miss being in love all that much. But when I think about Trish I know that what I miss is falling in love. That marvelous free-fall into a stomach churning stupidly blissful abyss. Once again if you don’t know that feeling it hasn’t really happened to you. Yet. When it does you’ll know. It’s not lust, it’s not obsession. It’s driving fast with the top down in the springtime with the wind in your hair and the smell of a new summer coming and not giving a damn where you’re going but just enjoying the ride. I love falling in love. Hopelessly in love.

And so I did that evening with Trish. All the time feeling the growing ache inside that this would be over in an instant with no hope for the future.

Melissa’s shift ended and she came to the table and said they’d better get going because Trish had an early flight and they wanted to spend a little time together. I was dying inside. A little voice in my head was screaming ‘Tell her not to go!’ and without the benefit of inhibition lowering alcohol flowing through my bloodstream my sober, logical mind was getting the upper hand. ‘Thanks, Timmy’ Melissa offered and leaned in to give me a kiss on the cheek. Trish stepped toward me, paused and stood back a little. She reached out both hands and grasped mine. Tightly. I don’t think Melissa noticed. She held my hands for a moment and said ‘Thanks, Tim’ and said goodbye and turned. They were gone before I could blink, or breathe or yell ‘Don’t go!’. Gone forever.

I never saw her again. Melissa told me Trish got married and was expecting a little girl the last time I spoke with her.

I kinda got over bars after that. At least on a daily basis. It was a seismic event in my life.

Every now and then I wonder what would happen if I were to hear a door open, look up and see her walk in. I’m pretty sure the effect would be exactly the same as the first time our eyes met. I don’t miss being in a relationship. I don’t miss being in love. Every now and then when I feel nostalgic and think back to those days I really miss falling in love.

It still hurts a little. Less than it used to but it never goes away completely. So I’m probably done falling in love. That rocket ship ride to the moon and back in the blink of an eye. Yeah, I’m done falling in love.

Unless I hear that door open.

The Last of 2015

I’d written a long, long blog entry to ring out the New Year. Got up this morning to finish it off and discovered it was a load of self-indulgent, over-written horse shit. Yup, just like all the other tripe I’ve regurgitated this year.I erased it.

Maybe I’ll be a better person next year. I’ll keep trying.

Have a good New Year, people. Make your mark, do good and save the world by using your greatest super power; empathy.

Stuff I Learned As a Kid

I’m reposting some stuff that’s disappeared from FB or I haven’t used in a while. Read it or not, up to you it is.

This is stuff I learned growing up. Fortunately when I was a kid, I was given enough freedom to do some stupid things that taught valuable lessons. It’s too bad that children of all the helicopter parents these days won’t have the opportunity to make these mistakes as kids because they will sure as hell be making them at a stage in life where the consequences won’t be as forgiving. Surviving childhood shouldn’t be a walk in the park. Unless it’s a scary park full of dangerous crap and you have friends along and you carry a big stick to see you through.

I learned what trees I shouldn’t/couldn’t climb but not for lack of trying. And falling.
I learned what bodies of water to shy away from.
I learned how to avoid a beating from bullies and become a master of stealth.
I learned not to aim a BB gun where it might ricochet and get a pellet stuck in my eye. The hard way.
I learned how to drive a car fast and how fast I should actually drive a car in practice.
I learned why it’s important to respect a law enforcement officer (see above).
I learned dirt doesn’t taste very good but it won’t kill you.
I learned the hard way that measles suck, chicken pox itch, mumps are miserable and I’m one lucky bastard to have survived polio at the age of five.
I learned how to wear out the knees on a pair of jeans in a matter of days (you never see kids with holey jeans or patches these days unless their parents bought them at some chic boutique).
I learned green apples don’t end well especially when ‘borrowed’ from a neighbor’s tree.
I learned what a poisonous snake looks like while standing on one. Not on purpose.
I learned what the view is like launching oneself over the handlebars of a bike. More than once.
I learned three channels of television are probably more than enough.
I learned I should have had a safe deposit box for my comic book collection. Dammit, Mom.
I learned that books were really doors to magical places that you could open anytime.
I learned that if you were late for dinner you didn’t eat but never really starved.
I learned that you can get stitches from the doctor just about anywhere on your body.
I learned to trust but verify. An absolute when swapping trading cards.
I learned to look for the good in people but be swift to recognize the bad.
I learned that a tree house built with scrounged wood and tin and rusty nails will always be far more beautiful than any plastic playhouse.
I learned that kids can be cruel. Especially so if they perceive you as an easy mark.
I learned there will always be people who have more than I do but there are probably many more who have far less.
I learned to check my pockets for holes before stashing my lunch money.
I learned that when you lose someone it’s forever and hugs can’t be hugged when they’re gone.
I learned it’s not enough just to be smart (one can be smart and still do some really stupid shit).
I learned that love is fleeting, hate is self-defeating and compassion is not always painless but empathy is essential.
I learned it’s not how many friends you have but how many of your friends will lift you up when you’ve fallen so far you can’t see the light. Like in a hole. Where it’s dark and you forgot a rope.
I learned that you find odd animals and even odder people residing in storm drains.
I learned that tackle football without pads and a helmet hurts. A lot. Every weekend in the fall. And we thought it was fun.
I learned to love dogs and realize at times they had a lot more sense than I did.
I learned it’s not always fun to quit when you’re ahead but it’s probably the smartest thing to do.
And most of all I learned that outside was where life happened, where rules were broken, where lessons were learned and where kids thrived.

Please feel free to add to the list.

Questions – Fm December 28th, 2015

We ask ourselves so many questions throughout our lives. As kids we wonder ‘Where did I come?’. We become adults and we ask ‘Where am I going in life?’. You get to be my age you start pondering ‘How long do I have left?’. Sobering but true. With a touch of dark sarcasm.
I try not to obsess over how many years, days or hours remain for me. I used to. Even as a young child I would have panic atracks when the thought of dying entered my mind. Mostly at night, in bed alone. Scared the crap out of me. And I never told anyone. I was ashamed of what I perceived as weakness. In fact until just recently I’d still get the random moment of panic and sit straight up in bed, eyes wide and have a devil of a time getting back to sleep. Maybe we all go through this. I don’t really know because I’ve never broached the subject with another human being. Perhaps I will someday.
Anyway, the fear of death and dying and what comes after (if anything) seems to have left me for now. Don’t exactly know when it did. Looking back it seems like a lot of my time was wasted worrying about something that’s just part of our human condition. Maybe if someone had asked me what was wrong and slapped me upside the head to set me straight I’d be further along in my acceptance of all things in life, good and bad.
A little advice you can use and definitely pass on to your children; Never be afraid or embarrassed to share the things that scare you, that make you uneasy. Reach out to others when you are in need and when you see that others may need you. Practice empathy. It will save the world someday.
And don’t wait until tomorrow to tell a person you admire them, care about them, need them and love them. Tomorrows have a way of not showing up all too often in our lives.
Don’t ruin your days by looking too far back nor too far ahead. Don’t get bogged down with regrets or get too stressed over what may come. Live this life you have today. Today, this day, you’re as young as you’ll be for the rest of your life so enjoy this youthful you regardless of the number of birthdays you’ve left behind.

Workout 2016 – Fm December 27th, 2015

Had a great workout at the gym this morning. Maybe Irish whiskey and pizza should be a pre-workout requirement. (Probably not so much). Changing my routine for the new year with new goals on the horizon. Should have my bikini body well on its way by mid April if all goes well. Counting my blessings as I’m light years ahead of where I was a year ago at this time. Came so close to packing it in a few times. Thanks to family and an inspirational friend or two (you know who you are) I fought through. The sky is not even the limit. Not slowing down, not taking it easy in my old age. New mantra: Lift more. Bike longer and faster. Focus on my goals. Every day stronger. I will succeed. I will overcome the obstacles within and without that may try to hold me back. I control my future.

Contemplating the Enigmatic – Fm December 26th, 2015

Am I the only male to whom women are a total enigma? Just when I’m egotistcal enough to believe I have a grasp on their inner workings, their wants and needs, their likes and dislikes I’m proven intellectually incapable of comprehending even their most basic motivations. Don’t get me wrong. This can be both bad and agonizingly exhilerating. I’m often surprised. Well, I’m always surprised truthfully.
I love a woman who is smart and not afraid to show it. One who has the heart of a warrior yet is capable of great empathy. A woman with a soft side and a core of carbon steel. A woman who knows who she is and is comfortable with who I am. A woman who knows how to love deeply without letting any man possess her. Independant, funny, caring, strong and a with a smile that makes me thankful I have a great cardiologist.
I guess the whole enigma thing is one of the reasons I keep falling in love so I’ll stop carping about it. Ladies, stay enigmatic. I’ll deal with it.

Weather, Naughty Weather – Fm December 26th, 2015

Mom wanted to go shopping when I got off work. On the busiest day we’ve had. Super. The store was packed with people panic purchasing supplies certain the coming blizzard would send us back to the dark ages. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I was hit by shopping carts. People were losing their minds. Took about an hour. When we left the store it was raining sideways. A cutting, cold rain propelled by a 40 mph north wind. When I finally turned for home I was quite literally soaked to the skin so my return to a healthy diet will be deferred until the morrow. Having pizza and Irish whiskey for dinner. So shoot me. Please. Before I finish both. And the weather (or the whiskey) might keep me from the gym in the morning. Oh, well.