Chipmunk Cheeks

 

Chipmunk_Cheeks_20160126

“You don’t have any allergies to drugs, do you?” the nurse asked.

“YES!  Yes I do!” I said, alarmed.  “I’m allergic to doxycycline and penicillin.  I filled out the paperwork, but why?  Then the nurse asks me the same questions, and then the doctor.  Now I’m right here, about to have surgery, and all that was for naught.”

The nurse, who was not the same one who had interviewed me at my last appointment, gave me a stern look.  “Your allergies were not listed on your chart.  I’ll put them there now,” she said.

I realized that I was being a bit of a bitch.  Well, here I was about to have surgery; if my medical staff don’t have all my allergies memorized, or at least on my chart, I had a right to be difficult.  Still, I could make this a Lessons Learned for the nurse.

“Well, you should find out why they weren’t on my chart, so that you don’t accidentally give the wrong drugs to someone else who is allergic,” I said.  Then, I added, “I’m an engineer.  I solve problems.”

“How do you take blood pressure with this machine?” the other nurse asked.  Then she turned to me and said, “I’m a temp.  I know how to take blood pressure, just not with this machine.”

I smiled a bit weakly.  “At least it’s just a machine.  If you were holding a knife and asking how to use it, I’d be concerned.”

My blood pressure was a little high after that.

I looked at the doctor and I said, “Let’s do this!  I’m looking forward to not remembering any of it.”

He grimaced and said, “You probably won’t remember it.”

I said, “No, I definitely won’t remember it.  Anesthesia and whatnot.”

“Some people, sometimes, remember,” he said.

My blood pressure went a little higher.

Thankfully, after that, I did pass out.  At least, I don’t remember anything after that, up to the point that my friend was driving me home.  I texted Sally, “I’m alive!  Survived surgery!”

“Yay!  Thanks for letting me know!” she replied.

Once at home, I plopped myself on the couch and ate two puddings.  It was 9:30 a.m. and I hadn’t had breakfast, after all, and I could only eat cold, mushy food.  Might as well enjoy it!  Then the strain of exerting myself to lift the spoon all those times caught up with me, and I shuffled off to bed.

At 5 p.m., I awoke and downed some applesauce, cold coffee (hot was off limits), and a sip of a milkshake.  Nothing tasted right.  My mouth didn’t hurt, surprisingly, but I had a terrible headache, so I took a couple of Advil and left my pain meds untouched.  I watched Netflix until I got tired, then retreated back to bed at 9 p.m.  Whew, a whole 4 hours awake—that’s an accomplishment!

This morning (Tuesday, the day after surgery), I was surprised to awaken at 7 a.m.  I had slept most of the past 24 hours, and 8 hours prior to that.  My cheek is swollen, but still doesn’t hurt.  My doctor is pretty damn good, I must say.

Plan for the rest of the week: write my romance novel, write a design guide for work, and recuperate.  The doctor said that I could go back to work today, but my project at work was in a good place for me to take a week off, so I did.  Hey, if surgery isn’t an excuse to take a week off, I don’t know what is.

I tried to cancel Netflix, so that I could be productive, but those bastards say that I’m paid through February 15th so I might as well enjoy it.  Plus, I’m under doctor’s orders to *not* exercise for 5 days.  How often are you ordered to be lazy and drink milkshakes?!

Cheers!

Flowers_20160126

Flowers from my friends at work

 

Chapter 4 ~ Play Date

CAS and CJS 19951101

“Squash bug!” Kenny says.  At two years old, he clumsily stomps on the concrete, missing the pill bug completely.  Excitedly, he runs in place, then tries again.  His baby fine, thin brown hair is chin length.  His eyes are big and brown, like a puppy, with beautiful long eyelashes.  He is simply adorable.

“Thanks again for inviting us over,” I tell Logan.  I stand holding baby Jack.  At 7 months old, he can crawl, but I don’t want him crawling on the apartment complex parking lot.  He watches Kenny, fascinated.  Inside, he had crawled all over Darrell and Logan’s apartment, so he is content to let me hold him; for the moment.  He’s heavy, so I stand with my hip popped out, leaning away from him.

“Sure, glad you could make it,” Logan says.  He is more animated than the last time that I saw him, and more talkative.  There are still long pauses between sentences, but at least he’s making an effort.  “Have you heard from your ex?”

I shake my head.  “There was a prank call to my parents’ house, and they think it was him.  They won’t tell me what he said, so it must have been bad.  But the point is, he knows where we are.  He hasn’t tried once to contact me.  I thought for sure that he’d want to see Jack.  How can he stay away from his son?  Seriously, I thought that I’d have to fight him for custody.  Instead, he just—disappears.”  I am still having nightmares, but I don’t mention them.

Logan shakes his head, too.  “I don’t know.  Nothing is going to keep me from seeing my boy.  Yes, that’s right, Kenny, squash them bugs!”  Logan stomps the ground next to his son, sending him into a giggle fit.  I laugh, too, because he is so darn cute!

“I’m quitting my second job,” I tell him.

“Waitressing?  But I thought you made, like, $300 a night?” he asks.

“I do, but…everyone has a sad story.  The customers complain because they’re not in relationships, or their relationship is bad, or work sucks.  They come in to, you know, feel better.  Sure, there are some bachelor parties, but even with those, there are some guys in the group that are jealous that they aren’t the groom.  And then there are the dancers, who are working hard to earn money for their kids, or drugs, or college.  So many of them just hate men now, because of how they’re treated at the club,” I says, pausing to gather my thoughts.  “I don’t want to be like that.  I don’t want to have to drink or, do drugs, to get through the day.”

“Ya, I understand.  Are you going to be able to pay your bills with just your cashier salary?” he asks.

Surprised, I realize that he cares.  I feel like I am talking to a real friend and I am touched.  “Ya,” I says.  “I have some money saved up.  Still, I’m looking for a new job.  $5.25 per hour sucks.  I’m going to take some classes at the community college to become a paralegal, you know, a secretary for lawyers.  They make decent salaries, and it’s only a two-year program.”

“So you’re replacing your second job with school,” he says.

“Ya.  I’ve gotta do something, so that I can take care of my baby, here.  Maybe one day I can afford daycare, so that Mom doesn’t have to watch him,” I say.

“I bet your mom loves keeping him,” Logan says, then smiles at Jack.  “Your grandma loves you, doesn’t she?  Yes, she does.”

That is the first time I’d seen Logan smile.  He really is ok looking.  I mean, not gorgeous, but definitely not ugly.  Maybe like John Travolta, but with a smaller chin.

“What are you going to do?” I ask.

“I quit school.  I mean, I would have completely failed this semester, because of what happened,” Logan says, referring to the whole cheating wife fiasco.  “I had an interview at IBM to work in their tech support department.”  He shrugs.  “It’s kind of easy work.  I mean, most of it is telling people to reboot their computers, or download a driver.  But it’s good money.  Hey, would you want to work there?”

I laugh.  “Computers are not my thing.  I’ll stick to secretary school, thanks!”  I smile at him, then say, “I hope you get it.  I mean, it was great of Darrell to let you stay here with him, but I bet you’ll be happy to get an apartment of your own, right?”

Logan says, “Actually, I really like living with Darrell.  He has all the kitchen stuff and couches and…you wouldn’t believe how much it costs to buy all that stuff.”  Then he glanced at me and said, “Maybe you would.  Anyway, I’ve got to finalize the divorce and save up some money.  I’ll be living with Darrell for a while.  It’s ok, he’s a pretty good roommate.  He’ll buy the steaks if I cook ‘em, and that works for me.”

“Oh, you cook?” I ask.

“Yep.  Just a few easy meals.  My mom had three boys, and she didn’t want us to starve as bachelors, so she taught us all the basics,” he says.  “I actually don’t mind doing it.”

“Cool.  I avoid cooking, myself.  It’s like, a necessary evil.  Gotta eat, right?” I force a laugh.

“Ya, gotta eat,” Logan agrees.  He looks at his son, then his face hardens.  “Jodi and I are writing our divorce decree together, using a template we found online.  We’re going to try to do it without a lawyer.  Should be easy, we don’t have much to fight over.”  He clenches his jaw; he is obviously still hurting badly.

I didn’t know whether to console him or what.  So I offer news about my own divorce.  “Mine is final.  I had to hire a lawyer for my ex, since he’s vanished, and pay to have a summons put in the newspaper.  Had to pay a detective to try to find him, too—even though I’d rather he stay gone!”

“That sucks,” Logan says, still looking out into the distance and clenching his jaw.  He is a million miles away.

“Ya, at least it’s over.  Well, this guy looks sleepy.  Maybe he’ll fall asleep on the ride home,” I says, nodding my head to Jack.  He put his head on my shoulder and his eyes were drooping.  His chin is slack, too.  Yep, he’s ready for a nap.

“Yep.  I’ll grab your bag.  Kenny!  Come on, let’s walk Jack to the car!” Logan says.  Kenny looks up and squeals with delight.

“BUGS!” he says.

“Yes, we can look for bugs while we walk,” Logan says, grabbing my diaper bag and purse from inside the apartment and then taking Kenny’s hand.

I buckle Jack into his car seat, then give a brief hug to Logan and Kenny.

On the drive home, I wonder what today meant.  I mean, it wasn’t a date.  We are just two friends watching our kids play.  Logan didn’t try to hold my hand or kiss me goodbye.  But do I want him to?  Seems like he still needs time to get over what happened.  Maybe he just needs a friend right now, someone who’s going through a divorce, too.

I sit a little straighter.  I can be a friend.  And I like having one, too.  As said in Casablanca, “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

I haven’t heard from Mike.  That’s not surprising, considering how terrible our date went.  Still, I did everything he wanted.  Why hasn’t he called?  Should I call him, to make sure that he has my number?  He was the instructor of my class, which meant that he had access to the paperwork with all my registration information: address, phone number, and email address.  If he isn’t calling, it is because he doesn’t want to see me again.  Sigh, why can’t I have a normal relationship for once?

************************

This chapter is part of the continuing romance novel, How I Met Your Father; the next chapter is here.  In case you’re new to my site, I recommend that you start reading at the intro, here.  I’ll be posting a chapter a week on Mondays (although I’m a day early this week).  Since this is my first love story, comments and suggestions are welcome.  I rewrote chapter 2 based on reader feedback, and it was much better.  Actually, one of the reasons that I’m writing this book is to improve my writing skills.  Let me know what you think.

In other news, I go into surgery tomorrow, and I have pain meds for after.  Then I’m slacking the rest of the week; just chillin’ out at home with chipmunk cheeks and Netflix. I stocked up on Jello, pudding, and bananas, so I’m set!  I’ll take some selfies and post them on Facebook for you.

I hope 2016 is treating you well!  Stay warm!

Cheers!

Chapter 3 – Mike *Rated R*

GeorgeMichaels

George Michaels, undated press photo

I stare at the instructor, trying to look like an attentive student and not a love-struck groupie.  He is just so. Damn. Cute.  I bet he works out every day.  His biceps are just…yummy.

I try to concentrate on what he was saying.  “You’re going to deal with difficult people,” he says in his beautiful, deep voice, “It’s a fact of life.  This class is going to teach you how to respond to them.”

Oh, that’s a good thing to learn.  I wonder how difficult you’d be if you knew how I was responding to you right now?

During the break, Mike walks up to me.  “Enjoying the class?” he asks.  He looks like George Michaels: scruffy chin, short brown hair, with killer blue eyes.

OhmyGod ohmyGod he is even cuter up close!  Breathe.  Breathe.  “Yes.  I always thought that, you either know how to deal, or you didn’t.  I didn’t realize that it could be taught.”  I think I got the words out.  He is so close, it is hard to think.  Hunk.  Mom would definitely call him a hunk.  I wonder how he’d compare to Tom Selleck or Scott Bacula, on her scale.  Who cares?  He’s here, and Tom isn’t!

We make small talk like that during almost every break that week.  On Friday, the class lets out early.

“Congratulations, you all passed the class!” he tells us.

We clap dutifully, with smiles all around.

As I am putting my purse on my shoulder, he walks up to me.  Mike walks up to ME.  MIKE WALKS UP TO ME!!

“Hey, wanna go get something to eat?” he says, and smiles.

I must’ve said yes, or something affirmative.  I feel like I just won the lottery.  “I should call Mom and let her know I’ll be home a little later, Ok?”  I say.

“Sure, I’ll meet you out front,” he says with a smile.  A smile that could make a whole gaggle of groupies swoon.

My weak knees almost buckle.

I make it to the phone and call Mom.

“What about Logan?” she asks.

I roll my eyes.  “We went on one date.  And he wasn’t really there, you know.  It’s no big deal, he’s not my boyfriend.  Just say yes, that you’ll keep Jack a couple more hours,” I say.

She sighs.  She knows, in the way that mothers know, that I am rolling my eyes.  “Ok.  Be home soon,” she says.

YES!

George Michaels, undated photo, the UK Sun.

I skip out of the building and up to Mike, who is standing next to his truck.

“You like Cajun food?” he asks me.

I grin even wider.  “Yes!  My family is actually from Louisiana,” I tell him.

“Great!  I have a gift card to Fat Tuesdays,” he says, referencing a local restaurant.

I don’t know how to respond to the gift card part.  Is he trying to tell me something?  Why does he even mention them?

“Oh, ok,” I say.

At the restaurant, I order a salad with boiled shrimp, while he orders a plate of deep-fried seafood with fries.

He snickers at my choice.  “Rabbit food!” he says, scoffing.  He shakes his head.  “I prefer meat.”  He takes a big bite of something covered in greasy batter.

I smile weakly.  “I like it,” I say.  Am I supposed to make a rabbit face?  What is the proper response?  I feel awkward around him.  I nibble on a shrimp.  I don’t eat very much; my stomach is too tight.  I swig down the glass of wine that he’d ordered for me.

“Done already?  Ok, then, let’s swing by my place.  I’ve gotta pick up my dry cleaning on the way; you don’t mind, do you?  Will only take a minute.”

I shake my head.  I mean, what am I supposed to say?  I began to wonder if this is a date, or if I am in the Friends Zone.  Why am I here?

“Why is the tailgate down?” I ask.  He puts it down before we start moving, but puts it up after we park.  I find that behavior very odd.

“It reduces drag, so the truck is more aerodynamic,” he says with a smile.  Glancing at my blank look, he adds, “Better fuel efficiency.  I can drive faster, and use the same amount of fuel that I would have used to drive slowly with the tail gate up.  But I have to put the tailgate up in parking lots, so that other people don’t hit it when they’re driving by.”

“Oh, makes sense,” I say.  “You’re very smart.”

He laughs.  “Naw, just a cheap skate!”

I blush.  I don’t know how to reply to that.

His house is a small, older home in a suburban neighborhood in Austin with beautiful old trees.

“My ex-wife locked me out of the house before.  I took the back door off the hinges and got in that way,” he says, laughing bitterly.  “Then I had the locks changed, so she didn’t do that to me again.”

“Oh, you were married?” I say stupidly.  Why wouldn’t he have been married?  I’ve been married.  And divorced.  And I’m younger than he is.

“Ya,” he say.

“Any kids?” I ask.

“No, thank God,” he says.  He goes straight to the liquor cabinet and opens a bottle of wine, pouring a generous glass and handing it to me.  Then he listens to his answering machine.

“Hi Mike,” a woman’s voice says, “Listen, I’d really like to see you again…”

He presses the “Stop” button.  Not the “Delete,” but the “Stop,” like he’d listen to it later.

“Friend of yours?” I ask.

He makes a disgusted face.  “I went out with her once, now she won’t leave me alone,” he says.

I swig my wine.  I’m not winning any points for being clever; instead, I am coming across as nosy.  “Oh, this is a pretty tea pot,” I say, pointing to a white ceramic tea pot in his china cabinet.

He snorts.  “That cheap glass?  My grandmother gave it to me.  It’s worth about a dollar, on a good day.  Look at this,” he holds up a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey.  “I bought a bottle of good whiskey, drank it, and filled it up with cheap shit.  Now, when my friends come over, they think I’m a big spender.  They don’t even know what they’re drinking!”

I really don’t know what to say to that, and since my responses so far had made sound pretty stupid, I sip my wine instead, but find that the glass is empty.  How had that happened?

“I save a butt load of money,” he adds, as he fills up my glass again.  “My friends give me money to go to the liquor store, and I just pocket the extra.”

He pours me another generous glass.  I drink it nervously while he takes the dry cleaning into his bedroom and puts it away.

“Well, I guess I should go,” I say, standing.  I sway a little.  All that wine, so quickly and on a nearly-empty stomach, hits me hard.

He suddenly stops fidgeting and focuses on me.  He walks up to me and says, “So soon?”  Then he kisses me.

All thoughts leave my head as his strong arms wrap around me and his lips press against mine.  He pulls my clothes off, and it barely registers.  I focus on his lips and think, “He has a really small tongue.”

“Oh shit,” he says, pulling away.

I frown.  That can’t be good.

“You’ve got so much hair!” he says, looking down at my bush.

I look at it, too.  Seems like a normal amount of hair to me.  The same amount I’d had since I became a woman, more or less.  I mean, I’d shaved before, but I just wasn’t shaved at the moment.  I didn’t understand why he is so disgusted.

“Come here,” he says.  He takes me to the bathroom, sits me down on the toilet, and proceeds to shave me.

I am a little bothered by this.  Here I was ready to leave, then he suddenly seems interested, and then he’s totally turned off.  It’s not like I planned to have sex with anyone today.  I had planned to go to training, then go home.

Besides, what’s wrong with a little hair?

Nevermind.  It’s gone.

“There.  Take this towel, wipe off the shaving cream, and meet me in the bedroom,” he says.

Hmmm.  That’s not very seductive.  In my wine-drenched haze, I did as I was told.  I stumble into the bedroom and into the bed, where he waits for me.

I don’t get to see him undress.  I feel shorted.

He pulls me on top of him and starts kissing me, and all objections are forgotten.

“Condom,” I say.

“Damn it,” he says.  He wiggles to the side of the bed and opens the night stand.  By then, however, his interest has waned.  Taking my hand, he places it on his penis.

I work to get him interested again.  As soon as I do, he tries to get the condom on, and his erection wanes.

“Damn it,” Mike says again.  He rolls me over, pinning my hands to the bed by my head.  He kisses me hard and slides into me.

Without a condom.

I try to object, but he kisses me harder and moved faster.  I don’t know how to get him off of me.  While I was still processing those facts, he comes.

“Ohhhhhh,” he says.

That’s it?  He hadn’t even touch my breasts.

He rolls off of me.  After a minute, he says, “I should get you back to your car.”

Just like that.

I don’t say anything.  I stumble off the bed and into the bathroom.  While getting cleaned up, I glance in the mirror.  My chin is rubbed raw from his whiskers; the skin is scraped off and is going to scab over.  I don’t know how to feel.  Sure, I got to sleep with the hot guy, but it wasn’t exactly perfect.

I should have just gone home after the training.

A couple of months later, it would hit me how true that was comment was.

**********************

This is part of the romance novel that I’m writing, How I Met Your Father.  The intro is here and chapter 1 is here; chapter 4 is here.  I’ll be posting new chapters every Monday.  Since this is an experiment in a new genre for me as a writer, comments are welcome and encouraged.  I rewrote chapter two after some feedback, and it’s much better now.

What I’m wondering now, though, is–what’s your definition of date rape?

Cheers.

Signs of the Dating Apocalypse

 

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I scheduled a date for the first time in months, so of course there was a tornado.  When we rescheduled, Dallas flooded.  The fourth time that we tried to get together, he got sick.  We still haven’t been on a date.

Seriously.

Aaron and I met at school, where he worked.  We saw each other infrequently, but enough to know that we liked each other.  Since I knew that I was graduating in December and wouldn’t see him again, I flirted with him hard and emailed him my number, which he texted almost immediately.  SCORE!

We got to know each other over a week or two.  I didn’t like everything that I learned; for example, his daughter is 12.  That means teen drama, which majorly sucks.  Plus, his house was about 40 minutes from mine.  Add that to the fact that he is working a second job out of necessity, equals not the best situation.  Still, he is cute and fun and we made each other laugh.  I figured if nothing else, we could have a little fun hanging out.

So we scheduled a date.  I looked forward to it all week, but when the appointed Saturday arrived (December 19), he texted me, “I need to reschedule, because I’m a little light.”

Meaning, he’s broke.  Can I pick ‘em, or what?

I mentioned this in a previous blog (Success! And Netflix and Chill), and talked about my internal struggle over how to answer him.  Should I offer to pay?  Would that hurt his pride, set a precedent for me to always pay, or would it be simply a nice thing to do?  Ultimately, I decided to let him reschedule.  I texted back, “Ok : – (“

That night, he texted me that he regretted his decision.  “I wish we would have gone out,” he said.

Well, DUH!  Of course he did!  I’m awesome and we would have had a great time!

So we rescheduled.  And God laughed!

First He threw a tornado at us.  It was the day after Christmas.  Well, at least it wasn’t on Christmas – that would be a heck of a birthday present for Jesus.

“It’s only 6 p.m., think it’ll pass?” Aaron asked.

“I want to say yes, and I want to get together, but my gut instinct says that we better not,” I texted back.

A couple of hours and a few tornado warnings later, he texted, “Your gut was right!”

Well, fudge.  So much for getting out of the house that night.

Thankfully my neighborhood was spared.  Prayers and best wishes for the Dallas area families who were affected – Garland was hit hard.  The devastation was a powerful display of what a little wind can do.  Seriously, there are funds set up for many families that lost everything the day after Christmas.

“Let’s get together tomorrow night,” I texted.  Seriously, I wanted to hang out with this guy.  Why should a little weather stop us?

On December 27th, hail stones and heavy rains hit my house.  Sure, the hail was only nickel-sized—no baseball sized hail this time—but it still caused us to cancel the date.  The hailstones sounded like bullets hitting the house, and I’m surprised that the windows didn’t break.  The fence looked like someone had used it for target practice with a BB gun.

Well, fudgesicle!

“Do you think the rain will stop?  I mean, it’s only 5 p.m., we could get together later,” Aaron texted.

“There are flash flood warnings all over the metroplex,” I answered.  “First a tornado, then hail, now flooding?”

“If we reschedule, there may be an earthquake!  LOL,” he texted back.

I seriously thought about telling him that there wouldn’t be a fourth attempt at a date.  I mean, COME ON.  How many times do we have to try to get together before we just give up?!

Then again, as far as reasons to cancel a date, “Acts of God,” ranks right up there.  It trumps the lame excuses like, “my car wouldn’t start,” or “I had a flat tire,” or “I was in a wreck.”  It even trumps, “Grandma fell and couldn’t get up, so I had to go help her.”  Yep, we had the very best reasons for rescheduling.

So the next week I took the initiative and texted, “What are we doing on Saturday?”

“If one job doesn’t kill me, and the other doesn’t either, then whatever we do will involve alcohol and crazy talk!  Lol,” Aaron answered.

Ok, I am a person who has a lot of rules.  I know, I can be a neurotic about my list of rules.  This time I was thinking, “WTH?!  If you don’t have a time and a place, you don’t have a date.”  That’s one of the Rules.  At least, it’s one of Jules Rules; I know a few people who don’t agree (Nadia!), but that’s how I roll.

On Friday night, he texted me after I had gone to bed, “How was your day?”

The next morning (Saturday), I texted, “Pretty good, got a lot done at work.  What about you?”

He replied, “Getting sick.”

I answered, “That’s not allowed!”

He agreed.  “I’m on it!  I don’t have time for this shit.”

That was it.  No, “I’m looking forward to seeing you tonight,” or “I’d like to pick you up at 8,” or “I thought we could finally go bowling.”  That meant that we didn’t have a time or place; we didn’t officially have a date scheduled.

Double fudgesicles!!

I had given him a list of ideas for our first date, asked him out each time, and hinted that we should get together this weekend.  I mean, I asked him what we were doing; he could have easily said, “Nothing, I have to work,” or “Let’s do something another time.”  Since I had been so assertive, I decided to wait and see what happened.  I mean, if he really liked me, he should be eager to spend time with me, right?

I asked Nadia how long I should give this guy until I give up.  I mean, he should really schedule something with me before lunch, right?

She answered, “Depends on how badly you want to see him.”

She didn’t use the verb, “See.”

At 8 p.m., he texted, “I’m sickly, but I still want to see you.”

What the Fudge?!  HE WAITED ‘TIL 8 P.M.?!  Some people don’t care if you wait ‘til the last minute to holla.  Some people would have gotten ready and met him at 9 or 10 p.m.

I’m not “Some People.”

If you want to see me, schedule a date by Wednesday, with a time and place.  Confirm the date with me the day before (or I will).  If I don’t hear from you, like I didn’t hear from Aaron, I’ll make other plans.  And I did.

My plans involved pajama pants, a bottle of wine, and Netflix.  But as far as he knows, I may have been out on the town with someone exciting.  I could have received a last minute (7 p.m.) call from another boyfriend, and gone out with him instead.  I could have gotten on a jet and gone to Tahiti. Not so much, but it could have happened.

So much for Aaron.  Next!

Professor Mercury Update

After I confirmed that grades had been submitted, I emailed the Prof.  “Let me know if you want to get together for a drink.  My number is …”

He didn’t respond.

I thought that maybe he hadn’t seen the email.  I mean, it was the end of the semester, and maybe it got lost with all his other emails.  Then again, sometimes people get busy and don’t respond; maybe he saw the email, just didn’t have a chance to get back to me yet.

A month later (January 11th), I forwarded the official email from the school saying that I had graduated.  He responded with a friendly, “Congratulations!  Happy New Year.”  Great, he did receive my email.  I followed up with, “My friends and I are having happy hour on Thursday.  You’re welcome to join us.  I played a great prank on my daughter for Christmas, it’s hilarious, I’ll tell you all about it.”

Radio silence.  He didn’t respond AT ALL.  Since it was a group happy hour, he could have said, “Cool, I’ll bring my girlfriend,” if he has one.  Or he could have said, “I’m super busy right now.  Can’t get over to that side of town.  Have fun!”  Or, if he was busy but interested, he could have come back with, “I’d love to hear about your Christmas another time.  Are you free next weekend?”  But instead he chose to not respond at all?  That’s a dick move.

On the bright side, I’m over my crush.  Any guy who ignores two emails and doesn’t have the balls to respond at all, is not someone I want to date.  Ok, he’s still hot as hell, but I no longer want to date him.

Other things, however… I might want to “see” him, as Nadia puts it.

Summary

So that’s why I haven’t been on a date in months.  Acts of God: tornado, hail, flooding, and pestilence.  Add that to the rats in the attic, surgery on the 25th, etc., 2016 is off to a great start.  It can only get better from here.

Did you hear that?  Did God just laugh?  Oh shit.

Cheers!

How I Met Your Father, Chapter 2 ~ Lana & Logan’s First Date (Revised)

JNS CAS

“Thanks, Mom, for watching Jack while I go out,” I tell her and kiss her cheek.

She looks torn.  “On one hand, you need to spend more time with your son.  On the other, he needs a father,” she says.  “Don’t stay out too late.”

I check my makeup in the mirror and run to answer the door.  My lipstick is too bright and I’m not wearing any eye shadow.  Oh, well, the zombie probably won’t notice anyway.

The Zombie (Logan) stands there looking noticeably uncomfortable.  “Hi.  Ready?” he says.  He is wearing a dark turquoise silk button up with jeans.  His eyes are as dark and remote as the last time that I saw him.

I nod, throw a kiss to baby Jack behind me, and leave.

Logan opens the door to his small red truck and I hop in.  He doesn’t say a word.  His hand reaches out and turns on the radio to an oldies station (songs from the 70’s and 80’s), so I sing along.  This is my first non-working night away from Jack in a while, so I am going to enjoy it.

We arrive at the bowling alley in under 20 minutes.  The bright lights and plethora of sounds assault me as soon as I walk through the door: bowling balls hitting the floor, arcade sound effects, music through the loud speaker.  The smells are interesting, too: stale smoke, faint musk of sweaty bodies, and beer mixed with popcorn.  I smile.

Darrell and Mandy are waiting on Lane 4.  They stand to greet us, though they are both short, so they don’t rise very far.  She is a small woman of 5’2” with long, straight brown hair:  pretty with a huge smile and a petite frame.  She doesn’t wear any makeup; she doesn’t need it.

“Hi, Lana, I’m Mandy,” she says while she gives me a hug.

I like her immediately.  “Hi Mandy!  I haven’t been bowling in ages.  Where are the balls?”

Darrell starts laughing and before he can answer, I interject, “I know, you’ve got big cajones!  Now, where are the bowling balls?”

Mandy leads the way.

“So you’re a college student?” I ask.

“Yes.  I met Darrell at Southwestern in Georgetown, Texas, but I transferred this semester.  You see, I love dolphins,” she tells me.  “The University of Florida has the best oceanography program, so I was excited to get accepted there.  It’s very competitive, you know.  Or maybe you don’t know.  Anyway.  I hate being away from Darrell, of course,” she casts a wistful glance at her boyfriend, “but it’s sooo worth it to be able to study marine animals in their natural habitat.”

By then we are back at our lane.  Darrell pipes up with, “Look at this!”  He pulls down the edge of his jeans to show a pale dolphin shape on his hip.  “Every week, when I go to the tanning bed, I put on a dolphin sticker in the same place.  When I leave, I take the sticker off.  So I have a dolphin-shaped tan line; isn’t it cool?!”

“Pull your pants up!  We’re in public!” Mandy says, rolling her eyes at me.  She smiles, though, so I suspect that she secretly loves that Darrell does that for her.

We take turns bowling while Mandy and I continue to get to know each other.  I tell her about my jobs and show her the picture of Jack that I keep in my wallet.

Her eyes grow big.  “I can’t imagine having a baby right now, and you’re three years younger than I am,” she said.

“Ya, I hear that a lot,” I answer honestly.  “He wasn’t planned; my ex-husband told me that he was sterile.  I believed him.  Then again, I believed a lot of things that he told me, which just weren’t true.”

Darrell was talking to Logan, who seemed to respond with monosyllables and grunts.  Some date; Logan barely looks at me.  He is a decent bowler (better than me, which wasn’t hard) but he doesn’t seem to care.  He just throws the ball then sits down; doesn’t even take time to do a happy dance when he throws a strike.  I wish for a moment that I was on a date with Darrell, but that feels disloyal to my new friend and I immediately feel guilty for thinking it.  I smile at her and try to enjoy myself.

Logan drives me home in silence.  Well, we listen to the radio, but we don’t talk.  I am glad that the bowling alley is only 15 minutes from the house; I am uncomfortable being alone with him.  When he parks the car in front of my parents’ house, I reach for the door handle to jump out.

Logan turns off the car, surprising me and making me pause.

“I caught my wife on my couch with my best friend,” he says.

I jump.  That might have been the first full sentence that I’d heard him say.  Intrigued, I turn to face him.  I don’t say anything, just wait to see if he’d say more.  He stares straight ahead, out the windshield and into the night.

“He was my best friend.  We had stayed up late drinking, so he was going to crash on the couch.  No biggie.  He’d stayed over before.  I was tired, so I went to bed.  Jodi and Benny were still talking.  I got up an hour or so later to get a glass of milk.  They were…on my couch…”  He trailed off, clearly meaning that he caught them in the act.  “I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t think.  I just…I sat down in the chair.  I asked them how long they’d been…months.  Three months, I think.  I couldn’t believe.  I just…” He stopped and looked down at his hands.  “My son was asleep in his crib in the other room.  How could they do that?”

I don’t know what to say.  My heart aches for him.  This poor man!  No one deserves to have their spouse cheat on them, much less while they’re in the house, especially not with their best friend!  And the fact that the baby was sleeping just feet away…Oh God.  What kind of monsters were they?!

Sitting there, listening to Logan’s story, seeing the hurt in his eyes and the shock in his voice, I feel a connection to him.  So I do the only thing I could think of: I kiss him.

At first, he freezes.  Clearly, he isn’t expecting that response.  Then he kisses me back.  It feels so good, to hold someone after weeks of being alone.  It feels so strange, to go from thinking he was a zombie to feeling his warm lips on mine.  I pull away.

“Um, well, good night,” I say.

Think of something more clever to say! I tell myself.  My brain is stuck on, Kissing good! 

“Night,” he says reflexively.

I jump out of the car and walk quickly to my parents’ door, not giving him a chance to walk me up there.  After all, we already kissed.  It would be super awkward if he walks me to the porch and we both look at each other like, what now?  More kissing?  A hug? 

I hear his car start as I unlock the door.  I realize that my heart is beating quickly and my breathing is shallow.  Damn, I am beginning to like the guy.  I think.  Not really sure; he’s still a zombie.  I haven’t seen him smile, not once.

I wonder if the feeling is mutual.  That kiss sure felt mutual; but then, was he just being polite, responding to my advance?  Would he tell me later that it was a mistake? Suddenly, I was filled with doubt.  One day, I’d let the guy make the first move.

*******

This is chapter 2 the continuing story, How I Met Your Father.  It’s my first romance novel, so comments are welcomed.  Sally offered some constructive criticism on the original Chapter 2, so I made another pass at it.  Is it better?  Worse?  About the same?

Chapter 3 will introduce a new character, Mike.  How will he fit into Lana’s world?  Will he be Prince Charming?  Come back on Monday to find out.

Cheers!

It’s Not My Fault!

 

Surgery.  I have to have surgery.  It’s not even something interesting.  I mean, if you’ve gotta have surgery, it should be to have a 14-pound football-sized tumor removed, only to find out later that it has teeth inside it.  Gross, sure, but it makes for a helluva story.

My surgery is on the other end of the spectrum: boring.  I have receding gums that are genetic.  That’s another thing: this isn’t my fault.  This isn’t an abscessed tooth caused by poor dental hygiene.  In fact, I have excellent hygiene.  The fact that my periodontics tissue is thin and fragile is just bad luck, genetically speaking.

I remember well the day that my Grandma showed me her dentures and said, “These are painful.  You don’t want to have to have these.  Brush your teeth!  Take care of ‘em!  Cause dentures suck.”  Obviously the bad genes are from her side of my family.

That conversation put a fear of dentures in my head.  I have brushed and flossed and gargled gallons of Listerine over the years.  And yet, I STILL am at risk to have my teeth fall out of my head.

Speaking of bad luck and things that aren’t my fault, my identity was stolen over a year ago and the damn thieves are still trying to get credit cards in my name.  I know because Home Depot called me yesterday to ask, “Did you apply for a credit card online?”  Why no, I did not.  Thanks for asking.  I shred all documents that have account numbers on them, including old electric bills.  The damn thieves hacked into my employer’s computer and stole my personal info from them.

I repeat: I shred EVERYTHING and still had my identity stolen.

Since bad things come in 3’s, I also have an infestation of rodents in the attic.  They scratch and squeak, waking me up at night.  They don’t come down to the kitchen (Thank God), so they aren’t attracted to my food.  They’re just looking for a warm, dry place to live.  This is YET ANOTHER case of, “I didn’t do anything wrong, but I’m getting shafted.”

I pay a pest control service $140 every quarter (that’s every 3 months) to check and set traps, knock down hornet nests, etc.  They’re charging me ANOTHER $250 to set up rodent repellent, plug the small holes in the bricks where the rodents may be entering my home, and set a ton of traps to catch the ones that aren’t smart enough to leave.

FML.

But again, the rodents haven’t been in the kitchen (that I know of) or in my bedroom (that I know of).  So, hey, it’s a localized problem that doesn’t affect me much at all.  It’s in the attic, where I never go, so it’s like the rats and mice are at my neighbor’s house.

Except that I have to pay to have them evicted.

The other good news is that the identity thieves haven’t been successful.  My employer paid for me and the other victims to have a credit monitoring service, which alerted me to the first fraudulent activity: a payday loan place had checked my credit report.  I was able to call the would-be-creditor and ask them to decline the application.  Suck it, would-be-thieves!  HA!  You’ve got DIDDLY from my piggy bank!

As for my gums, they are still holding my teeth in my head.  That is, I haven’t had any teeth fall out, and if the surgery is successful, I never will.  So there’s a silver lining there.

Another silver lining is that my friends are freakin’ awesome.  Elizabeth was willing to have me watch her kids on MLK day so that she could take off the day of my surgery and be my chauffeur.  That sounded pretty complicated: I take off one day to take her kids, she takes off one day to drive me.  It’s quid-pro-quo and all, but that means that I have to take two days off for my surgery instead of one.

Instead, Lolly agreed to drive me.  Lolly works from home, so she has a more flexible schedule.  It’s still interrupting her day and I am extremely grateful.  “Work from home” is not the same as “unemployed”—she still works very, very hard.  Again, me = extremely grateful.

I had drinks last night with Gabby Gumbo, who has four kids under the age of 12.  I didn’t bother asking her to drive me to the surgery, since I knew she’d be busy getting her kids ready for school, driving them, and doing the 5 million other things required by a stay at home mom.  You know what she said?

“Oh, I would have to drop the kids off at school at 7:30 a.m., so I couldn’t be at your house picking you up to get you there by 8 a.m.  But if you drove yourself there, I could pick you up after, and we could get your car the next day,” Gabby told me.

Wow.  She wanted to help so badly, that she found a way to take care of her kids and be there for me.  That is incredible.

She added, “That can be your Plan B, in case Lolly isn’t able to pick you up.”

My friends ROCK.

As for Nadia, she has a big presentation at work the week of my surgery.  Hard to imagine that die hard party girl as a career professional, isn’t it?   Kinda like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  A barracuda in a business suit?  A seductress in a suit?  I know—a politician!

Ok, not quite.  But you do hear an awful lot in the news about politicians having sex.

Anyhow, I’ll have surgery on January 25th.  Sally told Jack to make a video of me loopy on pain meds, to get me back for the Drowning in Testosterone video.  I think it’s more likely that I’ll take goofy selfies and send text messages to peeps.  Which we will laugh about later.  Probably for years.

Or I may say something silly like I did in 1995, when I had an exam of my female parts.  “I was stapled together after my c-section, and the contact points became infected.  I don’t want that to happen again.”

The doctor answered, “Lady, we’re going through an existing hole, and we don’t plan to staple you shut.  In fact, we plan to leave the hole open, like we found it.  Unless you want us to staple your vagina shut?”

Um, ya.  I blame the pain pills.

Can you imagine me telling that to the dentist?  “Hey, if you staple my mouth shut, will it get infected?”

Then again, it’d be a heck of a diet plan.

As it, I’ll only be able to eat soft foods for a couple of days or more.  I asked if that meant that I would lose weight.  The doctor smiled and said, “You can still drink milk shakes.”

I guess not.

To summarize, I have kick-ass friends, the rats & id thieves are getting their asses kicked, and surgery is going to be as boring as it sounds.  I hope your year is going as well as mine, or better.  ; – )

Cheers!

PS Gabby told me an interesting tale of a corrupt Girl Scouts Leader.  I’ve got to tell you the story—next time!

PSS Chapter 2 of “How I Met Your Father” will be posted on Monday.  Thanks again for all the cool responses, on Facebook, the blog, and in private messages!  < 3

 

How I Met Your Father ~ Chapter 1

JNS_1994

I wake up in a cold sweat.  My muscles are tense and my back feels like someone pinched me. Hard.  Maybe it feels more like a screwdriver digging into my back.  I don’t scream, though—I don’t want to wake the baby.

My nightmare had been a variation on the usual theme that a man had come to get my baby.  I was helpless to resist him.  He cast a spell on me just by smiling, paralyzing me, and took my son.

MY SON.  Not his.  He isn’t worthy of the title of “father.”

I shudder.  Sitting up, I look over to the crib across the small bedroom.  Jack sleeps peacefully, sweetly.  Glancing at the clock, I judge that he should be asleep for at least another hour.  I slip out of bed and go to take a quick shower.  If he does wake up while I am in the bathroom, he’ll be safe in his crib.

I look in the mirror.  A 20-year-old woman stares back at me, with long brown hair.  Her face is a little too thin, too long.  Her breasts look cartoonishly large on her thin.  Her clear green eyes are strained and worried.

Tearing my eyes away, I rush through my morning routine.  After I am ready, I get the baby ready and make breakfast for both of us: cereal and coffee for me; milk for him.

All the while, my nightmare clings to the edges of my thoughts like oil on water.  I smile at baby Jack and make faces at him; he laughs and babbles back.  At 4 months old, he doesn’t do much more.  Rolling over is an accomplishment for him, but he already struggles to sit up.  He is my raison d’etre and I love him deeply.

That love is tempered with a deep fear.  Would I ever feel safe?  Would I ever be able to just enjoy spending time with my child?

We leave the apartment and I drive to my parent’s house, a middle class house in a suburban neighborhood on the edge of Austin, Texas.

“Good morning!” I sing, letting myself into the house with a key.

“Good morning!” Mom returns with a big smile directed at Jack, ignoring me.  “How are you today?  Huh?  Did you sleep well?  Get a good breakfast?”  Her goofy smile widens when she sees him brighten up at her voice.

“He’s good, yes, yes,” I say, kissing her cheek, then his.  “I work 7 to 3.  Should be back here by 3:30.  Love you!”

“Wait!” Mom says, finally looking up from the baby to me.  “Bring back some milk and bread.”

Mom often sends me to work with a shopping list, so I am not surprised at that, but I am surprised at the items on the list.  “Already?  I just picked up some up two days ago,” I reply.

“Your daddy likes to eat,” she says.  “And I think it was closer to a week ago.”

Considering that Mom doesn’t ask for a dime for keeping the baby, a few groceries are the least that I can give her in return. “Ok.  Happy to help,” I say with a smile, and leave.

First Job: Cashier

My day job is cashier at Albertson’s grocery store.  It is easy, brainless work.  Between 7 and 9 a.m., customers are sporadic, so I grab a spray bottle of cleaner and wipe down every surface I can.  It is less about getting rid of the dirt, and more about staying busy.  If I am busy, then the oily nightmare can’t cover my thoughts.  Or at least, I won’t worry so much about whether my ex might show up any minute and demand to see my baby.

MY child.  Not his.

“Hey, wow, look at you cleaning everything in sight!  I’m going to switch you to another register so that you can clean more, ha ha ha,” Brenda says.  She is a tired-looking, average-sized woman in her 50’s with bleached and teased hair, who may have been pretty once, but years of working in customer service in a navy blue polyester uniform made her less attractive.

“Sure, happy to do it,” I say brightly.  “Just point the way!”

Surprised by my energetic and positive response, Brenda stares at me for a moment before smiling and moving me to another register.  “Now, don’t tire yourself out too much, you still have to work until 3 p.m.!” she advises.

I greet customers with smiles and scan their groceries energetically.  Between customers, I straighten the magazines and wipe down already-clean counters.  At three, I close out my register and go shopping.

Back at my parents’ house, I deliver the food.  “Here, Mom, 2% milk and round-top bread,” I say as I place the bags on the table.

“No!  Whole milk and square bread!  Your daddy doesn’t like the watered-down milk, and the bread needs to be square so that the lunch meat fits on it right!” Mom says, exasperated.

I smile; teasing her is fun.  “I know, Mom,” I say, holding up the items she’d described.  “I know.”

Baby Jack and I go home to our small apartment for a few hours of napping and playing.  Then we are back, as I drop him for the second time in one day.

Second Job: Cocktail Waitress

I drive to my second job with less pep than I had that morning.  Even after a nap, it was going to be a long night.  My shift at the strip club is from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.  Surprisingly, my mother was the one that had found me the job.  The ad in the paper had said $150 or more in tips a night, which was true.  I make $200 on average.

“You’re here to serve drinks, not distract from the talent on stage,” my manager had told me on the first day.  “Stick to the dress code and keep your clothes on.”

The dress code for waitresses includes a button up white shirt, bow tie, and black pants/skirt.  Some of the girls wear short skirts and thigh-high stockings, pushing the envelope on our “uniform.”  I go to the opposite extreme, wearing loose pants and button-up with my shiny silver bow tie, and pull my hair back in a ponytail.  I am too broke to afford contact lens, so I wear glasses with thick brown frames.

A guy stops me and says, “You have the sexy librarian look going on.”

Stunned, I say, “Really?”

“Oh ya,” he replies.  “Surely that’s your gimmick.  I mean, I can’t help but picture what you’d look like without those glasses.”  His eyes run up and down me, making me think that he must be picturing me without my clothes, as well.  “Did you ever think about dancing?”

“Uh, no, uh, I gotta get back to work.  Do you want a beer or something?” I mutter.

Later that night, a couple calls me over.  After a little chit chat, they say, “We’ll pay you $20 to show us your tits.”

Flabbergasted, I point out the obvious.  “But there are bare breasts all around you.”

“True,” the man says, “but we want to see yours.  The fact that they’re covered, makes them something of a mystery.  My imagination is running wild, picturing them.  I simply must know if they are everything that I imagine them to be.”

“I’m sorry, but my manager has strict rules that the waitresses must remain in uniform,” I mutter, and hurry off.

I see a man at the door and smile.  He is 5’6” tall, with shoulder-length dirty blonde hair, scruffy beard, and average weight.  About 26 years old, he isn’t handsome, but he isn’t exactly ugly, either.  Maybe his nose is a little too large for his face and his eyes are a little too small; whatever the case, it doesn’t matter, seeing him cheers me up.  “Darrell!” I say, “So glad to see you!  It’s been a weird night.”

“Well, now it’s time to party!” he says with a smile and a hug; his brown eyes sparkle behind his round, gold-rimmed glasses.  “Get us a couple of shots, would you?  Make that three—a friend of mine is right behind me.  I want you to meet him.”

Darrell is a regular customer and a big spender, who buys me shots and chats with me during my breaks.  Though we haven’t known each other long, I consider him a friend.  Realizing that he might be my only friend in town, and how pathetic that might be, I blush as I walk to the bar.

I need to get out more, socially, and make friends.  But how?  When?  I work and take care of my baby, which doesn’t leave any time for me.  It wouldn’t be fair to ask Mom to watch the baby while I go out; she already spends most of the day with him.

Delivering the shots to Darrell, I realize that he has another man with him.  The other guy is taller, approximately 5’10”, with black hair: long, but not quite as long as Darrell’s, and so dark that it stands out on his pale skin.  The most notable part of this man are the dark eyes and their vacant stare behind his large, silver-rimmed glasses.  I shiver, though I’m not cold; I can sense this man’s demons.

“Lana, meet Logan,” Darrell says.  “Lana is my favorite waitress.  She’s easy on the eyes and quick with the drinks.  Logan is the friend from college that I told you about.”  He looks at me meaningfully, and I struggle to remember what he had said previously.

Oh.  This is the guy whose wife had cheated on him.  No wonder Logan looks so…haunted.  He is in shock and seems oblivious to the party going on around him; he barely looks at me when introduced.  I donn’t know what to say.  My ex is a terrible person, but as far as I know, he never cheated on me.  I can’t imagine what Logan is going through, to know that the person that he trusted most in the world, had hurt him so deeply.

“Hi, Logan,” I say with a forced smile.  “Have a shot!  Let me know if you need anything.”  I sip on my shot, giving me an excuse to linger a little while longer.  “How have you been, Darrell?”

“Good!  My girlfriend Mandy is coming back from Florida in a couple of weeks.  Can’t wait to see her!” he says.  Mandy is studying oceanography in Florida, and he stays faithful to her.  Though he visits the strip club often, he is always respectful to the girls and never takes any of them home.  He simply admires them, buys them drinks, and chats with them.  The dancers like his type: generous and undemanding.  I like him, too, for his company and the big tips that he leaves me.

“Great!  I’m so happy for you!” I say.  Ok, I was jealous that he has someone; I can still be happy for him, right?

“We should double date,” he says.

I stare him at blankly.  “We?” I ask stupidly.

He thinks that I hadn’t heard him correctly because of the noise in the club.  He leans in, and speaks louder, “You, me, Mandy, and Logan should go bowling.”

I laugh.  Bowling?!  The big spender wants to go bowling?!  “Sure,” I say.  “I’d love to meet her.”  The thought of spending time with the zombie sitting at the table is unappealing, truthfully, but the thought of making another friend (Mandy) cheers me up.

I wonder if I had looked like a zombie, the first few days after I left my husband Tommy.  I wonder: if I had been a guy, would my friends back in Dallas have taken me to a strip club?  Then I remember that my friend Tori had taken me to a male strip club, La Bare’s, and I smiled.  I make a mental note to call her when I have time.

The rest of night is busy.  A bachelor party comes in, with a drunk philosopher who kept trying to engage me in debates about religion and the ethics of stripping.

I donn’t have much time to do shots with Darrell and Logan, or wonder whether Logan would be attractive if he would just smile.  But I think that maybe, just maybe, he would be.

This is my experiment with righting a Romance Novel, see chapter 2 here.  New chapters will be posted every Monday night by 9 p.m.  Regular blog posts will be sporadic throughout the week.  Since this is an experiment, please leave me a comment to let me know what you think – good or bad.  I appreciate your thoughts and the time that you take to leave them.  Thanks in advance!

Cheers!  Happy New Year!