Luv’ Story

“What’s wrong, darling? Your cheeks look wan and drawn.”

“What???”

“You look pale, tired.”

“Uh, nothing’s wrong.”

“You sure? I miss your rosy cheeks.”

“I have NO idea what you’re talking about. I didn’t sleep, that’s all. So, did you get the raise?”

“No. The subject didn’t even come up in my review.”

“You had an annual review and DIDN’T talk about money?”

“It happens.”

“Not in my world. We need more money, Troy. We can’t keep living like this.”

“What exactly is wrong with ‘like this’?”

“Last night, at Marcy and Trevor’s, we were the only ones…”

“‘Only ones’ what?”

“You know what?”

“No.”

“If we have to have this conversation you just don’t get me.”

“That you’re a superficial, materialistic little bitch? Sweet cheeks, I’ve always known that. So where do you want to have dinner tonight?”

‘Luv (Because I Haven’t Written a Cynical Love Story in a While)

“Where are you going?”

“I’d rather not say. I’m a free person. I can go where I want when I want.”

“Yeah, but, when will you be home?”

“None of your business.”

“Wow. What did I do to deserve this?”

“I feel like you’re smothering me. I don’t have any freedom.”

“What?”

“Seriously. Think about it. You always know where I am, what I’m doing, who I’m with.”

“You always know where I am, what I’m doing, who I’m with. It’s not like there are any big mysteries.”

“Why not? Wouldn’t some mystery make this relationship more interesting?”

“Seriously. You want mystery.”

“Well, yeah. With everything so predictable it’s not all that exciting.”

“You want excitement. Listen sweet cheeks. Mystery and excitement are not always good things. Maybe the mystery is I have another woman on the side. Maybe the excitement is that I’m leaving you for her.”

“Oh my God, I knew it!”


Love Songs, Part II

Research is good. We usually look at the past through our own eyes and experience, and every once in a while a historian (we’ll call him “History Man”) will say, “Those people aren’t you, Sweet-cheeks. Those Medieval love songs that you are having such a hard time with AREN’T like love songs of today.”

“What?”

“No. Those guys had arranged marriages. They were stuck with whatever their parents had set up for them. These lyric poems are more along YOUR style of love.”

“You mean hopeless, unrequited, at an absurd distance, across insane age differences?”

“Yes, exactly. Is this or is this not you, ‘…poets of the Middle Ages would likely find our contemporary love rituals completely alien. Medieval desire…was expressed as an ideal to be constantly sought, but rarely attained.”

“Whoa. So you’re saying that not only is my sense of humor medieval but my view of love?”

“Yep. Feel better now? Ready to return to hopeless yearning and all that makes you so happily miserable?”

“Thank you History Man.”

You can read the rest of History Man’s thoughts here: https://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/february/valentine-medieval-desire-021113.html

Lamont and Dude Discuss Friendship

“Dude, how’d it go up there in LA?”

“I dunno. I told you I’m about over this. This is not being a REAL Smilodon. This is being a guy in a smilodon suit. I almost told the kiddies that today.”

“I knew there’d come a time when you’d want to show those kids what a REAL Smilodon does. Did.”

“No. The kids are cute. They love Smilodons. I’m not going to fuck with that.”

“Yeah, you’re no real Smilodon. Tell you what, I’ll wear the costume next week. No one will know. You can have a weekend off. Hit on some women, you know, like in the old days.”

“It won’t work. You’ll open your human mouth and all kinds of wise cynicism will come out. Besides, were you ever a roaring predator?”

“You’re seriously asking me that?”

“Well?”

“I was a tiger.”

“I keep forgetting. I wasn’t around for that one.”

“Maybe you were a rock. You were an island. I don’t know.”

“That was the iteration that made you afraid of luv’, right? The one where you were killed by the male while you were mating?”

“It’s not that unusual.”

“Probably nature’s way of keeping the species strong. Only the really tough females survive.”

“If you’re trying to insult me, that’s not the way. You weren’t there and you’ve never been a Siberian tiger. If anything, it’s a design flaw.”

“Why would I insult you? You’re my best friend!”

***

Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their previous incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.

***

Friendship is one of the greatest things in life. ❤

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/10/25/rdp-thursday-friend/

Heart-shaped Fruit

Obviously, I never got love right or I’d live in a bigger house with another person in it instead of a little house with two big dogs and a tiny, elusive mouse.

BUT

One winter, after a love misadventure in Italy, I ran away and went to stay with my friends who lived near Zürich. I had a brokenish heart. It wasn’t decimated, but it wasn’t happy, either.** My friend’s parents had emigrated to Zürich from Italy right after WW II.

Pietro started to sing before we left the house. He had a terrible singing voice, awful, but not quite as bad as mine. “Non esiste l’amore. E soltanto una fragola,” he sang as he put on his boots.

“Ma, Pietro, no,” said Laura, my friend’s mom. “Marta, Non ascoltarlo. L’amore esiste. E non é FRAGOLA. É FAVOLA, sai? Story. L’amore e buono, bello. Pietro, non essere così cinico.”* 

Pietro winked, put his coat on, and we went out for a walk in the forest. He explained it was a joke. Fragola — strawberry sounds like favola — fable. He wanted to console me. Just being there was a big consolation.

The trip to Italy had been a disaster from the get-go. Late connections. Storms in Cincinnati. A missed plane in New York. Routed through Paris. Lost luggage. No record of my being on the plane from Paris to Milan. No boarding pass. Trapped in the luggage area of Malpensa for an hour while Alitalia sorted it out. The traveling companion I’d picked up on the way to New York was a story in herself, an elderly Italian woman from Las Vegas traveling with two neatly wrapped mink coats disguised as boxes filled with jars of homemade jelly. Finally, in Genoa, I had to borrow my would-be-lover’s mother’s underwear!

When I arrived in Zürich, my luggage was there (thanks to the would-be love in Italy who organized it). Each day was Swiss December sunshine. I felt I’d been meant to be in Zürich in the first place. I loved my friend’s family, Zürich, the forest, their dog. It was really and truly ALL GOOD. It was also the last time I saw Pietro alive. He died of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma the next winter.

Looking back, I see this is a pretty romantic story and a grand adventure. Still, that fragile easily-smashed and rotted heart-shaped fruit is a pretty good metaphor for love.

 

Portofino

Portofino

 

NOTES:
*Martha, don’t listen to him. Love exists. And it’s not strawberry, it’s story, you see? Love is good, beautiful. Pietro, don’t be so cyncial.”

**And, the man in Italy and I are still connected in our own way. I ran away, other stories followed in following years, but some threads are made of tough stuff.

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/10/20/rdp-saturday-fabulist/

Beach Cookout

Lulubelle smirked. There was nothing special about this. It was just some weird barbecue.

“Have a hot-dog, honey.”

“You know I don’t like hot-dogs, potato salad, watermelon, or any of this stuff.”

“It’s a cookout at the beach, babe, not a five-star restaurant.”

“Whatev’.”

He knew something was wrong. Lulubelle had been somewhat lacking in enthusiasm for, uh, anything, for a month or more. He thought it was just a woman’s thing, but maybe she just didn’t like him anymore, and it had nothing to do with a beach picnic. “I hate love,” he thought.

“I’m not staying over,” he said when they reached her apartment.

“Why not?” Lulubelle looked at him bewildered. “I thought…”

“No. Not this time. I have some stuff to do and, you know, sometimes a guy needs time to himself.”

“You want to break up! I knew it! Look, I’m sorry I didn’t like the food at the picnic or your friends, or pretty much anything, but I don’t… That’s not fair!”

“Lulubelle, if you don’t like anything, then…” he stopped before he said too much. “I’ll call you later.” He leaned over and kissed her softly.

Lulubelle lugged her beach bag up the stairs to her one-bedroom apartment and unlocked the door. “You’re too picky,” her mother’s voice echoed in her head, “and too critical. Just because everyone doesn’t do things the way you do doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Sometimes you need to relax and enjoy something different. If you don’t learn how, you’re going to live in a very small world.” She was 7 at the time and had walked home from a friend’s birthday party because she didn’t want to eat yellow cake.

“Have I done that again?” She set down her bag.

She went into the shower to wash off the salt, sand, sweat, and disappointment. As the hot water streamed down her head and shoulders (clever product placement) the phone rang.

“Damn,” she thought, turning off the faucet, stepping out of the shower and grabbing a towel.

The phone rang. Why did she always leave it on the desk instead of bringing it with her into the bathroom? She hurried on wet feet — careful not to slip — and reached for the phone. “Unknown Caller.”

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/rdp-friday-smirk/

Progressive Party

Lucille arranged the smokey topaz necklace, bracelet, and rings on her body as if she were adorning a Christmas tree. “This is smokey topaz,” she said to her son’s girlfriend, Beth, a petite brunette she didn’t particularly like. Her beautiful boy could do better than that. After all, her husband was a full colonel. “It’s my favorite stone and the colonel always buys it for me on our anniversary.” Her dress — a two piece Duponi silk number handmade for her in Seoul, their last posting — matched exactly the smokey topaz ring on her right hand. “I had this made before we came back to the States,” she said. “Why be in Asia at all if you’re not going to have some silk dresses?” She reached back to be sure her French roll was perfectly smooth.

Downstairs the colonel had plunked a couple of ice cubes into a highball glass and was pouring a few fingers of Scotch over them. He swirled the glass around a few times and took a drink. “Here we go,” he thought.

She’d be down any minute. The house was brand new. She’d “absolutely LOVED” the stairs. “I can just SEE myself coming down the stairs in a beautiful cocktail dress, can’t you?”

Whatever he thought of his smokey topaz wife, he never said. “Loose lips sink ships,” that old war slogan, applied to marriage, too. And Roland? That insipid drip of snot that was their child and heir? Definitely his mother’s boy. The Colonel didn’t even know how to talk to him.

“Doll!” he called up the stairs. “Are you about ready? A progressive party means we progress!”

“You don’t need to be sarcastic,” she answered back. “I’m putting on my shoes. I’ll be down in a minute.” She slid her feet into black pumps.

The colonel took another drink from the highball glass. Whatever. He didn’t want to go anyway, but Lucille had to show off all that topaz. It was their first social event in the new community.

Beth, Roland and Lucille came down the stairs. The colonel set his drink on a coaster on the glass-topped coffee table and picked up his wife’s mink-collared cashmere coat from the chair. “You look beautiful, darling,” he said holding the coat.

“Thank you, love.” She reached behind her and patted his cheek. “I don’t know when we’ll be home. You kids be good.”

As they walked down their street, the colonel wondered whatever happened to a nice sit down dinner or good old potlucks like in his parents’ day. “This is it,” said his wife, looking at the invitation. “The Oberhausers. Appetizers.” An overdressed woman opened the door, invited them in.

“Come in, come in. Introduce yourselves to everybody — we’re all new here, you know, just like the neighborhood!” A portly older man reached out a hand to shake, “What’s your poison?”

For the next hour, they stood around the appetizer table. Decorated for Christmas, it was replete with the julienned carrots, celery and spinach dip, shrimp and cocktail sauce, mixed nuts, melba toast and cheese spread. They all made small talk with the same people with whom they’d make small talk at the next stop — entrée.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Roland had opened the back of his bass speaker and pulled out a bag of weed. He took out a few pinches and rolled it neatly into a joint.

“My dad has NO idea I brought this back from Korea,” he said, proudly, lighting it and taking a hit. “Here.” Roland hoped it would help Beth overcome her hesitancy. Perfect moment. Parents gone, plenty of weed, leopard print bedspread, him in little blue underwear. What could be sexier?

“I’m going home,” she said. “See you at school Monday.” She let herself out the front door and headed home through a neighborhood that had been open fields only a year before. She didn’t know much, but she knew she didn’t want to end up smokey topaz or anything like it. And Roland? He really did have little squinty-piggy eyes. Her brother was right.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/06/14/protected-julienne/

Incubo

It was in 2000. I was in Genova. I was supposed to be visiting…well, it doesn’t matter. It’s enough to say the entire journey was a living nightmare that included a REAL nightmare. The room in which I slept — a beautiful sunny room decorated in aqua, gold and white in an expensive apartment looking over the Mediterrenean — also looked over a train station and night was filled not with the sounds of gentle warm waves against the rocky shore but trains screaming to a stop outside the wall of glass.

That morning I was to embark early on an adventure to the Cinque Terre. I was in the midst of a horrible, horrible, horrible dream (my mom was rubbing excrement on my chest, OK? Now you know) and I couldn’t get away from her. “La Zia” — my friend’s aunt — came into the room to wake me up, “Marta! Marta!”

Being awakened so suddenly scared me to death. I shot out of bed, shaking my head and looking around the room, no doubt wild-eyed and strange. She looked at me, “Che è successo??” (What happened?)

“Ho avuto un incubo.” (I had a nightmare) I was still in the midst of it. My heart was pounding.

“Ma si. Francesco ti sta portando alla stazione. Devi sbrigarti.” (F is taking you to the station. You have to hurry)

I thought to myself, “I can get myself to the fucking station. I don’t need THAT person’s (a-HA) help at all!!!”

La Zia and I had coffee and cookies together in the kitchen. Then F and I got into a old orange VW bug (the car of his dad’s youth), and I was dropped at the station in Santa Margarita. Barely a word was spoken between us.

(Painting, “The Nightmare” Henry Fuseli, 1781)

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/73604906/posts/1881048422

Not Happening

“It’s a lot to live up to.”

“What?”

“This moment. This dress. All these flowers. The cost. Why couldn’t we elope?”

“I thought you wanted this.”

“No, not especially. I’m not even sure about how I feel about marriage, let alone a big wedding.”

“NOW you tell me?”

“I’ve BEEN telling you, but you haven’t heard me and my mother? I feel like you two are in a conspiracy. This says ‘my mom’ all over it.” Tabitha looked at the white covered table laden with wedding gifts. The guest book. The other various wedding related objects that would have no use once the “big day” had passed.

“Do you want to call it off, Tabby?’

“How many times do I have to tell you I’m not Tabby? Tabby is a cat.”

Kent shrugged, but he had a sinking feeling — had had for some time.

“Kent, honey, in fact, I think we need…”

“…to talk, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Have at it.”

“Honestly, I don’t want to do this. I want to send back all these stupid presents, cancel the wedding, and go to Bhutan or some place. This is stupid.”

“Stupid.”

“Yeah, this retro-glamor-commercial bullshit. I don’t want it. I don’t want it at all.”

“Why didn’t you say sooner?”

“I’m saying now.”

“Yeah, but the invitations have been sent out.”

“Really? And how does that matter? It’s my life. And those three hundred people? They have better things to do than sit through some ceremony and then a reception where we do some dorky dance that someone puts on Youtube hoping it’ll go viral. It won’t. We’re not that good. It’ll just be embarrassing.”

“So you don’t want to marry me?”

“That’s a separate issue. I don’t want this stupid wedding. Thousands of dollars for what? Half of all marriages end in divorce. I think if people decide to marry with odds like that they ought to crawl away and do it secretly in case it doesn’t work out and maybe celebrate after 20 years.”

“Wow. I never knew you felt this way.”

“You never asked me.”

“All those dress fittings…”

“Good god, spare me the memory of that. Listen, I can’t do this, I won’t do this. You can tell my mom since you two are such good buddies.”

“That’s just cold.”

“No, it isn’t. You should care about what I want, what I believe in. It should matter to you.”

“Really? You’re a woman. This is your big day, your day to shine, be a princess, all of that. I have sisters. I know.”

“Maybe I’m not your sisters? Maybe we’re not all alike? Maybe I’d like to shine some other way? Maybe? I think this was a huge mistake.”

“Ah, so now you don’t want to marry me.”

“No, I don’t think I do. Here.” Tabby put the diamond ring on the table between them and stood up. “I’m not sure what I want, but I know I don’t want this,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/ceremony/

90 Degree Angles

“You don’t smoke.”

“I do when you’re around.”

“I love you. I’ve loved you a long time.”

“Yeah? So?” Inhale, exhale, smoke rings.

“You’ve never smoked.”

“Like I said. You’re here.” The man in the haze of smoke was uncompromisingly uninterested in her.

She woke up. Another bizarre message from beyond? Whoa. And not that subtle. Who smoked like that? Who didn’t care whether she loved them or not — or, rather, who used her love as a hook?

“There’s something in this,” she thought, shuffling around her room, getting dressed. “I’ll figure that out later,” she thought, wishing badly she had one of those coffee makers where a person could set a timer and wake up to the smell — and taste! — of fresh, hot, coffee.

Long ago someone had drawn her astrological chart. “Squares,” they’d said. “Here, here, here.”

“And what does that mean?”

“Triangles are when things come together for you. See how squares are open at one end? Things don’t come together. You’re going to have challenges in three areas; work, love and money.”

“What else is there besides work, love and money?”

“I guess you’ll find out,” the astrologer had told her. “You’re clearly an interesting person, see here? You’ll have an adventurous life. But, no. Love relationships won’t work out. You’ll find love, but it won’t work. The timing will be wrong, communication problems, all that kind of thing, you know? You’ll have personal satisfaction in work, but no success, no advancement. And money? You’ll have enough, but…”

“Thanks,” she’d said, and plopped her money down.

“Don’t you want your chart?”

“No,” she’d said. “Whatever it is, it’ll come. Whoever it is, I am.”

“But it could be helpful.”

“I don’t see how,” she had replied walking out into the pink light of a beach winter sunset.

“I guess this is just another one of those squares,” she thought, pulling her sweatshirt over her head. “I really want some coffee.”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/uncompromising/