[Photo courtesy of @sturdyAlex]
If you’re wondering what kind of person I am in a relationship, pay attention to the blue felt pen writer’s responses. Pretty much my dating philosophy.
[Writing Prompt: Revisit a famous book title, time = 30 minutes]
NOTE: I actually got choked up writing this. Dayumn.
The tea shop seemed the ideal place to have Brian meet me. After all, it’s where he was Skyping me from all afternoon two weeks ago. I sat, legs pressed together tightly, with two chai teas, one for him, one for me.
And hark, along comes Brian.
This time around I’m going to approach the opportunity for a relationship thusly: don’t be too abrasive up front, let him drive the conversation, and, by all means, don’t roll out the ultimatums before the check is paid. He smiled his shy smile of relief, and I complimented him back with my appreciative, wide grin.
Brian proceeded to chastise me, accusing me of avoiding him these past few weeks. Although I tried to defend with thoughtful retaliations, his peaked eyebrow of disbelief suggested I give it up. He reached across the table, motioning for one of the teas, when he stopped and asked which one was his. I flirtatiously suggested he check for the lipstick smudge. Brian sneered at my sarcasm. I like that he likes that about me.
He knows what I do for a living, he’s read my blog. We haven’t talked much about him, other than where he lives and what his plans were for the holidays. So now, I ask him, what do you do? Surprisingly, he doesn’t give the straightjacket answer of his employment, but offers a sigh, then, “I like to drive the Carolina coasts, go camping, fishing. Sometimes, just hang out in the woods for hours on end. Oh wait, you asked me what I do? Like, for work? I’m a truck driver.”
The first part of the answer was the answer.
The next day, same tea shop, different Brian. Why I parsed out these dates like this, I don’t know. Zealot for ironic entertainment, I suppose. And entertainment for Christine, the tea shop owner. She’s happy to see me not only up and about, but courting the boys. Christine, no children of her own, dotes on me like a child. I love her for it.
This one walks in the place like he owns it. Brian’s tie has flitted over his left shoulder due to the gust he passed through. We met in an old school fashion; he saw me loading my car with groceries, stopped to compliment me, and in a classy, keeping-it-together fashion, handed me his business card, suggested I call whenever I can, shook my hand, and walked off. High school hunk cool.
I won’t get into comparing the two. Physically already, they differ greatly. I’m trying to stick to the ol’ Dr. King adage, judge a person not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character. Seated in the same corner, same table, I motion to leave my seat and meet him at the counter. Brian bellows across the small shop for me to keep my seat, and asks what I want to drink. Dealer’s choice is my response, and he offers a crooked smile as he retrieves a leather wallet from his suit jacket.
Same tea shop, same table, same question. Brian launches into his resume: undergraduate degree from THE Ohio State University, graduate degree from Stanford, been in banking since he graduated, member of such and such fraternity, such and such business society, and is considering running for local council. I attempt to be playful and ask, “But what do you do, Brian?”
He looks as if he saw a ghost. I’m forced to explain it was a joke. The laugh he offers in response is as stiff as his starched buttoned-down shirt. I sip my honeyed green tea to fill the awkward silence.
The first Brian noticed me across the room at our mutual friend Gary’s house party. He observed someone cool, collected, happy where they were in life, but also, lonely. That he saw my loneliness from across the room made me think twice about my own perception of comfort. When was the last time I engaged anyone for other than a feature or a human interest piece? I realized I was keeping the possibility of a relationship at a strong arm’s length.
The second Brian saw me in that parking lot, then again in the downtown Tampa commercial building pretending not to be looking for him. He’s very present, that Brian, very hard to avoid his energy. He smells of power and vigor. Brian is very much in control. Yet he sends me the wackiest, soft-hearted text messages throughout the day, sometimes just a, thinking of you. I imagine he’s sitting in a meeting somewhere on the upteenth floor texting me when he should be paying attention. This Brian brings out my insecurities. What does he want from little ol’ me?
Both tea dates were very successful, and so I call for a second round with each. This is no dating show, but this is the first time in years I’ve had more than one suitor, and, let’s face it, I’m no spring chicken. If there is such a thing as a possible commitment out of one of these Brians, we’re going to figure it out now.
Second Brian goes on about his recent weekend on South Beach, making sure to cut in a, so wish you could’ve came with us! every few sentences. My local coverage doesn’t allow much distance travel, but I enjoy listening to him talk with an air of relief. He’s got a high-stress job, it’s a rare moment when he gets to leave the building, let alone the county, for more than one day. Even with his effort to include me, I get the sense he’s trying too hard. As if, he’s only doing this for show, until he’s certain I’m willing to be his and his alone. The possessiveness sneaks out in just these tea shop interludes: the way he orders for me, the way he calls over the other patrons to have Christine service us, the way he frowns when I take a quick call from my editor. Makes me wonder; what’s it like with Brian when there’s no audience, behind closed doors?
First Brian meets me at the tea shop an hour before closing. I’m nervous because I want to decide between these two wonderful men today. I’ve already ordered our teas, but he motions towards the counter case and picks a coffee cake for us to split. Christine asks if he wants it warmed, and he charms her with his silky, Southern-drawled, yes ma’am. I shake my head as I watch the old bird gesture a 20s era swoon. First Brian is filthy, and he notices me noticing his appearance. He enters into a rapid apology, explaining he spent the day helping his landlord repair a step on her patio. I am endeared, but keep my frown.
Here goes nothing, I think as I kick out, pull up my jeans, and show Brian my prostetic legs and matter-of-factly explain how I lost both when our Humvee rolled over an IED in Iraq.
When I did the same move to Second Brian, he gasped and said, “I’m so sorry, Kenneth. I didn’t notice you were crippled.”
First Brian stared a bit, then asked, “That’s not gonna stop you from going hiking with me, ain’t it?”
Perhaps you need to look busy right now. Perhaps you have a relative in the vicinity you need to avoid. Whatever the reason, let me offer you a pleasant distraction, in the form of the top 3 popular blog posts of last week:
Happy Thanksgiving All!
On our afternoon walk, Bobby and I came across a scattering of torn papers. Soaked from yesterday’s scattered showers, now dried by today’s warm lovely sun, I was intrigued to find the penwork on a few sheets still legible. I gathered them, and the edge of an envelope, and figured I’ll exercise a reactionary writer’s prompt: read each piece, and try to decipher what this message was all about. Kudos, by the way, to the person who tore this and the person who penned this, because I was convinced people did not correspond by mail anymore. So thanks to you torn lovers for keeping the fundementals going.
Let’s see, here’s piece #1:
Alright. Barring the abject misspellings of “stomach” and “juicy,” this clearly is a description of what this female misses about the male receiver. So I can determine a woman wrote to a man about a fantasy or a rememberance of the last time they connected in primal bliss. Or, this person is dictating what she observed in a film and is sending down recommendations to her lover. “Tooting it up”? Huh.
Here’s piece #2:
Interesting. Piece #2′s left side joins with Piece #1′s right side. Aww, now this is sweet. While she’s busily pouncing, she’s expressing her love for him. She puts in so much for him. How much she cares. How much she seeks his love and appreciation through her female viaduct. This is a very young, very naive woman.
On to piece #3:
She anticipates waking up and being able to continue in sexual congress with the reading male, good for her, she’s all about endurance. Hope she’s in shape for all of that. “Can’t wait till you” captures me. Is it hope that the sexual transaction leads to increased respect and love and his inevitable asking her to be exclusively his? Can’t wait until he proposes? Can’t wait until he leaves his wife? Can’t wait until he sees the baby you two made together and he never sees because he doesn’t plan to account for it? This sliver of desperation, I can roll on this forever.
This is piece #4:
Oh, I am experiencing her forlorn state. She misses him. He’s no fantasy; they’ve had a connection. They’re involved. Or they were involved. There’s “can’t wait till” again, so it makes me think they’ve got a distance and time between them, but these two will be physically in each other’s presence once more. Well, hmm. I did find this letter ripped up along a common trail. So she’s hopeful and optimistic, and he’s already moved on.
Piece #5 is simply the word “Muah.” Kisses. Optimistic kisses from another time zone, falling upon oblivious lips.
On to piece #6:
Wow. The way this was torn, it makes for a delightful little 7/5/2 structured poem! Too bad I can’t claim authorship. Powerful, in and of itself.
And finally, piece #7:
Ah. Piece #7′s right side aligns with Piece #4′s left. This makes things a little more clear. The heartsick girl works nights. She “thinking bout you all in my feelings.” Huh?? Here’s the intriguing line, “wishing you’ll just be there when I walk…door.” He left her. Ah. “But I know soon or later…” there’s that optimism again. I’m rooting for this chick, really. She might turn him around. Sure, he opened this letter on the way to his side of the lake, got frustrated because he actualized his feelings for her, all which are true and authentic. He misses her too. He wants to tell her he loves her back as she’s riding him, he wishes he didn’t leave. She wants to wake him out of his sleep and profess her love with an interpretive sexual interlude.
Give her a chance, mate! This woman’s committed to the game. And she even took the time to make the exclamation point a heart after the word Baby. That’s requited love, bar none.
Soothe that broken heart, fella. Life’s too short.
Original Post Date July 03, 2013 at 10:29 AM
The author beats the heat by walking down memory lane. Two original poems included!
We are well in the throes of Summer, and for me, that means limited outside time. Which I kinda master. As a writer, I’m naturally inclined to be a shut-in.
One recent afternoon, while aiming a fan at me and setting the A/C to Ice Rink, I decided to visit my poetry archives. Ain’t cloud computing grand? The entire hard drive of my old laptop, without having to dust the old box off! Five hours later, I was still going through files, laughing at some, shaking my head at others, even offering an outburst of, ‘Dang! That’s good stuff!’
The rest of the evening was spent organizing what turned out to be eight years’ worth of unpublished musings. Pretty much all of the Naughties. I found one I had performed in 2005 for friends in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It’s better in spoken word than in print because of a routine that goes along with it. I’ll set it aside and find an open mic to re-introduce it at.
The ones that had me cracking up were the poems that were in reaction to relationships at the time. So much time has passed, and yet, in reading these passionate pieces, I remembered who it was dedicated to, even surprised I can remember some of their full names.
It’s significant to run into these “love” poems, as I’ve recently commenced dating again. But it’s nice to see where my head was at then, and perhaps, if the dating season deems successful, I’ll be writing love poems again. I can hear your “awwwww”…stop it!
It’s vacation time for lots of you, so I wish you safe and fun travels. Here’s a couple of original pieces from the archives for you to read, as you wait for the trolley to pick you up from the parking lot, and escort you to your theme park of delight:
(From the “I Hate You” Folder)
All Gone Wrong
I am so disenchanted by you
Not so long ago did I quiver at the thought of your name
You’ve proved yourself to be
the type of man I wish I never was attracted to
That I regret giving my body to
That I would never allow the hope of being a wife to
Unsatisfying taste in my mouth
I liken you to lichen
Building thick and burdensome against the mighty pine
Be gone and
be a man and
by all means
Let me be.
(From the “I Like You” Folder)
Forgive MeForgive me for being so forward that night so long ago when I asked you to lie down for a while when your hand was wrapped around the door knob You see, all I wanted was an instance of being a part of you wrapped in your arms and becoming one like Voltron where we would be more than two individuals in like of each other we would be two individuals in search for one another We could be the two that others boo at that others sneer at for being oblivious to our surroundings as we grace ourselves in mutual sexual bliss. Forgive me for being so forward but I needed that opportunity to know that the emotions I felt between my lungs between my eyes and between my thighs were even-keeled with yours.