Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting “Stung” by Love!

Even when I was young, I didn’t like first dates. There’s the stupid nervousness and trying to learn about each other without it sounding like an interrogation. Wait…let’s not forget the pre-date issues, like getting a big zit in the middle of your forehead! Or discovering two minutes before you’re getting picked up that the shirt you want to wear is missing a button; the one at your chest. So, you find a guy who doesn’t make you nauseous, you get married, and never have to worry about first dates again. Right?

Then why, at the age of forty eight, did I find myself standing in my bathroom getting ready for a first date? The interrogation had been done online, but now I was going to come face-to-face with a man who seemed so great, I knew there was surely something very wrong with him. I danced in my bathroom to “It’s Raining Men” to get me in the mood for the date. I chose a turtleneck sweater and dark jeans. Every inch of me was covered. I guess I didn’t want to give off any kind of signals—like I was a woman.

My daughter drove me to the art museum where I was meeting him. In a weird role reversal kind of thing, my daughter told me to “go have fun” and call her if I needed a ride home.

The lobby was full of people, so I searched all the male faces to see if I recognized him from his photo. I spotted him leaning against a wall, and worked my way through the crowd. Now, what happened next had everything to do with my age. I can see objects which are miles away, but I can’t see anything within three feet of me. That causes a problem with my depth perception. When I walked up to him, I accidently pressed my body against his. He told me many months later that he thought I was very friendly--so much for not sending signals.

The date was incredibly fun. My only embarrassing moment was when I was pointing to a certain area of a painting, and a guard jumped out of nowhere and told me quite seriously to step away from the painting. I guess I was trying to break the tension, so I stuck out my wrists so he could cuff me. I don’t think the guard got it, but my date was amused.

After we left the museum, we walked downtown to get dinner. The conversation was great, he was smart and witty, and there was definitely chemistry. But, I had reached the point in our date where I started to wonder how this fantastic guy could possibly be single. I knew there had to be something wrong with him, I just hadn’t figured out what.

Our nine hour date—yes, I said nine—was coming to an end. We walked through a city park to get to the parking garage. I couldn’t believe I was having romantic thoughts, and this was our first date. Maybe when you’re in your forties, everything is speeded up. Anyway, I was starting to give up on finding something wrong with him. The hour was late and the garage looked empty. We got to his level and his car was the only one in the whole garage. As we got closer, I could just make out the shape of his car. I suddenly froze. Actually, I was still walking, but my brain froze. Directly under one of the lights sat a bright yellow Gremlin. With black stripes. Like a bumblebee. I just couldn’t grasp in my brain that this guy I was just feeling so attracted to, would choose to drive this car.

I told myself I had to act like the mature woman I was, and not be judgmental. I had come a long way from the teenage girl who got back with her boyfriend when he bought a Camaro. I searched my brain to come up with a comment about the car that didn’t sound at all sarcastic. I had just opened my mouth when I realized he was walking past the Gremlin. WHAT? This wasn’t his car? We went around a bend and sitting there was a dark blue Jeep Grand Cherokee. This mature woman wanted to jump up and cheer! This was exactly the car I thought he would have.

After years of being together, I still wonder if I would have gone on a second date with him, if the bumblebee on wheels was his car. Thank goodness, we’ll never know.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dirty Laundry Exposed!

Six years ago, I fell in love. How did I know it was love? Was it the thundering explosion of fireworks, trumpets screaming from the heavens, my heart welling up in my chest until I was sure it would burst? No. I knew I was in love the first time I did his laundry. For me, to love him was to love his dirty clothes.

I treated those cotton T shirts like they were made of the finest silk, spun from the rarest silkworms. I folded them with military precision, and stacked them to the standard of the most elite menswear store. I couldn’t wait to see his face when I presented to him this symbolic offering of my unfathomable love. “Awe, you did my laundry…aren’t you sweet.”

Fast forward twelve hundred and forty eight loads of dirty laundry. “Honey, do I have any clean white socks?” I mumble “I don’t know.” He searches the laundry basket with no luck, and finally discovers white socks in the washer. What he doesn’t know is they have been there for a week and a half. They are in a holding pattern until the dryer gets freed up, which won’t happen until I change the sheets on our bed. I like to put clean sheets on straight from the dryer for that fresh smell. Yes, I know the fresh smell dissipates after sitting in the dryer for so much time. But, it’s not like I’m fanatical about it. I decide to pull out the sheets and put them back in later. His precious socks get tossed in the dryer. I set the dryer to “incinerate.” He tells me he can’t wait and he’ll have to change his clothes so he can wear black socks. Yes, there are black socks in his drawer. And blue and gray, and several shades of brown. Just not white.

One day, as he eyed the mountain of his clean laundry stacked on his side of the bed, he asked me why I sorted it, washed it, dried it, and folded it, but I didn’t put it away. I didn’t even have to think about this one. “Because, I want you to see the laundry and realize for just a split second that I worked hard to get this pile of clothes clean. If I put it away in your drawers, you might just pull out what you need each day and take it for granted that somehow you have clean clothes.” That was the end of that conversation.

Weeks later when I was looking for a sweater on the top shelf of our closet, I made a discovery that shook my world-- a never-opened package of white socks. When he got home, I threw the socks on the bed, and said “Explain THIS!”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Price of Winning!

We all like to have our way, but there are some drawbacks.

The other day, we stopped in at Petsmart for cat and dog food. He headed to the dog section, leaving me to ponder the difference between “Mixed Grill” canned cat food and “Supreme Supper.” He was finished first, and pushing a cart with eighty pounds of dog food, he joined me. “I’ve been looking for you. I thought you might be looking at the kittens.” He knew immediately he had made a grave error, but at that point, it was just too late. He cringed as he saw my face light up. “They have KITTENS?”

I’m sure the cart left skid marks as he tried to keep up with me. I was in heaven as I perused the bevy of fluffy kittens, each one cuter than the last. I always have to read their little stories that the shelter provides, even though they usually make me cry. Now, at this point, it’s important to know that I am drawn to the most pathetic animals which have the least chance of being adopted. That day, it was a little striped kitten named Edgar. His sheet said that he had fallen on his head, developed a seroma (build-up of fluid) and they didn’t “think” there was any long term damage. Now, I’m all for being honest, but this little disclosure was probably keeping anyone from adopting him. Who would want a brain-damaged kitten? Hmmm. “Let’s get going,” I heard through my kitten-induced fog. I begrudgingly said goodbye to Edgar and headed to the checkout.

The next day, after a decent amount of discussing, reasoning, and begging, he relented and told me I could go get Edgar. The shelter had to approve me, which amounted to one phone call to a reference, and deciding I “looked like a nice person.” It helps to look horrified when they ask if you plan to have the cat de-clawed. So, Edgar got to come home with me.

Elaine, you got your way and have a new kitten. How can there be any drawbacks? Ah, this is where the price of winning comes in. I have lost the right to complain. So, when Eddie (Edgar was a little formal) runs amuck through our house, all I can do is shrug my shoulders. When he skidded across the dining room table taking the silk floral arrangement with him, I just watched silently. When he dashed across the loveseat where I was sitting, jumping into the bowl of popcorn I was eating, causing half the popcorn to fly up in the air, I knew I wouldn’t get any sympathy. And, when I noticed the “toy” Eddie (I was calling him Eddie Haskell by this time) was playing with on the kitchen floor was actually my four hundred dollar pair of sunglasses, all I could say was “Gee, I need to remember not to leave those out.” When he systematically sent every flower pot on the windowsill crashing to the floor, I knew it would be my job to clean up. And, when sixty-five-pound Bear walked by with Eddie wrapped around his back leg, all I could do was mouth the words “I’m sorry.”

I have since put in place a self-imposed ban on stepping into Petsmart. Did I mention that Eddie was the second kitten I adopted from there? That’s right; there are two cats in our home I cannot complain about. The vet looked over Eddie and gave him a clean bill of health, with no sign of brain damage. I wasn’t surprised…but there are people in this house who think it's time for me to get a check-up.