I had no idea I’d almost died on Memorial Day. I planned on a good workout, some pool time and a movie. None of that happened, because while I was watering the plants on my porch, a Yellow Jacket stung my right calf.
I had no idea I’d almost died on Memorial Day. I planned on a good workout, some pool time and a movie. None of that happened, because while I was watering the plants on my porch, a Yellow Jacket stung my right calf.
My left calf was stung two weeks ago. While it took forever to heal and itched like a ma’fucker, I didn’t have any real issues, having been stung many times before with no problems.
This day was different. My throat tightened, the right side of my body went numb, my eye swelled almost shut, and I lost vision. My entire body broke into burning hives (even the palms of my hands and feet, mouth, tongue and throat). Being an ‘idiot wrestler’, I usually tough everything out.
Me to Chris, as I’m frantically scrubbing my leg with alcohol: “Um, I should probably mention that I don’t feel very well. I feel kind of weird.”
Him: “Do you have Benadryl? I’ll go get you some.”
Me, bending over like I’d been running: “I don’t think I can breathe. You might want to hurry.” He ran out to the corner store, but before he got back, I knew I was way past allergy medication. He attempted to speed me to the emergency clinic (with him swearing at the slow driver in front of us. At least Florida is consistent!) and I honestly had no idea how bad it was.
I am largely in denial about my own mortality. I believe my own gimmick; that I’m Super Woman. Big Red. The Prize, April Hunter. A Viking warrior, ass-kicking my way through life. Moments like these, flashes of reality, crush me.
When I arrived to the emergency clinic, they took me immediately. Or mostly did, as I was in the process of passing out during check-in. I received a series of injections: epinephrine, steroids, more Benadryl . Wash, rinse, repeat. After several doses of everything, my body broke out into more hives, my tongue swelled and my blood pressure dropped. We were informed that they were calling an ambulance to have me rushed to the ER because it was getting worse. (As ‘rushed’ as one can be in this beautiful healthcare system we have, complete with staggering wait-times and gigantic bills, even with insurance.) I’d just gotten on Blue Cross at Christmas, but had never used it. I vaguely remember looking at the doctor and then Chris and being worried. “I don’t know if I can do that…is an ambulance covered?”
“The ambulance is covered.”
Rushed Defined in the USA:
-The ambulance took 32 minutes to go 8 minutes down the road. Fortunately, I was stabilized right before they’d arrived.
-Upon arrival, you must check in with name, social security and insurance card before anyone does anything for you. I’m fairly certain they hand you two Tylenol and dump you off the gurney sideways if you’re missing any of that information. After all, you can’t be “denied treatment”.
-You are informed there will be a $250 to $5000 deductible to pay, depending on your insurance coverage. You’ll still be surprised with fat bills, which you’ll have to submit again and again to your insurance company and spend hours of your life trying to argue off.
-A US hospital has been known to charge up to $800 for an IV that is 6 liters of salt water. An ambulance ride is approximately $750 for 5 miles. By the way, that Tylenol pill will cost you $15.Each.
-Only once you are checked in are you treated. By a nurse, who doesn’t give a shit. The one who does give a shit comes in later. She is an absolute sweetheart, and you kind of want to stuff her in your purse and keep her. The doctor arrives about an hour after that.
I was given a bunch of injections and, of course, the aforementioned $800 saline IV. To be fair, it was a lovely IV. A designer brand…from Italy, I think. Haute couture.
If you’re a walk-in, bring a book. Or three. While I was at Quick Care Doctors Express, a woman checked in to have her wrist stitched up after sitting in a hospital emergency room for four hours. She’d tapped out and decided that bleeding in her car was better than waiting another four hours.
I’ve been treated for emergency and non-emergency issues in Canada, Japan, Germany, Jamaica and England. I’ve never had to wait as long as I have here, with the exception of once in Alberta, Canada.
In England, Germany and Jamaica, the doctor came out to treat me; I didn’t have to go in. Let me just state for the record that house calls are awesome! While in Toronto, Canada, I was treated for a shattered nose (from an elbow to the face, and I still have issues breathing to this day), but they also x-rayed my ankle to confirm it was sprained instead of broken from the previous week of wrestling in Mexico. Furthermore, they did it gratis. The wait time was about fifteen minutes. Being American, I did have to pay a bill, but it wasn’t much. The company I worked for in Canada covered it.
Some things should never be for profit; healthcare is one of them. There is no amount of money a mother or father won’t pay to save their child. That’s why it’s completely wrong, and the USA is the only country doing it this way. Clearly, we are a country of laws and capitalism, not ethics.
The question is : why do we tolerate it? Is it because we think there’s no other way? Do we believe the lies we’re told about how other countries have “horrible” socialized care, where you’ll die while waiting? Currently, the socialized healthcare we do have, like the VA and Medicare, is mostly crap…so we think if we go that way across the board, it might all turn to shit? Is it because we think that we can’t afford it? That’s laughable. Every other country can afford it, but we can’t? Yet, we’re still #1 in cost per person for some of the worst care in the world. This makes absolutely zero sense. None.
Perhaps, it could be that we’re simply stupid and ignorant as a country? I feel we fail to “Question Authority” (a saying from when I grew up) and see what is really going on – that we are being taken advantage of. Each and every single one of us is being taken. We are being lied to by Pharma companies who run/own the media and congress. These companies are in bed with our FDA, which is why our food is so contaminated. Our foods are banned in other countries. Much of what we eat is considered toxic. This is why we’re sick. No other nation is as ill as the USA. Not even third world countries.
However, get this: Medical Profit is a huge part of the American GDP. Healthcare is one of our top grossing earners. Our slogan could be this: “Illness-The Only Thing Left That’s Made 100% in America.”
So, let’s recap… Contaminate the food (check), people get sick (check), charge a fortune to keep them alive (check), and rake in fuckloads of money being a completely parasitic system (check). Get it?
Avoid this by opting out. Go certified organic, locally grown, free range and grass fed. (To those of you who will now quote the show ‘Bullshit’ to me about how organic was found to not be any different than standard stuff; if you’re getting your dietary advice from a Penn & Teller show, you have issues.) Yes, you’re going to pay a little more on the front end for quality food and preventative care (such as a gym membership, massage, supplements, yoga, etc…), or you’re going to pay a fortune on the back end. Remember, every bite of food you eat will either nourish you or kill you. It’s your choice.
If we total the money being taken from our paychecks for insurance, payment deductibles and co-pays each year, we are probably paying more than some of the higher taxed countries are who have quality healthcare included for their tax dollars.
I’ve been denied care in a Connecticut emergency room without health insurance (after being unceremoniously dropped by Blue Cross Anthem for being a wrestler) when I broke two vertebrae in my back. But legally, I wasn’t “denied care”, because a nurse gave me two painkillers before sending me home. She’d assured me nothing was wrong and I’d be fine. Turns out, she was wrong. Not only were the vertebrae broken, but my tailbone disc had ruptured. I ended up going to Canada for real treatment I could afford and zero wait time, since I elected to pay in cash.
My ex, who was Canadian, was appalled at our system. He just couldn’t believe that ballsy, outspoken Americans were willing to put up with something so crappy, subpar, and expensive. He could never understand why we would jump up and fight over guns and God, but roll over and take it up the ass with no lube when it came to our own healthcare. Quite frankly, he was right.
Two different doctors told me that I almost died last Monday, and that they rarely see a reaction as bad as mine…that I was lucky. If I’d waited a few more minutes (fuck you, slow driving time thieves), or had gotten stung twice, not so much. Thank God I chose Quick Care and not the hospital. To those who might find themselves in the same situation one day, perhaps skip the ER if you want to live. I was also told that since my reaction was so bad, next time it’ll be worse, so I probably won’t make it to an emergency room on my own. Go big or go home, right? (Totally my catch-phrase on this one.)
Eventually, I was allowed to leave with a prescription for two epi pens and a variety of other medications.
However, more fun ensued the following evening when I headed back into the emergency clinic with complications. That wasp was killing me! Literally. (And financially.) My lower leg and foot were hot to the touch, hurt and had doubled in size. I have a high pain tolerance and of course, waited too long once again.
I had a skin infection from the sting site called Cellulitis. “When can I work out?”
Doc: “Not for a while.”
Me: “Define a while.”
Him: “At least 4 days.”
Ugh. I’d skipped the gym all holiday weekend, too. I’ve missed too much gym time this year between pneumonia, bronchitis and now this. I was told to sit on my ass with my leg elevated, and take more medications. I won’t lie; this fucking sucks.
You know what pisses me off? I didn’t even get to kill that wasp. Chris killed its entire family, Frank Castle Punisher style. I suppose that will have to suffice. I left the decimated wasp nest on my front porch as a warning to all others.
The fact that I was so close to dying still hasn’t sunk in. My blood pressure dropped and my heartbeat nearly stopped, too.
I’ve managed to survive much in life:
A highly, abusive ex who tried to strangle me on his way out. (The police broke in to the apartment and tasered him multiple times before taking him to jail).
Bad ring accidents; including a broken back which brought on an asthma attack so bad that I didn’t think I’d make it through.
Multiple battles with pneumonia.
Traveling to foreign countries alone (especially during the Bush era, when everyone hated Americans. I got sent into a dangerous area of Paris “for fun” when I had asked for directions).
One near plane crash during takeoff.
An accidental med overdose as a kid.
Living with a bipolar father.
A wrist cutting. (Hey, I inherited the bp gene. Kind of comes with the territory.),
Falling out of trees/off bikes with alarming regularity (sans helmet).
Working in retail at Christmas.
All of that, only to be done in by a stupid insect?!?
I knew moving to Florida would kill me. On the plus side, at least there’s no death tax here.
I shudder to think what the hospital bills are going to be.
This is where I should say how grateful I’ve realized I am, but to be honest, I was grateful before this. If I had died on that day, I’d have been fine with it. The people I love know I love them. I’ve been places and done things. I’ve lived. I feel lucky on most days, with the clear exception of that Monday. So, I’ll just say thank you for being fans and friends – and if I should have the ironic death of having been through so much shizz in life only to kick the bucket from a fucking bee sting, feel free to have a laugh for me. I know I sure would!
In the meantime, I am sitting around until I finish the antibiotics catching up on Game of Thrones. Silver linings…
Onto the positives…
Thank you to Doctors Express in Clearwater, FL. You’re all awesome.
Huge thanks (big time!) to those who have sent things off my Amazon Wishlist ( http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/258GQWZANXBQ3/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_ws_CUhAvb0YTKWPE ) . Unfortunately, we don’t get rich in wrestling or modeling unless you’re at the very top tier. We are more often than not in trade; content for time. Comic books for our image. Photos for our day of work. It matters more than you know when fans are sweet and supportive. I am very thankful to those who go the extra mile.
I realize I haven’t updated my blog in eons. I’ve been writing, but not FINISHING. Much has been going which that has consumed energy like a vampire; a 5-week ComicCon tour, house hunting and Chris’ bipolar meds being all kinds of fuckity, to name a few of the higher priorities.
But one of these things is that I got baby chicks! At a Shine Wrestling show in January, a friend found a rejected hatchling. She couldn’t keep it due to her extensive cat collection, so I took her home. I’d always wanted chickens one day…just not THAT day. I was a completely clueless chicken (pullet) owner. But things have a way of working out. Her name became Daisy (we hoped it was a ‘her’) and I believe she may be a (bantam) Easter Egger. They’re called that because their eggs are in shades of blue, green, red and yellow. For the first 24 hours of her life, she wasn’t kept warm (unless she was tucked into my boobs), so we didn’t think she’d survive.
But, she did. Chickens of that breed roam around Ybor City. On Google and through talking to others, I’ve learned about heat lamps, Chicken Math, medicated feed and what the term ‘broody’ means, among many other things. The first time I had to reach into a bag of (delicious and nutritious) meal worms, I’ll admit I was extremely grossed out. Now, it’s no biggie.
We honestly had no idea if the little fuzzy yellow ball of cheeping sweetness was a Daisy or a Duke. This became a problem. Where I live, Roosters are illegal and I’d gotten insanely attached to the baby chick. She perked up when she saw me, responded to her name, answered back if talked to, came when called. She also couldn’t stop looking into the mirror I’d put into her brooder (box), which meant she was lonely. I learned she should not be alone, so we got two more chicks from a farm that were show quality silver and gold laced Wyandotte breeds that were slightly older, as that was all that was available in our area. Delilah and Daphne weren’t as warm and fuzzy as Daisy is. They’d been treated as livestock, not pets for the first several weeks of their lives and it showed. The new girls were skittish and hand-shy. It took a lot of work to get them used to us, but they’ve adjusted to a degree. They’d fall asleep in our arms, while we rubbed their necks each night. Daisy turned out to be 100% female (thankfully!) and 100% pet. She loves being picked up and petted. As soon as she sees us, she starts chattering. If you’d told me that chickens make great pets, I would have laughed. But, they do.
I can’t meditate. I’ve tried. I’ve even gone to classes to learn. Clearing a bipolar/ADHD mind is nearly impossible. But watching those chicks play, scratch, interact with each other and chirp away is just about the same thing as meditating. I am able to shut the world out, clear everything and just take them in. It’s strange how calming they are for me. The world quiets, my thoughts stop racing, and it’s just them.
With all this, I have come to a conclusion : chickens = happy.
And they haven’t even started to lay eggs yet. Can’t wait!
Big thanks to Micheal Patry, Danielle Dadamo and Jennifer Dunham for editing my questionable grammar! And thank you to Chris for being the first to read everything and the first to help with it…no matter how honest it is. 🙂
“The World Is Blessed Most By Men Who Do Things and Not By Those Who Merely Talk About Them.”
This is from my Grams daily word cards and very appropriate, considering what’s going on today around us. Many people complain about the world on Facebook and every other social network. I think we can all agree that bitching doesn’t do shit.
Talk isn’t just cheap-it’s free.
Here’s my question to you: what are YOU doing to make your country or this world a better place? For real. This is a legit question. If you were to die tomorrow, how many people would think that you made the world a better place? No one? Just your family? Can you say that you help or inspire others, give back, will leave this earth a slightly better place than before you were on it? Because complaining on Facebook and reposting sordid news doesn’t do any of that. I think it would be amazing if those who complained put some of that energy into improving things. Or making someone smile. Or, just shut the fuck up and go to the gym. Put all that anger into cardio and you’ll be svelte in three months.
You don’t need to comment or write me back. Just think about it. I’ve hit my limit with complaining and I’m betting that you have, too. Perhaps right now is a perfect time to reevaluate and ask what it is that WE do to make things BETTER for others.
How to avoid a weeks’ worth of workouts flushed down the drain in approximately one day of weakness.
-By April Hunter
Did you know that the average person gains FIVE to TWELVE POUNDS between Halloween and Christmas? Yikes! No thank you! To avoid becoming part of this statistic, I’ve put together a few things you can do to *not* be the average person this holiday season.
First and foremost, never allow yourself to get hungry.
You don’t want to get stuck surrounded by tempting bowls of gorgeous, shiny little Hershey’s kisses (just a couple can’t hurt…right?), heaping mounds of red and green M&M’s and trays of brightly colored cookies and brownies. Of course, EVERYTHING looks even better when you’re starving. A weeks’ worth of workouts flushed down the drain in approximately twenty minutes of gluttony.
Make sure your mind makes the decisions, not your stomach. Eat every 2-3 hours and carry quality snacks with you, such as protein bars, almonds, jerky, yogurt, veggies and fruit.
Tip: Slice apples and shake on some hot chili powder. The sweet and spicy works really well together and the chili powder keeps the apples from browning in ziplocks.
Lose pounds, gain dollars: Keep the thermostat turned down and get outside more often. Your body has to burn more calories in cold weather just to keep you warm, so let that work FOR you. Bonus: save money on your electric bill!
Know that you’re probably going to indulge a bit this season, so compensate by moving your booty more. A second cardio session during lunch, Wii fit, more dog walks…hell, borrow a dog if you have to. I’m sure your fat neighbor won’t mind. Aim to get moving for five to ten minutes every other hour at work. Grab your iPod and take a brisk stroll around your building, parking lot or simply stretch and hold at your desk by isolating the muscles. Flex them – subtly. I’m not suggesting a Hulk Hogan pose-down while taking your vitamins and saying your prayers in your cubicle.
When you’re eating meals other people are preparing, primarily select proteins, veggies & fats for your plate which are better used by our bodies, instead of carbs & sugars. (IE: choose snow crab with butter and asparagus…skip the potato and bread.) If something ends up on your plate that’s too tempting to avoid, ruin it by covering it with a copious amount of salt. If it’s inedible, it can’t end up on your belly.
I’ve always found it challenging to eat around “normal” people. These types tend to make comments about their intentions to diet “soon” (while glancing sideways at my plate) or I end up debating nutritional myths and trends at holiday meals. My family has suspiciously regarded me as “the one who eats weird foods” for most of my life. I suppose with all the varied diets and food allergies, eating ‘out of the Genetically Modified Organism box’ isn’t as odd any longer, but if you are gluten-free…vegetarian…paleo…do not apologize for how you eat. You shouldn’t have to, and certainly don’t owe an explanation to anyone.
Likewise if you have someone who needs diet accommodations your table, cut them some slack and work with them. Christmas is a time for laughter and loving, not nitpicking and criticism. Chose your battles wisely. Do you really want to fight with someone over how they eat? It’s so trivial, I can’t believe I actually have to write this…yet, I do, because some people insist on being ridiculous and petty. If you’re the one getting razzed on, try to smile/ignore it/let it slide.
If your family refuses to let up, look your best. Success is always stellar revenge. While my family was slamming blood pressure medications and monitoring their heart rates, I was washing their sheets on my stomach before rushing out to a photo shoot. A great response to an argument about eating gluten-free is lifting your shirt to show off your abs. 😉
Before you depart for a dinner or party, drink a protein shake. It takes the edge off so you’re not cramming 3200 extra calories worth of puffed pastry hors d’oeuvres into your face the moment you arrive.
And lastly, set goals. Mind powers, my friend. Consciously plan to NOT gain weight or allow yourself to get out of control. Keep a food diary if you need to, and write everything down.
Set a few realistic short-term goals to keep yourself on track such as “I’m going to eat clean for 6 days to earn my cheat day” or “I will not touch any candy/bread this week”.
You don’t have to wait until Jan 1st to make your New Years Resolution!
“Don’t choose the better guy. Choose the guy that’s going to make you a better girl.” Chelsea Handler, This Means War
Jordan (my soon to be ex-husband) wasn’t thrilled with the way he felt I portrayed him in my writing. To clarify, with honesty: He is, and always has been, one of the best people I’ve ever met. He has always treated me very well. This is one of the reasons I was on the fence so much during this past year of being “single-ish”. The “-ish” meant that we still spent a lot of time together. He knew I was dating and was far from okay with it. He had been doing all he could to try to keep us together. When things went bad, I called him. When something good happened, I told him first. When I had a booking, he would look after the house and water all my plants. Oh…and he had his own set of keys.
Even though I’d told him I was seeing others, I’d always felt fairly rotten about it until the last few months. I would teeter-totter on that fence of indecision weekly, daily and even hourly. We brought out the worst in each other as a married couple, but he was still my family.
I cancelled my Match.com membership, but it was still active for another couple of months. I wondered if I should just stay married. I hadn’t filed the divorce papers yet and needed to make a decision, as the one year anniversary was fast approaching. My head wished I could keep my vows, but my gut was saying, “Hell, no.” My husband and I were like two North ends of a magnet repelling each other. Even in the worst travel situations and high stress moments, I had been calm and cool all year, but I still found myself breaking plates around him. Our marriage therapist had called us the classic “Can’t live with, can’t live without” co-dependency. When we met, we were very happy. We lived together and worked together, often booked photo shoots and shows as a team. I wonder how couples go from elation in each other’s arms to the entire relationship no longer working. I suppose if I knew that, I’d know how to stop it – and I could sell it and get rich.
Finalizing a split with Jordan meant losing my best friend as well as my spouse. So in utter selfishness, I’d strung him along at times because he was the one person I trusted and loved hanging with. Sometimes, I was afraid to be alone. Lonely is a better term. I like my own company and enjoy being alone. Lonely, not so much. I’d been married for nearly nine years and now I was eating, going to the gym and sleeping solo. In the back of my head, I was afraid I’d die and it would be days before anyone found me. By then, my cat would have eaten my face off. It was a wasted worry since my cat would eat my face off if I missed one feeding.
Even if I didn’t want to be married, I still wanted our friendship. As things got more and more unfair, I told him to go and see other people, but he chose to stick around. When the plumbing in my bathroom broke, he came over to fix it. If I had traveled for a long weekend of wrestling matches, he would bring me groceries, knowing I’d be too beat up to do much for a day or two. There was even a brief period when I had a weird time with someone I was dating and he was the one who was there and talked me through it. That’s why I stayed even though our personal relationship was chaotic for a long, long time and his negativity triggered me into episodes.
During the final months, our visions for what our marriage was differed dramatically. He thought that since he’d stuck with me through the non-medicated times, I now owed him the “good times”. I saw us as irreparably broken and wanted to move forward. He viewed my dating as “cheating” despite living apart, since we were still married. I viewed the separation as a time to think and see what I wanted, which included seeing other people.
I downloaded and filled out the divorce papers and hoped I could keep Jordan in my life to some capacity as a friend, because he is a good person and I’m pretty sure I’ll always like and love him as a human being. It hurt to lose my Canadian family. Unlike most in-law situations, I very much adored them and when Mom2 said, “You’ll always be our daughter-in-law and we love you,” I’d believed it. He had not told them that I was dating around, in order to protect me should we get back together, so it was quite a shock when they found out via a photo on my Facebook page. They haven’t talked to me since.
Jordan is not entirely happy with me at the moment (“rather hostile” might be a more accurate description at times), but I told him he’ll thank me someday – when he is with the right woman.
“There’s a time when you can share and you hold hands and be on the same path. But there’s always a fork in the road, at some point. Sometimes you have to go on one part of the fork and they got to go on the other part of the fork.” Alan Tudyk, 28 Days
Jesus & Babies (Leo) contacted me out of the blue. “I miss hanging out with you.”
“Yeah, well…you had issues with many things about me,” I said.
“No, I didn’t. You got defensive, so I backed off. I texted you from Dublin and never heard back. ”
Of course I met him for lunch because he is ridiculously hot and I had nothing else going on. And I’d never slept with him, so curiosity won over common sense. (That’s the chemistry vs. compatibility thing I was talking about. Chemistry doesn’t always add up to “good for you”.) He walked in and lit up when he saw me. He was still tall, handsome, blond, athletic and lean. Damn. The entire place turned to stare at both of us as he hugged me and took my hand.
However, not long into my arrival, I suddenly remembered why I had walked away. He was hot but had no sense of humor. There was also an edgy bitterness to him. How in the blue hell had I missed that? Oh, right. Probably because I was too busy reacting to chemisty and not paying attention to what was really going on. He kissed my cheek, stared down at me with his bright blue eyes and said with a smile, “We would have such beautiful babies. I am going to get you pregnant.” Mein Gott. No.
He was a fantastic kisser though and I indulged myself, knowing full well it would be the very last time. It was chemistry without compatibility, and I was old enough and smart enough to know better.
Nothing fucks like crazy, but I guess I wouldn’t be finding out that night. I just didn’t need that headache. Dating bonus: None. Wait…yes, there was. A solid learning experience.
“You write short stories. I think you like living short stories. I’m kind of ready for the novel.” –Kate Mara, Happy Thank You More Please
As a die-hard romantic, there’s little I like more than kissing (and everything else that comes with it). I’ve realized that I’d been missing out by dating people younger than I am thanks to being in entertainment and also looking younger my whole life. Men my own age seem to know what they’re doing. Conversations were my favorite part of dating, but the romance was in a close second place.
My friend Lonette wanted to know where I was going and who I’d be with all the time.
“Why? I’m a big girl.”
“Are you crazy? Don’t you watch Dateline? These guys could be ax murderers!”
“No, I don’t watch Dateline. Why? Was there an episode called ‘The Match.com Ax Murderer?’”
I think Lonette would be an excellent murder mystery writer.
There were some pleasant, but ultimately dead-end conversations with various men that led nowhere, and then a former well-known race car driver-turned-restaurateur (Cancer) who was resourceful enough to find me after meeting without even knowing my name. His preferred nickname was truly strange (Scooter), so I shall just call him Todd. He was tall and nice looking with a piercing look that gave the impression he could sort out bullshit in .02 seconds. Todd colored outside the lines in life, made me look like an amateur when it came to sarcasm, treated his dog better than most people treat their children, was a free spirit, happy to be childless, successful in life and knew what he wanted. He was bluntly honest and I liked him.
“I’ve been mostly lucky,” he said. “Things have gone very well for me, except my love life.” He seemed absolutely convinced that we would be good together and had no problem being very upfront about it. “Everything about you is rare. It’s on the level of seeing the tooth fairy blowing Santa Claus on your front yard. It’s terrifying how much we have in common.” He may have been right. I have no idea. I didn’t give it a chance because I’d already met someone else whom I’d clicked with like no one I had ever before, despite me liking Todd very much as a human being. He was pretty darn cool, but along came Christopher…and everything changed.
Dating bonus: He brought me a big bag of organic puppy cookies for Bella and had some very interesting stories.
On the plus, I was getting much better at picking dates with different names.
“To find a prince, you gotta kiss some toads.”
— Foxy Brown
As the time left on my Match.com profile was running out, two interesting men had emailed me at the same time. As I mentioned in my last blog, Match kept sending me Leo’s and Gemini’s. As a Libra, I’d mostly dated Virgo’s and I can assure you, that failed. I’d found out recently my best matches (if you believe this stuff) are Leo’s and Gemini’s, so I thought it interesting to be sent nearly nothing but.
Both men were witty. Both had a firm grasp on grammar. The first one was named Jake (Leo); a tall, stunning Italian with the chiseled physique of a Greek god. He was 52-years old and had “never been married”. When I asked why, he said he was “waiting for the right woman”. He also told me he was going for an appointment to get Invisaline braces. Flaming red flags punched me in the face. If you are still “waiting for the ‘right’ woman” at age 52 and worried about your teeth and abs to the point where no one in the entire world has ever wanted to marry you, there may be some issues. Additionally, I wasn’t dating in the entertainment business for several reasons. While I appreciate a man who takes good care of himself, high maintenence male vanity is something I’d rather not deal with.
Then there was BlueEyedPrince (Gemini). I almost skipped over him on Match.com because of having such a gay screen name. Additionally, he was listed as Christian, conservative, “Wants Kids: Someday” and enjoying “walks on the beach” (sans anal). That’s a dead sexy combination right there. (#Sarcasm.) I was more than slightly concerned he would be Jesus & Babies Part Deux – The Remix, but I’m totally shallow (as we’ve established) and his photo depicting dark hair, bright blue eyes (bet you didn’t guess that), full lips and an easy smile was quite intriguing. Full lips on a man is highly underrated. Translation: He was fucking hot.
NOTE: This guy, Christopher L Harris, born May 23, 1971, turned out to be BAD NEWS. His ex tried to warn me in the comments below, and I didn’t listen. He has Borderline Personality Disorder and is a Narcissistic Sociopath. He pretty much ruined my life for a while and I didn’t even see it coming. Be warned, because he is back out there again and only preys upon smart, attractive women who have their shit together. He’ll tell you anything you need to hear and all those questions he asks? He’s not that into you. He’s simply trying to find an IN. He is not who he portrays himself to be. He’ll be everything you read in this blog. Be sure to read Expensive Lessons after this HERE: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2016/09/21/expensive-lessons-part-1/
Ignore the warning at your own risk. He took me for a 5 figure payout and I almost lost my house, my friends, my health and my sanity.
If Kevin Sorbo and Robert Downey Jr. had a love child together, it would be BlueEyedPrince. His teeth were where they were supposed to be, he had lots of hair, was several inches taller than I, and used “your” and “you’re” properly on his profile. Added bonus: His name wasn’t Ryan! His body type was listed as “average”, so at least he wasn’t delusional. He sent me a short email introducing himself and he commented on how my profile was entertaining.
We talked for about almost a month before actually meeting. That was partly due to my travel schedule, but also because I’d decided I was in no rush with anything or anyone. He was weird. I liked that.
“I don’t care for shallow conversations,” he stated almost immediately. “I have no time for anyone who isn’t deep.” So the emails kept going back and forth.
Unlike everyone else, I told him I was bipolar right away after he confided his past heart condition to me. I’d also told him what I did early on. I’d taken a “Fuck it. Take it or leave it because this is me” stance and he seemed unfazed.
He’d sent me a Facebook request and I didn’t think twice about accepting it, which broke the cardinal rule: Thou Shalt Not Add Dates to Your Facebook Page. However, I liked who he was and figured if the entire thing was a wash, I’d still want to know him as a person.
I stood before the mirror in my bathroom and thought about cancelling the hour before meeting him. Not because I didn’t want to meet him, but because I did. I was the one who had asked him to meet me for lunch. I’d picked up a bronchial issue while traveling and had a legitimate excuse. I told him, but he said he had a strong immune system and didn’t care. I was extremely nervous, and more than that; I had a feeling that everything would change if I went.
He was already at the restaurant when I arrived (with his ax carefully hidden?) and looked like his photos. BlueEyedPrince (Also known as Christopher) came off confident, ballsy, witty, positive and fearless, which is exactly how he was.
“I know what I have to offer someone. I’m a great catch, or else I wouldn’t be trying to date right now. I’d be busy getting my life together. A lot of women aren’t like that from my experience. They’re looking for someone to fix them, make them happy, or make their life better. To me, it doesn’t work like that. It’s more about two “happy with their own lives separately” people coming together to make things even better as a couple. I believe the term is “synergy”.”
Me: “I’m not looking for someone to fix me. I’d just like to have someone to do fun things with and a conversation that isn’t, “Wanna go outside? Go pee-pee? Good girl! You’re such a good Corgi! Want a cookie?” He laughed.
Christopher was an eclectic app developer from Michigan with a sense of humor and ADHD. We were the same age, with him 4 months my senior. He’d been divorced for five years, still got along with his ex-wife, appeared much younger than he was, both in looks and how he carried himself. He also had an oddly parallel life to mine; he grew up the “difficult child” with his temper tantrums in a neglectful household with a bipolar father. He’d suffered a severe back injury from an accident, had been through a few near death experiences, and was an introvert. He’d also had several careers including the Air Force and working with a variety of car companies in Michigan before going to work for one of the firms in the area as an app developer.
Christopher sparked to my Latin/Italian ethnicity battling my Anglo-Scottish work ethic, as he was French/Russian and dealt with the same challenges. Toil away through the evening – or just blow everything off and enjoy the sunset, drinks and food? (Case in point: It’s 3:18 a.m. right now and I’ve been working all night without dinner.) I was raised by devout Christians, and ended up agnostic. He was raised by devout atheists, and ended up Christian.
When we met at lunch, he insisted I try his food, was straight up about seeing another woman and stated that he couldn’t stand jealousy. All fine by me, since I was talking to others, and jealousy – like sommer teeth – was a deal breaker.
He looked at me while we were comparing dating stories and asked about my marriage status. Then he asked, “Did your husband complement you?”
I knew what he meant. Had he been the frosting to my cake? I paused, thinking…wracking my brain. I finally shook my head and said, “No.”
“Well, I believe a couple should have their own individuality, but complement each other.”
I muttered something in German and he replied back in perfect Deutsche. That got my attention. So did the fact that he didn’t let me leave our first date without kissing me. Then kissing me again. And again. Compatibility plus chemistry.
I found him fascinating. After our first date, I lost interest in talking to others, who seemed boring by comparison.
Him: “I know this sounds crazy but you’re the first person who has ever been able to keep up with me. I feel like you get me.” Yes, well – I’m all over the place too, so it isn’t hard with manic racing thoughts which are – SQUIRREL! – pretty much like having ADD at times. We’d run 3-4 radically different conversations at once, ranging from eighties songs (he was a pretty good guitar player, so we both live and die by music), to neat invention ideas, recent sexual studies to Red Wings vs. Bruins, and neither of us had any problem keeping up with all of them. I realized my world must seem pretty strange to a “normal” person, so I threw him to the wolves quite a few times, both in the wrestling locker rooms and at comic cons. He held up like a champ and seemed to enjoy how colorful my life is. My colorful friends liked him, too.
I found I liked his ADD because it made him interesting. I could relate to many aspects of it and we always had something to talk about, but there were matters I had to learn my way around. On the outside, Chris had stated he was “what you see is what you get”, but in reality, he was a complicated person. More like an onion, with many layers he chose to peel back little by little once he felt comfortable. I think this is common with any type of disorder. There are often a number of quirks we all have – anxiety, depression, habits, hypomania, the need for solace, health issues – and one can feel vulnerable exposing these flaws to others. Once again, this was something I could relate to. Chris was in touch with how he was doing, med compliant and regularly saw a therapist.
BlueEyedPrince played no games: “I think I like you. You know. Just a little.”
Me: “Just a tad? As long as it’s a little, I’ve got something I can work with there.” I could talk to him about anything and he accepted me as me. He made me smile more than anyone had in a long, long time and treated me like a princess. Plus, this guy ended up being the best kisser of them all. That’s saying a helluva lot.
After a few shorts weeks, he looked at me and said, “I think we’re past the ‘just seeing each other’ point now.”
Me: “Oh? So, what does that mean? You’re requesting an upgrade to the word “Dating”? How does this work, exactly? I’m new to this game.”
Him: “I’m not seeing anyone else. I stopped seeing others after our first date. I probably should have told you that. You can do whatever you want…I’m not telling you what to do. I just wanted you to know that I’m not.”
Me: “Oh, really? I can do whatever I want, with anyone I want? Sex, too? Sweet. No issues?”
Him: “Well…look, I’m not really good at this kind of stuff.”
Me: “So I gathered.” I’d already hidden my online dating profile from public view, but I didn’t tell him because I didn’t want him to feel obligated to pull his.
He just looked at me.
“If you’re asking if I’m seeing anyone else, I’m not,” I said.
On top of having a having a very winning personality and handsome face, Christopher did something no one else has – he didn’t drain me. I never felt that urge to shove him out the door on Sunday after staring at the clock for a few hours until enough time had passed so I could breathe. Quite the opposite, really. He recharges me. I feel energized around him. It’s effortless to be together. When he holds me, I feel safe and the world just goes away.
I am slightly alarmed that I’m not alarmed at how quickly we clicked. I should be scared, but I’m not. I’ve been honest to the point of embarrassment with him. I’ve told him things I haven’t told another soul, and he is still here. I always feel connected to him, even when we aren’t together, perhaps in more ways than one.
I realized it was officially time to warn the BlueEyedPrince that he might not want to get too involved with me. The thought of hurting yet another decent person was something I just don’t know if I could survive. It was a very hard, very sad conversation to practice in my head. I was gambling with the chance of losing him, but I felt I needed to tell him how shitty it could all be. I explained that I was trying to protect him from me and that one day, the meds might stop working or need adjusting and I am very different without them.
He’d read all my blogs and a lot of things I’ve written and never published. He looked at me and said, “Do you think you’re going to scare me off? You’ve allowed me into “you”, as I have done the same with you. I fully understand there will be times where you’ll need me to be strong and take care of you.”
Ding, ding, ding. Right answer.
This time, the situation and person seemed quite unique. I shut down my Match.com profile and am taking it one day at a time.
After all…he could still be sharpening his ax while I’m sleeping.
“There is no greater feeling in the world than to feel ‘gotten’.” – Bruce Willis, The Story of Us.
Dating bonus: I love when we are just being us and how encouraging he is about everything I do. I love listening to his ideas and observing the way his mind works. I love how positive and fearless he is. I love being with him. He is good for me. I adore him and am happy he’s a part of my life. He makes me smile more than anyone has in a long, long time.
However, I worry about being good for him. Routine is healthy – especially for someone with bipolar disorder, yet sometimes it makes me antsy. In the past, I’ve felt like pulling back from someone perfectly wonderful for no real reason other than that feeling or I try to push them away before they have a chance to do it to me. (I’m not like this as much anymore thanks to the medication.) I wish I could say I have no fears about moving forward, but that’s not true. I know how I am (have been). If someone is too nice, I may get bored and I will/can eventually hurt them. “It’s not you, it’s me” is always the truth in my case. I cannot live with the idea of hurting another good person. Obviously, I’m not writing this anonymously, so it’s something we’ve discussed long before words hit this blog.
And then, there are his episodes. He occasionally has them, too. I saw one for the first time recently and it scared me, because I thought I was watching myself, off meds. Frustration had set him off and I knew exactly how he felt during his tangent, along with the gutting pain he felt afterwards.
I did what I’d learned to do around bipolar people (mostly from living with my father) – I stayed still, kept quiet and let him run his course. Ten minutes later, he calmly came back into the room, checked his wall to ascertain how much damage he’d inflicted and his hand to see if it was broken.
Then he crawled back into bed and buried his face in my hair. “I’m so sorry.”
“I know,” I said. And, I did.
I started to cry. He seemed even more crushed. He thought I was upset because I was scared, but I was really crying because I didn’t know if I could do “us” any longer, and my heart was breaking. We were a twinship in so many ways. Apparently, a lot more than I’d realized.
With my newly found Lamictal-induced rational outlook on life, I was doing my best to not repeat destructive patterns. In the past, I had ignored signs that I shouldn’t have in the beginning of a relationship only to kick myself later.
Was this that? What if it wasn’t? What if it were me?That episode could easily have been mine.How would I like someone walking away from me? Not to mention how much I care about him. He’d generally been honest about his issues. Mostly. Even if he had rationed them out a little at a time. “I didn’t want to scare you off. I didn’t want you to think I’m defective.”
I pondered that. Would I have been scared off? I mean, honestly…would I? I’m not so sure. I think as someone who is pretty damn defective herself, he’s even more relatable with his so-called flaws.
However, I found myself second-guessing everything I knew about us the next day and felt like I couldn’t breathe. Being sane sucks. Being level-headed sucks more. I had no idea if I should stay or go. I have never been in a relationship as a stabilized person before. This is my first. In addition to not really knowing who I am yet (I’m not the same emotional mess I was, that’s for sure), I’m also not sure what’s acceptable and what’s not. At times, I’ve been a little too cold and calculated.
I rely on my friends for help when I’m in this position. They seemed to either think the entire thing is no big deal or that I need to be sure I’m taking care of myself first.
Them: “Did he try to hit you? Or do anything to avoid hitting you?”
Me: “No. Nothing like that.”
Them: “Oh, ok. Sometimes guys just need to punch walls.”
My panic stems from the fact that wall punching has always been the tip of a very large iceberg. My father had punched walls and eventually a loaded gun was being pointed at us or him. (He shot my mother in front of my brother and I. That’s a whole ‘nother blog.) In the past I’ve started at walls and progressed to kicking out windshields and ripping car doors off hinges. When I see someone punching a wall or having a fit, it has a Pavlov’s Dog effect on me.
I had every intention of taking a few days to think everything over…as in, take a break. That seemed logical. But, here’s the thing: I didn’t want to take a break from us. Had it been the other way around, I wouldn’t want him to take a break from me.
I dunno. Maybe some guys just need to punch walls.
Been there, done that, have the Spackle to prove it.
So. Treats me like a princess? Check. Smart, funny, kind and driven? Check. A little crazy? Check.
It’s funny how someone who was a stranger a short while ago can come to mean so much. I look forward to our time together, immensely. Half of me is ultra cautious on going slow because I don’t want to ruin what we have…as in, take any of it for granted. The kissing, missing each other, really listening. After having been down the “for granted” road, I know what it feels like. I hated it. I savor every moment now. I memorize what I see; his face, his hair, his smile. I don’t ever want to look, but not see. I don’t want to be one half of that miserable couple we all see in restaurants who don’t talk to each other any longer. I think I’ve learned a lot of lessons from my past relationships but some of the biggest are saying thank you, showing appreciation, compromising, being willing to work at things and work well as a team. I believe these things have to be there daily for two people to exist in a copasetic fashion. It’s quite fucked up that we put so much emphasis on the wedding and not enough on the “happily ever after”.
“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether is is the same problem you had last year.”-John Foster Dulles. This note is taped to my computer monitor and has haunted me for years. For a long time, I’ve had the same problems and been stuck in gridlock. This is the first time I’m not, which was completely up to me to change. It was terrifying. I left everything I’ve known…my job, my way of life, my husband and where I’m from. I’d always thought I’d end up back in Philadelphia. This year, in addition to becoming single, I bought my first house in Florida, began taking classes, started a new job as a ghostwriter while being able to keep aspects of my other careers I still enjoy, made friends outside of the entertainment business, and I can say I’m happier for it.
The men I dated had absolutely nothing in common except that each was extremely smart and witty. (Oh, and most were delusional about how fit they really were. Either that, or I’m spoiled from being in wrestling locker rooms.) Clever and witty is a big deal for me. Looks will fade in time and you can always improve a body. But you can’t turn a dull or narrow mind into something brilliant and you cannot fix stupid. Personality and conversation matter. Is there anything worse than sitting across from someone for a meal and having nothing to say?
Guys, there’s a lot to be said for not playing games and being honest. That’s not being needy. It’s being real. Calling, emailing and texting non-stop when you’re not getting a response back is needy. Saying good morning or good night? That’s sweet.
What have I learned on this little Match.com venture?
-There are a scant few women who look like their photos, are actually in shape, can hold up a conversation, don’t have kids or want to have babies right away, aren’t bitter, don’t need someone to “fix them” and aren’t looking for free dinners. Apparently, I am somewhat of a unicorn. When you thought you were completely broken and had nothing to offer, this is not a bad revelation.
-Men are just as guilty of not looking like their photos. Of all the dates I went on, 4 guys resembled their photos… and that was after a lengthy screening process ahead of time. Of the 4 I’d met they were still somewhat thinner, heavier or shorter than stated. One guy was actually taller. I get the feeling that many of us see ourselves by looking into Fun House mirrors.
-Seasoned people tend to be more dismissive of “baggage” than I’d thought they would be. It’s just not as big of a deal. Anyone who has lived past a certain age has it, so it’s universally accepted and if you like someone, you’ll deal with it.
-A common theme from the guys: “I can GET LAID. That’s not the issue. I wanted to meet someone I can talk to. Someone with substance.”
-I learned that married men really like when their wives go away so they can do nothing but masturbate. Yeah. It seemed to be a common topic of discussion when comparing my date’s single life to their married friends. “My buddy can’t wait for his wife to visit her mother just so he can jerk off.” Ladies, you might wanna give your men a little more breathing room. I suppose that knife cuts both ways.
– I am not around a lot of people my age, so talking to people who are around 40 was enlightening in many ways.
-I learned that men in their late 30’s to mid 40’s in the Tampa Bay area are staggeringly attractive and well-kept. Many were better looking than some of the twenty-somethings I’m around on a regular basis in wrestling. Not at all what I’d thought it would be like. I figured my dating pool would be limited to balding, paunchy, mini vans and bags around the eyes.
– I learned from Jesus & Babies that if a man doesn’t like his mother, has never been married and blames everything on all the women in his life, he’ll probably blame things that go wrong on you.
-I have learned that the name Ryan was really fucking popular at some point.
-I learned that you tend to garner a higher quality of people when you have to pay to get on sites like Match.com. This is from comparing my own notes from both Match.com and OKCupid along with others of both sexes who have used multiple free and pay sites.
-I was hoping that by dating men my age, I’d be meeting people who had Alice in Chains on their iPods and recognized how badass Public Enemy is. That didn’t exactly work out as I’d hoped. They had Slayer. All of them. Win some, lose some. On the plus, they generally had more Pantera and Megadeth than I did.
-Men like to chase, so let them. I never texted or called anyone I was dating first.
-I also learned that men of this age group are not playing around. They are generally online to immediately get into a relationship. From Date One, I was being sized up as full-time partner material, which feels a whole lot different than a “I’d like to bang this chick” sizing up. There were many times when I truly felt like I was the man with all the ducking and dodging of a serious relationship, and I’ll admit that I was easily scared off. I didn’t always know how to not hurt someone’s feelings and eventually just learned to be honest and straight up, but it took a while. I also don’t believe in forcing something just to be in a relationship. I’m too old for that and fine with being by myself if nothing had clicked.
-I learned how to simply have fun and not jump right into a relationship.
-I learned how to flirt again and really take time to savor conversations.
-I’ve learned that catching the man I’ve been talking with staring at me as I leave can still make me feel alive.
-I learned that nearly everyone I met on Match.com was self-employed (or worked long hours), so they didn’t get out much, and either I was great at screening or just lucky to have met some very nice guys.
-I learned that I enjoyed dating. I’d always heard horror stories but I found that it was fun. However, it was horribly time consuming, and I’m sure it can be terribly expensive for men.
-I learned that forcing myself to go out, even when I didn’t feel like it or want to, was probably good for me.
-For some reason, nearly every guy wanted to cook for me. I think it was a “See? I’m domesticated! I have a clean place, too. Pick me!” kind of thing. Either that or they didn’t feel like paying for dinner. (I kid. I only went out with those who were ‘gainfully’ employed. Part of not dating in the business is not dealing with the ‘struggling artist’ thing. Been there, done that.)
-I got as many comments on what I’d written on my profile as on my photos, which I thought was interesting. Apparently people do ‘read the articles’.
-I realized that maybe I’m not as shattered as I’d thought. Maybe it was something I felt because I was told I was…and when you’re told something often enough, you believe it. A three legged dog gets up and starts walking again right away because no one is in his ear telling him how bad off he is. He just gets on with it.
-Every guy I went out with asked for another date. Granted, guys will bang anything, but I figure at least one or two of them would have shied away if I was putting off some kind of messed up vibe. None of them did. I used “busy” and “hectic travel schedule coming up” a lot to get out of follow up dates.
-Women aren’t the only ones who go baby crazy. “Wants Kids: Probably not.” I’d never really given it much thought. My husband hadn’t wanted kids, and as always, I caved to accommodate others around me. When we had separated before and I was seeing the wrestler/actor, he’d had a son, but had talked to me about having another child. It’s the only time I really gave it any thought.
After putting “Probably Not” on my dating profile, I realized how much of an issue that really was. Most men my age either had kids or wanted them. Something happened when they hit a certain age, and they got a little kid crazy. After discussing it so much this past year, it gave me a lot of time to think. Part of the reason I’d never had any children was because of my unstable income and lifestyle.
Now that I’m older, I wonder. I was never delusional enough to believe I could do it on my own. Props to the strong single moms out there, but I believe children need their fathers. Nor would I do it with someone who didn’t mean much to me just to have a kid. That’s a tie you can’t break. I don’t understand people who don’t think this through first.
Could I do this…if it were to happen? Both my doctors have given me a green light as far as me being healthy and have said that age doesn’t play as much into it as originally thought, but said I’d have to get off all my meds. And then there is the possibility of passing on the bipolar gene, of course.
Then again, being able to keep all my income, get in the car and run errands without thinking about it, choose gyms that have no daycare, travel, not change diapers and sleep through the night are not a bad way to live.
Ultimately, I’m still on the fence. Or, the proverbial baby-gate.
-Most of all, I learned that being bipolar but working on yourself (medication, therapy, acupuncture, etc) is not viewed as much of an issue. You’re not broken. You’re not considered a second class human being. Oddly enough, I found I was valued more by this age group for my unique (bipolar) way of thinking and seeing things, because I do it differently than so-called “normal” people.
-Side note: Psychiatric studies recently conclude that those with mental illness are, in fact, more creative and witty, especially those with bipolar disorder. WHOOT! I knew it. Of course. Because I’m witty and smarter like that. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22045939
I’ll end with this novella with a blog link: “Fuck Yes or Fuck No?” If you’re like me, it will instantly clarify what’s important in your life in a way that nothing and no one ever has before when it comes to a significant other. http://markmanson.net/fuck-yes/
I’m fortunate that I still talk to nearly everyone I’ve ever dated and consider them “friendly”. Every so often we’ll share memes, movies, good songs or just say hello. That’s a testament to me either choosing good people, being a good person, or both.
I think many of us could be that unusually shaped light bulb – that one light bulb trying to fit inside a complicated desk lamp that’s difficult to put together. Instead, we either give up too soon or force it or break it trying to make it work in the wrong lamp, before clicking it into place, the way it was intended.
I got on Match.com because a friend said she used it and enjoyed herself. I know she sure enjoyed a lot of those free dinners.
For me, it’s been a life altering learning experience.
P.s. To everyone I dated who reads this blog – which I think is nearly all of you – you know my policy on being honest on here, so please realize I’m doing only that and there are no personal jabs. I view everyone who passes through my life as adding to it and teaching me things. So, thank you for that.
COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS WRITING/BLOG MAY BE COPIED OR USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.
“Even husbands and wives who might have lived together for many years, may be just acquaintances. They may not have known each other. And the more you live with someone the more you forget completely that the centers have remained unknown.
“So the first thing to be understood is, don’t take acquaintance as love. You may be making love, you may be sexually related, but sex is also peripheral. Unless centers meet, sex is just a meeting of two bodies. And a meeting of two bodies is not your meeting. Sex also remains acquaintance – physical, bodily, but still just an acquaintance. You can allow somebody to enter to your center only when you are not afraid, when you are not fearful.
“There are two types of living: one fear-oriented, one love-oriented. Fear-oriented living can never lead you into deep relationship. You remain afraid, and the other cannot be allowed, cannot be allowed to penetrate you to your very core. To an extent you allow the other and then the wall comes and everything stops.
“The love-oriented person means one who is not afraid of the future, one who is not afraid of the result and the consequence, who lives here and now. Don’t be bothered about the result; that is the fear-oriented mind. Don’t think about what will happen out of it. Just be here, and act totally. Don’t calculate. A fear-oriented man is always calculating, planning, arranging, safeguarding. His whole life is lost in this way.
“I have heard about an old Zen monk: He was on his deathbed. The last day had come, and he declared that on that evening he would be no more. So followers, disciples, friends started coming. He had many lovers, they all started coming; from far and wide people gathered. One of his old disciples, when he heard that the master was going to die, ran to the market. Somebody asked, ‘The Master is dying in his hut, why are you going to the market ‘The old disciple said, ‘I know that my master loves a particular type of cake, so I am going to purchase the cake ‘It was difficult to find the cake, but by the evening somehow he managed. He came running with the cake.
“And everybody was worried – it was as if the Master was waiting for someone. He would open his eyes and look, and close his eyes again. When this disciple came, he said, ‘Okay, so you have come. Where is the cake?’ The disciple produced the cake – and he was very happy that the Master asked about it. Dying, the Master took the cake in his hand… but his hand was not trembling. He was very old, but his hand was not trembling. So somebody asked, ‘You are so old and just on the verge of dying. The last breath is soon to leave you, but your hand is not trembling.’
“The Master said, ‘I never tremble, because there is no fear. My body has become old but I am still young, and I will remain young even when the body is gone’ Then he took a bite, started munching the cake. And then somebody asked, ‘What is your last message, Master? You will be leaving us soon. What do you want us to remember?’
The Master smiled and said, ‘Ah, this cake is delicious.’
This is a man who lives in the here and now: This cake is delicious. Even death is irrelevant. The next moment is meaningless. This moment, this cake is delicious. If you can be in this moment, this present moment, this presentness, the plenitude, then only can you love.
Love is a rare flowering. It happens only sometimes.” –OSHO
The smell of coffee is consistent. I wake up, feed the cat, plug in the percolator and return to the bathroom wash my face and brush my teeth. The strong, Columbian aroma wafts through the small house, reminding me that the day could very well be fresh and beautiful. That’s what I can count on each day.
It’s funny what stands out when you lose everyone around you. My mother and grandmother died within six months of each other. My father died in a plane crash. My husband and I separated and he took Cosmo the Corgi. I did still have Bella and Fat Kitty.
This is the longest time I’ve spent alone by choice. The bed is all mine. Food has to be thrown out now and then because it goes bad with no one else here to eat it. There is no chance of the hot water running out in the shower. No one finishes the last of the ice cream without replacing it. The temperature is set to what I prefer.
And, there is silence. Lots of silence.
There is also my phone, to which I seem to have grown addicted. It’s as if it’s my lifeline and my only contact with the outside world. I loathe this.
I’ve learned things while on this monk-like sabbatical: how to do things for myself, my own company is pretty good, the $3.99 that it costs to upgrade to Pandora One is worth every penny, electronics are causing a form of ADHD for me, I should probably unplug more often, I don’t have to be in a full-time relationship, and I’m ok with that. With the availablity of foot massagers, riding mowers, power tools and vibrators, women can chose want over need when it comes to having a man in their lives.
However, my cooking has been heavily downgraded. Cooking for one sucks ass. I get by on bacon, eggs, Evos organic frozen meals and protein drinks. Plus, wanting a man is a completely different thing than needing.
I’ve had relationships with mostly Virgo’s during my lifetime. I’m a Libra and as much as I’d love to think astrology is nonsense, there are far too many coincidences to completely dismiss it. I’ve been told that one of my worst matches is a Virgo. Historically, I’d have to agree. Two of my best matches are Gemini’s and Leo’s, and Match.com kept sending me Gemini’s and Leo’s.
When I broached the subject (after much hesitation) of going on a date with someone else to my husband (Virgo), he was not happy. We were separated (for our second time) and I’d bought a house alone. My psychologist suggested I learn to be alone before I even considered dating, so I took her advice. Jordan and I were still close and I was supposed to be thinking things over, but in truth, as much as I loved him as a person, I wasn’t in love with him. There was no pull to get back under the same roof again, I felt we were irreparably broken and he knew that.
“You’re going to ruin everything if you start dating other people!” He said. “What happens later? If something comes of it? We won’t even be allowed to be friends! No man is going to put up with that!”
Me: “When have you ever known me to have a man tell me what I can do or who I can or can’t be friends with? You never managed.”
I work from home as a writer, editor and webmaster when I’m not on the road. Other than the gym and the grocery store, I don’t get out much. Meeting people my age is nearly impossible due to living in an older community and working in a younger profession.
After Jesus & Babies, I’d decided that it would be smarter to play the proverbial field and date several people at once while keeping them all at a distance. If I were a man, I’d have been labeled, “emotionally unavailable”. Half the time I’d force myself out on a date whether I’d felt like it or not just to get out of the house.
I was unsure about sex with potential dates. I’d been married for nearly nine years. How exactly did dating work these days? I was a solid decade past the game-playing years. I’d decided to play it by ear.
“I have a lot of boyfriends; I want you to write that. Every country I visit, I have a different boyfriend. And I kiss them all.”
— Anna Kournikova
Date #2 was the Mexican guy who didn’t look a thing like his profile picture…so much so that I walked right past him in the restaurant. He was a lovely man, but the owner of “sommer teeth”. Sommer here and sommer there. That’s a deal-breaker for me. Additionally, he was about 35 pounds past the “athletic and toned” body type he claimed. He seemed like an amazing person but as someone who keeps herself up, I just could not see that working. Yeah, I’m shallow. I’ll own it.
A woman appeared in my daily dating matches and ‘she’ ended up being a he in very convincing drag. I briefly wondered if I should be dating women instead. After all, look at some of the facts: Women are all a little crazy. You fall for how a person is, not their gender. And, head is head, no matter who is giving. But I love being treated like a lady, having the doors held, and I love men. I sighed. Maybe I needed to rethink that statement. Perhaps I should be having meaningless sex with women.
“The only thing we have in common is that we’re both wrong for each other.” –Nick Nolte, Cannery Row
After date #2, there were the Ryans. I went on dates with three guys I rotated for drinks, lunches and coffees – all named Ryan. I had them in my phone according to their profession. Lawyer Ryan, Doctor Ryan, App Genius Ryan.
I saw App Genius Ryan (Gemini) for a while. He was rather spot on with his photo-to-real life ratio. This was a good thing, considering his picture was strikingly handsome…even if he did resemble a Ken Doll. When we first met at a place that had the NCAA tournament on their big screens, he said, “Let me sit with my back to the TV, so I can talk with you and not watch the game.” Two points for that one. His father had been a famous newscaster, so he’d grown up in the entertainment business. He created apps for corporations like Panera and Home Depot and worked from the gated mansion he called home. Ryan was a single dad with two kids, black Irish with dark hair, blue eyes, a pale complexion and ridiculously positive. He seemed overly positive to the point where it was quite strange or like he was hiding the fact that he could be the aforementioned ax murderer. I like upbeat people, but uber positive can be annoying. It got boring, fast. My sarcasm and jokes didn’t just go over his head; they hit a 90-degree angle going over. He would send me puppy memes. PUPPY MEMES.
I’d caved and told him I was bipolar about 5-6 weeks into our dating. He didn’t say anything at first, and then he looked at me and said, “Thanks for sharing!” in a chirpy voice. I almost blurted out, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Instead of his normal texting morning, noon and night, I didn’t hear from him for several days, and then he texted like nothing had been said. That was my cue to shut off.
Up until that point, Mr. ThanksForSharing was spontaneous and fun, treated me extremely well (opened car doors, pulled out chairs, took me to great places, wanted me to text when I’d gotten home to make sure I
was okay, called when he said he would) and I’d avoided any real conversation because I didn’t want anything other than fun. I’d gone without it for so long, fun suited me just fine. I was shocked at how little I cared or thought about him, however. He was the first guy I’d had any physical relations with and I think I chose him because I felt he would be safe, he was sweet and he was very, very pretty. He supposedly had a dog. I never saw it or any evidence of a dog. Maybe he killed and ate it.
Dating Bonus: I discovered Osho at this time and a couple of kick ass restaurants.
“My philosophy of dating is to just fart right away.”— Jenny McCarthy
No-Profile-Photo-Spanish/Jewish-Lawyer-Ryan (Leo) from New York stuck around until he didn’t. He’d been a prosecutor in the area with many upset families sitting behind him as he put their loved ones away, so he’d elected to keep himself off the Internet and had no profile photo at all. He was nearly 40 and “never been married”. He sent me a very interesting email, so I broke the no-photo/never been married rule.
I figured as long as he didn’t have leprosy, I’d see the date through since he was one of the few who got my dry, sarcastic humor and gave it back just as hard. He did not have leprosy. He was nearly four years younger than I, but looked four years older and worn out. He was the least pretty of the men I’d dated and this was the one who would become a boyfriend for a little bit because of his personality. (The word “boyfriend” was his idea. The first time he referred to me as his girlfriend, I went into panic mode for about 5 days, thinking, “How in the fuck did I get here? We were just meeting for drinks in St. Pete. I am not ready for a boyfriend…”)
Ryan was razor sharp and a former wrestling fan. He was able to put the little that I’d told him about myself together and figure out who I was. On date two he nonchalantly mentioned he’d “seen me on the internet” and added, “Personally, I thought the pictures were hot.” I stared at him like he had two heads. (I was not used to this attitude. Quite the opposite, actually.) “No, really. They are. If someone I worked with saw them, I’d be like, yep, that’s her…hot, right?” He’d also read some of my bipolar blogs and was aware of my condition. He told me his mother was bipolar and his grandmother had committed suicide. Instead of running far, far away, he asked to see me again. This was after verifying I was medicated.
He was sarcastically hilarious and a brutally honest gentleman. “I really like you. You’re like a dude in a pretty girl’s body. It’s like…perfect.” Despite currently being a corporate attorney, he had a ton of ink, including a full sleeve tattoo hidden under his suit and tie and a sizeable Black Flag tat on his forearm – plus a fetish for horror and indie movies, and he had as many books as I did, or more. He had no kids and absolutely didn’t want them, which suited me just fine, but I got the impression that he went through life very independently and wasn’t a caretaker. I wasn’t sure that could work. I’m independent as well, but there are times when I need a lot of attention. It’s a lot to handle and not having a nurturing personality or being willing to deal with it or adapt would not work. He was also somewhat delusional about being “athletic and toned” but he asked me to help him out, so he cleaned up his diet, hit the gym and changed pretty fast in 2 months.
I never knew what was up with him. He would go AWOL (“People just wear me out…”), yet would make a real effort to see me or say goodnight. Additionally, he had an irrational fear of anything real in life at times. “I don’t want to know if a girl farts or bleeds or…no. I don’t want to see any evidence of any of that. It all needs to be spotless.” Yet he was insistent upon dating an athletic female who spends part of her day sweating. For someone near 40, periods freaked him out as if he were a teenager.
Because of his irrational pussy-phobia, I became completely paranoid and sex was always “unfinished” on my end.
Dating bonus: He was a former Marine captain and taught me to load magazines, shoot and lock a .40 caliber Beretta, and then barked at me while timing how fast I could do it. “C’mon! Lets go! I thought you were a bad ass?” Secondary bonus: I also learned to paddle-board.
He later admitted to being more and more agoraphobic and dealing with issues that included depression, yet he didn’t want to take medication or go to therapy. He also had serious abandonment issues. There’s only so much you can do for someone who isn’t willing to help themself.
We parted ways in what must be the most chivalrous ‘dumping’ I had ever received. “You deserve better and this is all I have. I thought I was ok. That’s why I was on Match. I thought if anyone could do this for me, you could… and I like you, a lot. I really do. I just can’t do it.” Despite the abundance of flaming red flags, I’d stuck around like an idiot because I myself have mental issues and understand being abandoned.
In hindsight, I was an idiot, but he was a decent person and funny as hell. At least he understood that “thanks for sharing” is always meant as sarcasm.
Don’t date lawyers. They’re not happy people. Also, don’t date someone nearly 40 who has never been married. There are problems if a man makes it to that age and not one single person in the entire world wanted to marry him.
My friend was pissed. “What a douche bag! He should have told you how bad his issues were from the start!”
Fair point. I certainly try to do that.
Two people with mental issues don’t mix well. Chances are this can happen, with 25% of the USA having a mental disorder, and he was date #4.
I was also seeing someone else on the side the entire time because I wasn’t ready for the whole boyfriend gimmick. Ryan lived over an hour away in Sarasota and was AWOL just enough not to notice. Or care.
I have a bit of a commitment issue/phobia and abandonment issues myself. I love the idea of stability and a partner in crime. I hate the idea of boredom, monotony and sex getting mundane, especially the latter. It’s taken me until just last year to finally commit to buying a house. I could always pack up and leave when I rented and it wasn’t my issue if something broke at 11 pm on Friday night. I am not sure if this is just the way I am or if it’s from being raised by my father, having so many male friends and being one of the very few females in a male business. I may have turned into “a dude in a pretty girl’s body”. Now if only I could have an orgasm every single time I had sex and pee outside while standing up.
My friends tell me it’s not me, it’s just that I’m not with the right person, so that’s what makes me want to bolt. My therapist confirms this.
“I want someone who gets me. I feel like I deserve that.” – Rae Dawn Chong in Jeff Who Lives At Home
Bodybuilder Dr. Ryan didn’t make it past meeting for coffee. He was a nice person with a super impressive physique, but he was not for me. He worked specifically with…….wait for it……..schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. During the course of our cappuccinos, he casually mentioned how many people he’d Baker Acted (involuntarily committed). I said nothing, but I was uncomfortable. He went in for the kiss after and I deftly ducked it. Plus, despite what I look like, I generally don’t date bodybuilders. I have respect for their hard work and discipline, but it’s not my thing. I prefer smaller, leaner and fit/toned. He kept asking me out again afterwards and I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him how fucked up I thought his comments were until a while later. The lesson in there: Be careful how you say things. You never know who to whom you’re talking or what they might have. He was a nice guy and better suited as a friend.
“It’s not who you want to spend Friday night with. It’s who you want to spend all day Saturday with.” Woody Harrelson, Friends With Benefits
My third date’s name: Ryan. My fourth date’s name: Ryan. My fifth date’s name: Ryan. This was a possible advantage for my concussion-addled pro wrestler brain.
I joke. I’m not that forgetful.
Being part Scotch/Irish, I’ve always loved the name Ryan. My first dates name wasn’t far off: Brian. It’s enough to make you appreciate…Joe. It became a huge rib with my friends. “So, how are the Ryans?” Ha fucking ha.
(Fun fact: The name translates to “little king” in both Gaelic and English.)
“Most people are together just so they are not alone. Some people want magic. I think you are one of these people.” –Broken English
Date #6: Then there was TOM! Whoot! Broke the Ryan Cycle. Tom (Gemini) worked for the NSA. Yeah. I dated the enemy. He pulled up to the restaurant in a sleek BMW, had a handsome face, and was exceptionally fit (an Orange Theory addict, which is kind of like CrossFit) with a way of thinking outside of the box.
He was dark a Cuban stunner and single father who was sweet and smart with some interesting stories – the ones he could tell me. (Our government can truly be fucked up.)
Him: “Are you free on Thursday?”
Me: “I think so.”
Him: “Not anymore.” (Guys, take note. This is the way you should talk to a woman.)
He warned that my husband could easily track me with my phone or purse if he got upset. “Trust me, it’s easy. I see it all the time.” Hmmmm. I believed him. This wasn’t the guy to piss off, and if I’ve learned anything in life, I’m not good at not pissing people off.
He treated me very well, had me meet all his crazy friends who were as loud as I am…and he adored his mother. His ex had had a mental health issue, so he was well versed in the variations. When I told him I was bipolar, his response was a long pause and then: “I would never have guessed that if you hadn’t told me. You seem so stable. Bipolar is a chemical imbalance, right? There are medications for that.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. There truly aren’t many people who understand this, or just how physically BP affects you. It’s not just mental. I told him I’m more stable than probably 90% of the world thanks to the meds. Tom was as warm as No-Profile–Photo Ryan was reserved. He was gorgeous, smart and sweet. He was a caretaker and problem solver. He had money, was attentive, listened, paid attention to me and took me to some great places in Tampa Bay.
I got a daily gentle reminder from him: “I definitely want to steal more of your time.”
Me: “Persistent, aren’t you?”
Him: “Well, considering the target…”
And yet…I couldn’t get into him. One day, I was looking through my joke collection to send him something fun (because I probably had nothing to say) and realized they were all too sarcastic or edgy. We didn’t share the same humor. He’d raved about his favorite film and I rented it just so we’d have something-anything-to talk about. I found it mildly interesting at best and overly drawn out. Part of the reason I’d kept seeing Tom was because of Ryan. I was afraid of jumping in too fast and this allowed me to keep emotional distance from both. It was half-hearted at best and oddly enough, I never looked forward to seeing him – it always felt like an obligation. Tom and I never got past meeting at the halfway point for dinner or drinks. It’s the longest I ever dated someone without getting past second base.
Dating bonus: My Spanish got better. La practica es buena. He was also one helluva kisser.
I cut him loose when it got more serious with Lawyer Ryan and half regretted it about a week later when it all no longer was. Tom didn’t seem to take it well. My house is probably bugged now. I’m typing this very quietly.
He also took a lot of selfies. I kind of hate that. And he sometimes worked out twice a day. I don’t even do that. Overkill.
My therapist’s verdict on Ryan/Tom/Ryan thing: “This is good. You’re making better, smarter choices in men.”
“Huh? I am?”
“Yes. You’re learning.”
“In a relationship there’s always one who kisses and one who is kissed.” – Parting Glances
There was a brief long distance non-thing with a man who was looking for a slave. In my newly formed “Fuck it, I’ll just enjoy life and say yes to things I don’t normally say yes to” state of mind, I went with it. As someone with an active imagination and an appreciation for being submissive, I learned things. For example, who knew there were vibrating nipple clips available out there? (Non-dating bonus: I *may* own some now.) Nothing physical happened with that, but the conversations were interesting – to say the least. They’ll make for fantastic writing material in the future.
I took a month and a half off from dating to reevaluate. Loosely translated: No one even remotely interesting came along.
Let the learning experiences and dating bonuses keep coming!
Dating Bipolar: Don’t Ask Me No Questions, I’ll Tell You No Lies – Part 1
“Don’t you worry…you’ll find yourself. Follow your heart and nothing else.” –Lynard Skynard
I was putting together a complicated desk lamp that came in pieces and had an unusual bulb. Realistically, the bulb was supposed to simply click into the piece, but it wasn’t. Each time I slid the pieces together, it wouldn’t fit. I tried another way. Nothing. This kept happening, despite me trying to force it. About to give up, I flipped it over and thought I’d give it one more shot. With a click, it all came together beautifully. I thought to myself, this is how dating should be.
My hand hovered over the keyboard. Click. I’d just joined Match.com. I certainly hadn’t planned it an hour ago. It just happened.
“You are going to end up old and alone!”
Yes. Yes, I know. I’ve been told that by everyone I’ve ever dated as I walked out the door.
I decided to date after a long, roller coaster marriage that was in a one year freeze with a separation before permanently ending. I thought I owed it to myself to try it out. In my lifetime I’ve never had a relationship while stabilized. I’ve never dated as diagnosed.
Actually, I’ve never dated.
Every relationship I’ve ever had was one borne from convenience and because I had no one else. My family life was nearly nonexistent for most of my life, and rocky on its best days. I would try to make a relationship that worked…a “create my own family, so fuck you” sort of thing. When it failed, I jumped right into another one. The only relationship that was not that way was my marriage to Jordan. Being that I was from New England at the time and he from across the continent in Alberta, Canada, there was nothing local, convenient or inexpensive about it. A visa, green card, waiting periods, dealing with the immigration nightmare and not being allowed to work in this country put a huge strain on us, but we weathered it. The wrestling and entertainment business was another huge strain. We managed that, too. Moving often, not having family around, no steady paychecks, sharing an office and deciding not to have kids for some of those reasons caused more strain. We actually had to work hard to be together, which is why we lasted so long. Much of our strain united us tighter but some didn’t. I don’t regret a minute of it. However, being undiagnosed with bipolar disorder had its effect on our marriage and everything got blamed on my disorder. This translates to the whole of the failure being solely on me. I’ll readily admit I was no picnic to live with without the meds, but not all that went wrong was the fault of a genetic disease.
By the way, it is never okay to ask a couple when they plan on having babies or why they don’t have kids. That’s akin to asking, “So, how much money do you make? Oh, and how big is your dick?” Just don’t do it. It puts people on the spot and usually one of the two is not completely at ease with the idea of being childless. After a while, I just started to respond, “Oh, gosh…no plans on kids. I like my vagina just the way it is. How’s yours, by the way? Still blown out pretty badly?”
August 2014 marked the one year point since I bought my house. I ventured out into the dating world with major trepidation after waiting six months. How could I explain to people what I do? What I had? When exactly do you bring up the fact that you’re bipolar in a dating situation? After the appetizers so your date can run away screaming before the main course? After sex? Maybe you never mention it and surreptitiously swallow your pills on the side?
What do you do about the fact that the medications that stabilize your emotions make you somewhat emotionless? After a lifetime of making (often irrational) emotional decisions, I was all of a sudden a level-headed, logical being…and I had no idea who the fuck this person was.
Among other things to control my bipolar disorder, I see a therapist, who makes me feel normal. She said as far as relationships go, I should be a delicious cake all on my own, and my partner should only be the icing. He would be complimentary, but not necessary. Wanted, but not needed.
My husband had been amazing. He was one of the kindest, funniest, smartest people I’ve ever met. He was handsome, in great shape, smart, driven and has always been there for me no matter what or how awful I’ve been. He’s the one who encouraged me to write honestly (“Oh, God no. I can’t put this stuff out there. This is more naked than I’ve ever been without clothes. I can’t.” “You should. You need to. It’ll help others.”) Yet I felt something was missing, although I did’t know what. He was (ultra) negative with his personality and it tended to trigger me in a badly. He’d cling to a belief in a close-minded way and never consider any other possibility to the point of insulting anyone who thought differently…religion, politics, workouts… It was his way or no way, and resentment set it. Things became a power struggle. We would bring out the worst in each other. Half the time I’d acquiesce to avoid another fight and hate myself later. I’d come out verbally swinging the other half of the time. Simple tasks like going to the grocery store or gym would degenerate into an argument nearly every time. With my immediate family dead and his in another country, we were all we had, so we stayed together and fought every day.
It was a rather unhealthy co-dependency. We were not a good team, or the icing to each others cake. If we were on The Amazing Race, we wouldn’t have made it out of the first airport.
My (our) therapist’s verdict: “I like both you and Jordan…but I don’t like you together.”
I found I enjoyed living alone once we split. As soon as I got into my house, I felt relief at the peace and quiet. We originally agreed we wouldn’t date others, but months later, I was confused as to what I wanted. I felt stuck in gridlock. I wanted to move ahead but was afraid to let go of him. He accepted me as me, entirely. He was also a good friend and the only family I had left. However, we did a lot of damage to each other and wasn’t sure moving past it was possible, or that I even wanted to try.
I’d never felt more alone than in September while packing by myself while he worked a wrestling show the weekend before we moved. I had spent Christmas by myself, got blamed for an accident with one of our dogs (who tore his knee out on my watch because I’d taken him to the dog park) and dealt with a case of pneumonia alone so strong I wasn’t sure I was going to survive. At the six month mark, I didn’t know if I wanted to be solo full-time any longer.
I’ve toyed with the idea of avoiding relationships and becoming a nomad with a string of guys in various cities (Texas boyfriend. Saskatchewan boyfriend. Irish Tour Bus boyfriend) like some of my male entertainer friends managed to pull off. Being that I’ve been a destructive person-or rather, that I have a destructive disorder-I wondered if it was even fair to try dating again. The absolute last thing I wanted to do was hurt someone else.
However, I missed romance. I missed conversation. I missed the “partner in crime” aspect of being with someone I connected with in some way. I felt life was passing me by…one ComicCon at a time.
“I think I’ll get saddled up and go looking for a woman. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of days. I’m not picky. As long as she’s smart and pretty, sweet and gentle and tender and refined and lovely and carefree.” –Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
I watched the movie The Wolverine while at a hotel in Connecticut. Mariko sat across from Logan, who’d stuck his chopsticks upright in the rice. “Don’t do that. It’s a bad omen. It reminds us of incense at funerals.” Later, Logan does it again. Mariko removes the chopsticks and shakes her head sadly. “I don’t expect you to understand. You’re not Japanese.”
How can I expect a man who isn’t in some form the entertainment business to understand what I deal with every day? When I talked to a couple of my male wrestler & cosplay friends about this, they suggested that dating outside the business is a good thing – to keep the mystery. Just deal with the fans, aches and pains and let them stay in the dark. It gives you more to talk about when you’re not in the same business.
I’d written this excerpt an earlier blog: “I am so fucking fucked, it’s fucked up. There. That’s about my entire story in a nutshell. I am broken. Completely broken, and like shattered shards of glass, anyone who comes near me walks away bleeding. So, I have become more and more of a recluse, afraid to have friends or relationships, because I know I’ll just end up destroying the people I care about, which kills me inside and makes me—once again—want to kill myself. It’s a fantastic pattern, isn’t it? And that’s what being bipolar is.”
Feeling shattered for so long and like I had nothing to offer, I think I just wanted to see where I stood in the real world-the one without spandex, 28-year-olds hitting on me, and camera lenses.
My first kiss outside of my marriage was with one of the You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out kids who was now about my age. We’d done a convention appearance together and I went out with him after. Then I went on a date with a young marine who had PTSD so bad that he said he couldn’t sleep…instead, he drank. Nothing came of either of those situations other than friendship.
So, on a Sunday night, I clicked JOIN on Match.com. As I was filling out my profile, I decided not to tell people what I do, limiting my career to a vague “writer, comic book model and former athlete”.
This is where a girl goes when she doesn’t frequent bars, doesn’t want to date co-workers, doesn’t want to date out of her age group and doesn’t want people to know who she is until she decides to tell them. For the first time in my life, I’d like to have someone know me before they Google my boobs.
My problem has always been that I’m not attracted to many people. Sure there are a lot of good-looking people around, especially in the Tampa Bay area, but I lean 60/40 towards wit and intelligence. (Sapiosexual. Google it.) If that’s not there, it doesn’t matter how pretty someone is…I can’t get into them. Once I walked around a 3-day comic convention looking to see if there was anyone I’d sleep with if we were the last two people on Earth. Out of all the celebrities, fans, rock legends…not one. That’s not a knock on anyone – it’s just a deficit on my end.
“That’s the trouble with falling in love with a dream girl. They have a habit of becoming real.” -Nicholas Cage, Lord of War
I put up a handful of “me being normal” photos and I was off and running.
Within a few minutes of joining the site, my inbox was flooded with emails. 151 more the next morning. I soon realized I’d have to quit my job if I wanted to go through them all or date.
Most were crap. I felt obligated to write back to most until it got too tiresome and I realized it was screwing up my odds. If you write to people you don’t like, they send you more of that exact type.
Match.com puts all the stuff no one likes to talk about front and center. For me: Wants kids? Probably not. Spiritual not religious. Politics: Middle of the road. Looking for tall, gainfully employed in a real career, witty, loves pets, no smoking, no drugs, athletic and toned. Race? Whatever. Hair color? No preference.
As it were, “athletic and toned” has a broad definition on Match.com. It ranges from bodybuilder to “I played football for a semester in high school”, but it mostly means they worked out twice a week and weren’t serious about it. I realize fitness isn’t the highest priority when you’re dealing with CEO’s, app developers and doctors, so I had to be more open-minded. As with everything, there’s a trade. For this, less fit meant educated, intelligent, traveled and financially stable.
I was still getting emails from 27-year olds, too. Half the men my age seemed on the defensive, clearly having been hurt before. The other half looked like shit. It was a shame. There were some really witty, interesting people who just didn’t keep themselves up.
“Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating, and religion.” — Scott Adams
I created a system for narrowing down all the replies. Any spelling or grammatical errors I crossed them off my list (unless English was their second language). I don’t care how hot someone is. If he can’t figure out ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, no deal. I also crossed people off who took themselves too seriously on their profile, wrote that their spare time was filled watching sports or who wrote an entire profile dedicated to any female reading it. (“My favorite thing? Coming home to YOU.”) Seriously? He wrote that? Piss off. I can’t even imagine the type of woman who would fall for that kind of crap. Wait, yes I can. Additional cuts: Guys who had no profile photo, guys who only had photos with sunglasses on, guys who only had one photo up and guys who had 11 photos of the same exact selfie in a different shirt. There were also guys who were extremely religious and wrote all about Jesus and church on their profiles. No can do.
Then there were the bad profiles: the ones who were negative, bitter, railed about women who were looking for free dinners or the one guy who insisted he and his date would “go Dutch” so no one got their feelings hurt and to keep it fair. In other words, he didn’t have a job.
I’m the furthest thing from a gold digger, but if I’m taking the time to know someone, get dressed up and meet him, he is damn well paying for dinner or drinks. Call me old school.
Two out of three guys listed “Long walks on the beach” as something they enjoy. Holy cliché. “I enjoy long walks on the beach…after anal.” At least that is honest.
Then there were the…interesting…ones. One guy was a Latino painter with the screen name PassionatePainter and a photo of him reclining on his side – naked – with just his bits covered and a gayer than gay look on his face. His byline: “Do you have passion? Real passion?” He kept emailing me to ask why I didn’t want to meet him and then stated that clearly I was missing out and not ready to experience…Wait for it…passion.
LowSelfEsteemGentleman. (Names have been changed to protect the delusional.) “You probably won’t write back, but maybe you will.” Yeah. I need that headache. I can see the future already: Me constantly reassuring him that my tour schedule won’t include other penises. No thanks. ChubbyAndCan’tTakeAHint: “I like you. I hope to hear back soon.” (I didn’t write back. Ever.) Day 2-46 a new email each day came through along the lines of this: “I was wondering why I didn’t hear back from you? I think your (SIC) pretty. I hope to hear from you soon.” ImMuchOlderThanISayIAm: “I read your profile and think we have a lot in common. Here’s my number. We should meet up.” This person usually looked like my grandfather. IHaveNoShirtOnAndWillBoreYouToDeath: “Sup? We should meet.” That’s all. Nothing else. This guy usually was shirtless, jacked and/or shredded and boring as fuck. I’m sorry. That’s rude. I meant that he was wit-and-charm-challenged. IHaveNoIdeaHowToTalkToGirls: “How is your day going?” I’ve never met you. Why are you asking me that? I am not lying when I tell you that this type of reply is the majority of what came to me. Eloquence at its best. Guys, there is an entire profile there and most women LOVE to talk about themselves. Try reading it and picking 1-3 things to hone in on and talk about in your intro email. Other than her tits/ass/feet/WhateverItIsYouHopeSheIsWillingToUseOnYou. You’re welcome.
HeyArentYouAprilHunter: Shit. Yeah, I got some of those, too. “Why are you even on here??” Um…the same reason you are? In my twenty years in the wrestling business, I’ve dated a grand total of three wrestlers. Before that, I was still in the entertainment business with fitness and modeling and dated mostly “civilians”. One of the wrestlers I dated was also an actor; the attention we got just walking through an airport or standing in line for a coffee was ridiculous. We couldn’t go anywhere without people stopping to talk or snap photos. He seemed unfazed by the attention. I hated it. When I’m not April Hunter, I am not April Hunter.
I even got an email from a guy who went to the same college as I in Pennsylvania. Small world.
“I’ve always liked smart women but it’s been an expensive hobby.” Javier Bardem in The Counselor
Chemistry isn’t compatibility. Chemistry is when you physically click together, regardless of how good or bad you are for one another. Compatibility is generally sharing the same values and balancing each other out. That can occur without chemistry. That said, if you fill out your Match.com questions honestly, half of that will be taken out of the equation, since you’ll be matched up according to compatibility. So, 50% of the work is pretty much done for you.
“It doesn’t hurt to ask. Sometimes the most beautiful girls are the loneliest.” – Jaws 2
I selected some men in the age range of 37-45 and began talking with them, based first upon their profile photos and what they’d written. Everyone I met, other than two, should have listed “average” as their body type instead of “athletic and toned”. This is where online dating worked in my favor. I got to know their minds first. They had to write something witty or intelligent enough to make me want to write back.
“The biggest aphrodisiac in the world is someone who likes you and isn’t afraid to show it.” –Mark Manson
First there was a guy I call Jesus & Babies. More on that in a moment. He was my first Internet date and I was fairly concerned he’d be an ax murderer. He wasn’t an ax murderer. He sent a very sweet, bright email about how he was about to quit Match.com, but it sent him my profile and his heart skipped a beat when he read my profile, etc, etc, etc. (I suggest you use this line in the future, guys. It’s a solid one.) Before we met, he asked, “Do you really look like your pictures?”
“Uh…yeah. Why wouldn’t I?” “Ha. You wouldn’t believe how many don’t.”
I was surprised when I saw him. He resembled the adult version of a pretty boy band singer (or the twin brother to actor Michael Vartan). Tall, blond hair, blue eyed and extremely fit. He was actually much better looking in person than in his photos, thus ruining it for a good portion of my dates after him, and a ridiculously profound kisser. He looked like the beach volleyball player he was on the side, not someone who spent his days in Tampa General Hospital. Apparently I was okay too, because he hugged me, kissed my cheek and exclaimed in his Louisville, Kentucky southern accent, “My word, you are beautiful!”
I asked who he usually dated, and he rattled off a tirade of frustrations. Most of them were 20-30 pounds heavier in person or who looked a decade older. I would find this to be a common theme for many men. Ladies, don’t lie or put up out-of-date photos. You’re eventually going to meet someone in person, so there’s no point. Plus you never know who is going to like you for you. Some guys are intimated by someone too pretty and prefer a few flaws here and there.
He also said he only dated Latinas. I’m always taken as Spanish. I told him I was Latin, not Latina…he said “Well, you look like you are and that’s what I am attracted to.” He was a wine expert and somewhat of a chef, with a talent for throwing together anything and making it taste incredible. He ate like I did; low carb, high protein and red wine. He also used paper towels torn in half as napkins, something that was just a touch “white trash” and reminded me of home.
However, he was legitimately fucking insane.
After our meeting, I hadn’t even pulled out of the parking lot when he texted me. Him: “Oh, my. I want to see you again. Like sooner than later. You’re brilliant and insanely beautiful. I’m overwhelmed with my thoughts right now. No one has ever grabbed my attention like this before…you are different. When can I see you? Tonight?” I pretended I was busy for the next day or two and set a time in the future.
My friend Kyle (who met his fiancé on the same site) texted afterward: “How did it go?” Me: “Better than I expected. Good looking, smart as hell…has a career…he’s probably an ax murderer.” Kyle: “Sounds like he might be ok, but don’t buy the first car you drive.”
Sage advice, my friend.
Jesus and Babies: “I’m yours until you break my heart. I’m pulling my online dating profile.” Me: “Um…are you sure? That’s really sweet, but we just met…everything is new…” I thought he was rushing everything. And I had no plans to pull MY profile. Jesus and Babies: “Yes.”
His hot streak was a nice change after a marriage that was lacking in heat and compliments. (My husband rarely (never) said anything nice because he felt my fans said it, so I didn’t need to hear it.) He thought nothing of picking me up and throwing me onto a bar stool or against a wall somewhere for a make out session. However, you know how game recognizes game? Well, I’m pretty sure he was undiagnosed with bipolar disorder, amongst other things. He was sharp as a tack, but in a way that seemed to be looking for weaknesses. He would also flash between happy and outgoing to moody and withdrawn.
He earned his nickname because despite reading “Spiritual, not religious” and “Kids: probably not” on my profile, he insisted on contacting me and then spending our time trying to convince me we should have children who believed in Jesus. (#KentuckyProblems.) During dinner, he had the annoying habit of staying glued to the basketball game, yelling at the TV for Louisville. I couldn’t help but think, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, scream at TV’s.” One day he’d be all over me nonstop, the next two would be silent. I can’t do hot and cold. It’s too much like the household I grew up in. He flipped out on me when I told him.
Me: “Well, maybe we shouldn’t see each other anymore.” Him: “Really? REALLY? Oh, that’s great. Not again.” Of course it was my fault. Did I mention that he had Mommy Issues and at 39-years old, had never been married?
One day after blowing me off for basketball (“Can’t. Two words for you: NCAA Tournament.”), I’d had enough. I just shut it all off. I have a weird ability to shut down after enough disappointment. When he texted a few days later and asked me to dinner, I no longer cared, had started dating others and had decided to push him as to why he ran cold. “Seriously, just tell me. I want to know. You won’t (can’t) hurt my feelings.” He denied it at first, and then told me he’d decided because I didn’t accept Jesus into my life and didn’t seem to want to have babies (with him), he was not okay with our situation. “I’ve waited long enough for a child. I don’t want to be a 70-year old dad.” He also didn’t like that I wasn’t “low key.” He seemed horribly uncomfortable with women whom he thought would get attention in any way. (The irony is, when I’m not being paid to get people’s attention, I don’t crave any attention.)
I wouldn’t contact a flame-haired comic book model with huge boobs if I had a problem with that. Would you? Thing is, he’s not the first baby crazy guy I’ve gotten. Not even the third. Something happens to guys when they hit a certain age…or I bring out the crazy-for-babies types.
At one of our dinners, I had casually mentioned something about mental health and his response: “Those people get addicted to their meds and really don’t need it. It’s all psychological.” Considering he was in the medical field, I was kind of floored by his comment.
My therapist’s verdict: “Do NOT date this guy. Sleep with him if you want, but don’t date him.” I didn’t end up doing either.
This was my very first online dating experience. Or maybe I should refer to it as my first online learning experience. I felt it was too soon to sleep with anyone after my husband and I wonder if that’s why he was so odd towards me. After Jesus & Babies, I decided it would be smarter to date several men at the same time, not get sexually involved with any of them and keep all at a distance. Just have fun and be straight up about everything.
“I have a lot of boyfriends; I want you to write that. Every country I visit, I have a different boyfriend. And I kiss them all.” — Anna Kournikova
Then panic. I did not like the fact that someone had the ability to make me feel this way.
If he can make me feel happy, he can make me feel sad.
That scares me.
A lot scares me.
Having control is key. Key to focus. Key to life. Key to sanity.
Someone else making me happy is not having control.
When I was safe inside a relationship, there was control. There was the comfortable glide. There was security.
This is none of that. It’s up, it’s down. It’s long distance. It’s uncertainty.
It’s gut wrenching solitude.
It’s a hole in my heart.
It’s wanting. And not being able to have.
It’s being attached to the phone.
He exists in there when he’s not here.
His face, his words, our moments.
I had wanted unplug more.
How did this happen?
I’m usually so careful. Removed. Warm, yet cold. It’s hard for me to really care.
I’ve gotten it down to an art.
Smile. Converse. Drink wine. Ask them questions about themselves.
Even if it’s boring, act interested.
Eye contact. That’s what you have to do.
Sure, sure. Let’s do this again soon.
Let me check my schedule.
Oh, damn. I’m away. Maybe another time?
I’ve become more and more like a man in so many ways. I was raised by a man, I work with men, I have turned into one.
I’m not selfish. It’s self preservation.
Truth be told, most people aren’t worth it.
There exists a carefully cultivated fuck-you shell around me.
“You’re nothing at all like I’d thought you’d be. You’re smart…sweet.”
It’s a common comment I hear from people who make it past the muscle. The blunt truths. The loudness. The vibrancy.
I have a lot to give. I can’t afford someone who takes.
I only want real in my life. Not so easy to find.
He was different. His words alone were atypical.
He saw things differently.
He was strong. He was used to being the one to do the intimidating.
He had his own uniquely cultivated shell.
He got into my head. I couldn’t get him out.
I tried. I gave up.
We were a lot alike.
Maybe too much alike.
He said, “You’re so different than I’m used to.”
“Well…you’re like a guy in a pretty girl’s body. That’s what I like, though.”
Really? Someone who views sex as sex? Someone who swears far too much? Someone who lives on steak and bacon? Someone who takes no shit, will shove people out of the way and not think twice about punching another in the throat if there’s cause for it? Someone who would rather go to a shooting range than a romantic comedy? Someone whose dog holds more value than all the jewelry she owns? Someone who watches Das Boot and knows who Yngwie Malmsteen is? Someone who hates malls? Someone who doesn’t give a shit about designer labels? Someone who doesn’t cook very often? Someone who believes “Great mind talk ideas, good minds talk events and small minds talk people”? Someone who “gets to know herself”…often? Someone who believes the word ‘cunt’ should be used as a noun, adjective and verb? Someone who only half-heartedly cleans behind the toilet?
He said, “How bad are you? I’m asking because I really like you and want to know.”
Extreme. Rapid cycling. Out of my mind. Crazy. Bipolar.
He said, “Okay.”
And it was.
He said, “I’m being recruited. The job is across the state. I have my second interview this week.”
My gut twisted.
I wanted to run. But I didn’t.
But I wanted to.
He said, “I’m not sure if I’m taking it yet.”
I allowed myself to breathe.
For the moment.
He said, “I’m on my way.”
And I smiled.
Then one day he said, “I can’t do this right now.”
He said, “I can’t give you any more than this. I can’t give you what you deserve.
There are issues about myself I’ve always had. I’ve been working on them and thought I was all right. Mentally…I’m not.”
I suddenly realized that I’ve been him before.
I’ve done this to others.
I hated how it felt.
I felt raw and ripped open.
I’d hated how I felt when I did it to others.
It’s taken this to make me realize what I’ve done.
What I’ve done to those around me.
I wanted to help him. But I can’t.
I know from being me that only he can help himself.
The Tampa airport was frenetically busy at what I considered to be an ungodly hour of the morning. For many writers, 7 a.m. is still the middle of the night. I am one of those writers. The alluring smell of fresh brewed coffee from Starbucks was almost enough to make me brave the line that stretched around the kiosk and halfwaydown the terminal…almost.If I did that, I wouldn’t be able to get the two and a half hours of sleep on the flight I still so desperately need. I love my Starbucks…and not just because there are (so-called) rumors of it being laced with methamphetamines.
I’ve always wanted to be three things in life: a morning person, a black coffee drinker, and someone who can function perfectly on four hours sleep. I will never be any of these.
If I don’t get enough sleep, I literally feel hung over; nauseous, weak, foggy, and my head pounds. I’ve been on crazy wrestling tours where we didn’t catch more than a few hours sleep between a show the night before and getting on the tour busthe next morning to travel seven hours to another city. I was always deathly afraid I was going to drop someone on their head if I was sleep deprived.
It only happened once in my fifteen year career, but it DID happen – and it was bad. I was in Japan and jet lagged as hell. It was my first show on the tour. My opponent jumped off the top rope and I barely caught her in time; then I fell on top of her, snapping her ankle in several places. She needed surgery with metal rods and pins to put everything back together again. It is something I’ve always felt reallyhorrible about. I’ve also given myself several concussions by landing stupidly because I’m not all there while in the ring. Due to these things, I’ve managed to train myself to sleep anywhere in any situation. I know I have to when traveling in order to function.
I walked past the airport gates to find a water fountain for my refillable bottle. I’d love to say I’m environmental – and most days I am – but in this case, I’m just cheap. I refuse to pay $3.50 for water. Remember when water was free and you paid for porn?
An exhausted mother, herding three small children wearing Dora the Explorer backpacks and faces full of crumbs ran into me, her arms overloaded with diaper bags and…stuff. She apologized and I waved it away, asking her if she needed help. Her voice said “no, thank you”, but her sagging posture suggested otherwise. My heart went out to her. Then I secretly prayed if they were on my flight that they would be located far, far away from my row.
As I made my way back to my gate, a giant Mr. Olympia sized bodybuilder openly stared at me. Shaved head, shirt that was too tight and jeans that barely made it around his Hulk legs. He wasn’t bad looking, but he made me uncomfortable. He looked at me as if I was a steak and he hadn’t eaten in a week – and he didn’t stop staring. So, I kept walking. I’m generally used to stares. But this guy started to follow me. Sure, we are the same breed of alien gym rat. I’ll admit: our kind is rare. This does not mean I’d like to share my genetics with him to create miniature gym rats.
Fuck. I realize that he’s on the same flight I am. Southwest Air’s open seating policy makes people rush to board instead of clogging aisles trying to figure out what side A or D is on like aimless idiots. Most days I’m a huge fan of this concept…not today.
Naturally, Mr. Olympia was in “A” boarding as well and with nothing but open seats, he headed straight for my row. He and his much smaller friend squashed in, with him taking the middle seat. Even the most petite human being will not willingly take a middle seat with other rows open. I was definitely being stalked.
He graciously allowed me half my window seat since his 300 pound frame and one leg took up the other half.
As if on cue: “You’re really vascular,” he stated. Vampires, athletes and Homeland Security agents looking for people carrying drugs love vascularity. I’ve learned to suffer the long sleeves in summer when returning through North American customs and immigration to avoid being “randomly selected”.
“Um…yep.” I made a big show of opening my book wider and turning towards the window.
“You look great. I’m a personal trainer, so if you ever want help with your diet or anything, that’s what I do,” he volunteered.
Him: “We travel to see Rush. Been to all their concerts. They’re playing in Philly tomorrow night. Do you like Rush?” I fucking love Rush. Red Barchetta, Tom Sawyer and Limelight got me through endless I-95 drives lasting twenty-two hours, between parental visits from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Enterprise, Alabama.
“They’re okay,” I replied.
“So, what do you do?”
“I’m…an accountant.” I deliberately picked the least interesting career I could think of on the spur of the moment.
“Oh? That’s interesting,” he said.
“Really, it’s not.”
“I love your hair. Can I touch it?”
My copper red hair hit the back of my jeans in length. At the moment, much of it was on the armrest. He picked up a handful, rubbed it thoughtfully and then – SMELLED IT.
I snatched my hair back. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m just going to read and sleep.” I dramatically put earplugs in and made my 5’8”, 150 pound frame curl up as small as possible against the window. I could tell I wouldn’t be allowed to sleep. Hell hath no fury like a bodybuilder scorned. He fidgeted around and continued a loud running commentary which included something about A playlists versus B playlists for Rush concerts for the duration of the two hour and thirty-eight minute flight. I wanted to ask him if he minded shutting the fuck up, but had a feeling it wouldn’t matter. I began to wish for the mother and her backpacked toddlers. At least they tend to fall asleep at some point after the seat kicking wears them down.
Damn. I had to pee, but would face the sticky issue of getting out of my row.Do I turn my ass or front to pass the guys? Forget it. I’ll just hold it.
“So, do you want to meet us for the concert in Reading Thursday night? I can probably get another ticket for that show.”
I looked at him and said, “Sorry, I think I have to return some videotapes.” He looked confused, thus confirming that the only thing we had in common were dumbbells.
“Uh, no. Not my thing. I’m not much of a concert goer.” Unless you count Kid Rock, Reverend Run, Greg Allman, Def Leppard, Coldplay, Madonna, Blue Oyster Cult, Whitesnake, Great White, Guns n Roses,an awesomely absinthed night at the Stone Temple Pilots, The Trailer Park Boys live, nearly every Cirque du Soleil show…I pushed my earplugs in deeper, turned into the window and tried to ignore his jostling leg up my rear. My throbbing forehead pressed against the cold window and I desperately wished for a pair of those expensive noise cancelling headphones and sleep. When you don’t sleep on a flight, it seems long. Really, really long. This was clearly one of those flights.
Eventually, it was time to get off the plane. Or as the airlines call it in their made-up word, “deplane”. Mr. O eyed me as I stood up, looking like he may make one last desperate attempt. With a big smile and a warm tone in my voice I told him, “Touch anything on me and my fist will ‘Rush’ into your face, sweetheart.” He went silent for the first time in hours.
I stepped past him and shook out my hair. He took a step back and made room for me to pass. Victory. Exhausted victory. Pee or Starbucks? I desperately needed the bathroom, but Starbucks was………Closer To The Heart.
COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS BLOG MAY BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.
The problem with being around a writer is that you never know how much they’re taking from you.I steal – or am “inspired” – from many around me.
I take from people’s stories, personalities, problems and conversations.
Anything and everything can be material; I’m always observing. Nothing is off limits.
Bad decisions make the best stories.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with friends who have begged: “Please do not write about this, April. Okay?”
Or someone will hover over my shoulder as I’m writing. “What are you…?”
“Yeah, right. Let me see…”
“You smell like drama and a headache. Get away from me.”
So, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.
There is a fine and sometimes blurry line between fake fiction and real non fiction.
“She kissed him and tasted cigarettes and disappointment.”
“Are you taking your medicine?”
“But you’re depressed.”
“Good. That means I’ll be inspired.”
Being single at fifty-two was confusing. She sipped her wine. Looking at the online dating sites seemed unreal. Half the men her age seemed on the defensive, clearly having been hurt before.
The other half looked like shit.
“Mom died. You need to come home.”
That’s how he had ended up back in the tiny house, in a tiny Nebraska town full of tiny minds.
Florian was only culturally Hispanic, because she found she’d had to translate a menu for him in the restaurant Paella. It was a culture Abby had quickly learned to appreciate after a small town, white bread upbringing chock full of aprons and meatloaf. His was one of café Bustelo and cigar factories.
She felt the heat emanating from his body as his full lips bit hers and brushed softly against her ear. He wrapped his hands in her hair and pulled her roughly into him in full view of whoever cared to watch in the busy parking garage. He pressed her against the car, burying his face in her neck. She liked the way he felt. She liked his dark eyes and aquiline nose. She liked his passion for life.
The next day Abby returned his text in Spanish and said, “I’ll make you learn this.”
“I know…I’m a bad Latino. I’m sure there are many things you can teach me. That’s why I’m keeping you.”
“Oh, are you? We shall see about that.”
“See we shall.”
“Mind the gap.” The tube doors slid open and people rushed in as we shoved our way out, surfing along with the teeming throng of black and grey clad bodies pushing up the stairs. The grey-white tiled walls dripped with dampness…
She’s late. Again.
Not because she’s high maintenance. Because she doesn’t want to go.
Procrastination. Stomach churning. She hates this.
Self revolving, self serving, selfish. Me, me, me. That is what she sees when she looks at them.
Far too stupid to be whores. They’d rather give it away like sluts. For attention.
“Look at me! How fabulous I am, right?”
Stupid, stupid girls.
Narcissism. Borderline personality disorder. Mommy and daddy issues. Undiagnosed bipolar disorder. All rolled into one room multiplied by 35.
This is the entertainment business.
It won’t make you crazy. Crazy makes it.
He wrapped his arm around her from behind and in the filtered twilight, she could make out several skulls and the Virgin Mary on the colorful tattoo that ran from his shoulder to his wrist. One of many he hid under his crisp suit and tie during the week. He wasn’t one for words or sentiment. When he did speak, it was matter-of-fact, blunt and stoic.
His was a character of contradictions. Punk rock and golf. Independent art and million dollar contracts. Athletism and exhaustion. Chaste and carnal. Impatience and biding. Supercilious and open minded. A love of food and an empty refrigerator.
She found him brutally direct and completely unreadable.
He dumped the Big Gulp cup with change out on his tatty blue blanket and counted. Thirty-eight dollars. Not bad for the day, but not good either. Most of it had been earned on his last trick, a coup des gras magic levitation combo. He’d waited until the New Orleans streets were packed with happy drunks. Timing was everything.
“I wish we could make more money,” he said to the scruffy brown mutt lying at his side. Sam was never far from his side. Her bushy tail wagged easily despite the conditions they lived in.
Rodney looked up. An old black man with a milky eye that stared off to the left stood before him. He wore a starched white uniform and had a Creole accent. Sam didn’t growl, which surprised Rodney. “I’m Claude. I work at La Richelieu and I enjoyed your act.”He reached down and scratched Sam behind the ear. “Tell me…have you ever thought about voodoo?”
Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and a large medieval contraption was before her. Leather straps, metal, cuffs. A sign read “Please tip your attendants. These rooms are not self cleaning.” In the corner, a blond was kneeling in front of a middle aged man sitting on a dark purple vinyl couch with khaki pants around his ankles and his hands on the back of her head.
She worked with the church, spending her nights taking calls and heading into the cold to pick up strays and search for lost pups. On this night, she’d found a little white dog with big, brown eyes and took him back to her place. He didn’t stop trembling until she wrapped him in a blanket and fed him. He ate like there was no tomorrow and wriggled into her ankle afterwards in happiness. He wasn’t in bad shape, really. He couldn’t have been out there long because he was still groomed. She pet his soft white face, cradling him as he kissed her cheek and nose. Walking outside, she crossed the dusky yard to a sizable wooden pen. As she neared, the barking and snarling coming from it hit a fever pitch.
She kissed the little mutt on the head and then dropped him into the pit bull den as bait.
The left side showed me immediately why she’d survived and I hadn’t. A truck carrying long metal tubes had lost several. One went through my windshield. The glass was a crumbled spider web splattered with blood and bits of skin. The metal was perfectly intact.
And it could be found pierced straight through my chest.
Mark Twain’s advice is to “write what you know” – which can be taken or mistaken in many ways.