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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Let's Do It Again Sometime

He was a great, shambling bear of a man, and good-looking enough, well-educated. His heart and good will were huge and easy, captured by cats and families in need, maidens in distress and good, liberal political candidates. Somehow he had managed to skip many of life's more intricate transactions such as marriage, children, travel, reading for pleasure, ordering from a nice menu. He worked, he watched 50-year-old reruns of Palladin and Gunsmoke after work each day, watched sports ad nauseam, Bill Maher sometimes (all at unbelievable volume), ate abominably and retired to bed at 8:00 p.m. He was prepunctual for every engagement and blurted out everything that came into his head, whether it was his personal secret to share or not. He became grievously ill 40 years after military service in Viet Nam, barely hanging onto life, and he genuinely believed the way to resolve a problem was to "think positive" and act quickly (whether the action was well-considered or not). He recovered. When one asked for advice, or just an ear, he quickly made and executed a plan to fix things, in just the way he felt appropriate. Then he gave it no more thought. "Salt of the earth. A hell of a guy." So said everyone who ever met him once. He was a simple man.

"She's a bit of a bitch," said many who did not love her immediately upon meeting her. And there were a number of such people. For it seemed people either loved her or didn't, with little ground in between. "Snotty bitch at that." She'd enjoyed many of the finer things in life (sometimes under the auspices of others and not by her own hard work) and wasn't afraid to say so. Not bragging, precisely, but retelling fine experiences, sometimes to people who hadn't experienced such times and who were not appreciative. She was deadly intelligent and wicked quick-witted, but perhaps not to the degree that she believed herself. She was a little handsome, appearing sweet and very open. She was not, particularly. Her heart was given neither quickly nor easily, surrounded by layers of cautious reserve formed by temperament and experience. Her admiration was given even more carefully. She was complex. "There is nothing easy about me," she was known to say right out loud and very early on. She thrived on communication and did not appreciate her comments frequently floating away without reaction. "Shut up'"would have been OK, or "I don't agree." Simply some form of acknowledgement. His hearing was not what it used to be, he said. She didn't feel her voice was a whisper.

"Would you like me to take you to Brenton Mountain this weekend? You said you'd never been there. It looks a lot like those pictures you keep around all over the place. I think you'd like it there."

"Oh, no, I don't think so. It's still cold and I'm not physically up-to-speed. But, thank you. Very nice thought."

"You really need to get away. Get some sun on your skin. Breathe a little."

"Well, that's quite generous, but I don't think so just yet."

[Next day.] "Let's go to Brenton Mountain this Saturday. We can go after I golf, about 2:00."

[Startled] "But we already talked about this. I don't want to go. I'm really not up for it." [She did not want to spend hours in a car with this man, going someplace she did not wish to visit with him. It's true she was not physically up to a vigorous hike, but it was more true that she only wanted to experience certain adventures in ways that were meaningful to her. Oh, no. This was a bad idea.]

[Next day.] "I can pack a couple of blankets and a flashlight for emergency. We can buy gas at Fallon City and coordinate our watches and we'll eat along the road and . . . . all expenses on me. Be sure to take a jacket and sweater . . . . . We'll go at 2:00, but if it's frosty and my tee time is delayed, I'll forego the golfing and we'll just leave. I'll call and let you know. What time could you be ready, if there's no golfing?" [His mistake was to keep pushing. Hers was the same old one: submit and resent. She managed her own meals and car trips all the time. She didn't need or want a travel agent. She did need to say "no" as loudly as it could be uttered. ] "8:30. If you call me by 8:00, I can be ready by 8:30. Be prepared: I am not hiking. I am not touching snow. If the air is cold, I'm not getting out of the car. I am taking several books."

[Next day. 5:00 a.m. phone call.] "Just reminding you that if my tee time is delayed, I'll call you and we'll go earlier." [With none too good grace, she allowed as how she recalled that.] "What time is it now? Why are you calling me so early?" [He asked what time her alarm clock was reading and she thought, "I don't need an alarm clock. You go off more frequently than a cuckoo."]

[6:00 phone call.] "It's not frosty, but I decided to dump the golf game. Can you be ready at 6:30?" [She barked that she could be ready when she said she'd be ready. She made coffee, resolved to do things differently just as soon as she could, packed a leather tote with things she might need and many she wouldn't conceivably need. When he arrived at the door, not prepunctual, he imposed a review of the journey's checklist which she just barely endured. He courteously gathered up all it appeared she was taking along.] "Please give me my purse. I do not want you to carry my purse for me. Thank you."

When she realized there was to be no music to break the journey, her heart plunged. She feigned sleep awhile. "No." She didn't need a restroom. "No." She didn't want a drink or snack. When the reverb in her own head became unbearable, she began to chatter on, loudly, about all the natural beauty she had experienced in the general area. She told of plants, animals and their husbandry, her feats in cruel nature. He uttered not one word in reply. She wondered if he had not heard any of her words. She wondered if his silence was a more damning commentary.

"Be sure to let me know if you want to stop anywhere. Something to eat or drink?" Her answer was still no. And none of the establishments had opened for the season, anyway. For a man who had visited here before, he seemed to have no recollection of the roads or sights, nor could he manage a map. She could and did. He pulled the car into a shadowy, snowy parking stall. "Let's get out awhile." "I'm not getting out. I told you that. I am willing to read, nap, snack and wait here as long as you'd like to hike around. But I'm not getting out." Looking surprised, but clearly having heard every word, he got back in and started back down the mountain.

"Oh," she squealed loudly and with unmistakable enthusiasm. "A bighorn sheep. I've only rarely seen them in the wild. Look - sunbathing up on that rock formation that's rocking like a cradle!" As she scrabbled for her camera, he zoomed past the many open parking stalls. "Wow, it was a big one, huh?" "Um, no. It was a tiny one. A youth." Her ears roared with the sound of her own bloodstream and she worked to control her breathing. She didn't care for the curves and descents down the mountain. He seemed tired, and he should have been, staying up since dawn. As he bumped along the BOTS dots, tailgating other vehicles, she said, "I want to drive after we buy gas." "OK." Seeming to take some heart in the prospect of shared driving, he picked up speed a little. "Hey, isn't that just the kind of little place you'd like to visit and explore?" She craned her neck to see a used book store/antiques shop with a shop cat in the window as they roared by. "Um, yes. Just exactly like that."

He spotted a cafe and said, "Let's eat there!" She was less enthusiastic, but wanted the day to end as quickly and smoothly as possible. She pulled over, planning to use the restroom inside and gnash her teeth through a meal. "You've barely touched your food.Why don't we ask for a box and take it home?" She thought to say, "Because I won't eat it there, either," but she agreed and felt weak for not speaking. He appeared, once again, to be perfectly content riding for 90 minutes in silence, another person seated not 12 inches away. It gave her an opportunity to observe him out of the corner of her eye. Her peripheral vision was good after the surgery. She could see things clearly. It was not entirely true that she was a bitch. At least not a complete bitch. "I wonder if I am unreasonable about him." No, she didn't think so. Her self-esteem was not running at high tide, but she recalled a time when it was. She had standards. She began to think of steps that might be required before she could become a more avid companion.

Perhaps he could speak to the doctors at the Veterans Administration and tell them he could not hear. Aren't there ways to correct that, at least sometimes? Maybe, if he actually "took" the medications instead of simply "collecting" them, some of the more appalling OC tendencies could be ameliorated. Except for a teething infant, she'd never observed anyone chew a washcloth loudly and render it soaking wet while watching TV. Every time the TV was watched, and leaving the washcloth on the chair to be picked up another day for another workout. Had no one, not one person before her, ever pointed out to him that his finger [always the same one] was firmly embedded in his nostril [always the same one]? But only during the hours he was awake. Did no parent, brother or friend ever trouble to tell him a private room was the desirable location for making personal adjustments to one's body? How could a man reach such a mature age and . . .

"She's a bit of a bitch," said many.


  1. Beginning of a book?

    Great descriptive writing here, but egads.....
    my skin is itching and crawling away from me.


  2. @ Kass ~ Well, the beginning of something, not likely a book. Yes, it does make the skin itch and crawl, but it's not about Ex in any way. Nor is it about me. I'm not that bitch, except to the extent that if I write about a female, I will impart to her some of my own female self. It's actually 100% fiction, 0% autobiographical, and created from something I recently observed quietly.

  3. @ The Badger ~ Thank you for taking time to say so. Really. I was a little tentative about putting it up since it's not what I usually do. I appreciate your assessment.

  4. Good story, or beginning of a story. The idea of a "bitch" finding herself in a seemingly stupid and undesirable relationship is a provocative one. Makes me want to read more.

  5. @ CC ~ I am so glad you told me! Otherwise, how would I know? Thank you. Now off to answer your rather-more-difficult e-mail. :!}

  6. @ Kirk ~ I HOPED you would pop up. Thank you! I shall try to write more that pulls others in. Though this is not what I do, I did, and I may like to keep doing . . that could happen!

  7. Huh, I like Kirk's thought. Why would the "bitch" stay? What does he offer her? What needs does he meet? It also makes my skin crawl. How much of the "bitch" is really just her thinking she *should* be better? But she just is what she is, thinking thoughts anyone would think, but giving them more profound meaning because she thinks they're "bad" thoughts?

  8. Leslie you have such a way with words i so enjoy your writing.....have you had stories published ??...if not maybe you should ...xx

  9. @ CC ~ Your second comment made me have to go off and bubble awhile. I'm going to be brave here and say that maybe more Leslie sneaked into that story than I realized, because commenting back to you has given me some discomfort. Here is the easy part: she thinks she has to be perfect, not mean, not bitching, unreproachable. Of COURSE she can't reach that standard, but she runs around trying, failing and feeling bitter all the while.

    As to why she would stay: some women, generally older even than I, would rather have a man who publicly digs in his pants and his nose rather than have no man at all. As you know, that's not my way, but I have known many. Hmmm, wristwatch, purse, car keys, man . . . .

  10. @ Artymess ~ Hi, Lorna! No, I'm not published anyplace other than this modest blog. But I've been a story-teller all my life. It probably stems from talking to myself as a lonely, only child. Once a fellow blogger asked me about getting published. It's all he wants from life, and he was startled that I wasn't seeking that. I hope he gets published. He's certainly good enough.

  11. Relationships. They're why I've always enjoyed the concept of telepathy. I want to break through that barrier of what my partner is thinking. I don't talk much but Shari says enough for both of us though she seldom talks of deep things. I like those deep things so I'm not really listening just occasionally dropping by to give the appearance of paying attention. This is good work Les.

  12. @ Tag ~ I thank you as sincerely as I thanked everyone else who commented. I was a little nervous about posting it. I'm glad I did. I'm not a one-trick pony. Do you remember my telling about how Ex used to LITERALLY put up his hands as if to stop my flow of word? And then he got a daughter just like me. My father says I can walk into a room and talk to a dead snake and the snake will talk back to me. I haven't tried it yet. I'll let you know. I would like to think - I hope - I spend some time thinking of deeper things and sometimes tripe.

    P.S. A rah for only children. When we are very young and we speak, adults listen. We're not tossed in with other children. It skews our view of ourselves. We think everyone wants to listen to us. I'm not joking about this at all.

  13. How do I miss your posts? Now it becomes clear! This is excellent. And you pick up all the ribbons in the next installment and plait them into a great follow up. Well, Les, you never cease to surprise me.

  14. @ Rachel ~ Tee hee! You have truly made my day today. I mean it. If you were here sitting right in front of coffee pot or teapot, I couldn't have giggled more. Thank you for your high praise, indeed. And there will be future installments. I have a few in the can. The titles will alway begin with "Let's . . " and there will be no illustrations.