“Oh, George…”

Every once in a while, my mother used to talk in her sleep. It was usually something quite silly, and I’d have fun teasing her about it the next day. She would just roll her eyes at me.

But one night, when I was about 10 years old, she said, “Oh, George…”

She said it in a husky, passionate way. This was the first time I realized that my mother had a private life all her own. It kind of rattled me.

“Ma, who’s George?” I asked her over breakfast.

“George? I don’t know any George,” she said, looking confused.

I asked her what she had been dreaming about, but she said she couldn’t remember. (Come to think of it, what else could she have said to her 10 year old daughter at that moment?)

Some stories you never get to hear all the way to the end. This was one of those. It’s probably why it stayed with me, after all these years.

Now that I’m an adult, I hope and pray that there really was a George in my mother’s life. Born in 1927, my mother was a product of her era. I strongly suspect she didn’t “get around”, as the saying goes.

She was married twice. First, to my alcoholic and physically abusive father, and then to my step-father, who weighed 400 pounds, and was a perverted pedophile. If those were the only intimacies she experienced, I feel truly sorry for her.

My mother was a beautiful woman and an amazing human being. I hope at least once in her life she had an encounter with someone equally amazing who made her feel attractive and valued and appreciated. I hope that she had reason to have a secret smile on her face every now and then, to keep her spirit warm in the emotionally sterile world in which she lived most of the time. It makes me sad that I’ll never know for sure.

Everybody deserves at least one good “George”.


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The Story of How We Met

I had been in this strange little relationship for 15 years. It wasn’t bad. No passion, per se, but it beat a sharp stick in the eye. We were just cruising along on automatic pilot, probably because we were both afraid of being alone.

And then we were at this backyard bar-b-cue and he decided to tell everyone the story of how we met. It was so romantic, he said. We’d met at church and she slid over on the pew to be closer to me, he said. We looked at each other, and the rest is history, he said.

That kind of made me blink. I mean, yes, the facts were true, but the conclusions drawn from them? Not so much. I slid over on the pew because as usual he was mumbling through his untrimmed mustache, and I couldn’t figure out what he was saying. And once I slid over, I simply couldn’t be bothered to slide back.

Could this be his version of our relationship? Did he think it started off romantically, was love at first sight, and was still romantic? That made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. We hadn’t even touched each other in any intimate way in well over a year. Was he happy? Seriously? Can you really survive when you’re deeply buried in such a steaming mound of pure fantasy?

He always had funny ideas about women. He thought his mother, one of the most flawed individuals I’ve ever met, was a saint. When he’d write stories, the female characters always seemed to need rescuing, and they often wore pillbox hats with veils, and would bite their nails through their gloves when they were afraid, which was often. They giggled a lot. They liked lace. They were easily shocked. To me they always seemed kind of like ideal mannequins stuffed with artificial emotions.

Suddenly I felt very sorry for him. And I felt even more sorry for myself, because he didn’t know me at all, and had no idea what I was feeling. It’s hard to be passionate about someone you pity. With hindsight, I realize that that was the beginning of the end. I wanted to live with someone in the real world. I wanted to be understood.

[Image credit: monbochapohat.com]
[Image credit: monbochapohat.com]

Love Me, Do.

Recently I spent time in the presence of someone whom I can’t even look at without getting butterflies in my stomach. He makes me blush. I feel like I’m in junior high school. And he knows I have a crush on him, because I told him.

He gives me mixed signals. Sometimes he flirts, sometimes he doesn’t. We make vague future plans with no specifics and as yet no follow-through. He puts his hand on the small of my back and I nearly melt.

He has a full life, and we’re not kids anymore, so even if he were interested, I suspect this would not be a rush job. And I get the impression that he’s very humble, and genuinely has no idea the affect he has on people. He may be a bit slow on the uptake. But hitting him with a brick would be counterproductive.


COME ON!!!! What’s taking you so long? I’m a wonderfully interesting, passionate, intelligent and fun person.

This never used to be so difficult. I never had to work this hard. After a certain point one begins to feel pathetic. This is a game I’m not sure I have the energy to play at my age.

But it is nice to feel butterflies again. It’s been a while.


Other Dimensions

I used to know a guy who was really, really into fishing. Good on him. It’s great to have a passion. But what made me feel sorry for him was that it was his only passion.

He was really hard to talk to, because fishing was his only topic, and if you weren’t into it (and I’m not), conversations with him quickly became extremely dull. If you tried to discuss current events, he had nothing to contribute. If you tried to be playful or in any way abstract or imaginative, he would give you a blank stare. Talking to this guy was a study in awkward silences. I used to think, “I know you’re in there… somewhere.”

I much prefer the company of more well-rounded individuals; people who are curious about the wider world. I enjoy not being able to predict the direction a chat will take. I like to banter. In that context, I might even enjoy talking about your piscatorial pursuits.

If you want more people to delight in your company, make an effort to expand your horizons. Become a bit more three-dimensional. Depth is important, as well as length and width.

[Image credit: jeb.biologists.org]
[Image credit: jeb.biologists.org]

Musical Torture

I’m glowing. There are stars in my eyes. I’m humming under my breath, and I’ve got a silly, satisfied grin on my face.

I just watched On A Clear Day You Can See Forever on DVD, starring Barbra Streisand and Yves Montand. God, how I hate musicals. I’m so easily caught up in the fantasy.

Because I was practically fed musicals along with my mother’s milk, on some unrealistic layer of this onion that is me, I actually believe that it’s possible that someday some man will be so passionate about me that he’ll burst into song. I believe that I’m thin, and I wear elaborate, color-coordinated outfits that flow as I move, and hats not only are back in style, but they actually fit my head.

Musicals make me believe that I’m young and beautiful and charming and that one of these days while I’m at work here on the drawbridge, Yves Montand is going to float down the canal on a yacht that’s overflowing with flowers, and he’ll be singing his proposal to me, and we’ll float away together, happily ever after, financially secure in our low carb bliss. Oh, and I’ll actually be able to dance.

Yeah, musicals are like cocaine. I’ll be high from this hit for the rest of the day, probably. But the high never lasts. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and look in the mirror and the see reality of my grey hair and my double chin surrounded by the seemingly vast expanse of my man-less house.

Reality ought to be fine, and a lot of the time it is, actually. But it will always come with a slight bitter aftertaste that makes me feel like this feast of life isn’t quite as satisfying as it’s supposed to be.

Musicals are evil.

Ooh! I haven’t seen My Fair Lady in a while! Maybe I’ll watch that next.