My curls were separate and soft when I was younger. I remember my childhood as if all I ever wore were blue overalls. I traveled in strollers, a cushy blue and white polka-dot stroller some days and ordinary cotton sack strollers on more casual days. Asleep in a stroller holding one of those shiny plastic balls sold in steel bins at the supermarket. An apple juice box nestled in the crack of space between the side of my leg and the stroller. Right there, in that moment, that was my childhood. That’s how I remember it, asleep, calm, just peace. Now, men look at me on the street. Yell things like “Hey Red, boy would I like a piece of that.” And I cannot find the kind of peace I used to have when people paid no attention to me, or rather, I was able to pay no attention to them. On warm summer evenings, I remember lying upstairs, with a sheet for a blanket, the window open, listening to the crickets, the muffled television from down the hall, and Mother’s company laughing downstairs. When the air-conditioner was in the shop for servicing, we had to soak our white cotton sheets in a basin of water, wring them out, and stretch them across our mattresses; they would help us keep cool. Lemon water, dining beneath awnings, dog runs, jam jars filled with wild flowers, fireflies, scribbles of cloud, light sweaters, kites, capri pants with paten leather J.P. Todds, Jersey tomatoes, sunflowers, freckles and sticky Solarcain skin, blond highlights, cherries, sprinklers, lemonade stands. At least there are winter coats, and boots, gloves, muffs. Something to hide me. Stop looking. Sat in the bathroom stall at work today and cried. I didn’t go to the bathroom to cry; I went to pee. But as I relaxed, tears just came flooding out, bleeding into the gray cracks of the tiles at my feet. I was not meant to do this with my life. I should be following my dreams. I saw a woman who was settling for less, and I didn’t like what I saw. My dream is to write, and I’m going to do it.
Long before my sister Lea and I began to bicker over the rules of calling “Shotgun,” we were comfortable in the back seat of our Mother’s cars. Just about every year it was a different car. A rental. Neglected looking, used, maroon or pale blue, cars that Mother called “jalopies.” I believe a factor in my parents’ divorce were all of those National Car Rental heaps. My father always had the latest model two-door Cadillac; they smelled like leather. Our mother was stuck with a four-door station wagon, or even worse, a Pinto with bucket seats and torn “pleather” patched with duct tape colored to match. Lea and I liked the station wagons. We’d fold down the middle seat and sprawl out on our backs, putting our bare feet against the cool glass trunk door. Watching the heat from our feet make disappearing prints on the glass. On long car rides, after the excitement of grooming and playing with our Barbies wore off, after making obscene gestures at the passengers in other cars, and once the string for Cats & Cradles became knotted, Lea and I would fight. At first it was playful. When my mother would turn the car up a ramp or along the sway of a road, I’d exaggerate gravity and shove Lea against the door. She’d do it, too, but she was smaller and didn’t weigh as much as I did. We laughed and shoved until it got painful. Lea would begin to moan, scream, and laugh again. This went on for a while punctuated with our mother’s occasional warnings that she was going to drop us off on the side of the road if we didn’t “Cut it out!” One day, I remember finally yelling at her to go ahead and do it. I must have done something to really get to her because I remember not wanting to get out of the car as soon as she stopped it short. She actually got out of the car and tried to rip me out of it. I was screaming, red, and trying to grip onto the roof of the car from the inside as I kicked at her. She finally did rip me out onto the ground, slammed the car door, and left me sitting there on the hot tar road, tiny pebbles sticking to my thighs. Lea was screaming, hair in her mouth, and I remember looking down at the ground when she drove the car off. An ant crawled over my fingernail.
Witches always had a mean black cat that hissed and was too skinny. A cackle. A dark cloak and a straw broom. A pointed hat with a wide brim, a crooked hook nose, and of course a fat wart with long hairs growing out of it. That’s what witches were when I was small… creatures that with their green tinted skin appeared on All Hallow’s Eve, in movies, cartoons, and bedtime stories. Now, they appear to us in our everyday lives, waiting for the bus, sitting beside us in a movie theatre, even in the hospital waiting room. The woman at the bank, in a rush, sighing and squinting behind me on line, tapping her foot as I rummage through my handbag for a pen to sign the withdrawal slip. The mother at the diner, who ground out her cigarette on her teenage daughter’s plate and told her she has, “eaten enough, just look at your thighs spreading as you eat.” We all from time to time posses a bit of witch in us, but thankfully, when we were young we learned of good witches, too. The idea that when everything around us seemed cold and gray, and that when even our favorite blankets weren’t big enough to keep us safe, there was always someone, something, looking after us. It works both ways.
In a relationship I try to follow these rules: • I will try my hardest not to overreact, as I tend to do in life. • I will only deal with one issue at a time, without introducing topics or incidents from the past, as hard as it might seem. • I will never attack any of his vulnerabilities, or hurt him in order to have the last word by being sarcastic or calling him names. • I will always respect and keep the trust with which he has entrusted me. • I will try to avoid sweeping generalizations like “you always” and “you never.” • Before I start in I will ask myself what exactly is bothering me and what do I expect and want him to do about it. I will offer compromise and think about possible outcomes that would be acceptable. I will try to remember that the idea is not to “win” but to be kind and come to a solution we can both live with. • Most of all, I will try to improve my listening skills. I will try to be careful not to interrupt him and to genuinely hear his concerns and feelings. • I will accept responsibility for a problem that I might have with him, realizing that “we” have a problem, not just “you” have a problem. • I will always be loyal to him and our relationship first and foremost. • I will always make sure that his needs are being met as long as they are communicated to me. • I will continually work on letting go of the past to heal my heart and mind. • I will never, ever, fight with him in front of our children (god-willing) • Instead of telling him that I am pissed or angry, I will replace it with the more telling emotions of fear, hurt, or frustration. In the meanwhile, since I’m not in a relationship right now, I’ll try to work on my issue of Insecurity. My issue, the need to feel love. The addiction to adoration as my drug of choice. I wasn’t daddy’s little girl, and to compensate, I became seexually active very young, became a serial monogamist. Needy for adoration. When I date it’s not a problem. My whole life I’ve measured my self-worth with men loving me. Tripping over themselves to tell me how fabulous I am. I guess I’m lucky that way. It’s also a curse because I never learned to feel great about myself without a man… I guess I did… I made myself feel great through other men when my father didn’t make me feel that way. Still it was never me on my own. In my relationships I’ve been very independent yet dependent. I have my own friends. I’m active with them. I have a support network of family and friends who are always available to listen. I’ve got my own interests of photography, my work, anything creative, and when that all falls short, I use the energy to take care of the person I’m with. Look up recipes they might like, plan fun dates, or fun surprise gift ideas. I’m nurturing and understanding, sensitive and emotionally available. I get dependent (or needy) when I feel insecure. If we’re fighting or not having seex, I get so crazed to fix things… I think because I’m not getting my way, and I end up acting out to try to get my way. Or I try to make him feel bad, punish him so he feels as frustrated as I do, because then I think I might get the love and adoration I’m seeking, but through fear. I wanted to be my ex’s sole attention… even when he wasn’t with me, I wanted him to miss me and think of me often. I hated when he would say he wanted to do something else like go play golf. Me me me. I wanted adoration. And I punished him when he didn’t give it enough. And it was never enough, eventually. And we know how that turned out. And now, I see myself repeating the same thing. Less so though because I trust him. I don’t get jealous if he wants to hang with his friends. I do care though that he doesn’t necessarily want alone time with me as much as I do. I have a problem with “recency.” Only focusing on the past 3 days, fixate on that, and then try to run instead of looking at the universal picture, the us we have been, the he that he has been… and I’m ready to throw it away.
More people come to this site to learn what a cleveland steamer is than those searching for a seexy New York City blogger. Well I tell you what. You can have both. A Cleveland Steamer: when someone takes a dump on your chest. A dirty Sanchez: when an index finger is swiped along or inserted in the ass, then wiped across your partner’s top lip for a lovely whiff… leaving a mexican moustache… or a “Dirty Sanchez.” A Jersey Turnpike: a finger up the tush, then placing that finger in your partner’s mouth. (If you accidentaly pick your nose at some point with that abusive finger, it’s called, “Getting off at Newark.”) A Felcher: when cum is slurped from an asshole post anal seex (sometimes with a straw) The interesting bit here, is Reebok aired a Terry Tate Commercial using all these references. Now if you want to read a great real story click here. The Original not quite the clevaland steamer post read this way: Okay, so I stepped in a pile of dog shite today. Perhaps you’re thinking it happened on the street, and it’s akin to being shat on by a pigeon. What luck. Actually, more realistically, you’re probably sinisterly wringing your hands doing that evil graduated laugh as you twist your mustache. Okay, maybe not. In fact, it was a glob on my bedroom floor, beside my pristine bed, a good morning steaming present from the Lineman. I was barefoot. Apparently giving him milk past its expiration date doesn’t really make him retro after all.
Mine Each time it’s the same. A fight starts it; a fight ends it. Can’t you go without me, why do we have to spend so much time with them? Not so much time is repeated in my voice, exaggerated back to me. Leaky mascara. Things are slammed; outfits are tried, talked through with girlfriends over the phone. The reinforcements come in, caffeine and digital camera in hand. I look fat flutters around a room. Hands damp, why isn’t he putting his arm around me, how could he leave me there talking to her to get a damn score. Get back here you ass. Parental anxiety. Then back to it again after a breakup. It’s not sudden, your caring so much what his parents think. You feared their disproval when you met them; you fear their I told you sos even now, with every sight of him gone. Mom’s It was as bad as being told God dislikes you: the scene at my paternal grandparents’ house the day my father was announcing his engagement to my mother. He had rehearsed something to say the night before when he was trying to sleep; it started with asking his parents to sit down. But when he and my mother arrived in Forest Hills on that slate of November morning, the housekeeper Vernell answered the door, and his parents were already seated at the dining room table. Grandpa was thumbing through the Times in a dark v-neck sweater. My mother was surprised that he was bald. My grandmother was hollering about how he had better not get any of that silvery newspaper ink on her Venetian lace tablecloth as Vernell took their coats. Mother felt awkward but was thankful that she insisted on carrying in the white box of pastries they stopped for on their ride over to the house. Her hands were wet. “Don’t get up.” Dad said as if he were convinced they were going to. His mother put her cheek out for him to kiss, and his father briefly put down the paper and shook his son’s hand. “This is Yolanda.” Dad said as he awkwardly swung his arm around her shoulders and squeezed. Mother hated her outfit at that moment. Her blouse was pulling at the bust, and her bra was too tight. It cut her breasts into four sections. If I were alive and there, I would have pointed. “It’s nice to finally meet you both.” Mom hated the sound of her voice. She felt the heat of Dad’s hand on her shoulder. She didn’t know what to do next. She handed the white box to Mrs. Klein with a smile and stepped back politely. “Donald, what does she mean by finally? How long have you been hiding her from us?” Grandma looked just like her restricted voice. Everything about her was tight. Her hair was pulled back so tightly that she looked like she needed help blinking. She penciled in her eyebrows, and Mom tried not to stare but she thought it strange that she had no eyebrows. None. She was wearing a black turtleneck with a heavy pearl necklace resting over it. “Way too big. Very gauche.” I would have said. “Vernell.” She did not wait for an answer. Vernell came shuffling into the dining room in slippers carrying a kettle of hot water. And without instruction, she poured my grandmother another cup of water for her tea. “Well sit down, sit down.” Mrs. Klein demanded as she waved her arms to the two chairs, one on each side of her. “Please help yourselves. I don’t know what you eat anymore Donald.” “This all looks great.” “Does Yolanda like lox with her bagel?” Mother knew, just then, that Dad had already told her that she wasn’t Jewish. “It’s just salmon dear.” “Yolanda eats anything. She’s not picky.” “I had hoped I could say the opposite of you my boy.” She said under her breath, but loud enough for my mother to hear. “Would you two like Mimosa’s with your brun—?” Vernell interjected. “No, Vernell.” Grandma snapped. “I told you she can’t drink.” And with that comment, Mother was unsure if she somehow got the impression that mom was genetically inclined to be an alcoholic because maybe Dad might have mentioned that Popoo drank Vodka with his toast and eggs in the morning. Would he tell her that? “Uuuh, Mom, Dad, before we dig in, I just want to say,” he put his napkin on his lap, “that I brought Yolanda here because I want to introduce you to the woman I am marrying.” Mom closed her eyes and waited. “Yes, we know that dear. You told me on the phone. This one is just like his father…always a production.” Grandma said. She swung her legs around…
Because my mother is Puerto Rican, my grandmother Beatrice was convinced that I was going to come out of the womb black. Beatrice is my father’s mother; she crosses her legs, knits sweaters, and reads the Times. My mother is a thin white woman with auburn hair who looks every bit Protestant, but that’s just because she shops in Garden City of Long Island. From the way my father tells the story of my birth, though, everyone in the hospital knew she was Puerto Rican. Puerto Ricans believe that the louder the woman screams during labor, the more beautiful the baby will be. My mother Yolanda screamed as if she hadn’t had two glasses of white wine when she began her contractions. Imagine my grandmother’s surprise when I came out looking like a cute little devil. (Redheads are never spoken of as sweet angels no matter how cute we are.) The day I was born was the first day my grandparents began speaking with my parents again. My father refused to accept the bribe of a corvette and a country club membership if he did not marry my mother. Since he turned his parents offer down and chose my mother as his family, telephone lines were cut. Then there was an announcement made that Stephanie Tara was born at 4:38 p.m., 6 lbs. 4 oz. Once my grandmother saw that I was indeed white, she offered to throw a baby shower. A baby shower, unlike a wedding, is a place where people should not feel insulted. It’s never the case that this one cannot believe that you thought she should be seated at the very same table as that one. Showers truly are celebrations… except when you mingle my mother’s family with my father’s.
• I love the way he tells a story • Not commitment-phobic • Nurturing, sensitive and gentle • Well educated / intellectually stimulating • Funny/witty smart humor (not at the expense of others’ feelings) • Hearty seexual appetite, but not so much so that he is willing to stray • Successful and driven yet will always put family first: Family oriented but not to a fault… realizes that “our” family comes before either of our own families. Not a mamma’s boy. • Non-yeller, should know how to fight fair… not call me names or bring up insecurities. • He has stones and knows how to throw them. • He’ll know to show up in the middle of the night if we’re fighting on the phone. He wouldn’t want us to spend any holidays apart. • He doesn’t smoke, ever. • He’ll show up just because. He won’t worry about pride. He’ll want to be with me. Period. • I shouldn’t wonder and question what he thinks or feels: open communicator… A man who knows how to tell me things I don’t want to hear. Should be a man who doesn’t tiptoe around when he’s afraid to say something. He should say, “fcuk what anyone else thinks…this is my woman.” Someone who adores me, thinks of me all the time, and doesn’t show his love with words alone but with actions, too. • Should love me just a smidge more: He must gush over me. I need to know that he adores me, thinks I’m a goddess, and that he would do anything in his power to ensure my happiness. He must put “the unit” first. • He should call. He should know when to call. He shouldn’t make me anxious, and he should know how to relieve it…but only if he means it. Shouldn’t do it just to make me feel better temporarily. I shouldn’t feel jealous or insecure, because I should feel it deep within my bones during those times, that he would never ever ruin us. • It should be friendship, not games. If he isn’t flooding me with love and showering me with affection, I should still enjoy his company. He should genuinely make me laugh out loud, since I don’t do that often. I should feel a deep sense of connectivity. • We’ll have fights; he’ll understand my drama. We’ll continue on, us against the world. But always an us, a team of two. • Picks me up for dates, plans things for us to do, makes reservations. • Likes watching movies, eating, and drinking wine. • Likes Linus. • He’s introspective and not afraid of changing what he wants to. • He’s a whole person, who has things to teach me. I know I probably can’t have everything; there’s a bit about compromise. I also know sometimes what we think we want isn’t really what we want deep down. I have a strong sense he’ll be creative, not necessarily for a living, and he’ll have energy. He’ll teach me things and ADD to the relationship. Never doubt your instincts, but be aware of familiarity breeding unhealthy dependencies.
Okay, so I have a stimulating job. As long as we’re agreed on that, I’ll continue. Every morning, we chew the fat in my office. Gary has a reserved seat my desk. He brings me my grande skim, no whipped, toffee nut latte. Usually, we wrap about how he tied one on a bit too tight last night and what should he have for greasfast. Next comes what outfit did I convince Meredith not to wear out with me last night, or he asks who is up for the night and how’s my lineup looking. Ultimately David chimes in about what his sumbitching mother-in-law is up to now. Today though, as I write this, actually, the team is huddled around my computer watching “Are You Hot?” auditions on my second monitor. One might wonder how I stumbled upon such exciting web footage considering I seldom watch TV. Joan, my boss, interrupted our dishing session, saying that we “must see this show. It is the worst show ever. You have to see it.” (This reminds me of people who tell me to “taste this. I think it’s gone bad.”) “Lorenzo Lamas hosted last night, and he was checking out this girl, and he said ‘Baby, you might not be all that, but I gotta tell ya, I’ve got a taco cooking down south, and it’s almost done.'” Joan lets out a peal of laughter. Joan is a beautiful 40ish petite woman with silver hair, childlike features, and has a laugh that lights her up from the inside like candles in a pumpkin. We proceed to the site as Joan impersonates Lamas; I am the driver. Auditions load. We scan through photos of contestants who’ve appeared on the show. The comments pour: “He might be hot, but he looks like he’s trying to take a dump.” “She is NOT ugly.” “ Hot, without a doubt, but so Joe Lunchbucket.” “All the chicks have fake boobs.” “Man, I can’t tell when they’re fake or not.” “Get out, how can you not tell? They look like they’ve got two saucers of milk under there.” “He’s alright at best. The guy has eyes like pissholes in the snow.” “She’s cute, sure. But you can tell just by looking at her that her name ends in a vowel.” “What did he mean he had a taco down south? Why a taco? Oh, maybe because he’s Spanish?” “Yeah, I don’t really get the taco reference.” “Well maybe he’s uncircumcised.” “Still, why wouldn’t he say burrito then?” “I like the word butt taco, don’t you?” “I like vertical taco myself.” “What’s a vertical taco?” Ah, I have to say, I’m not at all nostalgic for the days of political correctness.
When train doors slide open, the station platform goes from beige to black. It’s flooded with polished shoes; stick legs form an army ready to assemble. From blank to bustling, in a moment. And that’s how it happened. Unlike a car gliding on its last fumes, slowing to a stall, things happened in a sudden. In a moment, people everywhere looked up. The overhead lights hummed orange; the temperature climbed. Passengers kept calm, reading dog-eared books, squinting into their laps. A women near the pole faints from anxiety, from heat. It is contagious. Subway cars beneath rivers are given priority; their passengers plunged into the darkness of the underground tracks. Maneuvering over rails, arms outstretched, teetering for balance, they’re escorted by strangers. Walking over faded food wrappers, searching for a face, someone to connect with. This could be it. Short order cooks sat. Arms folded, white hats resting on knees. Women in pearls escorted their Manolos down crowded streets, ruining their pedicures. Wide streets narrowed with throngs of people, their bags slung over their shoulders, cell phones in one hand, an overpriced bottle of water in the other. Old ladies with fuchsia lipstick, penciled eyebrows, and burgundy hair direct traffic so furiously, their hair fans out like an opened umbrella—can’t help but hope that it’s all just bad luck. People walking in bus lanes, buses too crowded with passengers, no room, wait for the next. Radio City Music Hall marquee dark. Traffic lights blank. Times Square black. “Bike for sale, $600. That’s right, people, God turned the lights out. The end is near.” Men in dark suits, with their ties and jackets draped over a winged arm, walk face down with opened cell phones, text messaging, as if engrossed in a good book, using peripheral vision as a guide. They have arrived: the end of the line for the public pay phone. Dress shoes were broken in. Blisters. Lines for Mister Softee, for the bus, down subway stairs, for the ferry, of people in the street sandwiched between stationary cars. People huddled in semicircles around parked cars with loud radios, as if the President had been shot. Brownstone steps became porches. This was not The South; this was Manhattan with candles. The jewelry district is closed. Hassidic men stand in long navy lines, their white shirts stained with rings of sweat, like water on paper. Just as cadets wait to be bussed off to a co-ed social, a small army of men line up neat as matchsticks on the sidewalk, hats intact, waiting with anticipation and hot palms for their big yellow bus to take them home. Their display windows have been cleared; vaults are filled. The doors to camera stores near 42nd street have been locked. “We Are Open” signs have been turned. A graveyard of standing cardboard signs is all that’s left in their windows. ‘Panasonic’, ‘Sony’, ‘New!’, ‘Ask for Price’ stand alone, naked, their items removed with haste. Looting Prevention. Central park has more heels than shoelaces, more nylon stockings than nylon shorts. Dogs in Sheep’s Meadow race beyond NO DOGS ALLOWED signs. Ice cream vendors sell out their stock, push silver carts along the median of Park Avenue, smiling. Those who hated soda had one. Those who favored chocolate were left with Toasted Almond. Some people live and sleep their work. Unable to get home to Manhasset, to White Plains, to Livingston, they literally sleep at work. Wet with sweat, skin sticking to leather conference room sofas. Outside Grand Central Station, businessmen sat on their laptops with faces of defeat. Over the Queensboro Bridge, New Yorkers shuffled, shielding their eyes with hand-visors, looking up. Others looked down trying to stop the rocking in their heads, leaning over the bridge. Motion sickness. Vomit. A napkin and water from a stranger. Passengers stranded in stalled subway cars on the bridge, pry open doors, sit on the edges, dangle their bare feet, wave to walkers and wait for heroes. People wishing they had dressed lighter, that they had a better cell phone service provider, that they owned a flashlight, that they had worn flats, that they had pressed ‘save’ on their computer, that they kept a car, that they lived on a lower floor. Afternoon lullaby tapes go silent—the baby begins to cry. And so neighbors meet for the first time, in the dark, sharing a candle up shadowed stairwells, whispering by default. Invited into a stranger’s apartment, while previously you barely took a moment to nod up from your paper to extend a half-smile and grunt a punctuated “G’morning” in the elevator. Without knowing how long it would last, friends tried to meet for drinks—take advantage while it lasts, like being excused from school early because of heavy snow, only for the snow to melt. A free half…
Agreed, I have a very anxious dog. Is it genetic you think, this nervousness, or is it learned behavior? My doorman remembers the former tenant of 6K (my boss Joani) and her dog, and he said Amos was very relaxed, snobbish almost, like his owner. What does it say that Linus is a bundle of anxiety, hardly neatly packaged? Let’s face it; he’s unruly. People do it all the time. Choose a spouse, their friends, even their dogs as a reflection of who they are. Not ‘you are what you eat,’ but certainly there’s some cliché about the company you keep. I suppose some people see their dogs as an accessory, an extension of themselves. Some people begin to look like their pets somehow, the wrinkles, the walk, the crooked bottom rack of teeth. Like children, and Burberry plaid, pets are extensions. Of course, it’s nothing new to compare pets to children. I’m guilty. Parents get excited at a giggle, even if it’s gas. And I too, love those little things about Linus, yes, even his gas. The sound he makes when he’s crunching his food, his bunny hop, the way he humps the stuffed dog when he’s bored, the slight tilt of his head when he’s curious, how he sounds like Woodstock from The Peanuts when he yawns. Ah, and the Linus stretch, with his front legs on the ground, his tight little rump of an ass waiving in the air. My favorite Linusism is how he weasels his way under me when I’m sleeping on my stomach, and how he must be touching my skin before he can ever really sleep, nuzzling his way into any of my body nooks. And when I’m inaccessible, he beans when he sleeps. He knows when food is for him by just watching how small I cut it, and he’ll stare at me, ears erect, that brilliant rock-star dog of mine, as if to say, ‘Oh yeah baby, I’m ready. I was born ready; bring it lady.’ No, I don’t take Linus to the playground and strap him into a swing or anything (how cute and deranged would that be?), but he does go to the dog run on 72nd street to run in a self-exercising circle, like a herding dog only much smaller. There, he chases a ball and sniffs some ass, then we go home and make out. Parents care when their children look like ragamuffins before getting on the plane, or are having trouble in school, or do things that make one question their intelligence, like yanking chewed and discarded gum from beneath a desk, and then eating it to see if it retained any flavor. So when Linus’ social or survival skills fall below par and he decides to eat my plant, or when he flies through the air with anything but grace from sofa cushion to ottoman back to sofa cushion again, a furry pinball, what does it say about me? I’m good to the boy, just like a parent. Parents give their children dress coats and new shiny shoes with buckles every year. Dog owners get coats and cable-knit sweaters, and designer leashes and collars, and don’t get me started on the carriers for the little ones. Today even, before leaving for work, I tucked him into a sweater, pushing his little rose petal ears back, and grabbing his little mouth, to stick his head through the sweater opening. Not just any sweater… an argyle sweater with buttons that are usually reserved for blazers with suede elbows. Then he looks up at me, ready for the collar, for the walk, for the pigeons and outdoor stool time. No such luck, instead he gets Smelly & Regis and the daytime offerings of ABC. And then he whines, like a little sissy girl crybaby. Maybe it’s the sweater. Linus isn’t just anxious and nervous; he’s needy. It doesn’t matter what is in his mouth, a sock, the underwear he stole out of the laundry basket, a toy covered in peanut butter, even a steak… that little dog will follow me wherever I go. Boom. Tap tap tap. His little paws click on the hardwood floor. Tap. He sneaks up behind me, tap, with his head carried low, avoiding eye contact, tap, his tail tight against his bottom. He must be thinking, ‘what can I get away with here?’ Then boom, he’s on my lap, his legs collapse and fan beneath him–frog’s legs–happy as a clam, he chews his greasy bone on my leg. I’m suddenly feeling like Dr. Frankenstein.
A one-week romance at camp is the equivalent to a one-month relationship outside of it. You eat all of your meals in the same room and are thrown together with the significant other throughout the day, even when it’s not expected. Co-ed soccer, rainy day art class, when the boys are on the way to the lake and the girls are on the way to the pool. Almost everyone is involved in a summer romance at camp, even if it’s only a romance in your head. If there is someone you’ve got your eye on, all of your friends know it. They shift and maneuver just so you’re seated beside that special someone at the campfire. Cruiser and I were not a figment of my imagination. I had proof. He asked me if I would go out on a date with him. We were both ten and in camp. Neither of us had older siblings. We held hands and walked around the lake twice on our “date.” Finally, we ended up near the horse stables, behind the lake. There was an enormous rock there, nestled between some bushes that everyone in the know referred to as “Make-Out-Rock.” Cruiser and I hoisted ourselves onto it and sat quietly staring at our shoes. Finally he said, “Do you want to run the bases?” I knew exactly what he was talking about, but I was mortified. I was not nervous or embarrassed about making out at all. I was disgusted at how corny he sounded. I remember almost flinching like he had just told a flat joke. Without my saying a word, he scooted off the rock, picked a small stick off the ground, and began to swing it through the air. “Strike one!” He said quickly as he waved the branch. “Strike two!” He continued. My god, he was serious! “Uh oh, strike three, you know what that means. I’ve got to take my base.” Obviously Cruiser was so nervous that he was confusing strikes with balls. “Uh, no.” I said as I peered at him from atop the rock. “It means you’re out.” I was feeling satisfied. “Oh, yeah.” He mumbled. “Well, it’s your turn now.” He handed me the stick. “What, you mean you want me to actually swing it?” “Yeah, it’s your turn.” I felt incredibly stupid swinging the branch in the air counting imaginary balls. But, I wanted to kiss. I declared, “Ball four.” Cruiser climbed back onto the rock and said, “Okay, first base.” Then it happened. I don’t remember if I closed my eyes or not, but I do recall that we weren’t touching when it happened. Cruiser and I opened our mouths and flicked our tongues. Hot saliva. I’m sure our lips must have been touching, but that’s all. It was almost as fast as a snap, and all I could think was “mush.” I think I made a face like I just smelled milk that had gone sour. “Do you want to do it again?” “No. No.” I said quickly shaking my head rigidly. Then an older boy walked by and said, “Hey Cruiser, have you cruised up her shirt yet?” That was my first and last kiss for a long time.