Archive for the relationships Category

DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL

Posted in musings, relationships, social commentary, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2009 by kimmy

I couldn’t help but feel a tremendous amount of empathy for him because I know exactly what he’s undergoing.  If there was an easier route, we’d take it.  However, how many of us really know where we’re headed when pain grips so tightly that all vision is temporarily halted?

Having been through it more than a few times, I know that the reward on the other side is much greater than the effort.  However, first-timers are often overwhelmed by the magnitude of the challenge.  It seems insurmountable, but that’s only an illusion concocted by the players.  If you extricate yourself before intermission, the ensemble will be short an actor and the drama suspended, causing resentment among those left onstage.  Pity we can’t send in an understudy…

Not that he would be welcomed.  A pinch-hitter is only as good as his predecessor.  It’s unlikely that he’s aped your habits well enough to fool the audience, or the blood demands of your fellow thespians.  So you must choose between your own wellbeing and that of the show.  Which will go on?

Of course the problem is that the longer the show goes on, the harder it is to leave it.  It’s like a long-running stage contract in Las Vegas or a sitcom with endless residuals.  It’s difficult to leave the steady paycheck and familiar routine.   And yet even these may not be enough for you, especially when you’re alerted to something greater beyond them.

Hence the quandry, which in essence is not conflict between others, but internal strife.  When you realize that the hot mess you’re in is of your own creation, suddenly you have no one to blame and the long watch begins.  It’s a lonely black night sitting with yourself, ruminating on all the detours you’ve taken.  You might rail against all those choices, despairing over your inability to hit the bull’s eye.  But who of us do on the first try?

You might feel ashamed that you didn’t learn sooner and had to involve so many people in your journey.  But how can you thank those who are ignorant of the role they’ve played?  Or angry and dismissive when you do?  No amount of explanation, however earnest, will convince them.  Just as you have, they must discover these subtleties on their own.

And they will… in time.  But for now you must sit quietly in the dark and wait.  The light of understanding will come, not carried on a tray by a rowdy host of friends and family, but slowly over the horizon.

VIRTUAL AFTERMATH

Posted in fiction, flash fiction, musings, relationships, social commentary with tags , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2009 by kimmy

The café door blew open and she rode in on a gust.  “You’ll never guess what I did today!”

There’s no telling what Suzanne will do, so I played along.  “You joined the circus?”

She giggled and threw her purse onto the table.  I had to grab my latte to prevent it from capsizing.  “No, silly!  I broke up with Neil!”

“Who?”

“You remember him, Kimmy, don’t you?  He’s my virtual boyfriend.”

Apparently, she was still capable of surprise.  “You gotta be kidding me…”

She continued, oblivious to my response.  “Nope.  I told him flat out that it wasn’t working for me and that I didn’t want to see him anymore.”

“You told your imaginary boyfriend whom you’ve never seen that you no longer want to see him?”

I didn’t think it was possible, but she answered without a trace of guile.  “Yeah, he just wasn’t there for me…”

She waltzed up to the counter to place an order and I wondered if she had finally lost her marbles.  Suzanne is a formidable business woman and one of my dearest friends, but her romantic sensibilities are questionable at best.  I vaguely recalled a discussion of her latest paramour, but she didn’t refer to him by name; nor did she mention that he wasn’t quite real.  The mystery was almost starting to intrigue me. . .

. . . until she plopped into the seat opposite me and started a litany of his alleged offenses.  “You know, if I had known that he’d be so unreasonable, I would have never started up with him!  Did he think I’d carry the weight of all this by myself?”  She took a sip of espresso.  “And I thought I really knew him. . .”

I didn’t bother concealing a smirk.  “So, how did the two of you meet?”

“In Cannes,” she sighed.   “Remember when they sent me to cover the festival for that art rag that folded last month?   Well, we met in the press room one night and that was it. . .”

“You’ve never been to Cannes.”

“. . . at least I thought that was it until he turned into a complete absentee.”  She stirred her coffee thoughtfully for a moment before looking up suddenly.  “Kimmy, you don’t think he’s a player, do you?”

“Who, the invisible man?”

“I’m serious,” she said, indignant.  “What if I was just one of many?”

I patted her hand.  “If there were other women, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it; they’re probably fictional as well.”

NEW WORLD ORDER

Posted in musings, politics, relationships, social commentary with tags , , , , , on September 7, 2009 by kimmy

What is the measure of a successful relationship?  Longevity?  Progeny?  Mutual respect?  A stunning real estate portfolio?  I recently put the question to a number of people and their answers were revealing.  Instead of finding contentment in the classic template of our parents and grandparents, most chafe under it and yearn for something else.

The majority of those polled admitted that old-fashioned gender roles were dissatisfying.  Men said they were more befuddled than ever.  Ladies complained of the unfair burden placed upon them.  It seemed that despite the feminism they embraced, they still shouldered the bulk of the domestic chores.  Helen Gurley Brown was wrong; you can’t have it all … unless you’ve managed to clone yourself.

Judging from the response of both camps, it seems this frustration is mutual.  Why then do we insist upon using a formula that no longer serves?  Are we hardwired for this division of labor, or have we evolved to a level where we must reevaluate and consciously change our behavior?

Assuming that we’re capable of real change, where would we begin?  Pitching the whole thing and starting from scratch?  Pruning a few dead branches from an otherwise healthy tree?  A slow replacement of the unworkable with the untested?  If we have learned anything from experience, wholesale legislation rarely works …especially when venturing into the minefield of civil liberties.  People rarely part with their dearly held beliefs, even if they are self-defeating.

So we remain trapped, unwilling to change yet stymied by inertia.  Is it any wonder that we’re enraged?  The real question is with whom are we truly angry, our hapless companions or ourselves.

THE HIGH MAINTENANCE WOMAN

Posted in love, musings, relationships, social commentary, writing with tags , , , , , , on August 19, 2009 by kimmy

You know who I mean.  She always enters a room fully expecting to be feted.  She routinely inspects her appearance discreetly in every reflective surface, but takes no pains to conceal her contempt of others.  She’s always flipping her hair and gauging reaction from the corner of her eye.  God forbid another attractive woman occupy the same radius!

No one commands the petulant quite like her.  If a stamp of her (exceptionally well-shod) foot doesn’t snap you to attention, she’s always ready with a barb designed to shrivel your manhood.  If she launches it in public, so much the better.  Nothing smacks of true love more than humiliation.

If you can’t satisfy her every demand, be certain that a queue of the willing are just behind.  You are only a means to end, but you don’t really mind, do you?  It’s a small price to pay. 

The appeal is irresistable.  For every man decrying the dwindling numbers of respectable, date-worthy women, there are two fighting for favor of the bitchy ones.  Who wants a loving woman to keep the home fire burning, when a dismissive tempermental one is ready to burn it down?

Not that her temper assures you of any heat in the bedroom.  More often than not, she’s a cold fish… but damn!  Doesn’t she look bodacious in that Victoria’s Secret thong?  Maybe you’re not getting laid, but all your buddies will think you are.

It’s all a matter of appearance, not substance.  But who cares about substance?  Better to be the envy, not the pity, of the boys down at the Legion.  They can have their pick of the wallflowers… you’re going home with Miss September.

A DOORMAT BY ANY OTHER NAME

Posted in relationships, social commentary, writing with tags , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2009 by kimmy

After witnessing the collapse of yet another friend’s long-term relationship, I wondered what all these women had in common.  Aside from shouldering the lion’s share of the work involved, it seemed that all of them were exceptionally giving and tolerant women.  Strange, then, that they were assigned the unfair moniker of fickle.

We gathered one night to discuss our mutual woes.  It was ironic that even after bolting, they were still concerned with the welfare of everyone else but themselves. 

“My priest says I’m going straight to hell if I don’t take him back.  Do you think he’s right?” 

I couldn’t help but laugh.  Only a celibate man would have the balls to make such a statement.  I asked her if Father Flannigan knew about her husband’s infidelities.  She confessed that he did, but advised her that since a man’s needs were so much greater and important than her own, she’d best turn a blind eye for the sake of the children.  Savvy advice indeed.  Of course he failed to mention than if she contracts HIV from her wayward husband, the kids will have to do without a mother. 

“I don’t want to be a single parent.  The kids need a father.”

Lots of guilty tears accompanied that one.   It seemed ironic that despite her remorse, she didn’t realize that for the last 10 years she has been the defacto parent while Mr. Right travelled the world.  She was absolutely correct; the children do need a father.  I suggested that she go out and find a suitable one immediately.

“I’m terrified of being alone.  Isn’t the devil you know better than the one you don’t?”

Sure, if you don’t mind selling your soul.  I couldn’t help but wonder why she rued leaving her alcoholic boyfriend.  Did she think she could love him into sobriety?  I thought that after his third DUI, she would finally gather the courage to leave.  Pity she waited until he actually broadsided another vehicle.  Now she can add the guilt of a stranger’s injuries to her list.

As the self-blame fest continued, it seemed odd that the shortcomings of their (now former) partners were not mentioned.  It seemed that no matter the circumstance, each woman assigned herself the responsibility of failure, a choice eagerly endorsed by their errant lovers. 

“Greg’s telling everyone that I had a nervous breakdown.”

Of course he is.  That way he’s completely excused for his behavior, assumes none of the responsibility and is free to commit the same blunders with another woman.

“Marv told the kids that I’ve become a lesbian.”

When all else fails, try character attacks.  If it works on the campaign trail, it can work for any resentful dumpee.  Just describe the opponent in the worst possible light and then feign innocence when questioned.   Simply blame those tear-filled, late-night calls to her girlfriends for any misconception, and walk away.  It doesn’t matter if her reputation is besmirched.  This is war! 

Now logic dictates that these behaviors are co-dependent.  A clear-thinking woman would notice it and make the necessary changes to keep her sanity.  But what of those who are so caught up in fixing others that they don’t even know the damage wrought to themselves?  My grandmother once told me that if you don’t want others to tread on you, you must stop acting the doormat.

Maybe it’s time to put the welcome mat into storage.

GEOGRAPHICALLY CHALLENGED

Posted in love, men, relationships, women, writing with tags , , , , , on May 12, 2009 by kimmy

It was nearly three months since I last talked to Diane.  At the time, she was nearly giddy, just having met the man of her dreams on e-Harmony and spending every available moment on Skype.  She fell in love, and off the radar, into what I hoped was well-deserved domestic bliss.

So imagine my surprise when she called me on Sunday, interrupting my otherwise placid Mother’s Day luncheon with sobs and an urgent plea for advice.  Through her tears, she explained that Prince Charming had scuttled the new-formed relationship before taking it out to sea.

“He refuses to meet me,” she wept. 

“Uh, he refuses to greet you?”  It was a little hard to understand Diane when she was in the middle of a crying jag.

“No!  Kimmy, he won’t even meet me for coffee!”

I admit I was a little puzzled.  Had they had a lovers’ quarrel and the Prince refused to kiss and make up?  Apparently not, I soon learned as she hastily brought me up to speed.  It seemed that despite their torrid exchanges via webcam, they hadn’t actually met in person.

“He says I live too far away.”

It made perfect sense to me.  Why else would they lurk on Skype?  Romance is difficult enough without the challenge of distance.   

I tried to remind her of this as she bemoaned her fate.  “Didi, you can’t exactly meet at Starbucks if you live in New York and he’s in L.A.”

There was long pause.  “Kimmy, he lives only 20 miles from me.”

Oh, one of those predicaments.  I didn’t know what to say to her; it seems that even the most desirable women are not immune to the scourge of poor location.  Of what value are charm, grace and accomplishment if the lady at issue is not conveniently located?  It’s not enough that we must be attractive, fit, solvent, employed and sexually adventurous.  If we’re not within easy reach, we don’t merit the effort.

It’s a bitter thing for a woman to hear.  Nobody wants to be judged unworthy.  But esteem issues beg the real question here:  Just how lazy have men become anyway?

I remember one such fellow years ago.  After a few preliminary dates, he announced in a rather self-satisfied way that he was pleased with me.  Not because I was an interesting female, but that my apartment was conveniently situated between his home and place of work.  “Now, I don’t have to go out of my way to see you,” he said blithely.  Needless to say, that acquaintance ended badly.  If a man is determined to torpedo a budding or established relationship, all he need do is mention his partner’s lack of specialness.  The world is full of unremarkable people; to be lumped in among them is the kiss of death.

It was little comfort to Diane, who insisted that her life was over.  “This is worse than high school when my boyfriend dumped me for the head cheerleader,” she mourned.  “Her locker was right next to his.”

I agreed that his behavior showed an absence of vision, but cautioned her.  “Maybe he’s just not that enamored of you, Didi.  If he was, wouldn’t he move heaven and hell just to be with you?”

“Yeah, I guess he would,” she snuffled, “but only if hell was next door.”

SOMEBODY MAKE IT STOP

Posted in musings, personal, relationships, social commentary, writing with tags , , , , on February 9, 2009 by kimmy

One can only be pestered so much.  Sooner or later the lid will blow, so it’s best to take cover before being wounded by your own shrapnel.   It doesn’t matter how many times you warn bystanders; they never pay attention.  If your warnings aren’t strident or colorful enough, they think you’re joking.  Therefore it’s always best, even if it’s not your style, to break a few dishes as you calmly argue the point. 

Of course then you’ll be asked to explain.  Never mind the original point at issue; the real question is why you broke the Pyrex casserole dish.  Watch as your needs are buried under piles of minutiea, knowing that it will take centuries before archeologists stumble upon them.  Listen as you’re upbraided, criticized for failure to meet expectations and judged unworthy.

And if that’s not enough, try to maintain your poise while being hammered repeatedly with the same argument.  It doesn’t work.  Invariably, your assailant will find the chink in the armor and gleefully put you off-kilter.  If you think tearful pleas are effective, think again.  That type of drama just encourages them.  Once they catch sight of your weakness, you might as well give up.  It’s a feeding frenzy and you’re the chum, Chum.

Then again, you can always pull the plug.  There’s no law that says you have to participate in madness.  Trying to reason with a person caught up in the unreal is ridiculous; you’ll never succeed.  Instead of grieving over the impossible, why not celebrate?  You escaped with your wits intact.