The Misery of Love

Maud Gonne

Why should I blame her that she filled my days with misery…                                                Why, what could she have done, being what she is?                                                                          Was there another Troy for her to burn?                                                                                             No Second Troy by William Butler Yeats

Love can be thrilling, can’t it? It can make your heart sing; bring a smile to your lips unbidden. When you’re truly in love, nothing else really matters. Except when your love is unrequited, then everything else matters. Yeats wrote No Second Troy about Maud Gonne, who was considered a great beauty and firebrand in revolutionary Ireland around 1916. She spurned his marriage proposals several times, before she finally married another suitor. She remained his muse though.

Certainly, I have felt that misery, the ruinous echo of love vibrating within my own cavernous heart with no answering call to soothe the aching. Back in my younger days, perhaps it was puppy love, but it felt real enough to me. I’d pass a note or leave a message to call me back and then anxiously await a reply. Sometimes waiting sheepishly for days because there never was an answer.

Over the years, I’ve learned love can wound and hurt as much as it can bind and make whole. I’ve been divorced now. I’m not so innocent as I once was, not innocent at all really. Once, I would have bared my heart in a note, now I’m guarded. A woman friend admitted she was afraid she couldn’t love again. She had been through too much and didn’t know if she could open herself up like that once more. She asked, Do you think you can love again, James? And I didn’t have an answer, but I did have a hope I could rebuild Troy.

#wby #yeats #williambutleryeats #maudgonne #nosecondtroy #lastfirstkiss #onlinedating #boomergeneration

A Woman Walks Down the Street (pt. duh)

A woman walking down the street encounters comments from men who are strangers to her. At various times in her life, she reacts differently to them. By the way, I did not imagine this woman. She is real. My question to you is, which woman is right, the one complimented by the whistles or the woman disgusted by the catcalls or even the last who misses the attention? I’d suggest they can all be right at the same time. Of course, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), a woman has the right to react to these street interactions however she wants. I think it gets tricky when people want to legislate them, particularly the more strident feminists.

I’ve worked in construction my whole life and have witnessed thousands of these situations over the years. As for me, I’ve never been comfortable going beyond a smile and saying good morning to a pretty woman as she passed by me and this fairly rarely. Some women have responded in kind, many have continued on their way with no reaction at all. I’ve never been called out on it. Logically, I understand I’m putting a social obligation on the woman. I’ve said something to you, now it’s your turn. The woman has every right to ignore me. And once ignored I should cease all attempts at contact. On the other hand, I’ve seen my fellow workers do it constantly and in various ways. Some are polite with their hellos and compliments, some get rather suggestive and lewd. I’ve never seen a woman smile or react kindly to a lewd comment. I can only conjecture the man making them gets off on it for some odd reason.

As a job goes on and the same women walk by the same men, a routine can start to occur, where they seem to expect and enjoy the brief, polite interaction. Good morning, you look great today! Some men are quite good at it and can almost always get a smile or even a laugh in return. I’ve found a woman’s reaction is often dependent on what, how, and who is saying it. A complimentary, non-threatening remark in passing by a guy who looks like Jon Hamm is often looked upon better than anything said by the guy who looks like Paul Giamatti.

I have scolded several men over the years I’ve felt crossed the line into lewdness or harassment. My usual line of reprimand is, How would you feel if some filthy fuck said that to your wife or your daughter? I’ve seen the rare woman stop and put an offending man in his place. Those women scare me. Their I don’t give a fuck attitude is a force of nature.

I do not think catcalling should be outlawed. We have a little thing called the 1st amendment in this country, but we shouldn’t use the law to be creepy or harassing. As men, we should call out our fellows who cross the line between a compliment (whether wanted or not) and harassment. I do believe there is a line and like the definition of pornography, we know it when we see it. We must recognize a woman has the right to ignore us and curse us in return, if she wishes.

A Woman Walks Down the Street

A young woman walked down the street on the west side of Manhattan on a warm summer morning. She was a very pretty woman, dressed nicely, apparently going to her job in an office somewhere. She passed a construction site, where a few men in hardhats whistled and made catcalls. They said things like, Looking good, sweetheart. Or Wanna grab a cup a joe? Oh yeah, I’m Joe. She smiled briefly and walked on. She didn’t mind the attention, a little acknowledgement of her beauty. She found the men harmless.

The same woman, several years older, made her way from her apartment. She had music playing loudly in her headphones, the better to ignore the catcalls and whistles she endured each morning. She considered the “compliments” and somewhat lewd suggestions rude and disgusting. Even an unbidden Good morning could ruin her day. She had grown to loath the harassment, wondering how these men would react if they saw their wives or daughters getting the same sexist treatment.

Thirty years on, this very same woman, deep into her fifties now, leaves her building one morning, walks the same route. Her looks have faded with age. With each child, she gained a little more weight she could never shed. Where once she had flawless smooth skin, she now has wrinkles and worry lines. As she walks to the subway, none of the men turn their heads to admire her looks. No one spares a Good morning. For the briefest of moments, she misses the attention the men once gave her.

To be continued…

I haven’t finished this yet and you may wonder where I’m going. I know I’m trying to be provocative.

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #kissing #sexism #streetharassment

On a Summer’s Day

On a Summer’s day so still, even the chipmunks stopped skittering, my love and I lazed about the lakeshore. Except for being named Long Pond on the local map, I would have had a hard time calling it a small lake or a large pond. I never knew the difference, just the same with creeks and brooks.* As with many things, it was the size that mattered. I just didn’t know when one became the other. Suffice to say, the day was so hot, I had nothing better to do but ponder such things aloud. And Angela listened and smiled wryly, because she had nothing better to do than listen to me and the cicadas drone.

We slathered ourselves slick with sunscreen and took two fat innertubes out of the dockside shed and placed them in the water. Angela tried gracefully to plant her bottom in the center, but failed miserably. I handed her two umbrellas after she had settled and then I just flopped backwards into mine. We opened our umbrellas and meandered about the pond slowly as there was barely any breeze at all.

We held hands or intertwined our legs, as if there really was a chance of drifting apart. Twice we laid our umbrellas upside down on the water surface so they could float while we took a dip in the cool, clear water. Later, we showered and supped. I built a little fire with twigs by the pond to keep the critters and skeeters away. We shared a bottle of wine sitting on cushioned Adirondack chairs, awaiting the stars to blink awake as they did in that divine darkness. And Angela listened to me tell talltales of make-believe constellations. What would you like to do tomorrow, I asked.

The same again, please, she replied, smiling sleepily.

*Ever the seeker of useless knowledge, I took the time to find out the difference between ponds and lakes and…there is no scientific demarcation, except to say a pond is smaller than a lake. I also read sunlight does not reach the bottom of a lake, but really the person who names it makes the call.

The difference between brooks and creeks: size again, but it gets a little more scientific in that you can step across a brook but have to jump across a creek.

There will be quiz later.

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #kissing #summer #shortstory #fiction

The Nouveau Virgins

I had been told it’s possible to have given birth while still a virgin. Of course, being Catholic, I had heard all about the Virgin Mary, but nobody in my hometown was being visited by the archangel Gabriel. These miraculous pregnancies were being prognosticated by Mr. Forrest, 6’4″ of grizzled, no-nonsense, former marine. He was my eighth grade sex education teacher (really he was the gym teacher and way out of his depth) telling us boys-the girls were being lectured separately-we could get so excited during a makeout session that some eager sperm may very well escape, weave their way through our briefs and jeans, through the girl’s clothes, and swim their way happily upstream to fertilize an unexpecting, but soon to be expecting, egg. He told us our sperm were absolutely Homeric in their endeavor to get to their goal. Our running backs at the high school, he said pointedly, could learn a lot from sperm.

And just like that, the hallways would be filled with pregnant virgins. Mr. Forrest also told us, the resultant baby should be considered 9 months old and three months later, a year old. After all, he told us, life starts at conception. Mr. Forrest did not shy away from controversy. We were made to keep a decent distance between our bodies during the slow songs at the school dance a few days later.

As far as I know, there were no virgin births and yet I’ve found no lack of nouveau virgins as I’ve waded back into the dating pool. These are middle-aged women, mostly mother’s, who are quite happy living chaste lives. Sex will be withheld until either I’ve proven myself especially worthy or we’ve married. My ex-girlfriend found religion several years into our relationship and decided one day we would no longer know each other sexually until after a walk down the aisle. I walked somewhere, but it was not down an aisle.

A woman, with whom I love conversing, told me she has basically given up sex for good. I told her sex and ice cream are the two great rewards life has to offer. I’ll stick to ice cream then. I get nauseous thinking about bodily fluids. I didn’t bother pointing out ice cream is frozen scoops of bodily fluids, just not human.

I am not arguing for casual or promiscuous sex, but I do feel sex is one of the great joys God has granted us. In no other way can one find that level of bliss naturally. The orgasm is a gift granted by God, to make the perpetuation of life a joy, not a burden. I would suggest as we get older, perhaps we should be enjoying it more. After all, the years don’t run ahead in great numbers anymore. Your orgasms, like your days, are finite. Gather them while you still can.

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #kissing

#orgasm #virgins #catholic #virginmary

I Should Be Committed

As we get older, commitments become very different things from what they were when we were young. We’ve aged, matured, and gained life experience we could not fathom in our 20’s. I was 27 years old when I got married. What did I know about “until death do us part”? One would think it would be a little easier making that promise now the end point isn’t quite so distant, but somehow it’s become more difficult.

I was discussing commitments the other night. Which were the ones I was still willing to make? For instance, I don’t think I’d buy a house with a 30-year mortgage with any thought I’d be burning the note at the end.

And as you get older, those commitment periods get shorter. I would like to get a pet to share my days. A tortoise is out of the question. Those bastards can live 75 years. Even the longevity of parrots might be too much. They can go 22 years. A dog or cat might still make good companions. They can live 10 to 15 years. After I reach 70, I’ll have to do the math again.

I recently bought some tickets for a concert 9 months away. In the age of computers, do they really need to sell them so far out. When I buy a ticket to something, I would like to go while I still remember I bought the damn things. In the not too distant future, I may have to stop buying tickets for shows that far in the future. I may not be there to see it. And, frankly, for some of these old rock and rollers, I’m a little doubtful they’re going to be around that long.

The commitment grace period is getting shorter. I think I have a few more great commitments left in me, a pet, a car. There will be a day though, when I’ll have to think twice about buying a gallon of milk. After all, my expiration date might be before the stamp on the container.

#onlinedating #middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #kissing #expirationdate #pets #milk

#toohot

Farrah Fawcett in the Boys’ Room

I grew up in a three bedroom, one bathroom house. There were seven of us humans, usually a dog, and sometimes a turtle in an unexpanded, one and a half story, Cape Cod-style house. My parents bedroom was on the first floor. The rest of us inhabited the upper floor. Us three boys lived in the larger of the two bedrooms. On the gable wall of both rooms was a single double hung window, which provided both natural light and oxygen in stingy amounts. My younger brother and I slept in the bunk bed; my older brother got the twin bed. I was very jealous. Our room, by far the more luxurious, was carpeted, sheetrocked, and painted. As opposed to my sisters’ room, which had a linoleum floor and some weird unfinished wood paneling I’ve never seen anywhere else, on the walls and eaved ceiling. The beds were built in on either side of the room. There was no heat in the room. I would’ve felt sorry for my sisters, but my father built another bedroom in the basement for my older brother and us remaining boys were unceremoniously switched into the girls’ room. Being boys, extreme temperatures would be of no concern to us. I look back fondly on those freezing days of January and February when my mother had to chip me out of bed with an ice pick. During the dog days of summer, there was only one air conditioner in the entire house and it hummed loudly behind the closed door of my parents room, almost as if to taunt us. I remember when my father was in there, he lay a towel across the bottom of the door so none of that icy goodness would escape.

The eaved ceiling slanted above my head, when I was laying in my bed. There was an old-fashioned sconce lamp at the head, but it could barely chase the shadows in that very dark room. When I was 13 or so, I tacked that very iconic poster of Farrah Fawcett on the ceiling above me. The last thing I saw when I turned out the light and the first thing I saw waking up was her toothy smile and abundance of golden hair on her unusually large head. And she apparently had nipples. As far as I knew, she was the only woman who had them. I had no evidence of any others. Not like today. You can barely open a door without bumping into a nipple. I’ll always love Farrah Fawcett for that poster. She lit my evenings and warmed my body as a boy.

#onlinedating #middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #kissing #farrahfawcett #farrahfawcettposter