The Curious Case of Ms. Kim pt3


The third date (see pt1 and pt2 here)had been an improvement, in my mind anyway. I was cautiously looking forward to a next date; maybe we’d finally move beyond this cloud of awkwardness that was hanging above us. It seemed to me Ms. Kim thought I was uneducated and not very smart. I admit I’m kind of quiet in person. I warn dates beforehand. In fact, I tend towards women who are outgoing so they can pick up some of my slack. One of the lessons I’ve learned on my dating journey is if I really fall for a woman, it doesn’t matter the setting (text, phone, facetime or irl*), I’m going to come out of my shell fast. I’m going to participate in our chats and I’m going to smile and laugh more. I think Ms. Kim had preconceived misconceptions about me because I’m a blue collar worker. These misconceptions were probably confirmed by my awkwardness and natural reticence. I’ll let you in on a secret though: I’m not uneducated or stupid. I just play an idiot in impromptu community productions.

Mind you, despite a little optimism creeping in, I still considered this an experiment on where a relationship with a bad start might end up. What happens when you disregard every signal this isn’t going well? We texted back and forth at the beginning of the week and she suggested we go to a Sunday brunch at one of restaurants between our homes. She owned a condo along the Hudson River, along the Palisades just south of the George Washington Bridge. These condos usually have great views of NYC across the river. She also owned a few rental properties, which is my way of saying she was doing well financially. She liked to talk about money. On our dates, she’d dig for information about my own financial standing. I’m okay too, probably not as okay as her. On the second date, she told me she expected the man to pay for the date, despite splitting the check on the first one. I put the second date dinner on my credit card.

I’ll tell you my philosophy on this. We’ve met on a dating site. The woman has already shown she is willing to step out of the traditional roles. We are embarking as equals. This is the 21st century. The woman probably is not a 19 year old virgin waiting for a marriage proposal at home. I have a job; she has a job. Within a few dates, we’ll have a general idea what our economic status is. If I’ve asked out a woman I know is struggling, I will always pick up the check. If The woman is doing okay or even better than me, I’d greatly appreciate if she’d pick up the occasional check or even organize and pay for a date now and again. Ms. Kim was financially capable, but uninterested in holding up her end. I’ve met many women like this. Many of them also expect the man to be the entertainment for the evening and also a white knight as far as manners and chivalry go. On Mondays, they go to their offices and roar like lionesses. Faced with this, I either accept the woman as she is or I move on. I put it aside for the time being and looked forward to our next date.

Sunday brunches are not conducive to romance. They begin and end in daylight; there’s too much food; and the alcohol has little to no effect. In other words, Ms. Kim selecting a brunch  seemed to contradict my slight optimism. And as it turned out, fate stepped in. Later that week, my boss called me to say I needed to go to Pennsylvania to do a small project. I wasn’t sure how long it would take and I told Ms. Kim about my problem. We agreed to play it by ear. That Friday she texted me and I’ll simply copy our messages here:

Ms. Kim: Still not certain about sat schedule? Hope you could come.

Me: I’m growing more pessimistic with each passing minute. I’m sorry

Note: I meant it did not look good for getting back for Sunday brunch, because I was working Saturday and it was a 4 hour drive home and a trip back on Monday.

Ms. Kim: About Sunday?

Ms. Kim, after I didn’t reply right away: With me? I cant just jump in. We need to take it slowly. And see how things go. Pls dont expect me to suddenly be all into you.

Ms Kim, again, a few minutes later with no reply from me: It’s true I’m not super impressed by you. If you are confident though, and think time will help, then why dont you give it a try.

Me: Lol. I’m still at work so I wasn’t watching my texts. I meant Sunday wasn’t looking good, but you’ve insulted me several times now. I thought it might be a cultural difference and not to take it badly, but I’ve had enough now. Take care!

Ms. Kim: Ok

Some hours later, I was out to dinner with a coworker and recounted the whole story. We were laughing, mostly at me, when Ms. Kim texted again:

James, I like you. I’m just not into having a relationship so fast. We can hang out together and see how we enjoy it. Or, are you really not interested at all?

I showed my dinner companion the latest message. I admitted I had no idea what she was talking about. Relationship? We went out a couple of time; we kissed romantically once. I had not been clingy in any sense of the word. In fact, I’d say I was rather the opposite. Nevertheless, I texted back I was tired and I’d get back to her. I was still intrigued to a certain extent why a woman who admitted she was not impressed with me would still want to see me. We texted back and forth after that, but we never went on another date. She just shows up in my texts occasionally with a Hello James. With Covid-19, she has been texting more often, always asking if we can switch to phone calls. I generally say yes. I sometimes get a little risqué in my texts just for the hell of it. She’ll instantly stop the chat. I won’t hear from her for a week or two and then an Hello James will appear. I don’t mind anymore. I’m not trying to impress her. We’ve become oddly friendly. She told me she likes the sound of my voice.

*in real life

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging #autobiography #memories #writing #nyc #bergencounty #nnj #biography #covid19 #coronavirus #seinfeld #thegodfather #georgecostanza

This May’s Snowfall

Never had I seen its like in the midst of May,

Three girls bike by me, tongues pushed out,

Trying to catch snowflakes, focused on their play.

The three bike on by and leave with a shout.

My dad texts, So much for global warming,

Mistaking the day’s weather for the decade’s climate.

I find his world views quite alarming,

But he’s eighty years old and leaning on heaven’s gate.

As for me, I welcome the anomaly,

Manifested in new energy and a glow

Like some anonymous, suburban Gene Kelly

Just singin’ and dancin’ in the snow.

I smile towards the gray sky and the white squall,

Mulling life’s surprises, during this May’s snowfall.


#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging


#autobiography #memories #writing #nyc #nnj

Story Collaboration: Chapter 3 Posted (Who wants to write Chapter 4?)

Hello my readers- I’ve gone off and collaborated again. I hope you’ll follow the link and give it a read. I contributed chapter 3 to a story I see as a noir-ish thriller, but I can see going any number of ways: dystopian, horror, sci-fi. Who knows? I was nervous about advancing a story not of my own creation, but found it exciting as well. I wanted to both focus and broaden the story, flesh out the established characters, and create a new one. I hope someone continues the story. Cheers!

The story collaboration has been off to a great start, and I dearly hope it continues this way. What an awesome story this is becoming! Remember the …

Story Collaboration: Chapter 3 Posted (Who wants to write Chapter 4?)

The Curious Case of Ms. Kim pt 2


Ms. Kim texted me Hello James out of the blue. We had had a perfectly fine first date (see Pt 1 here). True there had been no fireworks, but I thought it was worthy of a second date. She had apparently given it a great amount of thought, weighed the pros and cons, and found me wanting. She canceled our second date by text only a few hours before we were supposed to meet. Honestly, I’ve done some crappy things during my dating days and I figured karma was having a laugh at my expense. I had already filed her away in the cold case drawer. I texted her back a tepid Hey. That’s when she George Costanza’d me.

How are you? She returned. I haven’t heard from you in a while. That’s my usual response to being dumped, dear, I thought. I tend to end the chitchat. She was acting like we were still a thing. I have found most events in one’s life can find parallels or solutions in either of these four canonical sources: the Bible, Shakespeare, Seinfeld or The Godfather. This didn’t quite seem a Leave the gun; take the cannoli moment. I’m sure the Bible and a Shakespeare comedy could help me through this, but I didn’t have the energy to think that hard. My mind instantly went to Seinfeld, as it often does. Specifically, the episode when George quits his job on a Friday, realizes he’s made a terrible mistake, and shows up on Monday like nothing ever happened. The boss doesn’t buy it and throws him out, but I always liked the idea of just rewinding back before a bad or embarrassing moment. All parties just had to suspend their disbelief. Ms. Kim was George in this scenario and I was the boss. I decided I wasn’t going to call her on it. I wanted to see where this went.

We arranged to meet again for a late afternoon drinks and appetizers at a high scale place. The second date resembled the first in most ways. Admittedly, it was a little awkward, because I had it in mind she didn’t really find me worthy. I soldiered on, nevertheless. I discovered she was a bit contrary. She didn’t seem to believe the things I told her. She said she enjoyed writing and I told her I did too. She didn’t quite scoff, but her reaction was akin. I’m a blue collar worker, maybe she didn’t think men like me could have such aspirations. I had to send her a few pieces I quickly copied off my blog. I’ve always been partial to The Power of No (here, if you’d like a peek), so I had her read it. She liked to talk about money (and I’m not adverse to the subject), but again subtly undermined the things I said. At the same time, I distinctly got the feeling she liked dominant men. Her contradictoriness may just be her way of separating the wheat from the chaff (Bible allusion there, btw). Honestly, the second date didn’t stoke any more fires of desire within me. I made a third date all the same.

I don’t know why I continued the relationship. Maybe I’m a little contrary myself and wanted to see where we ended up. Undoubtedly, I did find her physically very attractive. Ms. Kim was in her very early 50’s, but easily could have been mistaken for a 40 year old. She was 5’6″ or so with an athletic body, neither buxom or big-assed, but endowed proportionately. Men did not stop mid-step to gawk, but she pleasantly eased into your view. My eyes lingered there. Her habit of pushing her horn-rimmed glasses back from the tip of her nose was endearing. Her personality could best be described as prickly. I weighed that attribute and found it wanting, but for some reason I wanted to follow the path farther. I invited her back to the restaurant near me, the one she had cancelled so abruptly the month before. I wondered all that Saturday if she would back out last minute, but she did not. We met at the restaurant, had a very good dinner, and shared a bottle of malbec, her preferred wine. Something within me shifted ever so slightly at this dinner. I liked her just a bit more, maybe she felt the same. The conversation was easier. The smiles more frequent. When I walked her to her car, I kissed her deeply for the first time. We parted saying we’ll see each other again the next weekend. For the first time, I felt optimistic about this relationship. Funny thing happened though…


#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging #autobiography #memories #writing #nyc #bergencounty #nnj #biography #covid19 #coronavirus #seinfeld #thegodfather #georgecostanza

The Curious Case of Ms. Kim pt1

110-1100671_silhouette-man-and-woman-on-heels-man-womanA while back, I began messaging a woman I met on one of the dating apps. I’ll tell you a few things about her: she was several years younger than me, very pretty in a librarian sort of way, Korean, and one of her names was Kim. I can give you all that and not give you anything, because I just described about 10% of the Korean population and hundreds of women in my own county in New Jersey, USA. She was born in Seoul, South Korea and came here for university and never moved back. Her family is still there. She married a white man after dating him for several years. Their marriage lasted several more years, but finally ended in divorce. She had no children. All this I learned in those early days of dming on the dating app.

We soon exchanged phone numbers and began texting. She wasn’t what I called a ditherer and wanted to arrange a meetup fairly quickly. We arranged to meet on a Saturday afternoon at an upscale, chain restaurant (a Houston’s to be exact) at the ritzy mall located roughly equidistant between our two homes. This was what I considered a no pressure first meet-up. I dressed casual, but neat, shaved, practiced a smile in the mirror and drove on over. She texted me to say she was there already and sitting at the bar. I walked into a bustling restaurant with every seat taken at the bar. Finding the person I’m meeting is always a bit of an anxious moment for me. I’m fearful I’m going to tap on the wrong woman’s shoulder. If I’m not wearing my glasses, everyone gets a little blurry. I have chosen wrong before.

Fortunately, I managed it well this time. I’m always reminded at such moments of the ancient knight telling Indiana Jones he has chosen the Holy Grail wisely in The Last Crusade. We did the awkward hello shuffle and moved to a just-vacated table along the bar, taking seats opposite each other. She ordered a white wine and I ordered myself a Dark n Stormy (A Dark ‘n’ Stormy Recipe). She looked exactly as she presented herself. She still had an accent, but I didn’t have a problem understanding her. She pushed her glasses back up her nose every so often. I found it cute. We ordered some light lunches and we passed a pleasant 90 minutes or so. We shared the bill (more on my philosophy about that at a later date). I walked her back to her car, hugged her and gave the usual, That was nice; let’s do it again. There are three ways dates usually go with me; 1-I’ve fallen head over heels; 2-Where’s the exit?; 3-You’re perfectly fine, why am I not in love? Ms. Kim was firmly in the last category.

A day or two later, we made another date for a dinner at a nice restaurant by her. She lives nearer the city with a hipper population than me. In my mind, I was thinking maybe she’s into me. Dates nearby homes lend themselves to her nonchalantly saying, Wanna come up for a drink? whilst gently biting her lower lip and pushing her glasses up. By the end of the week, she changed her mind and opted for a place near me. Still I imagined biting my own lower lip and inviting her over to my place. Terrific. The day we were to have dinner, she texted to say she wasn’t sure I was worth the drive, so she was going to cancel our date. It was about a 25 minute drive. I may have low self-esteem, but surely I’m worth a 25 minute drive. Hmmm, I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t completely invested and took the rejection fairly well, but the bluntness shook me a bit. I’m not the type that needs a whole interview on why you’re saying goodbye, but admittedly I was a little curious. I stifled my need for answers, kept my dignity, and filed her away in a dark, forgotten recess. Two weeks later she texted, Hello, James.

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging #autobiography #memories #writing #nyc #bergencounty #nnj #biography #covid19 #coronavirus

*image from

This Too Shall Pass

img_4010Spring has been a bit cooler than usual in my part of the world (northern New Jersey, USA). We’ve been in lock down mode since the end of March or so. Schools, eat-in restaurants, sports arenas, movie theaters, most non-essential businesses have been shutdown. Through the month of April, these restrictions have tightened. People stayed in for the most part. The roads were free of traffic. And apparently, the spread of the virus slowed. We have attained the “flattening of the curve”. With success comes the inevitable hope to see the reward. The weather finally turned sunny and warm. As if the stars all aligned, the governor reopened reopened parks and trails just in time for the people to take those first steps back outside.

As for myself, I took a hike in Rockefeller State Park, which used to be part of a vast estate owned by the wealthy family of that name. And by wealthy, I mean it’s estimated they were the wealthiest people who ever walked God’s green earth. They owned Standard Oil and controlled Chase Bank. These were rich folk. They donated nearly 1800 acres in the early 1980’s. The park abuts land that is still used by the Rockefellers and is open to the public as well. One of the ways the family rewarded themselves was this property about 20 miles north of Manhattan, nestled comfortably on the east bank of the wide Hudson River in Westchester County, New York.

I crossed the river to the other side, traveled a few miles north through Tarrytown and into Sleepy Hollow. Washington Irving once wrote about a headless horseman who haunted these parts. As for me, I saw no sign of that famous equestrian. Walked myself down a trail to a bench by the river. There were a  few sailboats out in the middle of the river tacking and tilting to such a degree, I thought for sure they would flip, but they never did. The river must be at least a mile wide there. One can almost imagine the far bank as it must’ve been 300 years ago or more, when the first white people hacked out their homesteads and the last of the Mohicans and Lenape watched their world disappearing. One can only imagine the fear and uncertainty they felt as winter’s cold fingers withdrew and they stepped into the spring’s first warm days, the trees green with new growth. Time marches past these doomed Indians and authors and wealthy men. I leave my footsteps here too in this time of pandemic.

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging #autobiography #memories #writing #nyc #bergencounty #nnj #biography #covid19 #coronavirus

*Image from

The First, First Kiss pt.3

kegI followed Kim into the kitchen (Catch up with pt. 1 and pt. 2 here), where the keg waited. Like most kitchens during every party I’ve ever been since, it was a congregation point. People naturally gathered into the kitchen and like most rooms in this house (and like most houses in my hometown), it was pretty small. I waited behind her as others filled their own cups to the brim with Budweiser beer. Each person entering the party had been asked to throw in a few dollars. You got one thing for your admittance fee, beer and more beer. There were no chips, no dip, nothing to wash down. If you wanted ambiance, you had to wait for the prom. As juniors we had a prom. It wasn’t quite as extravagant as the Senior Prom, where the boys rented tuxedos and the girls wore gowns. At the junior version, we wore casual suits and dresses. When I say casual suits, think the Seventies during the disco era. And the senior tuxes were often pastel in color. Roger Moore was our James Bond. Can I be any plainer? This was not a classy time, folks.

The linoleum floor under the keg was wet and streaked with the dirt from the partiers’ worn sneakers. As we slowly inched our way to the keg tap, we didn’t say a word to each other, but i was acutely aware of her closeness. I wondered if she knew how near I was to her. The crowd necessitated our proximity, of course. I’m not being creepy, I assured myself. Now and again, some lout would jostle us and she’d take a step back into me. Sorry, she’d call over her shoulder. I wondered if she felt what those little brush-ups did to me. Did girls know how little it took to excite a teenage, virgin boy? It’s often been said a stiff breeze could stiffen a teenage boy. My experience leads me to believe the veracity of that maxim. When Kim finally got to the keg, I took it upon myself to reach for the trigger spout at the end of the rubber hose, as a gentleman does in these situations. The keg decided not to let me off  easy and gushed a steady stream of foam instead of beer into Kim’s waiting red Solo cup. She smiled up at me and said something I didn’t quite catch. I said, What? a little louder than necessary.  That finished quicker than I was hoping, she called back over the booming music. She took the spout from my hand and placed it back on the spent keg. They’ll switch it out soon, she smiled. Hey, Jimmy, she said. I’m gonna get out of this smoke and noise. Wanna take a walk around the block with me? What’s a shy boy to do but nod dumbly.

I followed her out as we threaded our way to the door. She reached back and took hold of my hand. How did she know I wanted her to? Did she feel how sweaty my palm was? Have I suddenly become irresistible to girls? What, in God’s name, was going on here? Why did it feel like an out-of-body experience, like these things were happening, but I was merely watching not partaking?

She was making small talk…Some party, huh? Music’s pretty loud. Cigarette smoke  gives me a headache. Thanks for keeping me safe out here. I replied with monosyllables. Thought to myself, she probably should have chosen wiser for protection. I could only act as a tripping hazard against any threats. Your hand is very sweaty, she observed without judgement, bringing me back to the present. Are you nervous about something? I told her no, like this was a regular occurrence, me walking around holding hands with a girl for anyone to see. As we walked along the dark street, I was hyper aware of every aspect of myself, my heartbeat, the hum in my ears, my sweaty palms, the constrained stirring below. As if on cue, she pivoted into me and we were face to face as simply as that. She pressed into me. I could feel the heat passing through her jeans. I wondered if she felt me. She  looked up expectantly and closed her eyes. We embraced and I kissed her. It was messy and awkward. We kissed like we were devouring each other’s mouths. Our tongues darted and lapped. It was about as bad a kiss as I can recall since. I forgot to breathe through my nose. I gasped for air. It was the best kiss and my very first.


#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging #autobiography #memories #writing #nyc #bergencounty #nnj #biography #covid19 #coronavirus #jamesbond #rogermoore 

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

I wake up in the morning and there’s nothing pressing. After getting out of bed, I head into the kitchen and notice my bananas are getting brown. It’s said the more bruised the banana, the better the bread. I set to work. 30 minutes later, the breads in the oven.

You don’t want to read every one of my posts. I don’t blame you. Somehow, I’ve compiled quite a few, despite my long absences. So let me just sum it up quickly: I was married for 23 years which ended bitterly, but produced two beautiful children; I had a lovely seven year relationship with a terrific woman which fell victim to my blunders; and over the last couple of years, I’ve explored online dating. During those two years, there have been several significant relationships. One seemed to be heading towards ltr (long term relationship) status. Almost every profile I read in these dating sites claims to be seeking “ltr”. Out of the blue, she broke up with me. Probably the most important relationship, certainly the longest out of this social exploration, has been with a woman I met within the first week or two of going on a dating site. The relationship continues to this day. It has been platonic and sexual, soothing and enraging, baffling and certain, lasting and always ending. Someday, I’ll get back to those stories, but really I’m not ready yet.

I don’t mean this as a boast and probably a good percentage of men find this to be true, but two months ago, I could’ve pulled up my online dating site and with several swipes, taps, and messages, I could have had a date set up. When I first started, I sort of fell into that trap, but I stopped fairly quickly. It really wasn’t very satisfying and, frankly, it was very expensive (In my experience, women expect the traditional roles be followed on dates). I became more discerning, less desperate. Like I said, finding dates was not the problem. Making it permanent was. And then Covid-19 hit. I discovered it was a terrible time to not have someone.

I’ll tell you, being single and mostly alone during a global pandemic is no fun. I’d like to maintain my social distance holding hands with a beautiful woman. Wear a mask for everyone else but her. Quarantine in place with the one I love. I’d wash the dishes, while she dried; mow the lawn, as she swept the walk. We could watch movies all day long, because there was nothing else to do. Take an hour-long walk through the neighborhood, basking in a new love and the warm sun.

The timer is going off and the bread is done. It’s warm and smells delicious. I wish I had someone here to enjoy a nice, fat slice with me. And a cup of hot tea.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread*


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan, preferably glass.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir bananas, milk, and cinnamon in another bowl. Beat butter and sugar in a third bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs to butter mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir banana mixture into butter mixture. Stir in dry mixture until blended. Fold in chocolate chips until just combined. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 70 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

*recipe found on AllRecipes @iggytakahashi

#covid19 #coronavirus #unemployed #bananabreadrecipe #recipe

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging #autobiography #memories #writing #nyc

#nnj #northnewjersey #bergencounty

The First, First Kiss pt. 2

One simply cannot overstate the omnipresence of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album during the 1970’s. Punk was biting at the edges, but the mighty Zep still held sway in my workaday town. I doubt a day ever passed during that decade I didn’t hear a track from it, usually Stairway to Heaven. Even today, I only have to hear a song from either side and I find myself drifting back.

Forty years have raced past me since that Saturday night (First Kiss pt. 1 here) in 1979. The boys in their jeans and graphic t-shirts, touting their favorite band’s last concert. The girls, also in jeans, but with nicer tops on, wore their make-up inexpertly applied, a little too much rouge on the cheeks and eyes overwhelmed with shadow. Led Zeppelin IV blared through tinny speakers. Some kids smoked cigarettes, careless of their ashes. The living room, kitchen and dining room were crowded with a mass of teenagers, gathered in small huddles. I heard laughter over there, some tense words passed in the hallway. The bathroom was overwhelmed. So was the host. This was the way of these parties.

And my little gang talked, laughed and drank our beer in a corner, furtively stealing glaces at the girls in their own little scrum not eight feet away. My boys and I weren’t what you’d call popular. We populated the middle ground between the superstars and the actively disliked. We were on sports teams, but the teams neither won nor lost because of our efforts. Two of my friends were avid weight lifters and I had a barbed tongue, so we were rarely bothered too much. I rarely saw my friends get in fist fights, but they were relentless when the call came. As for me, I had been amongst the shortest guys in my class and skinniest, until my sophomore year. Then I started growing at an alarming rate. If my mother cared at all about keeping me fashionably clothed, I would have needed longer jeans every month or two. Because of family finances, my jeans were inevitably short. My mother undoubtedly figured the growing would stop at some point and new clothes could wait until then. In the meantime, I was left to my older brother’s castoffs. Most days I heard someone call over, When’s the flood, bozo? At the same time, I put on very little weight. My body geared all nutritional fuel towards vertical growth. I resembled a long, moist pry bar.

As I started to gain a little alcohol glow, I noticed one of the girls wasn’t being so furtive. Her glances lingered a bit. I stole a look to each side and even behind, despite being against the wall. I always felt a little invisible in high school. Sometimes I’d get a good chuckle with a low remark the teacher didn’t quite hear. I was built for anonymity, understood my lane, and kept in it. If ever there was a female counterpart to me, Kim Z. was that girl. When I was in school, some of the most popular girls were not necessarily the prettiest. And some of the prettiest girls somehow passed their days quietly and unnoticed. Kim was neither. She was like me, correctly classified right there in the middle lane, not passing on the left and not dragging along on the right. She was a little on the short side, brownish, straight hair with bangs across her forehead. A sprinkle of freckles splashed across her nose, palest of blue eyes. Her body was more tom-boyishly lithesome than feminine. Her last name declared her Polish roots. She had sly smile. She made her plain friends giggle with whispered asides. I saw her move by herself towards the kitchen to refill her cup with beer. In what can only be described as uncharacteristically daring of me, I followed.

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging #autobiography #memories #writing #nyc #bergencounty #nnj #biography #covid19 #coronavirus #theclash #ledzeppelinIV #zoso

The First, First Kiss pt. 1

People’s memories work in a myriad of ways. I’m 57 now, and a half to be completely accurate. Most of my childhood is shrouded in mist. Really there are just a few moments that play like old sitcom reruns in my brain. I have a friend who can remember precisely where his high school locker was and its combination. I remember none of that, but I do remember a night in 1979. This is purportedly a blog about my last, first kiss, but this post is about my first, first kiss.

Forty years ago, I was a junior (third year) in high school. I grew up in a blue collar town of about 20,000 residents in suburban New Jersey. The houses were mostly small affairs. If you counted the amount of buildings of each, we were mostly preoccupied with drinking and religion, because there were many bars, liquor stores and several churches. On Sunday mornings, the church pews were filled with congregants who rued their decisions the night before. And, for the most part, we children followed our parent’s example.

On any given Saturday, many of the teenagers would go to the evening mass, not out of any feeling of religious obligation, but to congregate on the broad, front steps of St. Mary’s after the service and decide where to go that night. Just moments before, all those kids had dutifully taken the body of Christ into their sin free mouths, literally embodied in a thin wafer of bread. They had done so standing before God, represented in a lifelike bronze sculpture of his anguished Son nailed on a cross in 2x scale not 15 feet behind the altar. The sculpture leaned forward ever so slightly, so it seemed the blood from his wounded brow just might drip on you. All was forgotten ten minutes later as we chatted excitedly on the stairs, fomenting revolution, riot and ruin.

Most nights, the kids gathered in their own little groups and each group would send out their most popular emissary to ask another group if they knew of anything going on. Usually, we’d discover absolutely nothing was happening and the groups would each take their leave, going their own way independently looking to buy some beer, blackberry brandy and tango. Or some pot. On this particular night, word spread there was a party in town. My friends and I hopped in my buddy Mike’s Ford Custom 500 and headed over to Jimmy O’Brien’s. I knew Jimmy, hell he lived only a block over. We weren’t friends, but neither were we enemies. Sometimes, you entered a party like this and it might be trouble. Some bully might be acting like a bouncer at the door, Who said you could come? Get the fuck out. You’d have no choice but to slink away. The gods (not the one we had just left, more like the gods of the vikings) were with us that night though and we gained entry without a problem grabbed a red Solo cup and headed for the beer keg sitting in a trashcan filled with ice in the kitchen. One was already tapped and flowing. Two more were sitting nearby waiting their turn. The immediate future was looking drunken. Usually the events on a night like this would follow a regular sequence: 1-procure alcohol and commence drinking, 2-eye girls up from across the room, but avoid eye contact at all costs, 3-drink more alcohol, 4-gaze in wild wonder while other more daring guys talk up your girls, 5-drink more alcohol, 6-trash talk the girls, who had left some time ago. This night, though, didn’t follow the regularly scheduled programming.

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