The Shortest Day

From sunrise to sunset, today is the shortest day of the year. We’re having torrential rains today so the day will seem even shorter. Despite the gloominess, it always brings to my mind a question my father would ask each year of my uncle. My father was and remains a man of very dry humor. He rarely laughed when a small smile or slight chuckle would suffice, but that was not to say he didn’t find many things funny. His blue eyes twinkled with mirth, even as he suppressed all other outward signs.

My Uncle Bob, on the other hand, found almost everything funny. He grinned and smiled and laughed out loud. He was wonderfully bald like a medieval monk and had a thick mustache beneath his wide nose, which curled up at the ends when he smiled. Now my Uncle Bob was not really my uncle; him and his wife were just very dear friends of my parents and I grew up calling them aunt and uncle. Their children were like cousins to me, at least until I realized I was terribly attracted to one of the daughters (a story for another time perhaps). Their house in my hometown was the neighborhood clubhouse. Everyone was welcome there.

My father and Uncle Bob were work partners in construction. Each day for decades, Bob would drive to my house and they would alternately drive into Manhattan, where they would work all day together on various construction sites. They spent more conscious time with each other than they ever did with their wives. They did this for decades. For their last several years, I joined them. They listened to the oldies station day after day. They discussed the Mets or the football Giants, depending on the season.

Bob was a fully functional alcoholic. I suspect he’d take a few heavy pulls of vodka before leaving his house each morning. My father and I ignored the smell of it, as he got into the car. One day he had a case of the delirium tremens as he was parking the car and hit the gas pedal when he was trying for the brake and vice versa. He had to go to rehab once or twice in those years. He’d come out 30 days later as cheerful as ever and start drinking again soon after. My Aunt Peggy, his wife, had an uncanny ability to find out whatever bar he spent his after work hours in. All in the days before cell phones and laptop computers. I was there once when the bartender -in a city saloon we just happened to choose- picked up the phone, listened briefly, and asked out loud, Is there a Bobby **** here? Bob took his turn listening, hung up, and said like a chastened child, I have to go home now.

Every year, on the day after the Winter solstice, my father and I (me in the back seat of the car) would wait patiently for Bob to arrive and settle himself in the front passenger seat. We’d drive a bit and my father would inevitably turn towards Bob and ask him in all seriousness, Is it me or are the days getting longer? Bob would just smile, having heard it dozens of times before, and its vernal equinox equivalent (Is it me or are the days getting shorter?)

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #aging

#wintersolstice #vernalequinox

#autobiography #memories #writing

Stegosaurus Mama

I saw a mother and her two young sons, each riding a scooter, on their way to school on Amsterdam Ave in Manhattan this morning. The mother was young and athletic, her sons maybe in first and second grade, neatly dressed in a casual fashion. The mother had a stegosaurus backpack strapped to her shoulders, presumably her younger son’s. The elder boy carried his own spiked version, both quirky and cool. They were gliding up the sidewalk in v-formation, the mother in the front. She glanced side to side as they zipped through the intersection, alert for errant cars. All three dipped simultaneously every ten feet or so to kick off the sidewalk and pick up their speed. I watched them for a block or two, growing smaller, slowing, dipping, kicking off, darting ahead again with the mother looking side to side every so often. I hoped the boys would always remember their mom just so.

#middleaged #manspov #motherhood

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #kissing #aging

A Bright Yellow Sun

If each year is a page in my book of life, I turned another leaf over today. I think that way. My life is a book. I am it’s protagonist. Sometimes I’m the hero, often I’m the villain.

Each year is a page. The first few are blank, of course. I didn’t have a thought in my head besides, I’m hungry, I’m tired, I shat myself. The last few, I suspect, will be much the same. Maybe the next few pages after my first are rudimentary drawings. Caveman-like renderings of stick figure me and family members by an A-frame home and a bright yellow sun. What next? A noun followed by a verb. A few pages later, I’m beginning school now. I’m conscious of a world beyond my family, my neighborhood. I know Vietnam is a thing. I’ve heard the Beatles.

Paragraphs next. What is important to me? Actually, what is beyond important? What are my obsessions? I think about girls. Perhaps there are pages, whole years, when I think about little else but a single girl. When I was 11 years old, the girl was named Angela. At 14, I couldn’t get Linda off my mind.

The pages are filled. Time passes. Here’s page 27: I’ve been dating a young lady for some time. I propose and we marry. The sentences show thought. The paragraphs are complicated. The page stands out. It’s important. Seven pages on, a son is introduced. 4 years later, Pleased to meet you, my daughter. The next dozen pages barely involve me at all. I write about my children. Then, two years of divorce.

Here I am at page 56. The book is more than half filled. Way more, if I’m honest. I think back. I’m not happy with this book. I wonder if there’s still time to write better pages. Will my last page be a simple drawing of a man and a woman beside an A-frame house with a bright yellow sun behind it?

#middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #kissing #aging

Thanksgiving ‘86, ‘89, and ‘11

I had decided to break it off with her. It was the right thing to do. You see, I had a roving eye. We had dated through the summer and deep into the fall. Susi had a spray of freckles across her nose and cheeks. Her light brown hair tended towards blonde at the ends of her curls. We sat in her car outside her house. Well, not her house, she rented the second floor with Anne, an adventurous redhead. I liked Anne. Therein lay my problem, I liked widely, but not deeply.

Susi had just finished her studies to become a nurse. She worked nights at Beth Israel down in Newark in the cardiac unit. Her shifts were long, but it left her with lots of free time. We had met in Manasquan 4 months earlier through a mutual friend. Friend that he was, he warned her off me. As it happened, she was dating someone else anyway. We talked a few times on the phone. I pursued her; she put me off. I moved on. A few weeks later, she called to say she had broken up with the other guy, Would you like to go out sometime?

Come the weekend, we ate at a Friday’s on Rte 4 and went to see Top Gun at the tenplex . We kissed when I dropped her off. I drove back to my house or I should say my parent’s house. I had remained there after college. It wasn’t quite embarrassing I was still in my boyhood bedroom, but it was on the verge. I went to the basement where I cracked a window, lit a cigarette, and called her from the forgotten phone. We talked into the predawn hours.

We dated, but I was down the shore in a rented house most weekends and l was young. My friends and I drank prodigiously, we smoked some weed, we snorted cocaine. At night we prowled the bars. I met Brenda then. She was a beautiful, goodtime girl. She liked to drink and party. She liked to fuck on the beach. All that summer, I dated Susi in the north and Brenda in the south. There were others sprinkled in there too. Susi was the serious relationship though, more so for her than for me, but I knew how she felt and I didn’t dissuade her.

After Labor Day, Brenda and I parted ways, being summer lovers and all. Susi and I continued dating. With time, I got nervous. I knew she was falling in love, maybe I was too, but I still felt a need to ramble. So a day or two after Thanksgiving, I broke her heart. Three years later almost to the day, we married. And 22 years after that, again almost to the day, we agreed to divorce.

#onlinedating #middleaged #manspov

#middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #love #kissing #humor #sex