I Knew It! Still Got It!

This morning I made my long (long) trek into work. Usually I sit at the light on the entrance ramp to my office for a few minutes, and usually I use that time to catch up on my correspondence.  Since I deleted Facebook, that consists scrolling through Instagram and liking everyone’s pictures.  Anyway, I was catching up on my correspondence when I heard a horn blare.  I jumped, threw my phone, and said, “Poop!” because I just knew I had missed the light.  (I did not say, “Poop!”  I said a different word that means the same thing.)

Turns out I didn’t miss the light. It was still red.  I looked around in confusion and connected eyes with the man in the white van in the next lane who was looking at me like this:

cat-smiling-cartoon-1

Probably you should picture him as more of a man, less of a cat, but the teeth were the same and he had just honked his horn at me. Nonetheless, the man smiled

cat-smiling-cartoon-1

and waved and then I waved and hollered “good morning” as if he could hear me through our respective windows. Then the light changed and we drove off.

Except remember from my previous story, how people flirt on the interstate? What do you do with it past the initial contact?  Well, he did what normal people do (except the slimy ones) – he pulled up next to me and drove like this

cat-smiling-cartoon-1

for a whole mile until we parted ways and waved and I hollered “good-bye” as if he could hear me through our respective widows.

Y’all. I still got it!

For you ladies who encounter my new boyfriend in the white van on the highway and try to steal him from me, I will be forced say this because at heart, I am still a child:

Don’t make me snap my fingers in a Z for.ma.tion

Hip ro.ta.tion, booty circu.la.tion

 Talk to the hand, talk to the wrist

Girl I think you just got dissed!

(lyric and choreography credits go to 11-year-old girls worldwide, but most recently credited to Tigger who, incidentally, also taught me the correct choreography to “JuJu on that Beat” just this weekend.)

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This Is What We’ve Come To?

I’m 43. I’m taller than the average woman. I’m not thin. I’m fun and I’m happy and I make an excellent girlfriend. Because of these things or despite these things, I have dropped off the “objects that men desire” list. That is not entirely true. I was propositioned by a man, aged 62. Maybe 62-year-old men feel like I do, like their only hope is a woman grossly outside their age range who has seemingly run out of other options.

A month or so ago I was driving my long commute to work and I noticed a pickup truck to my right that was keeping up with me. We were side by side for a few miles and no matter how much I sped up or slowed down, the driver kept pace with me. I glanced over and saw a man, a man dressed in our United States military camouflage, a nice looking man around my age who was smiling at me. He grinned and ducked his head and then waved.

My cheeks flushed pink and I waved back. We drove alongside each other until he veered off onto his exit ramp and gave one final wave to the other, smiling like idiots. It has been so long since anyone has flirted with me that I didn’t really know what to do with it other than tell my friends and laugh, embarrassed and flattered all at once. I thought about that occasionally and thought, “Jimmie, you are okay. You aren’t dead yet.”

Today I was late for work. I usually arrive at the office no later than 6:45 a.m. because traffic in Nashville is no joke. I can leave my house at 6:00 a.m. and arrive at work at 6:45, or I can leave my house at 6:15 and arrive at work at 7:30 a.m. I choose to drive in the dark every morning so that I actually get to spend a few hours in the home I pay for instead of spending all my free time on the interstate. Today was the arrive-at-7:30-am version and I was in a bad headspace because of it.

Halfway to my destination, I noticed a pickup truck to my right that was keeping pace with me. I glanced over and saw my military man grinning at me and waving. I was delighted and waved back, happy to have run into him again. Flirtations are so sweet!

The thing about flirtations – what are you going to do with them? There’s only so much you can communicate with a wave and a smile as you barrel down the interstate. I backed off to let him pass, smiling goofily that again, I am not dead and at the realization that my being late for work wasn’t so bad after all.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if my story ended here? Just a fun interaction with a stranger on the interstate? It doesn’t end there, though. My military man stuck his arm out the window and waved me forward, asking me to catch back up with him. I gunned my granny blue Hyundai Sonata and pulled alongside his door. I held my hand up in question and with a head nod he mouthed at me, “Lemme see.”

For a second I wrinkled my brow and looked at him with a head tilt. “Let me see? See what?” And then it dawned on me. Let him see what was under my dress.

I’m going to pause here for dramatic effect. Please pause with me.

So again. I’m 43. I’m taller than the average woman. I’m not thin. I’m fun and I’m happy and I make an excellent girlfriend. And in a split second I can be reduced down to someone who will thrill that a stranger wants to see under my dress and grasp at the chance to do that because I wonder who the hell else will want me for any of the marvelous things I have to offer. Or, in a split second I can rise above that vulgarity and realize my value and wave off the stranger with a flick of my hand while I gun my granny blue Hyundai Sonata past him and make my way merrily on to work.

A true dilemma. I’ll let you guess which option I chose.

Prescription For A Heartbreak

Is there anyone out there who has never had a heartbreak?  I doubt it.  I was the last one, I thought. The last man standing.  I never had any of that gut-wrenching pain happen to me.  Never in high school which is unusual as everyone knows that high schools are rife with mooney-eyed teenagers moping around over lost loves.  Never in college which is also unusual as everyone knows you are supposed to give your heart away to a poet wearing a beret and a very spindly goatee.  I escaped all that, even through a myriad of serious boyfriends and even through a five-year marriage. 

It wasn’t until I was 38 that I really got the full experience of having my heart ripped from my very chest and trampled into bits.  Doesn’t that sound dramatic?  It was.  I got shredded and it was awful and may I say I don’t recommend it.  Do that mess when you are 18 or 24 but don’t ever wait until your late 30s for your first (perhaps your only) heartbreak.  Having never built up any resistance for it, I was a raw open wound for far, far too long. 

I’m not writing this now to be morbid, though.  You know that, right?  That isn’t really my style.  No, I learned some lessons through all that, and I’m here to Impart Wisdom today.  I haven’t done that in a while.  I felt like it was time. 

The first thing you want to do when you get your heart squished is to call Martie.  You wail a lot into the phone.  I mean a lot.  And you listen to Martie when she tells you that you will feel better in two weeks.  When the two weeks are up and you don’t feel better, you call Martie back and wail a lot into the phone.  Listen to her when she tells you that you will feel better in two weeks.  When in two weeks you don’t feel better, you call Martie.  You get the picture.  Do this for a full year.  Eventually the space between those calls will get longer and longer and then perhaps in time you will only have one of those calls per year, possibly even less. 

After you get off the phone with Martie, you get on the phone with Woney. You wail a lot into the phone to Woney and say yes when she asks you if you want her to fly to Nashville. Pick her up at the airport and spend lots of time just being with someone who lets you cry and takes you to movies and to historic places you have never visited to help take your mind off things. 

You are only allowed one phone call to the ex during this time.  In that phone call, you tell him that he needs to come get his stuff out of your sight and out of your house.  Give him a timeframe, say 20 minutes or so, to arrive.  During that 20 minutes, you inform him, you will be dragging his stuff (including the boat he’s been working on in your garage) out into the street.  If he has not arrived by the time you have everything in the street, you inform him, you will soak it all in lighter fluid and set a match to it.  Mean it.  This will ensure a swift removal of all of your ex’s personal items from your home which is necessary for your healing. 

The next thing you want to do is listen to some Alicia Keyes.  You can do this for approximately one day, maybe two, but you need to do it.  This will enable you to really turn on the water works.  So much emotion packed into a four minute song.  You should lament the lost love through the entire song and then switch over to a different song to really get the anger in.  Alicia Keys is fantastic for both sides of the coin.  Then, after one day (perhaps two) realize that there is far too much emotion in a single Alicia Keys lyric and immediately put that CD into the glove box.  Leave it there for a year.  Do not touch it.

The logical next step is to order a Billy Idol CD from Amazon.  You really want the Greatest Hits album.  You listen to this CD on repeat at top volume for the next two to three months.  Be sure to sing along with it.  There’s not a lick of emotion whatsoever in those lyrics and eventually, you will find that you can’t help but dance to them.  He’s just that kind of guy.

This little tidbit is always helpful:  go to lunch with Bootsie, Lynnette and Kindle.  Go to a cheesy little Mexican place for chips and salsa and Diet Coke.  It will surprise you, given that you think happiness is such a foreign concept and a dream long past, but you will be gifted with a single hour of happy that you can cherish for the next few months. Those hours of peace and happy are few and far between in the beginning. Take them where you can get them.

Aside from the occasional Mexican joint with friends, do not drown your sorrows in food!  This is a time for absolute rigid control.  Your food intake and your exercise are the only things you can fully control during this time so take advantage of that.  When you feel pretty good about your body, go to Buckle and spend an exorbitant amount of money on a single pair of jeans that make your butt look awesome.  This step is crucial.  Everyone needs a pair of jeans like that. 

Do not even consider dating anyone for a very long time.  Makes lists of qualities that you want in the next dating partner but make them so strict that almost no one will meet the criteria.  That way you don’t have to make excuses for why it has been so long since you have dated. 

Finally, you wait.  Everyone likes to tell you that time is a great healer.  You will look at them in disbelief and scoff at them when you have the energy or take a break from the crying because you know that time will never heal this wound.  Spend a lot of time with yourself, though.  Try it.  You will learn amazing things about who you are, and you will know yourself better than you ever have.  Wait for a year.  And if that isn’t enough, wait some more. 

One last bit of advice, but probably the best one:  make new friends like Freddie, Kindle, Spike, Felix, Lorne (Ty), Roxanne, Jane and Quan. Cultivate existing friendships like Phranke, Lynnette, Woney, Billie, and Dammit Todd.  Use your Martie.  She’s your best friend.  Find other people to hang out with that encourage you to do things for yourself, to cry when you need to, and to put on your big-girl panties already and move on.  These people are incredibly important.  Your life, while empty of a romantic partner, will be full beyond measure and really, really nice.  The nicest of all. 

The anticipated end result is indifference.  Not love and not hate, but indifference.  One day, after enough time has passed and you have completed the full prescription dose, you will be on the Greenway running in the heat and panting like a bear when you will be hit with a realization that it’s over.  It’s really over and your heart beats just fine with all pieces intact.  You are indifferent and if you cared enough at all about it anymore, it would be the best feeling you’ve ever experienced.

But you don’t and so you just continue to run. 

Signed,

Dr. Jimmie

Philanthropy, Take Two

Welp, I’ve been working with my supper club for six months now.  I have yet to see my man with the curved spine to invite him to dinner, but I’m ever hopeful.  Still, I’ve met some great people and in typical Jimmie fashion, I have a favorite.

I’ll tell you who it’s not. It’s not Bill.  Bill likes to ride up front with me and critique my directions (which is a little bit fair as we all know how handy I am with a map.)  Bill also likes to critique drivers, particularly those of the female persuasion.  On the last dinner we did, I had had enough.  It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him where he could stick his opinion but right as I opened my mouth, I backed into a pole.  Granted, it was a very short pole that no one could have seen as high up as we were in the van, but my credibility went out the window the precise moment we all felt the jolt.  Thankfully at dinner Bill had one of those fishbowl beer steins full to the brim of some heavy stout beer and he mellowed quite nicely for the ride home. 

I’ll tell you another it’s not.  It’s not Anna. Not that there is anything wrong with Anna.  I quite like her.  She’s spunky and loud and does not meet a stranger; in short, she’s me in 35 years, except I don’t smoke or eat pig knuckles (both of which she does with great regularity).  She once asked me if I would ask one of the guys who joins us on occasion if he’d ever had sex in his life.  Apparently they all wondered but no one had the guts to ask.  I joined the ranks of those who don’t have the guts.  Poor Anna.  She will always wonder I suppose. 

I’ll tell you some more it’s not.  It’s not Judy and John.  Remember them?  The couple who had just started dating?  You can read about them here.  They are still dating, I am elated to report.  I’m even more elated to tell you that they are now engaged and have set a wedding date of Valentine’s Weekend 2012.  It makes me so happy, so hopeful! 

It’s also not Bobbie and Doug, although they are pretty great.  They’ve only been with me once so far and they fought like cats and dogs the whole dinner. 

Doug would ask, “Did you eat that pork chop I made you?” 

Bobbie would reply, “No, you didn’t cook it right.  I told you how to cook it.  It was awful.  I fed it to my dog.”

And Doug would say, “Your dog!  But why?  I grilled it just right, with garlic and herbs. What was wrong with it?” 

And Bobbie would reply, “You fry pork chops.  You don’t grill them.”

I was getting a bit concerned until the waiter brought the check and Doug whipped out his card to pay for himself and Bobbie.  Turns out they have been dating for eight years and are as happy as clams. After dinner they snuggled in the van and when I took a wrong turn (I know!) they informed me that I was on Love Hill and they had been there many times.   

My favorite isn’t Gordon either, although I like him a great deal despite the fact that he is as deaf as a post and tells me the same story I just heard from the backseat from another passenger two minutes before.  He’s funny, though, and just a perfect sweetheart.

Nope, my favorite is Lily.  She’s gentle and sweet and has been on every adventure we have tried even if the restaurant is weird or overpriced and even if it is raining.  Last week we had our December dinner and I took them to a fancier, higher end place in Nashville.  The center I volunteer for said that we should try to do nicer things for dinner so I went for it.  When we got there, we all realized that while the food was good, it was not really worth the price and decided that higher end is only alright for very special occasions.  I was apologetic but then Lily said, and I’ll probably cry a little when I type this, “Jimmie, it doesn’t matter where you decide to take us.  I’ll go every time as long as it’s with you.” 

You guys, I encourage everyone out there to volunteer in some way and to do so year round.  You may go into it thinking that you will bless someone, give them something they need or can’t do for themselves.  You may give money because you have it or because you feel led to do it.  Those people and organizations will be blessed, but I’ve gotta tell you, when someone like Lily says she likes you, just because you are you, your heart will grow three sizes that day, and you will be blessed beyond all measure.

(It should come as no surprise to you that I called it.  Yep, I totally teared up a little.  I’m such a GIRL!)

The Sweetest Story and a Hopeful Wish

A while ago I mentioned that when I found a philanthropy I would let you know about it.  This is me, letting you know about it – mission accomplished.  I have a new volunteer activity and we all know it wouldn’t be mine if I didn’t have a story to go with it. 

Those of you that know me know that I have a tender heart, sometimes ridiculously so.  One thing that gets to me (as it does many others, I have learned) is watching people eat alone, particularly senior citizens.  It feels sad to me, to see someone shuffle into a place and sit down for a meal all by themselves.  I do know that some people relish that, and that some of it is just perceived loneliness.  Still, it would be a lie if I told you it doesn’t make me cry on occasion. 

A few months ago I was in my little café and I saw an older man alone, having dinner.  He suffered from a curved spine and thus, he hunched.  Maybe he was thrilled to be away from a nagging wife or rambunctious grandchildren, just able to enjoy a meal in peace, but the picture that I saw was a man crouched over his food, alone and seemingly miserable.  Yes, it was the spin that I put on it, but it just broke my heart.  I cried and whimpered over it for a couple of days, and then I had a conversation with Jane about it. 

You know what?  You should have conversations with friends about these things instead of bottling them up.  You know why?  Because often your friends have answers!  Jane works at a non-profit community center for active seniors and lo and behold, their supper club leader had just retired.  She offered me the position, did my background check (I passed – as if) and brought me in for the driving test (I passed). 

Once every month I will leave work early, drive over to the senior center, load up the 15-passenger van with people and take off to various locations for dinner.  I’m so stoked about it! 

Two months ago was the first dinner.  The location was chosen before I ever signed on.  We had nine people show up for Suzy Wong’s House of Yum.  Nashville natives know that Suzy Wong’s House of Yum serves very tasty food and they also know that it is located directly in between two gay bars.  I should clarify: Nashville natives younger than 65 know this.  My group did not.  I dropped them off at the door, they entered the restaurant, I parked the van and went in to find them looking around in bewilderment at the décor asking questions like, “What’s that next door?”  I am merely the organizer and the chauffeur.  I let them wonder alone. 

This month we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory.  Apparently this was a favorite as the van was packed.  Again, I dropped them off at the door, they entered the restaurant, I parked the van and went in to find them safely ensconced at our table in the back.  Unlike the last visit where they ate like birds, plates were cleaned, wine was ordered and a grand time was had by all.  Our table was pretty long and I only got to converse with people on my end but I noticed that we had added some new people to our little party, a couple of men which is slightly unusual.  And I noticed that one man had a certain aura about him, a little something I call Swagger.   

Swagger. This man had it in spades.  He held out the chair for the lady on his right.  He served her first.  He was Dressed.  He had the solid white hair, the pinky ring, the pressed short sleeved dress shirt, the pants with the tabbed closure, and an air of class.  I was fascinated.  I wondered briefly if there was a romance a-brewing between him and the woman on the right.    I think I flushed a little because the lady next to me patted my arm and asked, “Honey, are you alright?”

After dinner we all packed up in the van, full as ticks, and meandered our way home.  It was about 7:00 – dinner comes early at the retirement center.  The man and his lady thanked me profusely, and then walked off to his car where he held the door open for her, closed her in and then motored off.  I was certain – it was a romance.   

In typical Jimmie fashion, I yapped about that potential romance to all my friends.  I told them all about the Swagger, breathless and with flushed cheeks.  I certainly was hopeful for them.

On Saturday I wandered into my café.  I plopped my stuff down and wandered off to get some tea.  As I was wandering around procrastinating (I love writing but sometimes it will not just come already!), and who do I see?  Swagger and his lady.  I promptly went over to their table and sat down for a good chin wag.  Here they get names: 

Jimmie: Hi guys!  Remember me?  I drive the van for the Supper Club.

Judy:  Well, hi darling.  We remember you.  I’m Judy and this is John. 

John.  Hi.  <swagger>

Judy:  We like to come into this café.  It is where we first met, first starting dating. 

I knew it!  Never doubt me, people.

John:  <swagger> 

Jimmie:  Oh!  I was so hopeful that I was right.  I wondered if you two were dating.  I just love it!

Judy:  We are and we are madly in love. 

John:  <swagger>

Here they make google eyes at each other.   

Jimmie:  <swoon>

John:  I’ve never met anyone like her.  I’m so blessed. 

Jimmie: (once she recovers from her faint on the floor) You guys have made my day.

Y’all, John is 72.  Judy is probably 63.  They are GORGEOUS together.  They are like teenagers in love.  Every look is special.  Every sandwich they eat together is special.  They get dressed up in three-piece suits and heels and lipstick and go to church together.  What a hopeful, beautiful story.  This will go down in history as one of my all time favorites and I’m so happy that I get to be a tiny part of it.   

I so look forward to next month’s dinner.  I look forward to interacting with all of these people:  the woman widowed six years ago who told me that yes, it is very hard to eat alone; the other woman who said that now she is active in the community center but for a while she just wallowed in depression; the twinkly man who talks excitedly about his son and his grandkids and wonders if they would like a plate to go.  I’m excited to see where the romance goes.  I’m excited to see if another one will brew. 

Mostly, I’m excited to be able to invite someone I see eating alone out for our monthly excursions.   I hope I run across the man with the curved spine again.  I would love to take him out and hear his story too, in the company of new friends.