Love on the Pretzel Train

Because I never really dated that much in the past, I was looking forward to finding out what it was going to be like. I joked about wanting to juggle men. I pictured myself being cool, casual, carefree. “Date like a man” my friend Neal told me. But I’ve started to notice that I’m looking for that connection, that recognition of oh, hello…yesI feel what’s possible with you. Does that happen? Is that too much to ask? Maybe all those romantic, meet-cute comedies I used to watch have twisted my brain into an over-salted, unrealistic pretzel.

I’m not looking for the perfect, fantasy man. I know he doesn’t exist. At my high school reunion, one of my former classmates nodded knowingly when I shared that strange men tend to be attracted to me. “I hear ya,” She said. “But it only takes one.” He could be anywhere. Mae, is it true? Could he be with another woman right now? Take your hands off my future man, you hussy!!

I only want to discover the one who is perfect for me and I for them. It’s possible, right? Or am I on the Pretzel Train and every stop is SingleTown?

It’s also possible that I could drop dead tomorrow. Or the next day. I would be dead without ever having found love again. That pisses me off. But if I’m dead, I won’t know how to get upset – I won’t even know I’m dead, so I guess it’s a moot point.

Life doesn’t follow a straight line (like this post), so I have no idea what it has in store for me. Before I don’t know I’m dead, I would like to accomplish the following things this year and the next:

1) find a new job
2) move
3) travel to Italy and/or Spain
4) keep

— my mom just informed me that my face looks really round: “You look round here [cups her cheeks with her palms]. I wonder why…you exercise enough. Maybe I just don’t look at your face that often.”

1) move
2) exercise more
3) find a job that keeps me moving
4) travel
5) continue to date
6) continue being open to possibility
7) keep…keep what?? (I have no clue what I was about to write.) keep on truckin’? keep my head up, my spirits high and hope to love again before I die?

That train stop at my reunion must have done a number on me.  I thought I had chased away the dark clouds that my mom the inner critic brought in a few days ago, but some of them still linger.

Next stop?

Not sure. Think I need to catch that transfer out of CheekFat Town, so I’d better start running.

Dad vs. The Gopher

No, The Gopher isn’t one of my Match.com dates. I’m talking about that “Caddyshack” acting, scene-stealing, menacing, rabid rodent:

"How you doin'?" Caddyshack (1980), Orion Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures

“How you doin’?”
Caddyshack (1980), Orion Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures

Actually, he doesn’t look that rabid. If I remember correctly, he was a pretty good dancer. Hm – he’s kind of cute. Almost…attractive. And speaking of, whatever happened to Michael O’Keefe? I developed a crush on him when I first saw him in “The Great Santini”. But I don’t want to look him up. I’d probably end up adding him to my “Back in the Day, but Not Today” list of actors. Nick Nolte is on that list. I know what you’re thinking, but he was really hot in “The Deep”:

"How you doin'?" The Deep (1977), Columbia Pictures

“How you doin’?”
The Deep (1977), Columbia Pictures

He soo rocked that mustache. I must have had been going through a blonde, surfer-phase back then. I also crushed on a young Michael Biehn and John Baldwin, with whom I went to high school (Baldwin, not Biehn). He had white-blonde hair. Sigh.

Back to the furry animal. My dad is obsessed with gophers. Unlike me, he does not find them attractive. At all. They are eating the product of all his hard work in the garden.

About 10 years ago, Dad learned how to use a computer. Now at the age of 90, he finds himself trusting Google’s advice more than his own children’s: “It’s amazing how much Google knows!” He loves Amazon, too. When a 5-lb. bag of cayenne pepper arrived at our door, I thought he was losing it. Then he explained that the Internet told him it worked to keep garden pests away. Okay, but 5-lbs.? Why not buy a small sample and test it out first? Dad? Are you listening to me? Internet, you stupid favorite child. My mom and I were afraid he was going to accidentally inhale the stuff and then we’d discover him collapsed on top of all the fava beans.

The pepper didn’t work. At least not on the gophers. The jury is still out on keeping squirrels and pooping cats out of their yard.

“He must be dragging them home to his family.” Dad opines after telling us that half his planting of burdock root have completely disappeared, leaves and all.

I decide not to point out that it could be a female gopher bringing home the burdock bacon to her family.

“I bet the kids are thinking, ‘Burdock root again?! We’re tired of burdock root!’” I say in a high-pitched tone.

‘Yah! We want something goodie!’” My mom chimes in in her broken English.

We both start laughing. But my dad is not amused. He is deep in thought, blocking us out like he has been doing it for the past 50 years. I guess that’s why he’s so good at it.

“Google also said that Juicyfruit gum works.” He says suddenly. “You have to find their main tunnel and drop the gum inside, still in its wrapper. They eat it and choke to death.”

The thought of those poor gophers meeting their deaths due to Juicyfruit was so strangely horrifying that I couldn’t come up with anything to say in response. If the  gum doesn’t work, he’ll be resorting to THE TRAP. I don’t want to know what this is – it sounds so final. At least with the gum, there’s a chance for the Heimlich maneuver to be applied in an emergency.

All I can say is, Gopher, give my dad a break. He’s paid his dues; his garden is his pride and joy. What could it hurt to go easy on the destruction and decimation of his veggies?

And, oh yeah – run for your lives.

The Slacker Gets Schooled

The scene of Slacker's disappearance

The scene of Slacker’s disappearance

I had been possessed by the Slacker for weeks, only exercising three times during that period.  After my move from Los Angeles, I felt it continue to circle around me, tempting me to take it easy…it’s the holidays, after all!

I was channel surfing one morning and stopped on “Sweet Home Alabama”.  As Slacker was momentarily distracted, I quickly changed into my running clothes.  Unfortunately, it recognized my motivations pretty quickly and immediately started to try and turn me:

Do you realize it’s 20 below out there?

Running doesn’t make your face look very good.  

Watch the movie with me!  Reese Witherspoon plays a fashion designer and both Patrick Dempsey and Josh Lucas are in love with her…this can be your life if you just –

I started to stretch when I realized how evil its arguments were, except for PD and JL falling in love with me.  It could happen in a parallel universe.

I blared music through my earphones to drown out any further comments and started walking over to my old high school.  I headed towards the newly built football field and as I started jogging, I saw him.

Dad, meet Slacker.  Slacker, Dad.

My dad had already left the house an hour before I did, and there he was, walking backwards along the outer edge of the track.  I don’t think it’s the safest thing an 89 year-old should be doing, but he says it’s good for his muscles.  He walks frontwards and backwards for about two miles, five times a week.

Slacker slinked away pretty quickly when it was faced with a person with no slack at all.  I was appropriately humbled and waved at my dad as I ran by him.  I thought about all the things my dad has been through in his 89 years:  growing up in a poor farming family, unable to start college when individuals of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated in camps during WWII, weathering the death of a daughter, starting and running his own business for thirty years, surviving a stroke…

There is simply no excuse for me not to try.  I have no good reason not to be the best (and healthiest) person I can be for myself and others.

I thought about all of this, put my head down, and ran harder.

I’ve run three times this week.  Thanks, Dad.  And Slacker?  With all the farewells I’ve been a part of this month, I have to make sure this one lasts a long, long time.