Being rejected in fifth grade is typically normal. But some boys need to tactfully execute slicker Casanova techniques, so girls can be left quivering in their bodices, or crop tops, rather than feel lowly and defeated. Casanova’s charm and irresistibility got him close to noblewomen, chambermaids, a nymphomaniac, and three unrepentant nuns. Which says something about the scruples of certain vestal virgins. I doubt I’ll be leading my granddaughter into a convent anytime in the future.

It was tormenting that no one invited my ten year old grand-darling to the grade school Masquerade Ball. I had a long discussion with the dissed debutante about the mating habits of halfhearted earthlings. Precisely, boys. She mustered up enough courage to ask a young stud herself. The boy hemmed and hawed at her request, and backed away saying he would think about it. Then with manners slightly undignified, he had another girl text her with the socially inept way of justifying why he couldn’t take her and that he would be taking someone else. But he made sure she knew that she was second on his list. Clearly he had a vagrant misunderstanding of sensitive feelings. My granddaughter was pretty upset that she was snubbed, spurring the defense mechanism of simply keeping quiet. I was never a stalker, nor was her mother a stalker. I took total solace in knowing that she wouldn’t be a stalker either. Although I do remember waiting for the lit can of hairspray to detonate under the chair of one slimy rejector. I’m kidding. So much for kissing behind bleachers and honeymooning in Paris.

It wasn’t five minutes ago that my grandbaby thought boys stunk. Now she’s in for the rough ride of consorting with the opposite sex. After hearing about her ordeal, and the fact that she went home and worked herself into a clamorous crazy-girl lather in front of her mother, it brought back memories of my own dateless despondency. I did have the violent impulse to take the incinerated remains of some boys and scatter them over a lion’s den to make sure there was not a trace of them left behind. What parasitically infests the minds of refusers is beyond me. I want my granddaughter to have all the wisdom I never gave my own girls. Nurturing the voice of vulnerability, the first thing I told her was to get herself some armor to keep the hits from penetrating her heart. And secondly, not to run out buying a sectional loveseat quite yet. The wedding venue will need a deposit first. Thirdly, I told her to soar with eagles rather than peck around with chickens. She was silent on the phone for a second, but I’m sure she mentally absorbed my meaning. Then I told her that I would always be around with a first aid kit if she decides to punch a chicken in the nose, or anyone else when faced with the potential of needing a bloody nostril.

It was time to apply The Rules, adapted from the popular book full of secrets on capturing the heart of Mr. Right.

Rule #1 tells you to be creative like no other. I would be inclined to say to any guy who dumped me, “Life is short, so I’ll make this short. Finders Keepers.” I believe Rule #2 states, Don’t talk to a man first or ask him to dance. It also stipulates how to act on dates 1, 2, 3, 4 through commitment. That is if she even gets a date to begin with. A girl could be going through menopause before she gets asked out. Rule #7 says not to accept a date for Saturday night after Wednesday. I’m not sure what takes guys so long. Especially ten year olds. Could be that they tire themselves shaving or looking for amphibians. Rule #16 points out that a girl shouldn’t tell a boy what to do. She can’t anyway. Not if there’s a frequency of conversations when the male participant has ingested too much sugared lemonade. Rule #17 indicates that a girl should never take the lead. That’s very true if he’s going to the little boys room. Although she could show him her infinite wisdom about personal hygiene by saying, “If you sprinkle while you tinkle, be neat and wipe the seat.” But I told her most guys already have mothers who tell them what to do. Rule #24 suggests slowly involving him with your family. So by the powers vested in me and my over-protectiveness, I now pronounce every potential villainous half-pint that comes within ten feet of my granddaughter or her loved ones, banned. Nixed. Possibly destabilized.

My granddaughter is angst ridden again knowing her mother is now her date. The boy should be equally angst ridden knowing my daughter is going to haunt him all night at the Ball. I told her how combustible hairspray cans will be when there’s a flame involved.

I like to be as helpful as possible.

My daughter called me inquiring, “Mom, you’re crafty. Wanna make five masks for your granddaughter and four of her friends for the Masquerade Ball?” I asked, “When is it?” She said, “This Friday. So you have plenty of time to make them all tonight and get them in the mail by tomorrow morning.”
Such pressure. I hope my daughter doesn’t feel too rejected.


One Valentine’s Day when I was a young’un, I spent time in the kitchen trying to whip up something salivatory and hopefully very delicious for my family. I asked my mother if I could make dinner, assuming everyone would survive my affectionately delivered cuisine. I transitioned myself into a southern belle and made smothered fried chicken. I was ready to attack anyone who entered my messy domain and criticized my creational techniques. In which case I would be tempted to stuff the bird with laxatives and baste with prune juice. My siblings had an inexhaustible stockpile of flowing intimidations. Mama did pass at one point raising an eyebrow, especially since I was buried in enough flour to scare the dog. No sooner had I placed the dearly departed raw fowl into a roasting pan when I was caught up in a miasma of evil smoke coming from the oven. I had already burnt the heart shaped cake. Each of the wired oven racks was covered with an impermeable layer of crusty remains and my doughy delight was not the least bit palatable. The moral of my Valentine’s story is that it was the thought that counted. And every year after that I tried harder to love and please the population around me.

I want to love the whole world. I already love dogs that don’t bark at me when I’m covered in flour, and furry little felines that don’t claw my eyes out. I did try to love a skunk once. It ended up being the worst several nauseating days of my life. Although, it is difficult to love Middle Eastern radicals who might be a menace. When it came to those harder to love, my mother used to say, “Kill em’ with kindness.” So maybe I’ll send all the mutating militants a Valentine and hope they don’t send love back in the form of a nuclear weapon. There are only two things I dislike about extremists. When they won’t rest, and therefore don’t let me get mine.

The human heart functions 24 hours a day and only misses a beat when we are in love, when we’re up against an enemy, or when we are asked to solve a mathematical problem. But it seems love always comes with conditions. Perhaps the causal profundity of certain folks who don’t show compassion comes from being dropped on their heads as babies. Some could have been tossed in the air and weren’t caught coming down, causing instantaneous loss of head control and therefore dislocating brain cells. Whatever the case, we all have the capability to love abundantly, or not at all. My girlfriend told me that she felt the love last Valentine’s Day when she tied up her husband. For two whole hours she got to watch whatever she wanted on television.

There’s a story about a little frog that was born at the bottom of a well where he and his family co-mingled with other frogs. One day he climbed to the top of the well and cautiously peered over the edge. The first thing he saw was a pond a thousand times bigger than the well. His eyes took him further to a nearby lake. He then noticed an ocean in the distance. The frog thought about all the other frogs inhabiting those bodies of water. And if he ventured out, how hard it would be to love everyone. Some ribbiters would go back into the well and focus on flies, forgetting about the rest of the world. Some just wouldn’t be concerned with advancing interpersonal relations, or know the unlimited supply of love within them. I believe in wrapping my faith and heart around the notion that befriending other characters can conquer just about every teensy weensie little thing. How wonderful it was that I hadn’t grown warts after kissing a few strange frogs myself. Although I did wonder why they didn’t turn into princes, and why I acquired an ingrown toenail instead.

Some relations involve really putting yourself out there. For some, it first takes nursing a goblet of highly inebriative ethanol and relaying affectionate proverbs initiated by relationship masters of the universe. I say whatever it takes. Spreading endearment is paramount to having peace within. Let me just say that if there’s a choice between getting a box of chocolates or love from someone, love won’t make me look fat.


That was me, one of millions of teen girls stricken with acne scars and the lack of male attention. Although my baby brother gave me loads of love. He’d climb up on top of me when I was sleeping and pry my eyelids open. The only guy I wanted in my bedroom was Troy Donahue. I spent many days swooning over his posters that were tacked to my walls. How decades fly while watching him on the classic movie channel as well.

The dashing idol taught me some things about the fine art of affection, and I was only six. I didn’t know that the excess in testosterone could cause night blindness, not being able to see him in the dark after being shuffled off to bed far away from the television set. But I would sneak behind Mom’s chair, huddling under the air of authority besides the fearful prospect of getting caught while watching the heartthrob in action. It didn’t seem fair that Mom cleverly disposed of me so she could keep the hunk all to herself. Falling in love became very painful on the eyes. And you have no idea how naive I was. When Troy wanted to take Sandra Dee to the beach, I just assumed that he wanted her to help him look for seashells. I began altering that notion into another false perception, thinking the mixture of sand and skin is what got a girl pregnant. At the end of my first school year, a nun asked me what I would do on my summer vacation. I told her I would go to our cottage, play at the beach, and come back with a baby. Her eyes bulged with disbelief as if I had just announced my plans to shoot heroin. She asked, “In what blunt burst of brilliance did you adopt that idea?” I shrugged my shoulders and gave her a stare. I didn’t want her knowing I watched A Summer Place or she would tell my mother. Mom needed to grapple with some genuine problems. Like what I did with her caramels and birth control pills.

Troy’s convincingly brooding smile made us girls believe that he believed in love. I think every other female ranging in age during the 50’s wanted to run their fingers through his shaggy bleached hair. I envisioned all the catfights, and devil horns drawn on pictures of his leading ladies. And I’m sure there was dead silence in most supermarkets and spas when his movies screened. I figured he and I were meant to be together. Like cocoa puffs and chocolate milk. Or like duct tape and my baby brothers fingers. Being rather young and credulous, I expected Troy to love me back or at least answer my ten thousand letters. But mentioning that I was madly in love with him and offering that he could come over and kiss me whenever he wanted probably prevented him from ever traveling to Michigan. In recollection of my juvenile exploits, my fortieth letter may have explicitly stated, “Before you lay me down to (bleep), you need to get rid of Connie Stevens.” I eventually learned that hydrogen peroxide wasn’t what heals a wounded heart. However, it did over-oxidize and discolored a circular area right under my collarbone. Many years after that I avoided certain chemicals, and fought with my parents about the joys of sex. But I realized females are born with two emotions. Ravenous and roused. If you see one who isn’t getting any action, she’s likely lusting after some chocolate.

Stalking is a severe word. I’m more inclined to call it the intensified attachment of a specimen. In early June of 1998, I went to see the summer place for myself by visiting the infamous Pine Island retreat with the sun filtering through layers of gulf waves and smells of romance in the atmosphere. I fantasized about the fine specimen Troy, hoping he would appear and become intensely attached to me. By then Donahue would be an older man, a suave sixty-four years of age with a few wrinkles, but sleek and surferly as ever. Yet my own epidural shrine started boasting body creases and a surplus of age spots, so I hoped it wouldn’t hinder our union. And I wasn’t normally a late night loosey goosey, so I could wear something sexy yet not provocative, and comingle until around 8pm at best. I wanted to meet his customary societal expectations. I anticipated a short chaste night on the shoreline with siliceous sand abrasions, then returning to the house to find my overly curious and obsessive children calling a medical examiner to see if Troy’s virility and my supposed shameless body interlocked. Producing an embryo was hardly an issue. But I speculated about the lectures that would come from the kids. I was sure they would want my total honesty, not to mention specific lab results. God knows my brother wouldn’t care what I did. He’d probably tell Troy, “Take her, she’s all yours. And you can have her sisters too.”

But Troy never met me on Pine Island. I was alone and barefoot on that beachfront with jellyfish, seaweed, attacked by honey bees, and sopping wet going for the advanced wrinkled prune look. Apparently I was leaving everything to the imagination. All I can say is thanks Troy, for no memories. Now if only I had only written letters to James Dean, Tony Curtis, and Jimmy Darren, there’s a slight chance that I’d have a lot more to write about in my memoir.