DEAR MR. FANTASY

I had always felt like something was missing in my life. I didn’t know if it was a person, a puppy, or a cream puff. All those years I waited for Prince Charming to show up and thought the poor guy might be caught in traffic or something. When he didn’t come, I ended up mating with the souls of Smirnoff, stuffed crust pizzas, and a few mild hangovers.

For a long time after my divorce, my relationship status was single, waiting for a miracle. I was told there were plenty of fish in the sea, but was looking for someone more like the woolly mammoth minus the extreme body hair, but who was such an exemplary and legendary creature. I did learn that no relationship is ever a waste of time. If it didn’t bring me what I want, it taught me what I didn’t want. Surely I didn’t want by body becoming a broken down prisoner to an ever shrinking list of options. Destiny decides who we meet. But we decide who stays. I started the study of astrological compatibility then relied on the stars and planets to direct me. That strategy changed after reading that there has never been a Capricorn comingling of any importance and that I should just go kill myself. Instead, I resorted to adopting cuddly pets for partners. Dogs, cats, turtles, neighboring dogs, cats, squirrels. But similar to some of my dates, I found out quickly that they were much more interested in having the food on my plate and they couldn’t hold their licker.

My man didn’t have me at hello. It took some doing and a lot of push from my girlfriend. A few dates into our relationship, I was supposed to stay at this friend’s condo after going to dinner with him and called her to make sure she left me a key to get in. She overheard my verbally forward escort declare, “You can stay at my house!” My protective pal yelled, “You let me talk to that guy!” Because only a friend will love you like a sister, protect you like a mother, and kick him in the keister if he dared lay a hand on me. She was always there to lead me through the forest with all its prospective predators. I felt like I was Little Red Riding Hood and there might be another wolf standing right in front of me. An entity of whom I would be nervously articulating the words, “My, what big ideas you have!” The last thing I needed was an animal. He was simply a soul whose intentions were good, and didn’t want to be misunderstood.

I didn’t want to stay the night in fear that either my snoring may ruin a potential relationship, or intoxication might make some sort of magic happen. He had a philosophy that could potentially ruin any relationship. He kept his friends close and his beer closer. Too many brewskis made this man walk directly into the glass patio slider at a party, leaving his noseprint on the clear and dense door. I certainly didn’t need a significant other who was prone to drunken behavior. It’s important to keep drinking under control because it can be the main cause of unpleasant glass or girlfriend attacks. I wondered if he had other deadly hobbies as well. Like cigarette smoking, or walking off curbs into oncoming traffic. Thankfully it wasn’t just the Dos Equis lager. He could not see since he was in dire need of cataract surgery. The guy did have one strange manly trait that made him stand out from the rest. He would rather be out with me than watch hockey. Now football is another story. But it was my girlfriend who kept saying to me, “Hang in there. He seems like a good guy.”

She was right, considering I had such fond memories of those first encounters. There was no need to jeopardize this union over a nasty nose welt, half blindness, and a hankering to watch a bunch of sweaty men on a field annihilating each other. With most dates, it was uphill in the beginning which declined quickly. With this man, it was downhill at first and then he rose rather nicely to the top. And any man who talks tenderly about his mother was a keeper. The ultimate clincher to sealing the deal was right before the party when he chipped a tooth. He super glued it against other incisors so I wouldn’t think he was an astonishing sight and severely lacking in a cohesive dental plan. He withheld being amorous, and was hell bent on looking glamorous.

Lucky for me, my boyfriend understands me, thinks I am brilliantly subversive, and excuses my snoring. Yet awhile after we met, he did ask two other women over for fun 4th of July festivities when they had nowhere else to go. Who was I to interfere with such boyish rituals? He sweated bullets at the thought of telling me and said not to worry because one of them looked like Eeyore. I asked what the other one looked like and he basically prayed that they wouldn’t show up. Which they didn’t. I found out he wasn’t really a womanizer. He just wanted to show off his BBQing skills. That, or test me as to how I would react to a ménage a trios with beauty and the beast.

However harmless as it was, I had to carefully monitor who his invitees were after that little bit of friendliness. A young buck makes his girl jealous around other women, but a gentleman makes other women jealous of his girl. My gentle man doesn’t eye other gals, at least when I’m looking that is. Nor did he ask if my sisters were hot. He’s simply a very sweet social butterfly. Depending on the amount of sugar and alcohol he has in him, he is either selectively anti-social, or hardy har har funny and endlessly entertaining. I have never laughed with anyone like I do with him.

Sometimes God gives us people we need. This time He gave me someone I want. A late in life doting and romantic soul mate who knows everything about me except for maybe the number of hairs on my head. He has definitely been the elixir of eternal hope. In turn, my man doesn’t need to write me a love letter. He could simply continue to sing songs, play guitar, and make it snappy. I meant make me happy. Or, he could just periodically say “Shut up and kiss me.” Saying my body is the best wouldn’t hurt either.

CURSED

It was my eighteenth year of living when I honestly thought I was going to be the next Virgin Mary. The nuns of holy agony pried me away from any boy that came within touching distance and made me guilt ridden for years. I had to sit in a dimly lit church confessional expressing every transgression to a shadowed ecclesiastic. Then I averaged two icy plunges per week into holy water. In my eyes, those lusts and excesses were not so despicable and I shouldn’t have had such harsh penances like a million Hail Mary’s. The priest never understood the severity of my suffering. It’s not like I robbed the church basket or threw a baby bunny off a bridge. Although I admit to leaving urine specimens in swimming pools and having my parents cater to my long lists of demands. Unlike most mischievous girls, Marie Antoinette never knew the adolescent amusement of teepeeing the neighbor’s house with multi-hued crepe paper… right before it rained. Neither did I. But I can’t say that I didn’t think about it.

Now I’m only 15% Catholic and I don’t consider my sins scarlett anymore. They are more on the pinkish side. I spent countless Sundays going to the altar, eating a wafer and gulped some wine, went home with an overwhelming desire to do something a bit naughty. I mean when a pastor invites me to eat flesh and drink blood, I thought it was a forum for cannabilism. And I was forced to give up things like doughnuts for Lent. I would have liked it more if the communion wafers had been satisfyingly smothered in caramel and colored sprinkles, and the wine was 100% Welch’s. And church attendance would have risen substantially if Clive Owen had been my pastoral vampirish initiator.

Week after week I found myself cowering before the clergyman. “Father, I know it’s only been fifteen minutes since my last confession. But will I be forgiven after singeing my sister’s hair with the matches that I wasn’t supposed to play with?” I began to sense the monumental amount of guilt that I was going to feel for the rest of my impish existence. But I must have done something right. When I was a pre-teen, I entered a contest for a bike and won. Then I gave it to my girlfriend who needed it more than I did. That same week I found myself back in the confessional repenting, “Bless me Father for I have stained the carpeting while chasing my sister.” According to my mother, it was a sin to be in hot pursuit of someone while holding an open container of chocolate milk.

I’d like to clear my conscience completely about all those supposedly horrible things I did that sent me into a deep shameful spiral and has haunted me until 1998. That’s the year I began living guilt free. But what if I’m playing baseball and I steal second base? Does that count? And I want to know who exactly carved out those Commandments? Thou shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. I believe that saying “Jesus” beats the “F” word. And Thou shall not make idols, unless I want to buy beer for the underaged and have them worship me forever after. I did learn that thou shall not make large bank withdrawals with a loaded weapon. And to love thy neighbor, even though I’m not a fan of their nude gardening.

My parents should have joined Compulsive Liars Anonymous with all the sandbagging they dispensed, like telling us that Santa was living large and somewhere north with flying reindeer. I eventually took on the hobby of habitual lying myself. Like the big bad bear in the kitchen lie. I told my girls that if they held the freezer door open too long the cold would get out and a huge polar bear might appear. My animal loving middle daughter stood in front of the appliance long enough to catch a cold telling me, “I’m just waiting to hug the big guy.”

I was also culpable for hiding my children’s toys that were deadly obstacles and obnoxiously loud. “Gee, I’m not exactly sure where your Barbie accessories and Mr. Microphone are!” So it’s no wonder each of my girls at one time or another fibbed, “I haven’t seen your lipstick,” when clearly their mouths all the way to their earlobes drastically displayed the colored cosmetic. I wondered how old they were before they realized that “Mommy and Daddy were just doing gymnastics in the bedroom” was a great big crock of sham. I had to explain that hearing “Oh God” wasn’t showing disrespect to the Lord in any way just because we weren’t in church. It was worth every flame of eternal hellfire that awaits my wicked body.

It was bad enough repenting for my own misdeeds. I also found myself praying on behalf of a contrite child. “Bless her Father, she strayed into the neighbor’s yard and picked all their begonias.” Not to mention my girls concocting fictional stories to the neighbors about us never having any groceries in the house when I practically took out food loans to feed them. All those times I took them to Chuck-E-Cheese for dinner eventually led to guilt. I thought that establishing lousy nourishment and teaching them how to pass off counterfeit coins while I was drinking beer was a grand idea at the time. Once I forgot to leave tooth money under one daughter’s pillow and had to come up with a fast thinking fabrication that the fairy only comes on second Saturdays of the month. I thought my words would be richly flavored with trust and thankfulness. But no. Now that my girls are adults, they can’t ask me anything anymore without counting on the validity of a polygraph test.

After inhabiting this planet for over half a century, I’ve experienced random flashes of light that could either be the Lord speaking to me, or the mere warning to run for cover in a lightning storm. In order to become more of an immaculate me, I shouldn’t have to say, “Bless me Father for I have slaughtered” every time I stomp out a spider. And I suppose I should be truthful when someone asks if I dye my hair. Had my mother been a more intimately connected with Conan O’Brien, I’d be a genuine redhead. When I end up in a senior home and raise my hand to use the bathroom, I hope they won’t think I’m lying when I say, “I really have to go.”