She Spent The Next Several Months Making Room For Him To Stay

“Hey! Rebecca!” My father exclaimed in the gleeful way he does now that he’s retired and in the mood to fuck with me.

“Yeeeesss?” I looked up briefly from my phone, where I’d been frantically editing photos to make sure cats with freakin’ laser beams appeared in every snap.

“What do you say? Wanna talk about guys? I know guys. We can totally talk about guys,” he said, his eyes twinkling.

“UGH,” I replied. “Why don’t you go reorganize something?”

He laughed and left me alone with my mother.

“Have you thought about dating again?” she asked, in the same way that everyone from my mailman to the guy at Starbucks had begun.

“No… not really,” which was the truth. I’d been putting the pieces of my new life together, working a zillionty-hundred hours a week and trying to ensure that I made time to pee once in awhile.

“I don’t know if I’d get remarried – too much work,” she mused.

I HEARD THAT!” My father yelled from the kitchen where he’d begun arranging glasses by color, size, clarity, and width. Retirement is not his OMGBBQBFF.

—————

After a long day at Not-Chicago, I wearily climbed into bed for a brief nap before I tried to muster up the energy to make myself something to eat. The job; well, I loved it, but damn if it didn’t take the fuck out of me. Eventually, I pulled myself out of bed, intending to pop outside for some fresh air and to watch the sun set. The sunsets in Chicago, well, they’re amazing, and I try not to miss a single one, even if sleep is where I’m a viking.

Eyes filled with sleep, I opened my front door, immediately confronted by a large grey cat, who appeared to believe that he, too belonged there.

“Meeoooow,” he whined at me a long-drawn out moment, before sauntering back into the bush in front of my window.

“Hey buddy,” I said, rubbing sleep out of my eyes. Living on the river = you never know what sort of critter will be popping out to try and eat, maim, or love on you.

I rounded the bend out of my stoop and there stood a man who appeared as shocked as I was. Critters I was used to. A dude standing there? Not so much.

“Hi,” he said. “Sorry about my sister’s cat – he likes to hang out in front of other people’s doors. He’s a pervert, but he means well.”

I laughed. “Well, at least I’m wearing pants.”

Turning thirty-seven shades of red, he laughed awkwardly.

I walked out further to stand near him – I love my neighbors at the FBI Surveillance Van, and this one seemed friendly.

“Dan,” he said, formally holding out his hand.

“Becky,” I said, adding, “with a ‘y’ not an ‘i.'”

“Nice to meet you, Becky-with-a-y,” he smiled at me.

“Nice to meet YOU, Dan,” I smiled back, the way two people do when they know they’re sharing a special secret; that this is about to become something big; bigger than either of us could’ve imagined.

—————

“Hey Baby,” Dan called over the sound of the vacuum. “You should SEE what I found behind the couches!”

I popped out of the bedroom, where I’d been purging all of the “maybe I’ll use this someday shit” that multiplies while I’m asleep. Or gnomes drag it in – I can’t be sure. Either room, I needed to make some room in my life.

“WOAH,” I took a step back. “That is GROSS!”

“No more eating in the living room, I’m thinking,” he replied.

“Agreed.”

“Okay, YOUR turn! Come and see what I’ve done with our bedroom!” I squeeed. I love purging like I love butter.

“HOLY SHITFUCK, Becky!” he exclaimed. “This is all my closet space?”

“Yep,” I said, beaming. “It’s almost like you live here or something.”

“Baby,” he snorted back laughter; a private joke between us. “I DO live here. I haven’t left since our first date.”

I smiled at him; that same knowing smile two people can share when they have a particularly delicious secret.

He grabbed me and spun me around as I squealed happily, until we both fell onto the bed, dizzy and smiling, knowing that indeed, this had indeed become bigger than either of us could’ve imagined.

“So,” he said. “THIS is what happiness feels like.”

I smiled again. “Yes, I believe it is.”

Kitty Porn

Scene: Me, entering the bedroom after depleting the minor reserves of piss in my squirrel sized bladder; cursing my parents for allowing an experiment to be performed in which a squirrel’s bladder was replaced with my own. Somewhere, there’s a squirrel who hasn’t peed in 25 years while I pee every time the wind changes – which, in Chicago, is every other minute. I come across a man laying in my bed, fully clothed, surrounded by my cats.

Me: “I’m pretty sure you should’ve ended up with some crazy cat lady.”

Dan: “You know, you DO have three cats – you’re kinda the crazy cat lady.”

Me: (laughs) “Yeah, but only one is mine – the other two are Mimi’s birthday present.”

Dan: (smiles): “True.”

Dan: “Besides, you met me while I was walking my cat.”

Me (mulls over the statement): “This is true.”

Me: (thinks for a moment before flopping onto the bed next to Dan): “You know, I’m sensing something here.”

Dan: (rolls eyes jokingly): “Yes, I’m only dating you for your cats.”

Me: “No, dumbass, I’m thinking something completely different.”

Dan: “…”

Me: (three remaining brain cells knock into each other trying to formulate an idea): “I may have an idea. A BRILLIANT idea.”

Me: “Or it may be gas.”

Dan: “Go on…”

Dan: “Wait, no, not if it’s gas.”

Me: (smiles): I think it’s high time we make a calendar.”

Dan: “Oh?”

Me: “YES. A calendar FOR crazy cat ladies.”

Dan: “…”

Me: “You know, they’re always coming out with adorable fluffy cat calendars that are used by secretaries and middle-management worldwide. I think it’s to show their humanity, but that’s merely speculation on my end. ANYWAY. I think what we need to do is to riff off that idea. And no, it’s not my ‘cats with fricking laser beams coming out of their eyes’ idea, but that would be awesome too.”

Dan: “….”

Me: “Why not combine the two? Women, who, I’d surmise, are the major buyers of calendars because guys just check their cell phones for the time and date or run late to shit, really enjoy two types of calendars: men in skimpy clothes and fluffy cuddly animals.”

Dan: “Not sure I’m following, Babe.”

Me: “Why not combine shirtless dudes AND fluffy kitties?”

Dan: “Why WOULD you combine the two?”

Me: “BECAUSE IT’S SUCH A STUPID IDEA, IT MIGHT WORK. Think about it: KITTY PORN!”

Dan (slowly begins to nod): “Okay… I still don’t quite get this idea.”

Me: “We can theme out the months. Y’know, kitties in stockings with a shirtless dude dressed as ‘Sexy Santa’ for Christmas?”

Dan: (laughs)

Me: “IT COULD TOTALLY WORK.”

Dan: (nods disbelievingly)

Me: “Tell me, what do you know about those weird thing dude’s can put on their wang to make it look festive? Like, a candy cane for Christmas or something?”

Dan: “Absolutely nothing.”

Me: “Well, time to get crack-a-lacking on this idea.”

Dan: “Wait…what? You’re actually considering pulling this off?”

Me: (nods emphatically) “Why the fuck not? It’s stupid enough that it just might work.”

Dan (dubiously): “I…guess.”

Me (flounces off the bed happily and claps hands together): “YAY!”

Dan (shakes head, laughing at my reaction)

Me: “You’ve got until next summer.”

Dan: “For…what?”

Me: “To get your ass in shape. We’ll go jogging together!”

Dan: “Uh, Babe, what does this have to do with me?”

Me (does pivot and jazz hands): “I’m gonna make you a star, Baby.”

Dan (to himself): “It’s a good thing that she forgets these things quickly.”

Me: “I HEARD THAT.”

Dan: “I said you looked nice today.”

Me: “Oh. Well. Um. Carry on. Now let’s talk monthly THEMES.”

Dan: “OH LOOK, A BLUE CAR!”

Me: “HUH? WHERE?”

Dan (laughs quietly)

Me: “I have a sudden urge to watch a documentary about the Nazi’s and eat donuts.”

Dan (openly laughing): “Rock on with your bad self, Babe.”

Me: “Also: hot wings.”

Dan: “Sounds like a plan.”

——————-
How have YOU been, o! Pranksters, my Pranksters? I’ve missed you much.

Solving for Zero

Sorting through my stuff after I’d moved into the FBI Surveillance Van, I came across a picture taken many years ago. One of my Pranksters had suggested that I find a truly happy picture of myself and put it somewhere important to remind myself that there is happiness to be had again, so I slapped it onto my fridge. That way, when I go for my diet Coke, I’m stuck looking at a happier version of me.

The picture had been taken years ago, during a party at my parents house.

Being a server meant that, because everyone else on the planet was snuggled up in their wee beds, we were like an insta-party – just add booze. Every night, we’d go out to clubs, bars, or (rarely) party at someone’s house.

That night, my parents were out of town, which meant it was party at Becky’s. We managed to invite everyone – bar patrons, serving staff, friends of friends, restaurant managers, you name it, we were there. The picture from that night had been taken by one of those old disposable cameras, and clearly shows me with my arms around a dude, smiling brightly into the camera, his arms still in the air, caught before he’d had a chance to put them around me.

It’s a fitting picture, I think, for our relationship, which had begun years before.

I’d met Mikey at my first job: an upscale dining establishment that had been around since the beginning of time, where I, not yet 18, was a hostess. He, also not yet 18, was a busboy. We struck up a friendship of sorts, at least, the sort of friendship you have with someone you are also crushing on. And boy, was I crushing.

The guy had everything that made my young heart go pitter-patter in my chest: he was wryly funny, clever, could, upon occasion, be sweet, was kind, and showed me the little things in life.

Once, I remember, when we were both old enough to serve liquor, we spent the 4th of July working the outside part of the sprawling restaurant complex, serving beer in plastic cups and nachos with day-glow cheese so bright it nearly glowed in the dark. I’d just come out of the bathroom, where I’d been sneaking a smoke, when he grabbed my arm and led me across the pond, not speaking, refusing to answer my question, “Where the fuck are we going?”

Eventually, we stopped. He turned my shoulders so that I was facing North.

“Look,” he said. And I did.

From that vantage point, we could see the fireworks going off in three separate towns, peppering the sky with shimmery reds, whites, and blues. I breathed in, deeply, happily. It was beautiful.

Mikey was always doing shit like that. When I dyed my hair a terrible shade of red by accident, he insisted that I come over for an inspection right away. There, in the hot sunlight, he peered at my hair, studying it. “I like it,” he finally said. “It suits you.”

We stayed friends after my first son was born, he and I driving around late at night, the baby strapped in the backseat, soothed by the music I played and the gentle rocking of the car. We’d get out, now and again, to look at the stars, far away from the lights of the city, the silence filling the air deafening as the baby slumbered on.

I often pictured life together, he and I. Raising my son. Helping each other grow and learn. Relying on the other to remind us to do better; be better. I never spoke these words to him, of course, because, I suppose, I didn’t know if we could solve for zero. Knowing that some words, once spoken, can’t be unspoken.

With him, I was never sure where I stood. Did he like me? Did he like me as a friend? Did he respect me? Did he love me?

I couldn’t answer those questions. In small part, because I didn’t want to know the answer and in larger, more annoying part, because I don’t think he even knew the answer. Trying to decipher Mikey was like trying to solve for zero – impossible unless you know the other factors. And I never did.

Eventually, after seven years of friendship, it happened. One drunk night, we hooked up. It was nothing I’d dreamed of. No romance, no courtship, no flowers, no nothing. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Entirely unlike either of us.

After that night, nothing was the same. I wanted more. He did not. But, of course, these words remained unspoken, probably because we finally understood where the other was coming from.

Things finally came to a head seven years after I’d met him. I’d been invited to an unveiling of Sam Adams Light in the city and G Love, one of my favorite bands, was playing. Having some extra tickets, I, of course, invited Mikey. Ten of us crawled inside the limo that was already full of booze and we began the party before the party began. By the time we arrived at the club, we were all toast.

Mikey chose this opportunity to start hitting on my friend and coworker. I pretended not to see.

That is, until he began to tell me, in his drunken stupor how much he liked her, and began to grill me for her phone number. Disgusted, I took off and wobbled in my heels down to Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s to “catch some air” and “eat a cheeseburger.” When I returned, he was still all over my friend, who was trying her best to dissuade him.

I rolled my eyes.

In the limo going home, we were all silent. That is, except for Mikey, who was still drunkenly hitting on my friend.

The next time I saw Mikey, we’d gone out to the golf course where we’d once watched the sunset on the 9th hole, a couple of friends along for the ride. Once again, he asked after my friend, specifically for her phone number. I stared at him.

Seven years.

Seven fucking years.

For seven fucking years I’d held this guy in the highest regard, never solving for zero, never asking after the formula, always assuming that we were “meant to be” or some happy-crappy bullshit.

At that moment, I knew that it was over; I’d never solve for zero, not with him.

He continued to look at me as I stared, not quite understanding my behavior. Finally, I spoke, “Mikey, you’re either an idiot or an asshole. Either way, I don’t need you in my life.”

Flipping the bird in his general direction, I turned heel and walked off across the perfectly maintained lawn, chastising myself, knowing he’d never follow. It simply wasn’t who he was.

Slamming my foot on the clutch and starting the car, it dawned on me.

I’d finally solved for zero.

Why Can’t We Be Friends? No…Really.

I find it a little odd that over the years, the only friends I’ve actually managed to stay close with are the ones I made when I was 14, and the subject of my post from last week: My Metal Heads. Close is a relative term, I guess, but they’re the kind of people that I don’t need to talk with every week or even every month to know that all I’d have to do is pick up the phone and say, “I need a shovel, tarp, and an alibi,” and they’d be over in less than an hour with all three, no questions asked.

In a bizarre twist, I even live down the street from one of the houses that Jeremy (one half of the couple that screen prints my awesome Shut Your Whore Mouth Shirts. P.S. they make other shirts, too) grew up in.

Sure, I’ve always had other friends, but they’ve sort of flitted in and out of my life, but these guys have always been around.

At thirty now, I have more girlfriends than I probably ever have before, thanks to you, my Pranksters, but I’ve never managed to hold onto any. I’ve always just been one of the guys. With a set of knockers. Not, I should carefully add, one of the guys, in the Village Bicycle “I fuck them all so they keep me around,” kind of ways, either.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been trying to make some local friends so that I can have occasion to leave the house now and again, so I figured that my neighbors would be an awesome place to start. I’m fortunate that I like my neighbors and my house and my motherfucking roses, and while The Daver is a hermit who is allergic to sunshine, outside air, and dirt, I’m always out and about with my pickax, shovel and power washer, trying to make my house look less like zombies live here.

I’m the only woman on the block who asks for power tools for her birthday.

I’m also the only woman who does the maintenance around the house. So, when I’m taking a break from ripping out bushes and shrubbery and busting up my ankles from buying a pickax that weighs 30 pounds (say it with me now, Pranksters, nice call on buying the HEAVIEST most HARDCORE one the hardware store had, Aunt Becky), I’ll stop, and have a chat with one of my neighbors.

Now, I’m going to have to draw you a picture to show you what I look like when I’m having these talks, just so we’re both acutely aware of how I look, okay? Then you can nominate my artistic skillz for a Tony Award.

Okay, so that’s OBVIOUSLY not my garden, but I’d say the artistic rendering is pretty incredible, don’t you?

Of course you do. So please, grab a tissue and dab up your tears. I know it’s beautiful. I cried tears at it’s beauty while I drew it.

I know pictures are worth a thousand words, but you cannot hear this amazing drawing speak (besides the worm, of course), but if you could, it would be saying, “So, how do you best remove those roots? And what blade works best? Tell me again about the miter saw. Can I borrow one or do you think that’s something I should really invest in?”

At no point is the interaction ever like this:

I just don’t get it.

I don’t want to have The Sex with other mens. I don’t want your boyfriends. Ladies, I’m not interested in your husbands. Married men don’t appeal to me. I know women who like that kind of conquest, but frankly, I’m more interested in learning about power tools, and I don’t mean the kind in their pants.

See, my dad knows what a klutz I am and didn’t teach me about power tools, probably because he didn’t want to take me to the ER to have my fingers sewn back on every other week. You know what? After I’ve successfully been to the ER on 5 out of 7 of my last birthdays, busted both of my ankles on the stupid pickax in a single week, maybe he was right.

But you know what? I’m scrappy and determined and how to PROPERLY use a miter saw, THAT is what I want to know from your husband. Not how best to take it from behind.

What makes me saddest about this is that I realized I can no longer easily make new guy friends. That’s a sad realization for me.

Hm. Maybe I can get a shirt made that says, “I don’t want your man.” Think it’ll make any difference?

Also: have you noticed this, Pranksters? Can you successfully make friends of the opposite sex now? If you can, tips please?

——————

In a TOTALLY unrelated note, I need halp. I need a ton of pictures for my new site (which I am hoping to get launched tomorrow) that cannot come from Dr. Google. I need your pictures. Not pictures of your kids, but other stuff. Drawings, illustrations, photographs are awesome, but I need them to be at least 450 Pixels wide.

What I’m looking for, which is REALLY convoluted sounding, because I’m not exactly sure how to explain, are pictures, drawings and illustrations that are riffing off the titles of Choose Your Own Adventure stories. NOT the covers. Just pictures that might be sort of like the titles.

I can’t explain more than “I’ll know it when I see it.”

If you have anything, you can leave a link here, or send me something to aunt.becky.sucks@gmail.com. I’ll love you EVEN MORE than I did before. Which was a lot.

I’ll give credit, of course, I just don’t want to be stealing them from Google to get my bitch ass smacked down.

Stupid Midwestern Winter Allergies, Man, I Swear

In movies, you always know when the really important moments are about to happen because the music swells and ebbs and the soft focus lens sweeps through while time slows down capturing everything in full panoramic detail. It’s nice, I guess, if you’re a movie goer, and if your IQ is 12, because HI, they don’t normally put stuff in movies that isn’t related to the PLOT.

Anyway.

The day that I met The Daver wasn’t one of those days where I had any idea that my life was about to change. We were just meeting for the Einstein exhibit and breakfast in the city as friends, set up by a mutual friend, but it wasn’t all date-y and I certainly wasn’t impeccably dressed. Neither, I should add, was he.

Weeks later, I woke up in bed with him and I had A Moment. It wasn’t a Hollywood Moment, where we adorably shared breakfast in a perfectly fluffy bed, having coffee and witty reparte with our Chicago Tribune, no. I’m sure I was a drooly mess all bleary eyed and sleepy, and The Daver was actually asleep, but I rolled over and Had A Moment.

(I am not a person who has Moments.)

But I rolled over and said to myself: I am going to marry this guy.

And I did. It was one of those rare defining moments. You only have a certain number of those in your life, I think, where something happens maybe to you or maybe within you and nothing will ever be the same no matter what. Defining moments.

The first time I walked into my microbiology laboratory and realized that for once in a long time I was home. Having my naked, warm son laid upon my chest. Finding out that my son was autistic and that I wasn’t just a terrible mother. Knowing that from whatever destruction I found my life in, I would rebuild myself again and again.

I’ve found myself in sort of a mixture of elation and sadness these days–kind of like chewing on a foil-wrapped candy–while I’m really thrilled by the way things are, I can’t help but feel I need to pay tribute and honor the year that we’re laying to rest in a couple of weeks. Never has a year been more filled with defining moments for me.

When I close my eyes, I can still hear my doctor as clearly as if it were yesterday, “Becky, there’s something wrong with your baby’s head” and I can still remember all of the anxious uncertainty. Her first weeks and months were a gigantic question mark. There were no NICU doctors coming to see us or tell us what was wrong, no group huddles or anything. It was all very, “here’s this, here’s that, you can go home, OH WAIT, NO, WE’RE TAKING HER BACK.”

No one comforted us or held us up.

That’s a lie. That’s a lie.

YOU did. As the year draws to a close, I need to once again thank you, my friends who are more than people who live in the computer to me. In a year full of defining moments, I learned who had my back. You did and I am so grateful for all of you. There were times when I all I could do was read and reread my comments and emails because it was like you were here, holding my hand and stroking my hair. Because you were.

I know that if you could have been, many of you would have been. That means so much to me and to The Daver and it will mean so much to my daughter too. I’ve saved every single email that anyone sent me about my daughter in a special folder, and while I don’t routinely open it, because I can’t bear it, it’s there.

I’m shocked and humbled and honored by all of you. Thank you.

I got word very late in the day on Friday that I’d won Divine Caroline’s Love This Site Award, and the only reason I’d won it was because of you. I admit it, I cried. Shut UP, I’ll fart on your TOOTHBRUSH if you laugh.

Sometime in January or February, I believe, we are supposed to get our gift cards, and when I do, mine will be given to the March of Dimes in honor of my daughter Amelia. Because in the midst of all this fucked up year, I’ve found the silver lining. I’m officially a March of Dimes Mom now and while this has been one of the hardest years ever, I wouldn’t change it.

2010 is going to find me rebuilding myself again*, and I’m proud to do it with my daughter, my sweet ass-kicking cinnamon girl by my side. And I know that you, The Internet, will be there too. Now if you tell ANYONE that I have feelings, I’ll kick you.

What are some of your defining moments o! Internet, my Internet? Why don’t you pull up a chair and a glass of Eggnog and tell Your Aunt Becky all about things that made you who you are?

*Am totally getting a tattoo.

Where I Make My World My Bitch (with your help)

“You don’t understand the real world, Becky. It’s just things that happen around you while you sit by.”

—Captain Asshole, at age 21, my ex-boyfriend*

I have two tattoos.

The one we’ll talk about today is this one:

Seahorse

It’s a seahorse and it’s on my left foot and yes, it hurt like a mother-fucker, actually. It was a 25th birthday present to myself from, well, myself and it’s easily disguiseable under a pair of shoes which is why both of my tattoos are on my feet. They’re all disappearing and shit.

ANYWAY.

I got this one right before I got married to remind myself of something.

See, I met The Daver while I was going through my Seahorse Period. I was bobbing along, accepting that I was probably going to go out on my own, Ben and I against the world, and I was coming to terms with this.

23 year old guys aren’t exactly known for welcoming single mothers and their 2 year old sons into their lives with open arms, and besides, I figured, I never was the marrying sort anyway. So I focused my energies on going to school and to work and carving out a life for myself and my son.

Bobbing along.The two of us. Together. Benner and I. My Seahorse Period.

Then BAM! POW! SPLAT!

Suddenly two became three and we weren’t alone anymore and I learned to rely on having another person to help carry the burden. And while having someone else to rely on is exquisite, I wanted to make sure that I had a physical reminder on my person that no matter what, I could make it on my own again.

Part of crawling out of my shell again after being so dependent on Daver after my miserable pregnancies has been a process of relearning who I was before and part of that has been a realization that I’ve become too complacent.

I haven’t tried to learn the things that I consider The Daver’s Realm (and not just Prime Minister of Clogging Toilets) because I’ve made the faulty assumption that he’ll always be around. Problem is, I haven’t factored into the equation that of the 168 hours in a week, he spends probably over 100 of those working on any given week.

That means that the smoke detector I bought in March sat on our table to be installed for 6 months before I finally got him to do it. Why didn’t I do it myself?

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO WORK A DRILL.

Which, considering I didn’t properly learn to ride a bike until I was 12 and still walk into walls at 29 is probably a good thing. The less power tools, the better. Because I probably WOULD drill my eye out.

But at 29, there are a whole cadre of things I probably should know how to do that I don’t. Like change the bag to my Kirby vacuum. Or turn off the water to the hose for the winter. Or get into the attic (altho Aunt Becky + ladders is probably bad due to previously mentioned walking problems).

Maybe this is my year to take the world by the balls and make it my bitch. I see no time like the present to learn to drill shit into walls and wire the fuck out of, uh, light fixtures and *gestures around* take care of shit that needs to get done.

So wish me luck, The Internet, and any tips about how to Live Life and Get Stuff Done are appreciated. Apparently I was too busy playing Bejewewled on my phone when they covered this stuff in school. PROBABLY should have paid attention then.

*the ironies I could list are so extensive that let’s just say that this statement is so full of contradictions and bullshit that I’m surprised it didn’t self-destruct when he said it. WHATEVER THAT MEANS.

I Was Almost A Trophy Wife Once

In high school, I dated a guy who had so much money that his father actually had gold bricks lying around the house. I always debated stealing one, but I’m not a thief and I never really knew what I’d do with one if I took it. I mean, I’m pretty sure those puppies are kind of well-tracked. It wasn’t like I could have taken that to the record store and bought Britney’s new CD without raising eyebrows.

Plus, I’m honest enough, and my conscience is guilty enough that the next time I saw his dad, and he’d said, “Hi Becks!” I would have responded innocently with, “OHMYGOD I’M SO SORRY I STOLE THE BRICK PLEASE DON’T HATE ME.”

Yeah. Not exactly coy, eh?

But in that neighborhood for 2 years of my life I learned a lot. Namely the term “trophy wife.”

As someone who, at age 18, had realized cleverly that she was allergic to a hard day of work, this seemed like an idea life to me. I’d marry an old rich guy, pop out some kids, occasionally sleep with him when Viagra could give him a boner, and live a life of leisure. I’d pop pills, have plastic surgery, hang out at the Country Club down the street. I’d lunch and spa and hand the kids off to the nannies to be raised.

Eventually, my husband would die, his First Wife would fight me in court for his estate, and eventually we’d settle. The only real kink in my Ultimate Plan so far as I could see was that I wasn’t blond, but that, I figured, could be remedied with a quick dye job.

A Trophy Wife, I liked the sound of that.

Age 22 found me unmarried with a kid, working my way through the prerequisites required to get into nursing school, and although I was pretty pleased with school, I was becoming increasingly aware that nursing school wasn’t going to be what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Age 22 also found me to be The Date for any of my male friends going to any company parties, because, well, they knew I put out everyone needs a standby date. Evan had been one of my best friends since I could remember and when he invited me to be his date for one of his work dinners, I accepted immediately.

We showed up together at a swanky steakhouse, and in the vein of broke 20 year old’s everywhere, I began drinking immediately. Because OBVIOUSLY. So by the time dinner began, I was fairly lit and began drunkenly talking to the guy on my left, an attractive guy with an accent, probably 20 years my senior.

Evan, always one to ditch me at parties, had probably already ditched me by this point anyway, so I made this guy my date. Besides, Evan and I were just friends, and this guy was charming and funny, and, well, Evan was the same guy who had come over to my house and left a framed picture of his naked ass on my pillow a couple of years before.

A real charmer, that one.

It probably wasn’t until the end of the evening by which point I was fairly loaded when the guy who was sitting next to me stood up and started addressing the room when I realized that the person that I’d been teasing and generally making an ass of myself in front of wasn’t The Boss. He wasn’t the Bosses Boss. Oh no.

He was the Big, Big, Big, Big BIG Boss.

And somehow? He found me ADORABLE.

Because I had no idea who he was, I wasn’t shoving my tongue up his ass trying to get a promotion or a raise or a car or whatever it is that people do around the Big Boss People and I think he found that refreshing. Maybe I was just an awesome drunk or just On My Game that night, I don’t know. All that I do know is that the second I was out of there, he was all over Evan to hook him up with me.

The problem is, I really wasn’t interested in dating him. The prospect of living a life of leisure, even though he was funny and attractive AND had a sexy accent AND a assload of money just didn’t do it for me. I tried to reframe my thinking for an entire week and I simply couldn’t do it.

Turns out that life as a Lady of Leisure, even with the prospect of free pills and unlimited plastic surgery just wasn’t enough for me.

I know. I KNOW.

I still don’t know what I was thinking.

Songs To Break-Up To (Part Number B)

Now, you’re saying, Internet, because you are not only devastatingly handsome but ALSO witty and brilliant, which hardly seems fair, Aunt Becky, you haven’t had a good breakup in years. And you’d be right.

Sort of.

You see, I’ve been suffering in silence, my friends in the computer, not wanting to spill my pain onto your pixilated screen until I was ready to fully admit the truth to myself. Always the hardest to admit these things to yourself.

But it’s time. Brace yourselves.

I, (deep breath) have broken up with my old friend, my old BEST friend, my standby delicious zero-calorie nectar of the gods soft drink, Diet Coke.

I know. I KNOW.

Be still my heart, for it still flippity-flops in my chest so when I think of it.

While The Daver performs a merry victory dance on the grave of our failed relationship I am stuck screaming at the universe, flailing my hands at the heavens screaming “WHY GOD?” at the sky to no avail. No one hears my cries. No one responds.

And I am alone. Utterly alone.

Surrounded by my three children, loving (disease-man-cold-ridden) husband, two dogs, two cats, bunny and 57 orchids yet completely alone. I cry.

Alone.

My heart is black. Like my coffee. (except my coffee has skim milk and equal. well, fake equal, but black sounded better, like more dramatic and stuff)

And I am alone. Heartbroken.

So good-bye, sweet friend. I will always, always *sniff* love you. I am so, so sorry that the wretched beast Topamax has come between us, making your sweet caramel colored deliciousness taste remarkably like battery acid.

Now go, JUST GO. GO BE WITH SOME OTHER WOMAN (or sassy man) WHO WILL LOVE, HONOR AND CHERISH YOU like I am no longer able to.

1) Elvis, “Always On My Mind.”

Now, my parents let me teethe on “The Wall” and The Dead, so it goes without saying that we rarely listened to Elvis in my household growing up. But once I heard him on the oldies station, I was hooked. The first trip that The Daver and I took was down to Memphis, actually, and we fully intend to go back with the crotch parasites once they’re old enough to not make us insane in the car.

Anyway.

When he sings, “Maybe I didn’t love you quite as often as I could have,” I get shivers and then he crescendos into “You were always on my mind” and the tears start. They never really erupt into full-blown sobs, but the lump in my throat persists.

Because who hasn’t taken someone they love for granted?

(mental note: tell The Daver I love him)

Hey, The Daver, I love you.

2) Elvis Costello, “Good Year For The Roses.”

I never really got into Elvis Costello when all of the emo kids did, probably because I was never really emo. Although, under the spell of some particularly strong dilating solution, I did pick out–and woefully purchase–some emo glasses. The other group of people who were into Mr. Costello were the Really Smart People; a club that I am clearly not a member of.

I don’t remember the first time I heard it, but I remember feeling like the air had been sucked out of the room when he sang, “But at least you thought you wanted it, that’s so much more than I can say for me.”

If you’ve ever been in a committed relationship where someone else broke that commitment (one way or another) those simple looking words, really just drive that home. The song is heartbreaking, if you’ve been there, or if you imagine you’ve been there, and it’s worth a download or a listen.

ALSO, if you have roses? You can do like I do and casually remark to your spouse, “Hey, it’s a good year for the roses.” And then snicker.

I am a very Simple Person.

3) The Cure, “Pictures of You.”

Say what you will about the goths, but they certainly know how to feel things (wait, isn’t that a staple of the emo kids too? WAIT, ARE THE EMO KIDS AND GOTH KIDS THE SAME? I am so confused)(and obviously ill-informed) and no one knows how to feel things and sing about them then Robert Smith of The Cure.

Well before you had Twilight, you had this, “You were stone white, so delicate, lost in the cold, you were always so lost in the dark,” and you just knew he meant it. It even made someone as un-goth as me kind of yearn to shop at Hot Topic.

For a second.

But the song is haunting and it’s true and it’s absolutely a great breakup song.

4) Guns ‘n’ Roses “November Rain.”

Now it will either come as a dreadful shock or explain EVERYTHING when I share with you that most of my dearest friends are metal heads. Hair metal, especially the more commercial stuff, is the stuff I cut my proverbial milk teeth on and listening to it is like being transported back to high school.

While I never had big hair (I am a child of the 90’s), and the 80’s were something that saw me in grades measured in the single digits, in high school, we listened to hair metal like we’d discovered it ourselves. Which, we had. I even moonlighted occasionally on my friend Scottie’s metal radio show–Midnight Metal Madness.

I do feel I must tell you that I never actually listened to November Rain while mourning a break-up, but knowing that I could have is good enough for me. In fact, what I did sob post-break up while listening to were both Don’t Cry 1 AND Don’t Cry 2, but November Rain has such a fucking awesome guitar solo (marry me, Slash?) that I cannot ignore it.

5) Damien Rice, “Delicate”

This song is pretty much the opposite of hair metal in every way you can imagine: it’s like a guy in a coffee house singing the hell out a song and it’s good because you know he means the shit out of it. He’s kind of Jeff Buckley-ish but Irish. And, um, alive.

I think this song is probably best to listen to if you’re feeling especially duped by someone. Toward the end he climaxes (cue Bevis-like laughter) with this:

“And why’d you fill my sorrows
With the words you’ve borrowed
From the only place that you’ve known
Why’d you sing Hallelujah
If it means nothing to you”

And it’s perfect.

It’s worth a listen.

—————–

Your turn, Internet. Breakup songs. I want your favorites.

—————

Be sure to cast your vote for your favorite entry in “Aunt Becky Travels The World And Does Stuff.”

Voting ends on the 15th of September.

The Unbearable Lightness of Gold

When I was an overly dramatical kid, I used to read a lot of books where the heroine would say something deep and meaningful to herself which the adults would later find both profound and amazing. While I would occasionally try and wax poetic about this or that in a sad attempt to emulate the book-girl, the adults never seemed to be that impressed with me.

(note: they still aren’t)

So when we were at the antique store and I rhapsodized on about how many people had looked into the antique mirror before me–people in Olden Times (quote, unquote)–I was surprised when my mother didn’t clap me on the back and buy me ice cream for my witty observation. She merely uh-huh’d me in the that’s nice dear tone and went back to looking at serving bowls.

In hindsight that was a kind of cool way of thinking about old things like that. I grew up in a house that Antiques Roadshow would love to sink it’s pearly teeth into and it was safe to say that my bed really had been slept in before by someone else in Olden Times (quote, unquote). The silverware we pulled out for the holidays had been in someone else’s mouth–a mouth I’d never even seen before. The mirrors really had reflected the image of an ancestor or two.

Who were these people who once used the stuff that I now used? What did they like? What did they hate? What would they think about the pithy observations of an irritating 8 year old?

If I’d been the type to daydream, I’d have had a field day there. I’m more practical than that, though, and it was nothing more than a passing observation.

But that was the first time I’d ever thought about an inanimate object having a sort of an independent memory attached to it. Like it might come with it’s own story. I’ll call it a karmic memory because I’m not sure what else it would be (scent memory is what is on the tip of my tongue, but it’s not the right phrase), and that fits best.

For 8 years, I’ve had an engagement ring. It’s sat there sadly unworn in my jewelry box, occasionally seeing the light of day when I’d rush into the box to find my pearl necklace or snake ring.

It was purchased for me and given to me by Ben’s father after I’d gotten knocked up. I can’t tell you why either of us thought that getting married was a good idea–I’d never really thought much about marriage at all–but I suppose it was a life-line in a sinking ship.

Any port in the storm.

When I slipped that ring onto my finger, though, it changed me. Not into the crazy bridezilla who obsesses endlessly about table linens, but into someone I didn’t like. That ring, that cheap ring that Nat begrudgingly shelled out for while complaining about conflict diamonds and American greed, weighed a thousand pounds, a loosely hanging noose around my neck.

I only wore it for a couple of months, feeling inexplicably shameful and often hiding my hands so as not to have to comment on it when people wanted to gush over my engagement. A couple of months, I wore that diamond unhappily, unsure of how my life had taken such a drastic turn for the crap, and then I took it off in a fit of rage.

When he didn’t come home one night, instead sauntering in the following morning with a cat-that-swallowed-the-canary look on his face, hickeys red on his neck, I took that ring off with an angry “you stuck your dick in HER?”

My son rolled about in my stomach, oblivious to the chaos surrounding him.

I kept the ring.

I don’t know why.

Maybe so that I could give it back to him if he asked.

Maybe to give to my children to play dress-up with.

Maybe I just didn’t know what to do with an engagement ring that was just…wrong.

It was like a reminder of an alternate universe every time I’d open my jewelry box to see it nestled there, next to my other, treasured diamonds. A shameful reminder of where I’d been and how bad things were. Maybe I kept it to remind myself of how far I’d come. How hard I’ve worked to get where I am. How I should never compromise who I am for someone else.

Maybe I was just too lazy to figure out what to do with it.

I sold it today.

Today is not a day that means anything to me. It was a gray morning, it’s a lovely sunny afternoon now, it’s June and June is one of my favorite months.

Today has no significance to me whatsoever.

It’s Saturday, tomorrow is Sunday, yesterday was Friday. It appears to be a good day today, my kids are happy, I have a load of laundry in the dryer, although this is Nat’s weekend with Ben, he never called me to pick him up, so Ben’s home today; his real home. We’re having burgers for dinner later.

I didn’t wake up with the intention of selling it, the idea struck me out of the overcast gray sky: why not put it to bed? Why not rid myself of that burden? I’ve paid the rest of my debts, why not this one too? Maybe the gold and diamond will help someone else build something that I hadn’t wanted.

It’s gone now. Over. It’s been over for years, probably doomed from the start.

My memories, my pain, my hate, it’s gone now.

$40.

That’s what I was owed. That’s what I got.

It’s more than it was worth.