Matters Of Little Consequence

There’s a reason antidepressants were invented, and it’s called winter in Chicago.

Me and Dame made the winter of 2008 bearable seeing as how it was the honeymoon we never got to have. New Years Eve had been a John Hughes script in real time. Written by of all people, the Dame’s hellion of a daughter. The two of them had gone out with friends and when her mom began waxing on about our November breakup, her daughter snatched the phone and put in a call to yours truly. The conversation was brief and decidedly one sided.

“Happy New Years . . . Fuck You!”

It had confused me, since I recognized the number but not the voice. The less than ceremonious salutation and the quick hang up? Yeah . . that was her MO alright. The phone chimed back to life as I was sifting through possibilities and when I picked it up this time, there she was. The Dame.

She apologized, sweetly. Her voice dripping with grace, it was velvet to my senses. And when she directed any little reasonable facsimile of a bouquet in my direction, my knees wobbled. I told her she had no apologies to make, and that her daughter had helped open the lines of communication. And before too long, I realized I was already back in it with her. I was curious, but even more than that I wanted to be close to her again. To hold her in that certain way that Marvin Gaye once wrote into solid gold. To bury my face in her perfumed hair the way Old Blue Eyes taught me how. To speak to her in words that described the constellation we had painted over precious little time, as if standing at the corner of Shakespeare and Jane Austen.

The winter was magical, in spite of the Arctic relocating to the windy city in its annual eight month tour. In spite of her ex husband who wouldn’t quit and my blog which was about to. Because blogs are like houses. If you tend to them regularly, they will provide you with equity. If you lapse or become something less than diligent, your neighbor stops bringing you her prized casserole.

Something had changed with Dan. He was writing infrequently, which in and of itself wasn’t a shocker. But whereas he used to provide me with an excuse, now he would just disappear for days at a time. And when he did write something, it was usually vague nonsense, or just a music video with a cryptic title. I didn’t care by this point, because while the podcast was fun as hell, the blog itself was degenerating into the Bataan Death March. Never mind the fact that we flew past half a million hits and then kept right on going. It was no longer mattering.

When retired New York Giants great George Martin blew us off on a podcast interview, I sensed the end was coming. And when I blew off a well known gossip blogger, I might as well have gotten to writing our obituary. Not that I had a choice, seeing as how her communications with me had gotten a little too cozy for my comfort. After the breakup, I’d grown leery of the Dame’s cross-hairs. So I passed it off to Dan, who passed it off to Chris who passed it off to Richie- who oh by the way, didn’t contribute a fucking thing to the blog. And when the interview didn’t happen, we got shit on.

Dan’s reason for not doing the interview had to do with his new pal- the hippie chick poet I’d turned him onto the year before. The girl had a falling out with gossip chick and Dan didn’t want to appear as if he was taking sides. Dan insisted it was nothing more than friendship and that she had a boyfriend. I figured nothing into the equation, since I no longer read hippie chick poet after the Dame accused me of a cross country affair with her. Something felt off, but by this point Dan spent most of his time hanging with Chris and posting whenever the hell he felt like it so I didn’t really care.

I was more interested in writing to and with and about my girl to give a fuck about a blog partnership that was on its way out. Me and Dame dined in the best steakhouses, grabbed coffee on the regular from Intelligentsia, stuffed our faces with Frangos, sipped on gin martinis in the Water Tower, debated the best deep dish joints, riffed on pop culture and books and movies and cicada sex, chased snowflakes the size of saucers and started writing with each other. We were sick little puppies whose dull moments were thrilling. Everything was possible inside the crazy chances we signed off with on our second lease.

Like the way we’d drift away from each other in a bookstore and when we came upon each other again, we would play out a skit as long lost friends bumping into each other. It would start with Oh my God! How have you been? and within moments lead to us making out furiously and talking about grabbing a hotel room. The looks we fetched were priceless, and we loved it.

That kind of thing makes you believe in forever.

Matters Of Little Consequence

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit in the wind, and you don’t rekindle a spark that led to a five alarm fire that burned down your whole fucking house. But hey, morbid curiosity happens to be my weakness, and I have a closet full of chips to prove it. It’s not like I can help it. Besides, I had to experience what a second act was going to feel like. I imagined Beethoven coming back to finish his unfinished business. With lots of acrimony, ill gotten meds, screaming passion and obscenely constructed adult beverages tossed into the mix. 

I missed her over those forty six days, yes. But I missed the craziness of it all just as much. When you suffer from depression and you ride up on something that makes you feel differently, you crave more of that drug, because you need to keep that high going.

It wasn’t about being happy inside our time together, because for me it never is. But with her, I was bending the edges of the milky way and cunning the logic out of madness in a plush Al Green spill of narratives and events and twists and turns that perplexed and sometimes even confounded me. When you ain’t gonna find happiness, you become expert at finding an even more potent secondary market fix. And she was it.

I had lied to her in the early going of our first go round. Silly little fabrications that were polymer laden cliches from dollar bin romance novels that would’ve made Hemingway shoot himself in the head all over again. And yet, it felt appropriate to do so for the purpose of our inevitable expedition.

I’d say stuff like how I wanted to sleep in the same bed with someone for more than a night or two. And how I liked Dave Matthews, and movies with sub titles. And gin. These were not awful lies. Let’s just say they were renderings of negligible parody; symmetrical flourishes that helped fortify our connection, and whose obsequious nature would make me seem less contented with bachelorhood than I really was.

Truth is, I loved sleeping alone and I hated Dave Matthews and movies with sub titles. And I wasn’t all that crazy about gin either. But if love teaches you anything, it is to lie with prudence. Never, ever lie about fidelity. But stupid shit? Have at it.

See, searching for the truth and telling the truth are mutually exclusive concepts. We tend to the former as if a prized topiary; we devour self help books and then crash diet on the tenets of stoicism whilst strengthening our unsteady legs with Zen exercises compiled by people with thousand dollar tan lines. It numbs us to any kind of honest perspective to such an extent that telling the truth is forced to take the bus.

I never lied to the Dame about another woman, because fidelity has always been my genuine kitsch. I have done some extraordinarily fucked up shit in my life, but I’ve also never cheated inside of a committed relationship. Even made up committed relationships with married women. Even those. I blame the fact that I was raised on sitcoms with thirty second lead in tunes. And Barbara Streisand.

Our breakup in November was opera, but it was her opera. She was stranded on an island of infidelities forged by her caveman of an ex husband. And so when I came along, of course she filled in those gaps as if she were the post mistress of Tombstone. After which came the accusations she threw at my head like an Aroldis Chapman fastball that was double dating with the grim reaper. She accused me of messing around and she had a laundry list of license plates. And I didn’t take too kindly to being accused of something I wasn’t enjoying, so we had our what’s what moment. And it ended rather abruptly.

So this second time around thing was, to put it mildly, dubious. But so everlastingly worth figuring out just the same. Just because it was so much more worth it than pulling some cheery high note from a website clearinghouse of feel good quotes in order to make Mondays go down a little smoother.

Never mind there was a good chance she was gonna kill me for real the second time around.

I wasn’t holding it against her.

 

 

 

 

 

Matters Of Little Consequence

As far as breakups went, ours was Chernobyl.

I thought I’d navigated every kind of romantic scenario, until the Dame tried breaking out the Estella Havisham playbook on me. She torched my curtains and shotgunned my floorboards, most impressively.

It was a couple days after the breakup when Dan told me she was writing all manner of crazy shit about it on her blog. Her Venti vitriolic provided ironic symmetry to our relationship, seeing as how I’d fallen for her writing inside another rant about another guy. I was shocked, annoyed and pissed. I’d called the whole thing off, after which she provided me with every single good reason as to why I was right to do so.

I had no desire to get into a war of words with someone who was using our relationship as the battering ram for everything that had come before it. I wasn’t fool enough to believe her rantings were all about me. I had simply provided her with the necessary antagonist for her latest act. I knew that before long, she’d expend herself, find someone new and move on. Me? I’d use all that emotional fuel to write like a madman. Which is exactly what I did since passion is a muse, no matter the emotion it gets dressed up in.

To say this was a heartbreaking time in my life would be a lie. The proverbial ‘broken heart’ is how we portray bad shit in heart form. And for the purposes of bacon cheeseburger brevity, I use it interchangeably here. But it wasn’t that, it was more significant than that. What it had done was introduce me to the real me. I was a romantic journeyer, searching for the temporary salvation of another but unwilling to pay sticker price. If things hadn’t gone sideways, would I have spent the rest of my life with her? At the beginning of us, I would have issued a resounding yes. But as time went on, it became a very hard maybe.

After it was over, I stopped reading her. Cold turkey. Curiosity kills more than cats, and peeking on someone you’re no longer involved with always struck me as creepy. Instead, I drank wine, I listened to love songs and yes, I cried a few times. There was no use in letting the toxins fester, I had to loose them.

As for the blog, Dan had returned. Of course. He jumped back in with a vengeance, as if expecting me to kiss his ass for coming back. All it did was remind me how important I had become to this fledgling enterprise. Dame had called our blog a “sparrow shit operation” in one of her last emails to me, and I liked that one a lot, even if her intent had been to knee cap me with it. The moniker fit.

The blog karate kicked its way out of our old dojo. We had been gifted a brand new, interactive theme- by one of Dame’s pals ironically. He did it for us gratis while Richie kept planning some grand design for us from his bachelor pad bunker in Jersey. And now we had a podcast to add to the mix. This is where Chris came in. He was Dan’s pal. We’d gotten off on the wrong foot when I refused to post his stuff on the blog. But shit if his writing wasn’t wooden and predictable.

The podcast brought out his Dr. Jekyll. Chris’s voice was the kind of butter that had the girls swooning, and his delivery was a Greg Maddux diamond studded fastball. I would write up a script for the show and email the guys and then we would broadcast from two different locales- Me from my crib and the fellas from Chris’s place.

I remember being a complete disaster in the early innings of our first show. I had zero timing and none of the heat I possessed on the blog. Chris picked up the slack and made it all work, perfectly. During a commercial break, I scarfed down a cigarette and a couple shots of tequila I didn’t know I had. Beer wasn’t going to do the trick, so I made some haste and got back to it. Provided with a salty launch pad, I settled in and found my rhythm. Dan played better on the podcast as well.

Drinking and smoking became a weekly tradition on the podcasts. We expanded to an hour after a couple shows because we were stretching out the material with all the improvised banter that was happening. As with the blog, no topic was off limits. Well, except for one: I’d issued a moratorium on any talk of the Dame.

As the blog’s popularity bled into the podcast, with listeners and our own interactive chat room during podcasts, things were looking more promising than ever. I kept busy, writing more than ever before. I’d also procured the phone number of a girl who tended bar at the Irish pub we frequented. She was my Till Tuesday insurance policy in that she was too young, too nice and she had two young kids. But she made a strong drink, she had a great smile and we clicked. And besides, there was no crime in keeping my options open. I’d have been ashamed at myself for not taking the chance when presented.

It was New Years Eve when she sent me a text wishing me well, and I shot one back in patent fashion. I decided not to follow it up, instead dropping in on a family get together on my way home. It was a couple minutes after midnight when I received a phone call, after which I started formulating excuses as to why I couldn’t meet Till Tuesday. And then the area code punched me in the face. Chicago.

I should have let it go to voicemail. Or turned my phone off . . changed my number . . burned the fucking thing until it was goop. Any of those options made more sense than the one I was about to choose, but it didn’t matter, because I was doing it anyway.

Just like that.

Matters Of Little Consequence

Into every life, a little rain must fall. So bring some olives . . and vermouth. 

She could write the starch into a martini with the kind of intuitive manipulation of words and space only a born writer comes to know. And for the rest of the summer after my visit to the windy city, I tried to keep up with her wicked divinity as if I had a chance. I’d never tried to match wits with a writer before she came along, but I couldn’t help myself. She was larger than life when she got to hammering away, making copper laced pastries out of the penny for her thoughts and platinum out of tinfoil minutiae. And when she went deep, she was Mary Shelley in knee high boots. I wrote like a maniac but really, I was playing checkers.

She was playing chess.

The Gorilla was an ass kicking mosh pit of a freak show by now. We had t-shirts made up for the local bars, we had a sparring match with some loose change writer who trashed us in a piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer’s website, and we started talking up a podcast. Having the Dame frequent our place mattered more than any of it. For me. Dan didn’t mind in the least since she brought followers. Smart minded peeps who were eager to peek in on the unlikeliest of lovebirds singing their misbegotten songs of love in between rants about parking lot hegemony, Westboro Baptist bumper stickers and Panic at the Disco sex.

As with every love gone wrong song, there were warning signs. Some were post-it-notes while others were banners, and then further along, the shit went full neon. Early on, it was a harmless series of speed bumps that, standing alone, were like zits on a moon beam. Stuff like . . how agitated she became when I took my kids to Disney World shortly after returning from Chicago. And later on, when she used my term- harsh my mellow– rather pointedly, in a post. And how she would call me by my last name whenever she got pissed at me.

The more rodeos you’ve been involved in, the more adept you become at wrangling up the meaning of the most seemingly innocuous circumstance. And it doesn’t hurt one little bit when you’ve been raised by women who taught you the formula. For example: Using my term- harsh my mellow– in an obviously derisive manner was a passive aggressive jab at my super cool (pretend) veneer. See, certain phrases center my room, much the same way that rug did for the Dude in The Big Lebowski. And the last name thing? It’s roll call, Boss Cop stuff. These weren’t warning signs so much as pesky little drips, but for the purpose of context Imma call them the post-it-notes stage. We’d not yet graduated to banners and neon. We were in love, after all.

By the fall, Dan was contemplating taking a break from writing on the blog. Never mind that we were directly inside the eye of a hurricane that hadn’t achieved jack shit yet. My particular opinion was Thank Fucking Christ, since he wasn’t contributing in any kind of meaningful way. Shit, the fucking guy wanted a podcast while we were still burnishing a destination. And he’d started chatting up a brand spanking new look that he and his asshole friend Richie had been working up for the blog.

To that point, me and Dan had navigated the appreciable divide that separated us quite well. We did so by creating a satire hotel, replete with low class amenities whose peculiar renderings both shocked and amazed our visitors to such an extent that we developed a healthy following. But the truth of the matter was, me and Dan weren’t friends in the “I’ll help dig the ditch for your mistake” sense. He was NRA and I was NWA. He was military documentaries and I was a romantic comedy junkie. He was a half ass writer impressed with our numbers while I was a writer impressed with writers who gave a fuck about writing.

I wrote Dan a tongue in cheek come back soon post in early September and then little more than a week later I followed it up with a post celebrating our 300,000th hit. That one was my door, hitting his stupid ass on the way out. I wanted to score another 100 thousand hits before he decided to come back, just to shut him up.

“You do insane numbers,” Dame said to me one night while we were chatting up life’s box scores over Sams on a phone call whilst watching a movie together.

This woman was an IV drip of Carly Simon Kung-Fu Theater. She could turn a simple word into a plum bath, and she was talking to me about numbers that didn’t count for anything. So I told her what I really felt as if I was stepping foot onto Venus, with sandals and a 3-wood.

I told her she was the medulla to my oblongata, the Cher to my Sonny and I told her how I wanted to fly her in a Winnebago all the way to Kathmandu. And okay, so I didn’t say it that very way. But I felt it, more strongly than that. Because the blog and her notorious ex-husband and the distance of seven hundred and eleven miles that separated us didn’t mean a blessed fig newton to me. All that was ever going to matter to me was the smile that launched me into orbit every time it looked my way.

And then the banners made the scene, with the neon glow of something wicked trailing close behind. And then November turned to rain. And that’s just the way it goes sometimes. You get all dressed up in this magic carpet ride of a future, and the next thing you know?

There’s nowhere else to go.

 

Matters Of Little Consequence

Sunday August 5, 2007: The plane banked hard as it took its slot inside a gaggle of interloping tin birds looking to scavenge solid ground for a spell. My window seat provided me a dashboard view of a town whose skyline was a soothing weep of mayhem and mystery, built on hard promises, like a dice game that never gets finished.

Chicago is a stylized ritual of muck and mortar neighborhoods wrestling the waist of high spire glass totems whose fire spills out genius dreamers hopped up on caffeine and anti-depressants. From the sky, none of that matters because it’s a seductive postcard whose come hither purrs love songs from a time so lost to present day, you wouldn’t even bother pasting it to a milk carton.

It had been more than a decade since I’d been to Chi town, and lots had changed. Harry Caray had gone to that big ballpark in the sky and Michael Jordan had retired for good. On the positive side of the ledger, the White Sox had broken a billy goat curse which allowed Shoeless Joe to finally rest in peace. And a Senator named Barack was making big noise on the national level, threatening to make Chicago politics something much more relevant than a punchline reserved for happy hour.

The truth is, the nostalgia didn’t mean a thing to me. I would have been plenty fine meeting her at an Applebee’s in Fargo, North Dakota. Because from the get, it really felt like the moon was throwing us a ladder and the stars were giving us a chance and Al Green was cleaning his soulful pipes for us as if we were close personal friends. And when nothing else matters the way nothing else was mattering to me right then? Well . . I knew I was fucked.

Yes, I should have been a touch spooked by her Shakespearean tragedy of a family history, but I wasn’t cutting or running. It was as if I was provoking the damnedest parts of me into turning another page of this mystery novel called Her. Because she was my favorite Elvis Costello song without even trying.

I stepped off the plane and began reacquainting myself with O’Hare, which always reminded me of a movie set, replete with a full-throated cast of characters bustling around as if there were medals in the offing. I made my way upstairs and then out into the street where I began looking for my ride. I scanned left to right and back again. Nothing. And then a thought rushed up on me before I could stop it. What if she had second thoughts about this meeting?

And then I turned to find her standing by the side of her car looking right at me. She was double take beautiful, with crazy blonde hair that rained down her shoulders. And I was going to be the guy every other guy would envy as soon as I swooped her up.

When I turned and began walking in her direction, she loosed a shy girl smile in my direction as her eyes turned away from mine before they could give too much away. I walked up to her and lifted her into an embrace to make it real. Her response let me know what the rest of our afternoon was going to look like.

I had made reservations at a DoubleTree near her place. As far as her kids were concerned, she had decided against introductions on my initial trip out to see her. We had agreed that it was important to see what our dynamic was going to feel like once we were in the same place at the same time.

It didn’t take long to figure us out, though. As we knocked back a couple of lagers, we talked and laughed and finished each other’s sentences as if we’d been doing it for a lifetime. It felt so much more relevant than a simple connection to another individual. And while I had never really believed in soul mates, she was changing my mind with every spell binding turn.

We went for a walk afterwards, to spin away any of the residual anxiety we might have been holding onto. And that’s when I brought her into me for our first real kiss; a kiss that crushed time into a velvety plush. It wasn’t simply a kiss. No. From that moment on, we would refer to the moment when clarity knocked on our door as The Kiss.

It was the end of the world as we knew it.

Matters Of Little Consequence

The world isn’t one size fits all. It’s seven billion sizes, each one possessing the remarkable ability to tell the world to fuck off,

There was a cinematic quality to the summer of Dame, the days brimming with melodies I’d long since forgotten and the nights a cascade of well spun fascinations. We felt a damn sight smarter than Bogey and Bacall, depending on the moment. It was far from perfect, which is how you expect it to be when you arrive at a certain age.

It would be almost two months from the night of our initial phone conversation until I would fly out to Chicago, and it passed like wildfire. I was busier than a paper shredder in a law firm. My ex was getting serious with her new guy, a fact that I toasted every chance I could. I wasn’t nearly as celebratory about moving back into the old house in the event she moved out, however.

The house had been a point of contention throughout my marriage. Truth be told, I never warmed to the place. It wasn’t her fault, seeing as how I was a royal pain in the ass when it came to particulars during our house search. We went through several agents and scores of homes before she took matters into her own hands and signed off on one. I would never have admitted it back then, but she was right to do so. I was never going to fall in love with a house. I was always more Shaolin monk than homeowner, and I’m not gonna blame David Carradine for my cosmic cow.

As fate would have it, Dame was moving too. So the time was a blur of constant motion on both ends of a telephone line in the lead up. Writing was the funk to our sweetly sewn strokes back into the shore and away from the mighty of a storm that was changing our lives in scoundrel form. The Dame filled in the gaps quite nicely, and before long she became the voice that tucked me in at night.

The only reason the blog didn’t become an afterthought is because it was crunching numbers the way a bar crunches tacos at happy hour. A local radio station started stealing our shit, so when I pitched a fit about it, they invited us on the show. I had Dan do the honors, seeing as how I didn’t want anything to do with talentless jerkoffs who did the puff pastry work of morning radio.

To my way of thinking, if all the world truly is a stage, then you have to play yourself. Because the minute you start playing a character other than yourself, you’re shish-kebab. Granted, I’m a scrum of oddities, but I will always stay true to the things I feel, even if they make no fucking sense to anybody else. Because in the end I realize that we are all grains of sand. Be true to the particulates is what I’m saying.

The blog was kicking thanks to my unsolved self. I wasn’t economical in my opinions, and I sure as hell wasn’t convenient in my dearth of membership cards. But I wrote the hell out of sunsets and sunrises and produced shit that churned an engine that was happening. I found writers, not because I gave a blessed fuck for community, but because they wrote good shit. And they brought friends. I had no agenda and no blessed desire to carry such a thing. And it worked, so fuck Sam Houston and his consternation.

Dame was simpatico. She strummed because it meant something to her, and for no reason beyond that. She’d worked for a newspaper and now she toiled in relative obscurity on a blog with a great sounding name. You could say she had a few million reasons to be that nonchalant but I knew better than that. She’d simply arrived at a point of hurt and hopelessness, after which nothing mattered as much as the writing. Which became the thing, the only thing, and nothing but the thing. She was the kind of smart that attracted more of the same. People loved her because of her bared boned truth telling. She was a Carly Simon song- whichever one she damn well pleased.

It was mid July when I called up Dame one afternoon. I was covering a news conference at Armstrong Headquarters, heralding their LEED Platinum certification. I was jittery on account of it being uncharted territory for me. But trade mags paid well and the spread was sweet. I’d written a few things for Sporting News, and hated it. Fact is, I wasn’t crazy about writing for any publication. I didn’t feel the thrill in seeing my name on a byline, which probably has something to do with that whole Shaolin monk malady I suffer from.

Dame told me to eat up, write up and to call her later and then she smooched me goodbye. After which I headed inside to meet my contact: a thirty something beauty who had tats that spoke to regret and a born again spirit. She was bored in her marriage and kept a love platter on the side. So what if I wasn’t launch code sharp as far as trade mags were concerned. I knew women just fine.

“Do you have a business card?” She asked sweetly.

“I don’t have a business card or a resume, but if you want me back again just read the piece I’m gonna write. That’ll work better,” I snorted whilst staring down the asshole seated next to me who had been reciting his resume to anyone who cared to listen during chow time. 

Dale Carnegie was hating me from the ever after, and I was plenty fine with that.

Matters Of Little Consequence

The best way to reach Atlantis is by drowning. So, yanno . . . be advised. 

By the spring of 2007, the blog was settling into a predictable rhythm. I derived zero enjoyment from the notoriety we had garnered after the Britney shot; partly because it was fucking stupid but mostly because it wasn’t my personality. Blog hits were a currency I couldn’t relate to in the least. But rather than dwell on it, I kept my nose to the grind by rubbing more spice into the beast in order to cull that ching. I wrote provocative shit and connected with other bloggers and brainstormed ideas with Dan late in the night.

Dan wanted to schmooze and to get known and I wanted to write and be left the fuck alone, so we were able to achieve a perfect balance. We were vastly different people who found a righteous third pedal with which to ride this duct taped circus tricycle into a flow that had some keeps. And so what if the means to our endgame was polar bear opposite? We figured there’d be insurance for that.

As someone with depression, writing had become a beautiful outlet through which I could invite my inner tempest without need for a visit to the psych ward. When I wasn’t chitting with sports bloggers or chatting with food bloggers, I was commiserating with depressed peeps like me. I treated blogging the way I treat cocktail parties. Fetch a comfortable drink, find a spot on the fringe and then cozy up to someone who fits my perspective.

Unfortunately my love life didn’t follow the same set of rules. In this respect, I always seemed to find the loudest crash. After a few soft landings to break me in to the new old fashioned ways of romance, I’d gotten down to brass knuckles. In the months leading up to my head on collision with the “Dame”, my common sense had gone rogue warrior. A top five mishaps from that most interesting period? Sure why not . . .

5- Tracy loved Jaeger shots and revolvers. Moving right along . . .
4- Lizette gifted me an Irish soccer t-shirt after our St. Patrick’s Day hookup. Her gun toting baby daddy proved to be too expensive for my umm . . blood.
3- Gina smoked weed whilst driving and her hobbies included bar fights and tat collecting.
2- Karen was always there. Like when she needed a place to crash rent free. Or when she needed money. Or when she needed to recover from a bad breakup. Yep, she was there.
1- Maria

How do you solve a problem like Maria? Damned if I knew. The girl was TNT in spaghetti straps, with the ability to seduce a Pastor on Sunday morning. We’d reconnected at her birthday party the previous summer, where everyone had been invited to feel her new boobs during champagne toasts. Months later during a snowstorm, she invited me over for a private showing. She had a couple bottles of wine and smokes, which clinched the summit for me.

I’d been planning an exit strategy ever since, because every moment spent with her brought catastrophic risk. Girl had a posse of ex boyfriends with warrants and possessive ex girlfriends who hated men. Understandably, I never actually slept during the time I was sleeping with Maria. Thank God for Dan’s incredibly shitty judgement, or I might have ended up being immortalized on some after hours cable crime show.

As if Britney hadn’t harshed my mellow enough, you can imagine my surprise when I woke up to a post on our blog written by Maria. Evidently she had sweet talked Dan into letting her write with us after I kept turning her down. So it was that she treated our readers to the specs on her boob job, her crush on Jesus when times got tough. And oh . . sordid tales of sex with Marco.

My brain exploded, after which I deleted the post, changed the password on the blog and warned Dan that I wasn’t planning on giving it back so easily and that if he ever pulled some stupid shit like that again, I’d tell Emie about his recurring dreams. And then I broke up with Maria, which was awkward considering the fact we weren’t actually dating.

I decided to practice celibacy after that. It was a combination crash diet and detox program, with lots of early nights involved. I read like crazy and wrote like a maniac when I wasn’t running and meditating and for about a week and a half I thought I had the stuff of monks. Until Dan, bless his dark, misguided heart, turned me on to a blogger who would end up changing my life forever. She went by the moniker “Dame” and her blog was a literary cutlery set.

I still remember the first time I read her. She was promising to exact revenge on her former beloved in ways that would have had Messalina shuddering in her sandals. And while it was evident this fellow had proven to be a master cheat, the Dame’s punitive measures were, to put it mildly, extreme. Her vengeful anecdote didn’t mention water boarding, since it seemed too lenient a measure. Everything else was on the table, however.

She believed in an eye for an eye- as in, applying a skewer to his roving one. She talked about how she was going to sleep with his friends, his brother and maybe even his old man if it came to that. I was well aware these specific threats were made in jest, but I was also aware there was no jest in her enmity for the sonofabitch.

Her ramble was homicidal, with only trace elements of sarcasm involved, to keep you from calling the authorities; sort of like a tinctured brandy in a whodunit that lets the damsel escape to some exotic locale before a single badge makes the scene. She was straight up wicked in her brilliance, with the kind of cunning that John Grisham couldn’t touch with a satellite. She had two moves carved to a platinum inset before you stepped out of bed, and while Dan called her crazy, I knew she was something more than that. Entirely.

Truth be told, her ode to a lover gone wrong read insanely. It was the kind of beau bounty that should have had me running into the Atlantic Ocean and not coming up for air until I reached a well lit tunnel dressed in cherubs. That would have been the normal reaction, sure. But me?

I was falling.