The Only Son (Duplicity)

He was born a blonde haired, baby blue eyed boy, whose eyes always looked like they were perpetually squinting at the sun.

The Only Son, raised with three older sisters by a former Army Man and his long suffering, compliant, sighing wife.

His was a house, it wasn’t a home. The difference being that a home is filled with framed photographs arranged just so on the fireplace mantel, or on the bookshelves, the television stand, the credenza, or buffet table. Perhaps even hung along the hallway leading to the bathroom or bedrooms, or if a two story home, arranged artfully along the staircase wall, telling a story of how the family grew, starting from the top of the staircase to the bottom, a veritable timeline.

A home was filled with these family photos as well as magnets on the refrigerator holding up various school projects, like a sunflower made with a paper plate painted brown on the inside, yellow petals formed by construction paper cut with the shaky, tenuous hand of a five-year-old.

A home would have candles, throw pillows with cliches stitched onto them like “live, love, laugh” or “Beach ——>” with an arrow pointing in one direction.

*
The Only Son laid his puffy cheek to rest on a pillow devoid of the fresh breeze Downy scent he was so fond of, thinking of the home he wished he could live and be loved in, by parents who showed affection to him as well as to each other, who would gather around the table “like in the movies,” and chat, chide, and cajole one another at dinner time. “Pass the potatoes please,” he mumbled to himself as he drifted off to sleep, talking to himself to shut out the sounds of his parents raised voices down the hall.

*
He was fat.

He KIND OF hid it well, because he was tall, but if it weren’t for the extra inches, he’d be downright chubby, like Humpty Dumpty, shaped like an egg. All he wanted was to be handsome, have a best friend, and make his father proud. Didn’t necessarily have to be in that particular order, but that’s what he aspired to, what he wanted, at 19, to achieve.

With no particular ambition or desire, he decided to join the Army. Like Father, like Son. There, the degradations he suffered didn’t affect him, for they were far less than any humiliations or embarrassments he suffered from his own father. He excelled and was transformed, a male Pygmalion, My Fair Man, he went from Humpty Dumpty to the Hulk, growing to a statuesque 6’5″ and 255 pounds. His chest rose out from his chest like a stack of bricks arranged in a diagonal, his torso an inverted triangle, small waist, swollen biceps shaped like baby cantaloupes. He was the quintessential male specimen, like if John Cena and The Rock had a baby.

But BEFORE this transformation he met a girl online, and drove across three state lines “just for a kiss,” that of course became more, and nine months later a child was born. He was thrilled at the prospect, posing for pregnancy pictures with the woman he now called his wife, on his knees before her burgeoning belly, supplicant, a black and white photo, both of their gazes directly into the camera. He was happy and so was she, their world a bit like the ones on television, they had a home together, with pictures on the wall and the sonogram held up on their refrigerator by a magnet.

Of course, he had to do something to sustain his wife, their life together and that of their daughter, so he followed in the footsteps of his father, and so began the metamorphosis, the change from boy to a semblance of a man.

Left alone with a crying, petulant newborn, wifey got frustrated and angry, having lost all sense of herself after giving birth, which is really easy to do anyway when you’ve no idea who you were in the first place. And so it begins, the end of the life with the Only Son, pictures once proudly displayed now put face down or taken off the wall.

*
Once trust has been broken, it is almost impossible to gain it back. It’s like building a sandcastle too close to the sea. Once the waves have come and pretty much destroyed the beautiful castle you created, no amount of quick thinking or adding more sand will make it right again. And even if you do manage to get it upright again, you know that inevitably the waves will come and tear it down, or someone will crush it either by accident or design, and what was once there will cease to exist except in your memory.

It’s a terrible thing to have trust betrayed. It’s like a little death, you grieve, you get angry, you get stoic and brave, aloof, then sad, mad, it keeps repeating, on an endless loop, just like the waves in the sea.

It can change a person, make them more guarded, or just the opposite, make them more frivolous, an “f” that attitude. For the Only Son, he became someone new, no love, no white picket fence, no happily ever after. His intentions now, especially with his “new” body and aesthetic, was to get as much attention as he possibly could, be it good or bad, from men or women. He just wanted to FEEL something, and the constant adulation was like a salve to an allergic skin reaction, providing respite and relief, and most importantly, RELEASE.

*
It’s really so sad though, to meet someone who looks a certain way and you, being a human being, you make assumptions about them. And some are good, even complimentary, while others are bad, but you just project onto people what you think or believe, usually based on your past personal experiences or what you’ve heard about or seen.

The worst is when you like a person LESS after getting to know them, instead of liking them MORE. Also worse is when someone ACTS a certain way, for example acting like they want to be in a relationship but claiming they’re just not capable because they won’t be in town very long so it’s unfair to get involved. Or saying they are always the side piece, they just want to be the main piece. Or claiming that they will adhere to your request and be faithful, be true. That when they didn’t answer your call or respond to your text for days that it was not because the phone died, the phone got lost, they fell asleep, or they passed out. No. NONE of these things are true.

What is true is that this person, and I can’t say this “Man” because a real man wouldn’t do these things. This “Person” is oozing his own betrayal from his past into you, and me, and everyone around him. It spews forth like a pimple that’s ready to be popped, gushing out and getting all over everything. It’s gross and unsightly and yet you keep fucking with it, even though you fucking know that messing with it is only going to make it worse! Just leave. it. alone.

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#zerotearsgiven

My man and I are back together. Again.

We’ve broken up and gotten back together, oh, five times in almost two years.
Each time I have believed that it really was the final time. The LAST time.
This most recent break up, however, was different than the other four because I was the one who broke up with him. I said goodbye, and I did it via text.

I know, I know. I surprised myself, not just by being the one to break it off, but also by doing it in what some would perceive to be a distant and impersonal manner.

But the thing about texting (which is the modern day handwritten letter, but usually more condensed), is that you have the option to review, revise, remove. You can make it perfect. By taking the time to write and review, you can come up with some amazing verbage or words that slay, writing things that cut him to the quick, that make you feel empowered and him feel less so.

You know what it’s like? It’s like, have you ever been talking (arguing), with someone, and they say something that just, leaves you without words, or leaves you with a rapidly beating heart, or that wind knocked out of you, breathless feeling?

It’s like in the most recent and final episode of The Bachelor when Nick ends it with Raven and he says, “I’ll miss you,” and she says, “I know.”
THAT is the response you want, and she nailed it by not even crying! Not one tear was shed (#zerotearsgiven).

Imagine it going the opposite way, actually, the Vanessa way, where everyone ends up crying like they just watched a double feature of Manchester by the Sea and Cinema Paradiso. Or The Green Mile and Dead Poets Society. Or Me Before You and The Book Thief. You get the picture.

Imagine Raven hears Nick, the man she is ready to marry, spend the rest of her 24-year-old life with, make babies, and do the damn thing, imagine when he tells her “I’m not IN love with you, I’ll miss you though,” and she pulls a Vanessa, crying, snot sniffles, declaring I can’t live without you, what will I do? That is sad and a bit pathetic, but hey, I’ve been there. I’ve been that girl. How great that Raven was able to be a boss and say, “I know.”

And then, when they did meet up again, Raven had the ultimate Revenge Look going on, with gorgeous makeup, fake lashes, and fuck em girl dress.

THAT is what you want when it comes to breaking up. You want to be the strong one, the confident one. It’s far more attractive to be stoic and stern than sad, sniffly, and snotty.

So, I broke up with him this last time. Not even when texting my break up did I shed a tear (#zerotearsgiven), and I didn’t cry after receiving his “you deserve everything, you can do anything in life you set your mind to and you too have left an indelible mark on me, i will always care for you,” text.

I took control, and it did hurt my heart to let him go, to say goodbye, but I felt disconnected, and like here we are again. What are we doing? What aren’t we doing?

I said goodbye on Thursday, February 9. By Sunday the 12th, I was back at his house and in his bed. Of course the sex was THE. BEST. EVER.

We didn’t discuss anything about what we were doing, or what is the plan, or where this is going. We just did what we do best. Fuck and be naked, in each others company, just lounging. It is effortless with him, There’s no pretense, no guile, it just is what it is.

I don’t need a label to make me feel better, a status update or declaration on social media about who I am to him. Being a successful working actor, I get that he has a certain self absorption to him as well as a reticence to fully commit to anyone or anything because in his line of work he is so used to having to say goodbye or be rejected. Say goodbye to the people he’s spent the last almost year with filming, rehearsing, table reading. Be rejected for that last part, but how great he didn’t have to even audition for the other part!

I just want to be with him. I just want to be around him and with him and I don’t have to have ring on my finger or be introduced as girlfriend. He doesn’t have to ever meet my children. We can keep it just us, our little bubble. I don’t mind it, truth be told, because having my parent life and my lover life separate, it makes for a vacation of sorts for me.

When I am with him I am always naked, I am always fed well, fucked even better, I am provided for, all my needs are met. It’s almost like HE is parenting me, except for the sex part, because that would just be wrong.

Speaking with my friend of 21 years, she told me that when she was dating the man who became her husband, he was afraid to commit, and a lot of her girlfriends told her to leave him or give him an ultimatum.

“But I didn’t do either of those things. Why would I want to leave the man I’m in love with just to be with someone who is in love with me but that I can’t stand?”

I totally agree. When it comes to love, I would rather have a little bit of that love from my man, than nothing at all or all the love from someone else who to me is just a sorry substitute, totally subpar.

f1uk

My seven-year-old son and I are sitting side by side on the sectional sofa, alternately watching Fixer Upper and playing some Pixel-like game on his tablet. He wiggles his little tushy closer to me and says, “What do you think of this name for my username Mom?”

I glance over at his tablet and read “f1uk.” Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, that looks like the F word. My innocent child though, he sees a clever name, one that incorporates letters AND numbers, and says so proudly, “Isn’t that cool Mama?! Fluk!”

“Ohhhhhh,” I say, “so it’s not a number one, it’s really an L.”

“Yes!” he exclaims.

“Well, I like it but, maybe we should choose a different name, one that’s just letters so that people don’t get confused, you know? I mean, I like that you are so creative, it’s so good, but other people may not be as smart as you and not get it.”

“Okay Mama,” he says, “what about Robot Raptor?”

“Perfect.”

Last

Can’t believe. It’s over That last time was truly. The last time.

Your arm reaching around my belly

Your hand resting on my thigh

That Tuesday morning I removed your boxers

Took u inside of my eager mouth 

Eyes closed your weight beneath me 

A satisfied smile upon your mouth 

I climbed on top of you 

No words were spoken

But I like talking to you 

Is what you say 

You’re deep inside me my hips grinding 

The bed an ocean 

It gently sways 

Then you’re above me 

My legs around your waist 

A little side action 

I look into your face 

You’re buried into me

So far

An ungettable get 

My hands on your ass 

I know this won’t last 

That was the last time 

Our final goodbye 

The last time you were above me

I didn’t know it at the time 

The Casino

Steven. He was spry and sparse, lean and compact, like a chicken wing that’s had all the meat sucked off the bone. I’m sure he had so many stories to tell, some wistful and some wry, some happy and some sad. Former military man, once VP of marketing for a company. Retired at 40 with 

$10 million in the bank and was living the life until he discovered cocaine and suddenly found himself living on the sand in El Segundo.  

Fortunately his ex-wife at least got $5 million and she’s living very well on a horse farm in Sarasota Florida. He sighs as he says, almost wistfully, “Cocaine owned me, I used it to treat my bipolar disorder. The coke balanced out the alcohol, the alcohol balanced out the coke.”

He pauses, “My one regret is my first wife. I didn’t treat her as well as I should have.” 

He is now managing a security guard company in downtown LA. He works full-time, meditates every single day, and one place he likes to go to in particular to meditate but he could do it anywhere.

He said his father used to own restaurants and some bars as well as a jewelry company, so logically when he proposed to both of his wives he was able to get the jewelry from his father and theoretically could have even proposed at his Dad’s restaurant.  

He has a brother who he doesn’t speak to anymore. “I just don’t like him, I did when we were younger but not now.” 

I told him that I was in the service industry, that I work as a bartender, which of course leads to him asking me where. I told him where I used to work and he of course knew because he’s lived in this area since 1978. I then shared where I work now and he said, “Too bad I couldn’t come see you at your bartending gig, but no offense, I don’t mean to sound crass, but I’m too old for that, and even when I was young, heck, even now, I would ogle your boobs if I was to go there. I’m more of a Doer and not a Looker, so it’s to the casino I go for my release!”

He is now 71-years-old and lives in a veterans facility in south-central LA. “I know I’ll never be a billionaire again, but I have a good life.” 

The rain was soft against my car as we made our way East towards the casino. Jazz music from 88.1 was playing in the background, prompting him to comment on how he enjoyed that type of music, it soothes him, just like playing golf once a week, every Friday with his friend up in Moorpark, I think at a place called Rustic Canyon. He takes the train up there, keeps his golf club in his friends trunk, a friend he actually met on the golf course 15 years ago.  

This leads me to ask him if he’s been to the Trump Golf course in Palos Verdes, and he said he doesn’t like it. 

“I like to go hiking there,” I said, to which he replied, “I like to hike too, there’s a place called Indian Canyon I think or something like that, in Palm Springs,” he pauses, as though remembering a moment, “it’s very powerful if you believe in that stuff, it’s a burial ground.” 

“Oh yes, absolutely,” I said, “my friend wants to open a bar in Joshua tree which is near there.” 

He laughs, “Well there’s plenty drinkers out there!” 

“Of course I went to AA because like I said, the coke and the alcohol were like my best friends and my worst enemies, but I stopped all that and so the meditation it helped me with my bipolar disorder because the medicine they were giving me, man, I didn’t want to have sex and it made me feel like a zombie, two very bad things!”

I shared with him about someone I had dated who was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder and I said I felt kind of bad because his actions led to me getting a restraining order and he had to go to jail, and he said, “You know, it’s his rock-bottom. Sometimes you got to hit it in order to get better. I know I did. My rock-bottom was losing $5 million and living on the sand having to borrow money.”

choke

i was 18 years young
fake id
looking for fun
went to downtown l.a.
music bumping
my friends more than 21
i was walking around
with my notice me look
and caught the eye
of a well known athlete
he played football
i played aloof
he was a legend
or so i was told
but at 18, i was barely grown
when he was making touchdowns
bedding three women at a time
i was in diapers
he was becoming number 29
we werent so serious
at least not at first
but as the years went by
i was with him often
drove his rover
had his house keys
in my fancy purse
picked up his daughter
sometimes from school
traveled together
first time first class
the warm chocolate chip cookies
so cool
we were very comptabile
he and i
but he wasnt a very
stand up guy
i didnt want to be
girl number two
i wanted to be the only one
for him to be true
wanted monogamy
faithfulness
trust
didnt want to share him
and so i said i was done
no fuss no muss
but he wouldnt accept it
he got oh so mad
pushed me hard
pinned me down
upon my bed
his knee on my stomach
his hands around my throat
squeezing
tighter
holding on
a ferocious choke
his hands so strong
across my neck
seeing stars
cant catch my breath
and he keeps pressing
i swear im going to die
the light getting brighter
and suddenly
respite
he releases his grip
makes a hasty retreat
my whole body shaking
my heart skipping several beats
i hesitate and pause
unsure of the next step to take
call 911
will i seal his fate?
my hand it is shaking
as i pick up the phone
but dial them i do
and soon police are in my home
they see signs of a struggle
see the bruises on my neck
take me to the station
photographs processed
statements made
but no arrest
not enough evidence
says the D.A.
and there you have it
another one gets away
despite my bruising
my bedroom a mess
not enough evidence
that’s what they said
and then i knew
that justice wasnt to be had
because i know what happened
what he did
how he got mad
it’s one of those moments
that changes your life
a before and after
so clearly defined
who i was before
and who i became
what happened then
and the way i changed
it’s been 21 years
and i still can recall
the feel of my back
sliding down that wall
remember him choking me
the rage in his face
and i was so helpless
he put me in my place
then and now
it is heartbreaking to hear
how women are victimized
by men every year
and how some get away with it
they suffer no remorse
they continue their lives
they stay the course
and how do i feel
all these years passed?
i’m a glass half full woman
i look for the good
give thanks for the bad
i feel like it’s a lesson
something i can hold close
to render me strong
know i can overcome anything
with a titanium calm.