I miss the America I grew up in

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I miss the America I grew up in:

 

Funny thing about time and hindsight it gives perspective in regards to what your parents told you. Every generation has their need to make their mark to rebel against the norm or the system. Many of the hippie generation has become part of the establishment they had bemoaned.

When I was a kid if the street lights went on it meant you get in the house. We did not lock our doors nor did we lock our cars. These days we have locks, bolts, and alarms.

Traditional values were touted even if they were not strictly followed because my parents knew it’s a slippery slope and there needed to be a line drawn in the sand so we would not cross over it. Rule of law was feared and respected.

I grew up as an Army brat, I went to 10 different schools. Some of the schools I went to were not in the States and many times the other brats like me understood firsthand what it was like to be discriminated against. I was taught we are in this together. I was told we were Americans no other titles were needed.  There were no special titles to differentiate between us such as African American, Chinese American etc. We were Americans.

My great great grandparents came here from Poland. They migrated to Hamtramck they taught my grandmother to take care of what you have even if you are just renting. My parents taught me that and added leave it better than the way you found it. The Hamtramck community was tight-knit when we moved there 3 years before my father retired from the Army. I went to a Catholic school ( that would take an entire blog to tell you about) The neighborhood was safe and clean. In fact, it was so clean you could eat off the streets. That doesn’t mean there was no evil lurking in the dark this was only a couple of years before the riots broke out. We moved one week before the riots. It saddens me to see what decay has come to the streets of Detroit and Hamtramck.

Other things have changed; the adults I knew would be embarrassed to be on Welfare. If they were in need they could get help from family, a neighbor, the church but they would feel obliged to pay it back and would be embarrassed to ask for more anytime soon.

For the most part, there was no sex before marriage although that line was crossed and I am glad today there are more open-minded responses to this lapse in judgment when the girl got pregnant. I am not for abortion but I am for loving the person and giving a hand up not a handout.

It was also unheard of living together unless you are married. I crossed that line after my divorce (which was still frowned upon) But, our goal was to get married. I could not even imagine living with my boyfriend and his parent’s eek! If that boy could not share the expenses of an apartment or something similar then he is not marrying material.

I wonder how my life would have been different with the technology today. I was married to a police officer for 19 years. He cheated on me like it was a sport, smashed things in my face when I was sleeping, picked me up by my throat (once) that is when I hit the road. Why so long? Many reasons one of which was divorce was frowned upon another was I had gotten to the point I believed I could not do it on my own. Well, I did and I believe with hard work and tenacity everyone can.

I miss the America I grew up in. Respect was important and disrespect was not tolerated. Even if we disagreed with someone’s politics we agreed to disagree don’t get me wrong not everyone walked to the same beat and some were angrier than others. Those were the ones I was told to avoid. I still do.

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Best Friends Chapter 1

Best Friends

Carole and I have been best friends since high school. Neither of us went for higher learning because we believed by the end of high school we knew everything we needed to know.

When I married Dale, Carole was my maid of honor when she married Ken I was her matron of honor. My wedding was a simple justice of the peace hers was a big bash with the church and reception. At Carole’s reception, we sat in the parking lot of the reception hall drinking wine and laughing about all the dumb things we did in high school.

Do you remember when we lured Kevin into the girl’s bathroom making him believe we would both be eager participants?” Carole asked

I remember the bathroom was filled with girls all hiding in the stalls and when Kevin pulled his pants down all the stall doors opened and the girls in unison said Oooooh Kevin!” I answered

We started to laugh remembering he ran out of the bathroom struggling to get his pants back up and was caught by the principal.

I think we were hard on him,” I said

No, we were not! When he lied to the guys about going all the way with Vanessa and she started to get all the phone calls and cat calls from the guys, he deserved the humiliation. We stepped in so he was not put on the list for perverts.” Carole said

I looked down at my glass and noticed something floating in it.

I yelled: “Oh my Gawd there is an ant floating in my wine!”

Carole laughed and said: “Darn I wish I would have gotten to know her before her untimely demise.”

I laughed and said: “Carole you’re weird!”

She nodded her head and said: “I know right?”

Both of our husbands had known each other from grade school, they understood Carole’s and my relationship. Dale and Ken had a similar connection they were both warriors at heart and they were constantly competing with each other.

One evening after work we were all sitting in the backyard drinking beer, decompressing. Dale was the one who broached the subject with us girls.

Girls, Ken and I want to talk to you about something we have decided we wanted to do. We both want to join the Marines.”

My beer was midway to my lips when I looked over at Dale, tears were stinging my eyes and I said: “Why?”

I love you Savannah, all I could think about was that I wanted to marry you. Now I am thinking about our future. In the Marines, I can learn more about defense and security, Ken and I want to start our own consulting firm one day. Being a Marine will be the beginning of our credentials.” Dale said

We know the money will not be the same as what we are bringing in right now but when we finish our 4-year tour things will change for the better if you girls will hold down the fort while we are gone you will see this is a good decision,” Ken said

I did not like it but at the end of the evening, I could tell they already made up their minds. The only good thing to come out of this was Carole moved in the house with me to help with the payments while the guys were gone.

 

The Leaf – Conclusion

The Leaf Chapter 2

Charlie called today asking if I would like to go out for dinner. I said no. I am not sure why I have been pulling away from him. Nothing has changed I know I am in love with him yet I sit here by the window crying as the rain pelts the glass wishing I could remember what my grandmother whispered in my ear to make me feel better.

Music played in the background of my thoughts, a serenade of notes I used to enjoy considering they used to be uplifting but at this moment it sounds more like a dirge. It has been a year to the day Kyle was taken from me. Our music we used to dance to with every intention of culminating our lust now sounds more of a cosmic longing. I want my Kyle back yet I feel guilty for loving Charlie. What was it my Grandmother whispered in my ear I need to hear it again, I need to feel the comfort of her breath on my skin and the words of comfort.

There are no bright lights on in the house only a lamp on the table next to the chair I am sitting on. It is autumn the rain is still pelting the window, a car pulls into my driveway at the same time an oak leaf drops from the old oak tree and sticks to the window. The car lights illuminate the leaf long enough for me to see each vein and the graduated color of fall etched upon the thin veil of the leaf. My soul is stuck to the window understanding the leaf’s loss. I felt as though the rain was pelting against my soul.

Footsteps pulled my attention to the front door as the hand used its fist to intrude on my thoughts all decorum said I should get up and answer the door.

I forced myself to get up and answer the door. Charlie stood dripping wet with Chinese food in his hand. His smile was tenuous when he said: “I hope wine goes well with Chinese I am not in the mood for Shoji .”

I smiled despite myself while Charlie took his wet coat off and shoes I placed the food and wine on the dining room table. When I turned Charlie was at the CD player placing a CD into the slot. An old Bonnie Rait song came on ‘Let’s give them something to talk about.’

I walked over to Charlie he leaned in and whispered ‘ No matter what Madison I will always love you.’ I started to cry uncontrollably Charlie held me and asked: “Why are you crying?”

I said: “Ever since Kyle was taken from me I have been trying to remember what my grandmother used to whisper in my ear when I was upset. She would always say, ‘no matter what Madison I will always love you’ It always made me feel better.”

The Leaf Chapter 1

The Leaf

 

Today I moved furniture in my home and in my life. It is symbolic not just the need to clean in the corners although there are webs in my heart and my mind. I was there when he needed help to go to the bathroom. I was there when he took his last breath. I was there while the hospice nurse checked for a pulse and made the call that took him from me. I was there numbly watching as they descended the stairs and took him from our home.

I stood at the top of those stairs for the longest time trying to remember what my grandmother whispered in my ear when I had colic and would not stop crying. She whispered in my ear the same thing each time I cut or bruised myself. I searched within my memory just for the slightest remembrance of that special whisper that always gave me comfort. Why can’t I remember?

The cloth in my hand is soiled to the point of needing to be replaced; yet I cling to it and continue cleaning, not convinced I am accomplishing anything yet I cling. Finally after 8 hours of moving, arranging, and pitching things I believe I accomplished only one thing, emptiness. Shopping is the first thing which came to mind, yet I know the mere purchase of a new item will not fill the void I feel I need a change in my nest. This house used to be a home but to me now it is only a nest. A home you plan on staying in a nest is easily left by the wind beneath a wing.

It has been a year since Kyle crossed over to his new home and yet some evenings I sit tensing my soul trying to listen for that voice that kept the bad dreams away. What did my grandmother whisper in my ear?

Someone new has come into my life; this excites me and scares me all at the same time. I had the best of the best with Kyle no one could live up to what we had together, the good and the bad in each of us seemed nothing compared to what the world pressed against us we stood together stronger than any storm that came our way.  This new man seems distant yet close as though he is waiting to see if I am going to make a home with him or a nest. I really don’t know. I do know I am in love with him and at the same time, I don’t want to be in love with him. My confusion is what keeps him distant no matter what positive, loving things I say and do he knows my heart is not in it all the way. My toes are in the water but I am not ready to swim the current might be too strong this time.

Her Essence

Her essence

There is a large white house on a hill a culdesac winds itself near its driveway. I love walking past it dreaming of sitting on the wrap around porch sipping sweet lemonade in the summer or in the fall covered with a homemade afghan enjoying the fall colors.

The white clapboard siding large windows are inviting yet hide a mystery of the life within. Large magnolia trees are in bloom on the north side of the house, the south side has an immense garden.

I dreamily walk by picturing myself with a wide brim straw hat picking fresh flowers for the large vase in the vestibule. A beautiful greeting for any visitor.

My last steps towards home I am still in a dreamy daze fantasizing about life in the large white house on the hill. As I drop my headset on the kitchen counter when my cell phone rang. My sister wanted me to go to garage sales and thrift store shopping. It sounded good to me, I told her I needed a half an hour to shower and then I would meet her in the driveway.

Susan picked me up and we were on our way to find some great  treasures. I needed a painting for above my mantel, it cannot be just any painting I want something ornate.

After the 5th garage sale, I figured I would go home empty handed. Susan suggested we go to a thrift store there was a new Salvation Army store in the next town. I first went through the clothes rack and found some tie-dyed t-shirts and a pair of worn cutoffs.

Susan called from the back of the store I ran over to her with a rush of expectation.  She was pointing at a print of a woman standing on a cliff, the waters below were angrily pushing up against the rocks as if trying to reach her and pull her in. Or was she contemplating giving into its beckoned call?

I told Susan it was too dark for me as I turned to walk away a frame caught my attention. The Frame was of wood and looked to be chiseled by hand, it was ornate and exquisite. I want that frame, as I looked at the detail I finally took a moment to look at what it framed. There was a woman peering down at me her eyes were sadly, happy as though she was coming out of a depression that nearly took her soul. Something mysteriously compelling about her, the photo was old and in some places cracked. The price was five dollars. I took it home and hung it above my mantel.

Every day I walk past this beautiful woman and wonder what had made her sad and just in an instant brought a slight smile to her eyes. Was it the photographer? Did he tell her how beautiful she is?

I decided I wanted to know more about the woman in the photograph so I called a local store in town that does framing and asked if they could take the frame off just far enough so I may find out when the photo was taken and maybe who it is in the photo.

Mr. Lutz greeted me when I walked in, I set the picture on the counter and he said: “I know who this is, it is Melisa she is the daughter of Mrs. Penelope Collins.”

I asked: “ Do you know where I could find Mrs. Collins?”

“Yes, she lives in the big white house on the hill.” He answered.

My heart raced as I walked to my car and drove to the house on the hill. I rang the doorbell and a young girl answered the door. I told her I wanted to see Mrs. Collins, she turned her head and yelled: “Grandma, someone here to see you.”

I smiled to myself thinking her grandmother just winced because of the way her granddaughter answered the door. A lean elegant woman soon came walking down the stairs with the same sadly happy eyes as the woman in the photo. I introduced myself and told her about the picture in my car. She asked if I would bring it in.

Mrs. Collins was sitting in a chair in what seemed to be a parlor. I held the picture so she could see it. She was quite but her granddaughter asked incessantly who the woman was in the photo. Her grandmother answered: “Your mother just before you were born we had a professional photographer take her portrait. Your grandfather wasn’t any too pleased he wanted her out of the house because she was not married and carried you. You know the rest of the story.”

She stopped short of telling me the rest of the story. I asked if she would want the picture, her granddaughter spoke up: “Yes please grandmother I want it for my room. I do not have any photos of my mom.”

Mrs. Collins said: “Yes, of course, Penny you may have it. How much do you want for it?”

I said: “Free if you take me on a tour of the house. I have always wanted to see the inside.”

Mrs. Collins said: “You can take a tour now and later in the week the house is going up for auction, I could not keep up the taxes because I spent every dime keeping the house in good repair and taking care of my granddaughter.”

I said: “How much is owed on the taxes?”

Mrs. Collins told me I called my boss who is an attorney it took more than a week to settle everything. I am now the proud owner of the house on the hill. I did not have the heart to ask Mrs. Collins to move I told her it would be an honor if she and her granddaughter stayed.  Mrs. Collin was glad to be able to stay in her home and even happier to have a new roommate who could help with the chores.

 

Fine China

Fine China

I was part of a dowry for the youngest of the family. Delicately made and designed. Roses with gold trim. The finest of ladies desire me. I was sent to her after she settled in the New World. Her face showed excitement when she pulled me from the parcel. My dainty structure caused her to sigh. She said I brought civilization to a brutal world. Soon she treasured me by cupping her hands around my form. Sipping hot tea as though it was the finest of delicacies, I was her moment to pause and reflect on what she left behind when she married this American businessman.  The disease came into her home; my work was immense as tea was continually needed to hydrate the infirmed.

Her family mourned her passing. Her daughter asked to have me and the set I came with. She cherished me as she cherished her mother. She took special care of me in hopes of passing me down to her daughter. She had no daughter’s just sons. Her last son was born and it took her breath from this earth. I sat in a box hidden away from the world.

One day the box I was placed in was pulled out. A very young likeness of my first lady peered down upon me. She is my first ladies great granddaughter. She placed me on a shelf behind some glass. Every so often she would take me out and use a cloth to clean me. And then she would replace me on the shelf. She would sit with something that resembled a bowl with a handle. Her hot beverage had a strong bitter smell. She seemed to cling to it as my first lady clung to me.

One day there was a loud ferocious noise. My shelf-shook, the wind blew the walls around me were pulled up and thrown aside like trash. I lay in a heap of rubble. She came and found me; she cried out saying “Thank God I still have you.”

The rest of the fine collection was destroyed. I was spared as well as the saucer I sat on. From that day forward she clutched me while sipping the bitter beverage. Her daughter would sometimes pretend to be big like her mom. She would drink her water from me.

One day she did not come to hold me. I was put in a box. When someone took me out of the box I was placed on a table. Many people walked passed me commenting how delicately pretty I am. Finally, a young woman picked me up. I was wrapped carefully and put in a bag. When the young lady pulled me from the bag, she showed me to a man and said: “I had to buy this it reminds me of my mother.”

The Porch

The Porch

The First Family

They put me here in 1920. The man of the house wanted to be outside of town. The woman of the house sat on me shelling peas and snapping beans. Late in the day the man and woman of the house would sit drinking cold sweet tea. Spills would happen ants would congregate taking its nectar to their nest for nourishment. Eventually, the woman of the house brought home a small person it did not take long before there were four people in the family. They would run and stomp entertaining the short people. The day came when the other two people left to build their own porches. Goodbyes were said, waving and hugging throughout the seasons of my life.

Soon more people would visit. The man of the house was placed on the dining room table. The woman of the house wept. Many came to visit that day wearing black. Some sat on chairs that were placed on me. Some laughed telling stories of when and how I was built, while others just wept and sipped their teas and moonshine.

After the man of the house no longer came to sit on me I started to dry and crack. Soon boards were missing, my coating peeled, weeds grew up around me. The heat seemed unbearable my frame started to shift.

One day the lady of the house was put on the dining room table. The other two people that lived here grew big. They sat on my one step that was left telling each other stories of when they were small, they cried they laughed they walked away.

A stranger came putting a sign on me that said “Keep out” and another stranger came and put a sign on me that said “Condemned”

 

The second family:

It took a very long time before another man and woman came to look at me. I was near death. They both smiled and said they especially liked me. They sat on the one corner of my frame that was still strong enough to hold them. I heard the man say: “We can rebuild this porch replacing the deck boards with treated new planks.”

The woman was so happy she gave the man a kiss and a hug. The work began shortly after their visit. I felt strong and new again. There was a great deal of debris thrown out on me from the house. It took a very long time before the woman of the house was happy. One warm spring day the woman of the house placed chairs on me with red and white fabric, a table with a tray ready for that sweet tea. The man of the house did not work in the yard as did the first man of the house; he left in the morning and came home in the evening. The woman of the house would greet the man of the house with something cold that I was not familiar with. Soon I heard the woman of the house ask the man of the house if he wanted another beer.  He always said: “Yes, Please.”

Just like the other people who lived here there were small people who slowly became large people and moved away. There were smiles, laughter, playing, dogs, cats so many things that happened to me while the small people grew large. The small people moved but they came back once in a while just to sit with the man and woman of the house.

The time came when the man of the house did not come home. People visited wearing black carrying all sorts of platters and dishes. The woman of the house wept. Once the people in black left the woman of the house would sit alone and stare until it got dark. Then she would get up and go into the house. Once she was in the house, she would turn a box on. The box would light up and voices came from it. The woman in the house would just sit. The box was still on when the birds started to talk. The woman of the house would walk to the box to make it silent. That was what she did every day till she no longer came home. The small people who grew up came and sat on me. The man said to the woman: “I am glad we took care of this house I love this porch.” The woman said: “Gus and I want to move here and raise our family.” The man said: “That is great to hear Mary, I was hoping you and Gus would stay here and take care of this porch.”

They changed my boards to something that I am not familiar with. It sounded different and felt different. The man in the house called Gus said: “This is made from recycled milk jugs.”

The woman of the house, Mary said: “I am glad we are bringing this house into a new world.”

My world did change the day they changed my boards, the house also had a change. The man called Gus called it “Siding” It was now blue and white instead of black and white. I like the change.

I noticed the man called Gus and the woman called Mary would sit on me they would call out to other people. I am not sure when it happened but there were more houses with special places to sit on like me. Some were small; some were called decks, not porches. They were close no longer far away. I could hear other people talk, laugh, yell, and cry each day.

I heard the woman called Mary say: “I remember when I grew up here it was considered country living. We are now part of the city.”

The man that was called Gus said: “At first I liked that we were at least still on the edge of town, it did not take long for the city to catch up with us.”

The woman called Mary and the Man called Gus did something different, the neighbor called it moving away.

The Third Family:

Now I have a man and woman sitting here on me. I do not know what they are saying. They look and sound different than the man and woman who put me here. They even sound and look different than the man called Gus and the woman called Mary.

The smells coming from the house is different. The clothes they wear are different the conversations are different. One man came over and was mad at the man of the house. The man of the house said something that made the man who came over very mad.

I heard a different sound that night, it was loud and something hot and hard hit me many times. The man of the house had something in his hand. The sound was loud. The man that visited yelled something.

One night I heard a window break in the house that I am connected to. I soon felt the heat that was not from the sun. I heard screams and crying the man and woman of the house ran across me and stood afar off. It took a while but soon I felt the pull of my being that drained all my strength. I fell into myself the house fell on top of me. The heat was too much for me to bear. I am no longer able to hold the stories of any man or woman of the house.

The rescue:

Once everything was quiet and the birds were talking I realized there were still some parts of me intact. That horrible night with all the heat I learned its called fire. There were men with big clothes on; I could not see their faces. They used hoses and sprayed me till I was saturated.

The sun came up and a man with big clothes on took something off the top of him, he coughed and drank something from a bottle. Another man came over and asked if he was okay. He said yes he was fine. In the silence where I laid, cats and other creatures found refuge in the corner where I still remained, some went to what was left of the house. Weeds grew up. There were other fires, shouting and gun shots.

Long after that horrible night, I heard a voice and saw a face I remembered from the night of the fire. The man in the heavy clothes who took off his hat came with a woman.

He said to the woman: “I have the original blueprint of this house. I would like to rebuild it as it was back in the day this city was at peace.”

The woman said: “I would love that especially the porch. Could we wrap the porch around the house as though to hug it.”

The man said: “Yes that can be easily done. There are still some good boards left from the porch; I want to take those boards to build a bench for the park down the street. I am hoping it can be a symbol of peace.”

I am no longer a porch instead I am now a bench. Many people come and sit on me. Their stories are each different and yet the same. They laugh they cry and sometimes stop and ask why. My job is different now hearing their stories I hold the weight of their world upon my seat. My journey continues with them.

 

THE BENCH part 2

Life was different in the park, many people came and went. The first day was a dedication of the park, people came to celebrate and some came because they were curious.

The very first people who came to sit on me were the man and woman who brought me here. They each sat contemplating all the people that would enjoy me; their hopes were high for this city to turn itself around.

Once the curious and enthusiastic people moved on with their lives a certain pattern started to emerge. Starting with young couples bringing their children and pets. Young adults meeting up with their friends. Picnics were eaten just behind me on the grass. Joggers sped by 3 to 4 times and then sat and rested drinking water.

The lawn was cut and watered regularly. People were picking up their debris and placing it in a barrel for the caretaker to dispose of. Slowly but surely people were not picking up after themselves. The grass was getting taller. Once in a while, people who lived nearby would make an effort to clean up the park, cut the grass, rinse me off. I am not sure if they gave up or just got busy with other things.

One day a man with old clothes and an unpleasant smell sat down on me. His head was hanging down, he had a small paper bag he would lift to his mouth, and then wipe whatever it was on his lips on the sleeve of his disheveled jacket. He left for a while during the day but he always came back. At night he would lay upon me and sleep. Just as the birds started to talk a man in a dark uniform came and tapped the man who was sleeping on me and said: “You cannot sleep here you need to move on.”

The man would get up and leave for a couple of hours and then come back with a fresh looking bag and start his daily routine. One night he laid down to sleep and did not snore, the man in the dark uniform came to tap him and tell him he had to move on but the man who was sleeping did not get up. The man in the dark uniform turned and talked into a box on his shoulder, someone from the box talked back. Next, a large van came and two people got out with a rolling bed. They took the young man that wasn’t moving away. I never saw him again.

A few days later a young man came and sat on me. He seemed nervous as though he was looking for someone. After awhile another young man came over and sat next to the first young man. They shook hands and then the second young man left, the first young man stayed and pushed something into his arm. Soon the young man’s body shook and foam came out of his mouth. Once the shaking stopped he laid still until the man in the dark uniform came over touched the young man that still wasn’t moving. The man in the dark uniform turned and talked into a box on his shoulder, someone from the box talked back. Next, a large van came and two people got out with a rolling bed. They took the young man that wasn’t moving away. I never saw him again.

After that young man was taken away more men in dark uniforms came into the park. Some sat on me to have their lunch. Others would sit and look around. The neighbors started to clean up again, moving the lawn, collecting the debris. This went on until it got cold out again. The snow and rain kept people away.

One night a man came and sat on me, he was crying and shivering he had a lot of things with him. He laid on me and pulled all his things over him. He slept till morning when a man in a dark uniform came over to tell the man he needed to move on. He tapped the man who was sleeping on me, the man did not move. The man in the dark uniform talked to the box on his shoulder, someone spoke to him out of the box. Next, a large van came and two people got out with a rolling bed. They took the man that wasn’t moving away. I never saw him again.

Someone put water in the park, people waited a couple of days before they came back. There were many families that came and spun around on the water that froze. Someone turned lights on around the frozen water. Music played people laughed, some fell, some danced and it seemed like everyone was having fun. More and more people came and went. Some took the time to sit on me and drink things that steamed.

One dark cold night after the lights went out a young woman came and sat on me. She cried while she sat there. After a while, she took something out of her bag. It was shiny, she pushed it into her body, a warm sticky substance started to drip on me. The young woman fell asleep. The man in the dark uniform came just as the birds started to talk. He did not touch her to tell her to move he only talked into the box he had on his shoulder. The van came as they had done before and took the young girl away.

One day when it was warm again outside the people who brought me here took me back home with them. They put me under a big tree where I could see the new porch on the house. Each day is much the same, warm, cold, rain or shine I sit under the tree and look at the new porch on the house. A garden was put around me it had different flowers, butterflies, birds all were a part of my life now. A large pot was set upon me that had flowers in it. I like sitting here looking at the new porch even on the cold snowy nights. Life and love are here, that is where I want to be. Home.

 

The Bench

The Bench

The Bench

I see many different derrieres each day and they all have a story. Sometimes the only part of the story I receive is what they had to eat last. My job is not always easy as I sit here dealing with the elements nature brings to me and the tushes that bring a hefty weight to my world.

Christine’s tush started out small but over time it expanded as did her life. When she first came here to sit she would cry. Her husband was an abusive sort but as time moved on so did she. Her life expanded to include a good man, step-children, and grandchildren. Within this menagerie of life, she also included rescue dogs to weave their wags into her family’s lives.

Katty’s tush has not expanded yet her life is full with a good husband and her propensity for Weinheimer dogs. For some reason, Katty prefers male dogs. They lift their legs and leave pee-mail for the next dog to read. This is not to say that Katty did not sit here and shed tears. Her grief was palatable when her sweet Easy passed over the rainbow bridge. My steady frame held her grief.

Monica’s was the last tush in this park that I held. Hers did a yo-yo of small to big back to small. She seemed to always be in a flux, from one relationship to another. Each one would bring tears than joy the last one brought more of a burden than I could hold. It was a hot summer evening Monica came and sat down heavily. Not that her tush was large this was one of those times it was small but as she worked on the half gallon of ice cream I could tell there was going to be an expansion. The parking lot is not far from where I am. A truck pulled up, Monica looked up from her grieving remnants of ice cream. I could feel the fear tense in her body. She did not move just sat holding the carton of ice cream so tightly that it started to ooze down the front of her shirt and dripped onto me. I hate when that happens it draws ants. A male’s voice called out some derisive words. Monica still did not move. I wanted to tell her to get behind me I would shield her. It was too late, the shots rang out one hit Monica one hit me. Blood mixed with the ice cream dripped down the seat and then down my leg. I wish I could have shielded her.

The police came and dug the bullet out of me; paramedics covered Monica head to toe. I wish I could tell them about the truck and the man with the gun but all I have is shoulders which hold the burdens of all who sit. The park attendant was kind enough to hose me off but the one thing he could not clean away was the loss of a soul on my watch. I will never know if the man that took Monica’s last breath away from this earth was caught but I was glad to hear I was going to be retired.

I was glad to be moved from the park when the park did a cleanup to update the grounds. I retired to a nice back yard at Christine’s house. She wanted me there to hold whatever came to her family. Thus far I have held Christine as she sipped wine.I let Christine’s dog Wilma sit on me while she was mending from surgery and her granddaughter Madison who is learning about life in her grandmother’s garden. I know one day I will hold her son as he grieves the loss of his mother but right now it is love and joy that I will hold until I am needed for more.

Don’t Move the Furniture Chapter 2

Don’t Move the furniture

Chapter 2 The company picnic

I agreed to go with Paula to the company picnic. The main reason for my accepting the invitation was curiosity. Why is this 55-year-old businesswoman asking a 70-year-old retired Architect out? When I arrived to pick her up she was in a soft flowing yellow sundress, with strappy sandals and wide brim straw hat. Yes, I notice things like that Marie modeled for catalogs she would put an outfit on, twirl around describing the outfit as they do in the catalog. We were easily entertained. This woman is boggling my mind. One minute I think of her as Neo Woman next thing you know she looks feminine and wispy.

After I closed her door, set myself down on the driver’s seat I turned to Paula and asked: “Paula I want to know straight up why on Gods green earth did you ask me to this function?”

Even though you wrote a great letter Corporate gave me the choice of quitting or being fired. I chose to quit because it looks better on my resume. I decided to poke at the hierarchy with our presence.”

I laughed so hard Paula’s icy veneer gave way and she joined in. Wiping tears from my eyes I said “Well you know what I say? Thanks for including me and game on!”

Turning to me she asked “How do you want to play this? I bow to your expertise.”

Smiling I said “Well you sure know how to puff a guy up. Well if we walk hand in hand it may add fire to the flames which may look badly on your resume.”

She nodded while I continued “Play it easy as if we belonged there. Stay long enough that the right people take notice. Leave everyone with a good feeling and a lingering question. ‘What the heck were they doing here?’ That should pretty much sum up a response from the Corporate jerks.”

Nodding again she said “I like it. Will do.”

Okay, Paula afterward may I suggest where to have lunch? I am thinking Anabel’s we can sit on the porch sip margaritas, enjoy the surrounding and nibble on a great lunch.”

She loved the idea which left me wondering if there were more motive than just sticking it to the man. Paula is not my type but a ride around the block is not out of the question as far as I am concerned. I guess I need to play it easy as well.

Parking the car I took a moment before getting out of the car to take in the lay of the land. I wanted to know how many families and how many singles. This will help me determine the dynamics of the group. I got out slowly a few heads turned. I stretched and slowly walked over to open the door for Paula. She had a slight grin on her face. Not all who are attending this function will know who I am. I did notice one woman I had seen before in Paula’s office. Paula slowly emerged from the car stepped away from the door ever so slowly. As I closed the door she smiled and waved at someone. They waved back. I did not hold Paula’s hand but I did the gentile move by placing my hand slightly on the small of her back. Yet keeping my distance. This move old timers would consider a dance direction move. The guy is letting the girl know which direction he wants to walk. I want the Corporate jerks to think I am in control. I whispered looking forward explaining what I was doing. Paula’s response was “Good to know” She whispered where she wanted to go and that is where we went. Sitting at a picnic table under a tall expansive oak was a guy with Dockers on, white knit collarless shirt holding a beer. Across from him were two children I guess the ages to be 10 and 13. There was a woman standing at a table nearby looked in our direction and her countenance changed exponentially when she saw Paula. That look I have seen before pure unadulterated jealous rage. My first thought was Paula is poking at the guy she had been Poking. Oh, what a bad girl. This old guy is going to give her a scathing lecture about cheating.

Paula started to make the introductions as the man stood up. “Morty this I Jack Larson, the sweet woman standing at his side is his wife Marisa.”

Nice touch I thought that changed the look on Marisa’s face slightly. Paula walked over and gave Marisa a hug whispered something in Marisa’s ear. Whatever Paula whispered put tears in Marisa’s eyes. All the while I made small talk with Jack about the weather and who won the last baseball game. Paula came over to me and said: “Morty I want you to meet John and his wife Jean.” As we walked toward the couple John visibly stiffened. Jean was more cordial, plastering a plastic smile on her face hand extended.

Jean was the first to speak with a slight southern genteel accent “Oh Paula how wonderful I am so glad you could make it dear.”

Paula genuinely smiled walked up and gave Jean a hug whispered something into Jean’s ear which changed the genteel smile to a glaring sneer. After which she turned to John made introductions all the while keeping eye contact. If Paula was a man one would say they were readying for a cockfight. John’s jaw was clenched while he pushed a smile and shook my hand. He then turned to Paula and whispered loud enough for me to hear “Hope you did not do any more damage to Marisa.”

That gave me pause. Paula whispered back “No sir, I apologized and told her I did not know that Jack was married. I added I hope she could find it in her heart to forgive me.”

I then spoke up “What is it about men, that need to stray and lie about it? They should man up so it can be to consenting adults. Instead of leaving 2 victims and his honor is still intact?”

This received a shocked but not angry look from John. Jean, on the other hand, did a harrumph and walked away.

I weighed in again to get John’s pulse “I am sure Simmons’s corporate discharge their valued employees for indiscretions do they?”

John blinked, stood mute for a couple of beats “Yes they do. In fact when certain information comes their way they reconsider the discharge.”

By golly, she was not fired because of my bad behavior she was fired because Jean did not like finding out that an employee was doing the nasty. I wonder why Jack did not get the boot also. Again I weighed in “I am going to say this straight up man to man. Your wife may have convinced you this was the right thing to do. My guess is because of her insecurities believing Paula may one day come after her husband. With that said clearly this is discrimination dismissing the female and not the male also. I am sure it will be rectified. That is if Paula wants her job back. I am also sure it will include a little bonus and a raise.”

John stepped back I can tell he was miffed at my forwardness, also cautious. My guess is he may think I am an attorney and not a retired architect. No one would know what I did for a living unless I tell them, on the application, I placed the word Privacy in the blank as well in the space when asked what was my income. I figure it is no one’s business. From that, he may assert I am an attorney. I did it just to see if they would put up with it.

Jean came back over to join us. I am sure out of pure curiosity and the need to control. I was glad to see John was going to man up.

Paula, would you consider coming back to Pleasant Ridge? Before you answer I would like to offer you wages lost and a bonus of $500.”

Jean gasped started to say something, John quickly turned to her and said “Darling new information has come to my attention. I am doing this as an apologetic gesture.”

Jean couldn’t take it she said “We do not owe her an apology for her unprofessional behavior. She assaulted this man.”

I turned to her and said, “I was not assaulted it was foreplay if you must know.” Paula bust out laughing and said, “Oh Morty behave.”

I was surprised to see John laughing he said “Oh I so understand now what was happening in the community room. Hey, Morty do you play golf?”

I said, “Sorry no I am more of an armchair football and baseball player.”

John nodded and said “Well then I have season tickets for all home games with either sport. I will give you a call and you and I will have to go.”

Jean was beside herself. John moved over to Jean putting his arm around her. Leaned over and kissed her on the top of the head. He then whispered just enough for us to hear. “I would never stray darling and Paula is not a cougar.”

Jean looked up at her husband with a mixture of anger and hurt. Paula and I excused ourselves while walking away to give the couple privacy.

I was surprised I did not see Paula’s sidekick. “Hey Paula where is your sidekick, isn’t she coming?”

Paula said “Sherry was upset they let me go I think she is boycotting. Morty that was brilliant on your part. Tell me what type of an attorney are you?”

I smiled and simply said “Architect.” She busts out laughing “This is more fun than I thought it was going to be.”

I smiled and slowed our pace down with a slight tug to Paula’s arm. She turned to me “Paula when I figured out what was going on, primarily by the look on Marisa’s face when you walked up. I was going to give you a scathing lecture. What you said to Marisa changed my mind. I will say this, it is never a good idea to play at work.”

She nodded “I know. I work so many hours it is hard to find companionship. Morty, it is not okay for me to play at work with the customers either.”

I laughed “Duly noted. We can be friends and I promise to do my best to behave.”

We started walking again back to the car she said “I know you will try but let me give you advice. You will be leaving behind carnage with these women who hope their night in shining armor has finally arrived. Or those who believe they got a second chance.”

I was stunned. I never took into consideration that I may be doing more harm than good. Leaning over to open the car door a woman approached us. At first, I did not realize it was Marisa she called out “Hold on you two. I want to have a word with Paula.”

I had a nervous feeling in my gut. This could go two different ways. Amiable or she has a weapon. I turned and slightly put myself between Paula and Marisa.

Marisa smiled “I come in peace. You want to search me for weapons. Please! I think it will be the beginning of payback.”

I laughed and said, “Actually counseling or a lawyer is what I would advise.”

Marisa laughed “Are you available?”

I was not going to let on “Retired but I can refer you to an excellent attorney. My son as a matter of fact.” I pulled his card out of my wallet and handed it to Marisa. She thanked me, hugged Paula and thanked her as well.

The trip home was congenial sharing bits and pieces of our past as friends, not prospective lovers. Her husband of 2 years passed away in a car accident he was drunk ran off an embankment. I told her of Martha’s struggle with ovarian cancer. I found myself spouting all sorts of proud dad bravado about my son Connor. I have 2 grandchildren a girl named Madison a boy named Shane. Madison is the oldest now 6 Shane is 4. Both brilliant of course. Paula is a good listener and she laughs at all the right jokes.

I keep telling my ego back off she is too young for you. I like her tenacity. I especially appreciate how she went toe to toe with me.

Paula said “Your an old fashion guy at heart Morty.”

How do you know that?”

The way you talk about your son and his wife. You like the fact that Janice is a stay at home mom.”

I understand that many moms do not have that luxury. I believe whenever it is possible the mom should be home raising the kids. If not mom Grandma, sister and such.”

Paula nodded “I wanted kids but after Mike passed I could not even think of falling in love again. Mike and I were great together but his drinking would eventually come between us. I never expected it to end like it did.”

I sighed “You never found someone that you could love?”

She grimaced “I thought I did but as it turns out he was married to Marisa.”

My turn to nod “Well darn and I am too old for you. But seriously Paula don’t stop trying.”

She laughed and said, “Like you Humpty pumpty?”

I did have to laugh. I know I deserved it. I was acting like an adolescent. Funny how people act out their frustrations in different ways. Mine was to run from one rabbit hole to another. I was Alex in Wonderland.

I slowly pulled into her driveway and thanked her for a nice afternoon. I got out after telling her to stay put till I opened the door. To her credit, she sat there waiting.

I opened the door and she slid slowly out of the car stood up looked me straight in the eye and kissed me like no other. Yikes, I was hoping my appreciation wasn’t showing.

Once our lips unlocked she smiled and said “Now that I got that off my bucket list, when we see each other on Monday we are going back to business as usual. Except for your escapades I hope.”

Laughing I said “I will give it my best shot. What are the odds I can remove something from my bucket list?”

Her smile was wicked “Slim to none.”

I smiled back and said, “I will take my chances at slim.”

Don’t Move the Furniture Chapter 1

Don’t Move the Furniture

Chapter 1

I moved here because of the insistence of my kids. I have to give them credit; it is not a nursing home nor is it an assisted living. They call it senior living center. The rules I have problems with. I have always had problems with rules especially decorum. So when push comes to shove I screw with people any chance I get. For example, the first day here, after Connor left I went to the clubhouse. It was well laid out with furniture, lamps, media center, big screen TV. The rooms were large and sectioned off by well-framed windowed walls. Everything is organized by what I would call an uptight feminist they called the administrator. There are chairs and wingback loveseats. I felt it could be better utilized in different areas.

Consider being in a comfortable chair near a window wall watching a well-built woman on a treadmill or better yet a stair master. I did not place them conspicuously, only changed the wall and angle they were on. Next day they were moved back.

I heard the Neo woman (administrator) say something to her associate asking if she knew who keeps moving the furniture. This associate whom now I refer to as Neo’s Sidekick, said she did not know who did it. I guess it must bother the Neo woman because she put up a sign stating she did not want the furniture moved. I laughed at the sign and decided I would really have fun.

I put a nanny cam in the flower arrangement, cameras pointing in several directions. It had a live feed so I could sit in my room watching them blow a gasket. Neo Woman came out seen the furniture not only moved but standing end on end with a sign saying “If you do not like this wait till you see what I will do next” Ha! I was married for 40 years there is no woman that can tell me what to do and what not to do. When I am told what not to do everything in my testosterone says: “Game on!”

While all this was going on I set a date with one of the gals. I like that she is 5 years younger than I am. At 70 years old a 65-year-old looks like young citrus

I first took Martha for a ride on the Chief. Not what you think; it is a call and rides a bus for the community. We went into town for lunch then walked in the park. When we were in the park she said: “Morty, I need to go to the bathroom but I hate public bathrooms, you can get all kinds of diseases if you even touch a handle, never mind sitting on the seat.”

Martha you can sit on the edge of a picnic table and take a piss.”

Morty, I could not do that in public!”

Martha! We will pick one secluded; I will stand with my back to you and watch for any passerby’s.”

She agreed and just to mess with her when she was in midstream I said: “Martha someone is coming.”

Morty, I cannot stop, now I will be arrested for indecent exposure!”

My laugh gave it away. Hey, it worked well the danger turned her on. The next thing she said was “Morty! I thought you were Jewish! You’re not circumcised!”

Martha, my mom loved the name my dad said you should never cut on a boys privates it will stunt the growth and his manhood.”

Martha and I had a few interludes one of which her daughter walked in on. Not sure why she thought it was unseemly to find her mom and myself in the activities room participating in an activity. What is the room for anyways? Her biggest beef was the window. She screeched something along the lines of “Did he move the furniture so others could watch?”

I yelled back “Hey it’s what gets her off calm down and get some excitement for yourself!”

So the Neo woman called my family in and suggested they find another retirement community for me. My son said, “We will talk to his doctors he may have some issues that can be dealt with.” I said nothing, he is my son. I am hoping he is screwing with the Neo Woman. Then again he may be screwing with me. Oh, I would be proud if he were screwing with me. He is bright but not bright enough to win.

My son did make an appointment for a checkup just to appease the Neo Woman. I am fit as a fiddle, body, and mind. This gave me a magical thought of how to screw with the Neo Woman.

After my appointment, I went into the workout room. I was on the treadmill when I heard the Neo Woman’s voice. She was berating her sidekick. Saying something along the lines that she is responsible for the activities and keeping the seniors busy so they do not get bored and participate in unsophisticated activities. When I heard that I laughed out loud and said “Darlin you need to get laid, come on over here and join me. I will show you what real men do well.”

Neo Sidekick whispered, “I thought they put him on meds.”

Neo Woman said, “Maybe they need to up the dose.”

Obviously, Neo Woman has not been to her office yet. I’ll know when she has. There will be no way she will be able to prove it was me.

When the scream came, there was much swearing. I stepped off the treadmill and said to Neo’s Sidekick “That is not sophisticated speech she is using.”

Neo Sidekick said, “What did you do?”

I shrugged, eyebrows raised “Me nothing whatever do you mean?”

She walked away in a huff towards the office just as Neo Woman stormed full speed ahead out of the office towards me. What happened next took me by surprised and turned me on all at the same time. She has a great right hook. There were gasps, some cheering from a jilted lady or two. Martha came over asking if I were all right and if she should call the police. I said “Martha, maybe just some ice and a cup of coffee.”

We meandered over to Martha’s place I could hear Neo Woman justifying her behavior sputtering out the horror of finding porn on her home screen. Here I thought she was an animal lover.

Once in Martha’s Condo, she placed ice on my eye and herself on my lap. Yes, indeed I am feeling better already.

Later that day my son called asking me if I put the porn on Neo Woman’s home screen. My defense was that I do not know that much about computers plus her password is something that protects such a thing. I told my son maybe she forgot to erase it before going home last night and she needed an escape goat. So unless one of the jilted ladies spews the fact she taught me more than sideswiping sex I am in the clear. I started the rumor that Mel might have done it because he did not get the book that Neo Woman had promised him.

Mel was walking around like a rooster pretending to be offended at the mere suggestion he did it. Mel loves the attention and he probably like’s the idea people believe he is maniacal enough to do such a thing, when in fact, he is an unimaginative wimp.

My son had called said he was stopping by after work. Knowing what it was about I made a trip to the store to get a beer and snacks figuring we could kick back while I faced the music. This time I know I went a bit too far, I can’t actually apologize it would let on that it was me. I will not press charges and speak to her superiors on her behalf explaining my arriving at the facility took adjusting for both of us. Being a rebellious sort, to begin with, which did not make the transition easy for either of us. I drafted a letter sent it out wanting a signature from whoever took possession of the letter. I kept a copy for my son and sent a copy to Neo Woman. Her name is actually Paula; she really is not a bad sort just a bit high strung.

I also sent Neo Woman flowers with a card that said “Sorry for being such a hard case” Signed it your personal furniture mover Morty.

My son arrived not looking all that pleased with the world. With a beer in hand as I opened the door, I handed it to him. He tipped it back finishing it nearly with one gulp, then reached for the other.

Connor, are you sleeping over?”

He looked at me and I knew it was not all about me. My stomach ached hoping I was not the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Dad, I will be taking you up on the offer, if nothing else to keep an eye on you for at least 24 hours. Kay Lee has gone to her sisters.Her sister Morgan just got the news she has late stage ovarian cancer, inoperable due to the size and location. Dad, could you please give me your word not to be yourself for some time. I know you miss mom. I know that is why you are being such an imbecile but really, consider giving me a break okay?” Connor asked

I give you my word Connor,” I said

We sat down each in a recliner. I put 3 beers on ice set it next to Connor, then parked myself next to him. I told him about the letter, gave him his copy also told him of the flowers. I had to add for comic relief that I should ask Paula out on a date, she may be acting out because she is jealous.

Connor, as I had hoped tipped his head back and laughed.

Connor and I spent a guy weekend playing pool hanging out. He suggested I get a cribbage game going. I liked the idea but wondered if there are enough women who may be interested. Girls against girls and in time whittle the group down to play girls against guys. I had decided first thing Monday morning I would get on it. Unbeknownst to me Connor already started a list by talking to those watching us play pool. He also rallied enough players on Saturday we could start 2 groups of guys and gals on Wednesday. Paula came out to thank me for the flowers and letter also said Wednesday is blocked between 1 pm and 3 pm for cribbage. I nodded realizing Connor took care of that. I cannot take all the credit only 1/8th the credit for the type of man he turned out to be. Marie was a great mom and wife.

Something was different about Paula she seemed more human even after Connor left. Or maybe it is because I was not running around moving furniture or trying to nail any female willing.

I do not regret my behavior it was fun just like being in college except I did not have to worry about getting any of my conquests pregnant.

Our first Wednesday Cribbage group was amiable, even fun with their easy humor and jesting back and forth. I eyed the gal table wondering if any of them would be fun to play with. As I was doing the pros and cons of each one Paula came in to kibitz with each of us. What is she up to? Is she purposefully messing with my head?

After the game, all who participated helped break down the card tables folded the chairs. I was chatting with Mel who was now going to be a co-organizer of the games. He has a head for organizing, he was an administrator with a company who made personal amorous products. That is the nicest way to put it. Here I was thinking he was a bean counter instead I found out he made the beans jump and say whoopee! We were quietly discussing the difference between a personal vibrator and a vibrator called U-tuber. I may consider buying one or both as a play toy for my personal harem. Slowly but surely Neo Woman came over smiling and looking quite fetching. She nodded toward me suggesting she needed to speak with me privately. I excused myself and walked over to where Paula was standing.

What can I do for you, Paula?”

Morty, I got to thinking about your peace offering and extending yourself to my superiors. I was wondering if you would like to be my guest at the annual company picnic. I do not plan on staying long. Just to make an appearance. Afterward, we could stop and get a bite to eat.

My brain was working overtime. She is asking me out. What the heck is she up to?