The Darkest Night

You see, I wanted you long before I had you. On nights when I couldn’t sleep, I would lie awake in my bed and dream about holding your hand, how it would fit into mine, the softness of your skin. I saw your face in my mind looking back at me, the two of us walking in a field toward the sunset. You were mine. I was yours and nothing else existed. But us.

I planned for you. I thought of every possible scenario for us to explore, every adventure to conquer. I saw us riding bikes and hiking and swimming and laughing. I knew that you would fill the hole in my soul that was waiting for you, for only you.

And then it happened. I met you for the first time. My doctor announced, “It’s a boy!” I reached out my hands, and she placed you in my arms. And there it was, that giant empty space in my soul filled with seven pounds ten ounces of perfection. You cried. I cried, and thus began our journey of mother and son.

The first few hours were filled with oohs and awes and squeals and cries of all of the family coming to meet you. Everyone was excited but not surprised when they found out you were a boy. Constant traffic from friends and family distracted me from a sinking feeling deep inside myself. I held you and nursed you and kissed the soft fuzz on the top of your head, and I tried. I tried so hard to push the feelings away, to quiet the voices in my head, to ignore their screams.

That first night was exhausting. After a sleepless night before (labor and all), my body and my mind needed rest, but you had other plans. You wanted held and cuddled and nursed and mom, and you got it.

The sun was up before I realized it had set, and you were officially one day old. You slept most of the day, through more visitors and doctors and nurses, but I didn’t sleep. When I wasn’t entertaining friends and family, I was trying to control the hurricane building within me.

It started as pressure in my chest, that kind of pressure you feel when you’re about to write a really big check or when you’re about to give a speech to a large group of people. Your heart beats erratic, faster, and faster until you feel like it’s pounding so hard it might bounce right out of your chest. I recognized it, that sinking anxiety you feel before something bad happens.

I took deep breaths. I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep, but when my eyes were shut, the images came. Nothing worked.

I told your dad to go home that night, that I would sleep better without him there. He agreed, and then he was gone, and it was dark, and I was alone in my room.

The nurses convinced me earlier in the evening that it would be best for you to spend some time in the nursery. Looking back, I wonder if they could see it in my eyes, if they were trained to know that I was on the verge of breaking, or if they simply thought I looked tired. Either way, you left to the nursery. Dad left to go home, and I sat there in my hospital bed alone in the dark trying to block out the constant stream of images flashing in my head.

I hear you crying in the other room. I sit on the edge of my bed and bury my face in a pillow. I don’t want to hear you cry. I don’t want to hear you do anything. I want to run and leave you in your crib.

I stand over you in your baby bath. Your shiny chubby legs kick and splash the water. I sing “rubber ducky, you’re the one,” to you while I lift your body out and place you face down in the water.

You’re crawling around in the bar area of our home. Lucy barks to go outside. I open the sliding glass door. You start to crawl out, and I slam the door on your head and walk away.

I’m holding you in my arms, cradling you against my chest. I wear a bathrobe, and you are wrapped in the blanket my best friend gave me before you were born. You coo and smile up at me, and I smile back at you wrapping my free hand around the stainless steel butcher knife that I hold. I bring the knife up and….

I immediately hit the call button to the nurse’s station.

“Can I help you,” she said over the speaker.

“I need my baby. I need my baby now.”

“Okay ma’am. Do you need to nurse?”

“No. I need my baby right now.”

“Yes ma’am. We’ll page the nursery.”

I got out of my bed and walked around the room. I prayed over and over. “Please don’t let me hurt my baby. Please don’t let me hurt my baby.” I said to the empty space, “I love him. I love him more than anything. Please don’t let me hurt my baby.”

I shook my head back and forth convincing myself that I was wrong, that I wasn’t seeing what I knew I was seeing. My hands tensed at my side as I paced the cold tile floor barefoot. I could feel the crazed look in my eye without even seeing myself. Finally, a knock on my door.

“Come in,” I barked.

And there you were in your clear bassinet. Swaddled in a white blanket with a pastel striped beanie on your head, your mouth the perfect shape of a heart. The nurse looked at me concerned.

“Are you okay, ma’am?” she asked. I noticed she still had her hand on the bassinet where you lay.

“I’m fine,” I lied. “I just need my baby.”

“I can stay if you like?” she said in a question.

I shook my head and eyed her protective stance over my baby. My baby.

“No. I’d like to be alone with him.”

We stood there, she and I, neither willing to break the staring game.

I reached in and picked you up and pulled you into my chest. I glanced distrustful at the nurse. She nodded toward the bed.

“Why don’t you pull down your gown and put him under it. Let’s take off his shirt and let him be in his diaper. Sometimes it’s good for both mom and baby to have skin to skin contact.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat and carried you toward the bed. I laid you down and unwrapped you from your swaddle and pulled the little  white t-shirt over your head. You reached your tiny hand up and wrapped it around my finger. I let you hold my finger as I used my free hand to unsnap my gown and pull you to my chest. You curled into me and started rooting at my collar bone, still holding my finger.

The nurse backed out of the room. When she reached the door, she whispered, “Honey, I am just outside if you need anything.”

Tears spilled down my cheeks. I buckled into a tsunami of emotions, love mixed with fear, mixed with joy, mixed with terror. I pulled the blanket up and tucked it behind my shoulder and held you there for the rest of the night, only breaking to nurse you when you were hungry or to change your diaper.

Each time we got back to our spot, I reached my finger out to let you wrap your hand around it, and we held on to one other, quietly promising each other not to let go, until we made it past that dark and terrifying night.

Yesterday we celebrated the day you were born. Every day you grow into an even more amazing person. You have a passion for life and a wonderful sense of humor, and the way you smile with your whole head is contagious. I love you more every single day.

Today, for the first time I can admit that ten years ago, in a quiet room in Dallas, Texas, I saw myself in clear HD vision doing horrible things to you. I recognized that night what those images were. I convinced myself that they were in fact a symptom of postpartum depression and that they would pass. I knew enough to know that my rational brain wasn’t functioning right and that the hormones and exhaustion coupled with my current fragile mental health were all working against me, fighting a war with my erratically firing neurotransmitters in my head.

While you slept on my bare chest, I reimagined every bad vision I had, and I mentally replaced the original actions with nurturing actions. I convinced myself that I was seeing those things to prepare me. That if you were crawling in the bar area of our house, I would need to be extra careful to not let the dog out while you were near the door, that all knives were to be kept out of your reach (and mine temporarily) and that I would never give you a bath if I was exhausted or stressed. I reminded myself over and over how much I wanted you and all of the plans I had for us.

I can’t tell you why I was able to rationalize everything I saw or that it was even the right thing to do, but, for me, it helped. I never admitted it to a doctor for fear they would take you away. I confided only in my sister-in-law that I was afraid to be alone with you but never shared the details of what I went through that night. Only a few people even know today what happened that night. I was ashamed to tell anyone. Who thinks those things about her own baby? A baby she wanted so badly?

It took me a while to trust myself with you. To know that I wouldn’t hurt you. To believe that I could be what you deserved me to be as a mom. Even today, I struggle to feel capable of being what you need, but I do it, and I treasure it, and I thank you for holding onto my finger and promising that together, we could conquer the night.

Thank you for giving me the most important role of my life and for continually reminding me that it’s good to be your mom.

mom-and-kell

 

 

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A Close Encounter with Magic Mike (and I’m not talking about the movie)

I went to an all nude male review once when I was eighteen. I used a fake ID and walked in holding my best friend’s hand in one hand and a Zima in the other. I felt out of place. Very out of place. Someone was getting married or turning twenty – one or something note worthy, so I tagged along.

It wasn’t fun. There were no Channing Tatums or Matt Bomers. They were too skinny or too chubby or too hairy or just all together too . . . wrong. When what I can only assume was a grandfather came out in a tuxedo thong, I bolted for the door, tossed my Zima into the trash and waited in the car for my friends. There was absolutely no way I needed to see Peepaw’s pee pee. My eyes still burn from the pee pee’s I did see. I swore I would never ever darken the door of a stripping establishment again. Ever.

A few years later, my friend Ronnie got engaged. We planned her wedding with painstaking detail, which was way far out of my norm. I don’t really do details. Her sister/maid of honor was taking care of the bachelorette party. It would take place at their parents’ house, and there would be tequila and food and lots of fun games, and then after, we would hop in a limo and head to a night club to dance . . . which anyone who knows me knows I love dancing. A lot.

I arrived right on time to the party. I gave Ronnie a big hug. We toasted a tequila shot and danced around in her mother’s living room which had been transformed into a cute little dance floor with Spanish tile lit up by a retro disco ball.

As the night grew later, I wondered when we might leave for the dance club. Did I mention I love dancing? My friend’s sister strutted into the room and shushed all of the ladies, saying, “I have a huge surprise for you and for you, mija.” She looked at Ronnie who’s red stained lips spread into a wide toothy smile. The lights dimmed, and the first few beats of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On,” blasted through the surround sound speakers. When the lights came on, center stage (or living room) stood a six foot five beautifully cut man in blue jeans and no shirt. His head was down, looking at the floor. My eyes traveled from his bare feet to the v in his waist line that shone just above where his jeans hung perfectly loose against his light brown skin. I took in the definition of his abs, his chest, his shoulders. Then our eyes met. He didn’t react, kept his eyes set on me and started moving his hips. Dancing to the slow beat.

My heart thudded hard in my chest. I gasped. Audibly. Out loud.

This beautifully crafted specimen of the male species, this man who was trailing his long fingers down his chest to the buttons on his faded wonderfully fitted jeans, this man who was now in a cobalt blue silk thong,  this man who was watching me, eyes gazing into mine, biting his lip. Sexy as hell. This man. This very almost naked man. Was my.

My high school boyfriend.

My very first love. The first boy to do . . . everything first boys do to girls. And he was dancing in a thong thrusting his self into the air, grinding a make believe something in my good friend’s mom’s living room. And staring at me while he did it.

I’m pretty sure I died. But nope, that wasn’t the end. He started moving around the room. I sat on the end of the couch, and he sauntered right over to me, walk dancing to the beat of the music. He stopped in front of where I sat. I shook my head silently telling him, “No, don’t do it. Please don’t do it.”

But then he did it. He put one leg on the arm of the chair and started bucking the air between his . . . self . . . and my face. I slumped down on the couch, and slipped right under his legs, making a bee line for the door. I sat outside in the scorching sun and waited for someone to come and get me, to tell me this incredibly weird dream was over.

A few minutes or hours or days passed, and then he finally came outside.

“What’s the matter? Why did you leave?”

I couldn’t even speak.

“Don’t be embarrassed. You’ve seen me before.”

Still nothing from me.

We broke up on excellent terms. He and I were still friends. We talked at least a couple times a month, but this little detail of his life remained a mystery to me.

Finally my brain connected to my voice, and I said, “When did you start . . . ” cough ” . . . um . . . ”

“Stripping for bachelorette parties?”

“Yep. That.”

This was apparently a fairly new gig for him. He was working to earn some extra cash to buy a new car. We laughed about how awkward the entire situation was and then went inside and had a drink together. He ended up joining us at the night club for dancing (since he’s a professional), where we promised to keep each other informed of any new career moves.

We still keep in touch and not just because he posts shirtless photos on Facebook all the time, but that helps.

Male Review

He looks . . . smart.

Lovepocalypse – The End

You’re about to read the ending of a three part story. If you haven’t read Lovepocalypse Take 1 and Take 2, you’re behind. Click here for Take 1 and here for Take 2.

*******

It started with a wink, an infatuation, a genuine, deep, and inexplicable connection.  And in my young inexperienced world, it took flight, soaring with eagle wings and crashing straight into my heart.  That summer, in the cool intimate darkness of my apartment, I would venture into a new world, exploring uncharted territory, uncovering new feelings in my heart and with my body, and on that journey, Brendon would teach me what it felt like to be adored, to be cherished, to be loved, to be treasured. To be a woman. Those three unnecessary words never escaped our mouths.  But I knew. I had no doubt.

i_love_you

As the days grew shorter and the leaves began to lean toward fall, I started my second year of college.  Optimistic and happy but financially strangled, I was forced to take a second job.  Between classes, studying, and working two jobs, free time was scarce.  We still managed to sneak in a lunch, a cup of coffee, a beer if I wasn’t too tired, and other sprinkles of precious moments, but the days of jumping in his jeep and spontaneously driving to the lake for an afternoon disappeared.

The leaves fell around us, and whispers of winter cooled our ears and our noses as we celebrated his birthday in early December.  Strangely, he couldn’t see me on his actual birthday due to family obligations, so we had a quiet celebration at my place the next night after I got off of work. I had to travel to my brother’s house for Christmas, so we celebrated early at my apartment in front of a tiny tired tree where he gave me a charm bracelet with a single charm (a grand piano) and a stuffed teddy bear, which I didn’t quite understand but accepted graciously.   On New Year’s Eve, I worked at the piano bar, which forced us to bring in the new year apart.

Icicles littered the buildings on campus, and winter fell harshly around us, and before I knew it, candied hearts and bouquets of roses lined the aisles of every single store announcing in bright red letters “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

It was on a Saturday that year, and the piano bar was not only celebrating Valentine’s Day, we were celebrating the anniversary of its opening, so the owner, Karl, a short stout ginger headed man, made a huge fuss about all of the preparations. He wanted big and over the top.  Instead of waitressing, he gave me his stool at the piano for several songs. This would require a great deal of rehearsal and even more of my already depleting time, but I couldn’t say no.  Karl had become like a second father to me reaching into my scared little girl soul and pulling out a confident performer.  If he trusted me on his piano that night, there was no saying no.  I would rock that grand piano.

Brendon and I made plans to celebrate the next night.  No big deal.

So Saturday, the day of the huge Valentine’s Day Extravaganza arrived, and I decided that since I wouldn’t see my boyfriend on the day of love, I should at least drop by and give him his gift. I awoke early to a cool gray day, rubbed my tired eyes, showered, clothed, glossed my lips, spritzed on some perfume, and headed over to Brendon’s place.  When I got there, I knocked on the door, but he didn’t answer.  I thought it was strange since his jeep was in the driveway, but I figured it was early.  Maybe he was asleep.   I decided it would be nice if I left him a note for a change, so I pulled one of my college spiral notebooks out of my backpack and sat in my driver’s seat trying to summon the right words to say that I both loved and missed him without saying that I loved and missed him.  I slumped over the notebook staring at the blue lined sheet, waiting for the words to spill from my pen.  I managed to write “B” before I heard a knock on my window.

I let out a huge annoyed sigh and looked over to see a wild haired, dark eyed girl staring at me.  She knocked again.   The motor was burned out on my automatic window, so I opened the door to see what she wanted from me and why she was so frantically knocking on my window.  Then I recognized her from the hospital.  Adriana from Respiratory Therapy.  She barked, “What are you doing here?”

I looked around.  What was I doing here?  “I just came by to drop off Brendon’s Valentine.  I have to work tonight, so we won’t be able to see each other,” I answered.  The “none of you goddamned business” was implied in my tone.

“Oh.  I didn’t realize you guys were such good friends.”

“Um….er….well,” I said confused.  Who was this chick?  “We aren’t friends.  We’ve been seeing each other for a while.”

“For how long?”  She folded her arms across her chest, raised a black eyebrow, and tapped her sneaker on the concrete sidewalk.

“Since this summer,” I responded wondering why it even mattered to her.

She blew a stray curl out of her face offering me a death stare as she said, “That’s funny.  He never bothered to break up with me.”  Then she grabbed my hand and said, “Come on.”

“Oh.  He’s not home.  I just knocked on the door,” I said as she pulled me toward his house.

“He’s here.  Trust me.  I just left to get us breakfast.”

What the fuh?

She pulled a key out of her purse and opened the door.  His mother greeted us in the doorway.  (Did I not mention that he lived with his mom?   Yeah…awesome.)  She looked at Adriana and then at me.

She said to Adriana, “You can come in, but she has to go.” And pointed her fat index finger at me.

I turned to walk back to my car when Adriana gripped my forearm and pulled me back inside.

“She’s not the one who’s been fucking two girls.  Where’s Brendon?”

His mother folded her arms and stood protectively in the doorway.  I stood there wondering where the lady who made me jalapeno muffins was and why all of a sudden she was making me feel like a whore.

She has to leave, Adriana.” She nodded with her head toward me.  She never even addressed me.  I was third person to her.

I threw my arms up in the air and mumbled something incoherently as I turned and bee-lined it to my car.  Adriana ran after me.  “Give me five minutes,” she said.  “I’ll go in there and see if I can get him to come out here and face us together.”

I sighed, slumped back into my car, and waited obediently per her request.  I was young and dumb and incredibly naïve.  Clearly.

It could have been ten or a hundred minutes later, but finally she emerged from the house looking dour, with swollen eyes and a red nose.  “He won’t even look at me,” she cried.  I naturally reached out my arms and pulled her into a hug.

“We should go,” I said after her sobs became quiet hiccups.

“Where should we go?” She asked me.

I was thinking this would be where we parted, where she went back to her place, and I went to the bar where Karl would wrap his chubby arms around me and tell me how wonderful I was and make everything all better, but Adriana had other plans.  She walked around my car and got into my passenger seat.

“Do you need a ride home?”  I asked her.

“I don’t want to be alone right now,” she replied and continued to cry.  “What’s your name?” She asked through snorts as I started the car.

“Mandi.”

“I figured.”

I’m not quite sure how, but we ended up at my apartment.  I pulled out two glasses and made us each a heavy rum and coke.  We cheered to assholes and downed the first glass.  Then I poured another. It was 9:00 am.  After the second, and some awkward conversation, I invited her to rehearsal with me.  “Where there’s a bar, there’s booze,” I said, “Might as well drink to assholes all day.”

When we arrived, we told all of my coworkers about our twisted love triangle, which earned us glasses running over with various assortments of spirits.  Over the course of the day through many drinks and lots of Adriana’s tears, we learned all about the clever little game our Brendon played.  Turns out my busy schedule worked right into his infidelity.  On nights where I worked, he stayed with her.  On nights that I didn’t work, he stayed with me and said he was at his mom’s.  He spent the holidays with her, and his birthday, well, it wasn’t “family” obligations.  He told her that I was a good friend who he had met at the hospital and that I was really lonely because my boyfriend was in the military and stationed in some other country….and she bought it.

As we compared notes, I couldn’t help but notice a very familiar bracelet with a solitary diamond ring charm dangling from her wrist. He gave it to her for Christmas promising to marry her when he completed his degree. That one pierced my heart a little.

Between rehearsal and the actual show, she asked that I take her home so that she could change clothes and make herself decent.  When I walked into her house, the first thing I noticed sitting on her couch was the exact same teddy bear that he bought me for Christmas.  I almost punched it.

She came to the show, which was wonderfully fantastic in spite of my being incredibly tipsy by that point.  I took out every ounce of anger and despair on those keys, closed my eyes and let the music that pounded through my fingers take me to a different world, a world where I ignored the piercing pain boiling in my chest.  Billy Joel’s carnival piano had nothing on mine that night. (But don’t tell him that.)  After I took my bow and the curtain came down, we decided to seek a tiny bit of revenge.

Because he had frequented Blues (the bar next door to the hospital where we all three worked at one time) with both of us on numerous occasions, we thought it might be funny to pop in together.  We laughed as we jumped up on the bar stools and ordered drinks from Craig, who never seemed to have a night off and had served us both on the arm of Brandon.  He looked at us strangely but poured our drinks with a smile.  As immature as it was, we wrote his name all over the bathroom wall in sharpie saying things like, “If you love herpes, you’ll love Brendon” and then added his number.

At the end of the night, I dropped Adriana off at her cottage style house where we shared numbers and promised to chat again soon.  I drove home exhausted, depleted, and heart broken.  I had yet to shed a tear.  I sullenly walked through my apartment and went straight to my bed, sunk into the sheets that still held traces of his smell, and passed out.

The next morning, as I sat at the piano in front of an entire congregation of my dad’s church, the anguish finally caught hold of me, and I ugly cried, sobbing big giant tears that dripped onto my fingers as they danced robotically across the black and white keys.  When I got out to my car, there was a note on my windshield.

I’m so sorry, kiddo. ~B

I crumpled it up and threw it in the parking lot.

Anger ate at my soul for a very long time. I grew bitter and cynical and lost, but only temporarily. At some point, I realized that I was too good for resentment. I was too valuable for all of the anger. I chose to learn from the experience, to let it help me become better.

Brendon taught me a lot of things. He helped me understand what I want and what I’m capable of giving. He helped me to learn that being a woman is wonderful and empowering but sometimes heartbreaking. He showed me that red flags were everywhere when I finally opened my eyes to see them.

I’m no longer mad at him. I no longer feel hatred toward him. We were young. He made mistakes, lots of them, but so have I, and as much as I want him to be bashed for what he did, I also know that he’s human and that there was a big reason he came looking for me.

I will, however, never celebrate Valentine’s Day again. He forever ruined it for me.

Have you ever been heartbroken? On Valentine’s Day? Do you have an epic love story that ended tragically. Share them. I like to wallow in my own self pity, but I’d rather not do it alone.

~Come back next week to see what happened after the heartbreak.

Valentine’s day was never a big deal to me.  Never a sappy girl who needed roses and love notes, it always passed with little attention.  Still to this day, I don’t care to celebrate.  I don’t need a holiday to show me that I’m loved.

Lovepocalypse Take 1

It started with a glance from across the lobby, a slight upturn of his lips, a sexy wink.  He introduced himself with a handshake that lingered a little too long.  His pheromones danced through the air mixing with mine, releasing a thousand tiny butterflies into my stomach.  Instant chemistry.  I walked away, giddy.  I reached up with my fingers to touch the perma-grin on my lips and said to my co-worker, “I want to marry him one day,” as little prickles of excitement scattered across my skin.

I purposely passed through the hospital lobby where we worked at every opportunity, stealing as many fleeting moments with my potential future husband that I could.  He often had patients at his desk, but when I walked through Admitting, he always stopped, said, “hello,” and offered me that naughty wink.

Just like that, I was hooked.

Every single time I saw him, he pulled me in even more, always remembering unnecessary details about short conversations we had in passing, laughing with his entire body about something that I said, flirting with me to no end.

Then one night, a car collided with mine, which left me with a broken pelvis and forced me to take a long leave of absence from my job at the hospital in order to recover.  I never went back.

Once I could walk again, I took a job at a piano bar.  The opportunity to work as a waitress at a bar seemed much more glamorous than pushing sick people around a hospital.  When the owner discovered I too could play the piano, he gave me a standing gig:  Every Monday and Wednesday during happy hour, I tickled the ivories of a beautiful grand piano for strangers.  Best.  Job.  Ever.

One day, many months later, I happened to be at my mother’s house, taking advantage of a free meal, when the phone rang.  “It’s for you,” my mom said.  I figured it was a bill collector and told her to tell them I wasn’t available.  She looked at me like I had a frog growing from my head, rolled her eyes, and handed me the phone. “Pay your bills,” she whispered.  I frowned at her and raised the phone to my ear.

“Hello.” I said annoyed that I was going to have to give some schmuck at least $25 that I didn’t have.

“Hi.  It’s Brendon.”

“Brendon?”

“From the hospital.”

“Oh, hey, Brendon,” I said visioning Brendon, a nurse in the emergency room who always bought me beers at the bar next door that we frequented after our shift even though I was under age. “What’s up?”

“I heard you had an accident.”  I looked at the phone confused.  ER Brendon was there in the emergency room the night of my accident.  Too there, in fact, because when I came back to consciousness on the ice cold table in the ER, the first thing I noticed was my lack of clothes.  I was completely naked, as in no clothes at all, and ER Brendon, my beer buddy, was standing over me.  SEEING MY GOODS!!!

“Um, Brendon.  Are you high?  You were there the night of my accident.”  I couldn’t decide if I was happy or horrified that he didn’t remember.

There was a long pause.

“I think you’re confused.  This is Brendon from Admitting.”

I dropped the phone and jumped up and down whisper screaming to my mom, “ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod.”

I picked the phone back up, with my heart jump-roping in my chest.  “Oh, okay.  Hi, Brendon from Admitting.”

“Are you better?”  He cleared his throat.   “I’ve missed you.”  My entire body tensed, shoulders raised to my chin, eyes wide with excitement.  I happy danced in my mom’s kitchen, as she watched me bewildered.  Brendon from Admitting was on the other end of the phone, and he just said he missed me.

Heart beat

That night we had our first date.

hearts notes

Originally posted 2/6/14. 

Aside

The Penis Monologues

I wanted to get inside their heads, to find out what they were thinking, and by “they,” I mean men, so I asked three of my favorite online guys, and being the great sports that they are,  all three graciously agreed to answer our questions.  Apparently, I’m not the only one who wants to know because ladies and gentlemen, you brought some fabulous questions, so many that I am going to do a weekly installment of “The Penis Monologues” until we have them all figured out…and by “them,” I mean men.  

Today we tackle what men really think about appearance, but first let me introduce you to my guys.

I crossed the demographics and found us a single guy,  a guy with a girlfriend, and a married guy.

Representing the single guys is my California boy, Dave, aka Hellabuzzed. Did you hear that, ladies? This one is on the market.  One (and it’s hard to pick just one) of my absolute favorite things about Dave is his candor. He tells it like it is, and even if I don’t want to hear it, he’s usually right.  He’s adorable, charming,  smart, and he always makes me laugh. What’s not to love? If you’re interested, leave your bio in the comments, and we’ll see what we can do. Kidding…kind of.

Commonly referred across the interweb as “Hotberg,” is Phil. Phil likes to tease me with his hot (keep reading) spots around NYC over at his blog: The Regular Guy NYC. If you ask me, he’s anything but regular.  But ladies, we have to back off of this one.  He’s fully committed to his girlfriend.  He does, however, like to blog naked.  You’re quite welcome for the visual as you read his answers to our questions.  Is anyone else smiling?  I know I am. *winks at Phil*

And then to even out the playing field, I give you the married guy, Don. Don has a huge heart, is a great father, and a loving husband. He loves to swear and can be bribed with Bud Light Lime, but he can also tug on my heart strings when he tells stories of his kids.  He’s quick with his wit and with his pistol because when he isn’t writing over at Don of All Trades, he puts on a uniform, carries a gun, and keeps the bad guys where they belong.

Now that we know who we’re talking to, let’s pop open a beer, put our feet up, and get comfy in the man cave as we try to figure out what’s going on in those thick enigmatic XY heads.

Beth (who gets full credit for the title of this series) from Writer B is Me would like to know:

Do you even notice cellulite, or is it just women who obsess about it?

Dave:  Yes. Guys notice cellulite, and it is not attractive. It doesn’t matter if it is white, brown, black or any color; however, I have a lot of respect for women I see out at the gym or walking around town in little short shorts wearing cellulite proudly. It’s the people who decide to cover it up and not be proud of who they are that I personally don’t like. Wear skirts. Wear shorts. Wear what makes you comfortable. If you have it and don’t like it, change it. Exercise.  It’s not permanent. If you have cellulite or not, it doesn’t change who you are inside. Sometimes women just need to say “Fuck it. This is me….like it or don’t like it. Either way, kiss my ass.” Do women like men with big ole pot bellies? It’s the same insecurity.

Phil:  Of course we do, we’re not blind you know. We notice it just as much as we notice our own beer guts, receding hairline, and aging. Men are vain too, but we just hide it a bit better. I think women obsess about it more when it comes to body issue things. Most guys won’t mind if they really care about the lady they are with.

Don:  Is cellulite that stuff that looks like cottage cheese on the back of a woman’s thighs or ass that is totally gross and makes me shiver and want to both laugh and vomit when I see it? No, I don’t notice it. I guess if it were an extreme case, I’d notice, but I’m a pig and generally just stare at a woman’s boobs, so no worries about cellulite there. You women are all beautiful and shouldn’t worry about such silliness. You didn’t ask, but I’d say that it does look better tan though, as all things do. I feel like I’ve lost 20 pounds when I get some color on my skin.

Lizzi from Considerings asks:

Does it matter to you to look good for your woman, or is it a “done deal..why does it matter?” kind of gig?

Dave:  Yes it matters to me. First off, let me say that I am single currently, but I have been in every sort of relationship, so I can speak from experience. I take a lot of pride in making sure I am at my best most of the time, especially when I am in a relationship. I am fairly metro. I like to make sure my hair is always trimmed and my clothes are current and up to par. I like to work out but not because my girl wants me to but because it makes me feel better on the inside, which shows on the outside. I am not the best looking person in America, but I don’t take that as I shouldn’t be presentable. I expect certain things from my girl that I would assume she would expect back from me. I want my girl to take pride in doing her hair and makeup and making sure she looks good…But mostly because I want her to want to look good. You have to be secure in your relationship too. If she is the center of attention and everyone is gawking at her when she walks into a room,  that could be hard for a lot of people. I’m insecure just like the next person, but you have to have confidence. Confident in how you look, how you feel, and how you present yourself to others. Confidence, not arrogance.  For example, when you get married there is no reason to let yourself go. That just means you don’t care enough about yourself to try. I understand marriage and kids is a huge responsibility, but everyone needs time to work on themselves. Guys are very visual creatures. Give them something to look at…….

Phil:  It matters a lot to me to look good for my gal. It’s a total turn on for my woman to see me in shape, and the perks that come from working out and staying fit delivers even more in the bedroom. Plus, I’m the kind of guy that takes care of myself when it comes to grooming and clothes, whether it be times when I dress up or just go casual. Plus, gotta smell good and be clean, as good hygiene is a must. Life is too short to look like shit. Don’t be that guy who smells bad and looks like a shlub. Take care of yourself and look your best, as I know you ladies do appreciate it. Heck, we all know how long you ladies usually take to get ready and look good for us, it’s the least we can do.

Don:  There’s very little argument that I married up and my wife down in the looks department, but the funny thing is that I think I’m more confident in how I look than she is about how she does. Maybe that’s a woman thing? I guess my wife and I have been together long enough that I don’t really concern myself with how I look THAT much. Aside from my stunning handsomeness, I think she also loves me because I’m her friend and an okay dad to our kids, etc. so I don’t worry about her leaving me for dressing like a homeless man or rarely bathing like a single guy might have to worry about. I do still think about her sometimes, like before I get a haircut, or when I’m buying clothes or cologne. If I remember she mentioned she liked a certain style or whatever, then I’ll do that for her, yes.

Dana from Kiss My List would like to know:

Do you worry about aging the way women do? Lines, wrinkles, hair loss, weight gain – does any of that phase you?  How would you fight it, or is fighting it too girly?

Dave:  I worry about aging just as much as everyone else. I don’t obsess about it. I understand how life works, and I don’t fight it. Am I as handsome as I was at 20? No. Not even close, but I try to make myself feel young. I know I can’t go to Vegas and party all night anymore, but that’s okay. I am older, and I don’t need to anymore. The older you get the wiser you get. Unfortunately we are all in a fight against time, and time always wins. I worry about lines and wrinkles and getting fat, but I don’t let it run my life or control who I want to be. I can’t eat what I want now and not expect  the consequences…and I know that going into it. You have to know what you do will catch up on you….Yes, sitting at the beach or the pool is fun and relaxing but remember in 20 years, it’s going to ruin your skin. I actually support people who are into improving their image with surgery or treatments as long as you don’t look like a duck or Joan Rivers at the end….at that point, just face the facts. You are old. Accept that. Everyone gets old. Your boyfriend, spouse and family love you regardless.

Phil:  Sure, we notice it, but most guys don’t obsess about it as much as women do. I’ve been lucky that I still have my hair, and many women like the gray in it now. A few wrinkles add character. There’s the old adage that as men get older we get hotter and women not so much. I think that’s a case by case basis, and depends on how that person has kept themselves over the years, how they dress, genetics, etc. Living in NYC, I see a ton of hot sexy women 40, 50, and older. I also see a ton of guys in their 20’s and 30’s who look like crap and will age very badly. Personally, I’ll admit I have a healthy concern about how I look to others, and do my best to stay fit and youthful. Aging gracefully is bullshit. I’m going to fight it kicking and screaming until the end. So yes, we do worry about aging, but as human beings I think we all do. It’s up to that person to make the best of it. Everyone handles it differently.

Don:  Worry about what?? My appearance? I’m a generally average looking 40 year old man, so I don’t worry about the way I look so much. I have had periods where I’ve not liked the way I felt about myself and I do want to be healthy enough to see my kids grow up, so I guess I’m phased a bit by aging, yes. It certainly doesn’t consume me, but there are times when I see a wayward hair protruding from my ear or eyebrow and think to myself, “what the fuck?”

My 4 year old called me fat a couple of years ago, because I was getting fat, so I did sort of start working out/running to get myself back into semi-decent shape. For me, it’s how I feel more than how I look, but I can’t let myself go too badly because little ones are brutally honest and nobody wants to hear, “daddy your belly is really big” or “daddy you smell funny” all the time.

While I certainly don’t think it’s too girly to work out and try to look good, metrosexual or whatever is beyond my interest level for sure.

Joy from ComfyTown Chronicles asked:

How long do you have to be with someone before you no longer care what they’re wearing, or how long they spend on their appearance when you go out together?  Do pajamas ever really matter past the initial stage, I guess. Why or why not?

Dave:  You should always feel presentable. Don’t ever lose that feeling, everyone. If you feel like a slob, then people will look at you like a slob. When did you stop trying? When you are wearing sweats at the mall, your man is looking at the hot young thing wearing the skirt and low cut shirt. You want your guys to feel that way about you, not her. When you first start dating I understand you are always at your best and gradually it tapers off once you get more comfortable. Don’t ever get to the point where you don’t care….Then don’t cry about what happens after his attention goes elsewhere.

Phil:  Hey, nothing wrong with throwing on the sweats and a t-shirt on a lazy Sunday while watching tv and having bagels. Or just chilling out on the couch after a long day at work and getting comfortable. Yet, I don’t agree with letting it all go as the relationship progresses. Neither me or my gal own pajamas. Never have and never will. Pajamas are the kiss of death when it comes to sex and intimacy. Once you go there it kind of kills the spirit of sexy-time. Maybe me and my gal might be a bit vain but we try to look good for each other whether at home or going out. Believe me ladies, men do notice and we appreciate it.

Don:  Hahaha, as I answer this, my wife is to my right on the couch in her flannel green pajamas. 18 years of her in pajamas and still going strong. I sleep nude and have never ever been able to understand how a person can wear anything to bed, let alone pajamas. That’s what the covers are for!

My wife and I are both really low maintenance, but I guess if my wife suddenly started to leave the house without brushing her hair or teeth or putting on any makeup, I’d wonder what was wrong with her. I’d not say anything and it wouldn’t matter to me outside of wanting to know if she was losing her mind or something.  She’s never been one to make us late because she changes her clothes 52 times or anything like that. We have three kids and they are the reason we’re always late wherever we’re going. They are also the reason we rarely go any place where appearance matters.

 ***********************************

So there you have it, ladies. Did you learn anything? Were you enlightened? Are you checking your cellulite in the mirror, too?  We asked for it.

Make sure and tune in next Tuesday when they tackle some of your questions that may or may not have made my guys blush.

If you have any questions you would like to add to the monologues, please feel free to leave them in the comment section or tweet them to me.

Thanks again to my guys. I loved your honesty. We need to know these things.

Aside

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

She paces back and forth in her bathroom in nothing but a sexy bra and panty set, heart pounding in her chest.  Just do it. She tells herself, taking a quick peek at her reflection in the mirror.  Not bad.  She adjusts her bra for the 27th time.  Just do it. She silently says again, taking a deep breath.  She walks into her bedroom, picks it up off her nightstand and holds it out in front of her at arms length.

Click.  She looks at the photo.  Ick no.  She shakes her head and ruffles her hair, pulling it over her near naked shoulder.  Blonde hair splays across her chest.   She stretches her arm out again, holding it a little bit higher than the last time.

Click.  She tilts her head.  Click.  She looks up.  Click.  She looks down.  Click.  She looks to the side.  Click.  This time straight at the camera, pouty lips.

She holds her phone close to her face  and goes through the camera roll.  Delete.  Delete.  Delete.  Delete.  Delete.

She growls and throws her phone on her bed.  Why is this so hard?  He’s your husband.  He’s seen it ALL before. 

Deep breaths, back to the phone.  Click Click Click Click Click.

Camera roll. Sigh.  Okay, that one’s not so bad.  She bites her lip and stares at the photo for few more minutes finding every single possible flaw, anxiety billowing deep in her belly.

Ding dong…ding dong…ding dong.  She drops the phone when she hears her best friend, Kimberly’s, signature ring.  Then she laughs and picks it up answering with a chuckle.

“Hello.”

“Hey.  What are you doing?”

“Taking sexy selfies of myself, ” she says holding the phone with her shoulder as she pulls on her jeans.

Kimberly lets out a breathy laugh.  “Why?”

“To send to Huz.” She puts her arms through her shirt and pulls it over her head.

“Send it to me.”

“Dude, no way.  I can’t even look at them.  I’ve taken at least 30 pictures.  One is just okay. ”

They talk for 30 minutes about 247 different subjects, their typical daily chat that takes place every day during Kimberly’s commute home from work.

“Okay, I’m here at the daycare.  Talk to you tomorrow.  Oh, and send me that picture.  I’ll tell you if you should send it.”

“Okay, whatever.  Bye.”

She waits the 20 minutes it should take Kimberly to get home before she hits “Send” along with the message, “You better fuggin delete this.”

Nothing.

Another text.

No response.

Then she paces back and forth, stomach twisted in knots, and waits for her alleged “best friend” to respond with…anything.

She convinces herself it’s terrible and decides not to send it.

Then she hears the ding on her phone.

Kimberly text

 

She responds with a sigh of relief.  Huz leaves for the store, so she decides it’s the perfect time to send it to him.

Send. Sigh.  Done.  Wait.

Tic toc.  Tic toc.  Tic toc.

Huz comes home, says nothing.   She waits until the kids are in bed and says, “Did you get my text?”  He smiles a half smile  “Yeah.  Why did you send that?”

“Really?”

She looks at him, rolls her eyes, and walks into her room.  If he only knew.  Later he says, “I like it.”  Too little.  Too late.  Not good enough.  She grabs his phone and deletes it after already deleting it from her phone and vows to never ever take a sexy selfie again.

Remember children, “Naked selfies almost always work.”

But almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Naked Selfies: The New Little Black Dress

I met my husband back in 1998 before Social Media ruled the world…even before Bob Dole invented the internet, or was that Dan Quail?  Or maybe Obama?  Okay, okay.   Maybe the internet existed, but nobody used it…really.   Back before Twitter and Match.com, how did we snag our mates when we couldn’t text them and get an immediate response, when we couldn’t stalk their Facebook page for pictures of their exes, before they could “check in” and we could just “pop in” where we knew they were?  Well, I for one did it the old fashioned way.  I put on make-up and donned that short little black dress that showed off my legs for days (shut up I’m not short) and my 19 year old perfect ass.  And it worked.  Every.  Single. Time.  But things have changed.  Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the new little black dress:  Naked Selfies.

Her mom is very supportive.

Her mom is very supportive.

I recently learned that it’s fairly common practice for girls to send guys naked, (or half naked) selfies.  Wait, what?  Isn’t this along those lines of milk and cows and giving things up for free?  Not leaving anything to the imagination?  Right, mom would not approve.

Don’t even get me started on the demise of society through selfies.  I can go on and on about my antipathy for them.  In fact, I’m president of the club:  MAS.

But curiosity always kills the cat right?  My follow up question was, “Does this actually work?”

His response, “Naked selfies almost always work.”

He said almost:  Click here…do it!  Do it!  Do it!

Hmmmm…. So I started to ponder how this could affect my own life.  Being that I’m extremely self-centered, I asked myself:  How often do I pull out my “little black dress?”  Truth…almost never.  My daily uniform consists of yoga pants, a tank top, and sneakers…always sneakers.  I wear my hair in a pony-tail bun about 85% of the time.  Make-up gets used on weekends and when I have to volunteer at my son’s school, but most of the time, I’m simple, plain, and boring…a dun dun dun…housewife.

Back when I worked, I wore tailored business suits, pretty silk blouses, and even high heels.  My hair was always down, lipstick on, and I never left the house without accessories.  The only jewelry I ever wear now is my Ironman watch…sexy, right?  Back off, boys.

The truth is: there are girls out there sending naked selfies to guys in order to get laid.  Maybe I need to try harder.

Don’t get me wrong.  I take really good care of myself.  I work out a minimum of 3 times a week.  I eat healthy and avoid all of the junk foods, etc.  But the buck stops there.  I don’t spend a lot of time on my appearance or getting “pretty” even though behind my workout clothes and my pony tail, I’m quite sure a pretty girl still exists.

Yesterday I thought it might be fun to try an experiment.  The same dude who said naked selfies always work also said that hair is a big deal to guys, so after I dropped my daughter off at school, I decided to actually spend some time on my hair.  I got on Pinterest and found a tutorial on blow drying my hair. I know…those are out there.  I could have also gone on to learn how to apply false eyelashes, but let’s get real.  So after I showered, I spent (and I’m not exaggerating) 30 minutes blow drying my hair.  Then I “put on my face” as my mom used to say, careful to apply blush and bronzer.  I even wore lip gloss.  I chose a cute, fitted shirt and my skinny jeans, and I pranced around the house all day, wondering if my husband would notice.

This just in, he didn’t.

Finally, after the kids were comfortably tucked into bed, I said, “Hey, man, I spent 30 minutes fixing my hair for you today.”

He said, “Why?”  Then he smirked at me with his “I’m about to be an asshole” grin and said, “I fixed my hair for you, too, dude.”

I rolled my eyes and went to my bedroom where I changed from my skinny jeans to my much more comfortable pajamas and fell asleep on the couch.

I guess what I was hoping for was a spark….a little strike to a flame that often gets extinguished with the stress of everything on our plates:  sick parents, kids, work, life, etc.   I’m always looking for something, something that catches him off guard, something that makes him look twice, something so that I can, you know…get some.  Up next I guess is naked selfies.  Didn’t someone say that they “almost always work?”

Stay tuned….this could be good. Or really really bad.

Now, I’m off to find a Pinterest tutorial on the art of taking naked  sexy selfies.   Right after I blow dry my hair.

What do you do to keep the spark afire?  Are you guilty of letting it get burned out?  Do you try new things to keep the magic alive?  Anyone else want to join me in a naked selfie challenge?

Lovepocalypse Take 2

That phone call set my heart to flight.  Brendon, who I had a huge high school girl crush on, just called me at my mom’s house and asked me on a date.   It was Friday.  He suggested that we go to dinner on Saturday night, but I had to waitress at the piano bar, so I begrudgingly said “no.”  He thought for a second and then told me that he already had plans that night with some friends to meet at Blues, the bar next to the hospital.  He invited me to join them.  He didn’t know my age.  18.  He offered to pick me up, but I told him I would meet him there.  I was nervous and socially awkward, and I wanted my own car in case I needed to bolt if my anxiety got out of hand.

I drove to my apartment giddy with excitement about our impending date.  I appealed to my best friend/roommate to find me the perfect outfit since I had/have zero fashion sense, and Brendon had never seen me in anything but my hospital uniform:  Green polo shirt and khaki Dickies.  She found something she said was perfect “first date at a bar” attire that most definitely would make him swoon.  I looked at the outfit, bit my lip, and shrugged my shoulders.  I had only been on a few dates and had very little experience with men, and Brendon was a man.  A beautiful Latin man.  So I took her advice and donned something other than my usual t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers.

I walked into the bar feeling out of place without my normal gang of hospital friends, tugging at my shorts that I was certain were at least 2 inches too short and pulling at the shirt that hugged me a little too tightly.  Then I saw him.   He was sitting at the bar, drinking a Bud Light wearing a white Nike baseball cap, a perfect contrast to his tawny skin.  He turned around and noticed me standing in the doorway.  His smile reached all the way to his dark eyes as he walked over to greet me.  He pulled me into his chest in a surprisingly comfortable hug.  “Wow.  You’re here,” he said offering me that killer smile.  “I wasn’t sure you’d come.”  What?  He wasn’t sure I would come.

He guided me to the bar, his hand barely grazing my lower back.  He ordered me a Bud Light and another for himself, and we sat side by side sharing familiar and easy conversation.   We talked about college and classes.  He told me he was 23 and almost finished.  I hesitated but told him I was only 18, that I had just completed my second semester.  He looked at me and said, “You’re just a puppy, Kiddo.”   “Kiddo” would become his pet name for me, a name that I would grow to love being called.

He introduced me to his friends and his brother who met up with us later, and we all talked and laughed, and I found myself floating in his attention.  He was smart and funny and unbelievably sexy.  We closed down the bar.  He insisted that I let him drive me home…in his jeep…with the top off, which took his hotness D&B to a whole new level.  On the drive home, we learned that we shared a passion for music of all kinds.  When we got to my apartment, we sat in his jeep in the parking lot, listening to Fleetwood Mac.  When the last song ended, I reluctantly said, “I better go in.”  He walked me to my door where he planted a soft, sweet kiss on my lips and said, “Goodnight, Kiddo.” He pulled me into him in a warm embrace and let out a quiet sigh that went straight to my…ahem.   I wanted to invite him in, but I didn’t know how.  I was young and dumb, and incredibly naïve.   I opened the door and walked into my apartment, trying to summon the words to tell him that I didn’t want the night to end, but the words never came.  Instead, I just said, “Goodnight.”  He winked and turned to walk to his jeep.   I went to bed smiling, with his scent still lingering on my skin.

The next morning, my roommate drove me to my car.  I started to pull out of the parking spot when I noticed something on my windshield.  A note.  From him.

Can’t wait to see you again. –B        

Just like that, he hooked me even more, and I was in my first “grown up” relationship.  We took advantage of every free opportunity we had to spend together. It was challenging since I worked most nights, but we made it work.  We didn’t see each other often, but when we did, we cherished the time.  We shared a twisted sense of humor and spent most of our time together laughing.  He had the best laugh, and anytime I said something funny, he would grab me either by my arm or my hand, and hold me while he shook with laughter at something witty that I said.

His touch ignited my skin.

He told me I was way too funny to be a girl, which was even better than all of the times he told me I was pretty and smart and perfect.

He took me to his childhood home, introduced me to his mom, and called me his “girlfriend.”   She made us jalapeno muffins and told Brendon to be nice to me when he made fun of something that I said.   After she went to bed, we cuddled on the couch and watched some old movies on her big screen TV.

Another night, he took me to an abandoned mansion rumored to be haunted.  We crawled through the window and crept through the dark empty rooms, waiting for a ghost to jump out at us, my heart pounding in my chest.  But nothing made my heart stutter more than when he pushed me up against the grimy wall, wrapped his arms around my waist, and kissed me.

We spent countless hours at our favorite music store, standing side by side at the listening stations, ears covered with huge plastic headphones, smiles plastered on our lips discovering new music together…all before iTunes and immediate internet downloads.   Our love of music became our bond, another pull to my heart.

He often surprised me and showed up at the piano bar to listen to me play, which was a huge adjustment for me since I preferred to play for strangers.  That first night, he sat at a table by himself.  He didn’t order anything to eat or drink,  just sat there.  Listening to me.  I forced myself not to look in his direction.   I didn’t even notice that he left before I finished.  I was hugely disappointed when I discovered his empty chair until realized later as I counted my tips that he snuck  a comment card in my tip jar that said:

I didn’t think it was possible for you to be more beautiful, until I heard you play. ~B

That night, when I left the bar, he was waiting by my car.

“I got you this,” he said and handed me a CD.  George Winston:  December.  “It’s really a Christmas album, but I think you’ll like it.”

I suggested that we hop in his jeep and go for a drive to listen to it.  As we drove through our West Texas town, the sound of George Winston’s piano mingled with the warm summer breeze.  Then I heard a familiar song, Variations of Johann Pachelbel’s Canon.  He said that he loved this version and that it was his favorite song to hear on the piano.  We drove for hours that night until he took me back to my car.  He gave me a simple kiss, and said, “Goodnight, Kiddo,” handing me the CD.

I drove home listening to my new album and made it my mission to learn his song.   I listened to it incessantly, always playing it in my head.  I spent hours at my parents’ house practicing it over and over.  When they went to bed, I went to the one place that I knew never closed, the hospital chapel, and I banged my way through it until it was…perfect.

The next time he came to listen to me play, I surprised him and played it for him.

That night, I didn’t have to invite him into my apartment.  He practically pushed me through the door.

heart-music