A short walk in the park just before bark...
I'm not sorry; and
Should I be sorry?
Already, if you're like me (and you probably are in many ways), the word 'sorry' is beginning to look a little inadequate. It's the kind of word that has its place in the universe, but for the most part should sit quietly in a dark finger of the oldest arm of the farthest galaxy of the mind - out of sight and out of mouth. Of course, this means that us guys need to never do (or think or especially say) anything that we would end up being sorry for. A lofty goal! However, as we tread down the uneven path of relational intimacy with an interested (or at least vaguely curious) member of the fairer sex, it's definitely a goal worth striving to pretend to have.
Now, I'm not talking about saying sorry for 'forgetting' to take the trash out or turn the turkey on early enough. Those sorts of things are unavoidable threads woven in to the polycotton pajamas of life, and a heartfelt sorry accompanied by a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine (or a box of wine and a lottle of chocolates) is appropriate for daily snags like that. What I AM talking about is....
Well, let's go for a short walk in the park.
It was a delightful mid afternoon at the shinier end of a turbulent Spring. The sunlight invaded every molecule that surrounded us, making even the dullest patch of our local park vibrate at frequencies seldom fantasized about - let alone experienced in real life. My gal's Schnauzer's nose trembled with foresniffs of the smells that surely waited on the far side of the smells it was currently smelling. My gal's eyes sparkled as the beams of golden sun danced through her pupils, sending electric impulses deep into her brain. At least, I think it was the sunbeams causing the sparkling and impulsing, but it could have been the jokes I was telling.
I don't know why I was telling jokes. It's not something I do lightly - mainly because I'm not very good at it. But this was the sort of afternoon where, as previously mentioned, everything seemed to be fired up and ready to go.
Even my sense of humor.
"How does an elephant get up a tree?"
My gal glanced at me, and the electric impulses in her brain briefly considered the question before resuming their contemplation of more important things - like which handbag to take on our date later in the evening. She had made a reservation for two at a fine dining (at least for us) establishment, and as if that wasn't going to be traumatic enough, she had also purchased two tickets for a 'show'. And not a fun show like Monster Trucks or Alice Cooper, but a MUSICAL. A High School Musical. Starring her younger sister and hordes of similar spandex-ed spawn.
The light from the sun flickered a bit as I considered this upcoming torture. Actually the light from the sun no doubt remained steady and pure, rather it was my resolve that flickered. My resolve to work hard on this relationship - to be attentive, compassionate and relatively well groomed. The park no longer looked quite as delightful, however a quick glance back at my gal reminded me that she most certainly did still look quite as delightful, so my resolve stiffened.
"OK then - how does an elephant get DOWN a tree?"
She glanced at me again. And sighed. The sigh was rather overdone - almost dramatic, and perhaps even a plea for help. But there was no-one around to offer assistance, and she took the only polite way out of the situation:
"Shut up about elephants and trees, you adorable dimwit!"
Good Heavens Above! She called me adorable! My resolve stiffened even more.
"Right. Hmmm... Well - how can you tell if there has been an elephant in your fridge?"
Despite her best efforts to not encourage me by responding, a little giggle crept out. I knew it! She DID like humor, despite her prior protestations to the contrary. Although truth be told, she had never denied liking humor in general - just my version of it. C'est la my life. But she had just giggled at one of my jokes - BEFORE the punchline! My resolve could not have been stiffer if it tried. Right there and then, I decided that I was going to marry this gal, adopt her Schnauzer, and we'd all live happily ever after. in a little romantic cottage in a peaceful location yet still within easy reach of the pub (I wasn't of age for that sort of thing yet, but you can't have a romantic little cottage without a pub nearby), grocery store, international airport, and the dentist..
"Why are you just standing there with a stupid grin on your excuse for a face? We need to walk faster so we can both get home and get ready for our date, and you're just standing there staring at me like a... Oh crap. I'm not sure I'm ready for this."
I snapped out of my daydream, and tried to replay what had just entered my ears but not my brain.
"...not ready? OH! You mean you want me to wait before giving you the punchline so you can try work it out? Sure! Happy to help you develop your sense of humor - it takes work ya know. Funny is serious..."
I stopped talking and considered the look she was giving me. It was kind of a cross between the look she gave her dog when it was humping a rock, and the look she got in her eyes when she started thinking about politicians. Exasperated love and bottomless despair! That was it. Wait - what? SHE LOVES ME!!
I did a little jig on the spot, then grabbed hold of her hand...
A short time later I was back at home washing the blood (mine) off of my face and the saliva (Schnauzer) off of my arm. Casting my mind back over what had just happened, I suddenly burst into something between... Well, long story short, I made a noise that, according to my Mom who came rushing up to my room, sounded like the last living turkey trapped in a Thanksgiving morning time loop. My Mom has a way with words - whether or not it's a GOOD way, I have not yet really determined.
Forty seven minutes later, fully cleaned up, somwhat dressed up, and ready to go, I sat in the driver's seat of my Mom's Volvo outside my girlfriend's house. Despite everything, we should still be able to make it to Mo's on time for our 6:45PM dinner reservation, and funnily enough I was, truth be told, beginning to look forward to this. However I knew that the first few minutes after my lady floated into the seat beside me were going to be crucial.
I was going to have to apologize for what had happened in the park just before bark. In the immediate aftermath of the drama itself, all we were able to do was to untangle ourselves from each other, the tree, and the dog leash, and stumble towards our neighborhood at the ragged edge of the wood. We did communicate as we stumbled, but it was mainly via hand gestures and breathless grunts. In their proper place, hand gestures and breathless grunts sound like a great way to communicate, but I digress.
After a couple more minutes waiting, my resolve still stiff, out of the house she glided - moving through space toward the car like an embodied moonbeam. Her Father was standing in the doorway watching, well, watching me I suppose. Watching me rather closely. Intensely, even. My resolve wilted a bit - he was an enigma wrapped in a mystery surrounded by an alligator wrestler, was my lady's Father.
Just in time, I remembered my station in life and leaped almost gracefully out of the car, ran not particularly elegantly round to the passenger side, and opened the door for Miss Moonbeam.
She smiled at me as she fully gracefully and totally elegantly got in to the Volvo.
"Thank you babe", she said.
I think I continued standing there holding the door wide open for around three minutes and twelve seconds after she had sat down.
Three minutes and thirteen seconds after she had sat down, I felt the hand of an alligator wrestler on my shoulder.
"It's OK lad, you can go now. You know what time you'll have her home to me, right?"
"Heeee! Ahhh. Oh, good evening sir. Yes, I'll have her back here just before she turns into a pumpkin. Sir."
Miss Moonbeam positively squealed with horrified laughter as her Father's eyes bugged out of his head.
"If my daughter turns into a pumpkin after she's spent time with you I'll gather up my old army friends, hunt you down, and turn you into a damp spot on the valley floor."
"Arrrrgh! Just a little attempt at humor. Sorry. Sir. Sir?"
Father bent down from his impressive height, looked me right in my eyes, and...
"Sorry? Why are you saying sorry? What did you do?"
"WHAT DID YOU DO?"
"Oh leave him alone Daddy", said my brave gal. "He was only trying to be funny. He tries real hard, and occasionally almost succeeds."
Dad sighed, and reached his actually quite gentle hand over to his daughter's head and ruffled her hair. His prize for daring to do that was a look - something between the look she gives her dog when it humps rocks, and the look she gets in her eyes when she thinks of politicians... WAIT A TURKEY PLUCKING MINUTE!
She really, REALLY does love me! And I'm not sorry about that at all - I told her as much as soon as we had sat down at Mo's. I looked over the table, directly into her gleaming eyes, and said:
"I'm not sorry. Should I be? I mean... How was I supposed to know our dog would leap at me like that when I grabbed your arm. And to be honest I kind of enjoyed getting dragged through the bushes with you wrapped around me like a very comfy comforter, and..."
"Stop right there, you adorable dimwit. Stop saying sorry, stop staring at me like I'm a forbidden fruit, and... OUR dog?... tell me you love me".
So I did. Mostly. Not promising about the forbidden fruit staring bit though.
And from that moment on, everything went about as well as I could have hoped for.
In other words, it should come as no surprise that, a few years later, here I am. In the kitchen of our cozy little cape cod in the neighborhood on the other (cheaper) side of the park, looking at the overflowing trash and the cold slow cooker. Damn. Again? Really? It is true that I get lost in my writing, and understandable that time slips by like a Spring afternoon wrapped in your lover's arms under a welcoming but slightly embarrassed tree. But again? Really? She'll be home soon, with our pumpkin patch in tow. There are two of them already - one looks like me and has her brains, and the other is the flip. Poor half fallen angels, both of them. But somehow being only fifty percent Mrs Moonbeam is enough, and my kids are going to be way more than just fine.
Of course I still have time to zip down to the Kwik Mart, pay way too much for a box of wine and a lottle of chocolates, and get home before they glide in the front door.
After they arrive and the offspring have sprung up to their rooms, she looks at the trash, the half cooked dinner, the wine and chocolates, and sighs.
"I love you, my adorable dimwit."
[Word count: 1999]