Friday, February 15, 2013

*Prince of a Guy*

           Some gal wrote a book claiming every girl wants to be swept off her feet, rescued, a bride. That wasn't my wish. There's a picture of me when I was small, at a toy ironing board, in a dress-up wedding gown. Mom must’ve made me do it, probably tickled me at the last minute to get me to grin. That was never my dream. I was like the dentist elf in “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.” I wanted to be in-de-pen-dent. I didn't need anybody, least, that's what I used to think.
            I always told my girlfriends, the ones who were husband-hunters, "You'll never meet Mr. Right in a bar." Like I knew. Heck, I could practically count the dates I'd been on with five fingers. For some reason guys seemed scared of me, maybe because I could hit hard and burp loud. That's what happens when you grow up with three older brothers.
            I wasn't with my gal pals that night. I was with my buddy, Dave. We were on the prowl for guys to dance with. He and I spotted you at the same time, through a Kool and Camel haze, through the Purple Rain.
            We liked that you were dressed up, wore a skinny leather tie and dress pants. Dave and I agreed that was way better than a t-shirt and Levi's. Your mustache was pencil-thin and beneath it, you had a puffy half-smile, lips like Angelina Jolie before anyone knew who she was. I couldn't tell until we slow-danced that your eyes were the color of Kraft caramels. As I played with the hair brushing your shirt collar, I wondered if maybe you curled it around a Popsicle. 
            Later that night, per your request, I wrote my phone number on a cocktail napkin with my aqua Maybelline eye pencil. One day and night came and went, then another. I thought I remembered your last name and I was flipping through the phone book looking for it when you called. My heart forgot to beat, then remembered.
            After we went out a couple of times, I decided you were some kind of fairy tale prince. I liked the way you opened and closed doors for me and how when you reached across to buckle my seatbelt, the citrusy freshness of your Drakkar Noir cologne came off your warm golden neck in waves. You had a habit of picking up trash and arc'ing it at garbage cans. You always laughed whenever I said, “He shoots, he scores!” The day you helped that dowager-humped lady across Walnut Street, I went all wooshy-gooshy inside. It didn't take me long to figure out you always did what you said you would. Always. I liked that fact every bit as much as your curly hair and puffy mouth.
            But then you didn't kiss me on the first date. Or the second. I started thinking maybe you weren't a fairy tale prince after all. Maybe you were just a... And then you did kiss me, and once again, my heart forgot to beat, then remembered.
           That night it was cold in the hallway of my third floor, over Rite-Aid on High Street, apartment. I was leaning against the frame of the front door and you said maybe we should go see— Suddenly the heat of you pressed against the heat of me and it was so very nice I thought my knees would give out then and there. It was like the ketchup commercial said: Anticipation. You could’ve asked me anything and I would’ve said yes, but you didn't because you're a gentleman. That's what happens when you grow up with four older sisters.
          Later on you said you wanted to marry me even though I wanted to leave West Virginia and never come back, even though I didn't want kids, even though I didn't need you.
          After three years of living in D.C., we decided we wanted a smaller city, a safer one, so we closed our eyes, stabbed a map, and that's where we moved--Cincinnati. I worked downtown in a fancy brownstone. Your insurance office was up north, outside city limits.
          One day I said, "Oh, all right. I reckon I can have one baby. For you.” When she was born, I fell in love instantly with her and her full, cherry mouth. 
          A couple years later at Forest Fair Mall, you stunned me when you said, "I want to move back to West Virginia.”
          As we stood next to the children’s sand pit where our daughter was filling up and spilling out her pastel pink Stride-Rite shoes, I threw a quiet fit. Finally I faced you with sob-squinty eyes. "Don't you remember me saying I'm a big city girl?" 
          I watched you think hard before you answered. "If you hate it at the end of the first year, we'll go someplace else." I didn't want to squash your dreams, plus I knew you always kept your promises, so I agreed.
          Not long after we moved back, I decided our only child needed company. A few years later, I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful to give you a son? Funny, the way having kids can stir up things inside you. When my childhood caught up with me and you at last learned the details, you cupped the shards of my broken littleness in your hands. 
          “Everything'll be all right,” you said. And it was.
          One morning after you left for work and before the kids woke up, I sat at the kitchen table in our hundred-year-old house and pondered things in my heart. I held my thumb and pointer finger in front of my eyes, noticing how they almost touched. I spoke out loud even though there was no one to hear.
          "This much. I might just need you this much.”


Optimistic Existentialist said...

What an incredibly romantic story. I hope you had a great Valentine's Day :)

writingdianet said...

Thanks, Keith! We did have a great day which in fact included one of the best desserts we've ever tasted--a chocolate tart filled with chocolate mousse drizzled with chocolate Kaluha ganache. It was awe-inspiring! When I begged the chef's wife to tell me the secret ingredient in the tart's amazing crust, she replied, "Chocolate Teddy Grahams." Well, I never!

Tony said...

Usually I never really know what is fact and fiction in your wonderful stories. In this one, I do know:)
I love you darling!!


OMG I love this. Sooooo good. Diane, you must enter this somewhere. People more people need to read your work. They just bubble up inside me and make me so freaking happy. A work - freaking - I never ever use and I just did.
Get this out there, please.
Hugs, Barb
I almost have tears. Almost.


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