That’s what we were talking about, sitting at the bar, sipping our beer, Ben, my suitor of the moment, and me. But, as conversations often do, it veered unexpectedly.
The bartender was the catalyst. Of course, he was tattooed. Aren’t they all? Our waitresses, waiters, bartenders, don’t they all sport permanent body art?
This bartender’s right arm was branded with a single word spreading down its length. Surrounding it in random patterns were cross hatches, as if he were keeping score; sets of four vertical parallel lines,
Two days after leaving Kinsale I heard my saddest song. Ireland touched me unexpectedly.
My mother’s roots were solidly Norwegian. Her ancestral traditions dominated my childhood. I never gave a thought to the 25 percent of my makeup that’s Irish.
That is, until the day in 2005 I stepped off the plane in Dublin airport. Then every gene fragment in my body that harkened back to one of my two Celtic great grandfathers demanded attention. I was home.
We were so happy, the three of us, perched on our rock outcropping. The simplest of elements scattered around us added up to our happiness; a few empty bottles of Harp, crumbs from a package of Dubliner cheese, the last few slices from a loaf of fresh cottage bread, a couple of apple cores, blooming yellow gorse and fog.
The thick fog obscured any view of the Irish fishing town of Kinsale below us, or any glimpse of the sea spread out to the south. It enclosed us in our companionship. Just the three of us, we sturdy hikers, had reached this point. No one existed but us: Alan, my husband; Reggie, our long-time friend; and me who still, in 2005, occupied that sweet spot of treasured wife and valued friend.
We’d bought a map in a little kiosk just off to the left of the iron-gated entrance to Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris . Alan, my ex-husband, and I had picked out the names of the honored dead whose monuments we wanted to find; Oscar Wilde, the Irish writer who died disgraced and penniless in Paris, now resting under a striking Art Nouveau monument; Abelard and Heloise, real-life star crossed lovers from the 12th century, separated in death by the walls of their adjoining tombs; Frederic Chopin, the composer of deeply romantic melodies.
Okay, I’ve done it. I’ve bent them to my will; taken what they had and used it to meet my needs. I’ve kidnapped them
The first time was on a rainy night in New York City. Have you ever tried to find a cab on a night like this? Impossible.
Alan (my former husband) and I were newlyweds, bar hopping in the Big Apple with Marius (see Valentine’s Day Two) and his current squeeze, Pamela. We were trapped in Soho, miles from our final destination. Drops of rain fell on our shoulders, on our hair and dripped off our noses as we watched full taxis pass us by.
Drastic action was called for. I took it.
Like Claudette Colbert in the movie It Happened One Night, I edged away from my companions, slid one foot off the curb and manufactured some wardrobe malfunction that required sliding my skirt high up my thigh to fix.
Clark Gable is looking at Claudette Colbert just as Alan looked at me as I fixed my own manufactured wardrobe malfumction.
Carrie planned thoughtfully for her first night lying in the arms of Morpheus, the god of dreams. Her husband moved out that day, so she knew the only arms waiting for her in that big brass bed upstairs would be those she conjured up in her dreams.
She covered the bed with fresh sheets. She sprayed those sheets with her favorite perfume, Escape, by Calvin Klein. Drew a hot bath and luxuriated in the old claw foot tub until the water turned chill. Rummaged through her grandmother’s wooden hope chest to find the tissue paper packet enclosing the nightgown she wore on her wedding night ten years ago. Slipped it on. Climbed in between the crisp sheets, inhaled the scent redolent of sensuality and love.
She made love to herself. Made love to herself because she knew she deserved it, even though she and love had been strangers for quite some time. Made love to herself because she was determined to keep that spark alive in herself, ready for when the time was right to invite someone else besides Morpheus to lie in bed with her.
Flamenco is the perfect art form for people of mature middle age. The music and movements express profound sadness, passion, joy, grief and love. To communicate all that requires a deep well of experience that takes years to fill.
One freezing, snowy Friday night 15 years ago I headed out to the airport to pick up Alan, who was still my husband and the object of my fantasies, and who had been gone on business for the last two weeks. I was insulated from the elements by thick leather boots, a heavy wool coat and a long wool scarf.
Fifty-six percent of men say the words, “I love you,” for the first time by accident. According to a study published in March in Britain’s Daily Mail, for over half of men the words just slip out of their mouths.
Twenty-three percent of those surveyed blamed alcohol. Thirteen percent said it because of sex. Eight percent reported saying these three words, “Because she was crying.”
Like Joan Baez sang, this makes love sound like just another four-letter word.