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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Playing the Game

I’ve been thinking that a helpful way to understand my love life might be to look at it as a game of musical chairs.

I assume most folks are familiar with this children’s party favorite but for anyone who isn’t it goes something like this:

To begin, there are as many chairs as children, lined up back to back. When the game starts, one chair is removed, Mom or Dad turns on music and the children walk around the chairs until the melody stops. At tune’s end, each child nabs the closest chair, pushing his or her rivals out of the way (with tiny fists or feet if necessary) and sits down, leaving one sorry tot seatless. The child without a chaise is out of the game. The process repeats itself until there is only one chair and one winner.

At this point you may be wondering: What the heck does this have to do with love? Well, I’ll tell you:

To my mind, the process of choosing a partner is just like the children choosing chairs: it is random, irrational, impulsive, even desperate. In life, as in the game, we mill around to the music of whatever angels or demons are driving us until some unseen hand moves us to settle down. In an instant we morph from ignoring all the lovely chairs (possible partners) to being desperate to claim the nearest one. Out of the blue that chair (love interest) has become the thing we need most in the world. When our Higher Parent stops the music and tells us it’s pickin’ time, whichever chair (potential mate) is closest is the one we grab in order to survive in the game.

Farfetched though this analogy may seem, it actually helps me make sense of my crazy romantic history.

How many partners have I passed by because it wasn’t time for me to choose? How frequently, by angelic or demonic command, have I fought for the right to claim someone and lost– or settled down happily only to hear a Cosmic call to get moving? How often have I observed the supply of swains dwindling and my chances shrinking? How many times have I felt kicked out of the game?

I’ve even felt like a winner once or twice: alit upon the perfect relationship, after a period of restlessness, and seen everything fall into place and, for a time, felt blissfully blessed: Perfect man, perfect home, perfect child, perfect life.

I’ve also tortured myself wondering what diabolical influence induced me to get up and play another round of the game.

My point is that when one is awash in romantic regret it helps to remember that there is a kind of cosmic timing to all of this. There are forces beyond oneself: life cycles and stages, body changes, even world events working their influence and, yes, I believe, an unseen hand turning the music on and off, removing chairs and players.

In love as in all things one does not have total control. Timing matters, randomness is rampant. “The course of true love never did run smooth…Cupid is a knavish lad,” wrote Shakespeare in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” his brilliant comedy about romantic foolishness. When one realizes these things, one can start to unburden one’s heart.

I am not talking about being a cynical player. I’m simply saying it helps to recognize that when it comes to love, God, the Universe and wicked Cupid are all playing with us and if we can just smile and laugh at ourselves between bouts of sighs and tears, the game might start to be just a little bit more bearable and maybe just a tiny bit fun.

 

High and Low

Last evening, as I headed up the alley with my dog, I had one of those moments when the Higher Power puts you in your place. Thank goodness for such instances!

While my canine paused to munch on tender blades of grass, I looked up and saw a vista I had seen only in paintings: There on the horizon was a large thunderhead out of which streamed perfect rays of white gold light. It was a visual cliche but also so transcendent that I felt awash in inspiration and happiness.

I said to myself: “Life is perfect and I have found God and I love everybody and everything and I will feel like this forever.”

Not so fast, quoth my Higher Power, but I was too caught up in my Moment to hear.

Alas, my Moment was brief indeed.

A second later, rounding a bend in the alley, I spotted a neighbor whom I did not know. He was just behind his fence, kneeling in his flower garden, weeding.

It was one of those “I see you and I think you see me so now what” encounters that are commonplace among neighbors. At such times one has to choose between the friendly greeting or the sneaky brush off. We both chose the latter. He lowered his head and focused a bit too intently on his plants. I tugged on the leash and stared ahead robotically.

I do not know why he chose to ignore me. My reasons for cutting him could not have been pettier: I didn’t like the cut of his mustache, I was suspicious of his dress shirt and his large fancy house. Most of all, I was insulted that instead of calling out to me, he ducked away. What a horrid man.

Well crash boom bah. Down came my epiphany of universal love. I was, I realized, as lame as a fallen angel. I had failed the first test of my reborn spirit. How shamefully low I had stooped. How vain I had been to to think I could turn clay feet into wings on a single walk.

Only one option remained: to be grateful for the humbling and start my heavenward climb once again.

I was grateful indeed.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2011 in Clarity, Essays

 

Keeping It Real With the Housewives

I have finally figured out why movie dramas seem so lame these days.

It’s reality television, of course. We all know the old saw about truth being stranger than fiction. It’s also more absorbing, addictive, nasty, nutty, riveting, repugnant, vicious, vulgar and way more dramatic than any film could attempt to be–with the possible exception of movies based on great novels penned ages before the birth of the Bravo channel.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in my favorite genre of trash-de-vie TV, The Real Housewives.

Call me a lame brain, a bimbo, a clueless floozie, or even, to quote New Jersey Housewife Teresa Giudice, “A Prostitution WHORE.” I admit to being all of those things. However, I will tell you that anyone who avoids or fears these programs is missing out on priceless opportunities to improve his or her life.

Here’s a list of precious insights and amenities YOU can hope to gain from watching the surgically inflated, socially inept, witchy and winsome Wives:

1)It Helps You Stay Sober: Whether it’s New York’s terminally tactless Ramona socking back the pinot or Orange County’s foul-mouthed Tamra doing belly shots, you can count on rediscovering why you gave up drinking–and vowing to stay on the wagon forever. Most episodes involve at least one posh luncheon or dinner where the housewives show up in bust-baring minis, toss back a few girly drinks or Drama Queen-sized goblets of wine, and then degenerate into vile, vindictive inebriation. Not to be missed: The segment of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in which a drunk psychic uses her powers to smack down the guests at the home of Kelsey Grammer’s cruelly dumped wife, Camille.

2)It alleviates loneliness: Do you wish you had more female friends? Are you longing to be one of the girls? Watch any Housewives installment and you may decide that a little alone time is a small price to pay for serenity and self-esteem. You won’t flippin’ believe all the bitchin’, back stabbin’ and betrayals. See the Wives in action and you might be tempted to label them the Ladies Who Lynch. Ganging up is a favorite activity. Each cast seems to include at least one outsider, offering endless opportunities for these fickle chicks to stick it to the pariah. Part of the excitement is that the Most Hated person keeps changing, and you never know whom the gals are gonna use for target practice.

3) It Helps You Make Important Surgical Decisions: Prior to viewing the Housewives, I had never even considered ameliorating my appearance with a doctor’s help, but these girls can really make you feel inferior for being a botox and implant virgin. Most of the wives have had at least one breast, belly, face or nose enhancement. Thanks to these procedures, anorexic workouts and mad waxing, these babes can really rock a plunging neckline on a micro mini and induce an ordinary gal to wonder if she could do the same. On the other hand, the ladies make it clear there’s a downside to deepening your decollete. I never knew, for instance, that when you get “the girls” done, your friends feel free to feel you up and make insanely rude comments like, “your new knockers look like flotation devices.”

4)It Supplies Awesome Comebacks for All Occasions:

Finally, each Housewives episode offers a gift bag of diabolical disses suitable for any situation that calls for an emergency schoolin’ of friends or family. For example:

“Scratch my ass.” (New Jersey)

“Adios, lunatic.” (New York)

“I’ll flip you over that couch.” (Atlanta)

“When you’re married to HER, every day is a milestone.” (New York)

“I’m about to take you out and put some Oklahoma on your ass.”(Beverly Hills)

“She’s a thug in a cocktail dress.” (New York).

“You touch me girl, I will wear that wig off your head!” (Atlanta)

And finally, my personal favorite, the brief but soul-chilling exchange between New Jersey’s tempestuous table-flipping Teresa and her nemesis, notorious pole dancer and alleged gangsta moll, Danielle.

“Don’t call me honey.”
“Is bitch better?”

Now that’s drama.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2011 in Chick Flicks, Essays