Go In Peace, Pamela Anderson

pamela1Go in peace, Pamela Anderson.  I’ve got bigger fish to fry than analysing the nuances of a society that chose you to be the last Playboy Centrefold.  I know it’s just a salute to all those guys staring 40 in the face and remembering Pammie with autoerotic fondness, but really…?   Marilyn Monroe to Pamela Anderson in one generation is the biggest indictment of our times since the Kardashian girls replaced Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly on the elegance chart.  Let’s face it, people!  We’ve screwed a few things up.

Don’t get me wrong: I love our contemporary world.  We’ve managed to produce the most risk-free, benevolent society in history.  Yay for us!  But man, did it cost us!  I miss those things we offhandedly discarded to get here.

University Students — God, I miss those folks!  Remember when college campuses were swimming in horny, brawling, loudmouthed young people, drunk on their own opinions?  They just couldn’t wait to grab their God-given right to change the world.  Talking to them was too cool.  It was like intellectual gymnastics, and I loved it.  Try talking to the lock-step, politically correct robots on campuses these days.  I don’t even say “Hi” anymore.

Anger — Remember slamming the phone down when you were just totally pissed off?  That used to feel s-o-o-o-o good.

Adults — Now that extended adolescence has reached 40, and early retirement starts at 55, the window of opportunity to have an adult conversation with anyone is closing down.  Most people don’t want the responsibility and just go from whiny teenager to grouchy senior citizen without ever pausing in the middle.

Love — Love is still around, but many people are just too timid to take the risk and so they settle for the generic “relationship.”  It’s safer, more secure, less emotional, and nobody really gets hurt except a few teenagers.

Private — Not privacy, that’s different (we haven’t had that since before Baywatch.)  Private is the time we spend alone with ourselves; that look in the emotional mirror that tells us who we really are.  As we spend more and more time connected, we have less and less time to be private, and so we’ve become less and less aware of what actually makes us tick.

And finally, what has this got to do with Playboy?

I remember when Playboy used to take risks.  Is there anyone on this planet who hasn’t seen Pamela Anderson naked?  Just sayin’!

Fiction

You might not know it, but I also write serious fiction — and I’m damn good at it.  Recently, I’ve been working on The Woman in the Window, a series of short stories about relationships and how they sometimes work and how they sometimes don’t.  The first story, “Scars” was published in Quality Women’s Fiction (UK) a few years ago.  This week, I’ve published the next six stories, and they’re available worldwide on Amazon Kindle.  Here’s a preview with links to each complete tale.  Check them out.  You’ll probably be surprised.  Writers live by feedback, so if you read these, please leave a review, even if it’s only a couple of words.  If you like them, please tell a friend.

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Roman HolidayWe all make decisions that change our lives, but a chance meeting in Rome gives Denise a second chance to evaluate what she did as a young woman and an opportunity to explain it — if only to satisfy herself.

Roman Holiday

She loved the look of the street at night.  Deep dark, patched together with dull blocks of light from the shops and restaurants; the street lamps and traffic lights sliding over everything that moved.  Everyone down there slowly settling in after feeding the tourists.  The bustle gone and the real sounds and noises of the city finally drifting up to her as the foreigners got safely tucked into their beds.  Not that she minded tourists; she didn’t.  Even after all these years (how many had it been? – twenty) they still reminded her of home.  Although home didn’t really mean home anymore.  Home really didn’t mean anything.  This was home.  That was home.  When you spend your whole life on vacation, anywhere is home.  In all, she preferred Paris, but Rome was Rome and she owned the apartment and she was four floors up over Via Cavour, and you just can’t get a bad bottle of wine in Italy.  Besides, it was a beautiful warm summer night, and somewhere down there, mingled in the thinning crowd were Mr. and Mrs. Brian Wilcox, whom she would forever and always call Cat and Willy.  Cat and Willy had been lost, left behind with everybody else in Vienna when they all got on the train for Frankfurt and she waved good bye and got on with her life.  Vienna — all their kisses and good wishes washed over by time.  Those powerful adolescent tears long dried and slowly vanished away until finally there weren’t even Christmas cards to betray their existence.  She lifted her glass into the night and wondered what she was going to do.

Available on Amazon Here

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Simple ThingWe are who we think we are; it’s easier that way.  However, when Lester B. Taylor goes to Paris to write a history book, he is seduced by the City of Lights and finds that what he thinks he is, might just be a veneer he’s learned to believe.

A Simple Thing

On a chilly, grey December morning, Lester B. Taylor readjusted his life and decided to go home.  That’s not strictly true.  What he decided was he couldn’t go back to the apartment; home was just the logical alternative.  And if he had to go home, he had to re-become what he was, or at least what he had been, before Paris.  He couldn’t very well show up like this.  Most everything else was just cold and godawful in the light of day.  So he just sat there with his coffee and cigarettes like a hideous hangover that occasionally winces its regrets.

Available on Amazon Here

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DanielThe problem with normal is we accept it without ever really understanding what it looks like.  For Susan, normal was a shadow just out of her reach — until the trauma of death answers the one question her normal life wouldn’t let her ask.

The Dying of Daniel

She had decided the dying of Daniel was no big deal.  She’d heard ugly rumors about it all spring from her mother, who, bored with her father’s company, would telephone “just to say hello” and spread the usual gossip. “He’s not good, you know, dear,” her mother had warned.  But then, her mother was always warning her about something. So the final telephone call was unexpected but no shock.  Yet, between calling work, a minor shop when she discovered her assortment of little black dresses were all a little too little for a funeral and getting Jake and the boys combed, cooked and cleaned for a week, she did find she had tears.  Middle of the night, kitchen table, glass of brandy tears.  But then she put them away and was on the road the next morning.

Available on Amazon Here

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Jasper ConradFrances is ordinary, and she knows that.  However, she still thinks there’s supposed to be something more to her life.  The problem is she has no idea what she’s looking for — until she thinks she’s found it.

The Last Romance of Jasper Conrad

It was deep in the season.  It was going to be hot, summer folding over itself like thick white chocolate pouring from a bowl.  For now, the sun, slow and luxurious, filtered through the trees in sparkled shades of green and — was it citrus or gold?  Where the breezes were, light, like little silver fairies, danced and played, chasing themselves across the paving stones and into the garden.  At least, that’s how he saw it. He sat on the edge of a neat row of starched breakfast tables with his back to the hotel.  He drank his coffee and looked out into the trees and down the broad stone steps that led to the sand and the sea.  In the color and shadow he couldn’t tell what was light and what was movement, so what he thought he saw, he didn’t actually see — at least, not until the top half of her seemed to rise out of the blue water.  She stepped up the stone steps and stopped at the top, dropped her shoes, and awkwardly, one-leg pretty, tried to brush the wet sand off her feet.

Available on Amazon Here

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Final VinylWe all outgrow the fairy tales we grew up with, but do we really?  Or do they remain forever on the unseen edges of our personality?  For one woman, they are haunting emotions that she has chosen to ignore — until now.

Final Vinyl Cafe

It was nearly morning when the light woke her.  It was a strange light that fanned out across the ceiling.  Then she heard the articulate thump of car doors.  She was awake then; fully awake, so she could distinguish steps in the gravel.  Two sets — one heavy, one light..  The big light from the motel courtyard shadowed through the room.  She felt their presence, noiseless black and white, and she heard them, at the door.  Closing it, locking themselves in.  The erotic sounds of scuffling in the dark.  Right next door, beside her, some few inches from her face.  She listened, heart still in the darkness, willing her body motionless to hear.  There was nothing for a long time; then the full fine groan of the bed.  She relaxed and sat up slowly.  She felt her feet touch and settle on the carpet.  She sat still for a moment, not to wake him.  His breathing was heavy and even.

Available on Amazon Here

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BookstoreThomas Wolfe said You Can’t Go Home, Again, but maybe you can — you just have to be careful what you’re looking for.  When Jonathan goes back home to look for a young man named Jonny, he discovers that sometimes you need to let sleeping dreams lie.

The Bookstore on Elliott Street

            There was a bookstore on Elliott Street.  It was half as wide as it was long, with three slender aisles and books on shelves stacked higher than a woman could reach.  It had a big window and a wooden glass door that was brown, and the paint was peeling until he repainted it.  It had stairs in the back that went up to an apartment that sat on the tops of the trees and overlooked the street.  He knew it was there.  He hadn’t dreamt it.  So why couldn’t he find it? For a few moments he stood stupid in the sun, shielding his eyes in the brilliance.  His memories were different.  They were rainswept and cold: the pavement headlight shiny and slick with traffic lights; the buildings granite and bitter moss green; the trees bony and small, their tough little fingers digging into the sky.  And the low clouds were angry grey, with an early darkness so heavy they bowed the heads of the people walking underneath them.  It was always deep into autumn on Elliott Street and always late in the afternoon. Just in case, he checked the street name.

Available on Amazon Here

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We Don’t Tango Anymore!

dance-238263_1280There are places where it’s illegal for teenagers to have sex because the authorities are worried it might lead kids to the tango.  The tango is Adults Only, any way you slice it.  It takes sophistication and patience to understand the sensual rhythm of two people moving with each other when they’re barely touching.  Exotic?  Erotic?  All of the above?  Unfortunately, in our time, we don’t tango all that much.  We let the professionals do it and watch, as if it were pornography.  Why?  I blame the “relationship.”  This nasty euphemism has not only ruined the tango for ordinary people; it’s responsible for most of what’s wrong with love in the 21st century.  Here’s the deal:

1 – What the hell does “relationship” even mean?  Unlike love, there’s nothing special about a relationship.  We all have relationships with any number of people, from our colleagues to the kid who delivers the pizza.  Push comes to shove, I have a relationship with my houseplants: they’re beautiful, and I water them.  If I don’t, they’ll crisp up and croak; then we both lose.  Personally, I think using the same word to describe what’s going on with the love of your life and your $19.00 bougainvillea is just a bit dismissive.

2 – People are always talking about taking their “relationship” to another level.  Look, (nudge/nudge, wink/wink) we all know this means sex.  Folks, love is not a video game with orgasms.  You don’t collect points for getting the dinner reservations right or remembering an anniversary, then cash them in some rainy night when you’re feeling lonely.  That’s not how it works.  Trying to figure out sex is difficult enough.  Turning it into a Reward Challenge is just sick!

3 – “Relationship” words all suck.  I want to “be with him.”  I have “feelings for her.”  Who are these people talking about — their grandmas?  You can’t sterilize passion.  Once you do, it isn’t passion anymore.

4 – People are always working at their “relationships” as if they were some kind of emotional salt mine.  Honestly, if it’s that difficult, why bother? After all, love is supposed to be fun.

5 – And finally, being “in a relationship” sounds like you’re bunking in for the weekend (or maybe slightly longer.)  The extraordinary connotation of the “relationship” is it’s temporary.  It has a definite beginning, a middle and an end.  I’ll grant you, few of us mate for life anymore, but I, for one, think love is valuable enough to at least give it a try.

People fall in love.  We can’t help it.  It’s marvelous and messy, but we shouldn’t try to institutionalize the romance out of it.  When we do, we lose beautiful things like the tango.  We don’t tango anymore because we’re too busy working on our “relationships.”   We haven’t got time to see the person right in front of us and realize they’re hearing the music, too.