Sunday, September 28, 2008


Well, as someone who's nearly lost all interest in dating, I'm happy to report that I'm not completely dead inside.  Yeah, that's right – someone has recently captured my attention.  Alert the press!


It's not that I've been against dating; it's just that no one has really interested me in a while.  Oh, anyone who knows me, or who's read my book, The Ones That Got Away – A Dating Memoir, would tell you that I'm a good sport when it comes to dating.  I generally go on most 'Oh, you two should just meet' dates; and for a while I was chatting with someone from my past (no, not Adam.  Believe it or not – for the readers of my book – it was Boston Mark; but that's probably a whole different blog post – or at least half of one anyway), but what can I say?  If I'm not interested – if there's no spark – why bother?  See what I mean about dead inside?  


So, I just go about my business, living my life – confounding those who just don't understand why I'm not 'out there' looking.  Part of my life is the habitual hiking of this mountain near my home: Pinnacle Peak.  The non-loop trail is 3-1/2 miles long, but I only do 3 miles of it. Three is a nice, round number which fits beautifully into the OCD aspect of my personality – plus, the ½ mile that I lop off is very steep.  I already have buns of steel – seriously, my gluteus is so maximus that I fear my Irish-German heritage is at question these days due to the story my shapely posterior is telling.  I do not need any additional work back there – let's just leave it at that. 


Boy, I really do go off on the tangents, don't I?  Sorry.  What you don't know is that I'm sparing you my whole Pinnacle Peak Miss Congeniality story.  I think, perhaps, I'll just save that one for another day.


So… I hike this mountain – in the morning.  In the summer our sun comes up so early that it feels almost like mid-morning to begin hiking at 6:00 a.m. – and, while that's the time I start, there are some that are already done by then.  But now it's fall and the sun only starts to rise at about 5:45 or 6:00.  So what this means is that I must roll out of bed at o'dark thirty to be on the hill by 6:00.  This is no small feat.  There are those who can't even roll out of bed at that hour just to shuffle to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, let alone to climb a mountain.  A mountain – 2, 289 feet at the highest climbable elevation – a mountain! 


I do this hike about four times a week, sometimes more.  And, although I go by myself, I am not alone up there – there are the 'regulars,' the folks I see almost every time.  A regular doesn't start out as a regular, though – he starts out as a newbie.  It's not until you hear yourself saying, 'Oh, here's that guy again' that you even begin to notice a regular developing in your midst. 


This particular regular I'm telling you about – yes, that's what I've been working toward – reminds me of someone that I had an affinity for long ago.  Who?  Okay, he reminds me of Adam's father, George.  I was telling my friend Debbie about this when she nearly choked, asking me if I had 'a thing' for Adam's father.  I did not have 'a thing' for Adam's father.  I just really liked him.  There's nothing wrong with that. 


As I told Debbie, one day this guy and I each arrived at the same time and began our ascent together.  He was annoyed, and grumbled about how crowded it was – and where he had to park.  He told me he was a recent transplant from Lancaster, PA. (Amish?)   He shared with me that he missed the ocean as he used to have a summer home in Bethany. (Gay?  No wait, that's Rehobeth, right?)  When I asked what brought him to Arizona he said we used to vacation here; but when I asked him where he was currently living, he said I live in a condo nearby.  (We vs. I.  Hmm.  Divorced?)


Debbie asked me what he looked like.  I didn't want to go back to 'reminds me of George Vogel,' so I just said, "He's tall, has broad shoulders.  I think he's handsome.  I'd say he has light eyes (I could be way off on this one though), and brownish hair, but I'm not sure what's really going on up top because he wears a hat.  "A hat?" she said, somewhat surprised, then added, "What kind of a hat?"  What kind of a hat?  "A top hat," I told her.  Then, without missing a beat, through a laughter that welled up instantaneously, I added, "He looks completely out of place up there."  As I regained my composure, I said, "He wears a ball cap."


"So, how did you leave it with him?" she asked.  When we hit the 1-1/2 mile marker I told him that's where I turn around, then I asked him his name and said, "Enjoy the rest of your hike."


Of course, since that day, I've had my eye out for him – and, as the carrot motivates the donkey, I've been using him as the impetus to get me out of bed in the pitch dark of the early a.m. – in fact, I now refer to him as C (as in C for carrot, for those slow on the uptake). 


Unfortunately, I've only seen him a couple of times since that shared hike.  Each time we had flirty interchanges as we passed each other like two ships in the night, but that's it.  But that's okay – it's nice to have someone to look for.  It's nice to have an interest in someone again – however subtle it may be. So what if my interest lies in what may be a gay, divorced Amish man with a chip on his shoulder – it's still an interest.  And people say I'm picky.  C'mon.


- M

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blast From The Past

I've been pondering my last post, "All Summer Long."  That song mentions how nothing seems as strange as when the leaves began to change, and "Night Moves" talks about autumn closing in.  I think it's funny that I happened to write that post on Labor Day weekend – the proverbial end of summer. 


What is it about the songs that make us revisit our past?  Why do they affect so much?  I'm sure there's probably some simple psychological answer.  In any event, it's had me thinking these past couple of weeks about those that I wonder about, as well as thinking about those who may wonder about me.  Of course you can guess who I may wonder about, assuming you've read my book, The Ones That Got Away – A Dating Memoir; but here's a little story that may surprise you.  I say 'may' surprise you because, who knows, maybe it will or maybe it won't, but for me, a year and a half later, I'm still completely baffled.


Let's turn back the hands of time to April 2007.  We can actually turn them back even farther than that.  We can go back 14 more years to the time I last spoke to him – which was while walking toward my car, saying, "I just need a little time."   


Ah, time.  Is it really linear or is it all jumbled up in a ball as in my understanding of String Theory.  I really don't understand String Theory at all.  Perhaps I should just get back to my story.


Where was I?  Oh yeah – Ah, time. Will time travel ever be possible?  If so, would you want to know your future?  Really know it?  I wouldn't.  I think knowing it today would adversely affect the outcome whereby you'd change everything anyway.  I am still not back to my story.


Take three:  Ah, time.  How about going back in time?  That's something most of us do quite frequently – whether it's reminiscing with loved ones, leafing through photo albums or getting nostalgic when hearing an old song (now I'm cooking…).


And, while we know who it is we remember, or wonder about, we can never be sure of who may be thinking of us.  I always believed that from time to time different men from my past must wonder about me occasionally – or remember me – they'd have to.  It goes against logic to think otherwise – now just what they remember, or wonder about, well, that's anybody's guess. You'd like to think that the memories that crop up are fond ones, and you'll be remembered somewhat nicely.  But if you're like me, mid 40s and still not married, then you probably have just as colorful a catalog of men in your past – from casual, to the more serious, to engagements and possibly divorce – as I do, so actually, what these exes may remember is truly, as I said, anybody's guess.  If, for example, you had a 'Jeff' in your life, as I did, then he could be thinking horrible things about you while sticking pins in and out of a crude voodoo-like effigy.  Derailed again, sorry. 


Anyhooooooooo.  A little over a year and a half ago, I picked up my ringing work line, naturally expecting the call to be a business call, when, from the other end of the phone, I hear, "Hi.  This is Adam Vogel."  Adam Vogel?  (See Chapter 11)  I tried to respond, "Ach," went my throat.  I took a breath of air and tried again, "Ach… whh… er… ach" was all that came out.  I was stuck in a spastic repetitive uttering of 'ach…whh… er' that was truly unbelievable – to say that I was apoplectic would be an understatement.  I wasn't sure what was happening to me.  Try as I might (and I tried like hell), I could not get one word out of my mouth.  Adam asked me if I was okay – I guess if he had been standing in front of me, he would have asked me to smile and raise my arms, you know, to rule out an actual stroke.  Finally I managed to say, "Yes, I'm fine," but when I tried to continue with the predictable 'and how are you,' I went right back into the spiral of monosyllabic guttural sounds.  


My mind was reeling.  Adam was on the other end of the line.  Adam!  Was it him? Really?  As I smooshed the phone as tightly as I could to my ear, and the cilia strained to reach out into the magic, invisible airwaves to connect with his voice, I was sure it was him.  It was him.  It was his voice – just like I remembered, the one I knew so well – on the phone, in my ear… from another lifetime.


I had not spoken with Adam since January of 1994.  Since that time I was nearly killed, became a shareholder and built up a business, acquired some property, sold the property, sold the shares and moved my life 2400 miles across our country.  And, I was 42. 42! I was only 29 when I last saw him.  Do you see what I mean about 'from another lifetime?'


Well, thankfully, I managed to pull myself together and answer some simple questions, and I'm proud to report that I managed to ask a few as well.  He asked me all about my family – mother, father, brother, sister… my sister's boys – the little guys.  (The little guys are grown men now. One is married with two kids.)  I, of course, asked him all about his family – mother, father, brother, brother.


He shared with me that he was married with two kids, girls.  I shared with him that I ran into his aunt years earlier who had told me that he was married and expecting their first.  And then, after he asked, I told him that I never got married.  He was curious as to why, but since my book wasn't published yet I was unable to give it to him saying, "Here, read this – " so I just went with the old, "Oh, I don't know – I don't think I'm the marrying kind."  


What truly floored me, other than the obvious, was the way he took me down memory lane – our memory lane, our very private and intimate memory lane.  "Do you remember Lars?" he asked.  I choked again, clearing my throat as I repeated it, "Ach… Lars?  Yes, of course."  (If you haven't already, you need to read my book to get the full impact of that question.)


He said that one of his girls came home from school and told him that she met a boy named Lars on the playground, and that naturally made him think of me – so he thought he'd call and say hello.  Call and say hello?  It had been 14 years and he made it sound like we spoke the previous week.  


I was still in such a state of shock that I was basically just answering questions.  Honestly, I put poor, little 13-year-old Rob Roget through a tougher grilling when he called looking for the French homework than I did Adam with this call.


Now here's what's really weird: He knew a lot about me – he knew about my accident, he knew where I lived in NJ prior to my moving west, he knew who I was working for and what I did, and… he knew the layout of my current home (rooftop view anyway).  Apparently, if you're a little computer savvy, you really can find out a myriad of information about someone on the Internet. 


He asked me some personal things like, "Do you still sleep with your hair in a ponytail?"  He shared with me his fondest intimate memory of us. Then, he emailed me pictures of him and his family – they looked very happy.  Nearly two hours later it was time to hang up – and re-close the time capsule, if you will.


That phone call blew me away.  I didn't know what to make of it then – I don't know what to make of it now.  What I do know is that last Christmas, eight months after he 'reached out and touched me,' I got a Christmas card from him.  It was a family photo of him, his wife and two girls – a beautiful family – with a caption below that read, "With love, from the Vogels."  What?!?  It was a stock family card and the caption was preprinted, but he addressed the envelope himself, and like his voice, I recognized his handwriting immediately.  We hadn't spoken since that April and then this card appeared.  Why?  I just don't understand it.  Do you? 


What was with that call? Was he simply reaching out to say hello?  Was it really just casual? After 14 years – and all those intimate memories?  I'll openly admit that I've wondered about people from my past, but I never Googled them – or looked up their houses on Sat-Maps-R-Us (or whatever site he was on). 


So, I don't know.  I've said this before, and I don't like to be redundant, but… I don't get 'em – guys, this male gender – very puzzling to me.  What I can tell you is with summer coming to a close, and the holiday season fast upon us, I can't help but wonder if I'll get another Vogel family greeting card this year.  Who knows?  And who knows what it means, if anything.  At the very least, whenever it may be, it's nice to be remembered… for auld lang syne, my friends, for auld lang syne.


Until next time.  - M