Sunday, March 17, 2013

From Cupcake Epiphany to The Future Now


Part IV of Fail-Safe

As if packing for Frisco's October micro-climates wasn't challenging enough, she couldn't get Brad out of her mind. They'd moved forward fast. After getting back home from the coffee shop the other night, there'd been a flurry of "Hey, that was  fun, let's do it again soon" messages between them on match.com, prompting an exchange of real e-mail addresses and a plan to get together Saturday evening for Lebanese food. Friday's OR call hadn't been too shabby, so she treated herself to a killer workout, followed by a much needed mani-pedi. 


He's just too perfect...what's the catch?
Surprised at her own excitement, which probably stemmed from the fact that she hadn't been able to find a thing wrong with him yet, she dolled herself up, threw caution to the wind, and headed over to the restaurant, on time this time with time to spare. The rest of the night was a blur. Dinner, dessert, and coffee segued seamlessly into hanging out at her place, sitting face-to-face on her comfy brown couch listening to Nobody and the Mystic Chords of Memory and The Clientele, adequately lubricated by unoaked chardonnay. Any lingering inhibition dissolved when he asked her, "Is it all right if I kiss you?" Like white on rice, they were all over each other. Early the next morning, Julie texted to see how the date went: 



     "Hot" didn't begin to do this guy justice; he was visual confectionery. Looks-wise, he was a cross between Daniel Craig, Lance Armstrong, and Spartacus: muscular, slim, finely chiseled
with gentle steely-blue eyes, and an absolutely awe-inspiring
Eat your hearts out, Charlton Heston & Russell Crowe!
gladiator six-pack to boot. She had no idea a 46 year old man could look like that. According to him, she was easy on the eyes as well, disclosing his reason for following her into the coffee shop the first night they met as "I was checking 
out the view from behind." They were like two kids in The Candy Store of Mutual Admiration, but the attraction was far from purely physical. If anything, their connection was metaphysical, transcendent, esoteric


"Moms these days! Ours is 45, going on 16!"
Long story short, the next five evenings were spent together, ending Friday morning with a wild makeout session in a church parking lot, then sneaking into her bedroom like a couple of teenagers after her own sixteen year old boys were fast asleep. "I'll see ya when
you get back," he promised as he headed off late to work. "How about I pick you up from the airport Sunday night?" Her heart skipped a beat. "Really? You'd do that for me?" Here he was, offering to pick her up after a week of frolicking about San Francisco with her closest friends which, unbeknownst to him, happened to include a Bohemian fuckbuddy. What a mess. With "Torn Between Two Lovers" reverberating on an endless subconscious loop, she kissed him hard. "Sure, why not?" she replied, trying to sound casual. "I'll e-mail you my flight info. See you Sunday." She finished packing, caught a MARTA train to the airport that afternoon, and landed at SFO four uneventful hours later with just enough time to check into the hotel before meeting up with Allen.

Allen, wondering, "What are we going to do with this one?"
Fast forward one week to late Thursday night. For the most part, San Francisco had been a total blast, a whirlwind of meetings, sightseeing, gastronomic adventures, long bayside walks, and random intimate conversations between old friends. Allen had taken her out for seafood on Fishermans Wharf her first evening there. Clearly amused by her epic man troubles, which admittedly were somewhat comical in nature, he listened patiently as she attempted to justify having her cake and eating it, too. "You're burning the candle at both ends, sweetheart," he cautioned. "Why play with fire?" As far as he was concerned, she needed to woman up and make a choice. 

     Julie, Bryan, and California Boy were arriving Saturday morning, and they were all having dinner together later that night. California Boy was flying in from LAX for a quick overnight stay. He'd fly back to LA Sunday afternoon, and would return by car early Friday morning for next weekend's trip to Napa. Seeing him again was weird, and being with him was even weirder, detached and impersonal. It just didn't feel right. She was relieved when 
The Fab Four (L to R, Bryan, Julie, Allen, & Yours Truly)
he left, especially after the Ritz-Carlton incident. No sooner had they met up with her friends for a swanky lounge pre-dinner drink than he started ordering $50 glasses of Dominus cabernet. On her tab. Unbelievable! The next few evenings were spent wining and dining in various hotspots with Allen, Bryan, and Julie, from Thai in Russian Hill to shi shi dessert in the Castro district. Julie flew back to Iowa on Wednesday because of work obligations. 


We finally made it to the ocean...taxi!!!
Thursday was set aside for getting to know Bryan. Breakfast with him and Allen that morning was followed by a leisurely 10 mile walk from the Financial District through Haight-Ashbury, all the way to Golden Gate Park. By the time they reached the ocean, their feet and legs were so tired that they took a taxi back to their hotels. The evening ended with dinner, a showing of Beach Blanket Babylon at Club Fugazi, and contraband cupcakes. She and Bryan had been craving something sweet, so he brought along a half dozen Mission Minis to enjoy during the show, but because the club didn't allow outside food, these were confiscated by the coat check girl who promised to return them unharmed.

After the show, they piled into a tiny hybrid taxi, sitting on each other's laps, giggling as they gobbled teeny tiny cupcakes with crumbs flying everywhere, barely noticing the stomach-turning hilly ride back to their hotels. Out of the blue, Brad called, just to say hi. Oddly enough, while she was chatting with him, California Boy beeped in and left a voicemail. Allen and Bryan were leaving for their Napa cruise at the crack of dawn the next morning, so once they reached her hotel, it was time to call it a night. "There's one Mission Mini left; we want you to have it!" they'd insisted. That was an offer she couldn't refuse. She kissed them goodbye, then went up to her room to listen to the message. 

Basically, California Boy was calling to say his car broke down, and though he'd try to get it fixed first thing in the morning, he might not be able to make it until Saturday, if at all. Oh. My. God!!!!!!! Cupcake...stat! He suggested that she either wait for him in the lobby after checking out of her room, or catching a bus by herself out to the spa in Calistoga where they had reservations. Seriously? The obvious solution would have been for him to rent a car, and since that wasn't even mentioned, she wondered if he was just trying to back out. Like an unsolicited bitch slap, the truth hit her between furious nibbles of cupcake. At the wet-ass hour of 11 p.m., the whole sordid situation crystallized into the indisputable reality she knew she'd been avoiding: she was wasting her time with him. Maybe this cupcake epiphany was her call to action.

"There's been just a slight change of plans..."
Seeing as how it was already close to midnight on the west coast, it was too late to call anyone back east. She booked a nonstop flight to Atlanta that was departing around lunchtime, and cancelled her reservations at the Golden Haven Spa and Resort. In less than twelve hours, she'd be on her way home. Before she went to bed, she sent out e-mails to her sons, Julie, and Allen to let them know she'd be heading home early. She debated about whether or not to contact Brad...what if he had plans for Friday night? I'll text him in the morning; the worst he can say is "Sorry, I'm busy."

     Sleep was an afterthought; her mind was racing. California Boy was going to be furious with her for e-mailing such an abrupt change of plans instead of calling him, but she was even more certain that her newly-tapped revelation mojo wouldn't survive one of their demoralizing confrontations. Direct communication just wasn't worth the risk. Yeah, the way she handled it was pretty sucky, but she rationalized that he was getting a taste of his own medicine. At 5:30 a.m. PST, she texted Brad. 
     
     Sure enough, when she stepped off the elevator headed toward baggage claim, there he was. She spotted him first, the 
Lost in The Candy Store of Mutual Admiration...
initial recognition hastening her pace as she darted skillfully amongst the throng of slow-as-molasses slothwalkers with her neck craned, willing him to lock eyes with her. Ten eternal seconds later, he saw her too. Mutually focused on converging, they approached each other intently, negotiating the crowd as if they were the only two people in that terminal. "How was your trip?" he asked, automatically reaching for the handle of her carry-on bag. His eyes were kind. "Here, let me get that for you." They collected her luggage from the carousel, then ventured outside to his car. It felt good to be home. She's still not sure whether it was Brad's genteel demeanor or Georgia's balmy October night air that thawed the freezer-burn her heart acquired in San Francisco. Maybe it was a little bit of both. As they drove off together into Atlanta's nocturnal sparkle, a couple of clairvoyant rogue stars within that auspicious celestial canopy aligned precisely, welcoming them into the future now.
La Fin ou Le Début?


     
     


     

     



18 comments:

  1. Hey Kris,
    You really are a wizard how you string all that together - the photo's, the change of plan & the texts (& that bitch slap coupon of course.)

    `45 going on 16'- those kids are so lucky, & my guess would be that they know it!

    `Surprised at her own excitement, which probably stemmed from the fact that she hadn't been able to find a thing wrong with him yet'. Mmm, could it be that there really is nothing wrong with this guy? I mean...is that possible?

    A good read Kris!
    Cheer, ic



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    1. Ian,
      Glad you enjoyed it. My fingers are tired from all that cutting and pasting, LOL. Yes, I think my boys feel pretty lucky; we're fortunate in not having much of a generation gap. I gave up trying to find fault with Spartacus a while back. I'm happy to report that I've changed my ways since then, and am now a card-carrying fan of imperfection...it's so much more interesting!

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  2. My oh My, this is heat. I can feel the passion firing up in my bones as I remember those good old days. I've always been a sucker for romance and as I read this post it led me back to butterflies in the stomach, not knowing how to behave, endless telephone conversations, constant obsessive thinking and clandestine encounters.

    Maybe I should stop here......... Oh Helena........

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    1. Hee hee, RPD, your comments always tickle me...clearly, you're a romantic! I've so enjoyed reliving this story through prose and pictures.

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  3. Kris, love the whirligig of a life your thinly-disguised heroine leads. And love the wild, colorful and uninhibited use of language: "They were two kids in the Candy Store of Mutual Admiration." The joy of expressing and sharing your life experiences shines through every word you write.

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    1. NP, the best part about sharing life experiences is getting to relive them myself. I've been transported back in time, catching all the details I'd overlooked in my hurry to get to now. Whirligig is an apt description of the last few years of my life :-)

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  4. you are a master story teller, weaving all the photos, texts, story line into a fast paced, emotion charged read

    you have some one of a kind one liners

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Melanie. I loved reliving this story. The one liners are stories in themselves; many of the ones I commonly use are things I picked up from my husband, or terms we created ourselves, like "slothwalkers." :-)

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  5. Loved it! The photos were perfect and the story sublime :)

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Michelle. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I really enjoyed the post Helena, it reminded me of a few if my own dating experiences where I must have said something that was taken the wrong way, but my lady friend at the time would not even talk to me to tell me what it was, it has left me confused and heart broken a few times, lets hope in this case this guy really had somehow lost interest, as that was usually not the case with me.

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    1. PB, the good news is that my 20+ year friendship with Cali Boy wasn't lost. It was just better that we not toy around with a physical relationship. I really didn't handle this situation too well at the time, but in the end, it all ended up being OK. Glad you enjoyed the story and can relate. You've definitely led an interesting life!

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  7. Helena, I had enjoyed the twister from outside in the previous instalments. Well, this time I was sucked in and what a rollercoaster it has been! You have packed enough romance and spin in a single post to last an entire trilogy. Here is one to the Queen of good times!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Uma. Living through that time in my life really was like riding on a roller coaster; lots of ups and downs, but mostly good times :-D

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  8. I love that both these men were their true selves (so much easier to sort amongst the cupcake crumbs that way) California Boy not worth your time. Brad and his awesome text worth every second.

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    1. Gina, that text was what won my heart; Brad was (and is) so incredibly considerate. He's a wonderful man and I'm lucky that our paths crossed online.

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  9. Love Part IV of your story, Kris, absolutely love it! Makes me want to be in love again. You are a master at bringing all the elements together and building the suspense, taking the reader along on a fresh and sensual romantic journey of discovery. I could feel the excitement and anticipation of that early kiss over chardonnay. “Visual confectionery” what a great line and capped with a picture! That he felt the same way about you being “easy on the eyes” perfect! Love your line, “like two kids in The Candy Store of Mutual Admiration” and even better that your connection from the start was much more than physical. (The “wild makeout session in a church parking lot” had me in stitches lol!)

    So wonderfully creative the way you added in all the photos and text messages. Nice photo with your handsome sons and great caption. Love that Bitch Slap coupon lol. Unbelievable about those $50 glasses of Dominus and on your tab? CA Boy had some nerve. Ah yes, you can have visions of clarity over cupcakes! :)

    Brad texting back that he’d pick you up “regardless of what time your flight arrives,” says it all...this one’s a keeper. “A couple of clairvoyant rogue stars within that auspicious celestial canopy aligned precisely,” so beautifully expressed!

    You hit on so many places I know from SF. I often worked in the Financial District, which was just a walk downhill from where we lived in North Beach. Fisherman’s Wharf was just a walk away too, ate there many times. Btw, eating cupcakes in the back of a taxi on those hills, I know those hills, you have my admiration!

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    1. Madilyn, I thought about you when I was writing this story because of your having lived in SF. What a fantastic town...I loved every moment I was there. Such a gorgeous city. Brad's TM back to me was what won my heart about him...such a considerate person, especially given Atlanta's HORRIBLE traffic situation and the location of our airport. I should send this story to Mission Minis. They'd probably be interested in this cupcake epiphany.

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