Before There Was You

The Aftermath of Tragedy

Filed under: Human Behaviour — Heather Hand @ 2:44 pm

Tragedy (a very bad event that causes great sadness and often involves someone’s death).

It has come to my attention that, whenever there is a personal loss, be it a divorce or a death of a partner, strange things happen to the grieving partner.  After the initial pain has subsided, there is a desire to have sex with multiple partners.  This can go on for days, months or even years.

Is it that we need the warmth of another person touching us? Is it we must have someone to fill the void. Is it the need for a reassertion of life?  Whatever it is, it is a strong urge that can only be calmed with sex.

What curious creatures we humans are – filled with contradictions.  How many times have you heard of “men of the cloth” succumbing to their primal urges?  Why do we even bother to lay out such strict modes of behaviour when they are doomed to failure?

If you have the answer to any of those questions, I’d like to hear from you.

Wife Or Mistress, Which Is Better?

Filed under: Human Behaviour — Heather Hand @ 8:07 am

The other day my cousin Angela wrote to say, while attending a performance of La Boheme, she met a man during intermission.  This is how it came about. Angela is an opera fan and with nobody to accompany her, she had decided to go alone.

During intermission while ordering a glass of white wine, an attractive older gentleman approached her and asked her how she enjoyed the show.  She detected an accent and asked if he was a visitor to her city.  She discovered he was Italian, a maestro with an Italian symphony.  My cousin speaks some broken Italian which is aided by the fact that her father is Italian and therefore Angela has an Italian surname as well as given name. He seemed quite taken by her. It’s amazing how much can be said and the connections you can make during a short intermission.  He gave her his card, asked her to email him any time she wanted.  When next she finds herself in Rome, he would be pleased to show her around.

This gentleman is at least twenty years her senior so chances are he’s married with a family.  Becoming his girlfriend or mistress is really the best she can hope for.  Or not.  Maybe he is divorced – he did not wear a wedding ring, after all.  Maybe he never married.  Or maybe he’s gay.  That would change everything.

That got me thinking – what is better – to be a wife or a mistress?  Let me see.  A wife usually implies a family, inlaws, school, noise, bills.  A mistress implies gold lame pyjamas, romantic dinners, hot sex, quiet togetherness.  Men of means often opt for both.  Of course he wants a family, especially sons, to carry on the “name” and traditions.  But for interludes that nourish the soul, there is nothing like a good mistress.

So, which would I opt for given the opportunity?  I don’t know.  I should think it would depend on the man.  If I were to be someone’s mistress and not having the financial security that marriage brings, I would want expensive gifts, and I don’t mean just jewelry and furs but real estate and blue chip stock.  After all, I would know that as my beauty fades or he becomes bored, I will probably be replaced by a younger version.

I relayed that thought to Angela.  I wonder what she will decide to do.

Snap Up That Man

Filed under: Human Behaviour — Heather Hand @ 9:43 am

I was sitting here thinking about the men I’ve known over the years. They fell into two categories – those that wanted to get involved in a serious way and those that didn’t. I’m not talking about sex here, for a change.

Case Number One: He wants to get serious. I don’t. He verbalizes his intentions and I feel a knot growing in my chest. It feels like a noose that is tightening and moving up my esophagus, chocking me until I want to scream or cry. Of course, I do neither. Instead I stutter some foolishness like, “I’m late for a dental appointment.” Anything, to get me out of the situation quickly.

Case Number Two: I want to get serious. He doesn’t. I should have been aware of the signs. It’s not as though they were cleverly disguised or anything. Does he work every weekend, holidays, New Year’s Eve, Christmas Day, Valentine’s Day? Of course, he’s married or in a serious relationship with someone else, using me as a diversion from the mundane.

Case Number Three: Our eyes meet, something goes ping in my head, I can’t disguise that little smile that suddenly appears on my face – and his. It all seems so right. His hands feel soft, his smile is warm. I don’t feel threatened or like I want to dash off to a dentist appointment.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could make that happen at will? Maybe you can. In any case, it’s worth a try.

In The Closet

Filed under: Human Behaviour — Heather Hand @ 8:22 pm

So, there we were sitting at the head table and I’m so nervous I can’t stop shaking. Gawd, how I hate being in the spotlight. Where is the waiter with my drink? I ordered a double martini a half hour ago. Well, maybe just a couple of minutes ago but it feels like a half hour.

Why did I agree to come? These corporate dinners are a bore what with the long speeches and all. OK so Fred has to give the main address and asked me to join him. He’s a nice guy and I’ve known him forever so I accepted.

Actually, Fred is gay but nobody is supposed to know that. Wanna know something? Everybody knows that. He’s just too handsome to be straight what with his dark hair and deep blue eyes. He’s tall, fit and a real sharp dresser. So what am I doing here, anyway? I hope the other guests are not laughing at me or looking at me with pity. Am I a beard? Is that what they call it these days – or any other days, for that matter? At the same time, I feel protective of Fred. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’s had his problems with romance too. Why, just last year he broke up with his long time boyfriend.

The lights are shining in my eyes and I think I’ll pass out if that damned waiter doesn’t hurry up. Finally, he arrived with that pitcher of martini. Never had anything looked so enticing. Some old broad at one of the other tables keeps looking at me then turning to her husband and whispering. I wonder if she thinks I’m an alcoholic. Screw it. I just want to stop shaking. Is there a phobia for what I’ve got? There must be. There seems to be a medical condition for every little thing.

Anyway, I took a big sip and lit a cigarette. Then another sip, then another. I started to calm down a bit. But I had no idea this could be so unnerving.

Fred has done this to me before. Like the time he asked me to come along to a family function. Turned out the family function was in Windsor and I had to spend the night with him in his parent’s house. We even slept in the same bed, for God’s sake. I guess his parents were not supposed to know, either. Personally, I think they knew. I saw the looks on their faces during dinner. Nice people and not stupid. After all, dear Fred is now in his mid-thirties and no steady girlfriend. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but how long can he pretend?

By now my martini is only a memory and I motion to the waiter to bring me another. This one came faster. By now I’m feeling real relaxed and hoping to see dinner being served. I’m starting to get a bit dizzy and need food.

Dinner was great what with the escargot, rack of lamb, and crepe suzette. Yummy. Lots of Chardonnay to wash it all down. Eehaw.

As soon as dinner was over, the speeches began. My eyes were starting to feel really heavy by this time. Now I just wish I could curl up somewhere and sleep. I stifle a couple of yawns the best way I know how but I don’t think I fooled any of the folks there.

Next thing I remember, we’re in the car driving home and Fred is not his usual kind self. In fact he’s yelling at me. Something about I embarrassed him.“Ah, shuddup and drive,” I muttered under my breath.

“If you do that one more time, I am never taking you anywhere again,” he shouted.

“Ah, but you love me anyway.” I slurred.

“You are incorrigible,” sighed Fred.

“Yeah, I know, but you love me anyway. Right?”

“Right. Go to sleep princess.”

The next day I woke up beside Fred.  I mean, how sweet is that?  I feel safe and warm beside him.  Too bad he’s gay but maybe that’s a good thing.  I’ve never felt safe or warm beside a straight guy.  Seems I’m always watching to see if he’s going to do something to hurt me.  With Fred, this is not an issue. However, if I ever want to settle down in that white picket-fenced cottage of my dreams, it won’t be with him.

Suddenly, I feel sad.

A Warm and Sunny August Saturday

Filed under: friends,Human Behaviour — Heather Hand @ 8:04 pm

What a great day for getting together. August, Saturday, sunny and, for once, not humid.Sitting together at a sidewalk café, Melanie, Carol and Fran ordered a litre of white wine and lit up.

“Seems like the only place you can have a smoke these days is outdoors.” Carol remarked.

“I wonder if there are any statistics out there that can tell us if cancer has been reduced since the no-smoking ban,” mused Melanie.“I’m willing to bet none.”

“I’m willing to bet that the smoking ban has not made one scrap of difference in longevity or quality of life,” added Fran.

“In its stead we have an explosion of obesity” said Carol.

“Well I for one either eat or smoke. If I can’t smoke, I eat or drink,” this from Melanie.

“Nothing stops me from drinking – nor you Mel, for that matter” added Fran with a chuckle. They all laughed. They’d known each other since high school and were in their absolute comfort zone when they were together.

“I get a kick out of the guys at my club.  You should see them when they’re at the club bar together. A pretty girl walks by and they all ogle and make comments. A chubby girl walks by and they all have something negative to say. Meanwhile, they don’t look at themselves. Every time I hear something stupid coming out from one of them, I feel like running for a big mirror and holding it up to them.” Melanie said while taking a good sip from her glass.

“Yes, that’s the sort of crap we have to put up with. I hate men” said Carol.

“We all do. We just like having sex with them,” added Fran.

“That’s about it. Here’s to having hot sex with those jerks,” said Melanie and the girls raised their glasses and in unison cried “to sex!”Peels of laughter followed.

It didn’t take long, women seated at other tables heard them and started to giggle. It was one of those moments when man-hating was at the top of the list of all the women there. However, as we all know, those moments don’t last long. If you’re female and straight, sooner or later you crave the company of men.

Carol turned pensive. “The other week I was out of town on business and stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn. The phone rang, I picked it up and heard the voice of a young man. He sounded nice. He came right out and said he’d seen me in the dining room and followed me to find out what room I was staying in. He said he wanted to have sex with me.” Fran and Melanie listened intently.

“What did you say?”

“I said yes. He knocked on the door, I opened, he was young and cute, I let him in, he took off his pants and put on a condom. We had sex. It was great and then he left. End of story.”

“Oooh, you took a hell of a chance. He could have been a weirdo,” said Melanie while Fran nodded.

“I realize that. I’m never doing that again.I was in a strange town, alone and lonely. I know that’s no excuse but…..”

“I had something similar with an obscene caller” Fran added while the others burst out laughing.“He kept leaving these long, really explicit messages on my voicemail.I gotta tell you, they made me hot just listening.

One day, I picked up the phone in the middle of his soliloquy and said, ‘Listen mister. Meet me at the corner of Bay and Bloor in ten minutes. I’ll be the one wearing a trench coat.’ I hung up and put on my trench coat – understand it was 88F outside – and went to the appointed corner.

A nerdy looking guy came up and said ‘I believe we were to meet here’. I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, took him upstairs threw him on the bed and jumped him. He continued his dirty talk and I had the best time ever. So, Carol, don’t feel bad. We all do strange things now and again. And just by the way, he never called again. I don’t know how I should take that but there you are.”

Melanie chimed in with, “Girls, our glasses are empty. Waiter!”

And so the afternoon turned into evening until it was time to go. It was great just hanging out with friends. Nobody was judging anybody. Real friends don’t judge.

White Water Rafting

Filed under: friends,Human Behaviour — Heather Hand @ 6:38 pm

Melanie and Carol were sipping Perrier in the club lounge, talking about their tennis game and remarking on the heat. Here it is September and still blazing hot. Seems the summers are getting hotter and longer every year. Oh well, thank God for cool showers and air-conditioning.

Just then, Sam wandered in, smiling. “Well, well, well, who have we here? Why it’s Melanie and Carol” Sam removed his baseball cap, bowed deeply while sweeping the cap in an arc across the floor. “Mind if I join you?”

Melanie smiled. Carol nodded and said, “of course”.

Sam was a good looking guy, tall with thick light brown hair, forty-something, athletic, Air Canada pilot. Sam sat down. A lot of the women in the club eyed him longingly. A lot of the men envied him for being such a chick magnet. Everyone liked being around him. He had an easy laugh and generous nature.

“So ladies, how was your game? I see you’re looking all fresh, clean and cool”

“It was hot everlasting,” said Melanie “I’m still recovering,” Carol nodded in agreement.

“And speaking of recovering, I see you’ve recovered nicely from last weekend.”

“Don’t start, Sam” Melanie half whispered.

Just then Mike walked in. “Mikey, my boy,” Sam called. “Come here and pull up a chair.”

Mike had dark brown hair and piercing brown eyes. He was a cop and spent a good deal of time weight training and it showed. He sauntered over, squash racquet in hand pulling a chair from the next table. “You know we’re booked for a game of squash.”

Sam continued, “Yes, I know, Mikey. We were just reminiscing about last weekend and the rapids on the Ottawa River.  While we guys unwound from the drive by swimming and playing volleyball, these ladies played a game called, ‘Who can drink the most without passing out?’”

They had brought two tents, one for sleeping, the other for supplies.  Melanie, Carol and Sam shared the sleeping tent. Mike and his girlfriend had their own tent.

“You and two chicks in one tent.  That is so you,” said Mike with a smile.”

“Just to keep the record straight, there was no hanky-panky. I thought you should know. Furthermore, we did not drink that much. Sam has a tendency to exaggerate.” Melanie said quite sternly.

“I don’t know.  I thought I heard some moaning coming from your tent,” teased Mike. “I just don’t know who was the moaner and who was the moanee.”

Trying to change the subject, Melanie said, “I hear that every year, somebody goes missing and their bodies are never found,”

“Ah, that’s just gossip that’s passed around so as to make it appear more exciting – even dangerous.  None of that has ever happened.” said Mike.

“It was fun,” Sam continued, “We were singing, laughing and rowing.  The folks in the other rafts were having water fights. Pretty soon, one of them fell in – then two – then five. Everybody was having a good time. It was great.”

Melanie interjected, “Until ripples appeared in the water and the river narrowed.”

Suddenly, as they were coming around a corner, everything changed. “Holy shit!” Melanie shouted. “There they are!” The helmsman barked “Row, Row, Row!!” The rapids were so severe, at times they’d be paddling air. Walls of water came down on them, washing over them. The raft careened way high, then came crashing down, covering the raft and everyone in the raft with water. At times, they were gulping water, then gasping for air. The raft continued to heave up and down and sideways. “Row, row!!!” He kept shouting. At times they couldn’t see the prow of the raft nor the people rowing from there. By some miracle, the raft remained upright.

“I remember.  I was at the prow, rowing with Mike. Remember, Mike?” said Carol.

“I sure do. We worked hard. One of the other rafts capsized.”

Sam, “Yeah, it was pretty rough. But you know, after two hours of this, when we could finally see the shore getting closer, suddenly, I felt it was over too soon.”

“Well, I sure didn’t think it was over too soon,” added Melanie. “I felt like a Titanic survivor. After we touched solid ground and got out of our wet suits, I was ready for celebrating life on terra firma.”

“Anyway, to continue,” Sam continued. “Miss Prudence over here tied one on that night and the last time I saw her she was dancing with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. That was about 10 or 11. I turned in because I had signed up for war games the following day and I wanted to be alert.”

“I seem to recall leaving Carol at the party and crawling back to the tent at some ungodly hour. I also remember that Carol had won a pink flamingo. What did you do to win a pink flamingo, Carol?” asked Melanie.

“I don’t remember,” was Carol’s response.

The next morning, Melanie woke up sweaty and greasy. It was so hot inside the tent. She unzipped and stepped out. She looked at her watch. Man, it’s only 8AM. Sam was gone. Carol was lying on her back in the grass by the supply tent. Melanie’s head ached and her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. She got a Styrofoam cup from the supply tent, filled it with water  and took a couple of aspirins. Carol had made coffee on the Coleman.

“How do you feel, Carol” Melanie croaked.

“Like shit. I woke up with grass stains on my knees. I really don’t want to know how I got them” she whispered hoarsely. “My elbows feel raw, too.”

“Why are you lying in the grass, I ask stupidly?”

“The tent got so hot.”

But Carol remembered the reason why she lay on the grass.  She had come back to the tent only to see Sam and Melanie going at it, not hearing the zipper on the tent.  Quietly, she rezipped the tent and lay down on the grass.  She heard the muffled moans.

Melanie grabbed her cigarettes, a magazine, and coffee and headed for the outhouse. She was sitting and sipping coffee, smoking and reading. When she had finished she threw the cigarette down the hole, wiped and headed out. Just then, she realized she had thrown paper on top of a lit cigarette. Well, she had no more coffee to out the flame so she panicked.

“Hey, anybody here have a full bladder? I think this outhouse is going to burn,” She shouted.

“No. I just went,” was one reply.

So, she ran back to the supply tent, filled her styrofoam cup with water and hurried back, in her panic, spilling most of it along the way. Just then, a young man came out of the outhouse and said, “I put out the fire.”

She was so relieved.

“Not that I looked any better but you sure were a sight that morning with smeared makeup, bed-head, holding a coffee mug, ready for fire-fighting” laughed Carol.

“I wish I could have seen it,” added Sam.

“Be thankful you didn’t” replied Melanie.

“Well, that was the weekend that was. I think we all had a good time.” Mike said.

“Maybe so, but I will never do that again,” smiled Melanie.

“Say Melanie, didn’t you promise to have dinner with me tonight?” Sam asked playfully.

“Did I? When did I promise that?”

“Last weekend”

“I don’t remember anything like that.”

“Well,  you don’t remember a lot of things from last weekend, but I do, so I’ll pick you up at seven. Be ready.”

“Where are you taking me?”

“It’s a surprise.” Sam smiled and left.

After they bade their good-byes, Sam and Mike headed out.  “I think Sam likes you, and I think you like him,” said Carol.

“I’m not going to become another notch on his belt, of that you can be sure,” answered Melanie.

Carol chuckled to herself.

Wine and Roses

Filed under: Human Behaviour — Heather Hand @ 7:49 am

George, Zoe’s unruly, unneutered Llasa Apso, fresh from the groomer, and smelling heavenly, was curled up by the fire. The table was set, the wine was chilled, the sauce was made, the bananas were ready to be flambéed. She only needed to cook the pasta.

Green Palazzo pants, matching blouse and gold high-heeled slippers. Long, red, curly hair loose and flowing half way down her back.

She’d met Jim at a wine-tasting party in Niagara Falls.  She had organized the event and was there with a friend from the office. The party was good as parties go but Zoe was not comfortable with the idea of swirling the wine around, “chewing” it and then spitting it out.  Gross.  So, she did it once and that was it.  The rest of the time, she sipped.  (more…)

That Weekend in Miami

Filed under: Human Behaviour,The Meeting — Heather Hand @ 1:20 pm

Zoe needed to get away.  “I’m going to sell this house.  When I get back, I’ll put it on the market.  Five wasted years,” she thought bitterly, while throwing her things in her suitcase. I’m selling this house and moving to the city. No more long comutes just because he wanted to live in a small town. She’d find a new kennel for George, her Lhasa Apso.

Zoe had taken an extra day off from her job as Business Development Manager for a large Toronto advertising agency, so she could leave early Friday and return Sunday night.  George was at the kennels.  The plane will leave Friday at 9AM, Toronto time.  She’ll be on it and, if only for a few days, try to forget this last week.

She deplaned in Miami, took a cab to the Fountainebleau, checked in, unpacked, slipped into a pair of shorts and halter-top, poured a gin and tonic from the mini-bar, took a seat on her balcony and lit a cigarette.  Her room overlooked the beach and she sat and looked out at the happy people cavorting.  Couples, children, families – looking happy to be together.  What was it he said?  He didn’t want to be married anymore.  He felt confined.  He needed his space.  He wanted to be free.  Bullshit.  Her friend, Carol, told her she had seen him having dinner with a young, dark-haired woman.  That’s when she realized he left her for another.  Bastard. Liar.  She sat and drank and cried for hours until she finally crawled into bed and fell asleep. (more…)