My Plans Have Changed

Barely distinguishable gray clouds sauntered overhead. A light mist hurried to coat anything that was coffee shop 3passed over by the early morning fog. And, it was cold, the kind of cold that even a sweater and jacket couldn’t dispel. Most Londoners would describe the day as “typical.” Within hours there would be sunshine and warmth, at least that’s what the weather forecasters were promising. It was neither the kind of weather nor the time of day one might associate with Cupid.

Audrey looked out the window and shivered partly from the sense of cold and partly from the sense that Andrew was not as much in love with her as she wanted him to be.

It had all begun so promisingly with a blind date that ended with breakfast at his place the next morning. Less than a month later she moved in with him. That was six months ago and even though they slept in the same bed, there were no feeling of love. There was convenience. There was intimacy. There was even some sex. Something was missing. Their friends seemed to recognize that Audrey and Andrew were a couple, reserved for each other, but that next step was nowhere in sight. Audrey was beginning to feel like a kept woman. She often dreamt that she was scaling a wall in the dark and reaching out with her foot, but instead dangling because there was no place for another toe-hold.

She stared across the table at Andrew who was also staring, not at her, but at something or someone outside. Audrey was trying to distinguish the Images reflected off Andrew’s glasses, trying to discover what or who it was he was watching. She didn’t dare turn or look over her shoulder because that would merely bring him back in here, back to his biscotti and large cappuccino, but probably not to her.

She wanted to be able to say, “What color is her hair?” or “What size engine do you think it has?” or “Is it what the child is doing or just the look on the kid’s face that you find so fascinating?” She couldn’t do any of that if she looked over her shoulder. So, she had to find it on his glasses. She had to assemble the swimming shapes and lines into a distinguishable image. Then she could feel safe or ignored. Then she could either start a conversation or make plans to walk out of here and walk out of his life.

Almost without warning Andrew turned back and looked deep into her eyes. “You’ve probably been wondering what I’ve been staring at?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said with an obvious look of complete surprise on her face.

“My boyfriend. He’s finally back from a sabbatical in Spain. I’ve been debating whether I’d rather be with you, with him or just have another cappuccino and biscotti and let things play out. Can’t do that, though, the biscotti’s here aren’t really that good. It’s been just ducky, so I’ll pack and send your thing today.”

“Bastard,” was all she could think to say. “Well, that answers that,” she mumbled to herself as she walked out of the coffee shop. Then she smiled and giggled. I’m supposed to be angry.

Stepping out into the drizzle, she skipped a couple steps and twirled, doing  her own rendition of Gene Kelly’s dance in Singing in the rain. She noticed a nice looking guy with a big grin on his face coming toward her. She stepped in front of him and said, “My plans have changed. I’m not doing anything tonight.”


A Man of a Certain Age

This is the hard part: I don’t know where to start this. I don’t want to sound like a drooling old pervert, butcoffee shop the fact was, she was quite pretty and I found myself glancing at her in that way that I imagine all older men of mine do – wanting to look, wanting to admire, wanting to imagine, but not wanting to get caught at it.

If this was a love story, I would begin it there: with me looking, but trying not to look. It is not, but it could be. There are countless stories of old men finding much younger women who don’t think of them as old. In fact, one of the happiest couples I ever knew was that of  a 75-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman. They’d been married 15 years when I met them. But this is not one of those stories, although I would like it to be.

When you’re old there are so many possible beginnings to any story of your life, not as many possible endings. However, to write about being old, who really wants to do that? Writing about being older or getting older… no, that’s not as desirable as it is to write about the ability to be young, to stay young.

Anyway, the young woman was sitting across the room from me, by the window in the coffee shop. She was radiant and the sunlight made her even more so. She wasn’t beautiful merely because she was young, but because she could have been both a model and the girl next door. I’m sure  other men there had also noticed her. Some of them were probably staring at her, others probably wanted to, but I didn’t notice that. Who else might have been looking at her wasn’t my problem. My problem was that she was looking at me. This lovely young woman with long, shining, dark hair, a blemish-free face, eyes that appeared to be blue and a deep red smile kept glancing at me.

While men my age have dreams about attracting someone like her, the fact remains she was easily young enough to be my child, maybe even my grandchild. Still, she was looking at me. When I returned her gaze there was that little flutter. You know, when two hearts realize that two pairs of eyes have met and held for a moment. Was this the same reaction of attraction I’d often seen when I was a young man or was I just imagining it? After all at least 20 years had passed since the last time I looked for and hoped for that kind of reaction.

A few years ago one of my favorite TV shoes was Men of a Certain Age starring Ray Romano. It was the story of three friends, two of them single, who were coping with being well into middle age. That look was one the two single guys looked for and usually recognized when they saw it. The hard part after that was trying to decide whether to do something about it. I tried to remember the way some of the women on that show looked when one of the men thought she was “interested.” That didn’t help. The girl by the windows was still glancing at me. Sometimes it seemed she was staring at me. Did that make any difference? Did merely glancing mean one thing, but staring mean another?

Couldn’t she see that I was 58 years old? Didn’t she realize she shouldn’t be staring, flirting as it were with a man, much too old for her? After awhile, it seemed to me she couldn’t keep her eyes off me. To be truthful with you I was starting to get excited. I knew I was still a handsome man, my hair was beginning to gray, my face was slightly wrinkled and I thought I could pass for someone ten years younger.

For me, her staring was both embarrassing and flattering. On the one hand, I knew if I was still married, I’d be making a fool of myself. Would I still be doing that if I walked across the room to talk with her? Than again, I was afraid of what I might do if she approached me. If there was the possibility of an affair with someone so young and attractive, would I take it? I like to think I wouldn’t. I like to think I would thank her, tell her how flattered I was, tell her if things were different, If I was twenty years younger, things would be different. Now, though…” That’s where my thought processes were while I was folding my napkin and looking over my bill, getting ready to leave. That’s what I was thinking when she suddenly got up, heading straight toward me.

“Oh, no” I thought, “it’s happening.”

“Excuse me,” she said very sweetly.

I nodded, quite unable to speak. For a moment I thought I was going to faint. I realized I wasn’t breathing, at least, not breathing easily.

“Would you happen to know Jim Luciani?”

I didn’t. The name was familiar only in the sense of Lucky Luciano. I quickly scanned my memory as well as I could, thinking that somewhere in my past there might be a Jim whose last name I didn’t know who might have been the man she was asking about.

When I realized I was probably looking like someone who didn’t understand the question, or the language, I shook my head slowly. Looking into those beautiful blue eyes, thought, I couldn’t stop wishing I was Jim Luciani.

“No.” she said, implying: you should.

“When I was ten, he lived next door. He was such a nice old man and you look a lot like him. Anyway, I just wanted to see you up close. You know, in case you were him. Sorry if I bothered you,” she whispered as she turned toward the cash register.

She caught me so far off guard and spoke so fast I didn’t have time to think of the clever line I was supposed to say, the line one of the guys in Men of a Certain Age would have thought to say that would have led to a smile, maybe a giggle and a desire on her part to linger. She didn’t linger. She didn’t even look back as  she paid her bill and left.

It was then I realized two things: inside my head I was still about 25, but outside of it, 25 was already a long way behind me; and even an old man can be vain.

Since then there have been a couple times when I thought someone younger than me was looking at me. In each case I’ve gone to find the nearest mirror to see if there was something on my face or on my clothing or if something was unzipped, something that could be making me more noticeable than the old guy across the room I didn’t want to admit I was.

Looking at an Unusual Search Engine: Seenapse


I’m not sure what to make of a new search engine’ an inspiration engine, which is still in it’s infancy: SeenapseSeenapse, . Right now, it might not be better than Google for what it does – brainstorm and draw associations – but as the database grows, I’m told and its algorithm improves it will get better and improve at drawing unusual combinations.

As a writer it could help my creativity – with scene building, character development, and idea generation. so far I haven’t done much more than scrolled through it, glancing at available topics such as Glengarry Glen Ross, which is also linked to Coffee for Everyone which is linked to Metropolis and Class war, Origami, Cigarettes, and Iggy & Tom; another topic God which is linked to There, There by Radiohead, which is also linked to Ponyo, John Lennon, and This is a letter from god to Man; and a final topic out of hundreds Marimba which was linked to Dogs playing poker.

The founder of Seenapse, Rafael Jimenez, posted a video giving an example of how Seenapse can be used. It was aimed at business brainstorming, so it didn’t really make much sense to me.

It seemed the only way to get a taste of what Seenapse does was to search for something. So, I searched for Writing Poetry. My results were fairly extensive. This is what my initial screen looked like.

poetry search results
So I had four Exact matches and ten approximate matches. I chose Random Poetry, because it looked interesting, but didn’t really like any of the results.
Search result: Random Poetry
I checked each of the other associations, but nothing happened until I saw the association Enjoy the silence and a poem began forming almost immediately.

The noise of Charles Bukowski
the whisper of William C. Williams
the cacophony of e. e. cummings
the rumblings of Walt Whitman

listen to your breathing
hear the beat of your heart
heed the touch of your soul
enjoy the silence

The words will find you
falling from your pen
like wisps of thought
to form this poem

That’s the first draft it doesn’t feel finished. They rarely do, even when I think they are. Later I see they are not. I believe Walt Whitman spent his entire life writing and rewriting his poems and even after they were published, he was still rewriting them.

Tomorrow or the next day I’ll look at it again and I’ll also play with Seenapse again.

It’s the Little Unexciting Things

Father and sonYears ago I thought I was the only person who had some of the thoughts and ideas that I called mine, yet every day I discover someone who has been thinking pretty much the same thing I’ve been thinking.

“Coming  home, pouring yourself a glass of wine, and sitting there having a conversation with your kid about how their day was: It’s not dramatic, it doesn’t seem exciting, but it’s probably the nicest part [of parenting].” ~ Stephen Colbert

It’s also one of the most important because years later when your kid is grown up you’ll find that those little conversations were much more exciting and much more dramatic because of the person your child has become.

Review: Stargirl

Stargirl (Stargirl, #1)Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At first glance I thought Stargirl was going to be just a silly high school romance story and in some ways it was, but in many ways it wasn’t.

I decided to read it because I’d heard that Jerry Spinelli was an excellent writer and that this was one of his best books.

The title character, Stargirl, is a quirky, free spirit who plays a ukulele, sings happy birthday to other students, loves everyone, wants everyone to be happy, but wants to find a boyfriend.

She thinks she’s found him in Leo Borlock. Her quirkiness attracts him, but then turns him away. In fact, Stargirl turns everyone away when she dashes across the court at a boys’ basketball game to help an injured player from the other team.

I think if I were in middle school and a new student as quirky as Stargirl showed up, I’d be interested in her, too, but just as Leo does at the beginning, I’d keep my distance after all, who knows what someone as weird as Stargirl might do.

This Middle Grade novel is likely to keep you on Stargirl’s side, wanting the best for her, wanting her to succeed and wishing you knew someone like her when you were in middle school.

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