Open Letter on my Anniversay: Letting Go of Fear

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One year ago today, I went on a Match.com date with a guy I call Jimmy Jailbait. You may have read the story; I peed myself cause I waited too long to head to the bathroom. Tonight I’ll head to his house after I work-out. Then I’ll cook dinner while he’s at a “back to school night” with his ex-wife and kids. But tonight, instead of pee, it will be tears. Like many other days this year, I’ll just cry.

I’ll cry because I’m happy. I’m learning to let go of fear. I’m returning to that sweet, bright, happy person I used to be. To the core of myself that loves people. To the one who wasn’t cheated on by really important people in her life. To the one who wasn’t surprised by lies. I’m making a return to the one who knows people are worthy of trust.

It’s been a rough year. I can’t count the times in the past year I’ve driven to work in tears. I can’t count the times I’ve cried through sessions with my counselor. And how many times have I cried with my friends? I’m supposed to be in love. Why am I crying?

I already know. It’s because I feel like I’m “walking the plank” with Jimmy. Because I am. I have been so vulnerable. I’ve revealed so much to him. Lame things. Insecure things. Horrible thoughts. Things like “I can’t go to see the Wonder Woman movie with you because she’s beautiful. I will feel like a nothing sitting in the seat next to you because I know you’ll think she’s hot. I’ve never been insecure about my looks before. And now I’m not sure what is happening to me. Aging? Being cheated on numerous times? I’m not sure what it is.”

And Jimmy is there. He hears all of my stupid-ass shit. He lets me cry. He lets me be funny. He lets me be strong. He lets me be weak. He lets me be damaged. And sad. And smart. And powerful. And goofy.

He has let me in too. He has been vulnerable. And honest. And caring. And I can see that he really listens. I feel really loved.

I see how he treats his kids. I see how he treats my kids. I see how he treats his ex-wife. And I see how he treats his peers – and the server at the restaurant. And I’m in.

He gives me a lot of his time. He shares a lot of his thoughts. I do feel very loved. Maybe that’s what scares me. I have felt loved before. And then…

The thought of facing the pain I’ve felt in the past makes me cry. I’m crying as I write this. But I’ve never been one to shy away from living. So here I am. Living.

I can trust myself. And I can trust him. I just need to keep breathing.

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* Over this past year, I’ve been to lots of counseling, read lots of books, and I love listening to Dr. Laura Berman’s podcasts. In January, my friend Debbie and I will launch a divorce support group called “Rebuilders.”  Stay tuned.

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That Marriage: The Big Lies

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Recently, I was on-air getting ready to chat about something: The Blake Shelton concert coming to the area, why coffee is good for you, or maybe some big news about flip flops. A FB Messenger “message request” popped up. I didn’t recognize the woman’s name. The line that caught my eye just as I opened the mic was “I’m fairly certain we were sleeping with him at the same time.”  The messages continued until we got to this screenshot.

Some divorces are easier than others. The one I am writing about now was devastating. For the past few years, I’ve regarded my ex as a person in deep pain. No matter how much I’ve wanted to lash out at him, I’ve stopped myself. It felt like kicking a dog when he’s down or pouring salt in a wound – whatever cliche you prefer. Mind you, not lashing out has probably been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My plan is not to lash out now, but to share part of the story – about how I dealt with rage. With anger.

It’s hard to know where to start, so let me say I married a person I didn’t really know. The marriage was full of jealousy, lies, and insecurity. He thought I was a liar. When I “liked” FB posts from a former boyfriend I was “disrespectful.” When I had meet and greet pics taken with country music singers, I was “celebrity humping.” When I went out with groups of male and female friends, I wasn’t “acting the way a wife should.” And when I wrote a memoir about a very difficult time in my life, he was horrified. I shouldn’t have gone public with that sort of info.

That marriage almost consumed me – with his alcoholism. Luckily I discovered Al Anon. As I mentioned, the marriage was full of lies. The alcoholism sort of lies. What I did not know, until that FB message, was that our marriage was also full of the cheating sort of lies. His. Not mine. I can honestly say, I never saw that one coming.

After about 18 months of marriage, “Richard,” I’ll call him “Dick” and I agreed that I’d quit my part-time job. I’d been teaching part-time at a university and I wanted to go back to freelance copywriting. On my last day at the university, he left. It was the third time he’d left. The first time was for one night. The second time was for a few weeks. The third time, it was for good. He was convinced I was a lying, disrespectful wife.

Then I lost my house. It’s impossible to pay a mortgage with no job. I had to get rid of most of my belongings as I moved into a tiny townhouse. My kids lost their family home. So I faced the loss of my marriage, my job and my house – all at once.

Dick cheated on his first wife. I found out about one of his indiscretions accidentally after we were married. At various times, my friends had asked me, “Do you think Dick cheated on you too?” And my reply was always the same, “Oh no. He really loved me. I felt it. I can’t even imagine that.”

Idiot. Fool. During the marriage, I was so obsessed with trying to manage his drinking that I never gave a second thought to his ex-fiance. At the beginning of our relationship he described her as a loon. He talked about her for about a month into our relationship – about how she wouldn’t leave him alone via text and email so he had to block her. I’d had some nutty exes too, so I trusted him to work it out. As far as I knew, his last contact with her was when she picked up the rest of her stuff from his garage.

So, there I was, on-air, messaging Dick’s ex-fiance. And she was telling the truth. She knew things. The kinds of things that only Dick could have told her. It was clear they had been communicating since we started dating – and throughout our engagement and marriage. Dick had remained a cheater. The ex-fiance put it this way: “He was a world-traveler who did as he pleased.” Apparently, Dick would give me a kiss good-bye before he left for a two-week, work trip; only to stop by her place en route to the airport. He’d promise to bring both of us the same London hoodie as a souvenir.

Prior to finding out about the cheating, I knew he’d lied about lots of things. I housed that information under the umbrella called “addiction.” So, this betrayal was new. And I was shocked. Throughout our marriage and after he left, he accused me. Questioned me. His emails and texts were vicious.

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Now, I realize his behavior was simply an example of projection – a basic concept you’d learn in a psych class. He was the guilty party. He lied – so I did too? It all made sense. The hypocrisy was more than I could bear. For almost three years I “held onto myself.”  I didn’t give in to rage and anger – but at some point the dam will burst. And the dam was about to burst.

Within a day or two it hit: absolute anger and spitting rage. I had fantasies of collecting dog shit in gallon milk jugs –  so I could add water, then drive to his house and pour the shit all over his precious car. I was especially excited about the idea of pouring it down his windshield so chunks of shit would get caught in the wipers. And the driver’s side window would be good too – maybe the shit would seep down into the door. Pouring liquid dog shit all over his car seemed apropos.

But of course, I’d get caught. Plus, I’m a goody-goody. I had to stand in the corner once in grade school. I still remember the shame. So end up in the newspaper for a crime because of this douche canoe? No thanks.

But I had to do something. Send him a screenshot of the messages between me and his ex-fiance? Put posters up in his neighborhood with his face and words like “cheater” and “fucktard?” Egg his car? I had to do something.

Eggs. Fine. Yes. I wouldn’t have to get out of my car. I could throw and flee. Less chance of getting caught. So I got a dozen and drove to his house. Would he be home? I hadn’t kept up with his whereabouts for years so your guess would have been as good as mine.

He wasn’t home. No cars. I figured I could egg his house. He’d come home to broken eggs on the porch and all over the yard. So I sat there for a while. Then I drove away. Then I drove back and sat. And pondered. No. I can’t do it. He’s an ass. You my dear, are not. Drive home. This too, shall pass.

Perhaps you are thinking I’m a pansy. That eggs are really no big deal. A childish prank perhaps. You may be right. But for me, throwing them would have been unleashing hatred and anger. So non-Zen. So childish. So low. So middle-school. So 7-deadly sins like. Wrath?

Instead I just talked to my boyfriend, my counselor, my friends, and my family. In a few weeks I felt a lot better. The anger passed.

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The eggs in question. A reminder that I didn’t throw them. I probably shouldn’t eat them either. 

I understand that beneath anger is often, hurt. And the news of the betrayal was very painful. I was blown away. I was absolutely joyful on the day of our wedding. And I could have sworn he was too. How did I not know he was cheating? What signs did I miss? Can I trust my own judgement now? Are all men cheaters?

It took me a year to start dating after the end of that marriage – and being in a relationship now has its own travails. There’s fallout after you’ve been lied to and cheated on. It’s rough. And it’s not as if men my age come without their own failed marriage and issues. Luckily, my boyfriend, Jimmy Jailbait and I, talk. A lot. About subjects you wouldn’t believe. (see First Date: The Big Lie)

On the positive side, I have found somebody who trusts me. I think this is a sign that I can trust him. But it’s still hard. But I think I’m doing well. I’m trying to be brave.

There is a lot more I will write about. This is just some background information and a slice of how I dealt with one bit of anger. I will write about what I’ve learned in counseling, divorce support groups, and through books I’m reading. At this point I don’t even know if anyone wants to read this crap.

And as I’d mentioned, I was on the air when the messages between me and the ex-fiance were going back and forth. So if you ever hear or see an on-air person being a little “off,” say a prayer for them. You never know what shit may have just hit the fan.

The Best Text I’ve Ever Gotten

You may have read the story about my first date with Jimmy Jailbait, the one where I peed myself. It’s called “First Date: The Big Lie.” Well, here’s a text I got from him after our 4th date.

Five things before you start: 1) We often talk about each other in the third person. 2) This is ONE text. 3) I got this while on-air. 4) I did NOT strip. 5) By the time I was done reading this, I could barely breathe, as I was unaware of my “effect” upon JJ. 🙂

Dearest Madonna,

I hope you had a pleasant Thursday evening. I had a hot date with an extremely funny, cute, and smart Cougar milf.

I really like this woman, but unfortunately she is sort of a Skank Ho. And as such, regularly seeks to seduce and corrupt me.  It appears that demolishing the strength of my character has become some sort of game or sport for her.

Take for example last night when she was in particularly rare form, playing the part of a sexy Cougar tease.

She opened the evening strutting about in her skintight yoga pants, claiming to have just completed an evening of intense and exhausting exercise.  Yet, notably absent from her physique was any evidence of perspiration or any other telltale sign of extreme physical exertion.

Within 30 seconds of broaching the threshold to her abode, she stripped down to a bra and thong (at least that is my recollection—things are still a bit hazy, as I am quite certain that she included a  “roofie” amid the chewy starbursts that she insisted I consume).

Anyway, whence it became clear that I was not to be corrupted by her perfectly proportioned half naked body, she then set about “stretching” on the floor.  This particular activity was little more than a well masked sales pitch for why highly flexible women (e.g., those who can put their legs behind their heads) are sexier than inflexible trolls.

Candidly, it was tough to resist this Siren’s song, but alas my moral fortitude trumped the Skank Ho attempts at seduction, or so I thought.  For, unbeknownst to me, she was but getting started–as it turned out, stripping and stretching were simply the first arrows she was to loose from her quiver of Skankdom.

The next arrow she launched assumed the form of “spooning” on her couch (in the dark whilst viewing a scary TV show, so as too further set the stage for physical intimacy). In order to spoon her (in the manner that she deemed appropriate), I was forced to place my hand in very close proximity to her perfectly formed bosom.  Of course, I would have preferred to sit alone in a high back wooden chair, ideally one that had been relocated into the corner of the living room. Sadly, such chairs were notably absent from the Lair of the Cougar.  Instead, I was required to recline with her upon a plush settee and ottoman.

When it became clear to the Skank Ho that my personal ethics were not to be compromised, she then fired an even more powerful arrow from her seduction quiver. This particular missile was sent not once, but repeatedly and sporadically throughout the evening. It assumed the form of the her tight and shapely buttocks subtly gyrating in quiet synchronicity with the melodies comprising the musical score of our television program.  Suffice to say, in our spooning position, her gyrating buttocks were proximally located to my manhood.  After a discreet “adjustment”, I was able to return to the viewing of the program. Yet, as I would learn throughout the evening, any reprieve from her assaults or sense of sexual safety I might experience was fleeting and illusory.  Again and again, this particular projectile was fired at me.  And, each time I endured the bitter sting of its enticing barb. And, each time, following a few “adjustments”, I was coerced into reengaging the seductress in her game of spooning.

In spite of her best efforts to detonate a grenade of sin upon my sense of right-and-wrong, I remained veridic to my convictions.  It was only when I was about to leave, that I experienced a most profound shockwave to my ethos.  The Skank Ho carefully drew a final arrow from her quiver and loosed it truly and directly upon my heart — it was a simple weapon, yet a dangerous one, too.

The bolt she fired was a lovely and impassioned kiss — an osculation whose sweet taste still lingers in my mouth. It pierced me — a fulmination of the decency and integrity that I had avowed to uphold. It struck my virtue as a hammer would a glass.

But by happenstance, this bolt had been omitted from her opening salvo. For, had she wielded this particular armament during our initial greeting, it would have breached the armor of my morality (and, most likely would have engendered the pitching of a tent–one so tall and true that it might have proven difficult to collapse).

Although I had been assured that I would be free to depart the Cougar’s Lair at 10:30pm, I was not released from her Cougary confines until nearly 1:00am.

As the above recollection accounts, I was fortunate to escape with my integrity and righteousness still whole.

Upon returning to my domicile, and following a very long and very cold shower, I retired to the comfort and asylum afforded to me by my bed. I fell dormant by 2am (and, my subconscious only subjected me to a single dream whose cast included the Skank Ho).

So, how was your night?

Cougar Bait, PhD

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To say that I was gasping for air is an understatement. Ladies, he’s mine.  🙂

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Jailbait, Me, family, and friends a few months after we met. (Thanks for cooking Ming!)

First Date: The Big Lie

At some point during our 5.5 hour first date, “Jimmy Jailbait” and I had come up with nicknames for each other. He’s 8 years younger than me, so his was easy. Mine was Trollopy Madonna Cougar Skank ‘Ho. I obviously have a sense of humor. The revealing chatter was quite a hoot. But not nearly as much fun as the part where I peed myself.

We met on Match.com. Mr. Jailbait “winked” at me. I never responded to winks. If a man was truly interested, he’d write a message, right?

What I failed to mention was that I was desperate. My online dating life was in the toilet. My inbox was full of messages from 26-year olds who wanted to hook-up with a “magical” MILF or men who had profile pics with selfies featuring actual toilets.

Jailbait’s profile was great. Or maybe good enough. Remember, I was desperate.

Our first date was at a restaurant I’ve been to many times. After ten years of dating, relationships, and a debacle of a second marriage, I’d learned to keep expectations low.

When I first saw Jailbait I said something stupid like “You look just like your picture.” Now he knows this is a lie as he is cute and adorable and his profile pics kinda sucked. I guess dumb things fly out of my mouth on occasion. Only many hours later would things fly out of my bladder.

Anyway we ate dinner and I had one beer and a soda. He drank lemonade and water. A few hours into the date I had to pee. And I ignored it. I have a bladder the size of a whale. I’m not one of those pansies who has to pee every five damn minutes.

The conversation was rolling. We were laughing. We were chit chatting about all kinds of crap; divorce, kids, work, politics. And I remember feeling stupid about getting up to pee. Like I’m telling my silly story about the time I did some stupid thing – and now it’s Jailbait’s turn to tell me a story – and I have to stop him to say “oh sorry, hold that thought, I have to pee.” No. Sorry. First date. I don’t pee. I’m much too demure to contain actual urine.

I guess demure would not be the correct term.  He now says one thing that endeared me to him was that I used the term “pussy” to describe someone. What endeared him to me is that he made the international hand symbol for jerking off to describe a thought. Obviously we’re a match made in heaven.

Besides the fact that I was too weird to say “Hold that thought, I have to use the ladies room,” I was also aware of the fact that he was sitting with his back to the wall – and if I got up to walk to the bathroom he’d be checking out my ass. This also made me uncomfortable. Ew. Men are dogs. Checking out my ass. Ew. I’m not one of those women who does some sexy sashay as she leaves the table. I’m more likely to slip on a stray olive.

Five-and-a-half hours later the check had been paid and we were still there blabbing. Ok, I was doing most of the blabbing and he was obviously falling in love with me as I spoke. I guess he had to pee too cause he got up and headed toward the men’s room. I was left behind thinking “Shit! Now what? I can’t leave to go pee cause if he comes back to an empty table he might think I’ve ditched him.”  So I waited until he got back. We chatted for a minute and then I muttered something about heading to the bathroom.  And then it happened.

I stood up. The simple force of standing was enough to unhinge the poor sphincter muscle that had been doing such a bang-up job all evening. As I got to the full standing position I felt the warm rush of fresh pee-pee coming out of my pee-pee hole.

So rather than worrying about what he thought of my pancake ass as I sashayed to the bathroom, I walked like a crazed, 52-year-old, post-menopausal idiot who was trying not to pee herself.

I got to the bathroom and had to simultaneously hold in 85 gallons of wee whilst fumbling with a button and a zipper with a toilet in plain sight. As I frantically sat on the seat to release a torrent of tinkle, I assessed the damage to the crotch area of my pants. There it was: A circle of moistness the size of a salad plate. Trying to dab up the damage was futile. I was laughing, gasping, and thinking at the same time. Hey everyone on Match.com, try this on your first date; pee yourself and then try to think of a way out of the big pee mark on your britches. Go!

I got to the sink to assess the damage from the public perspective. From the backside I was fine. JJ could check out my ass all he wanted. No visible pee. But right there on the front; pee. So now what? No, the dryer was not an option. I’m tall but my crotch does not reach the dryer. Take off my pants to dry the crotch? Oh, yeah, great. Just what ladies want to see when they walk into the bathroom: Some tall chick in her pee-pee thong with the crotch of her pants under the dryer. Plus, JJ would have wondered what the hell I was doing in the bathroom for 10 minutes. IBS? Explosive diarrhea?

I washed my hands. I shook the water from my wet hands onto the front of my pants. Perfect.  I was in and out of the bathroom in the same amount of time that a normal non-peeing-herself-person would have been.

I walked out to Jailbait and he stood up so we could head out to our cars. He, of course, didn’t even notice my damn pants. But, just in case, I motioned to my wet pants and said “Look who just got into a fight with the sink?” He took a quick look and said “Ha! If that would happen to a man somebody would accuse us of peeing ourselves.”

I just laughed. I mean, how ridiculous.

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Jimmy Jailbait and I; 9 months after the first date. I am pee-pee free at the Happy Valley Jam concert.. 🙂

It was a sign.

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Me telling this story, about 10 years after it happened – State Theater (Oct. 2016)

I was naked from the waist up with a man I didn’t even know. He was putting little wires and pads on my chest. I figured he normally did this to old guys with similarly saggy boobs.  All I could think to say was “Can you tell they’re fake?” He laughed.Sorta. Inappropriate things fly out of my mouth all the time, especially when my chesticles are hanging out.  After the devastating four months I’d had I thought I might as well keep things light.  My heart had been obliterated. And I was at the hospital to see if I was having a heart attack. At age 42. It was a sign: God hates me.

I knew getting divorced was not supposed to be fun. But I thought finding Mr. Right would be, like, totally fun. And easy.  I had a sign, on my head, “Hot to trot divorcee looking for true love after a shitball of a marriage.   

Well, I met him innocently enough through one of my kids’ activities. It was such an exciting time. Our kids got along, he was smart, good looking, and seemed to be damaged just enough by his evil ex-wives.  And he talked.  He revealed.  He told me things that made me feel special; you know, it was a sign – he liked me. I was special.

I liked that things were going slowly. We spent a few months hanging out. At the start I thought we were taking things slowly because of his history; two divorces. But months of soul bearing and fancy glances led to nothing but lingering hugs. He still hadn’t stuck his tongue down my throat. Was it a sign? Bad breath? Didn’t he like my butt? 

After months of wondering, one night I gathered my courage and said “I’ve decided I can’t ever kiss you.” He replied, “Oh yeah?” So I said – “Yeah, cause if I do I’ll want to strip you, lick you, and ride you like a mechanical bull.”

His reply: He kissed me…. on the cheek. Looking back, it WAS a sign. I never heard from him again.

I can only explain the four months after he quit coming around as annihilating. I felt sick to my stomach which meant I couldn’t eat. I lost weight. I looked nasty. I also cried constantly. I cried. And I cried.  And I cried. It was a sign – something was coming. The loss I felt was the first thing that hit me when I woke up and it sat on me all day. Why did he leave?

I managed to hold it together when I had to, which is, most of the time – but I used to sit through doctor’s appointments and just cry to the nurses. I also cried through sessions with a counselor once a week. I didn’t care about anything.  Nothing made me happy. I went on with life, but only because I had to. I had three kids and I had to keep going to grad school classes.

So, four months of crying later, it was the end of the semester – early December.  I was going out to jog.  Well, jog is a strong word.  Flounder around with legs in motion like Olive Oyl is more like it. I started my jog and noticed my left arm and hand hurt. I thought it was weird, so I just quit jogging and walked.  The pain stopped. I jogged again. The pain came back. It was a sign!

I walked for a few miles then went home and stretched.  My son got off the school bus and I got on my computer to finish writing a big paper that was due the next day.  One of my girlfriends called and I noticed the pain was back. So, I told my friend, Heidi, I was probably having a heart attack. Great.  Fucking great. Next thing you know it’s two housefraus in a minivan headed to Mt. Nittany medical center.

So fast forward to the pads and wires on my chest. Not long after that, a nice, female ER doc came in very casually so I could give her the blow-by-blow. Fast forward to the lifeflight helicopter that was already on its way to haul me out of there. Before she came in she’d read the EKG – it was a sign! This chick is screwed! 

One lifeflight, an angioplasty, and two stents later, I was in a hospital about an hour from home.  I stayed for two nights, had the worst migraine of my life, and managed to scare the living shit out of my ex.  Even though we weren’t together, we are still family.  The best part of being a 42-year-old cardiac patient was the odd looks from doctors.  I was in shape, had low cholesterol, a low resting pulse, and normal blood pressure.  It always seemed to make them feel better when I told them my dad died at 57 from heart disease and that I used to smoke. “Good good good! Makes sense…thanks.”

But wait.  I didn’t have a heart attack because of family history or prior smoking.  No.  I had a heart attack because some fucktard broke it.  Crying every day for four months is not normal.  Neither is not sleeping and not eating.  Stupid fuck bag.  But I couldn’t tell the doctors any of that.  I already felt like an idiot.  And they were all men.  They would roll their eyes.  Poor girl with a broken heart.  Boo frickin’ hoo. They would’ve put me on anti-depressants; I already knew they didn’t help. They would’ve told me to see a different counselor for my delusions. How do you fall for someone after two months of no kissing? Idiot! It was a sign – I was a nincompoop! 

Six days after the heart attack I was back in class.  What else was there to do?  Plus, I had a semester to finish.

About two months after the heart attack I got a call from the cardiologist’s office. They asked if I would talk about my ordeal for something called “Go Red for Women” day.  Apparently, it’s a heart health awareness thing that comes around once a year.  I said I would, so I went to a couple of radio stations and talked about my heart attack. A few days later one of the stations offered me a job on a morning show.  I even ended up on a country music morning show. Words cannot tell you how much I hated country music. It was a sign – God still hates me!

But – it was a sign! I ended up writing my Master’s thesis about country music and advertising. And now – 10 years later, I still happily and joyfully work in country music radio. I even taught at Penn State for a few years and I used to brutalize my students by teaching with country music lyrics.

And as far as the “sign” I got – the heart attack – the sign that God hates me? Well, that actually saved me. I found out months later that Mr. Wonderful was actually Mr. Massive Piece of Shit – he did this and this and this and I was saved from him. And the heart attack got me off the track of thinking about him. I had to re-focus and worry about recovery. God Bless my cardiologists and country music.

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My three kids  🙂

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Florida Georgia Line in the early days (as if they’ve been around forever)

The Rock Star Who Stole My Innocence

I couldn’t believe a guy just wanted to have sex with me. A rock star just wanted to be invited to my indoor picnic? I was in shock. Truly. Before that day, there were plenty of guys who spent time with me cause I was so cool. Right? I mean heck, I was damn interesting: All 20 years of me. Call me silly. Call me naïve. Call me straight off the boat from Missouri. Thirty-one years later, I’m still Pollyanna.FullSizeRender

1984; Hamburg, Germany: My friend Jeanne and I were newbie models. There were usually foam headphones attached to me cause I was attached to my Sony Walkman. An ungodly amount of time was spent on subways, buses and walking because I had to go on “go-sees” to see photographers and potential clients. I was always low on cash so this meant I had about three cassettes in rotation. One of them was David Bowie, one was the Police, and the other shall remain unnamed as he’s the subject of this essay. It’s not like I’m trying to protect the innocent. He ain’t innocent. But he has offspring, and at the time, he had a wife.FullSizeRender (1)

This band was BIG in 1984 and the album was huge. Before meeting him, I remember thinking “this guy seems so laid back and fun, it would be great to hang out with him some day.” Yeah, I know – be careful what you wish for.

The concert was announced and I was giddy. I realize now that being away from home made things from home seem even better: American music in the land of weiss bier. Two general admission tickets later; Jeanne and I were set. We were front and center. In my striped skinny jeans, beret, funky- ass fake braids, tuxedo coat, and ankle boots I looked just like a model was supposed to look.

The concert was thrilling. I knew every word. I sang along and HE was right there. Arm distance. The guy from the videos and all the guys in the band. The guy from my foam headphones. Right there. All the songs. How wonderful! How uplifting. What a night. How joyful. It’s music for God’s sake! What could be better?

I was 20 – he was in his early 30s. So it wasn’t a crush thing. Ew. Gross. That’s like almost dad age. Plus, I had a boyfriend back home. I do know concert-love-pain. Like the love pain I felt at the Shaun Cassidy concert back in middle school. This wasn’t it.

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Jeanne, Me, Julie, Silke (we lived together in 1984, Germany)

Right after the show a guy came up to me and said, “I know a guy who really likes tall women.” I knew it was a corny line – but, whatever – it was a chance to meet Singer Man! So Jeanne and I went with him. Backstage. This was before “meet and greets” were invented. You actually went backstage after the show into the area where the musicians hang out – where the food and booze live. Singer Man was there and said “Hi.” I must not have impressed him too much because he disappeared. So Jeanne and I chatted with the band and other backstagers. Very nice. Next thing we knew, we were on the tour bus. And it was moving. Okay. Be Cool. Fun. Wow! We’re on the tour bus with Singer Man and the Band. I assumed the next stop would be a fun party to celebrate this exciting night of music. (Pollyanna)

Well, the next stop was the hotel where they were staying in Hamburg. Duh. Now that I’m 51 this makes sense; experience in radio and promotions has taught me that for them, it was just another day on the road. I’m guessing all the backstagers who also got on the tour bus were supposed to be going back to the hotel. Maybe they wondered what we were doing on the bus. Maybe they didn’t notice. Or, maybe this wasn’t the first time in rock history young chicks ended up on a tour bus.

Everyone got off the bus and went into the hotel lobby. Next thing I knew, I was without Jeanne and in the elevator with Singer Man. This was, of course, because I followed him onto the elevator. There were other people in the elevator – and one by one, they exited at various floors. So there I was, alone in an elevator with the guy who’d been singing into my head for months. Duh. What do I do now? How exactly did I get here? What dumb-ass question was about to escape my mouth? Stay tuned.

The elevator stopped. He got out. I got out. He walked. I followed. He was probably wondering what my intent was. I was wondering what my intent was. I said “Where are all the fans to mob you?” (I warned you.) He replied “I don’t know. You can mob me if you want.” Ug. Shitballs. In these situations I always say the wrong thing. My response was some sort of nervous Barbie doll giggle – assuming Barbie dolls get nervous and giggle.

He opened the door to his room. He went in. I went in. He was probably wondering what my intent was. I was wondering what my intent was.

He grabbed a beer and took a swig. I asked for a sip. Then I started spewing about how much I loved the concert – blah blah blah verbal vomit. Alas, he knew I was sincere. And I knew he was sincere when he said it was great to have someone to perform for. And since we’d had a whole minute of good, solid conversation – I was convinced we were gonna leave the room and go to where the party was (Pollyanna).

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Jeanne, Me, Silke, Julie (1984, Germany)

But no. Singer Man made his own dumb-ass statement. Looking back, perhaps he was just being efficient. As I was mentally prepping for an hours-long conversation in the hotel bar, he said, “All I ask for is a kiss – I’ve never been kissed.” Next thing I knew his tongue was down my throat and his hands were getting friendly with my ass. Whoa Nelly! Hello. Hell no.

Needless to say I was surprised. But, I acted cool and simply asked “Where is everyone else?” He gave me a room number – so I left – assuming the party would be in the other room. (Pollyanna) Wrong. That road crew guy who took us backstage was there with a prostitute. Another story. It’s legal there. The phone in the room rang. Singer Man was calling for me. He said he had to meet with concert promoters until 2 AM and wondered if he could meet up with me afterwards. I lied and said I had a photo shoot early the next morning and said goodbye.

Yes, I am Pollyanna as I assume the best of people. But I’m not a complete dumbass. By that point I knew he wanted to touch my ass again. And my boobs. And probably my elbows. At that time in my life, I wasn’t an innocent virgin, and I was getting the impression he wanted to put his pee-pee into me too. Men.

I took a taxi home and found Jeanne safe and sound.

So where’s the taking of the innocence?

It was the first time I’d been treated like a piece of ass. Somebody who I really admired had no desire to get to know me as a person. Luckily, it’s only happened a few times since then – twice more with famous people (and I was nowhere near their hotel rooms). Perhaps they are used to women throwing themselves at them or simply getting what they want.

I’ve met many respectful men and many respectful famous people. They certainly outweigh the assholes. I guess I’m still Pollyanna.

Things I Don’t See At Home: Dumbest Question I Ever Asked

One could say I’ve asked many dumb questions in my life. Former professors could attest to this. One of my famous (but serious) questions occurred in biology class during community college. I asked, “How do birds drink?” I remember beaks, puddles, and tilting of the head.  Well, at least now I know what they’re really doing in those birdbaths; drinking bathwater.

I digress.coffee and water

One day at dinner in Munich, I saw this: a small metal tray with a cup of what looked to be coffee and a very small glass of clear liquid.   I didn’t know if it was coffee with a shot of booze to be added at your own taste – coffee with a chaser – or hot chocolate with some sort of liqeuor. Or what. It just seemed odd.

A few days later, Pat and I went to a café after dinner in Salzburg. He ordered beer and I ordered a camomile tea. And it happened; I got the little metal tray with hot tea and the little glass of clear liquid. I was baffled. “What is this mysterious liquid?” I thought to myself. “How fascinating!”   I looked at Pat and said “Oh wow. This is what I saw the other day. I wonder what it is?” So I felt the outside of the glass. Cold-ish. I smelled it. Nothing. So I took a big leap and dipped my tongue into the glass. Water. Tap water. Huh? What am I supposed to do with this glass of water? Is the tea too hot to drink? Am I supposed to drink the tea, then get all refreshed by drinking the tap water as a chaser?

SO – here comes a waitress to see if things are okay. And, this is when I ask the big question. Waitress: “Is everything going fine?” (or some other sweet version of “Is everything okay?”) Me: (indicating my mini-water) “What’s this for?” Waitress: (looking at me with confused eyes) “It’s water.” Me: “Yes, I know. What should I do with it?” Waitress: (looking at me as if I’ve lost my marbles) “You drink it.” Me: “Oh. Okay. Thanks.”

This poor waitress probably found her fellow servers and told them about the idiot American woman who just asked what she was supposed to do with a glass of water. Then she probably went into the bathroom and banged her head against the wall. As for me, I sat dumbfounded. This, after I was done laughing at myself. And feeling sorry for the waitress. This dumbfoundedness turned into outrage. I thought “Seriously? Are these Austrians mad? They wasted a tray to bring out this pansy-ass glass of water? Why not bring complimentary toothpaste and a toothbrush to go with it? That would be the perfect after dinner spritz-up and spit it out in the bushes type deal.

afro coffee closeThe next morning we went to a restaurant for breakfast – and it happened again. This time it was my coffee that came with a glass of water. But alas, this glass of water was a bit bigger. And ha ha – this time I knew what to do with said water. And – this coffee mug was SO cool. I looked around and noticed four different patterns. It was called Afro coffee. afro coffeeMy mug said “You call it coffee, I call it a lifestyle.” I thought, “Wow, my girls would really like these. When the waiter comes by I will ask him how much they cost.” I thought that was better than “Wow, these are really cool…. Will they fit in my purse?”

So, the idiot that I am (apparently when it comes to items involving drinking liquids) asked said waiter the obvious question: “How much would it cost to buy the coffee mugs?” Long story short: it would take an act of God to acquire these mugs as the maker of the coffee supplies them and it would probably cause the restaurant to shut down if they sold me two of them and then all tourism in Salzburg would come to an end and then the world would stop spinning.

No cool coffee mugs for Dawn. Idiot.

Last night we ended up at the “dumb question” cafe. Pat had more beers and I had more tea. Again came the tray. Again came my Dixie-cup of water. This time I told the waiter about my waitress faux pas from the previous night. He explained that if I wanted a bigger cup of tap water, they’d charge money for it. Baffling. It’s cheaper to buy beer.

coffee pic