This is the ending to Chapter 1 of my novel. The main character, Jack, has just come back from Tijuana with his friend Vince. It’s the first time Jack has really gone out since his wife, Liz, committed suicide on their 10th anniversary. Enjoy.
The phone wasn’t the only thing keeping me up the morning after Tijuana. Getting out for the first time and consciously looking for a woman made me think about Liz. Thinking about her, made me think about myself.
Liz was bi-polar and a mess, but I loved her. She stopped taking her medicine and became extremely depressed. Then way too happy. Then depressed again. She slashed her wrists on our 10th anniversary and it was hard on both Ashley and myself. Try explaining to a five-year-old why her mom isn’t around anymore. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
It was almost two years before I felt like going out again and when I did, I realized how much things had changed in the years I’d been married. The Internet now makes it possible to check out women like never before. For someone like me that’s a good thing. With a couple clicks of the mouse I can be in immediate contact with hundreds of women, most of who were posting old pictures and lying about their weight. I wasn’t hip to this game of deception. Not at first.
I’ve never been much of a “pick up chicks in a bar” guy. My Tijuana fiasco reminded me that I’m anything but smooth. Seriously. For the majority of my adult life I’ve been on the radio. For three hours every afternoon I talk with my two co-hosts, Spanky (a stoner) and Candy (a ditzy valley girl), and with the listeners of KLB. I’m a bit colorful and sometimes forget to put the safety on my mouth—even on air. It’s hard to imagine that I’m the glue that holds the show together, but I am. Because of my job, you would think I could handle a simple conversation with a girl. You’d be wrong. When it comes to women I’m interested in dating, I become a babbling moron. Go figure.
I like to think I’m a good catch. I have several female friends who have known me since “back in the day” and they tell me that any woman would be lucky to have me. Of course, these are the same ones who never dated me in high school, so maybe they just say it out of guilt. Maybe they think, “Damn. If only I had gone out with him 25 years ago…” Nah. They’re not thinking that.
In high school I had zero self-esteem. I rarely dated because I was sure the girls I was interested in asking out would laugh at me and say no. Because of Facebook I’ve become good friends with several of these women in the past few years and almost every single one has told me I was kind of cute, and I was also mildly charming. More importantly, they told me that had I only asked, they would have said yes. That was information I needed 20 years ago! Oh well. I guess you live and learn.
I cook and I cook well. That’s always been my claim to fame. Not only can I follow a recipe, but I can also create tasty food on the fly. Give me a few ingredients to work with and watch my mind begin to assemble something generally amazing. I have my mom to thank for that skill. She worked a lot and at around 12 years old, taught me a few basic concepts. When I was hungry and she was at work I would open the ‘fridge, see what we had and put those skills to work.
If my eyes saw flour tortillas, a jar of tomato sauce and some cheese, my brain saw a pizza. Leftover chicken, some frozen veggies and a tube of biscuits became an improvised chicken potpie. If we had cream of chicken soup, it was twice as tasty. These are skills I’m trying to pass onto Ashley, but she’s not grasping them. Not yet anyway.
I bake a little, but generally with the help of Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines. I’m not a clean freak but I know how to use my vacuum and a bottle of Windex is pretty self-explanatory. Martha Stewart wouldn’t be comfortable here, but no one has ever said, “Ewwwww.” At least not out loud.
I dress well. Maybe not all the time, but my clothes are almost always clean. Argyle is my thing and I can find a way to rock it on almost any occasion. I hate to iron, but I’ve done a few shirts in my day. Pants too. I’m occasionally funny, partially charming and even been called adorable a few times. I’m not great looking, but some women have told me that I’m handsome. A few probably even meant it. My face was made for radio and I’m OK with that. I’m more the “goofy neighbor” character. A regular guy. The average Joe. I tell people, “Bald is beautiful.” I could stand to lose 30 pounds, but I’m working on it. Constantly. To no avail. *Sigh*
Over the years I’ve dated some crazy ones. One was all stalker crazy. For more than a month after our two dates, she called the station four or five times a show, using different names and trying out crappy accents. Didn’t she realize that radio station switchboards capture your phone number? Use whatever name you want, but when “DO NOT PUT ON AIR UNDER ANY CURCUMSTANCES” pops up on the screen; you’re not going to talk to me. I’ve also dated some good ones. I prefer the stories of the crazy ones. When I talk about the good ones, it always ends up with me being a douche and screwing it up. I hate being the douche.
My parents and my brother, Andy, live nearby, but it’s not the same without a mom in Ashley’s life. I’d like to find someone to marry and share my life with, but I’m not on the hunt for a step-mom. Unless, of course, she’s really hot.
Relax. I’m not gonna marry a chick just because she’s hot. Not even really hot. I’m looking for a relationship. I want someone to be my partner, my companion and my lover. My really excellent lover! She needs to be a good companion and my best friend. And an excellent lover–in case I wasn’t clear about that.
Being from Southern California, I’ve found that most of the really hot ones come with a lot of attitude and are high maintenance. Those are qualities I have no interest in. Yeah, that was a stereotype, but I’m a broadcaster, so I’m allowed to make broad statements. It’s part of my job.
There are exceptions to every rule and while I would be thrilled to find that exception, I’ve come to learn that looks aren’t everything. It’s what inside that counts, but the reality is, the looks definitely help. That may make me sound shallow, but I’m not. I swear to God. Really. I’m not Ken and I’m not looking for Barbie. I had Barbie once and she went off her meds and slashed her wrists.
Whoever I date needs to be good with Ashley. Just as I would expect her kids to be good with me. Blending two families is some scary shit. Kids end up with three or four parents and the stepparents often times forget who the real parent is. If I get married again it would have to be the real deal. There is no way in hell I would want to do this whole dating thing again. Ever. I’m 38 and I think it blows. Imagine what it would be like doing this at 50. Screw that. Next time is the last time!
I like where I’m at in my life right now. The journey here was a bit rocky. Actually, it was straight up weird. To appreciate where I am today, you need to hear the story from the beginning.
I would love any feedback you can give me on the character or on the story. Thanks!