Love on the Avenue

It’s the middle of February, as I make my way home through the choking haze of garbage smoke from half a dozen backyard fires. The weather is warm for this time of year but, everyone on on the block is having a party, so they all had to find some crap to burn. I’m pretty sure that’s  a utility pole old Sweet T. has cut up and stuffed in his barrel. The creosote fumes rise up, adding to the aroma of the neighborhood, as it gets consumed by bright green flames from the bottom of the rusted steel drum.

Then she comes running out of the house. A half-drunk woman in her early twenties. Chasing after her two-timing want-to-be hood, of a boyfriend. I guess she looked at his text messages, again. She’s cursing his name while declaring how much she loves him, pleading for him to come back and throwing her shoes at him when he doesn’t. He’ll be back later tonight when no one else wants him. She’s the one with the job, and the car’s in her name. Still hasn’t figured out to just dump the bum and give the rest of the world a little extra piece and quiet on the weekends.

Walking on down near to the lime green house where Big Tattoo and his boys are dateless again on a Friday night. Can’t imagine why. What with there wife beater chic, and low-rent drug dealer mannerism. It wasn’t all that long ago when idle thuggery was a powerful aphrodisiac. I guess you got to change with the times. The only one I’ve ever seen with a woman won’t go near the place. Maybe the old lady that let them set up shop on her porch don’t allow female guests, not that aren’t relations anyway.

I see that the old grey house further on down, where the lawnmower guy used to live with his old lady and a one too many kids judging from the size of the place, is finally up for rent. The place has been empty since she suddenly put a steak knife through his stomach one night while he slept in his easy chair. I never heard much about them after that. Pretty sure they have separate residences now. Probably talking about getting back together again, you know, for the kids.

Still, I guess that counts as love around here, on the avenue.

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Different

Things used to be different.

We used to get in bed early, and go to sleep late. We would wake in the late morning just to enjoy laying next to each other. Begrudgingly we’d arise, make breakfast together, then talk and laugh, listening while public radio hosted our meal. Afternoons picnicking in parks or hiking in woods nearby. Evening coffee outdoors at the cafe, making not too quiet jokes about the hippy fool with the acoustic guitar; or on the couch with our books or sharing what movies the library had to offer. Weekends looking for adventure, or telling stories of our exploits with friends. We were ourselves, beautiful, brave, and in love.

Then something broke. Inside me, or maybe you too. Something between us.The drudgery of adulthood, The stress of parenthood. The disappointments found in a mirror. The myopia of lower incomes. The shame of transgressions against ourselves. The boredom of commitment. Perhaps just a consequence of our nature.

So often now we sit, worlds apart in the small space of our lives. Doors closed tight against some unknown pain that might be on the other side.

I’m probably seeing things the wrong way again though. That’s what I have to keep telling myself anyway.

I still love you but, damn it, things used to be different.

A Love Letter

Dearest Love,

 I look forward to seeing you every night, and I ache the whole day while we are apart. I know sometimes my absences are too long, our times together too brief; know that it is not you that I am neglecting but, my own needs. That time we are apart is an eternity. You are always there for me, no matter the aggravations or trials of my day. You support me in my times of need, wrap yourself around me, and give me a place to lay my weary head. Where it possible I would dress you in the finest of silks and take everywhere about town with me.Though there may have been others, it is in your embrace I want to spend the rest of my life.

My dearest bed, it is you I love. The creak of your mattress springs are alike a welcoming sigh of contentment. The worn, faded blankets that cover you, surround me in the warmest embraces. I love you madly and I love you deeply with a passion that only the truly sleep deprived will ever know.

Yours with greatest longing,

Doug

A Cynical Cook’s View of Valentine’s Day

Ah, valentines day. A truly special and unique event for many. A day for the celebration of the affections we feel that special someone. No one knows what a bunch of hooey that is like the men and women of the service industry. I have, in some way or other, been a member of this select group for close to half of my life, and let me tell you nothing says cynicism like a forty-year old line cook.

Just like Christmas, Valentines Day is a big deal because it is a day of consumer spending. The retail industry has a pretty good strangle hold on your wallet for both events but, about thirty-five percent of you suckers are going to try to buy your way into someone else’s pants with nice dinner on February 14th.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you’re in this for that whole romantic love thing, that’d sure go a long way explaining the Trojan you got tucked away in your wallet there Sonny Jim. You shouldn’t feel bad about it, just be honest with yourself, after all most people, about 85% of men and women, are expecting to get some on the big day; I mean you might want wait til dinner’s over to approach the subject, but chances are if she’s agreed to go out with you half the work is done for you already.

All in all I guess my Valentines Day isn’t going to be much different then yours.

I got this really hot date.

With twenty burners at probably close to 28,000 BTU’s each, this little hottie will be ready to put out put out. I swear that’ll be the second to the last time I make a sexual reference towards a stove, or any other kitchen implement.

She may not look like much to you but put her in something pink and we're good to go.

She may not look like much to you but, put her in something pink and we’re good to go.

The advantage of my companion for the evening is that she’s easy to turn on and won’t break up with me if I don’t get her a gift. A fun fact is, 53% of women say that they’ll end a relationship if they don’t get anything for Valentines day. Something tells me that they don’t mean one of those boxes of the little hearts made of some chalk like substance, so you did the right thing by taking her out.

It might as well say "Poor Planning" or "Lonely Night"

It might as well say “Poor Planning” or “Lonely Night”

I’m looking forward to a fantastic dinner for two…

And then two more, and then two more, and then… I can keep this up all night. Come Valentine’s Day I’m going to have to because we’re hoping to turn a table in about forty-five minutes or so, and we have a lot of tables to get to. So it’d be nice if y’all could make a decision, limit the special, orders and not run your wait staff around all night.

Alright people lets move it out of the damned window, I got a couple dozen of these romantic dinners backed up and waiting to be plated.

Alright people lets move it out of the damned window, I got a couple dozen of these romantic dinners backed up and waiting to be plated.

As a word of advice, let her order first and pay attention. If she asks for light garlic for her Caesar salad you best not ask for extra onions with your meal if you want the night to end on a high note. Also if she orders the filet mignon or the sea bass, don’t go ordering a margarita pizza or the crab cakes appetizer for yourself to bring the amount check down. The damage has already been done and it only makes you look cheap.

I’ll be spending time with my significant other(s)

IMG_20130113_214237

These guys are special. They’re so special I want to buy them helmets.

I’ve been spending this holiday the same way, and largely with the same people for a good number of years now. Seriously, that level of commitment is a hard thing to find in a relationship. Maybe you’re looking at this day as the beginning of a great and lasting relationship. Facts are facts however, and a lifetime of personal observations, taught me that chances are the person you’re stepping out on the town this year, you will not be speaking with next year. In fact , there is evidence that relationships may be over twice as likely to end in the weeks surrounding Valentine’s Day, so you’re lucky you made it this far.

The sad part is I spend more time with the other cooks than I do with my actual family, you know the woman with whom I fell in love with and am raising a child with. I am fortunate that my wife is also a veteran of the restaurant industry. This means that by and large she has been so jaded by all these hallmark holidays that she really doesn’t expect too much in the way of romance just because the calendar has ticked over again. In fact I once arranged, with great difficulty, to have an actual Valentine’s Day off early in our relationship. Well to be honest I still had to work the lunch shift and then stay and prep the dessert special for the dinner shift, but that’s not the point.

The point is, her reaction was to simply ask me why I bothered, and we then proceed to spend the day doing absolutely nothing important.

That’s when I knew it was love.

Image Credit: Candy Hearts: Let's Kiss by Brent Moore CC BY-NC 2.0
              All other images taken by the author

I made reference of some statistics so here are the sources for what insignificant, lazy, half-assed, amount, of what might pass for factual research I did for this article:
          Valentine's Day, by the numbers, by Belle Reynoso, CNN.com, 2013
          Valentines Day Statistics, Statistics Brain.com, 2013
          Stats Show Valentine's Day is Bad for Your Relationship, by Amelia                                     Wasserman, Technorati.com, 2011
This article was written in response to a Weekly Challenge.