Thursday, February 25, 2016

I Am Kicking It

The metaphor maker has
broken down and the words
I want to use to explain how
I feel are just a jumble
of phrases of incoherent
garbage that are barely sticking to
the page.

I think it needs a new light bulb
to half bake the loose meat metaphors
I keep shoving into it. For instance;
I’m feeling excited about a new job
opportunity. A new, full time, salaried,
insurance providing job. The works.

That’s an exciting thing and yet the
only metaphors coming out of the
machine are all about expecting
the sunrise after a long darkness,
or taking a road trip through the
uncharted depths of the mind.

Pure Drivel.

This metaphor machine is certainly
broken. I mean it uses as much energy
as a Lite-Bright and less computing power
than the Apollo missions, and it’s usually
sufficient. But today it’s not
working right.

It’s like a… baseball player in a slump?
Ugh, that’s terrible.  I think the Idiom
generator is on the fritz too.  Let me check
the simile sensors, no, they aren’t working to
well either, they’re like, not working like a…
a… a…. like a…. thing that doesn’t work.  

So I guess I’ll have to be plain
like an unmolested bagel, terrible,
how about just being straightforward,
like a… pencil. Jesus, that’s just bad.

(Kicks Metaphor Machine)

You rotten piece of literary
junk! You bagel warming,
pencil shaving, baseball playing

Anyway, here’s my poem,
that expresses my excitement
about getting a new job without the
use of the machine:



The End

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I Love Your Sexy Smarts

                I have always been terribly afraid of roving gangs of stupid people terrorizing the streets. The stupid people in huge mobs, pulling on push doors and pushing on pull doors, crossing in the middle of the street and expecting cars to stop just for them, yelling idiotic things like, “we’re here, we’re queer, we don’t want any more gays!”, and so on and so forth. It always seemed like a silly thing to be afraid of. Until now.

                After the Nevada Republican Caucus yesterday Presidential (I can’t even say it) candidate Donald Trump thanked and even bragged about how he loves the poorly educated in his victory speech. I’m very much a pro-education guy so that phrase chills me to my very core.  I think everyone does indeed deserve the right to vote regardless of social status, education or political affiliations. However, I’ve never heard a candidate for president ever praise people for being poorly educated. The majority of modern era Presidents have touted some level of Education reform, successful or not. Education is often a topic of most State of the Union Addresses and considered a barometer of cultural success. So to praise the poorly educated and thank them for voting for possibly the greatest Presidential hoaxer in American history or a man so mad with power lust he makes Martin Sheen’s candidate’s character from The Dead Zone look sane, makes me terrified.

                It is not snobbish or elitist to appreciate education. Donald himself has had an excellent education, whether he applies that education to anything is beyond me, but he’s certainly not one of the “poorly educated” he thanked in his speech. He had the benefits of a fine education and often says he’ll surround himself with the best and the brightest minds available to help him in his (cough) presidency. So clearly he does appreciate the intellectual crowd. Unless they are too smart to vote for him, then he might need to rely on the poorly educated to slip into the Republican nomination.

                I am also not attempting to tear down anyone’s actual education simply because it is different from my own educational background. I’ve found that in every crowd there are always one or two High I.Q. morons.  The type of people that have read all the classics of literature but don’t believe the Moon landings occurred. The point I’m trying to make isn’t about book smarts or framed Degrees on the wall. I’m talking about critical thinking.

                Critical thinking means you question things that you hear and take it upon yourself to find more about. You do not just blindly follow the rhetoric of some well-groomed huckster. You think about what they’ve said and really weigh it against what you already know and what you can find out.  It’s one of the keys that separates the educated from the intelligent. Critical thinking means asking the tough questions, like “why” and “how” and sometimes even, “really”.

                I fear that the “poorly educated” Trump refers to are the types that have not developed the critical thinking skills needed to make informed decisions. The “poorly educated” Trump refers to are the ones, in my opinion, that haven’t spent the time to consider how, why or if we really should force an independent sovereign nation to build a border wall for us, or how, why or if we really should keep Gitmo open to “load it up with bad dudes”, and how, why and if a Billionaire really has their best interests at heart.

                I fear the “poorly educated”, the ones that were never exposed to any sort of cultural diversity, civil diversity or religious diversity, will take their inflated stupidity to the streets and rage against logic and reasonability. It’s terrifying to think how ignorant savagery can destabilize whole cultures, whole empires. History is replete with examples of barbarism against intelligence from the several burnings of the Library at Alexandria to the Dark Ages.

                A society that doesn’t question, that doesn’t critically think about what their leaders are proposing, is a society about to step backwards in time. A potential leader actively seeking to remove or revoke freedoms from the citizenry needs to be questioned about why and how and if it’s really necessary.  (And don’t bring up the “Obama is taking our second amendment rights away” thing. He hasn’t and he isn’t so put that old chestnut down).

                It’s my hope that the “poorly educated” don’t have to remain that way. I hope there is a genuine re-investment in education in our society.  A society that values an educated populace, a literate, open-minded culture, an inclusive rather than exclusive collective, will almost always fare better than a stubborn and dogmatic one.  A “poorly educated” voting block should not be praised, nor should they be shunned. I feel they should be encouraged to think a little deeper about their beliefs and the beliefs of their potential presidential candidate.  

                 Because I’m terrified of gangs of really, really, really stupid people smashing windows at the Apple store because of the witchcraft machines they sell or book burnings or executing people for believing the Earth is round and revolves around the Sun. I fear the rise of the Anti-Intellectuals. I am afraid the accomplishments of a progressive civilization will degrade, like the Roman Aqueducts did when the people of the Middle Ages had no idea how to fix them because the knowledge of their maintenance had been lost in the barbaric sieges of history.

                I am afraid of men like Donald Trump and I think it’s time we stopped thinking he is a joke and take a serious look at his politics. We have to be smarter about the snakes in the garden; they won’t just go away if we ignore them. (Was that metaphor a little heavy handed?)

Monday, February 22, 2016

I Cannot Tell A Lie

                “I hate cherry trees,” said George.
                “I’m sorry sir,” asked William.
                George turned around quickly, with a military sharpness and faced William. George towered over young William. He bent down and William could feel the hot, woodiness of George’s breath on his face.
                “I said I hate cherry trees,” said George.
                “Alright sir, yes sir. If we see a cherry tree you can cut it down sir,” said William.
                “You bet your life we’ll be cutting it down,” said George.
                George turned back around on the road and continued marching with William at his back. William hoped they wouldn’t see any cherry trees. Otherwise George was liable to go all Henry the VIII on it and start chopping away at it like it was one of his wives. William adjusted the heavy sack on his back and adjusted his uniform coat collar against the lingering February cold.  Spring felt like it would arrive any day, but was just shy about it. William looked over his shoulder at the rows of men marching along the dirt road.  All fine men, willing to sacrifice so much on a grand experimental government. It was so strange to be at the foot of such a momentous undertaking, and against the most powerful nation on Earth.
                “Is that a Cherry tree,” asked George as he pointed up toward an embankment.
                George had gotten off his white horse and had been walking with the men for morale’s sake but now he was strangely obsessed with finding cherry trees.
                “No sir, I don’t think that’s a cherry tree,” said William, “I think that’s just a bush.”
                “The hell it is. That’s a cherry tree. Damn your eyes man! That is a Cherry Tree,” shouted George.
                “Sir, no I think that’s really just some sort of bush with red berries on it sir,” said William.
                “Nonsense soldier! That’s a Cherry tree! And it’s dead,” said George.
                George mounted his white horse and drew his sword from the scabbard. He wheeled his horse around and cut right through the sea of marching men.
                “Yee-Haw,” shouted George as the horse galloped full speed toward the flora.
                “Sir! Sir! Sir! No Sir,” shouted William amid the strange cheers of the soldiers.
                George rode up the small embankment and swung his sword at the plant, slicing the top portion off. He turned on the horse for a second strike but the horse bucked and George was tossed to the ground. George didn’t miss a beat and rolled over as he hit the ground and sprung to his feet, which was amazing to William, since George was so large of a man.
                George raised his sword over his head and ran full speed back toward the plant and dove toward it, slicing and hacking at the air. He landed in the middle of the thick foliage and lost his sword. He began tugging and pulling at the plant, smearing the red berries all over his white uniform pants. George punched at the plant with his hands, strangling the leaves and branches.
                William watched as George punched down on the plant with his gloved hands. George tore the gloves off and began punching at the roots with his bare hands. There was sweat dripping off George’s face and his hat had long since flown off. William woke from his open mouth staring and ran up toward George.
                “Sir! Sir! Please, that’s not a cherry tree, it’s just some kind of bush. It’s just a bush!”
                George plopped back down onto his rear end and splayed his leg out on front of him. He was breathing heavy and his stomached heaved with each deep breath.
                “Should I get your valet sir,” asked William.
                “No, no,” said George as he waved the suggestion off with an exhausted gesture.
                William reached his hand out to George and George reach up and took it. William pulled the large man up and started dusting off his uniform.
                “It’s my birthday you know,” said George.
                “What’s that? You’re birthday? Well, Happy birthday George. Sir…General Sir, I mean,” said William.
                William retrieved General Washington’s hat and handed it to him. George beat the hat against his thigh and turned away from the destroyed berry bush and began walking back toward the rows of marching soldiers.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Argument for Shame

                There’s been a story floating across the social media universe showing a bunch of tourists taking selfies with a baby dolphin. The tourists “selfied” this baby dolphin to death. It’s serious and I honestly think there should be some criminal charges leveled against the perpetrators.  They took this creature, which might have as much, if not more intelligence as human beings, from the water and paraded around with it in a mob, taking pictures. The audacity of people makes me wonder. Where has shame gone?

                Shame is an important part of the learning process, it teaches us empathy. If we find ourselves in an unfortunate situation and made to feel bad about something we’ve done, something wrong, then we learn from it and try to behave in a manner that won’t produce similar consequences.  We remember how bad we felt about some particular action and vow to ourselves that we don’t be doing that again.

                So where was the shame on that beach? Where is the shame in general? I know our culture has been vaccinating ourselves against shame for a while now. It’s in the merchandising and mantras all around us; “Just Do It”, “Dance like no one’s watching”, “Damn the torpedoes” and such. These are damaging phrases if adhered to un-tempered by shame. This go-go culture has no time for shame. Shame is a bad feeling and we don’t like bad feelings so we’re just not going to allow people to feel shame. We’re just going to tell them to live their lives like there are no consequences and you don’t have to feel the bad feelings.

                Without shame, however, we do not regret anything. Without regret we never give ourselves a chance to learn something new about ourselves, we never grow. Shame and regrets aren’t necessarily bad things. In some instances, I’m proud of the mistakes I’ve made. They taught me how to be a better person.  I arrived at that place through understanding shame.

                I’m not advocating corporal shaming punishments. I’m not talking about the shame some children endured under the heavy yoke of a Catholic education or any other dogmatic doctrine. Some of that stuff bordered on bullying, rather than constructive shame building. I’m not talking about finger pointing type of shame either, or body shaming. I’m talking about the basic, human ability to feel bad about something and their desire to make it better yet knowing they can’t, but declaring they will never be in that position again; that kind of appropriate shame reaction.

                A society that isn’t occasionally ashamed of itself will stagnate and rot. We have to remember there are consequences to every action and that things don’t always work out like we planned. We have to listen to the voice inside, the voice of experience that says, “These people taking pictures with the baby dolphin are assholes and I should do something to stop it!” Understanding the consequences is key to human evolution and spreading that knowledge to others, even through the use of shame, helps the species survive just a little bit longer.

                If we fail to learn from the things we feel bad about, then we do not deserve our place. We will be outmoded and nature will decide we are unsustainable and eliminate us. Nature could do it, nature has no shame.

                Shame reminds us that just because you can do a thing doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. It’s an important distinction and I fear there are not enough people that understand it. It’s okay, every once, in a while to feel bad about something that we’ve done or said. It’s what makes us such a remarkable species. A remarkable species that through shame found the capacity to forgive each other, and that has made all the difference.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Fate Machine

Put in a quarter,
(it used to be a dime)
and test your skill
at the Fate Machine.
It doesn’t take much
talent, just a small fee,
to see which direction
your destiny is headed.
Put your feet on the pedals,
grasp the handrails,
put on your goggles and
the tinfoil helmet.
The electrodes go in your,
nose, mouth, anus and
urethra (please use the wipes
Just a few volts,
a jolt or two,
that’s only a little blood,
yes, that’s stool.
Now hold still,
just wait,
any second now,
your fate is revealed.
And here it comes,
your results are printing now,
boy this is exciting,
are you using the wipes?
Here it is!
You’re results!
Oh, that’s… that seems mean…
Well, I mean, who would
really believe in a Fate Machine
that only cost
a quarter?
(It used to be a Dime)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Another Road Along the Way

                “All I need is the open road man, the open road,” yelled Scottie.

                He flicked his cigarette butt out the window. The cigarette hit the asphalt and exploded in a shower of red embers against the night.  He pounded his fist against the steering wheel and turned the radio up. Radar Love, a classic from Golden Earing, blasted from the worn out speakers of Scottie’s 1985 Dodge.

                “I love this song man! Nothing makes the road spin under your tires like this song man!”

                 Scottie thumped the steering wheel in time to the beat of the song as he sang along. He bounced his head and his unkempt brown hair flailed over his shoulders.

                “You like this song man,” yelled Scottie over the crackled roar of the speakers.
                “What,” shouted Keith.
                “The song man, you like this song!?”
                “Yeah, yeah, it’s a good one. A great one,” cringed Keith.

                Keith smiled weakly and bounced his head in time to the song to show how enthusiastic he was about it.  He threw a quick thumbs up on the back end just in case Scottie couldn’t hear him. Keith stared out the front window at the rolling night in front of them. Scottie lit up another cigarette and the car filled with blue smoke.

                 “Yeah man, the road man. The Road,” shouted Scottie again and he hit the accelerator. The old Dodge lurched forward over the New Mexico Highway. The car cut through the nighttime desert, blasting Golden Earing. Keith hugged his backpack to his chest a little tighter as the road curved slightly to the right.

                 “No worries man, no worries. This rust bucket and me, man, we’re like experts in this desert man, like experts, experts man, ex-perts,” said Scottie, using his finger to illustrate how expert he was.

                “I can see that. Yeah,” said Keith.

                 Scottie howled as the song changed and Little Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs came on the radio.  He pressed down on the gas and the dark desert whizzed by faster than Keith could see.

                “Oh man, man, this one man, this song. Man, this one, wow man. Wow!”

                Scottie threw his cigarette butt out the window and put both hands on the steering wheel. He lowered his chin into his chest a bit. The car was shaking on the bumpy desert road. Keith held onto the door handle.

                “Little red riding hood, you sure are looking good…” sang Scottie.
                The road started to twist back and forth, dip and climb. It was like the road builders got bored and started making the road crazy. Just for the hell of it. There was no reason Keith could see for the twisting and turning and meandering curves.

                “Some road,” said Keith.

                Scottie took his eyes off the road and looked at Keith. The car continued to turn and bump.

                “I told you man, the road. I love the road. And this road, she loves me, she loves this car, she loves the music I bring her, she loves it all man. All of it. All of it man. All. Of. It, man,” said Scottie.
                “Yeah. I’m sure she does. I’m sure she’s not scared out of her mind,” said Keith.
                “What man, are you scared man?”

                Keith realized that the car was still going at full speed, making hairpin turns all while Scottie just stared at him in the passenger seat.

                “Oh my God! Watch the road,” shouted Keith.
                Scottie laughed and turned his head forward.

                “There ain’t nothing to be scared of man, this road, she won’t let me die man, she won’t. As long as I keep the rubber down and the music up, she’ll let me go on man,” said Keith.

                “Yeah, yeah, great. That’s awesome. I just want to get to where we’re going alive. That’s all I want. So if the road helps with that then I’m all for it. But my God man there’s no reason to drive like some ape-shit crazy person the whole way. I mean all I want is a safe ride, you said it would be safe and yet here I am feeling like I’m going to crap myself,” said Keith.

                 Keith wiped the sweat from his forehead and looked out the passenger window at the distant dark desert.  The car started to slow down. Scottie reached over and turned the radio down. The road slowed down and the old Dodge pulled over to the shoulder. The car squeaked to a stop.

                 “Get. Out. Of. My. Car. Man,” said Scottie.
                “What, I mean, c’mon. You can’t be serious. I’m sorry about what I said, but I... you know, I’m sorry,” said Keith.
                “Get out of my car man. You’re bad vibes man, you’re bad vibes. Bad Vibes,” said Scottie.

                Keith pulled the knife from his backpack and lunged at Scottie. The knife drove deep into Scottie’s neck and blood spurted out over the dashboard. Scottie pulled at Keith’s face and shirt as the life drained out of him.

                “Shouldn’t have stopped, man. Shouldn’t have stopped,” said Keith.

                 The desert stayed quiet and everything was stillness.


Monday, February 15, 2016

President's Day

Mr. President I’m sure you know,
doing right is a hard way to go,
enforcing laws and making policy
all while judged on TV.
New President I hope you understand,
there’s lots of different ways in this land,
Everyone different wants something the same,
but we still need a person to blame.
A President should know,
there’s different ways to show,
there’s a smart path to success,
beyond ideological excess.
Ex-Presidents are impossible to save,
their only respite is the grave,
unless you’re Jimmy Carter,
who’ll go on as a martyr.
Mr. President I hope you’re not wrong,
and know this scheme from a song,
It’s taken blatantly,
but it means so much to me.
Future President I need to believe,
I won’t end up crying on my sleeve,
that the good of the citizenry,
outweighs the wants of the greedy.
Maybe President I hope you’ll see,
it’s all about what’s best for we,
there’s no time for a wall,
since the Earth is so small.
Person President I know I’m free,
so don’t take that away from me
I can say what I like, I can make a choice,
I can be who I am, I can find a voice.
Mr. President I want you to shine,
and not whither on the vine,
Moral, Just and smart,
more than just a bleeding heart.
Maybe President don’t be blinded by faith,
it’s a good start but it’s not safe
there’s always some left behind,
who are not of like mind.
Mr. President it’s not easy,
when people can be sleazy,
but you must rise above,
resist the urge to shove.
Thank you Mr. President,
it’s a hard job with regret,
and there’s always growing pains
when we have to use our brains.
So future President,
Don’t forget,
it’s more than an election show
Future President I hope you know.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Putto There, Mr. Valentine

That fat little Cupid, floating on
a cloud overhead, is what’s known
as a Putto. It’s not a Cherub.
It’s a Putto.

It’s a cute little baby angel thing,
designed to appeal to the cuteness
gland in the brain going all the way back to
the 14th Century.

It makes you want to believe
that the person you love, was
somehow pre-ordained by some
all powerful God of Love to love you.

Through the use of a bow and arrows,
somehow. This person was placed in
your path to love you and be loved by
you. As long as the arrow hit the mark.

Cupid has had some pretty lousy aim
if you ask me. I think Cupid is usually
drunk. He is Post-Dionysian after all.
Or he’s just a baby that doesn’t know better.

Babies, shooting people with love arrows,
all willy-nilly, it’s a damn tragedy. How do
their little baby hands even operate a bow
and arrow? Babies can’t even find their noses.

I’m highly suspect of the whole Cupid racket.
Seems a little suspicious to me. Plus I have all
these arrow wounds all over my body and heart
from all the times Cupid missed the mark.

I mean, I have had some great loves
in my life, but like all arrow wounds,
they can get infected and rot. And had little
to do with a winged baby archer.

The angelic hierarchy has no
sway over the beating of hearts
or whom they beat

No Seraphim, Cherubim or Putto
make the heart leap from ones
chest or thump with excitement
as the site of ones love can.

It’s truly in the eyes,
I know my heart has stopped when
she looked at me with all the love she had
and I recognized it. A bolt of electricity.

Even as those feelings faded, the
electricity waned, I know in my heart
that no arrow could ever pierce my soul
as wonderfully as her eyes.

There is no Cupid, no fat baby archer
to make love exist, there’s only two people,
willing to accept someone’s faults
for the best of reasons. And love madly.  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

They Will Remain Anonymous

The coward hid in the crowd
and pointed a shriveled finger
at the man on the stage.
“Booo,” and “Hiss,” bleated
the coward and ducked
their head down out of sight.
“Who said that? Why would
you say that,” asked the man
on the stage, doing his best.

No response from the crowd.
No answer from the coward.
Blank faces and sealed lips.

The man went back to his act,
the thing he loved doing. He knew
it wasn’t for everyone, it was a risk.

“You’re awful,” said the same
cowardly voice from the crowd
before vanishing into the mob.
“Hey, c’mon, I’m doing my best,
I’m up here doing, trying it out,
taking a chance with my name and face.”
The crowd shuffled, unmoved, un-phased,
they were used to anonymous cowards in
the herd, too scared to say their own name.
“We can talk about it, we can discuss the act,
if you have something constructive I’ll listen,
but why just tear it down? Why? Why hide?”

Again there was nothing, the coward was gone,
moved on to something else they don’t understand,
something else to criticize without using a name.

“I guess I’ll continue, despite your cowardice.
I know I’m brave enough to try at least.
My name is Michael. This is my minute.”  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fate's Sewing Class

I’m too excited
to be interested
in the tasks at hand.
I’m stressed,
and hopeful.
Mashed into a ball
of black cardigan fury
and breathing slowly.
I feel like there’s so
much to do, but so
little I can control.
Soon it’ll be out
of my hands and into
one of the Three Fates.
Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos
handling the thread of my life,
weaving an imperfect tapestry.
The Fates watch the stitching
and the seams without concern
for color or blend.
Golden Shears ready to snip
the thread once the tale is
told, by hook or by crook.
The deed will be done
out of my hands,
to leave me breathless and tired.
Optimistic, yet tempered with
cynicism. The die cast, the template
made,  hope and heartbeats remain.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Second Date

                The light snow brushed easily from the edges of David’s boots. He clomped his feet on the floor to shake off the excess as he unbuttoned his coat. He took his hat off and hung it on a coat hook next to the front door. He put his coat over his hat and then his scarf over the coat. He rubbed his hands together as he stepped from the foyer into the hallway that led to the living room.

                “Make yourself at home,” said Mary from the back of the house, “I’ll just be a minute.”
                “Okay,” said David.

                 David stepped through the living room, around the white couch, the glass coffee table, over the zebra rug towards a bookcase filled with a few books and a lot of photos. There were framed pictures of Mary and her various friends from around the world. A picture of her on an elephant, a camel, petting a tiger, hugging a small Indian girl, playing a flute as a cobra danced out of a basket, jumping up on the Great Wall of China, sky diving, hugging some famous basketball player, hugging some Asian children, hugging some other people in front of the Kremlin. There were lots of hugging pictures.

                “If you want some wine or anything there’s some on the kitchen counter. I opened a bottle while I was getting ready and I just never got around to having any, so you’re welcome to it,” called Mary again from somewhere in the house.
                “Thanks, I’m okay. I can pour you a glass if you like though,” said David.
                “That would be great! Sorry I’m taking so long. I will be out in a few,” said Mary.
                “No problem, take your time,” said David.

                He walked away from the bookcase and stopped to look at a framed oil painting over the fireplace mantle. It was some really abstract piece that reminded David of the time he spilled paint on the floor of his sister’s room when they were eight and he got in so much trouble for it. Yet, here was a long blue streak of oil paint on a white canvas garnering praise and likely; a hefty sum.  David adjusted his glasses on his nose and turned toward where he assumed the kitchen was.

                The home was very white. It was quite comfortable though. There was an open, airy, feel to the home that Mary had made for herself. There were glass vases with lilies and general glass doo-dads strewn about, but not cluttered. David walked by an impressive dining room table that looked to be an antique. It was old but not out of place in the modern dining room setting.  David could feel the weight of the old table and the contrast with the rest of the sparsely decorated dining room.  It worked through.

                He found the kitchen and saw the marble counter tops, white appliances, cabinets, and other white accents of the room. Even a white country kitchen sink sunk into the white marble counter tops. The island was also white except for a thick pine butcher’s block and the greenish glass of Mary’s opened white wine bottle. David opened the cabinets and found a wine glass. He took one out, then thought about it and took out a second. He figured he might as well have a glass now.

                He poured two glasses of the white wine and took a sip from his glass. He looked around the kitchen toward the smartly appointed breakfast nook complete with the New York Times crossword puzzle open and partially completed, in pen.  David took another sip of wine.  He heard Mary coming down a set of stairs and he quickly checked his reflection in the window overlooking the river. He felt like a chubby middle aged man and he tried to suck in his medium sized, slightly out of shape belly.

                “Thank you so much for being patient with me. I’ve been such a scatter brain today,” said Mary.

                Mary was elegant in her simplicity; a black dress, smart heels, a thin string of pearls around her neck, a cream colored pashmina over her thin shoulders. Her dark hair seemingly casually tussled, but in perfect order.   She entered the kitchen and David handed her the glass of wine.

                “You look incredible,” said David.
                “Oh stop, I just threw all this together,” said Mary as she took a sip and smiled.
                “Don’t be modest, you look great.”

                The awkward silence of a second date settled in. The first date was at a steak house where the conversation never seemed to stop. David was enamored from the start and he couldn’t believe this woman had any interest in him whatsoever. David and Mary met through a dating web site and had started talking when David made an amusing comment about Mary’s enjoyment of County Fairs. He didn’t remember the joke though. It was something inane but hit Mary right in the funny bone.

                “I really like your home,” said David, “it suits you.”
                “How so,” asked Mary.
                “There’s a sophistication tempered by modesty,” said David.
                “That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my place. Usually people just say it’s very white. I mean, not white as in race white but as in the color white. I sound silly don’t I?”
                “I know what you meant,” said David.
                “I didn’t want to sound elitist. Oh my goodness I’m just fumbling,” said Mary.

                David stepped around the island they were both hovering over to be closer to her.
                “You’re doing fine. I know what you meant. I’m quite certain you didn’t mean anything by it. It is white. It’s a white kitchen. But it’s hardly a racist kitchen,” said David.
                “Thank you, I save my racism for the basement,” said Mary.
                “Really, I would have thought the attic,” joked David.
                “Oh no, all my racism goes in the basement in cardboard boxes marked ‘Racist Stuff’. There’s a pile of them near the water heater,” said Mary.
                “Aren’t you afraid it’ll get damaged from the moisture,” asked David.
                “Oh no, that racism is surprisingly durable,” said Mary.

                David laughed.

                “We’re terrible people I think. Making jokes like this on a second date,” said Mary.
                “Well, if we’re going to get along I should probably know where you keep your racism,” said David.
                “I’m not racist you know. I’m only kidding,” said Mary, “And I’m starting to feel guilty for even making such jokes.”
                “Don’t worry. I won’t tell the P.C. police if you won’t,” said David, “but you are a terrible person.”
                Mary playfully punched David in the arm and made an amusing scowl.

                “Well, you’re a terrible audience to encourage me to be such a terrible person,” said Mary.
                “Guilty,” said David.

                The setting sun started to light the kitchen in a golden wintery hue. David squinted a bit at the streaming sunlight.

                “Would you like to move to the living room and have a seat,” asked Mary.
                “That would be lovely,” said David.

                She led the way as David took the bottle of wine from the counter and followed her into the other room.  He hoped they would get so involved in their conversation and enjoying each other they’d never leave. They had a play to attend, but David hoped Mary would be just as happy to skip it as he would.