The Man-Tree

My friend Matt is having a good laugh at my expense today, and it’s all because of something I said to him a few years ago. I guess I should have known that this particular comment of mine was going to come around and bite me on the butt, but somehow I really thought he’d forget about it.

At least, I hoped he would.

He was going through a rough time back then, feeling bad about the fact that he was still single in his mid-forties. And I treated him with all the smug assholery of a married person who thought she had all the answers. I was a married straight woman who thought I had all kinds of helpful advice to offer to a single gay man.

“You’ll never meet anyone if you don’t go out once in a while,” I told him.

He replied that he didn’t like clubs, didn’t feel like taking any classes or joining any singles groups, and refused to join a dating service.

I offered to fix him up with a friend. “L– is only a few years younger than you,” I told him. “He’s really cute, has these beautiful green eyes, is really active in community theater. I have known him since middle school, and I promise you he’s a really good guy.”

Nope, Matt didn’t do “fix-ups” or “blind dates” because he was afraid of being fixed up with a serial killer. Because, apparently, Matt harbors a secret belief that I have lifelong friends who just happen to be serial killers.

And that’s when I uttered those famous butt-biting words: “So I guess you think you’re going to meet Mr. Right by planting a man-tree in your living room and just picking the one you want?”

Fast forward several years, and now I’m the single one. It’s been more than two years since the Big Guy and I split up, and I haven’t been on a single date. Not one. I’ve had a few men flirt with me, but I can never tell if they are joking or serious, and I don’t have a clue what to do about the ones who just might actually be serious.

I don’t want to be single anymore, but I don’t want to have to find Mr. Right. I’m too old to go to clubs, and I hate crowds. I don’t like the idea of joining an online dating site. It’s just too random, and I really don’t think there are a lot of men on those sites looking for 50 year-old chubby divorcees.

I want Mr. Right to just appear. You know, by planting a man-tree in my living room and just picking the one I want.

If you listen really hard, you can probably hear Matt’s laughter from wherever you are. Seriously, I think he may be on the verge of giving himself an internal injury.

A while ago, I made a joke to a new co-worker about being available for fix-ups. I told her the same thing I’ve said to many people over the last couple of years: “Hey,” I joked, “if you’ve got any friends who are interested in middle-aged, overweight women, I’m up for a little matchmaking.”

She didn’t laugh. She just smiled and told me she had the perfect man in mind.

Holy shit.

Okay, so I haven’t actually met him yet. Haven’t even talked to him. In fact, he probably has no idea at this point that our mutual friend has been telling me about him. And if he does know, he may not want to meet me.

But with Matt’s laughter ringing in my years, I just told my co-worker to go ahead and talk to her friend. Set us up.

This may go nowhere. Maybe he’s not interested in dating or maybe he wont be interested in dating me. Maybe he’s a giant jackass who picks his nose at the dinner table. I don’t know what to expect. But if I’ve learned anything from everything that’s happened to me over the past few years, I’ve learned that we all have to take chances in life every once in a while. Step out of the comfort zone, do something that terrifies us, take that first frightening step, because life offers no guarantees.

No man-trees, either.

Good Morning!

It’s ten a.m., and I’m sitting at the computer in my jammies. I’ve lost count of how many cups of coffee I’ve inhaled, or how many times I’ve thought about taking a break only to push the thought aside and keep writing until the kids wake up and need me. Don’t judge me for letting them sleep in; it’s summer vacation.

I’m hungry. My ankles are swollen. I really have to pee.  And let’s face it; I’m pretty sure I stink.

This is not my fault.

I blame the writing workshop I attended last night. The instructor has been talking about plotting and structure, and I don’t remember ever feeling so driven to hurry home and write. I was home by eight, and I figured I could “burn the midnight oil” to make a lot of progress before going to bed. I felt like a real writer, like an artist starving to create a masterpiece. Yessir, I had a real fire in my belly.

Have I mentioned that I also have kids? More specifically, kids with nothing in their bellies.

My seven year-old greeted me on his bike at the foot of the driveway, surrounded by a posse of small people on similar bikes. “I’m hungry,” he announced as soon as I stepped out of my friend’s car.

“Didn’t your brother feed you?”

“Nope.”

My sixteen year-old sat on the couch, reading. “Is there a reason you chose not to feed your little brother any supper tonight?” I asked.

Shrug. “It’s not supper time yet.”

“Son, it’s after eight.”

“He never said he was hungry.”

This is the child I have entrusted with his brother’s safety while I work. Honor Student, National Honor Society member, general overachiever academically speaking, but apparently a bit lacking in common sense when it comes to child care. I may have to re-think this particular arrangement.

Out came the Foreman grill and burgers, plates and buns. Thirty minutes later, they’d been fed and the youngest was begging to be allowed to go back outside for s’mores at the neighbor’s bonfire. Which, of course, resulted in a sticky child in dire need of a bath, despite the fact that this child is terrified of my bathtub because he believes the rust stains are bloodstains. Every time he gets a bath at my house, he is absolutely convinced that something is going to climb out of the drain and kill him, so I have to stay in the bathroom with him for the entire bath to ensure his safety.

At one point, I also had to start texting my wayward daughter, who had taken my car to work nearly twelve hours earlier and apparently vanished from the face of the planet. Or at least outside of the calling area. Otherwise, she would surely have called or texted to let me know where she was and whether or not she was safe.

Shortly after learning that the Princess was safe but forgetful, I got a giggly phone call from a friend who thinks she has found me the perfect man. There was talk of a blind date with a handsome acupuncturist she met in the hot tub at the local wellness center; however, she doesn’t know his name or anything about him beyond the fact that he is “book smart” and has some distinguished gray at the temples. She wants me to come with her on the next family night so I can meet him, but somehow I don’t think I’ll be feeling my most attractive in a bathing suit, in a hot tub, or meeting a man who just may want to stick needles in me.

So what it boils down to is that I didn’t even get a chance to look at my computer until this morning, and I have been kicking butt ever since.  Their Love Rekindled is finished in rough draft, but I’ve made the decision to go back through and apply what I’ve learned in the workshop. I’ve been doing some restructuring, cutting, re-writing and –I hope – improving upon what I had already created.  I feel like I’m making it so much stronger, so much more coherent.

I had originally planned on releasing this one at the end of July, but now I want to push that back a bit. I want to make it the absolute best book it can be, and that’s going to take a little longer. I am going to aim for Labor Day Weekend, and I plan on sharing my first chapter here within the next few weeks just to give you all a taste of what to expect.

I’m also seeing a lot of things I wish I had done differently in my other books, although I’m not really sure whether I’m going to go back and make changes or not. To be honest, I’m sort of feeling ready to put my Beach Haven series aside for a while and dive into the new series that’s been percolating for a while.  It’s about three childhood friends, a fortune-teller, and the idea of Love and Destiny.

I’m thinking about making one of the characters an overworked, overstressed single mom who works four part-time jobs while writing romance novels and falling in love with a handsome acupuncturist after a chance meeting in a hot tub.

Or maybe it’s just time for me to switch to decaf.