Archive | August, 2011

Grand Slam Pam II

28 Aug

Grand Slam Pam II

“Are you okay?”

A simple question like this doesn’t always yield a simple, sweet answer.  Jo was afraid of asking this of Pam. She didn’t want to hear bad news coming so early, she didn’t want to know if Pam’s life had turned upside down. Jo had recently left a sour relationship herself having simply walked away. There was no drama, no unkind words; in fact when Jo left her lover of only 6 months, the morning she left, she washed their bedding, cleaned the kitchen, packed up all her things, arranged the furniture the way it was, and left a note on the kitchen table,

 This isn’t working anymore. I gave it a try, it didn’t work out. Be safe, be happy.   Thank you for coming into my life for a while. I will miss the kids.



When Jo left she didn’t know where to go, but she left and drove 100 miles south, away from her lover. After she landed she never called the girl and decided to lose complete contact.

Not today, not now with Pam, not with most lesbians. Lesbians love drama, it’s their whole life. They don’t know the rules of breaking up, they haven’t a clue. They become spiteful, aggressive, and petty. They carry a grudge for months on end, maybe years. This was Jo’s thinking when she asked Pam again,

“Are you okay?”

Pam wasn’t okay, in fact, things were worse than Jo expected.

“I had a huge fight with Kasey, she allowed her dog to go after my dog – my little dog, my Shih tzu, he’s 12 years old, and he’s blind, for goodness sake! How could she not stop him?”

Jo was in the kitchen, barely awake,  making coffee. She loved a first cup in the morning.  The clock on the microwave said 8:30, that meant Pam’s time was 5:30.

“What are you doing up so early?” Jo asked.

“I told you. The roti attacked my dog.”

Jo, always one to draw lines right to the point, “Is he dead?”

“Well, no, he’s not, but that’s not the point…”

Pam was reticent to pick up until she felt indulged enough by Jo’s sometimes tart tongue. But Pam knew, too, that Jo was a fair listener, an empathetic ear.

“I am bringing him to the vet today, and Kasey won’t even come with me. Plus, she wouldn’t even recommend a vet!”

Being from different coasts was a disadvantage in more than one way: the thought process of these two women was wildly different. While Pam, always polite, trying to see all sides, had a very balanced tone where excitement and anger sounded the same, so Jo couldn’t tell if Pam was upset or not, and this underpinning of lady-like decorum infuriated Jo’s sense of urgency like a school bell.

“Pam, I don’t understand: what happened? Your dog got attacked by Kasey’s dog and – the dog isn’t dead?”

Pam knew she had touched on Jo’s short patience, “Jo, that’s correct. The dog was attacked-”

“How?” snapped, Jo.

“Well, the dog is blind; he’s 12 years old-”

“Yes, you said that. I heard that. How was your dog attacked?”

“My dog bumped into Kasey’s dog while she was eating and I…I…guess the dog thought my dog was going after his food…I don’t know…but I think my dog broke its jaw.”

“Jesus, Pam! Are you fucking kidding me?”

“I am not kidding you. I wish I were.”

“So what are you gonna’ do?”

“I’m looking for a vet, I found a vet. Kasey didn’t. She didn’t help me at all.”

Pam sighed a heavy breath and then began to cry, “She…refuses to help…I don’t know why…my poor dog…he’s so small, he can’t see…he didn’t want his food…he probably was going into the kitchen for his water…”

Pam’s crying quieted Jo as it always does when a woman cries because crying goes to the core of Jo’s soft spot. Jo let Pam cry, and when Pam was ready, Jo would offer good, fighting advice for Pam.

“Hold on, I need to get a tissue.”

When Pam got back on the line, she said to Jo, “I’m so sorry to call you so early. I just didn’t know what to do-”

“Pam, you call the vet and get an appointment right away. Fuck Kasey. Get your dog to the vet. You can’t worry about Kasey’s feelings or her dog or anything else. You have to get your dog to the vet. Make an emergency appointment right now. Okay?”

“Yes, well, I found a couple of vets, it’s just that it’s so early here-”

“That’s why it’s an emergency, Pam. Your dog is probably in pain. Get him to the vet. He needs to get to a vet. ”

“All right, Jo, I will. I’ll let you know. I feel so bad for him, he’s so afraid of being here…he’s so new to the place. He was just trying to find his way around here.”

Jo had been difficult with Pam and she knew why: she was confounded by women who get serious so fast, putting stock in people they barely know.


Pam’s dog would be okay, but he’d never be the same. This attack was just the first of things that would go undone for Pam.

During the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Kasey’s mother died and this upset her so much she took it out on Pam. She cursed Pam, violating her by verbally abusing her, saying mean and hurtful things to cause Pam to hideaway in her room (Pam and Kasey were no longer sleeping together). Pam would go to her room to cry and wonder how was it that her life became so upset and so unsatisfied. When she tried to comfort Kasey, sensitive to the loss of Kasey’s mother, she pushed Pam away, blaming their relationship for taking her away from her mother, that if she hadn’t gotten involved with Pam, she could have concentrated on the seriousness of her mother’s illness.

Pam and Jo spoke regularly during this time and Jo comforted Pam where she could, but it was the week before Valentine’s Day when the news Pam reeled was more than Jo expected.

“Kasey threatened to kill me if I don’t move within two weeks, Jo. She actually threatened to kill me! I’m fearing for my life, Jo!”

There was silence on the phone as Jo sat, shaking her head, looking out to a backyard filled with snow, a twilight evening, a simple Tuesday, nothing out of the ordinary; bird feeders in the distance were empty. Her dog nuzzled her nose to her lap, and Jo looked down and patted her coat.  She had pinned so much hope on Pam’s relationship, hoping that she, too, would one day find the love of her life, like Pam had found. Jo’s mind was filled with sadness.

Pam said, “Jo? You there?”

“Yes, I’m here, Pam.”

“Did you hear what I said? Why are you so quiet? Can you hear me?”

“What are you going to do,” Jo said, exasperated by the news.

A heavy sigh from Pam, “I have to move. I’m going to move while Kasey’s at work and I will. I already called two guys from Craig’s List. They’re coming tomorrow.”

“Wow!” Jo said, in support of her friend, “You’re moving fast!”

“I have to. I’m getting out of here. Kasey is crazy. Her dog is crazy. Look what I did for her? I moved here, left my job, my house – I did everything for her. I wanted to build my life with this woman. She promised me so much! What a fool I was. And you were right…”

Jo wasn’t used to hearing when people necessarily agreed to her opinion because her opinion was usually unpopular. “What did I do?”

Pam started laughing, “Jo, I will rise from this. Like the Phoenix from the ashes. I will rise from this and I will never, ever get myself into this situation ever again. I was so foolish – and I was fooled, but I’ll never let anyone do this to me again.”


By August 2011, Pam had returned to Vancouver and was working part-time at a local animal shelter, she would sometimes foster a dog for adoption.  She had set up a really sweet apartment for her and her cat, (her dog had passed from injuries endured from the attack).  And though many of her furnishings were still in storage, 300 miles away, and she couldn’t afford to get them out just yet, Pam was slowly building a new life.  “You know,” she said, having come from the tarot card reader she had seen before she left to live with Kasey,

“She started the session by telling me that I am shrouded in grief right now. I’ve lost so much over the past year. She told me that all my life I have always been the care giver. She said that I left my home and security because I believed that I had found someone who wanted to take care of me…SO effing true.”

Jo went to a tarot session once and had attended a séance; she often got a little more than intrigued when listening to things supernatural. “Wow! How long was the session?”

“Then she said, “But when you got there, you found out that it wasn’t the truth.” She told me that Kasey wanted me to be the caregiver and that she used me financially. She called her a “shark” and a “predator”.  The session was just over an hour.  It was wonderful.”

“Did she say what the future holds?”

“Well, she said it was really important to get out into the world.  She was pulling cards the whole time she was talking. These weren’t Tarot cards, I’m not really sure what she was using. Anyway, each card she pulled had some incredible connection to whatever we were talking about. As an example, I asked if my little dog passed over quickly to the other side. She reached down and pulled a card and it said “Swiftly.”

“Listen,” she tells Jo, “You are never going to believe where I’m headed to? I’m going with a friend!”

It was good to hear happiness in Pam’s voice. “Where?!” said Jo, happy for her friend.

“Oh, I’ve got to tell you this. First, I want to say ‘thank you’ you helped me so much through this time, Jo.  I have a new life and even though I’m not all there yet, I will be.  A new life, a new beginning and I deserve it, Jo. I deserve it. I rose out of the ashes and I will never let anyone bring me down again. I’ll never believe in an empty promise, and I’ll never believe anyone as quickly as I believed in Kasey. If someone wants to come into my life they will have to prove to me they’re worth it. ”

Jo sat listening, happy for her friend’s news. “You’ve come a full 180, Pam.”

Pam shrieked, “I’m meeting my son and daughter downtown for lunch and then, then, we’re going to pick up my new dog! I found him on a farm out near my mother’s house, he’s 8 weeks old. I’m getting another dog! Isn’t that great news?!”

It was the best news. “What kind of dog?” asked, Jo.

“Don’t you know?! He’s a Shih Tzu and I’m naming him, ready for this? ‘Phoenix’!”

The End

© Terry Rachel, 2011

Grand Slam Pam

18 Aug

Grand Slam Pam

When I met Pam she was working as a mortgage officer with a well-known bank in Vancouver, Washington, a beautiful area in the northwestern territory of the United States where the majestic Columbia River runs along the banks of carefully placed high rises and corporate offices. Nearer to the Columbia Basin, Pam had an office high enough to view the rapidly changing currents of the river. Having an office overlooking the river was something Pam never seemed to take for granted because it came with her planning. When we spoke by phone, usually on her lunch hour, she’d interrupt our conversation with, “Oh, Jo, I can see a great heron from here! He’s beautiful! I think he’s caught a fish!” That’s how good a view it was that Pam could watch blue heron dive for salmon and trout.

Pam had been working for the bank seven years and had come up through the ranks, starting first as a teller and with her sunny good looks and smart, facile tongue, she had a good head for numbers and she went on from one promotion to the next until she became a mortgage officer. Known for her ability to see a job through, and with her connections, she could move paperwork where no one else could. To arrive at this stage in the banking and loan industry was a coup of sorts, and though it may have come with a bit of cunning, her meteoric rise to break the glass ceiling was, nonetheless, a carefully planned move – not an exercise in complacency, but rather a bold move by a bold and confident woman who wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted.

“This is what a woman has to do,” she told me after her excitement over the blue heron, “I work this hard for my kids, because no one is going to raise them but me.”

Pam had two children, a boy and girl, both in college. The children were self-sufficient and were working part-time jobs to help pay their tuition, but Pam often helped by sending checks to help with incidentals. She seemed to have it together: great job, healthy life attitude, good health, good children, a life that was well-balanced, and she seemed, overall, very happy.  If she did complain the complaint was minimal and she’d quickly move onto the next topic.  A considerate and thoughtful woman, she was mindful of taking up too much of a conversation, stopping to ask, “So, enough about me, tell me girl: what have you been up to?” Underneath that savvy, smart businesswoman exterior was a woman who yearned for a simpler life, one out of the corporate world. “Well, what is it?” I asked her one day, she had just come from a tarot card reading.

“I went into a metaphysical store that has just opened in Vancouver. I heard about her, this woman, there. I was just leaving when a very beautiful woman approached me and took my hands in hers. I didn’t know who she was. She looked into my eyes and said I think you need a reading. I found out she was the psychic I had been hearing about. But she didn’t know I was asking about her.”

“Wow, hmmmn. Amazing.”

“Well, I thought so anyway. She said I don’t belong in corporate America (I knew that about myself).”

“Where do you belong?”

“When I brought up the idea of the pet shelter, she thought I meant just volunteering. The next card she pulled was a card that said “Destiny.” Then she pulled the next card and it was a picture of a half-human, half-lion and it said “Power.”

“Hmmn. so, that’s where you got the idea? You don’t belong in the corporate world?”

“I hate the rat race and the petty competition. I always have. I feel like I’m supposed to be doing something bigger that benefits people. Every time I take a job making good money (working in a corporation) I feel like I’m just doing it for the money…I feel…like a prostitute. But I have never felt that it was my purpose. I have had the idea of a pet shelter for the past couple of years. It was just something I thought I might want to do someday…later.  I’m good at what I do and this is my job for now because I need the money and the benefits. But I need to be working towards my other goal at the same time.”

As fortune would have it, realizing her world was incomplete, on one particularly stressful day, feeling the walls of loneliness closing in, Pam had gotten onto a local dating site where she began an exchange of love letters with a woman from Seattle. She would later tell everyone – including her boss – she had met “the love of her life” and that it was time for a change. Soon after that, everything that Pam built for herself, everything she had worked for, was pushed aside in order for Kasey to place first in Pam’s life.


Kasey Fairfeather was a tribeswoman, seated on the counsel of tribesmen in the Suquamish tribe of the Pacific Northwest. This tribe also approves of same-sex marriage, and so when Pam told me how high an honor it was for Kasey to be on the counsel, I was surprised, having little knowledge about tribal customs. In addition to this rank and privilege, Kasey held an RN degree from the University of Washington, and had a nice home twenty minutes from where she worked as a second-shift nurse at Northwest Hospital and Medical Center.

Pam became quickly involved with Kasey and in February of 2010 began to unravel her life – she had left her Vancouver home – doing a short sale to unload it as quickly as possible, she left her Vancouver job at the bank (and the view), and told her children she was moving to Seattle. By June of 2010, Pam and Kasey, only knowing each other four months, were living together in Kasey’s home in Seattle. Pam and I spoke infrequently during this time, and I let it be, giving her the latitude to develop her relationship, I figured she’d call when she could.

In July, she called wishing me a happy birthday and during that exchange she told me how happy she was with Kasey, how leaving her job and moving and being free of her home in Vancouver was the, “absolute best decision” she had made. I was surprised and saddened, leery of the situation happening so quickly and said, “You don’t even know her that long, Pam.”

“Jo, but I do! We are like glove-in-hand, it’s a fit. We know each other instinctively. She is the one I’ve been searching for all my life.”

They say that good news sleeps late and bad news calls early, so when the phone rang early the day after Thanksgiving, I knew it couldn’t be good.  “Hello?” I answered cautiously. I picked up to hear Pam’s sobbing voice into the phone.

To be continued.

© Terry Rachel, 2011

The Little Black “Dress” Secret

12 Aug

Don’t ask me how it came to be that my paternal grandfather married a woman who was half-black, but after several inquiries I found out the truth an hour before leaving her door.


My grandmother was a polished gal in spite of the meager wages she earned as a seamstress, later working in Hell’s Kitchen in the twenties and thirties, she arrived in Ellis Island at twenty-one as a freshly married couple to grandpa. They both spoke “broken English” when the newly-wedded, Viola and Vincente Battaglia arrived, savings in hand of $290.15 in 1910 would be roughly $6,400 dollars by today’s standards. Not a bad start, not a whole lot of money, but a start. And they both had a trade: she worked with fabric, sewing clothing, a hemline so perfect, she was appointed head seamstress when they found her work so right in every way; grandpa worked with leather, cutting shoes, gloves, briefcases, sewn together, stitched right and right in a row, and right in a row came two boys: one in 1914, my uncle Frank, and the other, in 1915, my father, Victor.

By now you know the story about the immigrants. They brought their trades. The Irish, German, the Jews, Italians, Poles and so many others, brought their cultural jewels to America, where they worked with their crafts to help build rails, tunnels, bridges – New York’s subways – the factories that pumped smoke to build steel and textiles, and the Erie Canal built to transport goods along the Hudson artery, and so forth. You know the story, it was taught to us at an early age. This is a part of our culture and history. But there’s another part of history that wasn’t taught in grade school: that is Sicily, being geographically close to Tunisia in northern Africa where the Atlantic slave trade in the 1800′s was alive and well, where slaves were shipped through the island of Sicily through the port cities of Agrigento, Marsala and Trapani – this last one being where my great-grandmother was born – were Italian girls who were cohabitating with the guys who were a little darker than them – a little miscegenation, brought my great-grandmother into a bit of a dilemma, pregnant now at 16 with her first child, would turn out to be Viola, my grandmother who was born in 1894.

The official end of slavery came in 1863, but like our current law-breaking, running drugs, for example, my suspicion leads me to think that despite the Emancipation Proclamation, the Atlantic slave trade was still going on several years later.


I was always closer to my father’s mother. She taught me how to write a letter, how to hold a fork, “switch hands when cutting your food,” how to set a table, “use the good linen for company,” how to hail a cab. “if you’re going uptown you wait on the uptown side,”  and when I was young,  showing off my piss and vinegar telling her, “fuck, grandma, leave me alone,” that came out expectantly, she put me right back in line, by getting up and throwing off her apron, taking me by the ear and into the bathroom where she washed out her dainties, pushing a large bar of soap – washing soap – the kind that you used a scrub-board on, shoving it down my mouth until bubbles starting forming.  I never cursed at her again and, in some way, every time I curse now, I think of grandma, always afraid she’s going to come out of the kitchen, stampeding my way.

She died in 1983 in between the death of my parents (1981 and 1984) and I went to see her at the nursing home.

“Grandma, I got a question for you.”

“Are you studying in school? I want you to stay in school,” she waved her fan; it was a hot July afternoon. “Where’s my ginger ale?”

I hand her her soda, “Do you want some ice?”

“That would be nice.”

I step into the hall, green like a mint sprig, I see white gowns, stretchers, the smell of urine sickens me and makes me tighten my lips, “Excuse me,” I say to a white dress, she’s pertinent, as if she knows the question will have to lead her always to a knowledgeable answer, “Yes?” she snaps and puts me at attention.

“Uhm,” I stagger, not expecting such a quick response, “do …do you know where I can find some ice?”

“I’ll get you some. Who are you seeing?”

“Oh, thank you. My grandmother.”

“Ah, you must be ….you’re Viola’s granddaughter?”

“Yes, yes, I am.”

Her glasses sit at the bridge of her nose, and I notice her white stockings match her white shoes, and I could tell she polishes her shoes. She says, “Very nice. You look like her. I’ll bring some in, hold tight.”

“Thanks, yes,” I say, “it’s a little warm. Her ginger ale is warm.”

Back in the room, “Theresa, put the fan over there and come over here, I want to talk to you.”

In my family they don’t talk with you, they talk to you – and there is a big difference.

“Sit down next to me,” she pats the bed, I obediently sit next to her, in my twenty-seventh year, I’m at the height of my annoying and bombastic self.  ”You miss your father?” she strokes my hair, “I know you do. And your mother is sick, and you know I’m dying-”

“Grandma. Come on, please…you can’t die. They don’t want you in heaven anyway,” I tell her this with a smirk.

“I sure am, you little stinker – you’re just like your father – they’ll make way for me. You’re the one who should be worried.”

“Here’s your ice!” The nurse marches in with precise steps, “Viola! How are you doing today, sweetheart?” She notices grandma’s pillow, “Sit up and let me fluff this for you.”

“Thank you for the ice,” I say, grateful for her timely interruption.

“Oh, it’s no problem. It’s hot out!” She goes to the only window in the room and adjusts the blinds, she sends back a look to grandma, “Is that better?” gauging the level of light so it doesn’t get in the way of grandma’s sensitive eyes.

“Yes, yes, thank you, Rose,” she says to the nurse; they’re on a first-name basis, ‘Hmmn, grandma’s been here only four months, but look how fast you can become familiar.’

“Rose! Take a look at my granddaughter!”

“We met outside,” Rose says.

“Isn’t she a beauty?”

“She looks like you, Viola.” And with this Rose says, “You want the door opened or closed?”

“Leave it open,” says grandma, “They can’t hear in here anyway.”

“Grandma, I have to be going soon, I’m in downstairs metered parking.”

She gets the urgency, “I want to tell you something before I leave and before you go, you ready?”

I crane my cocky head, “What?”

“You’re such a snotty bitch, but I love you. That’s gonna’ get you far -”

“Is that what you want to tell me? What are you talking about, grandma – gawwwwd.” I drone on.

“Theresa, you don’t understand something – but you need to know. Your father is dead – my son, I buried. Your mother is sick. I won’t be there for you… You’re going to have to be strong.”

I roll my eyes, no one has to tell me the pain I’m in, or maybe they do, or maybe I just hide from the pain, but I know she can see it and it angers me. “I got a question for you, something I’ve always been dying to know. Can I ask you a question?”

“What is it?” She looks to me with full, brown eyes, her eyes are soft and soulful, her wide mouth full, she still has all her own teeth, her hair and abundance of white curl. “Ask! What is it?”

“There was some rumor, a long time ago, grandma, and me, I always wanted to know.”

“Theresa, just ask. If I can’t answer I’ll let you know. I didn’t bring you up to be afraid of anything. If you want a favor there’s a 50/50 chance I can do it. If it’s money I don’t have any to give.”

“Grandma, it’s not money. I make my own money.”

“Are you in school? Did you drop out? All right. Never mind, what was it?”

I let out a sigh, and then bleed all over, “Grandma, are you half-black? Are you? Because mommy used to talk about it with daddy and all the aunts on mommy’s side wondered and I used to stick up for you. And then my brothers – all of them – Sal, Victor and even Thomas, they said you were, but I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it because that would make me black, too.”

She knitted her eyebrows and looked at me curiously, “Come here,” and she opened up her arms, where I went immediately to rest my head on her bosom, she smelled so good. As she rocked me, she said, “I am half-black, but it was a relation my young mother had so long ago. And I was ridiculed for years for it. But I endured the looks and the rumors and the talk….for so, so long. Now I don’t care. I haven’t cared…must be, well, right around 50 years old. I didn’t give a damn what they had to say.”

I wiped my eyes, and blew into a tissue; I bit my bottom lip and asked, “Did you ever tell anyone?”

She grabbed me again, this time grabbing only my cheek, taking the tissue out of my hand, she wiped my eyes, and brushed back my hair, “I would tell anyone if they asked, but they never asked!”

“Then why did you tell me?”

She didn’t hesitate, “Because you asked! You’re a little snotty bitch, and that’s gonna’ take you far.”

“I don’t know what you mean, grandma. I really don’t.”

It was time to go, I kissed grandma softly on the head and put her ginger ale near her nightstand, she said, “it wasn’t a secret, it was just never spoken about it. But you…you….I knew one day you were going to ask me.”

I smiled at her, “I have to go, grandma. I love you.”

She kissed me on the cheek, “I love you. And remember -”  I was standing in between the hallway and her room, when she called out the last words she ever spoke to me,  as if my brother Thomas the hairdresser could hear,“when I die, remember! I want Thomas to do my hair!”

I rolled my eyes at her and ran down the hall, not waiting for the elevator, I took the steps, taking them two at a time, I ran out the building and looked up to my grandma’s window, seeing the flowers I had given her were moved to the window ledge.

© of Terry Rachel, 2011

Who Are You Anyway?

6 Aug

Who Are You Anyway?

She chooses quotes for her Facebook page of Ralph Waldo Emerson, George Washington, Buddha, Dalai Lama, Kahlil Gibran and  (Rumi –  born so long ago – 8th Century – in a country that no longer exists – Persia), to realize worthwhile things, to understand the world, to feel connected, to appear tolerant.


Michele Bangelo walks to her car, she is unhappy, fighting back tears. Her lover didn’t show up at Starbucks at the mall.  Though Michele’s lover, Babe Dye, has a good reason for not showing, Michele, will not want to hear “another excuse.” Babe will get stuck at school, where she works as a jobs coach for developmentally challenged teens trying to land their first jobs, and Babe had a trying time with a particularly difficult kid that afternoon when she was to meet Michele.

But as she’s been hung up before by Babe, Michele will act out the way she was taught by her mother: she will not pick up the phone to call Babe. She will be spiteful and stay silent, punishing Babe by ignoring her in every possible way. And when she’s good and ready, and when Babe gets sorry enough, only then will Michele let her back in.  This, of course, leaves Michele with the upper hand, just like she was taught, just as she had witnessed how her mother would treat her when she was out of line, or when she didn’t do something her mother liked, and in this presence of mind, she will carry out how she will conduct all her past, present, and future relationships.


Wendy Van Glow is recently broken up from Maria Losintres. Maria didn’t want to break up with Wendy, and the first year of their involvement was amazing: they did everything together, they were inseparable. This was it:  they would define their relationship as “soulmates.” But something happened the second year, something unexpected, and Maria Losintres began to see Wendy in a different light.

Wendy had resented Maria because she viewed Maria’s life in comparison to her own, and she realized what a loser she was after all. Maria had had surpassed her educationally, graduating with a Masters degree in Physical Therapy and within two years of graduation, opened up her own practice where she would build her staff to 18 others with a very large clientele. Maria was enormously successful, but it didn’t hamper the very sound lessons she learned early on.

Maria was just like her father: soft-spoken, a resilient man who took the verbal abuse from his wife. Whenever a fight ensued between Maria’s father and Maria’s mother, Maria hid in her room, feeling despair for her father who she loved most, she would put her hands to her ears to cover the hurtful words her mother slung like arrows over innocuous situations.  “Idiot! You forgot the toaster was on!!”  “Moron! I told you to paint the trim first!!” and “Jerk! flush the toilet!”

So Maria found Wendy on Match dot com, a divorced mother of three, who now wanted to explore her lesbian side and come out at forty-two.  It worked that first year, but the second year Wendy began to lose patience with Maria’s steady-as-you-go demeanor. Whereas Wendy, a little bit on the wild side, and a lover of a good happy hour, was inclined to ditch the kids, and head out for drinks early, calling Maria while Maria was still at work, sometimes interrupting Maria’s client’s physical therapy sessions, would enjoy unraveling Maria bit by bit.

And so the second year Wendy showed Maria just how it had to be: “You’re a fool to think that way,” she told Maria when Maria said, “I’m not buying a house with you yet until you behave.” And with this sound logic Wendy became worse with the sourness she felt down inside of her, “Fuck you, Maria, who the fuck do you think you are? You don’t tell me what to do, bitch, I do what I want. I don’t need you, and my kids don’t need you. With your cars, and your fancy practice. Fuck you. You have nothing over me.”

And Maria, so hurt, so hung by the delivery of these words, says humbly, “I love you, I give you so much. I give to your children, I give to you. Everything you ask for, I buy. I pay the bills here, and I give you money. All I am saying is please: don’t call the office several times a day to bother me at work.”

Wendy doesn’t see Maria’s  earnestness, “Oh, Maria, you know what? You told me when we got involved you would be there for me. Everything was going to be perfect. So excuse me. Excuse me that I call my girlfriend. Excuse fucking me.”

“You call when you’re drunk, Wendy. That’s when you call. You call to ask me for more money so you can drink. And when you drink you become like this.”

Their relationship will last another five months, through Christmas, ending right before Valentine’s Day.


Jeremy Leary has been with his partner, Rocky Lee, for nearly fourteen years. In September, they will head to New York to be married. Jeremy is a tall, slender man  in his thirties, while Rocky, ten years older, is almost better looking than Jeremy, with his square jaw, perfect hair, the color of wheat, and his eyes that shine brilliantly blue when he’s engaged in conversation, Jeremy is wrapped in his partner’s charm, and Rocky knows just how to play him, teasing Jeremy when he stands, Rocky pushes his ass  into Jeremy’s crotch.

Today is a good day to Rocky’s way of thinking, a perfect excuse with friends coming by, Jeremy will not say a word to Rocky about his drinking, heaven-sent,  so  Rocky can drink to his heart’s content without  a complaint from Jeremy.

They often argue about money, “Why can’t you just cut back to once a week,” Jeremy pleads to Rocky, “if you just kept it to Saturdays, I wouldn’t care. But you drink every night, Rocky, and it’s costing us a fortune.”

Rocky shrugs  off these accusations.  It’s his money, he works, too. After all, a man should have some vices, and Rocky works longs hours to indulge his vices of cigarettes and six-packs every night. “That adds up. Rocky,” Jeremy continues with the nudge, hoping to make Rocky see the damage he’s doing to his body, while at the same time calculating the numbers, “It’s nearly four-hundred dollars, four-hundred!  A month! That’s how much you spend in cigarettes and beer. With that money saved every month we could go to Hawaii. You like Hawaii. Think about it, Rocky.”

“Well, I’ll just drink in Hawaii, too. Jeremy, please.”

They dance around the real issue:  While all his friends and family can see it, Rocky and Jeremy never talk about Rocky’s drinking problem.

Jeremy was visited by his friend Areena, a Russian-speaking woman who befriended Jeremy at work.  When Areena asked, “Hey, why so blue?” he didn’t hesitate with his admission, “I think Rocky is an alcoholic.”

The reasoning of these words isn’t easily spoken about.  So instead Jeremy flirts around the issue of money, hoping Rocky will see his trouble as an alcoholic. They will go through the seasons together, probably like this for a lifetime. Jeremy stays with an alcoholic, enabling his disease, and Rocky knows that if he ever does go straight, finding some way to admit he is an alcoholic, Jeremy will leave him


At the start of our lives, as we go out into the  world, we are given a toolbox where we learn how to say “Please” and “Thank you.” We learn to share, we learn to kiss a boo-boo, and we learn about friendship and love. But when the positive enforcement is mixed with the negative enforcement that’s where our thoughts become muddled. With the forces of good versus bad,  we yearn  for the once sweet memories to bring us back but  we don’t know how to get back to them.  Instead we get nuggets of happiness here and there.  We go to social media, relying on friends and family to build us up, to connect to us. We post quotes of happiness , integrity, and sincerity, desperately trying to reach inside of ourselves to find the happiness that is our birthright.

Instead, like Jeremy and Rocky, and Wendy and Maria, and Babe and Michele, we become comfortable in negative behavior, suffering the consequences, we settle, either directly or indirectly, into endlessly hurtful patterns of behavior, infusing our relationships with the fucked up shit taught to us by our parents. Dump their value systems.

Socrates once wrote a profound message that he hoped would cure one of all negative emotions, it has two words:  Know Thyself.  I should know, I’m the character of Michele Bangelo.

© Terry Rachel, 2011