Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bridges and Highways

Escaping out of the city across the Kennedy Bridge, I was still in the multi-mile 55 mph section. This reduced speed area was set up on I-65 about fifteen years ago when the Indiana Highway Department was widening the road from two lanes going north and two lanes going south. Now there are about eight lanes in both directions. I say about because I'm never sure if the lane count is confined to only the lanes in the actual road, or does the count include the several lanes behind the tall and thick concrete barrier between road lanes and the approach lanes. The Kennedy Bridge is four lanes and spans the Ohio River at a point where the river is a mile wide. There has been a generation of discussion about what kind of or number of bridges should be built to supplement the Kennedy as well as the Clark bridges. These two carry those wanting to enter or leave Louisville, as well as those who just want to pass through the city.

My mind boggles. Sixteen lanes of traffic carry vehicles north out of or south into eight lanes of a bridge.

When driving north the traffic is manageable. I was in the right lane and my truck had been set to run 55 miles an hour. Everyone from a heavily loaded log semi-truck to the 1974 Oldsmobile that hadn't seen a mechanic or car wash in a decade was passing me going 70. The Indiana State Police write a lot of tickets in this part of the highway.

When I was nearing Sellersburg a big truck was entering the expressway. I had seen it and got into the left lane. Unfortunately, another big truck that had been running beside me did not see the new entrant and slammed on its brakes and moving into my lane at about 45 miles an hour. I'm not sure he saw me in my bright red truck but I slammed on my brakes and was able to not explode against his back bumper!

Then proceeding on I topped one of the gently rolling hills and about five hundred yards ahead a man was standing in the middle of the expressway between two lanes talking on a cell phone with his back to the traffic. I slammed on the brakes again, leaned on my horn and gave him time to walk back to the side of the road, where his mini-van was parked. I was amazed; a man standing in the middle of I-65 North talking on a cell phone.

The last time I made this trip I had sat in a traffic jam for about an hour going north and thirty minutes going south. Luckily I had a book with me.

I met some friends for lunch at a restaurant five miles north of the bridge one Thursday afternoon last month and it took me an hour to get back over the bridge at 2 in the afternoon. There wasn't an accident. The jam was due to traffic.

Once those who lived in Indiana and worked in Louisville would get up and start south about 7:45 a.m. for a job downtown that started work at 8:30 to 9 a.m. My home town is 43 miles from Louisville up I-65. Now you have to start for the city about 7 a.m. and 4 mornings out of 5 you will spend 45 minutes in traffic between Sellersburg and the river. Most mornings these delays are not due to accidents but just because of the high traffic volume. I'm sure this is nothing compared to places like Los Angeles and Houston. For southern Indiana and northern Kentucky it's a nightmare.

Louisville built a "world class" arena for the college basketball team in 18 months.

The powers that be began discussing the need for one or two new bridges in 1971, at least.

This bridge need is a big conversation topic here. Now after millions have been spent in studies of the problem and salaries of those involved, it is thought that tolls will be needed to pay for them. Most of those who sit daily in their cars and suck up exhaust don't give a damn, just build the bridges!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

There was an election. The result is a developing story.

Let the word go out across the land, Charlene survived the Kentucky Primary 2010!

I had set my alarm for 4 a.m. Tuesday morning and gone to bed at 10 p.m. What I was going to wear and what I was going to take with me was planned. I got my bath before bed. I was ready.

At 4:36 a.m. Reggie called me. "Are you awake?" He asked.

"I am now!" I replied. The alarm had not gone off or I had slept through it. Now you must know I never set an alarm. I always get up in plenty of time between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. each morning, week day or week end. Therefore, like a whirling dervish I dressed, got my vitamins, put on my shoes and left the house as Reggie called me again, "I'm on my way, are you?"

I was on my way.

The sky is interesting looking in the city at 5 a.m. It glows with a pale yet dark blue tint. I drove to the polling place about a mile away and got there at 5:15 a.m., which is the time we are expected. I say expected because when we take poll worker training before each election this is stressed. "You must be there at 5:15 a.m. to get everything set up." The problem Tuesday, was the person with the key to the building had decided to stop for coffee and a breakfast sandwich at McDonalds. I hadn't made coffee or stopped. I didn't have time!

No, I did not rip her head off or even accidentally turn over the cup of coffee. I got to work.

Oh, as an added note, this woman was a long time poll worker at this precinct. I was new to the precinct. There were two high, soft cushioned chairs. She got one. Another long term worker got the other. The rest of us crouched on folding metal chairs. I asked her in my indoor projective voice, "Where did you get those nice chairs?" Everyone had noticed and also paid attention to her answer. "They were here when I got here," was her innocent reply. Butter would have not melted in her mouth she was so innocent.

In spite of this minor drama the group of poll workers from the two main parties worked convivially all day. I vowed though, next time I am going to have coffee and I'm going to immediately get inside and search for those two chairs!

We got the place set up and were ready at 6 a.m. The day went fine with a light turn out and very few delays when more than one person was at the table signing in.

I was surprised and delighted at the number of first generation citizens voting. They all knew English and had drivers licenses and were polite and smiling. In more than one incidence they were voting for the first time. We got people who were old. We got people who could barely walk. I noticed that in these two groups, the voters were proud to vote. It wasn't a nuisance or unwelcomed chore. It was a celebration to them.

There was a man who came in and seemed to want to start a controversy by asking we workers provocative questions. I tried to make light of his fervor. He engaged a male worker from the other precinct and they were getting loud blocking people coming in. Everyone looked about and at each other waiting for someone to stop them. Finally I called out the name of the poll worker and told him, "You know you are not supposed to debate or discuss politics in a polling place." He said he didn't know that. Another of the poll workers in my precinct had been reading the worker manual to have something to do and spoke up, "Yes that's right. It's against the rules."

I said, "Perhaps you two would like to meet up later over coffee."

The guy show started it said, "It wouldn't be coffee. It would be tea."

I laughed and said, "I don't care if it's beer."

He left.

The rest of the day the only controversies were the people who were registered Libertarian or Non-Partisan that go upset when the only race they could vote in was the non-partisan judge office. We explained since they were not affiliated with a party and there were no non-partisan candidates, they weren't able to vote for the major races. In the fall General Election they can vote. I noticed a letter to the editor in today's paper about this issue. Some states have open primaries but Kentucky does not.

We closed up at 6 p.m. and got everything balanced and put away. I was home in time to see the last fifteen minutes of the national news. I made myself a big cup of strong coffee and caught up on things I missed while away from home.

Working at the polls is a rewarding experience. You cannot do it for the pay and you are not allowed to use your position to influence who people vote for. But the smooth and fair process of voting in America is due largely to those who volunteer to work the polls. If you have never worked at the polls, you should. Most employers will give you the day off with notice. It makes me proud to be a citizen.

Now, as I remove my poll worker robes I turn to the subject of Dr. Rand Paul.

I don't know this man's personal history. I know he is a Texan and that his first name is because his father Ron Paul was enamored of Ayn Rand, the Russian émigré who was the American proponent of egoism and reason; a laissez-faire capitalism and limited government. Since he has followed the lead of his father starting Kentucky Taxpayers United (KTU), a state version of his father's national organization, it is assumed this means he is not for collectivism or working for the common good. I cannot imagine America being based on egoism any more than it already is.

Dr. Paul was chosen by the majority of voting Republicans to represent the GOP against the winner of the Democratic Primary, Jack Conway. They are running to fill the Senate seat now occupied by Jim Bunning our junior senator, known most prominently for being a good baseball player. Since then Paul has been the media darling. I woke up Wednesday to his interview with a CBS reporter at 8 a.m. He said at that time he had been up since 4 a.m. taking interviewer's questions. The day continued to proceed with his face in all the papers, his voice on NPR radio and his face on television broadcasts.

By 9 p.m. he was returning to the MSNBC cable news show where he had announced his candidacy last year. In front of Rachel Maddow he began answering questions. She had heard his NPR interview and knew what her questions had to be. Despite his experience on radio he was still unprepared. I believe he answered with the guile he possessed but not enough to keep from showing his true feelings on the matter of Civil Rights.

The next day, Thursday, he was backtracking and trying to explain that he was misunderstood and taken advantage of by the "liberal media". Yet, he continued to state he thought the right for a black person to buy a hamburger at any restaurant should be the decision of he owner of the restaurant.

I got that déjà vu all over again; had Sen. Barry Goldwater really returned in the soul of Dr. Rand Paul?

Five months from now the General Election will be held. I'll volunteer to work at the polls. In the mean time I'll metaphorically and actually, pop me some pop corn and sit back and watch.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Contentious elections and civility.

Tomorrow is the Primary Elections for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I'll be away from work for the day working at the polls. That means today I had to do work I would have done tomorrow, and I've been working late until now.  I look forward to working at the polls.  I also look forward to not having to listen to any more mud slinging commercials on the television.  I know that time will again be filled with car, roof replacement and bath in a day ads, but I am tired of the political commercials.

Do you believe people who go to the polls and cast a vote are influenced by these negative over the top rants?  I don't.  I know people do watch them and people are influenced but I figure they are only influencing those who never vote.

This morning there was an article about our state's Senatorial election on the front page of the New York Times. The seat is being vacated by Sen. Jim Bunning. You may recall he is well known for doing little but trying to obstruct bills and falling asleep in committee readings.

The Republican Party is choosing a candidate as is the Democratic Party. The Times article was occupied with discussing the GOP race. The son of Ron Paul, Dr. Rand Paul from Bowling Green Kentucky, is running as a GOP candidate. He does this because he knows running as a Tea Party or Independent candidate would not work. Most of his contributions are coming from out of state.

The main line Republican candidate is Trey Grayson. He has an ad on television in which our senior Senator Mitch McConnell endorses him and lets us know he doesn't usually do this in the primary. His reason for endorsing a candidate in the primary is our president's overspending. The real reason is he doesn't want Dr. Paul in the seat because he might not listen to Sen. McConnell and lick his shoes when instructed to do so. After Mitch's statement Mr. Grayson speaks. He is proud that he is being endorsed by Sen. McConnell and other prominent Republicans. These others are not named but their pictures are shown. The only ones I can remember are Dick Cheney and Rudy Giuliani.

The first time I saw this ad I thought "Watch Trey Grayson shoot himself in the foot." He is currently trailing Dr. Paul by 15 percent, I think. Whatever the trailing percentage is, it's double digit.

The week end here was rainy, humid and cool. Reggie, who was out of town for the week end, asked me this morning, "Was it raining all day Saturday?" I couldn't remember. I know I went out a few times and it was raining every time. Other than that I spent the days inside doing inside things!

The local paper reprinted an editorial from the Dallas Morning News May 1st.      Considering how polarized and contentious every thing seems to be in the country, I was surprised to see that we tell the pollsters we prefer civility. I know I do. I think a well considered opinion is important. We should all think about what we believe and stand up for those beliefs. We should also be able to do so without raging, personal defamation and lying. Oh, by the way, a personal opinion isn't something you repeat verbatim from a cable news show.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Being frearful of protection, a story.

This is a story of a fiction.  The person and events are real though the name was changed to protect privacy.  I have told this story to people who did not know me when I was married and the first thing I'm always told is, "Why didn't you get a protective order?"  The local newspaper has reported on at least two occasions recently when women in a similar predicament sought protective orders. In both cases the women are now dead, having been murdered by the men who they tried to get a protection from or did get one and it did not protect them. I always think that maybe I did the right thing.

In February after Dennis died in December, I met Roger. He had seen me at the post office where my company had a caller box. It was my habit to go to the post office each morning and call for the mail. We got quite a bit of it so I would carry it out in a tub each morning. From his telling of the story later, he happened to be at one of the counters and saw me arrive, and call for the mail talking to the postal worker pleasantly. He saw that and heard me and asked the person what my name was. "I think I know that woman. What's her name?" He was told. He had heard the box number called so he wrote a letter to me at that address.

I wrote him back and we eventually met.

We went out to dinner. We talked on the phone. This was before the internet so things were in the manner that men and women become acquainted then. I would say that he was the reluctant party in the early days. I was creating a fantasy of not having to be alone. I was thinking how I would introduce him to my family. I had written the story in my mind before we had sex! For the first three years of our relationship my goal was marriage. I was a wife before. Being married and not alone was the usual way of things for me.

We worked together. We spent at least sixteen out of every twenty-four hours together either at work or my home. We never lived together, but we were together a lot. I introduced him to my mother and good friends. He took me home to visit his parents. I met his sister.

He told me all his stories. According to him he was an Army Ranger and had been to Vietnam on two tours. He said his parents didn't know he went to Vietnam. He told them he was stationed in Germany. He told me stories of being a L.E.R.P. and killing Gooks and how when he was out of the Army he still did "jobs" for the clandestine government agencies. He told how he also did jobs for a gangster in his home town and New Orleans. What he was trying to convince me of was that he was an assassin for hire.

Roger was the first truly paranoid person I knew. He always commented on someone listening to his phone conversations if there was a sound on the line while we were talking. He told me that I was in danger because he was in danger if "they" found him. He convinced me to buy a gun. Then he taught me to shoot. I got pretty good at shooting.

Some time near the beginning of the second year he told me that he was a felon. He wasn't going to tell me what he had been arrested for. He said, "It was the lead story in his home town paper on January 11, 197_." I thought about that and one Saturday when he was out of town visiting his parents, I drove downtown to the main library and asked them to let me see the microfilm for that newspaper and that date. They didn't have it but could order it from his hometown paper. I put in a request and paid the $2 fee. They said they'd call when it was available to view.

About the end of the second year the library called and told me the micro film was in. I went to a client meeting downtown the next week and stopped by to see what was on the front page that day. There was a picture of a much younger Roger with the story about his having been arrested in an FBI sting. He had discussed with an agent his intention to blow up school buses parked in a lot. This was during the busing riots in most near south big cities. He ended up being arrested, tried and was convicted. He was released early on probation.

In the third year he decided it would be a good idea if we married. By that time he had a good salary from my company to do whatever he felt like doing. He had a company credit card which he used for all his gas and anything he thought I or the business needed. If I mentioned having seen a particular type of gadget, he went out and bought it with that card and without my asking for it. That was easy for him to do as he didn't have to pay the bill, the company paid it.

The abuse was not physical. The abuse was verbal and emotional. I came to work about 8 a.m. every day. He knew the business opened at 9 a.m. but arrived when he chose. One of the things he did was go get the mail at the post office. He would pull his car up to the back door and hit the horn. That meant I was to drop everything and open the door. He would stand at the door and fling the mail down the tiled hall, then park out front and come in the front door. He wanted all the mail picked up and on his desk when he got inside.

He was not even civil to the employees. He stomped in and back to his office. After he got some coffee and had opened all the mail, he would walk into my office and sit down. Whatever I was doing I had to stop and give him my attention. Then he would pleasantly talk about the mail or anything else on his mind.

If anything happened during the day to make him angry, he would leave slamming the door. Or if he didn't leave he would go outside and tear up the yard or bushes or something that allowed him to physically attack it.

A little while after this point I decided I did not want to marry and thankfully never did. I started seeing others. I cheated on Roger. I feigned fatigue. I would call him when I had a date and tell him I was so tired I was going to lie down. I'd take the phone off the hook and leave! As far as I know he was unaware of this or if he was he was clever enough not to let me know. As long as infidelity wasn't discussed things would stay the way they were for him. I believe I cheated because I wanted to be caught. I had never cheated on my husband. It wouldn’t have occurred to me.

With all my randy adventures one evening five years after we first became acquainted, I ran into Lenny in a chat room. He and I had dated for two years in high school. We broke up shortly after I left home to go to college. Within two days of that chat we reunited and became a couple. That was Saturday. I went in to work Monday and told Roger we could no longer go out as I had reunited with my old boyfriend.

He was shocked. His first words were, "Well we can still work together, right?" I agreed, but I thought then I had found a way to get him out of my life eventually.

Two months later I laid him off. We had lost a big client and I told him I could no longer afford him. I helped him with his rent for a while longer but then stopped. I even took a night job because I was having financial difficulties!

It's difficult to describe the time after he left the business. He knew I was dating Lenny but would call a lot "to talk". I tried to be pleasant but there was a lot of whining about his love for me and how he didn't understand why I chose Lenny over him. His main complaint was he had been my hero, my help mate when I needed him after Dennis died. How could I abandon him now for another?

When I got tired of the constant mail with copies of pictures of us in happier times, the constant copies of news articles about things he just knew I should try to build up the business, the constant phone calls, I stopped responding. I put the mail unopened into a box back in the store room. I let all calls go to v.mail and I didn't call back. That's when the threats started.

He put nails in every tire in my truck. He broke out the headlights and put blood on the floor where I parked the truck. He left messages where he told me he was going to ruin Lenny's reputation at work by telling lies to his certification association. He told me he would catch Lenny out some day and shoot him. He told me I wasn’t safe because Lenny couldn’t protect me. Roger said he knew where I lived, worked, what shops I frequented, where I got my mail, and my groceries. He knew all my clients and all my employees. He could make my life unlivable until I decided the only thing to do was kill myself.

I discussed all this with Lenny, of course. All my employees knew about what was going on. We kept the doors locked at work. I changed all my habits of when I left home and came home or where I shopped and got a courier to get the mail for me.

Then I decided I would move, so I did. I rented the condo I was living in and moved to a place I had never owned when I was going out with Roger. I bought a second car and parked the truck. I never answered the phone at work and the first time he called asking for me, he was told I had taken a sabbatical and was traveling the world. He would occasionally watch the business, but he had gotten a job by then and wasn't able to do that all the time.

Thinking back I don't know what finally pulled him away from me. By then it had been about five years since we broke up and ten years since we first met. Though I would occasionally get that mail from him it was less frequent; a Christmas card and a card on my birthday for a couple more years. He sent me a picture of a woman's driver's license once. He typed a note to me that said, "She's a nice woman. She reminds me of you." I tossed it into the box in the storeroom. I thought, "I should find her phone number and warn her." But I knew if he really was with her she'd not believe me, tell him what I said and the craziness would start again.

Roger is still alive as far as I know. I had one more phone call at work and I answered it myself about six years ago. We talked for a while. He told me he was living in Florida now and had broken up with the woman whose picture he sent me. He reminisced about how happy we had been way back then. Was I still dating Lenny? I told him no, but I was involved with someone else and we were quite the item. He said, "It's a shame I'm not there. I could drive up from Florida some time soon and we could go to dinner." I told him no I was in love with the new man and didn’t want to do that. He remarked more than once he felt so good hearing my voice and was glad I was happy.

Today I still have my little gun handy. I still live somewhere he doesn't know about. I'm starting to miss my old condo though and if I can get out this place in a financially sound way, I plan on moving back in two years. In my particular situation I think I did the right thing by not getting the restraining order. Anyway according to the rules here if you're not living with someone nor have a child in common, you can't even get a restraining order.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A solitary Sunday drive.

Today I drove over to the family cemetery. Having gone to mass yesterday afternoon, this morning was open for the trip. It was also a beautiful morning; cool, bright sunshine.

The road is out I-71 toward Lexington, but at Carrollton there's a turn into the hills along a two lane blacktop.  The road curves through shaded forrest, up into hills and across ridges.  This is the road I began traveling with my mother, grandmother and sister when I was eight and we went there to bury my father. Both my mother and father's side of the family came from Owen County and the first maternal grandfather there was John who settled on a rocky ground farm near a creek up there.

The grave was bought by my maternal grandmother when her husband died after coming in from the fields one hot July day, with a terrible headache. Before anyone could think the pain was serious he was dead of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was the first to occupy the plot.

My father followed in the second grave in 1959. My grandmother was next in 1971.  My husband was next in 1991.  My mother was the most recent in 1998.  The plot has three more empty spaces. There is one for me, my sister and her husband. As she lives in a far western state, I wonder if she will come back here.

It was to that old cemetery beside the two lane road I went this morning. The graveyard is encircled by a high iron fence with gates that are sometimes open and sometimes chained. Today they were chained and I arrived early, but I parked the truck in the short drive between the road and fence, entering through a small gate.

The space had been mowed this past week and the clippings lay drying on the grass in clumps. They never weed wack around the stones, so there are tufts of long grass sticking up thriving. Our plot is low in the place. I took off my shoes and walked down to the area where my family lies. I had brought a pink silk rose and stuck it in the ground at the foot of his grave. I know it will be destroyed when they mow again, but that's alright. Nothing lasts in a graveyard except the stones and they change with weathering.

There is a concrete wall around a rich family's plot. It's higher and overlooks ours. I stayed there in the cool air and warm sunshine for a while. My mind wanders but thinks of nothing joyful, so I'll keep it from you.

This trip is something I make around the end of May every year. One year Reggie came with me. He was the first person I brought here after Dennis died and that was ten years later. Mark, a man I was seeing for a while came once and he went walking all over the place taking pictures while I stayed near the family graves. I like this trip to be solitary. It's something that when I say, "Would you like to go with me?" I expect people to say no.

Dennis had a big family; lots of aunts, uncles, five brothers and sisters. They all have big families of children and grand children. When they marry they have big weddings and when there's a birth, lots of showers and parties. When one dies all the proper decorum is followed for the funeral and internment. But unlike my family, no one tends the graves. Often his youngest sister will say she wants to go with me. I usually wait closer to Memorial Day, so she can come. But in over eighteen years since he died, she hasn't. I'm alright with that. The time I go and am there is time I have alone with my family.

Dennis died on a Thursday night some time after midnight. When he first died I didn't cry. I told myself I had to be strong and not a blubbering out of control person. So when the funeral was planned for the following Monday, I thought; four days. I have to be strong for four days and each night I would count down the time I had to be strong. I was too and I'm sure people had their thoughts about a woman who could be dry eyed.

Afterwards, there were employees to manage and jobs to do and where I had a partner, I no longer did, so I had to be strong to keep things going. I think that was good as we had no children, so I didn't have them to live for. I worked sixteen hours seven days. It was seven months before I slowed down. But, I would allow myself to cry on the way to work and the way home; stopping in time to dry my eyes. My advice to someone in my place now days, is be a little crazy. No one, least of all that person you love, expects you to be so strong.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A famous author

First as a disclaimer, I have told this story to Lenny and Reggie. I've probably told versions of it to Anna and Emma, but I cannot remember. Here it is.


I have lots of authors I follow by buying their books. If I like their writing I'll follow their repeated characters and keep up with them almost like the families of friends. I don't go to author events though. The only author signed books I have are ones I got used or someone got signed for me.

My story begins the year I was working a second full time job. I was working a Saturday night until 2 a.m. and it was a slow night. I finished a book by the Famous Author and the remarkable thing about it was there were two chapters that began with the same scene. Both scenes had a woman approaching the main character from the foot of a bed and giving him a blow job. He was sleeping when she begins and wakes up in the middle of it.

I thought it was a mistake and reread the first of the two chapters and it was a different woman. Nowhere in the book was there any other detail about sex with the women. I remember thinking, "Does this guy not know how to write sex scenes?" Then I thought, "Maybe he never gets BJ's and thinks by writing these scenes he will get some from his wife or girlfriend?"

I looked for an address and found a statement that instead of writing to the publisher comments should be directed to an e.mail address for faster reply. I didn't have access to e.mail at work as this was 2000 and e.mail wasn't universally available at every desk as it is today.

I ended up forgetting to send a comment.

Time passes and a couple of years later I am reading another of the famous author's books with the same main character. It's 2 a.m. when I finish it. Again in the book there are two chapters that begin in the same way. What is it with this guy? I look and there's the e.mail address so I go send him an e.mail.

I tell him about the other book and the fact that he wrote the exact scene four times in two books and ask him why? I mention that it seems since these are the only sex scenes in his books he might need some consulting from a woman willing to share the perspective of a woman. I figured he'd send me a form reply. I did use my full name and say I was from Louisville. No phone or address of course.

That was a Saturday morning. When I woke up about 8 a.m. I went out and worked on my usual errands; bank, grocery, post office. I got back home about noon and was getting ready to eat some lunch and take a nap. I had a date that night with Lenny.

The phone rings and a man says, "Is this Charlene?"

I said, "Who is this?"

He said, "This is 'the famous Author.' "

Well I was surprised. I said, "How did you get my number?"

"I called directory assistance. It was listed."

That's how it was back then. I had a listed land line. Now days no one has a land line listed or otherwise and everyone has a cell.

We talked for a bit and he told me all of his wives had been from Louisville. He told me he was again divorced. He told me he had been in Lexington for a book signing the day before. He was in Cincinnati now, scheduled for another signing Sunday. "If I was to be in Louisville I'd take you to dinner and we could consult as you suggested."

I was thinking, "Thank God you're not in Louisville!"

At this time in my life I had just gotten away from Roger. He was stalking but he wasn't my boyfriend. Lenny and I had been seeing each other for several years by then.

He went on to say, "I don't guess you'd be willing to drive to Cincinnati and have dinner with me?"

I said, "Maybe you should allow me to send you a picture so you know what I look like."

He said, "I don't care what you look like but you're welcome to send one if it would make you feel better."

Just before I sent the picture I called Lenny and told him about the author. He read the guys books too and said, "So what are you going to do?"

"I'm thinking I'll drive over there. I can always turn back. But if I feel ok about things I'll meet him and have dinner. Then I'll drive back."

"You ought to take overnight things in case you want to spend the night." He said.

"I don't intend to fuck him." I said.

He said, "OK but you should do what you want to do. How often are you going to meet a famous Author? Promise me you will tell me the story. If I didn't have to work tomorrow, I'd come over and we could go together."

I sent a picture. He called back. "Do you know where the hotel The Cincinnatian is?" He gave me the address and having taken quite a few week end trips to Cincinnati with Dennis to watch the Reds play, I knew the street. He gave me his phone number and said he was in the Presidential Suite on the top floor. When I got there the valet would park the car and I should ask him for directions to the suite.

"I thought we were meeting at a restaurant." I said.

"We can go wherever you wish, but they have great food in the hotel and there are a couple of nice restaurants we can go to here."

I knew what was going on. I packed an overnight bag and by 5:15 p.m. I was on the road. I knew I could control what was going to happen. I knew he had plans. I also knew he was a famous person and anything that I didn't want to do wouldn't happen.

I arrived and the valet told me to take the elevator to the top floor and turn left. He would call ahead. I got to the door and the famous Author opened it for me. He said, "You sure look nice."

He offered me a tour. The suite was huge. There was a big bedroom with a big bed and a big bathroom with a big glass walled shower. The second bedroom was at the other end of the suite and it also had a bathroom. There was a large living room with fireplace and a dining room. I also found another bathroom by the entry.

We sat in front of the fireplace. He offered a drink. I took a soft drink. He drank scotch rocks.

He asked me to look at the room service menu so we could have dinner in an hour or so. I did and he called to order.

We continued to talk. He had three scotch rocks. I had my soft drink. I am not much of a drinker and I thought I'd need to be sober to have the choice of driving home or staying. I know, even when I am planning on misbehaving, I have an annoying habit of thinking about what I'm doing. I've always said, if you're going to do something bad, don't use the excuse you were drunk. Be bad and remember it later.

He asked me to explain what I meant by my comment on the sex scenes.

I told him that since these scenes were the only ones in his books and they were repeated so much for this character, it made me wonder why. I told him when your characters are ready to have sex in every other instance you fade to black or close the bedroom door. You are writing in modern times, stories of modern events with contemporary characters, there should be more detail. Because you have the oral sex scenes, you aren't trying to censor things. Why don't you describe him giving the woman oral? How about their making love doggy or over a couch arm or something, even if it's missionary?

One thing about this character is he plays it as if the encounter is a real one leading progressively to marriage or a long term relationship. This character never continues a relationship to marriage. A progressive plot with he and women is always temporary. I think the character is an ego match to the famous Author.

His comment was he never realized he was avoiding all that. Perhaps I could write a scene or two and he'd maybe use them.

I said I would.

I thought that was so cool. He was going to use a scene if not verbatim at least for an idea.

Dinner arrived and we moved to the dining room. The food was good and a lot more than I'd have ordered. There was a chocolate raspberry mouse that was delicious!

We went back to the living room couch after we finished. He got another scotch rocks and I was finishing a glass of wine from dinne.

He asked if there was anything about him that I was curious about.

I asked him how he got into writing. He said he was a copy writer and then wrote a book. When it was successful he quit and now he wrote two books a year and they were released on a schedule.

I asked how he could write so much so regularly. He said he wrote every day and treated his writing as a job. He always met his deadlines and his travel for promotion was set up years in advance.

We continued to talk for an hour or so. He told me about heart surgery he had three months before and I asked him to tell me about that. He did.

At some point the conversation moved to the subject of sex. He told me he was recovered from his surgery and all new now! His doctor said he could do what he had done before and even gave his a prescription for Viagra. Did my boyfriend use it?

"No," I said. "He doesn't." I said.

He told me he had taken a Viagra when he left the room before the food was delivered. "What do you think of that?"

"I would say you must be ready!"

He stood and took my hand and we went to bed.

Sex was fine. It wasn't as good as sex with Dennis. It certainly wasn't as good as sex with Lenny! I wished Lenny had come with me. He is such a freak, that way if I ended up in bed with the author he could have joined us?

I never lost my mind to it. I continued to tell myself "You're having sex with a famous Author!"

Let me tell you all, for me sex with a famous author is like having sex with anyone else if I don't know them well. After getting to know a man sex is sometimes good. Seldom is sex with a stranger good no matter who they are. Maybe it works when you're drunk? It worked but he was a little drunk.

After a while he went to sleep. I didn't. When I thought he was sound asleep I disentangled myself, grabbed my clothes and went to the second bedroom. I thought a nice hot shower would be good, but the shower in that bathroom didn't work. The small bath by the door didn't have a shower and I didn't want to use the master shower. He might wake up!

So I attended to my toilet in the matter of a whore's bath and used the bidet! Imagine, the first time I used one of those things. I got a nightgown out of my overnight bag, put it on and got in bed.

I did not sleep. I got up and got the book I'd packed and read. I still didn't sleep. I continued to read until daylight. At some point I found some hotel stationary and wrote a poem, folded it and sealed it in an envelope. I don't have a copy but wish I'd kept one. I wrote his name on the front of the envelope. The poem was about the experience in the form of an extremely polite thank you note. The poem was short.

The famous Author knocked on the door and said, "Why did you leave the bed?"

I said, "I can't sleep with anyone any more."

"I'm going to order breakfast. What would you like?" He asked.

I told him coffee, orange juice, 2 eggs over easy, wheat toast.

I got up then, put on my clothes, repacked my bag and went out to the dining room. The famous author was sitting there in his pajamas and robe, reading the paper. He asked me what part I wanted and I asked for the comics. He continued to read. A knock sounded on the door. He said, "That must be our breakfast." He handed me the arts section which had an announcement of his book signing later in the day and a review of his book. "Look what they said."

I read the one column at the left just above the list of best selling books. It wasn't complimentary of his book. According to the reviewer, "Mr. Famous Author has again written a thin account of his famous detective solving a murder." Oh my. I guess we wouldn’t be discussing that at breakfast.

We didn't. We talked about his signing later that day and what he had bought on a shopping trip the day before. How he had bought some furniture and paintings and arranged for them to be shipped to his place in New York. He talked about how after his last divorce he was now refurnishing all his homes as his wife took all the best stuff. He said, "That happens every time I get a divorce." I told him one of the things about your spouse dying is you got all the stuff. He laughed. He had a nervous laugh.

I thought he being a famous Author of mystery books, I bet he could figure out how to kill a spouse or two without getting caught. Evidently he didn't though as he said he was divorced and the wives always got his best furniture and paintings.

I was anxious to leave. I handed him the envelope and said, "I'm going to go now. I wrote this for you. Feel free to toss it."

He said, "You're not ever going to tell anyone about this night are you?"

"I might tell my boyfriend." I said.

"Someday I don't want to open a book about your life and see a chapter about me and last night." He had his most engaging smile working. I gave him my most sincere one.

"I won't write about you and this encounter unless I change your name. How about that?" I said.

"That's ok as long as you don't say you met Robert Ludlum or one of those assholes." He laughed.

I got up and walked to the door with my purse and bag. He opened it and gave me a hug. I left.

I drove all the way home and when I got there I took off all my clothes, showered, and got in bed, sleeping until after dark that Sunday.

Lenny came over and I told him all about it.  Then we fucked like bunnies.  

About the story of the famous Author he said, "I sure wish I'd been along." 

That Lenny.  I love him so much.

Some time later that year I went to a party at a friend's home. It was a group of people she knew but none of the people knew each other so there was a game played to cultivate some bond. The game was where each person in turn told three things about their lives. One was to be a lie. The person whose name was drawn from a bowl was to say which the lie was. One of the three things was that I had met and had dinner with the famous Author. No one guessed that wasn't a lie.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Daily newspapers and the television news.

This beautiful sunny Thursday morning I woke up and looked out the door and saw a blue plastic wrapped newspaper. That made me smile. I almost shouted, "The New York Times is here! The New York Times is here!" I didn't want to scare Felice the cat, so I just got the paper. I know, I sound like such a rube. That's ok I am a rube; country gal living in the city. This is the first day of my subscription.

Half the city of Louisville was outraged Sunday when the paper did not get printed and delivered as usual. Letters to the editor appeared Tuesday and every one was another tale of out of town guests chiding their hosts because this is such a Podunk city we can't get a daily paper printed and delivered. The Courier-Journal had their huge German made, multi-million dollar press go down and no matter what they did, couldn’t get it started again in time to print the "news" sections. We received the pre-printed ads and rotogravure magazine, which were printed earlier in the week. Street sales were printed in Indianapolis. We subscribers received the rest of the paper Monday!

Wednesday there were letters from former paper carriers who told people to get a grip. That was also the day the local Insight cable was down. The report was that sometime during the night the technicians were performing routine maintenance on the router and it died. The back-up router from Lexington died too.

Like all those others I missed having the paper on Sunday to read while watching CBS Sunday, as well as not having television news early before work. I was able to endure without too much upset because I turned on the radio. While scientists tell  us that their studies show people who live orderly lives are healthier and live longer, I don't mind a change in routine.

Things have settled down and Lenny came by last night for dinner, conversation and etc.  He was laughing about my grass having grown so much from recent rains and two weeks of no mowing, as to be almost to my knees.  I told him the thing is I'm short!

Today the grass got mowed and I spent my lunch time sitting on the bench to eat an egg salad sandwich, drink iced tea and smell the scent of mown hay.  My mind wandered to clover and a poem Reggie wrote several years ago about that.  Some lines printed here by permission are:
My lawn has gone to clover.

Alone on a block of manicured lawns
My yard has native grasses.
Its wildness an affront to the orderly.

All the things we do, read, watch, talk about are not that important. I consider myself lucky to have shelter.  The question was asked the other day: Can a person be too rich? I think when someone is so wealthy they are insulated from every inconvenience and there isn't a single thing in the world they could want that they can't have, then a person is too rich.

I think that last line of Reggie's poem describes a worthy goal in our later years; wildness and an affront to the orderly.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mud was deep and rain was wet.

You may have heard that in Louisville Kentucky the 136th Kentucky Derby day was a rainy day. The race itself was run in the early evening. Just as the twenty horses in the race were walking from the paddock to the gate with all their trainers and owners, the sun came out. This didn't mean the men in their thousand dollar suits and the women in their four inch Jimmy Cho's weren't walking through six inches of deep mud. The jockeys sat atop their chosen horse, clean and dry, while an outrider horse road by a livered helper held their harness. At this point the only hope any of them had of remaining clean was if they were lucky to break from the gate and lead all the way to the finish line. No one was so lucky.

The winning jockey Calvin Borel told a reporter before the race that he was going to wear five sets of goggles and hoped that was enough. He is famously known as "Borail" meaning he rides the rail to win. It is a good thing we don't get a clear picture of this until after the race. He rides that so expertly that it is estimated he's less than three inches from that rail. That is dangerous if you're not talented. Calvin once again was the most talented and won aboard Super Saver.

I had money on the horse. For it is exciting watching a horse I've made a small bet on, run and win in a hard fought race. It is hard to describe the feeling. It is odd too as I wasn't much of a horse racing fan until a few years ago. I owe that vice to my friend Reggie.

We split a bet on every horse in the race. I had suggested this bet in years past and Reggie thought it was wasteful. I always bet a total of $50 on the Derby, spreading my money amongst the horses, but I've never bet every horse. This year he suggested it and I immediately said, "Yes!" He said, "That way we know we will have the winner." I also bet the winner $2 across the board. It paid $32.80. Then there was the $9 from splitting the bet with Reggie. This is the best I've done in the Derby. With the place and show horse my total result was $68.90 for the day.

I know people who pick a horse and think about betting but never do. My sister was one of those. She posted on Facebook that she had the winner, but never placed a bet. I'm not sure why not but I'm not going to question her because I'm not sure I could keep from laughing. I know I'm not nice about this.

The famous and nearly so, schlep into town and after they sober up, schlep out of town. As with other humongous touristy events in other places, public relations professionals and party planners convince them to attend the Derby Week parties and walk into Churchill Downs on a red carpet. They are resplendent in finery and have entourages trailing behind. Local news heads confront them with a microphone and camera streaming live interviews and basically ask, "Who are you betting in the big race?" It's mind numbing. There have been some genuinely famous people attend this thing but this year, it was a herd of B-List reality show has been's and the fading famous. Maybe I don't watch enough television. The one person I knew was Diane Lane, who was one of the Grand Marshal's in the Pegasus Parade, Thursday.
Tomorrow all we who live in Louisville will return to our lives and turn our attention to politics and the latest natural or unnatural disaster in the world. Indiana holds its primary election Tuesday and I look forward to no longer having to endure their endless commercials. No worry. Kentucky's primary is May 18th and I'm sure all those vacant TV spots will be taken up by our candidates.

Rain continued after the races last night. Having gone to bed with a book at the usual time, I was awakened by the cat about 1 a.m. She seldom sleeps near me but last night she was either on my feet on perched on the back of the divan watching. Thunder storms raged and I finally turned on the light and read. By 5:30 a.m. it was still raining and the television was a blast of angry red, which meant storms were moving through the state with flash floods. It is still raining now. Grass is already over my shins in the yard. Maybe renting a rake and hay bailer would be a good idea.