Free mini-fiction: The worst pickup line ever

Adriennes blog 20 butt picHi, I’m Adrienne.   I’m getting really tired of ranting about my divorce, so I asked my friend Rob what I should talk about.  He said I should tell you about the (very misguided) night my sister Kristen and I went to a bar.

You have to understand that we were both a mess.  I had a baby a few months ago but was recently mistaken for still being pregnant, and Kristen was getting over being dumped… by her married boyfriend.  So we weren’t A+ on the self-esteem scale.

Kristen and I don’t hang out together too often.  She’s a few years younger and doesn’t have kids.  She says she doesn’t want to have kids specifically because of me.  That’s what a stellar mom I am.

Normally Kristen would have a date or a girls’ night out with her real friends, but on this one particular Friday, I was home alone and so was she. I could have dealt with it by putting on PJs and watching The Ugly Truth for the fourth time, but Kristen does not sit at home and she does not spend time alone, ever.

She lured me out offering to make me look better (and less pregnant – she wasn’t promising any miracles).  I have brown, curly, almost kinky hair, whereas Kristen’s is blonde and straight (with a lot of money and labor, mind you).  I put on some mascara at 7 a.m. before work and that’s it for the day, while Kristen believes you must reapply at lunchtime and dinnertime and before going out at night.

I’m sure this is one of many reasons why she dates more than I do, but hey, we’re both single, so I don’t think she’s winning.

After carting in a mini suitcase of makeup, spackling my face, and spraying something sticky in my hair, Kristen pulled half the clothes out of my closet and finally approved of a sparkly black sweater over dark rinse jeans.  She made me put on heels too.

Our choice of hangouts is pretty slim pickings:  either a club dominated by people who are right around age 21 or one of the neighborhood bars where the average patron is 60+.  There’s not much in between.  I vetoed the club, so we ended up in one of those dingy establishments where everyone turns around to look at the door every time it opens to see who’s coming in.  They’re rarely surprised either, so it was an exciting night at the Lucky Mug when Kristen and Adrienne stepped through that door.

Obviously Kristen gets the most male attention, and she deserves it.  She works for it.  Besides, she was like insect repellent – all the gnats were bothering her and leaving me alone.  One guy in a black t-shirt that actually had a hole by the armpit strode up and bumped into her leg.

“I knee’d you,” he said.  “Get it?  Knee’d?  N-E-E-D?”

Kristen just glared as the guy’s friend yelled from across the bar, “Knee with a K, you dumbass!”

“Lay off, Eddie,” the bartender said, shooing him back to his friends, who were laughing at him and high-fiving each other.  He had probably fulfilled a dare just by coming over to talk to Kristen.

“What’ll you girls be having?” the bartender asked us as she wiped down the bar in front of us with an infectious-looking damp rag.  She thunked down a bowl of sad looking half-crushed party mix that I’m sure got scooped back into the gallon-size jar every night at closing time.  I could just imagine that those orange tortilla chips would taste like smoke.

As Kristen ordered us each a beer, I turned my back to the men at the end of the bar, only to hear one of them yell out, “Are those space pants?  Because your ass is out of this world!”  Another riot of laughter started up and Kristen said out of the corner of her mouth, “See, I told you those pants are good on you.  Look at that, you getting hit on already.”

So this is what I’ve been missing?  I think I was better off at home with my pint-sized pals Ben and Jerry.  I’ll tell you the rest of the story next time, but if you want to read more about Kristen and me and our swinging single lives, check out Giving Myself Away.   How about making me feel better by telling me the worst pickup line you ever heard?

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Gaining confidence as a single parent

Adriennes blog 18 suitcase picI did not sign up to be a single parent.  I expected I was going to have a partner with me to see through the raising of our children.  Yes, their father is actively part of their lives, but we don’t do our job of parenting together anymore.

At first, it was overwhelming.  Parents with partners can tag-team so that when one is wiped out, he or she can step out of the ring for a few minutes to regain energy and composure.  When you’re a single parent, you’re on all the time.  You might be able to hand off kids to a grandparent for a few hours, but you’re still the chief decision-maker.

Early after Drew moved out, I decided to take Tyler and Nicky out for dinner, just the three of us.  It was a disaster.  Nicky was sulking about something and didn’t want to order, so I picked macaroni and cheese from the kids’ menu for him, which I figured he probably would have ordered anyway.  Just to be contrary, he said he didn’t want macaroni and cheese (after the waitress had already taken our order and walked away).  I said, “tough, you’re having macaroni and cheese.”

Tyler, the peacemaker, was upset that we were arguing, burst into tears, and knocked over his juice trying to hug me across the table.  This led to even more tears.  By the end of the meal, all of us had cried at least once.  I can only imagine that our waitress and the people at nearby tables looked at us with either pity or scorn:  Look at that pathetic single mom.  She can’t handle her kids (her life!).

Since those early days, we’ve developed a partnership that works.  Nicky and Tyler and I are now a family that feels complete.  There are plenty of families where the parents are married, but a spouse has to work long hours away from home or serve overseas in the military.  There are stay-at-home moms and dads who have to take three kids to the grocery store and clean the house and cook, all while keeping an eye on little ones.  I’m not alone and I’m not a pity case.

Our latest adventure was an overnight trip on our own to an unfamiliar city.  This was a big step for me, the person who couldn’t even handle a night at a restaurant on my own.  I took lots of time to plan our route (no navigator to help me in the car), packed our bags (no one to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything), and prepared for missteps (there were a few).  But we had a great time and it built my confidence as a parent.  I’m a parent, not a single parent.  And we are a family, not a one-parent family.

You can read more about my life after divorce in Giving Myself Away, available now.

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Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format

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What were you happiest your ex took with him in the divorce?

Adriennes blog 15 brown recliner picHi, I’m Adrienne.  I’m one of those people who likes to make lists.  You’ll find them stashed in drawers, hanging in the kitchen cabinets, and in the reminders app on my phone.  Not all of my lists are things to do.  Some of them are things to be grateful for.  There’s a list I pull out from my jewelry box every now and then when I’m feeling sorry for myself about being divorced.  The paper is getting fuzzy along the edges from being folded and unfolded so many times, but I’m happy to say I don’t need to look at this list as often as I used to.

Things I’m happy Drew took with him in the divorce:

  1. His hideous brown recliner.  You know the chair, the one that comes with you into your marriage.  You know it’s a bad idea to let him bring it with him, but you’re so happy to be pulling your separate lives together that you overlook that chair.  It might be a hand-me-down from his parents or he might have picked it up at the Salvation Army, but either way, it was part of his bachelor life and now it’s got memories.  Never mind the fact that it’s ugly as all get out, stained, and not even that comfortable anymore.  There’s no slipcover that’s going to make that lumpy excuse for furniture look respectable.  It doesn’t match anything else, and you just have to hope you have one of those man-cave rooms to hide it in, because it’s not going anywhere…until you get divorced, that is.
  2. His “collections.”  Beer steins, baseball cards, comic books, you name it.  The monetary value or the space it takes up is completely irrelevant.  The older his collection is, the more determined he is to keep it.  You can bet his mother can’t wait to get it out of her house.  I never saw Drew’s mom lifting such heavy stuff as the day she finally unloaded Drew’s boxes from their attic to ours.  Or maybe your man had a mother who threw out his stuff and he still resents her for it.  These are the ones to watch out for because if you so much as throw out an old receipt of theirs for a hot dog from a baseball game ten years ago, you’ve just discarded a piece of his life.
  3. His snoring.  I put up with it and I learned to sleep despite it, but wow, I’ve never slept so well in my life now that I’m single.  I can sleep on the left side of the bed, the right, or the middle, and there’s always room for me.  No one to snuggle up to, but at least it’s quiet and roomy.
  4. His clothes.  Clothes = laundry and some men never learned to unball their socks or take the stuff out of their pockets.  I’m already mom to two kids; did I really need to be his mom too.
  5. The love letters I wrote him.  I promised I’d love him forever, and of course I believed it.  Who doesn’t think their romance is the best, truest love the world has ever known?  I might be tempted to look back and get sentimental about old times I can’t recapture, but thankfully he’s removed the temptation.
  6. The petty resentment.  I spent a lot of time being mad at Drew for not doing the household things that I felt like he should be doing, such as taking the trash out, mowing the lawn, or fixing the broken vacuum cleaner.  Now there’s no one to nag but myself.  My “honey-do” lists are only for me, and I can check off the items or ignore them at will.
  7. His debt.  Some of it I was responsible for, but now that we’re divorced, what he does or doesn’t do financially can’t hurt me anymore.  There’s no one to negotiate with over what we can afford.  If I put something on the credit card, I know I’ll be the one paying for it.
  8. His pet snake, Lulubel.  Drew and his roommates bought a ball python during a drunken night of college partying, and somehow he inherited her by being last to move out of the guys’ apartment.  I will not miss weekly trips to the pet store to buy mice to sacrifice to Lulu, or the semi-regular dreams I had that she would escape and kill one of us in the night.

You might say this list sounds like sour grapes, but it gets me by on the days I miss being married, miss having the comfort of a spouse and someone to share all the joys and sorrows of life with.

What were you happiest to let go of when you and your spouse separated?

You can read more about my lists and my adventures with and without Drew in Giving Myself Away, available now.

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Available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle format

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Past my prime? I don’t think so!

Adriennes blog 10 smiling woman picHi, I’m Adrienne.  The other day my married friend Sandra said to me, “We are past our prime.  It’s all downhill from here.”  Maybe it’s easier for her to accept that because she’s married.  I had to convince myself it’s not true, even if she didn’t believe me.  My husband left me for a woman with flat abs.  She has three children and flat abs.  Sometimes life is not fair.

Okay, physically, yes, I will definitely admit my best days are behind me.  The more years I’m alive, the more time gravity has to work on me.  I’m not as fast and strong as I once was.  My knee twinges every now and then when I’m carrying the laundry upstairs.  No one’s carded me in years.  More and more people call me “ma’am.”

Mentally, I’m not as with it as I used to be.  It takes me longer to remember people’s names.  I have to write down my grocery list or I’ll forget what I’m there to buy.  I’ve started watching a movie or reading a book only to recall halfway through that I saw/read this one before.

But how about spiritually?  I think I’m still a baby spiritually.  There’s one thing you can’t get when you’re too young for it, and that’s perspective.  Only the hard knocks of life smooth off your rough edges and make you realize what’s really important.

We live in a society that values youth and beauty, but I can’t help but admire wisdom and grace.  As long as my smile lines outnumber my frown lines, I’ll be a happy woman.  The abs, well… I need to work on that.

Thanks for reading.  You can find out more about my post-married life in Giving Myself Away.

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Adriennes blog 10 smile pic

Sexy texty and the single mom

Adriennes blog 8 oreosHi, I’m Adrienne.  The last time I was single, there was no such thing as sexting.  I doubt anyone would care if shown evidence that I have dirty thoughts, but I can’t help but mistrust men who want to get right down to business.  I sense potential blackmail in my future.

I have a problem with Oreos and pretty much everything else made primarily of carbs, so when I’m feeling virtuous, I keep an online food diary.  Since we dieters need support, you can meet other people crazy enough to keep journals of everything they eat.

I never thought of this as a place to meet guys, but boy, you better be careful of what picture you post in your profile.  Workout clothes are apparently quite the turn-on these days because a lot of guys on this site want to be “friends.”  The first time I got a friend request from a man, I figured the guy was on this site for the same reason I was, which is trying to lose those last ten pounds (okay, fifteen).

However, it got weird when my new diet buddy started asking me more personal questions, like, “If you could sleep with any actor, who would it be?”  Wow, to be honest, I had never even considered that because the possibility of sleeping with any actor was not on my radar.  I tried to be nice about it until he asked me whether I fantasized about him… uh, I don’t even know you, so… NO.

Then he proceeded to say a few explicit things to me involving parts of his body and mine.  I was kind of flattered, because let’s be honest, no one had talked to me like that in a looong time, but on the other hand, I was a bit alarmed.  At this point, I was really glad he didn’t know where I live.

Am I that out of it after being married for so long?

I stopped talking to that guy because he seemed too aggressive and even though he was older, it made me feel old to be so put off by sexy talk.  He didn’t even bother to ask my name before he got to the nitty gritty.

But because of him, I realized that texting men who live far away has its advantages and I began to be more open-minded.  I realized this was a safer re-entry into the world of dating than actual dates, both physically and emotionally.

Plus I have two kids at home and I don’t have to arrange babysitters or explain why I’m going out for dinner with a man who is not their father.  The only explaining I have to do is why I occasionally have a goofy smirk on my face for seemingly no reason.

Maybe I’m not ready for a relationship, but writing suggestive texts to a guy makes me feel like I’m still a woman with some charms.  You can read all about how I got dropped back into the dating pool in Giving Myself Away, being released next month.  Thanks for reading, and please share your thoughts on sexting.

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Your family stickers make me feel bad

Adriennes blog 7 sticker family picHi, I’m Adrienne, the sometimes bitter divorcee.  I’m sitting behind you at a red light and I have to stare at your happy family outlined in glaring white decals on the back of your minivan:  Dad with his grilling tools, you with your shopping bags, and your sporty boy and girl, flanked by an obnoxiously cute dog.  Yes, I get it:  Your family is perfect.  Intact.  Whole.

I’m not going to put my family layout on my car because what would that look like, with me on one side, my ex and his new wife, her three kids, and their new baby on the other, and our two kids pasted to the middle, halfway between us?  Maybe we could even put my ex’s new wife’s ex somewhere on there too?  Who can keep up?  The whole lot of us are a family of some sort, but it’s not the kind you brag about.

Let’s be real:  I know your family isn’t perfect even if it is really great.  Even if your marriage is going strong, you’ve faced hardship and strife.  Your kids may be wonderful, but I’m sure they drive you around the bend at least some of the time.  Maybe your stickers are just your way of showing how grateful you are for the best parts of your life.

But I feel like you’re showing off.  Your family is superior to mine because you have a spatula-wielding dad in the picture.  It’s your right to decorate your car however you wish, but keep in mind all the families who are families, even if there are no kids, even if a parent or child has died, even if the grandparents are raising the child, even if the family configuration is one of many other scenarios that don’t play out well in stick-figure form.

You can read about my family, a little worse for the wear, but definitely not broken, in Giving Myself Away, coming soon from Assent Publishing.  Thanks for visiting, and please let me know how you feel about family stickers.

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Even moms need their mommies

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The kids and I recently found a baby bird lying on the side of my parents’ driveway.  It was probably old enough to fly, at least a little bit, but it wasn’t moving very much.  I didn’t say it to my children, but I thought it was dying.  A few hours later when we were leaving, the bird was gone.  “It flew away!” the boys exclaimed.

I’ll never know whether my mother moved the bird so they would think that, but I didn’t ask her.  I wanted to believe it flew away too.  I still wanted my mom to take care of me.  When you get married, you feel like such a grownup.  When you get divorced, you need your mommy again.

All the things I did when I got married made me feel like an adult.  Referring to “my husband,” signing the papers to buy a house, giving our first dinner party – I believed I had crossed some threshold into adulthood, never to return to dependence on my parents.

But when Drew left, I suddenly felt like a little girl again.  Getting up to make breakfast for my kids, I felt like a fraud – like I was trying on my mom’s makeup and heels – even though I had made them breakfast a thousand times before.  When I made an appointment with an attorney to represent me in the divorce, I wanted to bring my parents with me.  I realized that wouldn’t look very mature, and I reluctantly went alone.

A spouse fills so many spaces left open by parents.  My husband gave me reassurance that I was loved, like my dad.  He told me my outfit was perfect on the first day of my new job, like my mom.  He let me be the baby sometimes when life seemed too much and I wanted to stay in bed rather than get up and fulfill my adult responsibilities.

When you’re suddenly the only parent in the house, it can be scary.  I have to pay all the bills.  I have to decide who to call when the pipe bursts.  I have to tell my kids, no, they can’t watch that movie that “everyone else” saw.  The worst is those late nights when one of your children is sick.  No, the worst is those late nights when you’re sick AND your kids are sick.

The fact is, getting divorced made me grow up much more than getting married ever did.  Getting married meant going from the support system of my parents to that of my husband.  Getting divorced meant I was finally going to have to figure it out on my own.  Luckily, my parents are only an hour away, and my mom still lets me be a kid sometimes, even if it’s just preserving the fantasy that nothing bad happens to baby birds.

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