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author:  Margie Culbertson



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Chapter 2:  Tales of the Romantically Challenged

By
Caterina Christakos


Love at First Sight – When to Run in the Other Direction

CHANCE MEETING


Have you ever been totally and completely in love? Love so intense that your hands shake, your heart pounds and you can feel cold sweat trickle from your armpits down your sides, as you pray that there are no accompanying odors? I have and for me it was like watching a really gory horror flick from between widely spread fingers. A part of me was completely repulsed yet at the same time felt compelled to follow it to it's bloody end. I met him freshman year of college.
He was large – even then. Not in the Java the Hut, flesh rolling as he walked kind of way but in the six foot seven – and still growing, white version of a cross between Michael Jordan and Mohammad Ali. My five foot two, a hundred and ten pound frame was wobbling along, on crutches, carting two tons of books from the school bookstore, when our eyes met. My baby browns met his steel grey and two seconds later I was sprawled at his feet, books scattered or thrown into the campus lake, as I mumbled some inane reply, while he knelt to rectify some of the carnage. Perhaps, if I had taken the prerequisite religion course or even been into the whole New Age, karma, crystal toting set, I might have taken this as a sign of things to come.
Instead I invited him to my dorm room for a Coke, as a thank you for carting the remains the rest of the way. Even now I am amazed at how difficult it was for me to form coherent sentences – me with my motor mouth, that could turn tornadoes green with envy. Yet that was how it was for the first day and even the first month that we dated. But I get ahead of myself. After agonizing minutes, where we stood shifting from foot to foot, attempting to think of something fascinating to say and ending up exchanging majors, he left. I did not see him again for several weeks, though I found myself scanning the campus for the sight of his tussled brown curls or at eye level his six pack of a stomach. I finally bumped into him in the cafeteria , with his buddies.
This was right after I had just started and finished dating the first boy I had ever kissed. After that experience, I had just about decided to give up on the whole kissing institution. He was wet and sloppy and I always ended up wiping his saliva off of my chin– not that he noticed. Needless to say when my lakeside savior strode up to my table and asked me out, I was wary.

THE FIRST DATE
For me, first dates are like the anticipation of climbing the first hill of a roller coaster, and the nausea that inevitably ensues. This first of firsts was no exception. After spending several hours teasing my hair into a follicular sculpture which would rival the masterpieces of any Vidal Sassoon and searching the deepest, most uncharted recesses of my closet to find the perfect pale blue pumps, which flawlessly matched the carefully selected pair of panties for the evening– not that he had any chance of seeing them – nevertheless this fastidious sense of matching gave me a great sense of inner comfort, you can imagine my sheer delight in being driven to the Discount Dollar Movie Plex and having my prince charming whip out his newly acquired free passes for our evening's entertainment.
One would think with a body as large as his, there would be plenty of room for a brain. Time and experience proved the error in jumping to such a far fetched conclusion. There we sat, chair to chair, his hand resting on my arm, as his thumb roamed in little circles on the top of my wrist.
As the lights dimmed, I leaned forward, anticipating a romance or light hearted comedy. What I got was the flare of guns, car chases, and the spill of blood, as inner city gangs fought over drug territory and prostitutes. As I sat quaking in horror, my simple minded Lathareo leaned over and questioned –" Good movie, huh?" About to blast him into Arctic territories, yet unseen by man or seal, I had the misfortune of looking into those big, soulful eyes and lost my ability to speak, let alone blame him for the night's disaster. And when he asked why I kept flexing my hand throughout the movie, I didn't have the heart to tell him the truth – that his thoughtful thumb massage had put my hand to sleep.
No, one look from him or one simple touch and I would make Marcell Marcieux sound like Chatty Kathy. Weeks turned into months and at last I regained my ability to speak. Unfortunately, I began to resemble my namesake in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. In all due fairness, it wasn't necessarily the things he did that set me off – although his growing collection of vodka bottles on the wall and the overpowering stench of month old laundry didn't help– but the innate differences between us. I lived for Tennyson's sonnets and he for Jug's Magazine.
Don't get me wrong, when things were good between us, there was no greater high, like the time he hired a gondola to take us around a nearby lake or those moments cuddled in his arms when he would sing to me in a voice angels would envy, but when the pains of reality, such as his friends bursting in on us without notice or knocking – hoping to get an eyeful, came into play, the fires of hell would have been a welcome reprieve.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END
There are certain signs that a relationship is on the skids.For some, it is because he doesn't bring you flowers anymore OR he chooses to watch college football instead of taking you out for your anniversary. For me, it was a charred steak and a car chase that gave me the final clue that this relationship was definitely over.
It was the Fourth of July weekend. We woke up early, picked up a couple of HIS friends and we headed out for testosterone bonanza. Barbequed steaks and beer were the main staples and I could almost see the drool seeping from "HUNK" lips on the way. As least someone was kind enough to remember that I was vegetarian, so a couple of carrots were added to the grill,so I wouldn't starve.
Beer and roughhousing landed a couple of the steaks on the ground. Evidently that was O.K. because they simply brushed off the dirt and put the dirty steaks back on the fire.
I guess since the steaks looked the same, they didn't consider the dirt factor, a real problem. I did. Suddenly,my carrots looked like the best meal I had ever eaten. As the hours passed, they ogled girls, drank beer and becamemore obnoxious than I had ever seen them. Apparently as singles, they were tolerable. But put them together, and you had a Howard Stern–circus sideshow, in the making.
Eventually, rude and crude remarks headed in MY direction and I knew that it was time to go. It was Neanderthal round–up time so I got them into the car. My "one and only"insisted on driving.
Within two minutes one of the other drivers had ticked off"Lover Boy" and WE were in a car race with me screaming, him cursing and the chuckle heads in the back egging him on (a cheerleader's living nightmare).
We had finally passed his nemesis on the road when the roar of sirens behind us caught our attention. Instead of pulling over, he sped faster through stop signs AND red lights.
By the time we were pulled over by half of the Miami Police Force, I deciphered, from his ramblings, that his tattoo"Love from Cell Block Eight" was not his favorite rock band but a fond farewell, from his friends in the pen. Amazing how this never came up in all the time we were dating. Well,at eighteen, we were willing to believe just about,anything... weren't we?
I "still" get letters from my clueless Lothario. He has finally gotten his own cell and the boys from Cell Block Eight say, hi.

Tattoo, anyone?


ABOUT the Author: 

Caterina Christakos is the published author of several children's books and how to books. She is also a freelance journalist for Agora Publishing, Accent on Living, and Active Living Magazines.

After studying for her Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling, she decided that relationships were better dealt with with humor than therapy and so she developed Tales of the Romantically Challenged. She is currently on the run, as several of her exes have concluded that these stories may possibly be about them.






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