Many years before when he was old enough to have had some life experience but not so old as to have been jaded a woman shared some advice with him.
“Never compare the woman you are currently sleeping with one you used to be with unless you are telling the current one she is better. And even then you shouldn’t do it because you’ll open up a can of worms you don’t want to deal with.
We never forget what you said and we always remember what you don’t.”
He had told her that he thought that was ridiculous and then asked if she was trying to say every woman was the same.
“Of course, we aren’t the same but there are enough similarities among us to be able to make some general statements. If you find a girl that is dumb enough to let you put it wherever you want it then take my advice and just shut up.
We can talk ourselves into liking you when we don’t and we can talk ourselves out of liking you just as quickly. Sometimes less is more.”
He shook his head and made a comment about less sex leading to more divorce and she shook her head again.
“Get into her head and her heart and you’ll never worry about having to get into anywhere else.”
That last remark was the one that had resonated the most with him because it was the one he understood best. It was no different with men, the girls that had found their ways into both places had stuck with him the longest or maybe it was the opposite.
Didn’t really matter much which came first because the outcome seemed to be the same.
The rest stop he had stopped at was a clone of the others scattered across the interstate,”Clean bathrooms, showers and laundry plus good grub.”
They were right about the bathrooms, those were generally well maintained, you never worried about not finding toilet paper in the stalls and they generally didn’t smell.
Even though he wasn’t especially particular about any of that, he appreciated it. If you had to stop and go it was always more pleasant not to be assaulted by the aftermath of the random people who had used the place before you.
Five hundred some miles down and many more to go meant that he wouldn’t just shake the weasel and roll on out, not anymore at least.
Twenty years ago he wouldn’t have needed the extra time to stretch or cared about refilling his thermos with coffee
But it didn’t matter whether his mind remembered what his body had once done or didn’t require because time didn’t care. The clock would have its way with you and all you could do is try to slow it down knowing you would never beat it.
The clock would have its way with you and all you could do is try to slow it down knowing you would never beat it.
Most of the time he didn’t care because he figured it vertical was always superior to horizontal, he was above ground and lots of friends and family weren’t.
Every day was a new beginning and a new chance at adventure. That didn’t preclude the odd moment of frustration with time and or himself and new discoveries.
The mirror wasn’t always a friend and it didn’t help that his ego held him to impossible standards.
“You’ve always been your own worst critic and sometimes your worst enemy. But you always have been dumb enough to believe you can overcome anything too, so I guess it balances out.”
When he realized he had said the words aloud he chuckled and followed up with “you just might be spending too much time alone.”
All that time alone wasn’t likely to change any time soon either, it was part of the job and unless he won the lottery he wasn’t going to be able to retire for a good long while.
His reverie was interrupted by the alarm on his phone, it was supposed to have woken him from the nap he had planned on taking before he started driving again, but he hadn’t been able to sleep.
That was one thing that time hadn’t impacted, he had never needed much sleep and still required less than other people but he tried to plan for the future so grabbing twenty winks had seemed like a smart idea.
The rest stop’s claim about having “good grub” was a bit of a stretch. If you liked fast food or overpriced chips, candy and soda it was accurate, if you liked those things.
That was another thing that time had changed. It had made him a bit of a food snob, he would eat the junk if that was his only option but given a choice he preferred a sit down meal with food that didn’t come from a can or microwave.
Since it wasn’t an option here he did the best he could and walked over the Starbucks that was across the street from rest stop to refill the giant thermos.
Hadn’t been there more than two minutes when he felt someone put their hand on his hip and push by him.
She was a brunette with a ponytail and a phone stuck up against her ear, “tell me again what you want, I am almost back.”
“How can you be almost back when you weren’t here.”
She surprised him by turning around and saying she had left her wallet in the car.
“Kind of entitled, aren’t you.”
Her response left him speechless.
“You have nice eyes.”
He hadn’t gone in expecting a fight nor had he planned on having one with the line cutter, but habit had made him expect their exchange to go that route so the compliment threw him.
Lost in thought he almost didn’t notice her looking his way, three cups of coffee balanced in her hands.
“How would you feel if some strange man put his hands on your hips?”
Now she was the one who was stunned into silence, at least initially she was the only one because it took five seconds for him to realize what he had just said.
He almost followed it up with an explanation about how she had touched him as she passed by but he couldn’t think of a way to say it without feeling stupid so he just remained silent.
That feeling of foolishness moved him from the line back to the car where he sat and tried to shake it off, but it didn’t stop him from thinking about a different moment from the past.
Somewhere in a drawer was a handwritten letter that he had never sent.
We were strangers. We were lovers. We were best friends. We were people who got caught by timing and circumstance. Now we are something else that remains undefined.
We aren’t the only people to go through this. We aren’t the only ones who have wondered what if or tried to figure out if the window is open, closed or just jammed tight.
If I heard you were getting married I would be like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate and I’d interrupt it.
I’d grab you by the hand and tell you that you didn’t really love him and take you away and we’d start our life together.
And if you weren’t, well I’d demand you kiss me and tell me you felt nothing. I’d demand you sleep with me and say you felt nothing.
I’d look you in the eye and good things would come from it because life favors the bold.
The letter remained unfinished and unsent because he never felt like the words were quite right or that he got the sentiment down the way he wanted to.
Instead of taking a chance to prove that life favored the bold he had played it safe so that he wouldn’t feel stupid and wouldn’t risk hurting his heart anymore.
And then he thought again of the woman who had told him never to compare women to each other.
“Most women will tell you that we always know how far we are willing to go on a date before we go and that we usually know who we might sleep with and who we won’t.
But sometimes you surprise us.
A guy I worked with once showed up at my door and told me he had fantasized about being dominated by me. Most days that wouldn’t have been interesting to me, but something about the moment and how certain but vulnerable he was caught me.
I invited him in and it was incredible. It only happened that one time, but only because he was an idiot. I’ll tell you that story a different day.”
Thinking about it made him chuckle, if that didn’t prove you never knew what would work and what wouldn’t, well nothing did.
Good old time and timing always played a part.