What’s In A Name?

We’ve all heard that old saying that sticks and stones will break one’s bones. And some people get SO wrapped around the axle when other people call them names. Boo hoo … Tito, hand me a tissue. Oh puhleeeze!

Not me. Actually, I’m okay with a little name calling between friends—especially when it’s in the interest of parody and good-natured humor. I mean, really, who doesn’t appreciate a little change-up every now and then? When I write, I maintain a robust roster of character  names I use and interchange, adding  color and interest to what might otherwise be a boring story comprised of a snooze-worthy recitation of facts.

Hey There Little Red Riding Hood

Enter another of my character names—Little Red Riding Hood—one of the many self-deprecating ways I refer to myself in my essays. I think it’s a pretty fitting moniker, seeing as it describes me in former days to a T. When my husband did his infamous ‘sea-bag drag’—ghosting me after decades of what I thought was a happy marriage—I was SO very much like her. In other words, I was still deliriously happy … still skipping through the woods in my red cape … still swinging my wicker picnic basket on my arm.

That’s me in the picture above. [And yes, I borrowed the socks from Ronald McDonald.]

There’s just no other way to say it; I lived the majority of my adulthood and married life to What’s-His-Face very much ‘out to lunch’ in the love and trust department. And why wouldn’t I? I grew up right here in America—home to Hollywood, the romantic-comedy capital of the world.

They Say You Are What You Eat

Consuming a steady diet of romantic comedies that were guaranteed to deliver a safe and very predictable happy ending inadvertently conditioned me to schmuckdom. I internalized some very skewed and unrealistic notions about life and love. Things that were not absolute. Things that weren’t true. Things that weren’t even close to being grounded in reality.

Unrealistic notions like ‘love conquers all’. Things like ‘people who love each other stay together’. Like a David Koresh devotee, I was so gullible that I gulped the Rom-Com Kool-Aid. I honestly believed that once a person finally found ‘the one’ that they locked arms with their life partner …  put their head down … walked against the wind … and faced whatever life would throw at them with undying devotion. And now we laugh.

Awww, go ahead, it’s okay—have at it—laugh as loud and as much as you want. Laugher is a very good medicine for what ails you. You won’t offend me by laughing at my ignorance. Besides, as Larry The Cable guy says: “That’s funny, I don’t care who you are.”

Skip To My Lou, But Remember … Predators DO Exist In Those Woods, Darlin’

Little Red Riding Hood here never once considered that there might be a Big Bad Wolf [in sheep’s clothing] in her perfect world—let alone entertaining the possibility that she may have actually married one and brought him home. Nah, I lived perpetually high on too many hits from The Love Bong.

In my case, once I said “I do’ to Gorgeous Guy From College, I promptly proceeded to slap on the blinders. Once I did this, I walked straight ahead—never looking around—never taking inventory of who/what might be on the periphery or lurking nearby. I must admit that—huffing my daily dose of The Love Drug—I was still just as enamored with my Mr. Cheater Pants husband on the day he shockingly ghosted me as I was on the day I married him. Stoooopid.

Realistic Expectations

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I blame all of my bad choices on Hollywood, nor am I saying that I have I given up rom-coms in their entirety. I still appreciate this genre of film as much as the next guy/gal. As a matter of fact, Sleepless In Seattle and You Have Mail are still my favorite go-to chick-flicks when I want to feel good and get a rom-com contact high.

I acknowledge that some people out there really do find a good guy or gal. I didn’t lose all sense of reason from binge-watching all those movies. In other words, I have never been so naive as to think that I was ever gonna score the epitome of nice guys like Keanu Reeves character from The Lake House, Richard Gere from Pretty Woman, Bill Pullman from While You Were Sleeping-–or even Colin Firth in Bridget Jones’ Diary.  [Be still my heart.]  With that said, I really did think that true love was possible.

And They Lived Happily Ever After—NOT

Okay, so obviously[!] I wasn’t holding the winning ticket in the ‘gorgeous-and-really-good-guy’ lottery. But in my Pollyanna mind, it was still the realm of possibility that I could find my ‘happily-ever-after’ with a somewhat lesser, more generic Romeo.

Ever the optimist, I thought that I’d still find my own version of  ‘to have and to hold … from this day forward … as long as you both shall live’. A veritable slice of heaven. Right? …

Nay, nay, my dear. Maybe in a parallel universe somewhere. But not in this astral plane and not with my Romeo. In this universe and reality, I was simply a naive woman who fell for the lines of a smooth-talking guy in a wool sheep suit. [Shrug. It happens.]

Lean Into It

In a watershed moment of clarity, I decided that I probably should branch out and see what other areas there may be in my life where I had long been in denial. As it turns out, there were plenty of them. I decided that my first order of business was to start by reviewing my music collection. The way I figured it, ITunes probably could use a clean sweep of the sappy love songs that always reminded me of my ex.

Feeling somewhat successful in having slapped myself out of my rom-com ridiculousness, I stepped up to accept the fact that Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’ song “Endless Love”—declared by Billboard Magazine to be the greatest love-song duet of all time—had never been about my ex husband and me. [Say it isn’t so! LOL.] Bummer. Heavy sigh … I’d always considered it to be ‘our song’. Nevertheless, I promptly deleted it from my music library.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Recycle Bin …

I nodded my head in acknowledgment, feeling a sense of pride that I’d purged my technology of all the sappy false advertising. Then I remembered that to fully finalize the deletion, I needed to emptying my computer’s recycle bin. As I started doing that, my humor imp interjected and suggested that I fill the void left by Lionel Richie & Diana Ross’ eviction.

Why let the highlight reel of the memories and photos from decades of my marriage be reduced to a silent film? Wasn’t it still worthy of a fitting sound track? Yes, it did! I declared to myself. So, with that in mind, I set about making an entirely new playlist. I started by adding the new song that my humor imp had just suggested as our new theme song.

The Ending Credits

You know… looking at it now … and with all things considered … the new song really IS a much better song to describe my walk through the woods. I now have THE perfect musical narration for my misguided marriage to my real-life version of The Big Bad Wolf.

Take a listen: