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 roster of character names that I interchangeably. I think it adds color and interest to what might otherwise be a boring story.
Who wants to read a snooze-worthy recitation of facts?
Hey There Little Red Riding Hood
Enter another of my character names—Little Red Riding Hood. It’s one of the many self-deprecating ways I refer to myself in my essays.
Actually, I think it’s a pretty fitting moniker; It describes me to a T in former days.
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 Red. I was still deliriously happy … still skipping through the woods in my red cape … still swinging my wicker picnic basket on my arm.
As a matter of fact, that’s me in the picture above. [And before you ask … yes, I borrowed the socks from Ronald McDonald. LOL
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 over the years(each guaranteed to deliver a safe and very predictable joyous ending) inadvertently conditioned me to living my life in schmuckdom.
For example, I internalized some very skewed and unrealistic notions about life and love. Things that were not absolute. Things that were not true. Things that weren’t even close to being grounded in reality.
Unrealistic notions like ‘love conquers all’. Silly notions like ‘people who love each other stay together’.
Drinking The Kool-Aid
Like a David Koresh devotee, I was so gullible that I gulped down the Rom-Com Ridiculousness without hesitation or questioning.
I honestly believed that once a person finally found ‘the one’ then life was all set from that point forward.
In other words, a couple simply locked arms with their life partner … both put their heads down, walked against the wind, and faced whatever life would throw at them.
All of that with undying devotion. (This is the part where we all 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, There’s Predators In Those Woods, Darlin’
Little Red Riding Hood (me) never once considered that there might be a Big Bad Wolf (in sheep’s clothing) in her perfect world. Banish the thought that she may actually have married one and brought him home.
Nah, Little Red here 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.
And once I did this, I walked straight ahead, never looking around, and never taking inventory of who/what might be on the periphery or lurking nearby.
I must admit that by huffing my daily dose of The Love Drug, I was still just as enamored with Mr. Cheater Pants on the day he shockingly ghosted me as I was on the day I married him.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I blame all of my bad life choices on The Hollywood Machine. Nor am I saying that I have I given up rom-coms in their entirety.
Nope, 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 about love again and get a rom-com contact high.
I may be jaded, but I also acknowledge though 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 chick flicks.
I have was so naive as to think that I was ever gonna score someone in real life like Keanu Reeves’ character from The Lake House. Or Richard Gere’s character from Pretty Woman, Bill Pullman from While You Were Sleeping, or even swoon-worthy Colin Firth in Bridget Jones’ Diary. (Be still my heart.)
With that lengthy disclaimer, I truly did think that true love was possible.
And They Lived Happily Ever After—NOT
Okay, so obviously [!] I it turned out that I hadn’t been holding the winning ticket in the ‘gorgeous-&-really-good-guy’ lottery.
But in my Pollyanna mind, it was still within the realm of possibility. In my way of thinking, I could still have a ‘happily-ever-after’ with a somewhat lesser, more generic Romeo, right?
Ever the optimist, I was convinced that Casper was my very 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.
You see, the truth was that in this universe, and in this real-time reality, I was nothing more than a naive woman who happened to fall for the cheap lines of a smooth-talking guy wearing a wool sheep suit. (Shrug. It happens.)
Lean Into It
In a rare moment of clarity, I decided that I probably should take the bull by the horns and identify if there were other areas where I may have long been in denial. And, as it turns out, there were plenty of them.
One of my first orders of business was reviewing my music collection. While I was functioning in reality, I figured that ITunes probably could use a deep dive and and clean sweep of sappy love songs not matching my new reality.
Feeling somewhat proud of myself for having slapped myself out of my rom-com ridiculousness, I stepped up to the plate and accepted 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 husband and me.
Even though I’d always considered it ‘our song’, I deleted it from my music library.
But A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Recycle Bin …
There! I’d done it! Relieved that I’d bravely purged my technology of the false advertising, it occurred to me that to fully finalize the deletion, I needed to empty my computer’s recycle bin.
As I started to do that, my humor imp Erma (Erma Bombzback) spoke up, suggesting that I fill the void that was going to be left by Lionel Richie & Diana Ross’ harsh eviction with another more suitable song.
I mean, really? Why let the highlight reel from decades of my marriage be reduced to being a silent film? Wasn’t that period of time still worthy of a fitting sound track?
Yes, it was! I declared to myself.
So, with that in mind, I set about making an entirely new playlist. I began by adding the song that my humor imp had suggested as the theme song for my now-defunct marriage.
Roll The Ending Credits
You know, looking at it now—and with all things considered—the replacement track really IS on the money for describing my walk through the woods.
I now have THE perfect musical narration for my misguided misadventures—a soundtrack befitting of my real-life journey with my real-life Big Bad Wolf.
Take a listen:
Lil’ Red Riding Hood By Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs
What’s that I see walkin’ in these woods?
Why, it’s Little Red Riding Hood.
You sure are lookin’ good,
You’re everything a big, bad wolf could want…
I don’t think little big girls should
Go walkin’ in these spooky ol’ woods alone.
The kind of eyes that drive wolves mad.
So just to see that you don’t get chased,
I think I ought to walk with you for a ways.
What full lips you have,
They’re sure to lure someone bad.
So until you get to Grandma’s place,
I think you ought to walk with me and be safe.
Til I’m sure that you’ve been shown
That I can be trusted, walking with you alone.
I’d like to hold you if I could,
But you might think I’m a big, bad wolf, so I won’t.
The better to love you with.
Little Red Riding Hood,
Even bad wolves can be good.
I’ll try to keep satisfied,
Just to walk close by your side.
Maybe you’ll see things my way
Before we get to Grandma’s place.
You sure are lookin’ good,
You’re everything a big, bad wolf could want.