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LAce Posted Monday, January 23rd, 2006
Just One
Miriam Kotzin

The time came when most of her friends were, as she put it, “hitched.” Jen got to be a bride's maid and grin for the pix. She was a bride's maid and wore a long pink dress. She was a bride's maid and wore a long pale blue dress. Once she was a bride's maid and she wore a long black dress with a slit up the side. And the last time she was a bride's maid she wore a long white lace dress. That bride was nuts, Jen thought. Point was, her friends were each in a nest with a man.

They had Jen come by for brunch (eggs whipped up with cheese and baked to a poof) or for drinks (wine, chilled white wine and brie or cheese in a crock---none of her friends knew how to choose a good red wine). Each time she went Jen brought a wee house gift. She wore the bride's gift she'd got when she was their bride's maid, some cheap gold charm or pin. She'd take a tour of the house and say, “Wow this is nice! What a great place you two have! And is that a real fire there or gas logs? Gas? It looks so real! Wow! A back yard, too! And that big swing set? Oh, it came with the place. When you have kids though you'll be glad you have it. ” Her friends would blush when she said that, and Jen knew she'd be “Aunt Jen” in a year, two years tops, though not a real Aunt of course.

Some of her friends tried to fix her up. Jen would find a strange man there to sit with her - to make four or six (none of her friends had room yet for eight). Had he not been there she would have been the odd one, the third wheel (a trike) or a fifth-the spare you should keep in the trunk, she joked. But she was saved from the trunk-they'd dragged in a man to sit with her. “Don't you think he's nice/cute/smart/hot/sharp? I think he likes you,” her friends would say. Of course the man who was there to meet her said he'd call her for lunch the next week. The first few times she thought they might. And once, she thought that if he did call, she'd say yes, and not just to please her friend who'd dug up the blind date at her job. That one was nice/cute/smart/hot/sharp. No call came.

Her friends said to her, “It just takes one.” Jen knew they were right. And, fact was, she'd had one man-and then she had the next and the next. The men left her or she left them. Each time she'd set out for what she vowed to be the last time, to find the right man. Oh, she knew in her heart that there was no such thing as THE right man, just the right man for right now.

She tried the ads. She was shocked at all the men who said they liked to take long walks in the rain. What that meant, she learned, was that they were too cheap to spring for a cab. And, worse, they were too proud to let her pay. She did not like long walks in the rain. She sighed, felt some shame, but was glad to stay dry.

She tried the clubs. She died her light brown hair blonde, then red, then went jet black. She wore spike heels. She wore short skirts (she had good legs she could flaunt, her friends told her so). She pierced her ears. She was too old to pierce her tongue though she'd read that a pierced tongue turned guys on-they'd think of that tongue on just the right place. Well, she knew that she did not need a pierced tongue for that. And, oh, could she dance! Once she went to a rave, sprayed her hair pink and blue, and got called “Ma” by three boys who hit on her all at once. She laughed and left on her own.

At the clubs she heard, “Hey, babe, your place or mine.” The guys at clubs had no lines at all or lines that were lame. They talked sports, but just bitched when their team lost. She knew more sports stats than they did. And the men she met had no deep thoughts. Once she heard a man next to her at the bar say “Kant.” She was all set to quote what she'd learned in Phil class in night school, but it turned out that he had not said “Kant,” but the word she would not say that starts with C.

Yes, night school. She signed up to learn-and to meet the right man. What she learned was that the course in Art that she took was jammed with men, but not straight men. The man who sat next to her in Art, took her home in his cab, asked if she knew a nice guy for him. “Most men are such pigs,” he said and winked. They kept in touch and when he said he'd call her for lunch, he did. But he was not the right guy. For her.

She took a course where she learned to write what the prof called “pomes.” He said free verse was frost with no net, or that's what Jen thought he said. She learned to rhyme and count beats. All the men there were too young or too old. None was just right. She felt like she was stuck in the tale with the three bears. Still when the course was done, she had a sheaf of “pomes.” All that time with all those wrong men, those she'd dumped and those who had dumped her, all that time was good. She saw that now that she could write “pomes” to tell how her heart throbbed tears of blood. And the prof would write, “Nice work,” “good tight lines here,” and once when she dared write free verse, “great line breaks.” She knew it hurt him to write that. And, truth be told, she was glad, for when she first wrote he scrawled mean things, crossed out words and whole lines of her work. Her pomes had bled with his red ball point ink that smudged and stained her hands and sleeves.

Jen did not have a man, but she could drink, dance and write “pomes.” She found that she could drink and dance, but not dance and write or drink and write. And it cost much less to write than to drink or dance. Now when she went to her friends' homes, she did not bring wine, she brought her new “pomes.” Of course she went out less and less. The right word was like the right man, worth the search. She looked for one at a time. Small words, short ones, like all of these.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Gerard C. Smith on Monday, January 23rd, 2006 at 7:26 PM
Cool story "but she could drink, dance and write “pomes" That's great.

Posted by Nonnie Augustine on Monday, January 23rd, 2006 at 9:55 PM
Good twist on the "always a bridesmaid" theme. Her solution worked for me!

Posted by Katrina Denza on Monday, January 23rd, 2006 at 10:20 PM
I love this, Miriam.

Posted by Cheryl Chambers on Tuesday, January 24th, 2006 at 7:18 AM
I love it, Miriam. Perfect!

Posted by Judy Cabito on Tuesday, January 24th, 2006 at 2:20 PM
Miriam! How wonderfully sad but then wonderfully satisfying that she finds what makes her happy, and of course that's all that matters. :judy

Posted by Sharon Hurlbut on Wednesday, January 25th, 2006 at 9:24 AM
She found her bliss! What a fun story, Miriam.

Posted by Anna McDougall on Wednesday, January 25th, 2006 at 9:28 PM
Wonderful, Miriam. Sadly, she defines herself through her couple friends' eyes over and over again.

Posted by Rhayn Time on Thursday, July 27th, 2006 at 7:19 PM
Funny how the search, either for the right word or the right "?", can be just as exhilarating and intoxicating as when one comes face to face with the right, "?". Rhayn

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