We’ve all heard that old saying that sticks and stones will break one’s bones. Some people get all wrapped around the axle when they get called names.
Boo hoo … Tito, hand me a tissue.
Not me. 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?
So when I write, I maintain a robust cast of characters to use interchangeably to add color and interest to what might otherwise read as a boring recitation of facts.
Enter Little Red Riding Hood—one of the many self-deprecating characters I refer to myself as in my essays.
I think it’s a pretty fitting moniker and the name describes me 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. I was still deliriously happy … still skipping through the woods in my red cape … still swinging my picnic basket on my arm.
That’s me in the picture above. (Yes, I borrowed the socks from Ronald McDonald.)
There’s just no other way to say it; I lived the majority of my life ‘out to lunch’ in the love and trust department. And why wouldn’t I be? I grew up in America—home to Hollywood, the romantic-comedy capital of the world.
Consuming a steady diet of romantic comedies that always delivered a safe predictable happy ending, inadvertently conditioned to internalize some very skewed and unrealistic notions about love and life. Things that were not absolute and things that weren’t even close to being grounded in reality.
Unrealistic notions like love conquers all and people who love each other stay together. I truly believed that once a person finally found ‘the one”, they locked arms and faced whatever life might throw at them with undying devotion.
Excuse me. You do know that I can hear you snickering, don’t you?
Awww, go ahead, it’s okay—have at it. Laugh as much as you want. Laugher is good medicine. You won’t offend me. Besides, as Larry The Cable guy says: “That’s funny, I don’t care who you are.”
Little Red Riding Hood here never once considered that might be Big Bad Wolves in sheep’s clothing in her perfect world—let alone the possibility that she may have married one.
I lived perpetually high on too many hits from The Love Bong. I said “I do’ to Gorgeous Guy From College and then promptly slapped on the blinders. I walked straight ahead, never looking around or taking inventory of who/what may have been on the periphery or lurking nearby.
Huffing my daily dose of The Love Drug, I was still just as enamored with my runaway husband on the day he shockingly ghosted me as I was the day I married him.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I blame my bad choices on Hollywood, nor have I given up rom-coms in their entirety. I still appreciate this genre of film as much as the next guy/gal.
Sleepless In Seattle andYou Have Mail are my favorite go-to chick flicks when I want to feel good. Every now and then I still remind myself that some people out there actually do find a really good guy. I didn’t lose all sense of reason from binge-watching all those rom-coms.
I was never so naive as to think that I was gonna score a guy like Keanu Reeves 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.
But I honestly did think that true love was possible.
Okay, so (obviously!) I didn’t hold the winning ticket in the gorgeous-and-really-good-guy lottery. But in my mind, it was still the realm of possibility that I could have my ‘happily-ever-after’ with a somewhat more generic Romeo.
Ever the optimist, I thought 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. Maybe in a parallel universe somewhere, but it not in this astral plane. In this reality, I was simply a naive woman who fell for the lines of a smooth-talking guy in a wool sheep suit.
In a watershed moment, I decided to see what other areas there were in my life where I may have long been in denial. Turns out, there were plenty of them.
My first order of business was reviewing my music collection. I figured it probably could use a review—i.e., a clean sweep of the sappy love songs that always reminded me of my ex.
Having been successful in slapping myself out of my rom-com ridiculousness, I accepted 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—was not written about my husband and me. Say it isn’t so!
What a bummer. I’d always considered it to be ‘our song’. But, with that in mind, I promptly deleted it from my ITunes library.
I needed to finalize the process by now emptying my computer’s recycle bin. As I did, my humor imp suggested that I find an alternative song to fill the void.
Seriously, 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.
With that in mind, I made an entirely new playlist and added the song that my humor imp had just suggested.
You know, looking at it now … all things considered … this is a much better song to describe my walk through the woods and my misguided marriage to The Big Bad Wolf.
Take a listen: