Archives For Friendship

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“NO, you be the SPACEMAN!!!  Here, put this ON!”

It didn’t matter that Benjamin didn’t want to be a spaceman. My son had already twisted him into a half nelson and was wrestling a plastic bucket onto his best friend’s head. At five, my son was bossy and inflexible. He had difficulty navigating unstructured situations, like playdates.

Which is a nice way of saying, he was a tyrant. I knew someday, his fierce little warrior soul would have its upside. But someday is a long way off when you’re exhausted from refereeing every playdate.

Even a five-year-old knows his basic civil liberties are being violated when he’s forced to wear an inner tube and dance like a ballerina.

 

One afternoon, I took my son and his best buddy to the neighborhood pizza shop. I mentally prepared myself for a migraine-inducing battle of whose slice was a millimeter larger than whose.

Behind the counter, the pizzeria owner whirled an enormous disc of dough into a velvety umbrella. The boys had already begun bickering.

I pointed excitedly at the Pizza Man.

“Look!”

Both boys turned to look at the Pizza Man, twirling and stretching the dough. They stopped squabbling and stared.

“This is an art form. It takes years of practice! Watch how he never stops, not even for a second!”

They stood, transfixed. With expert hands, the Pizza Man tossed dough high into the air and caught it without breaking his rhythm.

“See how he moves his hand in a circle? It’s all about the hand movement. It’s like putting a spin on a basketball.”

“Wow!” Benjamin said.

“What happens if he drops it?” my son asked.

“That’s just it! He NEVER does,” I answered knowingly.

 

The fact is, good pizza making is an art. It’s also a science – physics, to be exact.

“It’s science, you see? In order to keep the pizza airborne, the optimal motion is a semi-elliptical trajectory. The dough moves through the air at an angle, rather than flying flat!”

Their full-on blank stares jolted me out of my geek moment.

“It’s just SUPER COOL!  Okay, guys, who wants what?”

We munched our pizza, never taking our eyes off the Pizza Man and his magical feat of aerodynamics. The boys were united in a brotherhood of wonderment and a new found appreciation of pizza.

 

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

And so it was with my son and his friendship-making abilities. The art of friendship is as finely nuanced as that of handling pizza dough. Today, at 12, he is a fabulous friend.

He still likes to bring his pals to watch the Pizza Man. It’s a tiny miracle to watch a lump of dough, rigid and unyielding, expand and become flexible in the right hands.

And there is very little in the world that a perfectly made pizza won’t set right.

 

————————————–

This essay was my submission into the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. I didn’t win, but I was totally stoked to try my hand at writing in a voice different from the one usually found on my blog.

I’ve been submitting my work to other publications lately, which is HUGE for me. I’ve been fortunate to have my work syndicated before, but I don’t usually submit my work to other publications.

Now I am.

I’ve had some really encouraging experiences, sandwiched in between lots of rejections. It’s taken me away from my blog a little bit. If I’m not around, just know that I’m pitching my little heart out, and I’ll be sure to share any good news I have with you.

Oh! Speaking of the competition. I am going to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the end of the month! Woo hoo! I’m not ready to throw up daily at the thought of it, like I felt when I was going to BlogHer. After all, I lost my blog conference virginity already.

It’s only a little daunting, because there are gonna be a WHOLE lot of kick ass humor writers there. This conference sold out like a rock concert in six hours. SIX HOURS. This has to be the most exciting event to hit Dayton, Ohio, since the 2014 conference.

Best of all, I get to room with my redheaded partner in crime, Quirky Chrissy! AND – I’ll be finally meeting two of my most fave online people, Michelle and Lola!

 

I’d say that I’m going to tell you all about it, but what happens in Dayton, stays in Dayton…

 

Anyone else have an intense, willful kid who dominated the other toddlers? How does that turn out? Please tell me they grow up to be CEOs and stuff. 
Can anyone recommend any good lesbian bars in Dayton?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

Join me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter  so I can have friends without leaving the house. 

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“Dear Samara,

Would you mind masturbating and mailing me your panties?”

Sincerely,
Franklin Horshucer, Serial Killer

I could hear his heavy breathing. He sounded like Darth Vader with a sinus infection.

 

—-

I had another blog before this one. I didn’t write anything on it. Me and writing – we don’t mix.

When I write, bad things happen. I get addicted to heroin. Stuff like that.

 

I did leave lots of comments, and started receiving emails from bloggers. How the hell did they get my email address?

Most of the emails were creepy. I ignored them.

Wait. What’s this?

“Dear Samara,

May I email you privately? Only if you don’t mind. If you do, I promise never to bother you again. But I am a Nice Guy and I do not breathe like Darth Vader.”

Signed,

Nice Guy

 

I liked him. He was a good writer, and so sweet. The one time I actually wrote something, he told me I was “brilliant.”

His email I answered.

 

We emailed back and forth constantly, all day.

I had a new friend. Someone who considered me a REAL WRITER, a moniker I hadn’t felt entitled to in two decades.

My entire life changed.

I was energized.

The Ex’s ongoing battle for alimony, my bankruptcy, my best friend with cancer, my son’s draining special needs…

I felt like I could conquer anything. After 20 years, I was a writer again!

And then –

Abruptly, radio silence. After a month of 50-plus emails a day.

I panicked. What had I done wrong?

 

 

I realized how lonely I was.

I never thought of myself that way. Constantly surrounded by people, I craved more alone time than I got.

What I didn’t know was how much I needed to connect deeply with another human being; to feel special and important. All this attention lavished on me brought something dead inside me back to life.

And this fierce longing for connection, awoken and now unfulfilled –  was brutal.

 

—-

In 3 days I was headed to Boston to take care of my best friend, my old college roommate, after her mastectomy. Just before I left, my cousin called me with tragic news.

My favorite uncle was dead. And I would have to miss his funeral, to take care of my friend.

My uncle. The only connection I ever had to my father.

I was unabashedly his favorite niece. He never tired of bragging about me.

For 40 years, my uncle fed me anecdotes of his beloved older brother – the father I never really knew.

Now, there would be no more stories of him, ever. All that remained of him was buried under 6 feet of cold earth.

At a funeral I wasn’t even able to attend.

 

—-

 

From Boston, I emailed Nice Guy. I was desperate to have my writing friend back.

A day went by. Two. Three days later, he sent me a brief, dismissive email

I never heard from him again.

—-

 

Home.

Exhausted. Confused. Grief stricken.

I was fragmenting. My past and present were colliding.

I checked in on Nice Guy’s blog. He’d found new favorites to fawn over.

I racked my brains to understand why I’d been discarded, until I realized –

He had found out

the truth.

I was no writer. I couldn’t even sustain his interest for more than a month. .

It was 1994 all over again.

I relived the horrendous mess I’d made of my life. I stopped sleeping. Judged myself ruthlessly.

I spent my days drifting through “The Land Of Horrible Ways I’d Fucked Up My Life.”

Welcome back. So good to see you again.

Would you like some drugs?

—-

 

My best friend got the pathology report back from her surgery.

“What do you mean, Stage 3 aggressive? You said Stage 1!”

She answered me patiently, as though I were the sick one. “Yes. But there was another lump in the lump they removed.”

“What does that even MEAN?”

It just meant she was much, much sicker than we thought.

—-

 

I came home one afternoon to find Little Dude crying bitterly. The Ex had kicked him.

My son’s favorite hobby is torturing us. But-

DO. NOT. HIT. MY. CHILD. 

 

During a session with Little Dude’s absurdly overpriced ADHD therapist, I suggested to my husband that he learn to cope with our son without putting a foot up his ass.

Dr. Interloper said, “You kicked your son?”

“Yes.”

“I’m going to have to report you to Child Protection Services.”

The Ex handled it well. Shouted that I was a cunt, flung the car keys at me and stormed out of the room.

I waited for the inevitable fallout, walking around with a bruise on my cheek from where the keys had landed.

Just like old times.

—-

 

The next night two social workers appeared in my driveway. We passed inspection with flying colors.

A few days later, the call came.

I was under investigation.

 

They’d asked if there had ever been any domestic abuse in our home.

I lied and said there hadn’t been. I didn’t think it through. I couldn’t think straight about much at all. Sleep deprived and depressed, I was too busy floating around in my failed past.

CPS found police records of emergency room visits and a restraining order.

What else had I lied about?

They informed me that, for the time being, he could stay in my custody.

 

I stopped breathing when they said those words.

 

This isn’t happening.

Please tell me this isn’t happening.

 

They arranged to interview his teacher.

The guidance counselor.

His pediatrician.

His dentist.

His motherfucking dentist.

I wondered how far back they would investigate. Dear God, the things they could find if they poked around enough.

 

 

I called the case worker. I groveled. Where my kid is concerned, I’m not above groveling.

I dialed her office. “I was the Class Mom 2 years in a row.”

Called again. “Did I tell you I run the PTO Trunk or Treat every year?”

I stayed up all night, searching through boxes of photos. Tears streamed down my face as I looked for evidence that I was a worthy mom.

I found pictures of the party we threw when my son started kindergarten. We had invited 22 kids we never met, and their parents, to our home for a “Welcome to Kindergarten Party.”

Little Dude and I had painted a banner that read:

WELCOME CLASS OF 2022!

welcome 2022

At 2 am I texted the case worker the picture.

It was an office number and it didn’t go through.

I texted it over and over again, all night, anyway.

—-

 

I had constant pain in my chest. I was sure it was my heart breaking.

It turned out to be bronchitis.

 

The investigation continued.

I was reliving the past, only the nightmarish version where you lose your child, instead of your self-respect.

One night I had such stabbing pains in my chest, they shot all the way through to my back. I couldn’t breathe.

I thought, “This is what Kurt Cobain must have felt like right before he shot himself. Utter heartbreak.”

And then I fainted outside the supermarket, and the shopping cart kid called an ambulance.

 

The stabbing pain was pneumonia.

I spent 4 days in the hospital.

I missed my son’s 10th birthday.

 

Despite that, my kid still thinks I’m pretty great. He’s upstairs, sleeping.

I’m going to go up and kiss his sleepy little head when I finish this.

CPS decided I was an okay mom, after all.

 

—-

A fleeting cyberspace connection. Meaningless.
But what if you’re brand new to the online world?
And you naively assume every virtual friendship is as valuable as its real life analogue?

On each end of the wires is a living, breathing human being with a past and a present. And an ill-timed “meaningless” encounter might shake something frighteningly loose. Something that rolls around inside of you like a stray bullet, and damages a vital organ.

Your heart, maybe.

And you bleed out.

 

 

The Internet is a Rogue’s Paradise. People act without consequence, because they can.

I shut down that blog. I wanted no part of it.

 

Obviously, this wasn’t the end of my story.

To Be Continued…

 

Have you ever had an online experience like that? Do people treat online friends differently?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

Join me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter .

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After all this time as online friends, it was time for us to meet.

And meet we did!

Yes, they were two of the most fun days I’ve had in a long time. But it was more than that.

These women are the family I chose.

 

It was a pretty intense couple of days. There was a blood moon. Beth won a major book award. Facebook broke.

And The Sisterwives finally got to meet one another and spend time together.

Don’t tell me these things aren’t all connected…

If you’d like to read the highly amusing tale (I wrote it!) of what happened when we took over Dallas, click here!

I’m closing comments, so you’ll head over to Sisterwives to read and comment. See ya there, okay?

 

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