It Happened Last Night


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copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

It happened last night.  As I reflect, I realize it has happened all along.  Each day, in most every moment I have an opportunity to look at life and learn.  Yet I become consumed with more immediate concerns.  He said. She said.  The system, situation, or some other entity supplants a deeper assessment.  Years ago, I came to understand that I create my own chaos, calm, or shades of what will be.  As an Educator, I speak of this often.  My students often quote me on the subject of choices. Yet, until yesterday, I never fully grasped how true my words might be.  I am unsure why the events of the evening took me where they did. I share the story.

I received a mail from a magnificent man, someone who has achieved much and is well-known beyond the circle of my life.  This gent is a Scholar, an Educator, an esteemed and prolific Author, a Sage.

Indeed, over the years, Mister B’s published works have helped me grow by leaps and bounds.  I never imagined I might become acquainted with him as a person.   Yet, accidentally, we met.  Minutes after Michael presented as part an expert panel, he and his spouse made way for the auditorium exit.  I was on my way back into the lecture hall. Unexpectedly I had an opportunity to introduce myself, which I did.

His mention of a bad cold earlier, whilst he was on stage, led me thoughts on my miracle cure.  Delighted, he turned to his wondrous wife and asked her to take notes. The two he said would purchase the ingredients before the day was done.  It was obvious to me that Michael and Joslyn are quite close.  Caring exudes from each of them. Surprisingly to me, Michael hugged me for the help I offered.

Over the many months since, Michael and I have spoken, not often, but also, not infrequently.  The conversations are expansive.  Mostly we discuss personal philosophies, experiences, and just enjoy getting to know each other. Through electronic mail, at a distance, we have worked on a few endeavors together. Mister B has become more real to me.  His relationships with family, friends, life, and living are beautiful to behold.

Then it happened.  After weeks of unanswered calls and emails, I asked was there trouble. Unusual for Michael, he had not responded to my communications. He wrote back and said all was well.   Michael was and is rebuilding the front entrance to his home.

Once I learned that the lack of responsiveness was not a reaction to what I had said, done, or been, I was relieved. The real story led me to inquire.  Was Michael doing the work himself?  I discovered he was.  This spectacular specimen of a human being was not solely a Scribe, an Academic, an Educator, and an authority on pedagogy. Michael B is an Artisan, a Craftsman, a Draftsman, a Reformer, Dreamer, a Builder, Rebuilder, Mechanic, and a man who transforms what most think of as truth.

Mister B was kind enough to share a link to a webpage that showed his life’s less noticed path.  As I perused, my mouth was agape.  Thirty years earlier, Michael built his own home.  He used no sub-contractors or Contractors.  All the work was done with his own two hands, assisted only by a mind intent on a mission. That gray matter was also his own.

He and his wife Joslyn reside on a river. During the construction, the two lived in a small duplex, on the dock.  This dwelling today is attached to the main abode, and serves as a guest quarter.  The house that Michael built stands stately in a wooded region, overlooking the same waterway where he and his spouse watched him give rise to his vision.

The home is three-stories high.  Some of the windows are floor-to-ceiling. The rafters reach for the sky.  Balconies abound and surround the abode.  A very large round window appears in the uppermost floor.  In another photograph, an interior shot, Joslyn is comfortably seated.  Her body fits securely in the window frame.  Joslyn obviously has much room to move about.  The portal is huge!  It, the house as a whole, is beautiful; but the dwelling’s exquisiteness is nothing in contrast to the lesson I learned when I probed further.

Overwhelmed with this vision, initially, I did not do, as was my impulse and call Michael. Instead, I rushed about in an attempt to leave on time.  I prepared a hurried breakfast, inhaled my food, or began to, and then, I picked up the telephone. I dialed .with the expectation that I would speak to a voice mail machine.  Mister B was likely working and my being rushed, I thought that fine.  Much to my astonishment, Michael answered.  My words were as a white light.  All I said was uttered in haste.  In contrast, Michael’s voice was calm and reflective.  He shared stories.

The domicile took three years to complete.  Plumbing, masonry, milling, electrical jobs were all his, as were all other aspects involved in building.  As he worked on the edifice he also composed and published a book.  Michael kept a notepad close at-hand during the construction.  Prior to the actual endeavor he designed, plotted, planned and developed his thought.

When he felt overwhelmed, or stuck, Michael would step back and work on another undertaking.  He immersed himself in some effort that freed his mind for further reflection.  Mister B might fix a machine, or make one.  The possibilities are endless for someone such as he. Michael understood then, as he does at present, his own learning style, his likes, and all that he loathes for himself.  Idle hands or head, these are not habits Mister B embraces.

The circular window is but one example.  This porthole was once a Union 76 gas station sign. Michael asked if I was familiar with the expansive logo in the form of a light fixture that scrapes the sky in many a gas station.  I am.  Mister B found an old oversized signet on sale. He purchased it for $45 dollars.  Once hollowed out, the frame would serve as his window on the world. Plexiglas was also purchased for just over $100.  Michael fixed the two together and voilá.  A place to peer out was born.

The structure survived five bad storms over the three decades since its birth. One was directly overhead. Yet, the building stood the test of a tempest and time. As has Michael B.

Prior to our conversation, I knew that Michael began his career in 1952. This was near the same year my Dad started his. I had wondered in the past; were the two close in age.  I searched and found the answer.  Yes, they are, as are many men and women. All sorts of people are born within a generation. This truth does not deny that we are all unique.

Still, these two men, in many ways are identical. Daddy too is extremely precise. Just as Michael, he is an Artisan, a Craftsman, a Draftsman, a Reformer, Dreamer, a Builder, Rebuilder, Mechanic, and a man who transforms what most think of as truth. My Dad loves to build. He envisions what others do not and acts on his farsightedness, or did when I was younger.

“Logan” [my father] is a scholar. He received rewards for his brilliance when he attended school. In his professional calling, he was a Professor, a Lecturer, called upon to train Medical Practitioners, Lawyers, Social Workers, Preachers, and Teachers. My father wrote and spoke on Education as Mister B does, although never so broadly.

When  I was a teen, Daddy was on the School Board for an Independent School.  “Logan” was looked upon as a pillar in the community. My Dad worked as a Public Planner for a very respected worldwide Leadership and Support Organization. Later, respected in his field, Daddy established his own firm.  Up until a year ago, my Papa still worked each and every day.  He drove to his office and counseled others; however, he was never able to console himself.

Just as Michael B, “Logan” had big plans.  While he always worked to execute exactly and in a timely manner, much changed.  In retrospect, I understand that Daddy had hesitated even whilst he moved forward.  No one ever seemed to notice this.  My father kept any self-doubt well hidden. Indeed, he seemed quite confident in his every enterprise.

For all practical purposes and by appearances, Daddy was a success!  “Logan” was as Michael, he dreamed and then, built as he imagined. That is, until the day . . a turn of events did my Dad in.  What occurred all those decades ago, popped the bubble that was Daddy’s triumphant existence

Choices Create What Comes

It was Mother’s Day, near a score in the past.  While waiting for Daddy to return home from a day of fishing, the telephone rang.  It was  Logan. He did not call to say he would be late for dinner; he already was.  Instead, he asked, would we pick him up? My Dad was in jail!

In this exposé, I will not share the depth and details.  Suffice to say, murder, mayhem, and money played no role in the crimes. We arranged for his bail. Mommy, my beau Eric, and I drove miles to the Police station.  No one said a word.  I recall no conversation once we arrived either. From minds to mouths, all seemed frozen in time.  Perhaps, we each were numb with disbelief.  I know I was.

Indeed, I only remember a tall man with impeccable posture, a gent who normally stood six feet four inches tall, slumped over.  Daddy’s stared straight ahead as the four of us walked to the car. He was alive.  He looked as well as could be expected, but I could tell my Dad had died inside.  Never did I imagine that the death would be permanent. It was.

Certainly, everyone, at some time believes they have seen the end.  Frequently, a way of life, superficially  concludes.  This veracity was and is no less true for Mister B. I have heard him tell and seen . . .

While Professor B pursued his potential, he traveled down delicate paths that led to delicious delights and also his demise, of sorts.  As all human beings Michael had a number of serious falls. I smile and think of a tome Mister B published.

Just as Daddy had in the course of his life, Michael stood strong and spoke up when he felt policies were wrong.   For doing so, he was placed in precarious predicaments.  Finally, his own words and deeds strangled him.  In a teaching position, at a local College, after twenty-five years Professor B was handed a pink slip.  His contract was terminated.  The case went to court.  While the job was lost, Mister B was born once more.  His choices kept him alive.

Throughout the ordeal, the Scholar and Scribe never lost hope.  Guilt for compensation lost, a career, nay with his reputation in question Michael did not blame himself.  He did not allow himself to be consumed by what he could not change.  Professionally, Michael’s identity was transformed.  The agreement Professor B had with his family, friends, fellowship, and with himself remained solid.   He would be true.  His sense of strength could not be terminated. Then, and still today, Michael thrives.

“Logan,” on the other hand, found that task impossible to achieve.  Granted, the choice that led to his demise was one society could not accept.  More importantly, my Dad could not tolerate what he had done.  The question I now ask myself is would Michael ever have chosen to “commit” a professional, let alone  a physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual “suicide.”  My Dad chose each of these.  However, in practice, he decided to forego one of these self-destructive travels.  In a corporeal sense, Daddy lives.  Sadly it seems, life can be defined in many ways.  Not all are what we would think of as living.

Life Lessons, Losses Seen as Growth and Gains or Rain

As I recognized more than a decade ago in my own life, my or our choices create what comes.  My personal narrative and the lessons learned was nowhere near as profound as what I see in the lives of these two.  Perhaps, it is easier to understand what is separate from self.  I know not for sure.

I am only certain that the man I know as Daddy was replaced on the day of his arrest.  Ever since, a shell of himself stood in his shoes.  Outwardly, slowly, “Logan” regained respect.  A Governor’s pardon was awarded. He rebuilt his practice, and by appearances, his life.  However, he was never truly the same.  His relationships suffered. The man I was once so close to, for so very long, emotionally moved away from me.  Try as I might, and I did, and do, Daddy, only infrequently welcomes rapports with anyone.  In a meaningful manner, “Logan” separated himself from everyone, except perhaps, his wife.  

While his marriage to my Mom did not last long after the arrest; Daddy wed again. I had long believed that, his marriage would be as Michael’s and Joslyn’s is, a lifetime of love.  Better yet, my hope was the two liked each other.  They had been through more than most relationships endure.  Not in so many words, Daddy implied that my want for him was true.  However, in retrospect, that assumption seems an erroneous one.  From each of them, I heard. I saw.  In time, I began to question whether Daddy was authentically connected to his life partner, or more importantly, to himself.

Often, my Dad speaks of regrets, all he never accomplished and could have.  Manuscripts were  not published, though written.  Programs designed and developed were not implemented.  Post Graduate work woefully waned.  Daddy lost his will and his way when he was but a man in his forties.

Barely middle-aged “Logan” became his guilt.  For a very long time, this thought was but my theory.   I understood all I surmised was speculation.  We can only ask and hope the answer will serve as a window to the other’s soul.  Hence, months ago, I inquired.   I wondered aloud whether  “Logan” had reflected on what I observed, a change in his well-being.

Often, in conversation Daddy speaks of his physical health, or lack thereof.  For my father, it seems nothing compares with the agony that has been his corporeal existence.  Since, that dreaded day, “Logan’s” body has been racked with pain.  He has survived various  bouts of cancer, multiple heart attacks, permanent back injuries, and irreparable damage to his inner organs.  My Dad has struggled through physical miseries  He never had before.  

Mentally too, I detected a change.  Actually, he speaks of this often as well.  The person who taught me to live as Don Quixote, to never say die, to believe that in the next millisecond, it will be better only showed himself in rare moments, and only after he and I chatted alone for awhile.  A year ago, I mentioned what for me was this oddity to my Dad.  I asked him, how could this be.  Where had my Daddy gone?  

My Teacher, my Mentor, my Muse, was my Dad.   His truth was my truth.  In my experience, our shared philosophy has always proven itself accurate.  Today, I think of Michael B and trust he embraces as my Dad did and I do.  Every cloud has a silver lining.  Whence I forget, I realize I only need to only open my eyes.  I will see again; rainbows are a spectrum of colors.  Shades of pretty pink can be seen within the band of blood red.

One that day I proposed the question, what happened? Might it be that the fittest man, one whose health never faltered when I was younger changed the day he first chose to do what landed him in jail?  “Logan” admitted, indeed, he took his own life.  Verve, energy, an authentic excitement, all that he was and encouraged was gone. Yes, all those years ago, he killed himself in every way he could.  His chosen weapon was his woe.  Vigor was a void left behind near two score now.

Daddy said the only reason he remained on the planet was to take care of those who needed his physical presence. At the time he shared, I understood.  I could do nothing else. His pain, physical and emotional is palpable.  Yet, today, as I ruminate on the house that Michael built I realize there is much more to ponder.  Are any of us here or as is said, “there” for others when we are barely present.

It is vital that we give rise to the best of our being. Houses are not built on hurt.  Soreness does not allow our relationships or us to soar.  We must reach for the stars, our stars, and not the rays of light others think bright.  We cannot give what we do not have.  A window, round, large, or square is not constructed without a strong, preferably steel frame.  Beams able to withstand any storm, even one directly overhead, need to be sturdy, straight, and able to hold great weight.  

If love is not within us the gift of such a treasure cannot grow.  Dreams fulfilled or death delivered, each happens. My understanding of these  verities happened last night.  Today, I hold dear a broader belief; in every moment the choice is mine now and forever.

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You Are the Gift!

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

Perchance, on this the twenty-second commemoration of a lesson learned, it is time to reflect on our first, foremost, and greatest Teachers.  More than a generation has passed.  In that time, I have acquired much knowledge. Yet, I am forever reminded that the more I know, the more certain I am.  I know nothing with certainty.  What I once thought was the greatest treasure, a tradition I could never part with, was other than it appeared.  I never imagined what would become my truth.  Today, I share the tale with you.

Originally Published December 25, 2009

On this the twenty-first year anniversary of my first holiday season without what are thought to be tangibly traditional gifts, I can truly say that, I, Betsy, remember it well.  The occasion changed my life forever.

It was October 12, 1988.  Mommy, Berenice Barbara sat across from me at the kitchen table.  This was just as it had been all of my days.  We chatted cheerfully.  Conversation between us was never superficial.  Nonetheless, for us, serious contemplations were fun.  A pleasure for the profound has not left me. It was and is the reason I revel in the company of my Mom.

On this one extraordinary occasion, Mommy declared my family would no longer celebrate any of the conventional holidays as we had.  No presents would be exchanged in the future.  Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, the Winter Solstice, whatever we might wish to call the customary holiday, in our family home little or large luxuries given would not appear.  None would be purchased or placed under a tree.  Trinkets would not sit on a shelf, nor would these be stashed in a closet for a charitable sharing on a December day.  The season of gift giving would not be ours.  

Once the words entered my ears, I exclaimed in horror.  I inquired; why would this be our newly adopted truth.

In her defense, Berenice Barbara offered a dismissive statement that I knew was suspect.  Mommy had never thought the notion of age appropriateness a wise or welcome one.  She forever spoke of the need to honor individuals for whoever they might be.  My Mom often discussed; people need not be constrained by a chronological age.  Yet, perchance her experience of my reaction caused her to offer a rapid retort.  “You are too old for presents,” she proclaimed.  “Too old?” I responded.  For minutes, we talked to no obvious avail.

It seemed nothing could be done to change my Mom’s mind, thankfully.  Her steadfast stance evoked my evolution.

Days later I learned, her own distress for what had recently occurred in our lives encouraged this unexpected and ultimately, very welcome reflection.

While it is true, on that day, Mommy and I had our first and only significant argument, I am grateful for what emerged.  The lesson I learned was a truer value than any bobble or bangle.  Occasions are worthwhile when one feels no sense of obligation to give or receive.  Gifts are given daily in every exchange.  

A word, a touch, a look, the mere presence of a person can mean more to those who bequeath and receive than any material object might.  This veracity is one that fills our hearts, our heads, our bodies, and souls.

More than a score has passed since that date.  I look back on what, for me, was once an unbearable idea.  Today, I cherish what has been my ideal.  

To those beings who I experience as beloved, beautiful, inside and out, to individuals familiar to me, and who intentionally interact in a manner that honors reciprocal reverence, you are the gift.  Your presence in my life is all that I cherish.

I thank you Mommy!  I like and love you more than mere words might ever begin to express.  You, just as all beings, are genuinely a gift!

businesscard.aspx

You Are the Gift!

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

On this the twenty-first year anniversary of my first holiday season without what are thought to be tangibly traditional gifts, I can truly say that, I, Betsy, remember it well.  The occasion changed my life forever.

It was October 12, 1988.  Mommy, Berenice Barbara sat across from me at the kitchen table.  This was just as it had been all of my days.  We chatted cheerfully.  Conversation between us was never superficial.  Nonetheless, for us, serious contemplations were fun.  A pleasure for the profound has not left me. It was and is the reason I revel in the company of my Mom.

On this one extraordinary occasion, Mommy declared my family would no longer celebrate any of the traditional holidays as we had.  No gifts would be exchanged in the future.  Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, the Winter Solstice, whatever we might wish to call the customary holiday, in our family home presents would not appear.  None would be purchased or placed under a tree.  Trinkets would not sit on a shelf, nor would these be stashed in a closet for a charitable sharing on a December day.  The season of gift giving would not be ours.  

Once the words entered my ears, I exclaimed in horror.  I inquired; why would this be our newly adopted truth.

In her defense, Berenice Barbara offered a dismissive statement that I knew was suspect.  Mommy had never thought the notion of age appropriateness a wise or welcome one.  She forever spoke of the need to honor individuals for whoever they might be.  My Mom often discussed; people need not be constrained by a chronological age.  Yet, perchance her experience of my reaction caused her to offer a rapid retort.  “You are too old for presents,” she proclaimed.  “Too old?” I responded.  For minutes, we talked to no obvious avail.

It seemed nothing could be done to change my Mom’s mind, thankfully.  Her steadfast stance evoked my evolution.

Days later I learned, her own distress for what had recently occurred in our lives encouraged this unexpected and ultimately, very welcome reflection.

While it is true, on that day, Mommy and I had our first and only significant argument, I am grateful for what emerged.  The lesson I learned was a truer value than any bobble or bangle.  Occasions are worthwhile when one feels no sense of obligation to give or receive.  Gifts are given daily in every exchange.  

A word, a touch, a look, the mere presence of a person can mean more to those who bequeath and receive than any material object might.  This veracity is one that fills our hearts, our heads, our bodies, and souls.

More than a score has passed since that date.  I look back on what, for me, was once an unbearable idea.  Today, I treasure what has been my ideal.  

To those beings who I experience as beloved, beautiful, inside and out, to individuals familiar to me, and who intentionally interact in a manner that honors reciprocal reverence, you are the gift.  Your presence in my life is all that I cherish.

I thank you Mommy!  I like and love you more than mere words might ever begin to express.  You, just as all beings, are genuinely a gift!

Thanksgiving; Time with Family. No Thanks

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

As Americans ponder the Thanksgiving Day holiday expectations are high. Young children look forward to all the activities loved ones plan. School age individuals are told tales of the Pilgrims and the Indians that befriended early settlers.  Most imagine that on this November day, people come together peaceably.  That, for the little ones is a welcome thought.  Too often, tension exists in the parent child relationship.  Some say angst increases as the offspring age.  Whilst many wish to believe the strain occurs over time, as a child becomes more autonomous, indeed, recent research shows early interactions give rise to the relationship that will be.

Toddlers and tots rarely have opportunities to quietly, calmly, and genuinely converse with parents or the caregivers they are fond of.   Hence, lads and lasses feel a sense of loss.  By the teen years, the thought of another Thanksgiving celebration with relatives evokes an almost automatic response, “No thanks.”

Many know the routine and the rhetoric.  Yet, adolescent and adults live the truth.  Mostly Mama or Papa chats are instant, online, and consists of more banter than conversation.

Thankfully, a second stolen in the car, a tender thought expressed while on the run, these are life’s little riches.  Yet, these treasures occur infrequently.  Oh, how much Mike and Michelle yearn for a few hours of tête-à-tête with the Moms and Dads they love.  Juanita and Jorge too hunger for a long and heartfelt talk, followed by a hug.  Angelique and Akil desire discourse.  A deep discussion with Mama and Papa would mean so much.  Children crave a balance, parental involvement coupled with reciprocal reverence.  A baby, a boy, a girl, or a blossoming adult wants a hand to hold gingerly rather than a hand that guide.

While mothers and fathers also hope to establish a strong relationship with their offspring and other relatives what occurs at home is often other than fulfilling.  Time together on Thanksgiving Day does provide for a new normal.  Superficial exchanges are as common during the commemoration as they are day to day. We dream of the good times and too frequently feel the holidays are not it.  Nevertheless, individuals still hold on to hope.  Let there be a reason to give thanks.

In some, Thanksgiving Day, and the entire celebratory season, elicits memories of fight or flight.  Nonetheless, there is a thought that usually associated with appreciation; a turkey feast will likely be featured on the menu.  Pumpkin pie will probably be served too.  Oh my!  

Thank goodness for food.  With childhood memories intact, men and women who reflect on the delicious delicacies expect to feel fulfilled or full even if they feel forced to endure the company of family.  Sights, smells and that ever-present sense of loss will stimulate emotional overeating.   Elders promise themselves, just this once they will indulge.  After all, Thanksgiving Day is special occasion.  At least food is a fine distraction from feelings of loneliness or a lack of involvement.  Indeed, as headlines howl, Isolated Americans try to connect  . . .  not with Mom, Pop, and siblings, with all the other more welcome traditions.

A time to party, to perform, to watch football, to prove to ourselves that we are [authentically] close to others, and to pretend.  Thanks for the distractions.

Those that wish to act in the spirit of the national holiday can also take refuge.  After all, the intent of the celebration is good.  Community Service acts of kindness can be even better.  A Christmas Gift Drive, Homeless Shelters and Soup Kitchens, helping the elderly, animals, and others in need can never be wrong.  However, even when engaged in an honorable pursuit, so many say they feel alone in the crowd.  The sensation can be as it is in a home full of holiday lore and little love.  Grateful? For what?

Thanksgiving Day, and more so the day after, illustrate an American truth.  “People are increasingly busy,” said Margaret Gibbs, a psychologist at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “We’ve become a society where we expect things instantly, and don’t spend the time it takes to have real intimacy with another person.”

Author, and Clinical Psychologist, Madeline Levine reflects on what she sees in her practice.  As recounted in a Washington Post article, the mother of three observes; over-involved parents who pressure their children to be stars — in school, on athletic fields, among their peers — have created a generation that is “extremely unhappy, disconnected and passive.” Immodestly materialistic and indifferent to worldly affairs, young persons, from an early age on are both bored and “often boring,” writes Psychologist Levine.

When the apathetic, acquisitive find themselves lost and without a cause, they do what is familiar.  People shop until they drop..  Much to the delight of retailers, the parents and their children shop.  Bye-bye forced family togetherness.  Hello , buy, buy, buy.  Thanks for the gifts.

Purveyors are happiest whence the Thanksgiving holiday arrives.  During these November and December days, people rush to the stores with a greater sense of purpose.  The Friday after the traditional Thursday celebration begins their best time of year.  People purchase presents to give to one and all.  It seems that love is in the air from late November until the New Year. In truth, even when individuals meet with family or friends in the winter, when they mix, and mingle in the spirit of gratitude, few feel connected.  

Indeed, Americans express a sense of separation..  It is no wonder we hope a holiday will console us, help us feel connected.

Yet, as John Powell, a Psychologist at the University of Illinois Counseling Center, states “The frequency of contact and volume of contact does not necessarily translate into the quality of contact.” The observer of social behavior understands; most persons, young or old, do what is comfortable, even if that means stay a safe distance apart from the persons he or she most wants in their lives.

Thus on this Thanksgiving Day, it may be important to reflect on all the hours before and after. Lynn Smith-Lovin, a Duke University Sociologist offers, “We know these close ties are what people depend on in bad times. “We’re not saying people are completely isolated. They may have 600 friends on Facebook.com [a popular networking Web site] and e-mail 25 people a day, but they are not discussing matters that are personally important.”  Nor are these persons, when home, engaged in conversations that communicate much.

Possibly, parents and children can find more personal ways to establish and then retain a reciprocally reverent relationship.  On this day of thanks, and the eve of Black Friday people may ponder; food, fun with those we barely know, and material finds are not golden.

Psychologist Madeline Levine, Author of The Price of Privilege” proclaims advantages are not always as they appear to be.  Affluence does not breed brotherly alliances.  Nor does money beget benevolence.  Children do not connect to cash givers.  Possessions may not leave a loved one proud.  Moms and Dads cannot bequeath material goods and hope to receive emotional gifts in return.  However . .

There are several thing parents can do: Families should eat dinner together [and truly talk]  as much as possible, and kids should be involved in rituals — at church, the synagogue, at Meals on Wheels or wherever.

Parents need to impose consistent discipline, which will help kids develop self-control, which is vital.

Kids should never, ever, be paid for grades. Real learning is about effort and improvement, not performance. Your kid’s C actually may be the far greater achievement than the A that comes easily.

And they should have chores. A lot of kids I see don’t have to do anything except shine. And if you turn out kids who aren’t expected to do anything but shine, you turn out narcissistic or self-centered kids. As one girl I see told me, “If I’m so special, why do I have to clear the table?”

Ah, the mundane deeds can be so divine.  Everyday errands and exchanges can build character and give birth to a quality bond. On any date we can choose to be more open and honest in our interactions.  

Thanksgiving Day and the holiday season are a good time to slow down, chat, and pay homage to the humanity that resides within your home. With relatives near or far, everyday deference would be even better.  It is never too late to learn how to relate, to change habits, and to bring into being the tenderness that might not have existed in the early years.  Expressions of gratitude and kindheartedness have no season, and need no reason.  Thankful.  Hopefully that is what each of us might feel.  Beginning today, we can chose to consciously create togetherness from birth, in childhood, as adults, and always.

References and relationships . . .

Nuptials Never; “I Do” Commit to Communicate

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

I write this reflection on, what in years past; I would have considered a couple’s certain doomsday.  Within hours, Alex and Alia will walk down the aisle and take their vows.  Will May 2, 2009, be the day of deliverance for the two, one of delight, or the beginning of the end?  I know not.  I only understand that on this date, the pair will do, as I purposefully never planned to.  They will wed.  I have not met either of these individuals; yet today I can think of nothing but their lives and the effect they have had on me.  

I became aware of Alex and Alia, A2, for short, while on an airplane headed for The Toddling Town.  It was Friday, March 27, 2009.  Neither the man who will become a husband today, nor the woman, who will be declared his wife, was physically present.  Indeed, I may never see the persons who sincerely moved me to rethink whether I might say, “I do”.  Perhaps, they know nothing of what began as an innocent encounter.  The Earth did not shake, and certainly, I never expected my conviction to crumble.  Indeed essentially my belief did not evolve.  In truth, nothing actually changed.  Still, after a three-hour exchange, I began to more seriously consider what for all of my live I rejected, marriage.

I am the third child of parents who parted ten days after a twenty-year marriage.  I was eight years of age at the time.  I remember the moment of their decision as though it was but minutes ago.  I can easily relive the conversation that changed my existence.  Indeed, the entire incident never leaves my consciousness.  As my Mom disgustedly rose from the restaurant table, I knew that nuptials do not bring togetherness.  A legal commitment will not ensure quality communication.  From the second she stated she was leaving, until, well, forever, I knew I would not wed.

Then, decades later, there was a time in the month of March.  On that day, a stranger and I were in route to Chicago.  As occurs on any and many journeys, people who might never make an acquaintance sit side-by-side and chat incessantly.  The individuals may tell all and then fade from sight forever, or they may do as oddly enough my plane mate and I did, come together on the return trip and again, talk for many hours more.

For me, the travel is a frequent excursion.  It has been for years.  My most cherished confidant resides in the “Windy City.” While he and I have shared our heart and soul for decades, we had not wed.  Early on in our association the thought was far from either of our minds.  Each of us saw the other in a way that was far from physically intimate.  While our lives were deeply intertwined, a corporeal involvement would have been an abhorrent thought.  Time, much talk, realizations about what was once repugnant transformed our truths, but not my fervent reality. I would never marry.

Ela, unlike me, had happily embarked on a trek through holy matrimony.  Now, she was ready to take another extraordinary trip.  She would watch her son, Alex, follow the path she and her husband Robert had chosen.  Alex too would wed.  In prelude, on this auspicious occasion, Ela was set to attend a party in honor of her soon-to-be daughter-in-law.  Although, at the time of our first encounter I knew nothing of the imminent nuptial, had I been aware of the event it would not have changed my mind.  Marriage would not be my idea of an ideal and today it is still not!  

When I boarded the plane I had a singular notion.  Once in the air, I intended to sleep.  I could not imagine that Ela’s energy would captivate me more than my desire to nap had.  With only a few short hours of rest the evening before, and a full day on the agenda, I felt a need for some slumber

Yet, from the moment Ela asked if the chair next to me was taken, until the time she settled in, after placing her bags in the overhead bins, it was apparent, Ela and all that was within her would revise my reality.  I could see this creature loves life.  She genuinely enjoys her partner of more than forty years, Robert.  Her affection for her progeny was and is evident in her every breath.  Ela’s admiration, appreciation, and her sincere approval for Alex’s choices were, and are, palpable.  I felt Ela exuded empathy; at least for those she felt close to.  When she spoke of the man she shared her being with for two score, or their offspring, who is near thirty now, only fondness filled the air.

As I listened to her words and studied her actions I marveled.  At least for Ela, a legal commitment had not quashed her independence.  While she excitedly spoke of her family and the future event, these were not all she had on her mind.  Indeed, initially we did not discuss the May marriage other than in passing.

Ela herself was obviously independent from her husband.  Her son Alex’s accomplishments while wondrous were not more important or incredible than her own.  Ela presented no pageantry.  She was not pompous, quite the contrary.  As we talked, I became acquainted with a woman who seemed as ordinary as any other being might.  Yet, slowly it was revealed Ela is an extremely well-educated and credentialed individual.  

In her professional career, this unassuming individual rose to a very prominent position.  From the first, I experienced her eloquence, her quick mind, her sensitivity to nuances not verbalized, and her desire to learn.  Immediately, when inspired to investigate a subject further, Ela took copious notes.

The woman herself, long before she shared details of what Alex and Alia had done and would do, was wondrous to me.  Perhaps that is why her excitement for nuptials took me beyond where I had been all of my life.  Hours of conversation with this confident, compassionate, insightful being helped me to consider my long-held belief in a way I had not fully explored.

Ela was not her marriage.  She was not a wife and mother more than she was herself.  She was separate and equal; Ela was the sum of her parts, and perchance, to a certain extent a bit more.  Possibly, that was the reason I reflected on this encounter and what it might mean to me in ways I had not before when I spoke to others of a legal bond [bondage].  

For decades, I have heard excited brides gush, grateful grooms boast, prideful mothers and fathers of the betrothed flaunt.  As I listen, I wonder; what they will say far into the future.  “She is a bit**!”  “He a bas****.” “We were too young at the time.”  “I was blinded by love and should have known better.”  When asked why a couple separates, divorcees who later declare them selves happily single, offer the oft-avowed explanation, “We just grew apart.” It seems an accepted veracity that this just happens.  People evolve and chose distinct and different paths.

I believe and have observed as my Mom, ultimately, a twice-divorced damsel never in distress, admits of her escapades.  People can predict.  All one needs to know of another is apparent early on.  Even without awareness for who a person is in depth and detail, a few conversations, a day trip or two can tell us much about the person who pretends to be perfect.  What persons portend is perhaps a far truer picture of whom they are within.  As Mommy often mused, we choose to convince ourselves that what we wish to believe is correct.

Infatuation, lust, a longing to leave our current circumstances, convenience, customs, the desire for companionship, all conjure up notions of wedded bliss.  The desire for romance often rules over a rational reason.

Whilst in a state of euphoria, already anxious over what might be, people have faith.  Nuptials will bring the best into their lives.  If only that were true.  In most instances, it is not.  One need only consider the divorce and separation statistics, or the number of spouses who say they are miserable in their marriage.

I trust intendeds expect to live together ’til death do they part.  Few of the many who part in acrimony anticipate such a split.  I can only assume most are unlike me. All I ever imagined was if I entered into a marriage, the relationship would change.  A legal union would build barriers around me.  Possibly, he would feel constrained, chained, or caged as well.  Restrictions, even self-imposed, would be realized.  I feared what my spouse would sense as much as what I might experience.

When I contemplated nuptials, I could not envision a rhyme or reason for such a sacrifice.  At least, for me, matrimony seemed madness.  Did I mention the studies show a toxic marriage may literally hurt your heart?  Yikes!  I prefer good health and genuine happiness.  I totally love my own company and take pleasure in the tranquility I have created.

Too often I heard tales or saw those close to me conclude, “I need to escape for the sake of the children, his or her physical or intellectual health, and for my sanity, or ours.”  Papers would be filed.  There would be a formal dissolution.  Pain for someone, anyone, or everyone would be profound.  It was for me.  

There was no violence in my childhood home.   Physical, emotional, and, or verbal abuses were alien concepts.  In our abode life was calm, cozy, and comfortable.  Yet, not everyone, if anyone, was authentically happy.  Outwardly, it appeared that my parents and their progeny thrived.  We existed.  My family went through the motions.  Inwardly some of us died.

Before my parents decided to divorce, I was uncertain why I felt as I did when with my family.  Years of anecdotes from my parents who were no longer each other’s spouse and from my siblings helped me decide.  I would never dare do what Alex and Alia thought wise; enter into what I thought a legal lock on my life. A commitment, regardless of a formal ceremony, frightened me.  It still does.  

Before my parent’s divorce I saw too much, heard more, and understood why a legal union was not for me.  After, the split my awareness intensified.  I contemplated the home life of friends.  What seemed solid and sane, before I looked beneath the surface, was often stressful and strenuous.   No words of joy about one nuptial or another had, could, or would sway me.  People often profess happiness and hide hurts.  

Hence, it is no wonder that Ela’s deep devotion to husband and son, as well as her fervor for her future family did not transform me.  Nor did her tales touch my truth.  For all of my live, others have shared similar passions.  In a euphoric moment, people present tales of family, fiancés, and a feeling of fulfillment within the framework of matrimony.  Yet, I came to realize excitement over an individual faded fast.  At times, all that was publicly stated proved to be but a façade.  Hence, I had no reason to trust that Ela’s veracity would be different.

However, there was an aspect of her enthusiasm that varied from the usual.  Ela’s dedication to her own being brought me to a place where I could see me, myself in a relationship recognized by the law.  Indeed, Ela’s independence was the catalyst for my novel contemplation.  Though her many accounts all that I had rejected was viewed in a new light.

The sincerity my plane-mate expressed was not as easily dismissed as the superficial statements others offered all of my live.  Indeed, the profundity of my Mom’s philosophies was more apparent when delivered by a stranger.

When Mommy chose to enter a third marriage, consciously she knew not to do as she had done in the past, wed for convenience.  On the last of her plunges into partnership, my Mom made a commitment to her best friend, someone she did not simply love, which Mommy always avowed was an emotion easily expressed, but a person she genuinely liked.

My Mom stressed; individuals intent on marriage must consider invisible issues.  She embraced a lesson learned in her first marriage; shared ethical values matter.  Everyday exchanges with the object of one’s passion, if critical, cruel, combative, confrontational, or curt will ultimately cause a relationship to crumble.  Calm, caring communication, Mommy proved through practice, creates the connection most everyone craves.

Perhaps, my history had left me too badly bruised.  On the subject of marriage, I had lost my bearings.  I had easily navigated away from any commitment to closeness. Emotionally, intellectually, and even physically I could connect, deeply.  However, my heart was not open to a lengthy, legal, what felt to be as an obligatory bondage.  In friendship, I was more than fine.  I revel in real relationships.  I always have.

My friendship with Barry, the person I was off to visit, is a constant for me   it has been for decades. He and I had pondered aloud what the two of us, might want to be.  Rather than live in two distant cities as we have in recent years, could we choose to create a combined home.  If so, where would we reside.  How might we make our time together as meaningful as it has always been?  Change, while a constant, for me holds many challenges.

The question that haunted us was could we adjust the circumstances and not alter the quality of our relationship?  A relative or two thought it possible.  Alexander, a cousin of mine whom I respect, made an argument for marriage.  I considered it, for it was as practical, as I am.  However, humans, I understand are not necessarily logical.  Emotions enter into essential considerations.

Rapport, I believe, is the root to all happiness.  I wonder if that is why my time with Ela helped transform me.  While my Mom’s last and final marriage may have alleviated some of my apprehensions, just a smidgen, I could not see her strength, her independence as I might that of a stranger.  

I smile as I recall what Ela said of her husband and her son.  She was not in awe of their achievements; I was.  Closeness, when it does not breed contempt, may give rise to comfort and complacency.   This construct might explain why the tête-à-tête with Ela transformed my truth.  Communication with a person who is not an intimate can serve to enlighten in a manner the words of a loved one do not.  A sympathetic sharing with someone who is separate from ourselves can affect us in ways we would never imagine.  Certainly, Ela had that effect on me.

When we exited the plane we were so engrossed that we continued the conversation as we walked.  Ela and I had discussed what we did, do, and dream of.  The dialogue was fluid, fun, and far from shallow.  Folly, fears, failures, and feelings entered into each narrative.  We reflected on personal strengths, weaknesses, and ways we, and those familiar to us approach life.

Perchance, I was enamored with the cosmic coincidences and our similar personal histories.  With the exception of the divorce that had dictated many of my decisions I could relate to the woman whose son will wed today.

Aware that hours from now the person who changed my life will witness another transformation, I wonder if she knows, what it was about her that moved me.   I did have the opportunity to tell her that I would say, “I do.”  However, for weeks after our shared travel I did not understand why.

Ela might believe I was in awe of the her son’s arrangement, or the art Alex created to announce the event, While wonderful, the plans and powerful presentations, did not persuade me to engage in what I still believe is the myth of matrimonial felicity.  

Who Ela is, separate and with her husband Bob, her stories of all that they are separately, and have shared together transformed my perspective, at least in part.  Still, their tale alone had not shocked me out of the abyss of apprehension.  

Once able to more objectively assess the independence of one who is happily intertwined, a treasure was revealed to me.  I came to cherish the memory of my Mom and her marital experience.  I recognized that for oh so long I empathized with her earlier wedded hurts.  I had allowed these to cloud my consciousness. When change came, I discounted the difference.  I had not fully appreciated what had become Mommy’s truth in the last three decades of her life.  

When with Ela, I was able to see Mommy and marriage through a new lens.  The woman who brought me into the world did more than conceive a creature.  My Mom imagined love and an authentic fondness could exist within a legal framework.  She did not lose her heart, her soul, or her individual identity once she dedicated herself to something greater than herself.  Just as Ela and Bob had done without regret, and as Alex and Alia will do today, Mommy said, “I do: and did it well.

After much discussion over the two days in Chicago with Barry, on March 29, 2009, I told him I would.

Hence, on the afternoon of May 2, 2009, as Ela’s son, Alex, and Alia, his fiancé, wed, I solidify plans for what Barry and I recognize as a wee bit more than a “civil” union. Already, I designed and produced a “Save the Date” magnet, as Alex did.  These have been delivered to invited guests.  The webpage, an idea inspired by Ela, Alex, and Alia is my next pursuit.

A casual observer might think I changed.  People might presume I am anxious to be wed.  Perhaps, they muse, I have become the bride who anticipates marriage will bring a better bliss.  Indeed, none of these assumptions are valid.   I have not been transformed.  A “Wedding” is still not what I want. My best friend will not become my husband and I will not be his wife.  Neither of us will have a spouse other than on paper.  I will not participate in nuptials, at least not in a conventional sense.  I [and Barry] will commit to communicate.  

On this May date, separately and together, Barry and I hope that today Alex and Alia will do as we have decided to do, grow greater with the person they like just as he or she is.

References for Relationship Realities . . .

Dalliance Defined

AffrsEdt

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

For me, it all began near a week ago.  There was no word of it on the Nightly News.  Nightline offered no interviews.  Articles did not appear in popular, or prized periodicals.  Even the National Enquirer had no exclusive accounts.  Bloggers did not blast me with rumors of what might have been.  The story, while sensational, did warrant banner headlines.  After all, neither person was as widely known as former Presidential aspirant John Edwards is.  The woman may or may not have had a history that would titillate many a reader.  I know not whether this thirty or forty-ish female was the mother of what the media would wish to label a “love child.”  I feel certain that her name is not Rielle Hunter or Lisa Druck.  She is not the fictional character, Alison Poole.  She was but a real person looking for love, as was he, in a parking lot.

I am not sure whether this is the first time, I have seen this particular pair.  Often, over many years, before or after my daily swim in a public pool, I gaze upon a couple of cars positioned far on the fringe of the city acreage.  The automobiles are not always the ones I saw days earlier.  However, the coupes are consistently stationed at the farthest edge of the property.  Each vehicle is expensive, a late model sedan, sports car, chassis, or coach, and always, the two will occupy spaces adjacent to the other.  This time, the cars were identifiable; perhaps because, I was closer to the area reserved for lovers.  

On this hot summer day, when I initially arrived at the commons, I sought shade for the “Silver Sweetness,” or what others might think of as my vehicle.  My swim is long.  I thought it would be nice if my metal friend could be to be cool and comfortable as I stroked through the water.  After, my dip in the pool, I returned to the parking lot.  It was time to travel back home.  As I approached my automobile, and saw the man and woman outside what, in that moment I thought might be their respective automobiles, I could not help but think they did not desire as I had.  Noticeably, the pair had other priorities.  

Unlike on other occasions over the many years, when cars were tightly closed as they sat alone on the edge of the lot, on this day no single car steamed from within.  The windows in each of the two ostensibly joined vehicles were dry and clear.  On this day, I observed the automobiles parked in “the spot” did not appear to be unoccupied for hours.  Instead of the usual sight, cryptic cars, I witnessed people “in love.”

They couple cooed, and warmly chortled in a public parking lot.  The duet may have defined dalliance.  The two whose cars sat empty, embraced as they leaned up against the side of what I later learned was the fellow’s top-of-the-line BMW.  Bavarian Motor Works can craft quite a coupe and this chap, apparently, had crafted quite a practice, medical I assume as I considered his attire.  I think the automobile may have been an M6 convertible.  If it was a lower priced model, the vehicle was certainly not near the bottom of the product-line.  The sleek, streamline steel blue frame and navy canvas top were truly fine, speaking as one, who, as a child was a connoisseur of cars.

The gent, who wore hospital scrubs, and the woman, well-coiffed, in her casual and professionally tailored clothing, wanted more of their moment than I did of mine.  I craved only protection from a blistering sun, for my metal companion.  I sought a place to park and a swim, nothing more.   It seemed my desires were far less significant than those of the twosome.  

Bodily thirst and secrecy appeared to be their priority; at least that is what I surmised.  Dalliance, in that moment was delicious.  I could think of no other reason for two, so completely entangled, to escape the sanctity of home, or office and meet in a parking lot.

They had not come to swim.  Bathing suits were not worn or stored in bags visible at their side.  The two did not stroll.  Nor did they travel away from the automobiles intent that they might swing rackets in the nearby tennis court.  As I walked to the Silver Sweetness, and tried not to watch, I realized I was distracted, less so with their “actions” than my reaction.

I wondered; was this encounter a celebration of love.  When people experience each other fully, hugs and kisses can be quite delightful.  Was this one of these special, spontaneous, moments?  It did not seem as such.  

The flirtatious energy did not suggest that the two were formally intertwined forever.  The playfulness did not express itself as familiarity frequently does; or at least what I witnessed was not as my experience when in a solid, secure, stable, and serene relationship.  I felt a sense of ambiguity, awkwardness, or anxiety in the motions of this man and woman.  Perchance, I interpreted what I saw incorrectly.  I am willing to be wrong and admittedly, frequently, what I assume is in error.

Hence, I was haunted by the questions I felt a need to ask, but knew I could not.  Were the two married or even emotionally, intimately involved?  Perchance.  Was this a tryst, an affair, an adventure, or excitement for those who yearned for exuberant enthusiasm in at least one avenue of life?  I knew not, and did not dwell on what might be for either of these individuals.  What I observed reminded me of times when I was infatuated, involved, or otherwise engaged.  

The chestnut-haired woman smiled ever so broadly.  She gazed into his eyes longingly, and held on to his body tightly.  The long and lean man looked at the voluptuous frame of his female friend and visibly responded to her buxom body.  The fellow looked into her face.  Yet, he appeared to focus more on what he felt.  He cupped her buttocks in his hands.  Even from a distance, I could see his eyes darted to and from her ample bosom.  The two laughed as they caressed each other’s bulk.

As minutes passed, and I came closer, I pondered.  Why would a couple comfortable in their relationship come to a public park only to stand together, smile, and smack lips, or rumps?  I could think of no reason for such an adventure.  Nonetheless, I acknowledge the truth of the adage, ‘Different strokes for different folks.’  I trust I cannot quarrel with what entertains another.  

I looked away content in the knowledge that I could never know what is real for this couple or any persons.  We are all so unique.  I struggle to grasp what is within me, let alone presume to know what might be true for these two.

I continued on to my car.  I chose to enjoy the day and my own doings, just as this duo did.  Soon after, I had the sense the “friends,” or “lovers” saw me.  I felt four eyes upon me.  I tried not to notice their glare.  Yet, I recognized the energy had changed.

The mirth melted.  The time for enchantment faded.  The satisfaction expressed in smiles and soft giggles fell into silence.  I had not meant to disturb them.  Perhaps, their now evident need to dash had nothing to do with me.  The time for afternoon-delights may have naturally come to an end.  I know not.  I was only certain I did not wish to intrude or be the cause of an abrupt closure.

I entered the Silver Sweetness and started the engine.  I hoped that my anticipated exit might settle the minds of the two who now seemed hurried.  As I placed the car [oh, how I hate to use that word when I describe the metal baby that has been so good to me] in gear, I looked out the windshield and saw that my move to leave had not eased the minds of this duet.

I reminded myself, what they do is not my choice.  I cannot please, appease, affect, or alter individuals that I do not communicate with.  I must accept that their actions are separate from me, although I felt a need to apologize.  I did not wish to disturb.  I could not say “I am sorry.”  That would have been more odd than any engagement they or I imagined.

Nonetheless.  Through the corner of my eye, I observed the woman quickly slip into her Lexus roadster.  Once snug in the single front seat of her pearl white luxury automobile, she placed the vehicle in gear and backed out.  She drove a few feet to where her beau stood, and thoughtfully spoke a swift good-bye.  Then, she sped off.

I decided not to follow her lead, and left more slowly.  I did not wish to travel too near or flee too soon.  I felt a strange need to give the woman her space.  I placed a bottle of water to my mouth, and drank a bit.  After, I departed.  As I drove away, I wondered would the fellow follow.

The road from the community park to the main avenue is a long one.  It may be half a mile long.  As I turned onto the back boulevard, I saw the pearl-white Lexus coupe was long gone.  Far off into the distance, I saw the woman was about to enter the main street.  The chap never appeared in my rear-view mirror.  Only thoughts of what had occurred were visible.

I thought of the times in my life when I was immersed in infatuation.  Thoughts of another could fill an entire day, weeks, months and even years.  I recall how I might do what I did not desire or delay more meaningful activities.  More than once, in retrospect, I pondered what might have been if my head and heart were one.  

How many hours had I wasted as I sought love and settled for lust?  As I journeyed home, my mind was filled with the folly of intimacy and how often, when in a whirlwind relationship, people to do not really relate.  They take no time to meditate.  Most couples barely deliberate.  Sincere discussions can be a distraction when individuals just want to do it!

Often, I realize depth in a love liaison is void.  Conversation can be vacuous.  Veracity is too often vacant.  The vigor and vitality felt is vast, more so than any authenticity.  What passes for passion is frequently fantasy.  The illusion is fantastic, and the involvement is just for fun.  

I think of what I have heard from men and women alike when they speak of past loves, or even those they bed in the present.  So often, in retrospect, a man once intent on an adventure such as I observed, will muse.

“When she wasn’t out at nightclubs, she was taking acting classes.  We dated for only a few months, but in that period, I spent a lot of time with her and her friends, whose behavior intrigued and appalled me to such an extent that I ended up basing a novel on the experience,” [he] recalled.

Indeed, only today a chap I am acquainted with described the woman he once hugged, kissed, and met away from the office, or his home as “an ostensibly jaded, cocaine-addled, sexually voracious 20 [30-40-50 . . .] year-old.”  As he spoke, I wondered of his former female friend.  I wondered; what might this lovely lady have said of him?  Would she say of the man who stood before me, “He is a cute and conservative chap whose . . .

idea of wild is argyle socks.  [The once wondrous woman could also soundly state]  But it’s okay, I like straight guys, I’d never go out with anybody who’s as irresponsible as me.  Most of the guys I know have really high-powered jobs and make up for lost time when they’re not in the office.  The Beserk After Work Club.  I seem to attract them in a big way, all these boys in Paul Stuart suits with six-figure salaries and hellfire on a dimmer switch in their eyes.”

Perhaps, the inamorata, who many would define as traditional, a conventional sort might conclude when with friends she trusts, “Men.  I’ve never met any.  They’re all boys.  I wish I didn’t want them so much . . . I hate being alone, but when I wake up in some guy’s bed  . . . and he’s snoring like a garbage truck, I go – let me out of here.”

Each of us can only imagine of others, and consider our own truths.  What motivates us, moves us, and what is in the minds of those of us whose story does not appear on the Nightly News.  When we dash towards and dither in a relationship that takes more time than it might be worth, what are our thoughts.  

My own experience tells me, in each of my close encounters, I avoided, as much, if not more than I approached.  Sex was perhaps easier than a cherished connection.  In serious conversations with many, I have discovered my interactions and I are not as rare as people may wish to propend.  Dalliance is not quite the dream we would wish it to be.

A gent is often more comfortable with a sweetie he can spoon, than one who he might wish to wed.  Gals may prefer to engage with men they rather not marry.  For some the excitement entices; for others convenience is cool.  A few express concern they cannot find the one and only.  These individuals sing, “If you cannot be with the one you love, love the one you are with.”

No matter what those of us who do not make the news say or do, I suspect each of us can wonder; what might an observer say of our escapades, our affairs, the excursions we make to the park, the hotel room, or any of the other out of the way places we go.  Our exploits are yet to be exploited.  Might we inquire, could we take the scrutiny we often impose upon others.  I know I could not.  In truth, as I observed the couple in my community, I could think only of me.  What had my “love” life been and why?

The Power of Passion Perused . . .

Fragrances and Food; The Way to a Heart is Through the Stomach and Nose

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

We met in December.  The year was 2007.  He was a friend of my cousin’s.  The two were best of buds; they still are.  Cousin Paul has known James for decades.  Jim moved to my hometown only months earlier.  He felt alone.  James longed for a friend, locally.  Paul introduced us on the Internet.  After my relative played the mediator, the man in the middle, the means for a message, he asked if he might share our electronic mail addresses.  James and I each consented, and from then on, we exchanged epistles directly.  

In letters, we liked each other.  Admittedly, for us, the electronic medium was limited.  We decided to share a drink together; although I let him know, I only imbibe water.  James said that was not a problem.  We arranged to get together at Starbucks.  The coffee shop was near to his home and mine.  Neither of us wished to share where we lived exactly.  We were hesitant, cautious, or just not willing to chance the unknown.

Today, speed dates are popular.  For some, a minute or two is more than enough to determine whether he or she is the “one.”  Some believe in love at first sight.  They know immediately when Miss or Mister Right walks through the door.  From across a crowded room eyes meet, sparks fly; for many providence steps in.  Cupid’s arrows are manifest destiny.  

A gallant gent may meet a genteel girl and the two will gallivant forever.  If a lady were to encounter a extraordinary lad in the last month of the year, by Valentine’s Day, perchance the two would be wed.  That is unless she eats garlic onions, or spicy foods.  

James enjoyed our first encounter.  He took pleasure in our later luncheon.  My cousin’s best friend looked forward to our every conversation.  The more we chatted the more he longed to converse, connect, and commune in every way possible.  This fine fellow spoke of copulation often.  While he had been with others at the time of our introduction, he did not feel as close to them as he did to me.  James spoke of our shared energy, enthusiasm, interests, and the excitement he felt in my presence.  Nonetheless, one day, as he readied to rally at my home he decided he could not do it.

The smell of my well-seasoned skin was just too much for this lovable man.  James diet is bland in comparison to mine.  He did not wish to tell me I could not dine as I do.  He did not wish to end our relationship per se; James just needed to create a physical distance.  All the while, he reminded me of how much he loved me and always will.  Certain he did not want to think of a time when we would not be emotionally together, James concluded, at least for a time, he needed to occupy a separate physical space.  Perhaps, we could see each other and just not share a repast.

In the Twenty-First Century, the dynamics of dating are more complex.  People are sensitive.  The personal preferences of one person may offend another.  Individuals are vocal.

Sharing meals has always been an important courtship ritual and a metaphor for love.  But in an age when many people define themselves by what they will eat and what they won’t, dietary differences can put a strain on a romantic relationship.  The culinary camps have become so balkanized that some factions consider interdietary dating taboo.

No-holds-barred carnivores, for example, may share the view of Anthony Bourdain, who wrote in his book “Kitchen Confidential” that “vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans … are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit.”

Returning the compliment, many vegetarians say they cannot date anyone who eats meat.  Vegans, who avoid eating not just animals but animal-derived products, take it further, shivering at the thought of kissing someone who has even sipped honey-sweetened tea.

Ben Abdalla, 42, a real estate agent in Boca Raton, Fla., said he preferred to date fellow vegetarians because meat eaters smell bad and have low energy.

No matter how delightful a mate may be, if she eats meat, or finds a meal of fish repugnant a male suitor may not pursue her.  If a woman thinks a man prefers a menu that is ethically loathsome, she will say so.  Even those trained to understand, may not empathize at all.

Lisa Romano, 31, a vegan and school psychologist in Belleville, N.Y., said she recently ended a relationship with a man who enjoyed backyard grilling.  He had no problem searing her vegan burgers alongside his beef patties, but she found the practice unenlightened and disturbing.

Her disapproval “would have become an issue later even if it wasn’t in the beginning,” Ms. Romano said.  “I need someone who is ethically on the same page.”

While some eaters may elevate morality above hedonism, others are suspicious of anyone who does not give in to the pleasure principle.

 

James did not quibble with my decision to avoid caffeine or alcohol.  He did not question my desire to shun sugars.  It made sense to this sweet man that I do not dine on meat, fish, chicken, or potatoes.  James did not find fault with my wish to preclude processed foods from my diet.  I did not consider his choices flawed.  For me, people eat as they do.  I delight in my entrees and worry not of what others consume.  I understand change comes from within.  I have no desire to transform another; nor do I wish to be converted.  

As with other differences couples face, tolerance and compromise are essential at the dinner table, marital therapists said.  “If you can’t allow your partner to have latitude in what he or she eats, then maybe your problem isn’t about food,” said Susan Jaffe, a psychiatrist in Manhattan.

Dynise Balcavage, 42, an associate creative director at an advertising agency and vegan who lives in Philadelphia, said she has been happily married to her omnivorous husband, John Gatti, 53, for seven years.

“We have this little dance we’ve choreographed in the kitchen,” she said.  She prepares vegan meals and averts her eyes when he adds anchovies or cheese.  And she does not show disapproval when he orders meat in a restaurant.

“I’m not a vegangelical,” she said.  “He’s an adult and I respect his choices just as he respects mine.”

In a former relationship, Eric and I were as Dynise Balcavage and John Gatti are.  Never once was food an issue.  I cooked meat for Eric with little hesitation.  Admittedly, I would pay more for chicken parts.  I could not bring myself to cut into the flesh and bone of one of G-d’s creatures.  When liver was prepared, I could not season the slices.  In truth, my eyes could not gaze upon the bloody organ.  Eric would place the animal protein in the bag I prepared with flour and spices.  Then, he would lay the organ into the heated pan.  Only after the meat was seared, could I continue to cook the “delicacy.”

However, while I do not define myself by what I eat, I can no longer look at animal flesh on a plate and feel  the same emotional distance I once did.  While I still do not struggle with what another ingests, I do not believe that I would be so willing to bake, broil, or boil a bird, cook or carve a piece of beef, slice or dice a chop of pork.  Perhaps, I have changed, even if ever so slightly.

I cannot be certain whether trends transform a person, age alters an individual, or if experience hardens hearts.  Perhaps, ancient hurts hinder us.  In an era where divorce defines the population, people have become more discriminating. James was married twice.  I am the daughter of divorced parents.  In America today, our experiences are common and likely shape us.  The subtle nuances of companionship possibly affect the stomach and the nose..

Children watch Mom and Dad coo, only to see them separate.  The pain of parents parting can cause a stomachache.  Teens remember when their parents were romantic, rather than full of rage when together.  As an adolescent reflects on unity he or she ponders, ‘This stinks!’  Adults cannot forget the one who broke his or her spirit.  Habits of lover were appreciated.  Slowly, but surely, all that seemed beautiful left a lover nauseous.  The scent of one who was adorned becomes a reminder of all that was lost.  Closeness can be sickening.  Smells and tastes are no longer savored.

Nonetheless, people wish to believe passion is pure, adoration is in the air, and that special someone is just around the corner.  Hence, we look, and look, and hope to find our Valentine.  Restaurateurs rely on the human desire to love and be loved.

Valentine’s Day ranks second only to Mother’s Day at restaurants.

“It’s something that restaurants all over the country . . . look forward to,” said Steve Chucri, president and CEO of the Arizona Restaurant Association.

Thirty-five percent of Americans dine out on Valentine’s Day, close to the 38 percent on Mother’s Day.

Of those who dine out, 80 percent pay an average bill of $62. The remaining 20 percent spent more than $100 in 2006, the most recent year for which figures are available, according to Sherry Gillespie, the association’s marketing manager.

Those spending $62 are paying $20 or $25 more than usual, Chucri said.

“I think people go out and spend more because they enjoy the day,” he said. “They might get that bottle of wine instead of a glass of wine. Or they might get an appetizer and a dessert.”

Pleasure or the want of it can be blissful.  James and I experienced that from the first.  The conversation, started and stayed interesting.  We were authentically animated.  He thinks I am saucy and sweet, but perhaps a bit too spicy.  Like or unlike millions, James does not revel in the smell of natural seasoning.  At one point he explained, “I think you are great.  I enjoy your company. I yearn to be with you and would be if only  you would stop eating garlic, onions, and spicy foods for three days.”  

While intellectually James does not object to my nutritional regime or my being as I am, his stomach and nose struggle to follow his fondness.  Delicate scents do not disguise the aroma of peppers.  A bouquet of cologne does not cover the odor of onions.  From food to fragrances, friendships are fragile.

Perfume has long been an aphrodisiac decanted sparingly from an iconic glass bottle.  But for Leslie Ware, a fashion editor at a quarterly magazine in Huntsville, Ala., fragrance has worked its magic in the opposite direction, as a romantic deal breaker.

Several years ago, Ms. Ware was engaged to a gentleman who did not like Trish McEvoy 9, the fruity vanilla blend she had been wearing for seven years.

“He thought I smelled like a traveling carnival, the kind where they sell corn dogs, because I guess the smell was reminiscent of cotton candy,” Ms. Ware, 28, said. “This was the demise of Trish No. 9.”

It was a bad omen.

Soon after, Ms. Ware said she broke up with the perfume-averse boyfriend. She has not worn fragrance since.

A more recent boyfriend fared no better after he bought Ms. Ware what she called “an old-lady perfume” against her wishes.

“It made me mad,” she said. “I told him not to bother buying me fragrance since I am picky, and now I have a $125 bottle of perfume sitting in a closet.”

Just as stomachs lead many men, and women, noses help navigate these same individuals through the maze of ardor.  When we wish to give to one we love, money is no object.  The cost of the gift does not deter a admirer.  Nor does the price impress the person who receives a present.  There is much to love, and more to learn if we wish to create a bond that lasts.

This Valentine’s eve women will not douse themselves in fragrances and men will be reminded not to buy perfumes as they did in the past.  Colognes and toilette water are not collected as they were years ago.

[M]ore women are forgoing scent altogether.  Last year, about 15 percent of women said they did not wear fragrance, up from 13 percent in 2003, according to a survey of 9,800 women conducted by NPD.

“That may sound like a small number, but nationally that translates into two million more women who are saying ‘I don’t wear fragrance,’ ” said Karen Grant, the senior beauty industry analyst at NPD. “Eighty-five percent of women are still buying fragrance, but an increasing number tell us they are wearing fewer scents, less frequently or not at all.”

Fragrance fatigue is probably inevitable, with heavily fruited scents wafting out of everything from dishwashing liquids to hotel linens to candle displays at the mall. But perfume aversion seems to be tapping into a larger societal phenomenon that may have its origins in bans on cellphones and cigarettes: the idea that the collective demands of the public space trump one’s personal space.

“People are shying away from fragrances not for the traditional reasons that you’d expect, that it is too expensive or that they are wearing alternative products like body sprays or lotions,” Ms. Grant said. “Many people said it bothers them that fragrance has an effect on other people, that they are trying to be considerate by not overcoming others with scent.”

Indeed, Rochelle R. Bloom, the president of the Fragrance Foundation, an industry trade group, said that people who worry that their fragrance may offend others simply may be wearing perfume improperly.

It is not difficult to hurt the feelings of another. People are sensitive souls.  Stomachs ache.  Noses run.  Hearts hurt.  Cupid’s arrows are curved; however, they can be straightened.

But sometimes couples can reach olfactory accord.  Last fall, Robert Flood, a retired technology platform tester in Allen, Tex., worried how to tell his wife of 25 years, Amy, that he could not abide her new perfume, Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion.

“It was very atrocious, at least to me,” Mr. Flood, 52, said in a phone interview last week.

The couple later worked out a compromise so that he would not be discomfited should her scent again stray into his air space. Henceforth, each will choose a fragrance for the other to wear.

“On Valentine’s Day, we will go to one of her favorite stores and she will buy me English Leather and I will buy her Jean Naté, which is the fragrance she was wearing when we had just met and she was 17 going on 18,” Mr. Flood said. “We are not smelling the perfume so much as the memories.”

Indeed, for the Floods, fragrance brings with it the Proustian power of recall. One could argue that those who forgo perfume now may inadvertently diminish at some future date the textural memories of relationships past.

Perchance, passion is more than a perfume or a pound of flesh.  Spice may not be the cumin poured into the curried dish.  The flavors that create true fondness are not found in the pantry or the powder room.  The zest and zing that brings zeal into a relationship does not originate during a meal.  A scent will not make heartstrings sing.  

If two are to enjoy as one they must be responsive and receptive to what is not visible to the eye or smelled by the snout. Memories made and remembered satiate more than a stomach and flood more than a muzzle.  This Valentine’s Day may be the time to steam sweet nothings and sniff a bit of fresh air.  Hugs, kisses, and Happy Valentine’s Day.

Sweetness and Spice Sources . . .  

Llana Yahav Entices and Enlightens, Love 2008



Love 2008

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Tis lyrical, possibly spiritual, and definitely, it is a miracle that any of us survive love.  In the year 2008, we might embrace more than a fantasy or the fleeting whimsy of sand, or the syrupy notion of love that lingers long, and lives large in the hearts of many.  Might we consider that just as the glassy granules flow across the screen, as these tiny particles create an image of perfection, all illusions can be wiped away in an instant.

People, are as pictures.  They are not perfect; nor are individuals created solely to suit the needs of another.  As we witness the tentative nature of sand as it whirls across a table, might we imagine that life, and love, are unpredictable.  Many changes are likely to occur in the course of an interaction.  

In one moment, lust carries us through, just as the wind might.  Seconds later, boredom sets in.  Frustration fills our being when we are in the presence of the person we once defined as the-one-and only.  Hours pass, and our heart aches to be with the individual we, once again, think of fondly.  

When two persons meet, if sparks fly, they consider themselves lovers.  They mesh; they intermingle.  Just as quickly, as the two became one, persons together for a time may conclude it is best to be friends, nothing mores.  One person can be ever so significant, and less so, even simultaneously.

In the New Year might we more realistic.  Imagine, if we look at each other as people, not wonderful beyond reason, or flawless, unblemished, or pure.  If we were to empathize, sympathize, have compassion, and care to our core, then perchance the aggravation, irritation, disappointment, and dissatisfaction with love and life would fade away.

Let us learn from sand and all that it creates.  Each of us is but a grain on the beach of humanity.  Separately, we are defenseless against the winds of our emotions.  Together, we are impervious to forces that might destroy us.  Imagine if we humans were less susceptible to fancy and what moves us away from true tenderness.  Love is a full and fulfilled understanding.



Llana Yahav – Just Imagine. . .

Information on the Artist, Llana Yahav . . .

Ilana is a multifaceted artist whose talents include: sketching, sculpture, and three dimensional art.

Ilana is now showing her Sand Fantasy video art around the world.

Ilana draws on sand, using only her fingers.  As she weaves together sand, lighting and music,  Ilana creates incredible three dimensional vistas they play out in perfect time with the musical accompaniment, Indeed, it is difficult  to decide if the music accompanies the work of art, or vice versa Ilana’s fingers dance in the sand on the glass to the music, the resulting aesthetic dynamic is powerful and moving.  

Ilana uses this original technique in the creation of advertisements and image building clips..

Marital Status; Do Not Ask. Do Not Tell.


copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert


Tonight, I am reminded of how the results of a report resonated throughout America earlier in the year; 51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse.  As the Gay and Lesbian population prepare to discuss issues important to their community, inclusive of their desire for more than a “civil union;”  I wonder.  Why, or when is marriage desirable.  Why and when is it not.  Presidential hopefuls plan to delicately touch on the subject of “same sex marriage.”  One might muse, matrimony no matter the mix, is a difficult dynamic to consider.


Weeks ago, I discovered the term “Mrs.” is a source of much angst.  Apparently, the title in the minds of many dishonors a woman, rather than reveres her.

When I used the description to discuss a Presidential candidate the label was considered degrading or dismissive.  For some, the word spelled out was more offensive.  For others the expression in either form denied the achievements and accomplishments of the Senator from New York.  It mattered not that I, a traditionalist, with a well-documented history of Progressive philosophies, long thought the usage of “Missus” a sign of respect.  Explanations of how and why, for me, in the written form, abbreviations are less honorable did little to quell the apprehensions of those anxious to argue.

Those concerned were not comforted when they realized mainstream authors and I used the same identical term to describe numerous highly professional, and esteemed woman in the past.  It seemed odd those references received no reprimands.  Nonetheless, in this exchange, the presumed perception seemed to be, if a woman is as successful as this Senator is, mere mention of her marriage negates her worth.

Dictionary definitions produced greater debate.  It seems a single word can be classified as complimentary or critical.  Perhaps, that is the problem.  As a society, we struggle with the idea of independence, interdependence, dependence, and what it means to be married or single.

Much of our identity is lost in a label, or perchance, we gain as we garner a title or two.  Women may feel a greater need to distinguish themselves as distinctive, whole, on their own, separate and strong, mentally as well as physically.  Women want to be wanted, as do men; however, the perception is a woman needs a man, is dominated by her partner.  She cannot survive on her own.

Our culture clings to the construct women require a man and ignores the fact that no matter what our gender, we welcome the support of another.  Thus, when a study shows more persons, men or women live without a mate, we wonder.  Why?

In our daily lives, talk of nuptials is omnipresent.  Is she married; is he?  If not, why not.  On most applications, we are asked of our martial status as though this explains who we are as people.  Some are embarrassed if they have yet to marry.  The four percent that state they have not engaged in physical intimacy are considered strange.

Individuals yearn for togetherness.  Yet, they run from the prospect.  Women and men, everyone searches for someone special to share their lives with.  They peek around every corner.  They stumble into intimacy.  Then, abruptly announce, “I am uncomfortable with closeness.”  Some say, it is not you; it is I.  Others ruminate; there are issues.

An acquaintance ended an engagement.  Two weeks ago, the day after her decision, this gorgeous girl expressed her distress.  She seemed to believe that if she were married, her life would be marvelous, if not, surely, the outlook would be grim.  Yesterday, this lovely lady smiled and stated, she could not be happier.  Jill thought she was too dependent on her honey.  She reflects, “I was not ready.”  Nonetheless, she is still certain she rather be married.  For Jill, family is vital.  She wants children.

Another acquaintance believes family may not be available when you crave a connection.  When you most covet a caring shoulder to cry on, or a hand to hold, blood relatives or good pals may not be there for you, for her.  Doris avows.

Having someone in your life to share all your ups and downs is imperative for a healthy heart soul and mind.  Trying to find a friend or family member who has the time to listen, or are able to help you or celebrate with you, at a specific time is sometimes very difficult to find.  A good partner is there for you when you really need them and lucky are you if you have one.

For years, Doris has had the good fortune of being with one she thinks beautiful, inside and out.  [Personally, I think providence cannot create what manifests.  Nevertheless, I trust that people are often astounded by their exquisite experiences.]  The two are not legally coupled; however, they are rarely apart.  A casual observer would know they are committed.

Perhaps, for Doris being with a person that is genuinely her partner means more than progeny or pals do.  This woman is as many; she craves a solid, strong connection with a singular someone.  Doris is connubial.  She and the individual she loves need no certificate to validate their devotion.  They are wedded.

I marvel as I assess the idea of marriage.  Why do so many women [and men] actively seek companionship, a partner, a soul mate, and yet, then say they choose to remain single.  I also wonder how many are as I am.  I love being single.  I always have.  In my own life, seeking companionship was not a thought.  Never did I feel a need for camaraderie.  I do not feel alone, or lonely.  Attending events untethered, for me, is at times, often, preferable.  I love my own company.

As others have, I realize on occasion, I also have done.  People yearn only for a physical intercourse.  They have no desire to experience authentic intimacy.  Genuine emotional closeness can be too frightening, or perhaps, too painful.  In my own life, my parents’ divorce took a toll.  Ten days after their twentieth wedding anniversary, my Mom and natural father terminated their ties.  For me, that memory is intense.  It looms large in my mind; it affected my heart.  I did not wish to chance a similar split in my life; nor did I want any child of mine to feel as I felt.

Months before the report on single women was released, I was asked to consider marriage.  Startled, frightened, and yet, able to acknowledge a closeness to an individual who is important to me, I became consumed with such a decision.  The dichotomy involved is for me, inescapable.  I devoured articlesreferring to the study.  I listened to broadcasts.  I longed to understand the reason other women decided as they did.  I inquired.  One woman wrote of her experience.  She also assessed what might be true for other feminine persons.

I am married.

I could be happy married or single.  Sometimes I’m glad I’m married and sometimes I wish I were single.  By a high percentage, I am happier married.  The longer I live the happier I am being married.  However,  I don’t necessarily think that is true for others.

Ah, this woman also observes as I do.  Many that are together, ’til death do they part, are not joyful in their union.  Perhaps the pleasure comes from within.  Mae believes it does.

I am happily, sublimely, cherished, joyfully wed.

The secret I think is to find yourself, be true to that person, make her be comfortable in her own skin . . . and sometimes someone special comes along and sometimes not.

I think being good alone is the place to be.  Being good together is then easier.

Being with someone should be a choice, not some driven necessity like breathing.  I love and adore my husband and I would be devastated should a time come when I must go on without him, however I would go forward and fill my life differently and make adjustments and find joy in other beings and doings.

For me, my journey continues all over the map with my partner and, even within our marriage, sometimes alone.  It feels good both ways.

Bliss is perchance a belief.  If you choose to believe the path will be harmonious, then you will do all that you can to ensure it will be.  Possibly, the effort is evident in your emotional balance.  Some say marriage is what you make of it; likely, life is.  After absorbing much pain in a relationship that was alien to me, I realized my own reactions and perceptions created the calm or the chaos that came.

Often, in my experience, we forget that our life does not have to be as our parents’ was.  In the present, we respond to our history.  We expect what is familiar to us.  As I mentioned, that was my fear.  Danae shared a similar story.


“I am single at 60 and have been for all my adult life.  That is in large part to my experience with my parents’ uncommunicative and extremely dysfunctional marriage.  With that as imprinting, why would I want to recreate it?!  Make no mistake about it, I would have.  Without deep and intense psychotherapy so that one can understand and clear out, as much as possible, the childhood traumas, one will recreate their past, adding to it their own innate spin of dysfunction.

After my successful experience with therapy, I still have questions and trepidation about partnering, as by this time I have my habits of living and moving in and out of activities and acquaintances at my whim.  Plus, which, as I am older, so are my partner prospects.  And even though I am in vibrant health and of youthful demeanor, by contrast, many men that would be age appropriate are not.  Add to that the all-too-common trait of men wanting female partners that are younger than they, and you have a recipe for a dearth of possibility.  I realize it only takes one to make a match, but I am also aware that I am unwilling to kiss any more frogs in order to find a prince.

So, in the face of all that, I have asked the Universe to deliver someone so delightful to me and vice versa, that will be just right for me to partner with (and again vice versa).  With that mantra and visualization, we shall see what may materialize.  I will also add that it is important for me to be with someone who wants to fashion/create a relationship based on who WE are and our desires–not what society wishes to mandate.

I think that is a thoughtful answer, practical, witty, and wondrous.  There is much to consider when choosing a life partner.  Actually, frequently we search for what we know.  If our mother or father is able to converse without anger, amicable, and approachable, then we are apt to pursue persons that have a similar demeanor.  If Dad or Mom was demanding, demeaning, and domineering, we expect that our future spouse will be as well.  That too may feel comfortable.  Characteristics such as these are normal to us.  At least we are accustomed with the dynamics that develop when with someone that debases another.

For Jenna what was common in her youth seems to be a family tradition.  She often expresses her amusement and wonderment when she evaluates the martial status of many of her relatives.  Aunts, uncles, and cousins, numerous individuals in her extended family never marry.  Those that do have children; thus, the bloodline is alive and well.  Jenna reflects.

Being the child of a single mother who was raised by a single mother, I have come to realize that I am not incomplete without a man in my life.  Sure, I always expected to get married, but it didn’t happen.  Whether it was a subconscious choice or not, I cannot say.

I can say that there are times I wish I had a man in my life (husband), but these don’t last long.  Usually, when something needs fixing or moving around the house [I think having a husband might be nice.]  Two incomes in my household would have come in handy.  But if I got married, who is to say I would have married a handy guy with a good job.

When I hear ladies I know complaining about their husbands for one reason or another, I usually am pleased that I don’t have to deal with such things.

I am happy with the life I’ve got.  To quote a song from the musical “Chicago” “Oh I’m no one’s wife, but Oh, I love my life and all that jazz.”

Jenna is a sensible soul.  Interestingly, her family is emotionally and physically closer than most.  She is only alone when in her bedroom.  Jenna is perhaps more actively involved with relations than any person I know.  Her interactions with loved ones are abundant.  Indeed, Jenna lives with another family member.  She maintains infinite lasting unions.

Jenna, admittedly is as many, if not all.  She craves a true and lasting connection.  She has them.  Her partners are labeled, mother, sister, brother-in-law, cousin, nephew, and niece.

Numerous individuals wish to establish a family of their own making.  They enter into a union or two, only to conclude there is no such thing as wedded bliss.  For a few, the endeavor was exhausting.  Others wish to do it again, and again, until they get it right.  Millions long to meet Mister or Miss Right.  Still others prefer to settle in with a friend, a lover, no legal strings attached.

Living Together [a.k.a. cohabitation, or unmarried partner households]:

According to the 2000 Census, there are currently about 11 million people living with an unmarried partner in the U.S.  This includes both same-sex and different-sex couples.  – U.S. Census Bureau, 2000  (If this number doesn’t match the number you found from another source, read How We Get Our Numbers, below). 


There are 9.7 million Americans living with an unmarried different-sex partner and 1.2 million American living with a same-sex partner.  11% of unmarried partners are same-sex couples .?- U.S. Census Bureau, 2000

41% of American women ages 15-44 have cohabited (lived with an unmarried different-sex partner) at some point.  This includes 9% of women ages 15-19, 38% of women ages 20-24, 49% of women ages 25-29, 51% of women ages 30-34, 50% of women ages 35-39, and 43% of women ages 40-44. – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  “Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States.”  Vital Health and Statistics Series 23, Number 22, Department of Health and Human Services, 2002.

The number of unmarried couples living together increased 72% between 1990 and 2000.  – U.S. Census Bureau, 2000

The number of unmarried couples living together has increased tenfold between 1960 and 2000.  – U.S. Census Bureau, 2000.

Still, living with oneself is more common in this country.  Twenty-seven [27] million American households consist of one.  Twenty-five million domestic dwellings house a mother, father, and child.  According to Pamela Smock, author of “Cohabitation in the United States,” Annual Review of Sociology, fifty-five percent [55%] of different-sex cohabitors marries within 5 years of moving in together.  Forty percent [40%] of these couples separate during these early years.  The remaining ten percent [10%] stay together; however, they no not marry for five years or longer.

There is much to consider when we enter the world of identity, particularly for women.  Females are more easily defined as a wife, a mother, a lover, or a friend.  Women do not wish to lose their identity.  Men, do not usually consider the possibility.  The male of the species is perceived as strong and secure.  However, we know men are as are we all, social animals. They too seek sanctuary in an intimate relationship.  Men are said to be happier, healthier perhaps, even more successful when married.  Studies assert this to be true.

When a “lady” looks at the life of a bride, she knows there is much to contemplate.  A proposal or the likelihood of one might prompt a girl to ask herself, how will I see myself once married.  She may posit how will others perceive me.  Questions abound; will I be caged, confined, or limited in any way.  A woman contemplating a legal bond [bondage] may feel her destiny is determined.  Nuptials are her fate.

The female of the species may feel faint as she considers the idea of marriage or divorce.  The possibility of a divorce may devastate a woman.  She might say, as I have, I do not wish to be a statistic or a fatality.  Oh, the role, the responsibility, what does it mean to be a spouse.  Diane thinks she knows all too well.  For her, the life of a wife is not to her liking.

I’ve been married/divorced twice and [I am] not planning on marrying again due to the history of my marriages.

I now have control of my own life, I can watch what I want to watch on TV and particularly like having control of my finances, – I have more wealth now than I ever did in either marriage – the men seemed to like to spend more than they had in the bank.  I like being single.

Another female, also charmingly conjugal, then deliberately divided from her spouse ponders the potential.  She approaches and avoids as she assesses the possibility.  Greta gravitates towards bliss.  For her, harmony may mean she and he are free to be similar; yet different.

Since I divorced I raised my two children alone.  I had to work 2-3 jobs to support them because I had no family close by and I tried to keep the children in the same healthy environment and good schools.  All the sacrifices were worth it.

[M]y daughter is a physician and my artist, and good looking Eddie is finishing [his studies at] the University.  My daughter has a beautiful little girl and is expecting a second one in June.  As far as my life, it has been better than most married female friends.  I consider myself lucky and with many blessings.

I am almost finished with [my schooling.  I will graduate with a] BA in Sociology.  Two years ago, I traveled to 5 countries in Europe, and studied Italian in Florence for one month.

I met many nice men but nothing concrete has happened.  It does not matter.  I live a very full life and count my blessing every day.

I don’t think I will marry again because I now think it won’t matter . . . .  [He] is free to leave when he wants to and I am free to do the same.  Life is too short to complicate things with marriage.  I already went through with that.  The main issue is respect, love and similar ideas, views of other cultures, also appreciation for traveling and having friends from all over the world.

Again, if the right man comes along, he will be most happy in my arms…guaranteed.  :)

Crystal, after two failed attempts at marriage decidedly was happy; however, she wanted more, and was apprehensive.  She pondered what that might mean.  Crystal had her children to consider, and her history.  Matrimony may not be her strong suit.

I really enjoy being married.  I think being married to the right person makes a difference.  You should really talk a great deal before marriage and discuss important issues before you say I do.  If there are a lot of red flags don’t do it.

Tom and I took a class for Blended Families at our church for a year before we got engaged.  We wanted to get educated about the issues that we would face.

Sigh; there are so many notions, emotions, questions, and answers.  No wonder individuals say they are happily single, as they continue to seek that solitary soul that will ignite a fire in their heart, mind, spirit, and loins.

Personally, I pondered all these questions.  I contemplated the conclusions others shared.  For years, I vacillated, uncertain how I feel.  I still do.  Throughout the course of decades, my own ramblings might seem confused.  I have faith that the way we feel on one day differs from what we sense on the next.

However, without fail, I have expressed a strong belief in the value of interdependence.  I hasten to add, although I welcome closeness, I want no one too near to me.  I think the institution of marriage is magnificent.  Those that do it well inspire me.  I admire any couple that cares enough to ensure their union is solid.  I trust the endeavor is not effortless.  A healthy, happy marriage is a constant and consistent labor of love.  I believe in the work and yet, I am unsure if I want to do it.

Perhaps we are all a bit torn on the issue.  The dichotomy beckons us again and again.

In this, the 2008 Presidential race nuptials are  considered an issue.  Indeed, they are in every election.  Politicians pose with their families in an attempt to remind constituents they are one of us.  People evaluate the partners.  The public speculates, will the wife [or husband] play a significant role.  Will she [or he] share the Oval Office with the person we designate President of the United States of America.

A curious crowd, the American people ponder.  What is the martial status of a candidate.  How many spouses did he or she have?  What is the nature of the relationships?  Is a husband or wife an asset or a deficit?  It seems some Presidential contenders benefit from the bond of marriage.

Running mates were the topic of discussion in a recent Cable News Network program, 360 Degrees with Anderson Copper.  Among the Republicans, Mitt Romney married his high school sweetheart.  They have been together for near four decades.  Democratic candidates also have long enduring marriages.

Bill and Hillary Clinton have seen tough times; yet, remain together.  John and Elizabeth Edwards have experienced immeasurable heartache.  The two lost a son; Elizabeth is living with cancer.  Nonetheless, with each passing day, their union grows stronger.  Michele and Barack Obama are solid, strong, and such a sweet couple.  All six of these persons as individuals are extremely accomplished.

As Hillary reminds us, having a spouse can be a great strength.  A supportive partner can be an asset in any endeavor.

Mrs. Clinton, Democrat of New York, mentioned Mr. Clinton at least eight times on Saturday – at one point talking about “Bill’s heart surgery” to illuminate her own travails with health care bureaucracy – and a few times on Sunday, most memorably when she said of Republicans, “Bill and I have beaten them before, and we will again.”

Perhaps, the Clintons will triumph.  Their relationship is certainly an advantage, or perhaps a hindrance depending on how individuals perceive the labels, husband, wife, Mister, or Missus.

Regardless of their professional titles, these two are married.  Bill and Hillary Clinton have demonstrated they are together, for better or worse.  Each has stated they evolved separately and as a couple with thanks to the other.  Yet, some wish to deny or at least not use a term that validates their union.  I think the bond is beautiful.  I have faith that the conscious choice to unite says more about the individual than their career.

As I contemplate marriage and the affect of such an accord, I realize that for me, former President William “Bill” Jefferson Clinton said it best when he spoke at the memorial service held for Coretta Scott King.  After her passing, as dignitaries eulogized the esteemed leader one by one, each spoke of the First Lady of Civil Rights as a symbol.&

Then “Bill” took the stage.  For me, President Clinton put the entire issue into perspective.  I stood in awe as I listened.  Humanitarian, Clinton addressed the audience seated in the Church, and the country watching the ceremony on television.  Mister Clinton asked us to consider the person, the woman, the wife, and the mother, the living breathing being that “got angry and got hurt and had dreams and disappointments.”

Former First Lady, now Senator Clinton followed her husband in speaking about the woman, Coretta Scott King.  Missus Clinton related, and reminded us what it means to be married to a man, to a cause, and to one’s own personal commitments.  The Senator from New York shared.

And, in fact, she waited six months to give him an answer because she had to have known in her heart that she wasn’t just marrying a young man, but she was bringing her calling to be joined with his.

As they began their marriage and their partnership, it could not have been easy.  Because there they were, young, becoming parents, starting their ministry at a moment in history that they were called to lead.

Leadership is something that many who are called refuse to accept.  But Martin and Coretta knew they had no choice, and they lived their faith and their conviction.

Hillary Clinton: I think of those nights when she was putting the children to bed and worrying about the violence, worrying about the threats, worrying even about the bombs — and knowing that she couldn’t show any of the natural fear that any of us would feel.

The pressure that must have been for her — and she would turn to the Lord, who would answer her call for support by reminding her of her redemption.

When she went to Memphis, after her husband was killed, I remember as a college student listening in amazement to the news reports of this woman taking up her husband’s struggle on behalf of the dispossessed.

She said then — and she lived for the rest of her life in fulfillment — that she was there to continue his work to make all people truly free.

Perhaps, that is what is means to be married, to be a Missus.  When, as women, we believe in ourselves, then, we trust in our choices.  We understand to our core that we can grow greater when we are part of a whole.  A strong woman or man knows that they can never know it all, be it all, or evolve with only the information contained in their own gray matter.  They have faith.  As Aesop offered, “Union gives strength.”

A woman, understands that we can share with another and still be free and fulfilled.  We decide to share our soul and to open our hearts.  We accept the spirit of another.  Females intertwined are committed to a cause greater than self.  The memory of a partner is not lost.  A woman will do all within her power to assure the legacy of her love will live on.

A Mister may suffer from the lack of a label.  He may not have the luxury a woman does.  A gentlemen, equally dedicated, devoted, and faithful to their spouse; does not have a title that speaks volumes to the world.  He is unable to declare his profound love openly without engaging in a lengthy conversation.

Granted for me, if I marry, I will do as my Mom did.  I will legally retain my maiden name and adopt the surname of my husband as my middle moniker.  Our names will be joined, as our spirit will be.  Nevertheless, I will not be disturbed if a person calls me, Missus X.  If I do not like my mate; if he [or she] is not lovable, if we are not united, and thankful that we found fulfillment in such a glorious sharing, then why did we marry.

Stamp me old-fashioned.  Brand me a traditionalist.  Perceive me as a Progressive that understands the meaning of union.  All may be true.  For me, as for former President Bill Clinton, the essence of a woman is more than her career.  Lisa reflects on what she thinks essential.

A good man [partner] that loves, that truly loves you… can empower you . . . and you can become more than you could on your own . . . and visa versa . . . love is the best when its pure and simple . . . love for the sake of love . . . not for anything else . . . is the sweetest of all.

For me, love is not the ultimate, like is.  In my own life, I learned that to like someone day in and day out is truly special.  We all wish to love and be loved.  Perhaps, that is why many enter into marriage.  Women that love a spouse and are not fond of the person may not wish to be titled Missus.  These individuals may have no desire to be recognized as interdependent.  [I laugh.  For wedded or not we are all jointly supported by others.  However, I will not quibble with those that see themselves as separate.]

I wonder; if each of us married with more than love as our mission, might we do better, feel better, and be better, no matter what our title.  I know not.  Possibly, will you marry me is a question asked and never fully answered.

To marry, or to stay single.  That is the question . . .

Sex in America. Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures Study



copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Sex is in the city and in the country.  Americans are aroused and sizzling.  They are hot and ready to trot.  Numerous are running rampant.  Others await Mister or Miss Right; these persons are tenuously evaluating the situation.  Some saunter into the sex scene.  A few wait on the sidelines.  Many find more than one partner that pleases them.  Nonetheless . . .

Ninety-six percent of American adults have had sex.  According to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, Sex study finds men far more likely to play the field.  Women are doing the deed as well; however, these recent finding suggest feminine wiles are used sparingly.

(Twenty-nine) 29 percent of American men report having [fifteen] 15 or more female sexual partners in a lifetime, while only [nine] 9 percent of women report having sex with [fifteen] 15 or more men.

The median number of lifetime female sexual partners for men was seven; the median number of male partners for women was four.

We might contrast this information with an earlier, 2004 analysis, and realize numbers do not tell the whole story.

For the first time since the government began the National Survey of Family Growth in 1973, more girls (47 percent) say they have had sex than boys (46 percent).

We cannot be certain why younger women are doing the deed more than they once were.  Nor can we establish that the results from one study represent the sexual exploits of all men, women, adolescent boys, and girls.

Age matters, as does the era.  Exposure to the elements is a consideration; Sexually Transmitted Diseases, may alter the dialogue and influence the doings.  Trends may elicit a changing moral standard.  Perhaps, among adolescents, the feminine factor differs; possibly, it does not.  Young men now may be as they were, decades ago, or they might be as we all are, similar; yet unique.  The possibilities are endless.  People are people, fascinating, and never truly predictable.

We must trust that everyone has his or her tales to tell.  However, few do, at least not to those asking about the numbers of sexual partners.  It is for this reason that this recently released study may be a slightly more accurate.

Six thousand, two hundred, and thirty-seven [6,237] adults, ages 20 to 59 disclosed their deliverance secretly.  Heterosexual men and women shared their stories with a curious computer.  Face-to-face interviews were not conducted.  Scientists feared people might be less forthcoming when discussing their escapades with another human being.  Many people prefer not to kiss and tell.  Individuals believe they have an image to protect, his and hers.

Appearances are important.  However, often we learn that nothing is as it seems.  When we met, Michael was tall, nice looking, a scholar.  He was a Professor.  He taught Economics at two local Universities, a private college, and a State school.  He was, and I believe is to this day, politically Conservative,  Michael is articulate, astute, and to me amazing.  I was and am a woman mesmerized by brains.  Brawn never was interesting or appealing to me.  Show me gray matter that gyrates and I am stimulated.

Michael inspired me to think, to dream, and to wonder.  I was captivated by the capacity of this man?s mind and that energy extended to his body.  We became friends and soon after lovers.

We were in our twenties at the time.  One night as we were “getting to know each other” Michael shared a story I never forgot.  When he was a sophomore in college, he and a male friend entered into a competition.  They were competing for “love.”  The two young gents decided they wanted to know who could “sleep with” more women during the course of a given semester.

Michael, being the high achiever he was, and may still be, was passionately intent.  He knew his objective, and had no doubt, success would be his.  Michael was certain he could and would stand erect.  He was up to the task.  This wondrous chap would lift skirts up or pull pants down.  He would do whatever was necessary to take the prize.  He had pride and a reputation to secure.  This man was or would become a super-stud.

Michael began his pursuit.  All was going well.  He found women a plenty.  He came; they went.  Then, long before the term ended, Michael tired of the “game.”  The rivalry began to wear on him.  This marvelous man, an academic, and obviously, or so I thought, not a player said, “I reached one hundred and forty-one and thought,  ‘What am I doing?’  Michael decided he could not or had no desire to stay in the race.  The chase no longer brought him to climax.  Doing the bump and grind without reason, upon reflection seemed ridiculous to him.  Nevertheless, he did it for quite some time.

As Michael shared the details of his adventure with me that evening I thought, Wow!  These numbers are astounding, even staggering.  I could not imagine ever reaching such a peak.  Yet, as time went on, I engaged in what brought little excitement and what passes for much.  A bodily orgasm did not fulfill any fantasies; nor did it create a meaningful connection.

I realized early on, I am a one-man woman.  I cannot, more precisely I will not do more.  For me, the remorse, the regret, and the confusion I feel within is overwhelming.  I am willing to absorb the shock that comes from filling a bed in an attempt to gratify my heart.  I enjoy my own company and believe no one can complete me.  With myself, I am whole.  Empty sex does not satisfy me.  I am not able to tell myself I “love” or “like” someone I barely know.

Sex for sex’s sake was not a challenge.  Very early on, I discovered as Michael had, it bored me.  Unlike Michael, I realized this long before faces became a blur.  I never felt the urge to surge.  In fact, I feared the prospect.

Perhaps, other Americans do too.  The numbers presented demonstrate Americans are not doing as Michael had done.

Sixteen percent of adults first had sex before age 15, while 15 percent abstained from sex until at least age 21.

Seventeen percent of men and 10 percent of women reported having two or more sexual partners in the past year.


Twenty-five percent of women and 17 percent of men reporting having no more than one partner of the other sex in their lifetime.

Adults who were married or had more than a high school education were less likely to use street drugs than others.

Yet, as I observe others, I wonder.  One lovely I know has her bed filled on most weekend nights.  Rarely is she with the same man.  His door swings open daily, or almost. Another, a man has a woman occupying his chaise lounge on Mondays and Tuesdays.  A beauty graces his boudoir on Fridays and Saturdays.  Wednesday and Thursday are reserved for a raven-haired lass.  Sunday is a day of rest.

I met many.  Numerous women count men as they count the shoes in their closets.  I have yet to calculate the number of males in my drawers.  I do acknowledge there are less than there might have been and more than I am proud of.  Men, I am told carve notches in their bedposts.

I do not think most are intending as Michael and his schoolmate were.  I trust that most people male and female are looking for love in all the right and wrong places.

Many believe the intense muscle tightening in the genitals, the exchange of corporal fluids protecting mucous membranes is the ultimate in bonding experiences.

Men frequently think if a woman is willing to spread her legs for him, her heart is open to the very special person he is.  Women wistfully wonder; is he the one.  If he calls continuously, it must be because he loves me.  Some realize sex, semen joining with the gush of juices may make babies; however, these do not always give birth to the blissful music of love.

The findings of this report certainly intrigued me..  I went looking for greater enlightenment, the spark that might move me.  I discovered the original stud-yreport, Drug Use and Sexual Behaviors Reported by Adults: United States, 1999-2002.  The findings were released on June 22, 2007.  Interestingly enough, when I read the text I was struck by a nuance barely touched on in the news articles.

Introduction

Drug-related and sex-related behaviors are of great public health importance.  Use of illicit drugs has been shown to influence sexual behavior and present risk factors for disease (1).

Risky sexual behaviors can result in sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies.  This report is intended to provide overall prevalence estimates of drug use and sexual behaviors in adults from a nationally representative sample of the U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population.

As I read this I smiled.  It seems much of the survey was omitted in the news reports.  There was a blurb.

Twenty-six percent of men and 17 percent of women have tried cocaine or other street drugs (not including marijuana) at some time in their life.  Seven percent of men and 4 percent of women had done so within the past 12 months.

However, I think the intent of the study may have been missed in the many calculations presented to the public en masse.

Shyly, I admit, I met Michael in a restaurant bar.  He and I were not there to imbibe.  We were each meeting friends that worked in the establishment.  Nonetheless, I understand numerous people look for that significant someone  while drowning their sorrows with intoxicating beverages.  Drugs too I am told, add to the high.  The survey attempted to make allowances for this.  The researchers admit, the numbers may be as deceiving as people knowingly or unintentionally are when under the influence.

Limitations of self-reported data include recall problems and intentional misreporting of behaviors.

For me, my presence in a pub was then and is now an oddity.  In my entire life, I have not had a drink of alcohol.  That scene was not I.  In my younger years, I realized that meeting men or even friendly females in that forum would not benefit me.  Yet, even in my insolated world men intent on opening my thighs think the way to me “heart” is through wining and dining me.

A few years ago, I engaged in what seemed an endless discussion.  All that know me, acknowledge I am extremely approachable, honest, willing to share all my stories.  There are no skeletons in my closet.  Indeed, I have no wardrobes with doors or locks on them.  Nonetheless, a man courting me insisted there was.

Adam was adamant, I must sip a cocktail or two.  He said an alcoholic beverage would quench my thirst, or his?  I think access was his quest.  This longtime bachelor was certain much was concealed.  However, verbally, intellectually, emotionally nothing was.  Adam repeatedly assured me alcohol would open doors; perchance it was my privates that he thought too closed.  Sex, combined with drugs are just not what rocks me to roll in the hay.  Perhaps, this too is a subject for research.

Drugs too are my dread.  For many being alone is the fear.  Depression often sets in when people are forlorn.  In the minds of many, sex is release.  The pressure passes with ejaculation.

For others, intercourse creates greater unrest.  It is not sleep deprivation they fear, it is intimacy.

Those that marry may have more sex, or at least more satisfying intercourse, and less partners.  However, that cannot be assumed.

Widows and widowers cannot be characterized as clinging or free to be foot loose and fancy.  They are as are we all, uniquely engaged or disengaged for reasons that are physical, physiological, and physiological related to our peers, our personal history, our  individual perceptions, and perhaps numerous other factors.

Chronological age and Auto Immune Deficiency (AIDS) are aspects that influence our decisions to dive deeply, just as the Age of Aquarius did.  Baby Boomers, some of which were surveyed in this recent study might believe that they suffer from obsolagnium.  Therefore, they are less active.

You may not find it [obsolagnium] in an ordinary dictionary.  But if you are over 50, you may well be familiar with the concept, because it means waning sexual desire resulting from age.

In fact, it is rarely age per se that accounts for declines in libido among those in the second half-century of life.  Rather, it can be any of a dozen or more factors more common in older people that account for the changes.  Many of these factors are subject to modification that can restore, if not the sexual energy of youth, at least the desire to seek, and the ability to enjoy sex.

Nor is it just hormones.  Addressing only the distaff half of the population, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, in its newest work, Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause, points out: Our sexual desire and satisfaction may be influenced by our life circumstances, including the quality of our sexual relationships, our emotional and physical health, and our values and thoughts about sexuality, as well as by the aging process and the shifting hormone levels that occur during the menopause transition.

The same, of course, is true of men.  Difficult life circumstances can do much to dampen anyone’s libido.  Stress at work or home, looming bankruptcy, impending divorce, serious illness, depression, a history of sexual abuse and a host of medications are among the many things that can put a big crimp in your desire for sex at any age.

While this recently released report tenderly touches on the dynamics of our sex drive, while the statistics titillate and tantalize the public, there is so much missing from this survey.

People ponder and read the results wondering, Is it normal to forego fondling?  Are we weird if we want or do not want a partner, a playmate, or perhaps something is wrong with society if men stray more than women.  Any and all of these queries are valid; yet without answer.

This survey implicitly states Sex alone is not a significant indicator of what is.  Statistics may measure the size and scope of an issue while not satisfying  the soul.

The study of intercourse while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may elicit information that is more revealing.  Nevertheless, after assessing all the data, I think we must come to the same conclusion.  For the most part, sex is in the city and it occurs throughout the country.  Many citizens in America are hot and trotting.  Might you be a person off to the races.  Do you seek lovemaking or sex for conquest.  Is the act an indulgence when in a drug induced stupor, or is a real connection your quest.  Do the numbers make you more or less of a cad or are they an occurrence in your evolution?

There is much to think about.  I will ponder as I rest.  I wish you pleasant dreams.

Sex, the Sources . . .