I could hear the echo of my fatherâ€™s voice inside my head, â€œBoys donâ€™t ever hit girls.â€
He ignored my protests and told me he didnâ€™t care what my sister had done. It didnâ€™t matter if she hit me first or what she used. I was a boy. We werenâ€™t allowed to fight back that way.
I told him again it wasnâ€™t fair and he shrugged his shoulders at me. â€œWe are bigger and stronger. Use your words to settle things. They will.â€
He was right and so was I. Thirty-seven years ago they didnâ€™t fight fair and they still donâ€™t now.
I suppose the big difference between then and now is that it was much easier as a young boy to look at them as â€œannoying peopleâ€ whose sole purpose was to bother boys.
Puberty changed all that. Those â€œannoying peopleâ€ cast a magic spell on me and suddenly I went from not noticing any of them to having trouble focusing in school.
Hormonal overdrive and young love kept me from recognizing the kind of trouble that lack of focus could get you into.
But I found out.
Her name was Tammy. She was a tall blonde with bright green eyes and an electric smile. At 14 she was two or three inches taller than I was and quick to lord it over me.
She spent our freshman year of high school doing her best to tease and torment me. I tried to give it back to her and almost got my head taken off.
I donâ€™t remember exactly what I said but I remember she was angry. When I told her she was acting like my sister she lost it. She stopped talking to me. When we passed each other in the halls she just looked through me, it was like I didnâ€™t exist.
You would think that I would have appreciated the respite from the teasing and the incessant comments about my height, but I didnâ€™t.
We didnâ€™t speak again until November of the following year and to this day I canâ€™t tell you if she even noticed, but I did.
Her refusal to speak made me so angry that I walked over to her. â€œYou arenâ€™t as special as you think you are!â€
She just laughed, â€œlook who finally grew.â€
Until she mentioned it I hadnâ€™t noticed that I was finally taller than she was. That wasnâ€™t
I wanted to yell at her again but that laughter and the smile that accompanied it took the fight right out of me.
We went on our first date two weeks later and three months after that we lost our virginity in her auntâ€™s pool house.
It was young love and a healthy dose of young lust.
Her father almost put the fear of god into us. He came home early one day and surprised us.
We heard him and I tried to jump out of bed, but Tammy was fearless. She told me to relax and said there was plenty of time.
That became our line and our little joke. Life was filled with plenty of time and much laughter.
When it came time to go to college we ended up attending different universities. Neither one of us was worried about our relationship. We thought it was strong enough to survive anything, but we were wrong.
I donâ€™t know when she slept with him or how many times she did but I know it happened. I wasnâ€™t blameless either.
The girl I hooked up with was just as tall as Tammy and had those long legs that I loved, except she was a brunette with dark eyes. The moment I kissed her I knew that things had to go farther and that something else was dying, but hormones donâ€™t care about relationships.
Within six months or so we had both acknowledged that it was time to go our separate ways.
It was painful but also somewhat exhilarating. Tammy and I had done almost everything a couple could do together and I was excited to be with other women.
That 18 year-old boy felt like a kid in a candy shop and for a while I really enjoyed it, but I noticed very quickly that these girls didnâ€™t respond like Tammy did.
She would do anything and they wouldnâ€™t. Hindsight makes it easy to recognize that love was the difference but that kid didnâ€™t know it.
By that time Tammy and I rarely spoke and if we did we usually found ourselves fighting but it wasnâ€™t like those days in high school.
Eventually we just stopped talking.
Five years passed and then I ran into her at a New Yearâ€™s Eve party. At midnight we kissed and it was like no time had passed.
Thirty-five minutes later we walked into my apartment and stayed there for three days.
Two days later she left for a two-year Peace Corps assignment in Africa. When she kissed me goodbye she said she loved me, laughed and told me not to worry because there was plenty of time.
She never wrote me.
Twenty-five years passed and the silence continued. We were just a memory.
Last week there was a knock at the door and I saw a beautiful blonde standing on my porch. It was like being transported in time, there was my Tammy, except it wasnâ€™t.
She said her name was Heather and asked to come inside.
â€œMy mom said if something happened to her I should find you. Her name was Tammy and I think you might be my dad.â€
â€œWhat do you mean her name was Tammy?â€
Her eyes filled with tears and so did mine. I guess we never did have plenty of time.
I wrote the story above this picture a few years ago during a period of time when I had far more time on my hands than I do now.
People have asked me more than once if it is a true story.
My answer to the question is always no but every now and then someone insists that I be honest with them so IÂ admitÂ it is truth and then wait for the 298 other questions that follow and make up more answers.
Yeah, I am bad that way.
If I give you an answer and you don’t accept it and continue to engage I am quite likely to decide to use my imagination to mess with you.
It is a bit juvenile but if you push me after I have responded then you might deserveÂ what you get or maybe that is just a poor way of rationalizing bad behavior.
But I will also share this, parts and pieces of that story are based upon experiences I have had with some of my former…flames.Her eyes filled with tears and so did mine. I guess we never did have plenty of time.Click To Tweet
I haven’t had enough time to write the way I want to write. All I have had is time to place a few words down upon the page and though it has helped me scratch the itch it hasn’t fed the demon that lives inside.
That beast is hungry and he requires far more fodder.
Ever since I saw the trailer for Suicide Squad I have heard I Started A Joke playing in my head. Not the Bee Gees version but the one from the video.
Music is often aÂ trigger/inspirationÂ for my fiction and it is always tied into my work. In aÂ perfectÂ world I would write my stories and use various songs to help illustrate the tell I want to tell without concern of having to pay for the rights to it.
And of course I would be paid to write these stories, but I digress.
The 983rd Greatest Story Ever Told
I have mentioned a few times that my teenager is growing like a weed and that he is as my mother would say,Â feeling his oats.
MyÂ little manÂ makes me smile with some of the goofy crap he pulls partly because I remember doing the same thing and partly because he is so damn happy when he does it.
There is a lightness about his being that I just love.
Early this evening he took that lightness and jumped on my back and tried to pull me to the floor. I laughed and told him he had only received a partial share of hisÂ Steiner StrengthÂ and told him until he gets the full dose he has no shot at winning.
And then for good measure I used only my left arm and won our match. I almost switched to the right so I could use the Princess Bride line about smiling because I am not left handed but we didn’t have much time and I wanted to talk to him about life.
Mainly I wanted to remind him to be willing to take chances and to try not to be afraid to step outside of his comfort zone.
“Dad, give me an example of what you mean.”
“I didn’t want to move to Texas. I wanted to stay with what I knew. Some of it was because I was afraid of change and some because I felt like I was being chased away and I don’t get pushed out or run from people or things.”
We went back and forth for a bit longer and he asked me what I think about my current job. I was honest and said that even though I am good at it, this is not what I want to be doing.
“If I told you why, it might bore you. It is only the 983rd greatest story ever told.
Why Not Dad?
The answer to that was simple.
We think we have plenty of time but we never really know for certain if we do.
If we look at our lives as being similar to the arc of a rocket ship mine is probably close to the highest point it will reach and then after a bit it will start to point downwards.
I don’t know how long I have before that happens so I prefer to make the most of my time and not make the mistake of the past of thinking I had endless amounts.
Sure, I can always start over. I can pivot, step left right, duck and then jump over the fire pit. Hell if I fall in it I can always dance in the fire but it doesn’t mean it is smart.
So I am doing my best to set things up so that I can live the kind of life I want to live. It is really not all that different from how I want to write or blog.
It Is What A Blog Should BeÂ is very similar to the philosophy I try to live my life by.
I follow my drummer and dance to the beat I hear in my head. I hope my kids do the same and that they recognize the truth in old Doc Graham’s quote.
If you aren’t living the way you want to live do something about it because you never know when the last tick will tock.
Larry August 13, 2015 at 7:45 pm
You really got me with that story. I was thinking – “he’s sharing that here? I wonder what his wife thinks.” Funny thought I know.
Anyway, it had your usual style and fit right in with the rest of the blog.
jacksteiner August 13, 2015 at 11:03 pm
She thinks it is great, of course. 😉
Liza August 13, 2015 at 5:55 am
The “story” that kicked this off gave me goosebumps. (That’s the mark of a good storyteller, right there.)
Jack Steiner August 13, 2015 at 9:26 pm
Thank you. I’m proud of that one.