But first, I came across this the other day. Because I like it, this feels like something I ought to share here. From John Steinbeck's response to his son, who had written to tell his mom and dad that he'd fallen in love:
"There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you -- of kindness and consideration and respect -- not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn't know you had."
That's good stuff, but he stopped too soon. At its very best, love is a partnership in which all things feel possible, where the strength, courage, goodness and wisdom multiply by magic math to a power greater than just that of two individuals.
I'll risk sounding like some sort of Jimmy Stewart Hollywood pollyanna to say, yeah, I believe in stuff like that. And I've lived it, and it's been good.
This is probably as good a place as any to explain my feet. Yes, those are my feet in the photo. And you probably were put off by such an unrevealing picture. About all you can take from it is that, yes, I have been known to run.
I apologize. I have one of those jobs. It's anything but sexy. I'm not a spy, or a celebrity, or a politician, or an FBI agent. I'm not Ray Lewis and I'm not paranoid! I'm not a name you or anybody else much would know. But I have a job that once in a while inspires mean spirited strangers to dig around for dirt they think they can use to discredit me. I've answered a lot of OkCupid questions -- it was fun, some were silly, others provoked introspection -- very candidly, and in ways that could be abused by irate folks I encounter professionally. With you, dear stranger, I share my secrets. But not with them.
But I have good veins.
There are several simple truths of summer. One is that any man who wears a short-sleeved dress shirt and a tie is a dork. Reach for that pocket protector, hoist your beltline above your navel and smother yourself in eau de Bug Spray. Call a hot dog a "weenie" because you are one.
Men who live in Bermuda, who wear a short-sleeved shirt and tie along with Bermuda shorts, calf-length black socks and seersucker sport coats are exempt from this otherwise blanket condemnation. They are just peculiar in the same manner that so many of the Queen’s loyal subjects are a bit weird.
No, in the summertime a real man saddled with the burden of employment wears a long-sleeved shirt. He may loosen the tie before noon, that’s okay, and rolling up sleeves looks manly.
Not since I wore my cousin Tommy’s hand-me-downs in high school have I owned a short-sleeved dress shirt.
And that may have been my problem.
You see, I have good veins. In fact, they are extraordinary.
During my recent prolonged holiday in the hospital a cheery nurse showed up every two hours to jab my arm with a needle and draw blood. Nurses came around the clock, and with each shift change a new happy face would appear to exclaim, "You have great veins!"
As I headed for surgery one day the pre-op nurse was so delighted that I confessed that she wasn’t the first nurse to make the observation.
And she responded that whenever the OR girls went out for a night on the town the first thing they noticed in a man was the quality of his veins.
"Ask any nurse who draws a lot of blood," she said. "We’d never date a guy with bad veins."
If only I had known.
Early in my career I was blessed with a job that required my attendance from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. I was single and living in Philadelphia at the time, and working that shift did ugly things to my social life that no one else ever seemed to appreciate.
You know what they all said?
"Well, working those hours you must meet a lot of nurses!"
Yeah, right. Where do you meet a nurse -- or anyone else who wants to hoist a libation -- at 7 o’clock on a weekday morning?
Desperation set in, so I began to do a little research in those wee hours when things tended to get a little slow at work. First, I learned that the law actually allowed bars to open at 7 a.m. Then I figured that if any did they would corner bars close to factories that had overnight shifts. Next, I hunted for a hospital located in neighborhood where there were a lot of factories.
At 7:30 the next morning I walked into a passion pit crammed with factory workers and nurses -- lots of nurses. The joint reeked of romance and I watched moral restraint drown in a sea of cheap beer. Droves of people who arrived as ones departed in twos. Some may have been headed for the altar, but many seemed willing to skip over that detail.
Amid this frenzy of mating I was spectacularly unsuccessful.
Nary a nurse looked my way.
I finally left, alone, downhearted and mystified.
Now I know why.
I should have rolled up my sleeves.
So, what I'm thinking -- although I'm not spending a lot of time thinking about it -- is that if it's okay for people to meet in supermarkets and it's terribly common for people to meet in bars, why is it that so many people get all skittish and bashful about meeting people on line? Is it any more awkward than standing in a noisy bar fishing to make small talk with a stranger? And if it's not, then why did a good friend of mine lower his voice the other night to confide, "We found each other on EHarmony?"
Feel free to try the supermarket gambit. It didn't work for me. Nobody knows how many peaches are in that damned can.
the spirit moves you.