Fifty/50 (Rocco)

Fairy Tale Scenario #1
Your second date is Valentine’s Day. He gets you calla lilies and you cook dinner together. The chemistry between you is off the hook. You talk about dating history – always bleak and a little embarrassing – and mention that you have a blog, specifically about your ridiculous love life. “Wouldn’t it be funny, if this worked out between us, and you could have a happy ending to your blog?” He always says exactly the right thing.

Fairy Tale Scenario #2
You finish dinner at a restaurant overlooking the river. He’s hurrying you, wants to get out to see the sunset over the high cliffs. The wind is blowing, hard, and you’re both laughing over some shared silliness. You try and get a picture with the canyon and the sunset and the water below, but he grabs you by both arms and holds you tight. He looks you dead in the eye and for the first time says, “I love you, Joce. I really, really love you.” After, you get the perfect picture, all canyon purples and blues and sunset oranges, with the light from your heart radiating out through your eyeballs and your teeth.

Fairy Tale Scenario #3
You celebrate the anniversary of your first date every Thursday, usually beers at the “scene of the crime.” The waitress knows you now, always asks you how long it’s been. You love the story of your first date and tell it often. It always makes you both laugh. How earnest, how excited you both were, how the evening completely careened off track to your mutual horror. And how you fixed it, found common ground again, fell in love despite it all. You think of your relationship as a classic screwball comedy – the brainy beefcake and the busty bombshell – fast-paced repartee, courtship hijinks, slapstick and pratfalls, with a “happily ever after” thrown in for good measure. Another Thursday comes around – Cheers!

Fairy Tale Scenario #4
Sunday drive. He loves to go fast. In the passenger seat, your body sways and rolls with the turns, the acceleration, the music. He conducts the stereo – prompting the swells and beats with two hands, returning a finger every now and again to the wheel, his car is so fancy, it could probably drive itself. He takes your hand and squeezes it, “Hey, Babes.”
“Hey, Babes,” you say back, tugging on salty bit of his salt and pepper hair.

Fairy Tale Scenario #5
There is a “for sale” sign in the yard, boxes being carried to and fro, you’re having a last look in cabinets and closets, noticing dust rings, burnt out light bulbs; things that should be fixed and cleaned before the next family makes it their home. You’re excited and nervous for the next chapter. “Good things do happen to good people,” you think to yourself with satisfaction. You’re still shocked at the luck, how things finally came together so easily – not that there wasn’t hard work and heartache, disappointment. Yes, there was that, too, in spades. But, in the face of adventure, anticipation, your memory of the struggle fades.

Last week you signed off on the galley’s for the second installment of The Big Book of Bad Dates. Your agent has heard rumors of a possible film option; you wonder who would star in the movie? Who could ever play Rocco?  He looks 10 years younger now that he’s quit his job, and the house has sold – he must be sleeping better, the weight of the world off his shoulders. You hope you look younger, too. This time next week, you’ll be in New Zealand. And from there, who knows? 

Fairy Tale Scenario #6
This is what it feels like to have a soul mate.

Fairy Tale Scenario #7
Morning coffee ritual at the cottage. Together on the porch swing, soft blanket, the ocean slicks and retreats on the cool sand, revealing scribbles of seaweed, the bubbles of bivalves. Together for years and years and he still takes your hand while you swing.
Later, a repeat of so many seaside Christmases. His daughter will arrive with her husband and children – years ago they built sandcastles, tow-headed with fat bellies in striped suits, little shovels, little pails – but, they are now nearly grown, leggy, blonde, both with Rocco’s warm, bright eyes. Later, the house will be full of family, oysters, the smell of salt water and pie, floors gritty from the dogs in and out, champagne like Fourth of July sparklers on your tongue. Later, piles of people on love worn sofas, every inch of every room filled with spirited voices, laughs, shrieks and dog sighs, a tail wacking rhythmically on the coffee table leg. Later, you’ll snuggle up together, bare feet tangled with bare feet, the house quiet now, the tide is coming in.

Real Life Scenario #2
It’s 10 p.m. Saturday night. A Saturday night after a long week and a long day, after a relentless month of 60-hour work weeks, moving, moving again, allergies, no exercise, dried-out take-out, on the eve of another long day. You’re driving the 45 minutes home, thinking this is one of those times they warn you about, before you fall asleep at the wheel you should pull over and rest your eyes, instead of going on. But, you go on. You miss your exit. Then you miss your turn.

Not so subconsciously, your brain knows you don’t want to go home, you dread going home, so it takes you on a circuitous route, but you must go home, so the detour only serves to fray your last nerve. You have reached utter exhaustion and defeat.
Finally pulling in your driveway, your headlights scan the fence, highlighting two chairs and a little table, arranged carefully on your back porch. You burst into tears. He’s left them there for you. In boxes, in the garage, are the things from his house: your shampoo, a stack of magazines, a dog toy. He has cleaned you out of his life, deleted you from Facebook, blocked your calls. Blocked the phone numbers of your family even. “Don't ever come to my house again.” He won’t answer your emails.

Fairy Tale Scenario #8
Thursday evening, weeks later. You get home from work, and there he is, on your porch, waiting, daisies in hand (calla lilies are out of season). You never thought you’d see him again. But, love finds a way, through the muck, through the mire, through the constellations of diversions, the dysfunctions and situational consequences. He’s so tough, and you’re tough, but he knows that you love him more than anyone, anything and always will, and he’s here to cash in his chips. You sit on those chairs, and split a beer, glasses perched on the little table. "I forgive you."