The Beauty, The Brain and The Beast They Both Loved

I would have made Jeremiah Nelson a great wife. Instead, he is marrying my best friend Hope. Big mistake. And it’s all my goddam fault.

“DEARLY BELOVED, WE ARE GATHERED HERE TODAY…”

How was the date?

Good. I like her. ( My heart does flips. He has never liked any one of them before.) I almost didn’t go, you know.

Why? (Coz you realized it’s always been me?)

Oh,’ cause I had a million other things to do. (Oh, like scooping me up in your arms and declaring your undying love for me?)

What did you wear?

Oh, I went casual. Just some old jeans, green long-sleeved shirt and tennis shoes. (You didn’t care enough to impress her? Good. That means she’ll be history soon.)

And what was she wearing?

Nice simple blouse and cotton pants.(Aggh, another point in her favor. I cringed at the thought of my colorful tops.)

So how did she look?

She’s pretty. (Duh, I know that already.)She looks like she takes good care of herself. (You mean she’s skinny. Why did I let this body go to pot?) Nice figure, nice legs.

Nice legs? She was showing some skin on the first date? (Tramp!)

Not really. She was wearing these thin cotton pants. Tight cotton pants, if I may add. (Yep, just as I thought: tramp!) No butt on her though. (Finally! A minus point! Ahem, did you notice how shapely my butt is?) Not a requirement though. (Of course it is! Who can fall for a girl with no butt, pretty though she may be?). She seems down-to-earth, sweet and low-key. (Boring, you mean?) She seemed nervous at first. (Yeah, coz she knows deep in her heart that you two were not meant for each other.) But I reached out for her hand a couple of times until she finally relaxed. (Aggh, you fell for that act!)

Well, now I’m officially jealous.

LOL. You don’t have to be. You know you’ll always be my girl. (Prove it.) No one can take away what we have. (Stop. You’re gonna make me melt.) I will always love you. (Really? Talk to me, baby.) But you know we’re better off as friends. (And why the hell is that? Forget you then.)

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate her?

An 8. No, maybe a 7.5. (Good. That .5 deduction is music to my ears. Of course, I hate to ask how you would rate me.) Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, though. (I know exactly what you mean. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, not the brightest crayon in the box. The wheel is spinning but the hamster is dead. The elevator doesn’t go all the way up to the top floor. I could go on. Now I on the other hand have an IQ of…) She is sweet but I am not used to that.

Oh, so you want rough seas instead of calm waters! After all the heart ache you’ve been through!

I want someone who will make my blood boil. (Do I make your blood boil?) Someone I can talk to and occasionally argue with. (Haven’t you noticed we do a lot of talking and we have been known to argue.) Someone who will inspire me to do better. (I can be pretty inspirational.) Someone I can carry an animated and witty conversation with. Just like you and me. (Yes, you said it. Admit it, you and I were meant to be.)

Oh, you can’t have everything. (Yes, you can, if you choose me.)Think about that face, that figure. A warm body to cuddle up next to, spend those lonely nights with.

You naughty…Well, you know me. There has to be a connection somehow. (Of course. Did you notice how you and I connected just like that?) Besides, that girl works like crazy. She works two jobs. She’s a workaholic. (No, dear. The politically correct term is financially challenged. I, on the other hand…) We both agreed that we don’t have a lot of time to date. (Good. That settles it then. It’s over.)

Don’t give up so easily. Take it slow. If you’re busy, don’t sweat it. When you guys have some free time, take her out to the movies, dinner or something. You don’t have to jump right in. (Boy, I am such a hypocrite.)

Who knows? It could be just infatuation. (Oh no, please don’t admit to infatuation.) These things fade in time, you know. (I know, so just drop her.) I need somebody to challenge me. (Exactly. How about, let me think, ,me?) I need a strong, independent and educated woman like you. (Now, you’re talking!)

So, what are you saying? You don’t want to see her anymore? (Yippeee!!!)

Actually, I’m meeting her tomorrow after work. ( What!!! After all that talk about her being too sweet and not too sharp, you’re still going out with her. Beauty wins this round again, like she always does. Men… go figure.!)

Okay. See you later, lover boy. Tell me how it goes.

Bye. I love you. (Yeah, yeah, I know,but only as a friend.)

I love you, too. (But more than just a friend…)

Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of God and in the face of this company to join together this man and woman in holy matrimony which is commended to be honorable among all men and therefore is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly but reverently, discreetly, advisedly and solemnly. Into this holy estate, these two persons present now come to be joined. If any person can show just cause why they may not be joined together let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”

Umm, hello, he was mine first you know. Does that count? Is that just cause enough? Yes, he was mine. Mine, in a way he could never be hers. As I was his, in a way I could never be anyone else’s. The connection we had was instantaneous. Our delight at each other’s company was delicious. Our trust in each other was almost childlike. We showed each other pockmarks from character flaws, scars from buried desires, wounds from unfulfilled dreams. All our deepest, darkest secrets we shared. Well, almost all. Because there was that one secret I could only hint at but never fully reveal. The one about me loving him. I guess deep in his heart he knew. The fact that we didn’t really talk about it said more than words could have. He didn’t feel the same way. And that is one pain I could never really burden him with. So I hid it by hooking him up with women. Pimping him, he used to call it. Plenty of women. None of them really worked out. As I had known they wouldn’t. Until I admitted to myself that there was this woman out there that might be perfect for him. My friend Hope. But I am getting ahead of the story.

I first met Jeremiah Nelson at a Bingo social sponsored by our church. Except for going to mass, I have never been involved in the community much so I decided to volunteer out of guilt. The first time I saw him he was being ordered around by this Amazon of a woman. “Bring that over here, Move this over there.” That was basically the gist of their conversation, his end being a “Yes, Ma’am” or a clarification of the orders. Something about the sight of this tall, lumbering man at the whip’s end of this dominatrix just tickled me pink. When she left him alone for a minute, I went over to him, motioned to her retreating back, and asked “Your wife?” “Hell, no!” was the quick response. “I’d jump off the bridge if she were!” The ferociousness behind those words caught me off-guard and I burst out laughing. My response caught him off-guard and he burst out laughing, too. We were both howling like a couple of loony bins when the dominatrix walked in on us. She gave us a long, hard look, barked out an order to him, and left in a huff. Of course, that triggered another round of hysterical laughter. We looked at each other behind tear-filled eyes and realized that we were having a moment. That moment transformed two strangers into co-conspirators against a world full of dominatrix and their kind. It was magical.

It’s not that I am bereft of a male presence in my life. After all, I do have Tom. Tom , he of the jade green eyes the same shade as Jeremiah’s. Tom, whose idea of a good time is cuddling up in front of a big screen TV watching Animal Planet. Don’t get me wrong. I love those moments as much as he does. Problem is, those moments are few and far in between. You see, Tom loves his freedom as much as he loves me. One minute he is snuggling up to me on the couch, the next he is hot on the trail of some random female. Nights, too many to recall, he staggers in bruised and all scratched up, from yet another amorous encounter. I know I should probably be outraged that my Tom has the morals of an alley cat, but I’m not, because the truth is, he IS a tomcat. No, I mean really. Literally and figuratively. All four paws, tail and whiskers of him. It is a little sad for a grown woman like me to look to a cat, no matter how magnificent he is, for company. I admit that a heart as skittish as mine has doomed me to spinsterhood, and for awhile there, I had convinced myself that it was all right, that a lifetime of solitude with a feline companion was infinitely more desirable than playing house to a two-legged brute. Until I met Jeremiah that is. Then, suddenly, being alone just meant being lonely, and being an
independent woman just meant being another old maid.

Yet, it is the masochist in me that brought the two of them together. If I had stayed my course and presented him with a smorgasboard of unpalatable ladies that he was sure to reject one after the other, then in the long run, he would have come to realize that I was the right one for him. It was only a matter of time. I would have won by default. But I would not have been able to rest easy if I did not introduce him to the one lady that could have given me a run for his heart, my best friend, Hope. And run away with his heart she did.

“Hey, got somebody for you.”

“Oh,no. Not again. No more please. I have decided I am gonna end up a cranky old bachelor in love with my best friend.”

“Haha. You act like that’s the end of the world! Hey, this one’s a winner. Sweet, hardworking, knows how to cook and clean…”

“Grrreat! Sounds like she’ll make a good maid. What about the rest of her?”

“She’s a knockout.”

“Yeah? I bet she has a “butter face.” You know, great figure “but’er face…”

“Silly! Actually, she is gorgeous.”

“Okay. Out with it! What is wrong with her?”

” Absolutely nothing. She is perfect. Except she’s my best friend. And if you hook up with her, I’ll probably hate you two forever.”

“What! Forget it then!”

“God, of course I was just kidding.”

“Well, then, hook me up, lady. Whatcha waiting for?”

The rest, they say, is history

I looked at those two figures standing by the altar. One, radiant in white. The other, handsome in black. Two people in this world who are so dear to me. And now after this they will become as one. I should be happy, right? Why do I feel like crap? Their eyes search the crowd for mine. When they see me, their faces spell relief, asking for my approval. I beam at them. They both beam back and then beam happily at each other. Then that’s when it dawned on me. The fairy tale was all about Beauty and the Beast. There was no mention of Brain. What the hell was I doing in their fairy tale? It was time to move on.

* * *

“I bring you back to life so I can bury you. In paper. Six feet under, covered by mounds of unexpressed desires, unfulfilled dreams and unstated fantasies. My pen pours out my crime of passion, the paper my confessional. Away from society’s disapproving eyes, secret thoughts, forbidden desires spring forth unchecked. Characters come to life. Figures of fiction infused with facts and fancy where fantasy and reality intertwine. A headstone etched in a dark recess of my heart marks the spot where your memories will forever be interred. A bouquet of flowers for kisses that will never be planted on my cheeks and lips. Eulogy for a once slumbering heart that was awakened by a dream only to be put to sleep by reality. Farewell, my dear Jeremiah, for it is only in the demise of my love for you that life goes on.”

“Ladies and gentlemen of the congregation, may I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Nelson.”

By the time those words have been spoken, I should be long gone. There is no need for farewells. Everyone knows Brain had no role in the love story of Beauty and the Beast. What was it they said, about two being company but three’s a crowd? Yeah, I know my cue. I gotta get outta here. How else could these two live happily ever after? One thing I know: I will love you forever, Jeremiah Nelson, if only in my dreams…


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