My Relationship Status: Complicated since the day I was born.
“An old man teaches his great-grandson every mistake possible on the road to true love.”
So far, I’ve broken every relationship I’ve been in. That’s hard to admit, but there it is. Just like JD Ferguson in “The Seduction of Granny,” I’ve made just about every mistake possible with women. My relationships have turned into train wrecks every time. Family, friends, enemies and complete strangers stand outside, look in through the windows, and think they see what happened. They don’t have a clue (bless their hearts) but I know there’s a reason for it every time. Here is what happens:
I see you women rolling your eyes, but let me explain.
When I was a little boy, I saw how Mom and Dad adored each other. You could see it plain as day on their faces. They would Sparkle (with a capital S) when they were together. Mom was special to me, and Dad was special to me, but when you put them together — the sum of their parts — there was something magical happening.
I noticed other couples Sparkle, too. My grandparents, friends of my parents, and even strangers in public. We lived near a high school before I started kindergarten, and I would see pretty girls walk past holding hands with some guy. They would Sparkle too. Much like JD Ferguson in “The Seduction of Granny,” I’ve always been a flaming heterosexual. I couldn’t wait to have a girl of my own.
“I knew right then that she was mine. Sometimes you just know when you know, even if you don’t know how you know.”
–JD Ferguson in The Seduction of Granny
Then tragedy. I woke up one morning and heard my parents arguing. I couldn’t hear details but it didn’t sound good. I heard keys jangling, the front door closed, and Dad left Mom. It was Valentine’s Day, and I was eight years old.
I waited what seemed like forever before getting out of bed. When I walked into the front room I could feel an “impending sense of doom.” Things had changed forever. I knew it in my gut, or in my heart because it was Valentine’s Day. My girlfriend Tami called me not long after but I couldn’t tell her what had happened. She could “feel” something different, and we broke up before we hung up. When it rains it pours.
The next day was a Sunday. Mom, my brother and I had just walked back in the house from some errand when Dad walked in the door. I was hanging up my coat when Dad got to me. I had always been a dad’s boy, never a mama’s boy. He was my hero. I wanted to be just like him. But when Dad tried to talk to me and give me a hug, I had a news flash for him.
“You’re not going to be mean to my mom.”
Dad recoiled in surprise, his jaw hanging open. Mom was staring at me too, her mouth hanging open just as far. I was a chickenshit little kid, but I stood my ground, fists clenched at my sides, and I distinctly remember wanting to punch him in the mouth, beg him to come back home, give him a hug, and apologize for my back talk. I had never done anything remotely approaching rebellion until that day. A therapist would have said I was conflicted.
Some months later, Mom and Dad announced to me and my little brother that they were getting a divorce. I had a friend whose parents were divorced, and a friend who lost his mother to cancer, but I couldn’t get my head around the fact that my parents were splitting up. We weren’t the Cleaver’s anymore. We weren’t the Brady Bunch anymore. We were the Forgy bunch, and now we lived in different places.
I blamed myself for years and nobody knew it. Nobody knew what I was thinking so nobody could explain to me that I didn’t cause the divorce. By the time I was mature enough to know it wasn’t about me it was too late to go back and change my thinking on the subject. I had baggage to carry, and no one could help me down that road.
There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone
–“Ripple”, Grateful Dead
I’ve always wondered what if my parents had stuck it out and made it work no matter what. What if Dad was able to swallow his pride after my first rebellious act and move back in? What if Mom could forgive him for walking out?
All great books start with a what if question.
What if someone was forced to live their life in random order? (Kurt Vonnegut, “Slaughterhouse Five”).
What if someone had unlimited powers to heal other people? (Stephen King, “The Green Mile”).
What if a man could chase his soul mate to the ends of the earth, no matter what obstacles he faced?
What if he could live happily ever after with his Chosen One?
What if he had endless perseverance?
What if he refused to take no for an answer?
What if he could someday pass along what he learned to someone he loves?
“What if someone stole a locomotive?”
“What if someone sees us, JD?”
“What if someone sees we’re just kids?”
“What if I can’t work up the courage to say hi to her?”
“What if she says hi back?”
“What if she doesn’t like me?”
“What if I’m wrong about my girlfriend?”
“What if she’s not the one?”
“What if she gets mad that I walk off and she follows me?”
I know that guy. He lives in my head. I named him JD Ferguson. I’m not JD Ferguson, and he’s not me, but we know each other very well. I wrote a book about him, and I’d love for you to meet him.
What if you take a sneak peek at “The Seduction of Granny?”