Poem of the Week: Message to an Introverted Café Patron

Message to an Introverted Café Patron
May 12, 2019

Sitting quietly in the café reading a book by yourself—
A book that once sat collecting dust high upon its shelf—
Immersing yourself in the tale at hand as you sip your tea,
Not noticing she from the nearby table wondering whom you could be,
Her eyes fixed on you intently as she sips down her java hot,
Wondering if you’ll look up to notice her, pondering whether or not
It’s worth striking up a conversation with you, seeing how you’re engrossed
With the story in your hand with much quiet dignity to boast.
She seems to be all alone herself, judging from the glances you take
At her from the corner of your eye, yet no move do you make
To sit next to her and chat to find out just what’s on her mind.
Honestly, what are you waiting for? Get off your bony behind
To try something you’d perhaps like if you’d just kick down the door
For once and overcome your shyness, if just for a minute or so.
What’s the worst that can happen anyway? She happens to say no
To your offer of companionship? Sure, your pride my take a hit,
But how much are you really losing if you don’t go for it—
Take the first step and try your hand at something that you might
Change your life in ways you’d never know if you don’t take up the plight?
Don’t you deserve someone in your life who’ll see your happiness,
Someone whom you can take care of and in turn give you the best?
After all, this world’s a mean one with sickos ‘round every bend.
And more than ever, we each could benefit from having a friend,
Especially a friend since things don’t seem like they’re cooling off at all soon,
And we all deserve someone to help us fare the night of the Foul Moon.
Get up and talk to the shy girl, then, and show her what you’re about.
You needn’t be super-romantic, but kindly let her sort you out
And converse with her openly and honestly about who you truly are,
And whether she accepts you in her life or said fate’s not in the stars,
At least you made the effort to try out a new life direction,
And even if you should fail, at least you’ll gain some introspection
On what you can do next time to improve the skills you’ve displayed,
And hopefully next time, your cards will be much better played.
Should you succeed, though, congratulations for showing the spine
You’ve demonstrated in coming out of that shell of thine.
Either way, just talk already with the gal at the table.
You’ll benefit either way from it, so show yourself just how able
You are at breaking the cycle and starting something new—
Something that just might help you live life from now on ‘til you’re through.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

Poem of the Week: How to Maintain a Marriage (Message for a Young Groom)

How to Maintain a Marriage (Message for a Young Groom)
May 11, 2019

The goosebumps that line your arms when she so much as passes by,
The sound of her sweet voice that at times makes you cry,
The scent of her perfume as she steps into the room,
The visions you have each hour of you two being bride and groom,

The boiling of your blood when some bastard puts her down,
The sinking of your heart in your chest each minute she’s not around,
The urge to kiss and embrace her every time she draws near…
All these things and more tell you she’s clearly your dear.

Alas, no matter how much you tell her day in and day out,
None of your attempts to tell her so will ever bring about
The confidence in herself she needs to get through the day.
Henceforth, you’ll need to show your love in some special way.

Always treat her on her birthday and your anniversary.
Cook her a meal every once in a while, if not regularly.
Lend her a hand around the house, for it’s also your living bubble,
Then take her out of it to help her (and yourself) escape life’s troubles.

Communicate with her each day, even when you’re miles from home.
Spend as much downtime with her, lest she wants to be alone.
Always show consideration towards her, both at home and away,
And do all you can to keep her safe and secure each and every day.

All these things and more a man must consider when having a wife,
And should you do just that, you’ll find happiness within your life,
For she’ll reward you with kindness for all you’ve done for her.
Take it from one whose parents are still wed. Dad will concur.

Marriage is give-and-take, after all, and often must you give
If you want that which you want, for honestly, how can one live
Give-give-giving or take-take-taking ‘til death do you part?
Why disrupt that balance that nurtures the human heart?

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

Essay Experiment: What’s Got Me Bent Out of Shape part 3: Dating

Welcome back, readers!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there, first and foremost. Hope your day turns out to be great! Additionally, welcome to my latest installment in this Essay Experiment of mine, in which I’ll tackle the topic of dating from a tweenage/teenage boy’s point of view. As before, please keep in mind that I’d written the following essay from the perspective of my younger self and that the opinion expressed within it would have been my own at the time and my own alone. That in mind, then, enjoy!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

*****

What’s Got Me Bent Out of Shape

Part 3: Dating

You know what’s got me bent out of shape? Girls. No, I’m not saying this to be a misogynist pig, so don’t even go there. In fact, I actually like girls…or at least I want to like them. The problem is, though, that they don’t like me.

“Gee, I wonder why.”

Shut it, wise guy! I’m not having it! In fact, I’m not having it when it comes to girls, either, what with the brunt of them being so self-absorbed and superficial that it makes me wonder if trying to start up a relationship with one is even worth it. So far, I’d have to say that it isn’t, and it isn’t even the fact that I keep getting rejected by every girl I try to ask out. Yeah, that’s part of it, but honestly, most girls are nasty even outside of the dating scene, and they’re not afraid to treat a guy—or even a fellow gal, for that matter—like trash whenever or however they please. Heaven forbid, too, a fella happens to be a little on the quiet and/or shy side. Otherwise, they’ll simply pass the poor sap by for “better” suitors with higher profiles and keener reputations and possibly even tease the poor sot for his shortcomings whenever they can—preferably behind his back, as any backstabber would. Strange thing, however, is that no matter how nasty and vile girls can be, I still long for that moment when I can sweep one off her feet, make her heart skip a beat, and ultimately call her mine ‘til the end of time. Yeah, I know that sounds a little mushy for its own good, but honestly, no matter how many gold-diggers, man beaters, male bashers, gossip spreaders, and other sorry excuses of humanity exist among womankind and thus give the entire female gender a bad name, there have to be at least some good women out there, right?

Well, all I know is that asking girls out has always been a real pain in the neck for me. No matter how much courage I muster up to invite them on a date with me or how honest and sincere I am with my intentions, I’m always met with rejection in the form of one excuse or another. Sometimes, the girl in question will simply say that she isn’t interested. Other times, she’ll insist that she only likes me “as a friend,” if I’m to believe that at all. There are even times when she’ll tell me that say that she’s “washing her hair”…whatever that means…or that she’s seeing someone else, even when she’s actually not at the time and only starts getting a steady boyfriend days after I’d initially asked her out. That’s not even counting the number of times the girls outright laughed in my face for my endeavors or even not bothered to respond to me at all, which—as much as I’d hate to say it—have been tragically plentiful as well. Worse yet is how every rejection I get makes me think more and more that there’s something wrong not even with just my approach, but with me, period. Sure, I can be awkward at times and may not always come off on the right foot with people, but I’d like to think that I at least try to be amiable in my attempts to secure a date. I mean, come on! If I’m doing something wrong with my approach to each girl I ask out, at least show me my mistakes so that I know how to correct myself the next time I try my hand at the task. Seriously, am I coming on too strong? Am I using the wrong words in telling her what I want? Do I have a vile reputation that I’m not aware of and thus need to correct? This is the stuff that I constantly find myself wondering with every rejection I receive, and I usually end up finding one thing or another out the hard way. Granted, sometimes learning by example is the only way one can grow, but honestly, how many more times do I have to make an example of myself before I ultimately come to terms with what I’m supposed to know when it comes to winning a woman’s heart? How many more times must I fail before I finally get it right? Surely, I’m not going to end up one of those guys who never, ever secures for himself a woman’s heart, am I?

Then again, a relationship is a serious responsibility, and once I’ve procured a girl’s admiration, it’s up to me to do everything in my power to keep what I’ve earned. After all, one foul or boneheaded move on my part could cost me the love and respect I’ve fought so hard to win in the first place, and in this day and age, a guy can’t take too many chances when it comes to maintaining a strong connection to the woman whose heart he’s won. The problem is, though, once that day finally comes my way, I’m not so sure I’ll be able to meet all the demands of the position. After all, being a boyfriend—at least from what I understand—requires much more than simply being a girl’s friend who just happens to be a boy…although truth be told, the whole “friend” part alone is a serious honor. It might not seem like much on the surface, with all the listening you need to do during your conversations with the gal, determining the right things to say to her at every moment you’re with her, and simply spending time with her doing whatever the two of you are both comfortable doing together, but guess what: It is. This is especially true when it comes to “reading her signals” and knowing when it’s right and proper to hold her hand, give her a big ol’ bearhug, kiss her, or otherwise show your tenderness towards her. Trust me, fellas, when I say that one false move in the body language department could lead to a swollen scarlet cheek for you if you don’t mind your Ps and Qs, as gals don’t exactly care for guys who move in too quickly or suddenly. True, I may not know that firsthand (Thank goodness!), but believe me when I tell you that I’ve heard enough horror stories from and about my fellow fella having a girl whistle smack him to know that there are times when open displays of affection are quite the no-no when it comes to the ladies.

Another thing I’ve learned about relationships from my limited experience with them is that communication is a crucial art to master when you’re in one. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that communication is the key ingredient to a successful bond with another person—especially one of “the fairer sex.” I’m not even talking about learning a girl’s signals for when it’s right to kiss her and whatnot, but also learning how to talk to her and show her both verbally and silently just how worthy you can be of being her number one guy. I know I’ve already brought up listening as an important factor in maintaining a strong connection with a gal, but honestly, I can’t emphasize it enough. After all, the best way to connect with anyone—no matter if the person in question is a friend, a potential soul mate, a family member, a coworker or workplace superior, or even a complete stranger—is by paying attention to the person’s likes, dislikes, needs, and wants and acting accordingly. People do so all the time with friends and family all the time, too, so why should it be that much more difficult when it comes to one’s ladyfriend? If anything, the closer a guy pays attention to what his steady’s all about, the easier it’ll be for him to know how to treat her right. Then again, never mind just the words that come out of the girl’s mouth, as it also helps to take note of her body language—you know, see what she’s not outright saying so that you can better figure out what’s on her mind. You’d be surprised at just how the little things about her will give her away at certain times and tell you as much about her as she could tell you about herself. Maybe she twirls her hair when she’s nervous. Maybe she fidgets even when she’s perfectly calm. Maybe she blushes profusely when she’s embarrassed or smiles absentmindedly when something funny pops into her head, even when she just got done listening to news about, say, her entire family dying in a tragic whitewater rafting accident. Yeah, that last one sounds especially disturbing, but hey, think of all the quirks each of us guys has and how our quirks affect or relationships in one way or another, like that one young lady you used to date who gets all hot and bothered every time you crack your knuckles or winces at the sound of you blowing your nose. Don’t know what I mean yet? That’s okay. I’m sure you’ll be able to drum up a few more examples of physical habits to fit into the situations I’ve given and come up with similar results.

Now, having shared these last couple of tidbits, you might be thinking that I know more about women and dating than my success—or, rather, lack thereof—might suggest. Trust me, too, when I say that I could go on with the lessons I’ve learned about how to keep a relationship afloat, such as (but not limited to) the value of sharing similar interests with one’s significant other, staying committed to him or her throughout the liaison, and always keeping one’s appearances and manners in check when with or around one’s beloved. Alas, because I’ve never even gotten to first base with a girl, I can’t claim to be any sort of expert in the field, no matter how much I’d otherwise like to. On the other hand, whom am I kidding? At the rate my life has gone, I doubt that anyone’s left for me out there in the dating sphere of things—especially when it comes to gals who are not only interested in dating, but who also fit my standards for the “perfect” sweetheart, which have escalated exponentially since I first started searching for that certain someone. Worse yet, I’ve developed a habit since then in which I end up planning my relationship with “Miss Right” ahead by several steps that only further discourages me from even wanting to date anyone at all. Call me foolish for feeling that way if you must, but when I think about what goes into a romance, I can’t help but feel a bit apprehensive, considering that such connections are meant to result in the two partners marrying each other, settling down to start a family (and thus keep the human race populous, according to some religious denominations), and (hopefully) living happily ever after. You know what that means, right? Sacrifice…and a lot of it at that. Making both literal and figurative room for this other person whom you’ve welcomed into your life wholeheartedly. Giving up childish, detrimental, unproductive, or otherwise old habits; accepting your spouse’s flaws and other quirks; adjusting your schedules so that you continue to make time for one another; learning to support one another at all costs, no matter what changes you both experience along your journey together as a couple…all of these and more are a huge part of what makes a marriage work. It certainly worked for my folks, that’s for sure, as well as both sets of grandparents that I’ve got, and for the longest time, I’d long been hoping to follow “family tradition,” so to speak, and making sacrifices of my own in order to establish a marriage for myself and make it work. Sadly, even if luck finally landed on my side for once in my life and I were at long last able to find my number one woman, I honestly doubt that I’d be ready to make the changes necessary to secure her love well enough to last me a lifetime—especially after all the things that have happened in my life already in which thoughts of romance never crossed my mind. Without a doubt, all the trash I’ve been through over the years with bullies, disapproval of my peers and superiors, my aforementioned romantic rejections amongst other unfulfilled ambitions, and so on and so forth down the line has really gotten to me and made me so hard-hearted that I’m not sure I’ll ever find myself as able to adjust to another person’s character. Sure, giving up many of the things I used to like as a kid is no big deal, from toys and cartoons to video games and comic books, but to be able to share a living space with another person? Having and raising kids? Those are some demanding feats, I won’t deny, and had my life gone differently between my birth and now, maybe I’d be up for the challenge. Nowadays, though, I’m not so sure. Hopefully, I’m wrong concerning this, but I’ve been stung far too many times by my fellow human being over the years that it’s hard for me to reach past the pain and accept anyone as a potential life partner, no matter how much I’d love or long to have one. Like I said, it just might be too late for me to receive that kind of affection at this point in my life.

Anyway, there you have it, folks: my take on girls and my frustrations in trying to win one over and prove to her that I’m a worthy enough suitor for her. Honestly, I wish I could say that I’ve just been going after the wrong girls all this time or had been coming on too strong to them or even that I just haven’t been as prepared to handle a romance as I’d initially thought I was. The truth is, though, I can only begin to ascertain just what my problem is in becoming some gal’s dream come true. Hopefully, it’s something so simple and quick to fix that I can correct it in little to no time at all, even if doing so makes me feel stupid afterwards for my not having done so back when I needed to. Not only that, but I hope it’s not too late for me to get myself in shape so that when—or at least if—my special lady does come along, I’ll be ready to captivate her very soul the same way many a man has before me with his beloved. Otherwise, I fear that I may never live up to my potential as a male member of humanity. Take that for what you will, but it’s my belief, and I’m sticking to it.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                        
Amazon.com
                         
Amazon.co.uk

*****

All That and All That logo (c) 1994-2005 Nickelodeon Productions and Tollin/Robbins Productions and (c) 2019 Nickelodeon Productions. Dating pic (c) 2019 ArthurHidden, Getty Stock Images-iStockPhoto. The attached essay and foreword, however, are the author’s own.

*****

Part 1: Marriage Proposal
Part 2: The Prom

Bonus Poem of the Week: Endgame: Marriage

Endgame: Marriage
April 30, 2019

If love were a game, I’d be playing for keeps,
As playing to win just wouldn’t be enough.
I could secure a kiss or two, but I’d still lose sleep
If I had to go only on the small stuff.

After all, when men hunt for love, isn’t what they seek
The kind of love that’s meant to last forever—
Anniversaries, a family, romance at its peak?
If not, then, what’s the point of such an endeavor?

What’s the point of searching for love if I can’t have it all,
Even the flaws, which I’m sure I’m bound to get?
Sure, I’ll have my trials and thus not have a perfect ball,
But that dire warning hasn’t stopped me yet

In trying to improve myself so as to be a better man
For when I finally meet my Miss Right,
And though I’ll never be perfect, I’ll do everything I can
To evolve as a man each day and each night,

And when I at last meet Miss Right and secure her heart,
I’ll cradle it carefully my whole life through
And make sure not to shatter or squish it from the very start,
No matter what comes at me from out of the blue,

For any woman can buy gifts for any man she knows
Or cook a meal for him as per her desire,
But loveless gifts and meals exist, no matter the care to show
And can be found out by any trial by fire.

Hugs and kisses, too, mean naught lest there’s deep, sincere love
Behind each one, as only men who are clearly dense
Fail to tell even without guidance from powers high above
If it’s with love that such gestures are dispensed.

Don’t get me started, either, when sex comes into play,
For one can’t “make love” without having it from the start,
And unless I’m with one whom I’ve promised to honor and obey,
The thought of making love won’t be in my heart.

It’s all about comfort, conformity, and longevity for me,
Not a quick thrill or convenience for any sake,
And I’d much rather share my life with she who equally loves me,
As my stomach simply can’t handle anything fake.

To have and to hold’s my thing forever until death comes
To claim my soul one way or another.
Allow me to earn, then, that which I seek under heaven’s sun,
For the easy stuff alone ain’t worth it, brother.

It’s all the way or no way, for empty is victory
If simply meant to stake a claim and move on,
Only to lose it another day, as fools are too blind to see
The value of forever, or at least life-long.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

Essay Experiment: What’s Got Me Bent Out of Shape part 2: The Prom

Hello, readers!

Today, my attempts to mix up this blog’s content continues as my Essay Experiment from this past March 21 continues. This time, I’ve decided to cover a topic that I’d promised commenter David Lucerno that I would touch upon—something that teenagers would more readily relate to than the issue of my first entry and therefore make it more fitting for a sketch on the hit Nickelodeon sketch comedy All That, had I happened to earn my way onto the original cast back when I had the chance. That said, please keep in mind that I’d written the following essay from the perspective of a “tweenage”/teenage boy and that the opinion expressed within it would have been my own at the time and my own alone. That aside, enjoy!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

*****

What’s Got Me Bent Out of Shape

Part 2: The Prom

You know what’s got me bent out of shape? The prom. Honestly, if high school life wasn’t already riddled with enough superficiality to rival that of life in Hollywood, along comes this glorified fundraiser to further fuel the romantic delusions of teenagers by the score, coaxing them to spend their parents’ hard-earned money on purchases that all ultimately culminate in what’s supposed to be the most fanciful, sentimental, and important social experience they’d ever had in their young lives. Yeah…it’s an experience like no other, alright—namely, the biggest waste of not only money, but also time and energy that I can possibly think of.

“Well, maybe instead of sitting there complaining about it, why don’t you just not go?”

Well, yeah! No kidding, genius! I wasn’t planning on going anyway. That’s still not enough to keep me from wanting to vent about the whole thing, though. Don’t want to hear about it? Guess what: Hit the bricks while I express my annoyance about the whole thing to those among and around you who do want to lend an ear to my thoughts, because trust me, folks…those of you who’re ready for the rant of a lifetime are in for a real treat right about now.

First off, I simply cannot justify for the life of me the expense of the prom. I mean, fifteen to one hundred dollars for a single, measly ticket to the whole shindig? Why? To fund the senior class graduation? If that’s the case, then forget the whole ceremony. Just give me my hard-earned diploma in the mail with a special note wishing me congratulations and good riddance from your not-so-fine establishment, and I’ll be off on my merry way, thank you very much. Sadly, that’s only the beginning of a prom-goer’s monetary woes. After all, who ever really goes to the prom by oneself, am I right? Not only that, but then there’s renting a tux and a limo, the former of which you’ll probably be glad you’re only renting, as you’ll eventually come to outgrow it later in life when you might otherwise need it, such as…say…for your wedding day. Yeah, I know it may sound crazy, but stranger things have happened in certain guys’ lives, so hey…take that for what it’s worth. Then there are the pre-prom dinner and the after-prom party, neither of which are anything special, as far as I’m concerned. I mean, the pre-prom dinner is something, I guess, but honestly, why bother when my date and I can simply swing by the nearest fast food joint to get ourselves a bite to eat before awkwardly bumbling and fumbling our way on a crowded dance floor through one tired old song after another? As for the after-prom party…who cares? As far as I’m concerned, the only people who get anything out of that sordid mess of debauchery and smut are the wannabe alpha males with all their blazing immaturity and faux machismo and whatever ditzy, painted-faced,-plastic-bodied bimbos who happen to be on their arms when they walk on in to the whole affair, only to end up in their beds in the very end. Seriously, what’s so great about these idiotic after-parties? “Stronger” punch that only leaves the drinker even thirstier than before he or she took a swig of the stuff as well as lighter in the head, duller in mind, and looser in morals? “Edgier” music with tackier lyrics that urges the listener to dance more suggestively with his or her partner until they both end up naked and sweaty in a random hotel room, which only means even more money out of the pocket than before? Less adult supervision to keep the horny, stupid, self-indulgent sub-adults within the premises in line so that they don’t do anything to hurt themselves or each other? Yeah, that’s just plain splendid. I’m sorry, but compared to all that hot garbage, staying home on prom night playing video games seems even more appealing.

Oh…and then there’s that stupid corsage that we’re expected to buy our dates, right, fellas? That is, of course, unless we want them whining and crying about how technically “naked” they are going on into it all without a simple band of doggone flowers on their bony wrists or attached to their dresses and how we’re such cheap jerks for not buying them such wastes of precious plant life to wear. Little do they know, though, that if they were really that concerned about being indecent, then maybe—just maybe—they ought to have paid closer attention to how their ugly-as-all-else dresses fit their precious bodies before deciding to plop down several hundred dollars for them, knowing that they’ll more likely than not never wear them again. Really, now, gents, you’ve surely seen some of these hideous “gowns” for yourselves, haven’t you? Especially the ones with the “sweetheart” necklines that barely even come close to the actual neck and show off the kind of cleavage that can hold a can of beer with little to no issue? How about the ones that show off so much leg that the viewer can practically see the wearer’s skivvies—assuming, of course, that she’s even wearing any skivvies to begin with? Also, what’s with these dresses that show off the wearer’s midriff? Seriously, what’s the point? Are the girls who wear these outfits trying to look like belly dancers? Because if I wanted to see that kind of thing, I’d go to a Turkish bar that showcased it as a form of side entertainment…not a high school-sponsored social function. Honestly, where have all the classy, stylish, modest prom dresses gone? You know…the ones that commanded rather than demanded attention for the gals who wore them? The gowns that fit their wearers well and accentuated their best features while leaving something to the imagination? The ones that made their wearers look not only mature, but also sophisticated, refined, dignified, and elegant as if they were actually…you know…attending a formal gala instead of trying to pick up sex-starved clients along the Vegas strip? After all, the prom is supposed to be an event where high schools expect their young attendees to demonstrate their social skills, one of which being the notion of dressing to impress. One would think, then, that with that in mind, the girls attending these events would fulfill that notion and wear something that would make onlookers want to feast their eyes upon them instead of making them want to go blind, regardless of whether said dresses were store-bought or even—dare I mention it—homemade. Granted, I’ve no doubt that having such an attitude towards function-specific attire is bound to provoke certain people into branding me a “fashion fascist” and a “woman-oppressing, misogynist pig,” even if I were to explain how embarrassing—if not, in fact, humiliating—it is for guys to be strolling on into prom with a tackily dressed date who’s getting all the wrong kind of attention from onlookers throughout the night. On second thought, even if I were to use that explanation, I’d be having such labels slapped on me six ways from Sunday. Trust me, though, folks, when I tell you that that’s not the case. If anything, I just want female prom-goers to look their finest, and while I would never forbid a woman to make a lasting impression on her classmates at such a time-honored (albeit overrated) event as the prom, one would think that such young ladies would take greater care in their appearance and pay closer attention to how certain dresses make them look.

Then there’s the prom itself. Oh, man…where do I begin? Well…let’s just say that if you do happen to go solo somehow, you’d better hope and perhaps even pray that you don’t have anxiety around people of the opposite sex—or, for that matter, an acute fear of rejection. Otherwise, asking gals to dance with you is going to be a nightmare. I sure know I can easily envision myself standing a fair way off the dance floor nervously watching all the other attendees enjoying themselves, shucking and jiving to whatever school-safe tunes the band’s playing and completely oblivious to me standing there by my lonesome and essentially doing the same thing for the cost of my prom ticket that I could otherwise be doing for free back at home. The thing, too, is that my stereo has some solid surround sound that can rival that of any speaker that any band or DJ uses, and I can always adjust the volume on it so that my eardrums don’t bleed like crazy. Not only that, but I’ve also got a wide selection of music to which I can listen at any given moment and can switch around to fit whatever mood I’m in. Those last two points are luxuries that the prom can never offer, no matter how far back you stand from the speakers or how much you just might happen to like the music that’s playing, and quite frankly, I’d be a fool to give up either perk. After all, listening to my choice of music within the privacy of my own home sure beats standing out like a sore thumb at easily the biggest social gathering in any year of high school any day of the week. Then again, what would happen if a girl were to approach you and offer to dance with you? Would you have confidence enough to accept the invitation and head on out to the dance floor with her, navigating your way through the mess of other patrons just to find the perfect spot where you can show off your two left feet and, in the process, end up embarrassing yourself and the poor girl with your clumsy and awkward dance moves? I sure wouldn’t, and I’m not just saying that because I’m more likely than not liable of stomping on my dance partner’s precious tootsies with my sloppily stepping size 13s. It’d be either that or me bumping into the other dancers like a pinball with less of a grasp on physics and probably causing numerous injuries along the way in a desperate attempt to impress my partner and prove to her that can be just as fancy free and/or romantic and, in the process, confident as any other guy on the face of Planet Earth…only to ultimately prove myself as being anything but. Rather, my whole excuse for not dancing with any girl would be that…well…I’ve always been awful with girls to one degree or another. Honestly, I can only imagine myself reacting to a girl’s invitation to “cut a rug” with her on the hard wood (or vinyl) floor beneath the rest of the party goers’ feet. Heck, she could be the kindest, prettiest, sweetest girl in the entire school—if not, in fact, the entire world—and I wouldn’t know how to conduct myself properly.

“Hey, Dustin! Wanna dance?”

Get away from me, you filthy tramp!

Next thing I’d know, I’d be sidestepping feverishly away from her as she looked on all horrified, dejected, and insulted all at once with angry tears in her eyes as she’d flee the scene back to her friends to tell them how much of a horrible excuse of a human being I am. Worse yet, people would be looking on at the commotion that I’d just helped cause and see me trying to evade the scene like the snot-nosed coward I’d be and heckle me for my rotten show of immaturity. Either that, or they’d be mimicking my own attempts to exit stage right by creating a new dance step at my expense. Yeah…not exactly a way to get off on the right foot, if you’ll excuse the unintentional pun. That said, it’d be safe to say that I’d have no business sticking around the joint, but suppose I would…where would I go? Lingering around the punch bowl all night to the point where I’d be considered the prime suspect for spiking it, should such an event occur? No, thanks…especially not if the foreign agent in question is more than a mere skosh of alcohol and, in fact, is something even worse—say, a freaking T-virus or some trash like that. Yeah, I know it sounds ridiculous, but trust me when I say that stranger things have happened. Now, granted, if ever there was a zombie apocalypse to take place in the real world, and there was a chance that I could combat it upon my being right there on the front lines, I generally wouldn’t say no. Sure, I’d probably lose my life in the process, what with me being an untrained civilian and all, but at least I’d go down fighting. On the other hand, if ever there was a chance that I would be branded a prime suspect for the cause of the whole mess, then that’s a whole different story altogether, and the further away I can be from the punch bowl at a prom, the better. After all, not everyone relishes in the idea of causing chaos just to put it out and be called a hero when he or she was, in fact, the villain behind the whole mess in the first place.

Finally, suppose you were one of the lucky ones who actually arrived at the prom with a date…let me ask you one question: Have you ever had to endure the humiliation of having your date walk out of the event on you with another guy? I bet you that’s a real kick in the pants, huh? Even if you end up doing everything right to be the ultimate gentleman and prove to her that you’re the guy she wants to be with, even if only for that one night, she could be traipsing out the building on another fellow’s arm towards…well…wherever, really. Hopefully straight home to meet whatever curfew her parents had set for her, if nothing else…although it wouldn’t surprise you that that wouldn’t be the case. Whatever the situation, it really gets you thinking, doesn’t it? I sure know I’d be wracking my brains trying to figure out just what I did to make her turn away from me. Honestly, didn’t I freshen my breath enough before riding on up to pick her up for our little outing? Didn’t I rent a big enough limo for the two of us and our accompaniment to ride in on our way to the event? Didn’t I keep her corsage fresh enough in my refrigerator prior to picking her up for our date? Was I that bad of a dancer? Did I sweat too much? I could go on and on with all the questions that would be popping up inside my head right then and there. No matter the case, the notion hurts, and it kills the whole idea of prom being the most romantic evening in a young person’s life—an idea hurt mostly by the thought of not being able to spend it with the one gal whom you care about the most. To think, too, that the only way of properly doing the whole thing over is for you to literally be reborn and enjoy the luxury—nay, the blessing—of a second life, but let’s be real: Is that any kind of guarantee that that’s a thing? Yeah…didn’t think so. Kind of a drag, to be honest, but hey, that’s the cruel nature of life: Not everyone gets what he or she deserves.

Anyway, that’s the prom according to me: a ridiculously glorified and overrated waste of everything one can possibly imagine that I’m not surprised at all has remained a high school tradition to this very day despite all I’ve just said about it. Worse yet, it’s going to remain a thing, no matter how much I air my grievances. Then again, once it’s over, it’s over, for better or for worse, and if other people happen to enjoy it for themselves, then more power to them. Let it be their thing, though, because I’ve made up my mind about it, and nobody can change it. Sorry, prom, but I value both my money and my dignity, and none of your grand promises of any kind of once-in-a-lifetime experience are going to make me turn my back on my attitude towards you.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                        
Amazon.com
                         
Amazon.co.uk

*****

All That and All That logo (c) 1994-2005 Nickelodeon Productions and Tollin/Robbins Productions and (c) 2019 Nickelodeon Productions. Prom pic (c) 2019 EpicCharterSchools. The attached essay and foreword, however, are the author’s own.

*****

Part 1: Marriage Proposal
Part 3: Dating

Bonus Poem of the Week: An Apology to the Wife Who Will Never Be Mine

An Apology to the Wife Who Will Never Be Mine
March 3, 2019

I’m sorry for being a hothead, ill-tempered and immature,
For not conducting myself the way I should have.
I’m sorry for being reckless, wasteful, and far from demure
With the behaviors I’ve shown we agree were bad.

I should’ve kept my head on straight from my cradle up ‘til now,
Never straying from the one true path I knew.
Alas, I was a fool all wrapped up in myself—and how!—
And because of that, I now never will know you.

I’ll never know what it feels to hold you in my arms at night
Or passionately gaze into your soft eyes.
I’ll never know prom night or our wedding or how to flee this plight
I’ve now put myself in ‘til the day I die.

After all, I’ve heard how love can heal in the darkest of times,
But back then, with myself always first on my mind,
I doubt I would’ve returned said affection back to you, bride of mine,
And would’ve sent you storming off, leaving dust behind—

Dust that would’ve blown in my face, clogged up my nose and mouth
And made me sneeze in well-deserved agony,
For I would’ve had myself alone to blame for things going south
And cheating myself out of whatever laid before me.

That in mind, could it be that I’m actually better off this way,
Or should I’ve ultimately one elsewhere
With my life to make the most of it and ensure a better day?
I’ve questioned this to the point where I just don’t care.

Perhaps in another life, then, you and I will indeed be one,
Once I’ve cleaned up my act and made myself a better man.
Then again, that’s only if second lifetimes exist at all, hon,
And should they not, I’ll still do all I can

To improve as a human being, with or without you by my side,
And if this lifetime’s the only one I’m to live,
Then so be it, for in the name of love long lost, I shan’t hide
From that which has stunted the love I was meant to give.

There’s no point in living in the past, then, for it has passed, alas,
And towards the future is the only way I can go,
So farewell, wife who could’ve been, you lovely, faceless lass.
‘Tis time I waded out of this pool of woe.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                        
Amazon.com
                         
Amazon.co.uk

Poem of the Week: Social Anxiety during Prom Season

Social Anxiety during Prom Season
March 3, 2019

Romance ain’t for the wishy-washy, friend.
One way or the other, you must commit.
It’s either in or out until the end.

The prom this year’s coming up ‘round the bend,
And as it does, one thought arrives with it:
Romance ain’t for the wishy-washy, friend.

I could’ve treated my gal ‘round the bend
To where mem’ries are made as I saw fit.
It’s either in or out until the end.

Alas, anxiety took over, friend,
And I stayed home and cried because of it.
Romance ain’t for the wishy-washy, friend.

Meanwhile, I lost my lover and best friend
To another guy and my nervous fit.
It’s either in or out until the end.

Now, here I sit alone until the end,
All ‘cause I had to lose my precious wits.
Romance ain’t for the wishy-washy, friend.
It’s either in or out until the end.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk