Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: FIRE!

My foto fires are burning brightly at Cee’s request – just not literally this week. I tried to depict some of the literary ways in which we associate fire, whether it be in those warm delights which flick past our eyes to spark our minds, or through heated emotions (beyond those of romantic notions) that burn intensely in our hearts.

Morning Sunrise View from Front Porch Nook

FIRE IN THE SKY:  Morning Sunrise View from my Front Porch Nook

FIRE IN THE FOG: Morning sunrise view on a foggy day

FIRE IN THE FOG: Morning Sunrise Fire Reaching Upward to Caress the Foggy Foothills as
Valley Lamplights Flicker their Greetings

Sunset Fire on the Water - Where the Fishing is HOT!

Sunset’s Fire across the Water – Where the Fishing is obviously HOT!

fiery foul-ness

Filling His Head Full of Fine Fiery Foul-ness

FIRE in the Hole!

FIRE in the Hole! as Flames Lick their Sleeves

And lastly, here’s my “word depiction” of destruction done by a ‘flickery’ tongue bent on spreading fiery gossip like wildfire!

Word of Mouth

Tantalizing words that tangle the tongue,

Seduce the brain once the brash deed is done.

Back away!

Flee the wrath!

Their fire flicks the teeth,

meandering wrong paths

as if they have feet.

Oh, turn your head from their creative conception;

Their lustful spice will ruin your perception.

This sweet kiss bestowed will steer you towards death

by the one leaned so near,

who has poison on her breath.

© Jody Love, 2013

On the cusp…

Ker-thump. Ker-thump. Ker-thump…

Beep………beep………beep………

ao_valveThe mouth of the valve strained with every gushing heartbeat as blood cells crowded, one on top of the other, each trying to be the first to squeeze through the newly tightened space. The lethargic aortic cusp no longer opened wide like a hungry fish mouth, murmuring, ready to let everything in, unable to pump anything out. Yet, the sutures strained to maintain the new prosthetic valve’s position, slightly rocking back and forth.

This was the daily rhythm of this place.

Meanwhile, lines pulled tight like sutures around Mrs. Johnson’s mouth, denoting her own heart’s strain in the waiting room. She had long exhausted herself from pacing hours before, the only voices there to comfort her being those inside her murmuring head. She rocked quietly in the ripped Naugahyde chair that hadn’t been designed for (nor was any longer capable of) receiving such blatant torture. But all she considered was whether her husband’s heart was designed for the torture his body was presently undergoing – his chest cavity cracked open, clamps holding it spread eagle style, while a sterile machine sucked the life out of him…and then back in…beat after gurgling beat.

A family nearby gurgled over a baby, over food, over one another. Mrs. Johnson’s heart ached.

“Code Blue,” came the announcement — much too serene for its meaning – over the hospital intercom system, causing Mrs. Johnson’s heart to gurgle and miss a beat. She squeezed her blue eyes tight and rocked harder, a whimper escaping her mind as she heard the chair’s pleather rip. Minutes felt like days with each crack of another knuckle.

A half-hour more passed before a tired white coat entered the waiting area, looking around in dismay. Mrs. Johnson teetered on the cusp of her settled space.

A family nearby slowly stood, wrapping one another in their tears as they watched his face fall and his head shake.

Ker-thump. Mrs. Johnson had to reprimand herself that this was no time for celebration.

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Another week, another Trifecta challenge…(but I mean that in the very best way! I’ve come to look forward to these prompts, but moreso to enjoying this writing community). I thought we could take a trip into the cardiac surgical suite this week with the prompt that was offered:

MOUTH  (and, no, not as in “The Mouth of the South”). As in, its 3rd definition:

Here are “The Rules.” Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone.  Please join us.

Trifecta Winner Icon - 300dpi

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I’ve Been Tagged as ‘The Next Big Thing’

(Er, you do understand this isn’t about weight gain, right?) And, by appropriate southern states terminology, it’s actually ‘The Next Big Thang,’ but when you’re braggin’, you wanna’ make sure the rest of the world can understand you too.

I’m actually not bragging on myself nearly so much as I am the person who took the time to throw some encouragement my way by making this nomination – and some other folks who I’d like to take the time to pass the baton forward and maybe some of them will run with it.

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I greatly appreciate the gift of exhortation, and especially appreciate MommyVerbs directing her particular gift towards me. She told me to “Engage the Day!” Thank you so much for “verbing” me!

In her post, she explained that The Next Big Thing involves bloggers who either have a book under their belt, or are in the process of writing one, or should be writing one. What a great compliment to receive!

And, yes! I do have a novel I just recently finished! Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share. My best current share is that I finally figured out how I wanted to classify its genre this week – as mystical realism. I’m currently working on its sequel, as well as another unrelated novel between work on my dissertation. But this first novel is closest of all to my heart, and I can’t wait for it to find its way into yours!

I’m getting ahead of myself though. Apparently, there are some specific questions that I’m supposed to answer in order to officially accept such a Big Thing – Next. So…here goes:

What is the title of your book?

At the Water’s Edge

Where did the idea come from for your book?

Its background comes from many personal life experiences, one of those being the loss of a daughter for whom I wanted to provide with her own life venture; another coming from the loss of my grandmother’s Irish father to her in her childhood. The mystical portion was the impetus, sparked by a recurring dream from various times in my life. And its setting in the reality context of the story (versus the supernatural one) came from my ‘little-brother-like’ nephew’s shared fascination in our family’s Irish heritage, which he was studying prior to losing his battle with leukemia in his early twenties. I wanted us to be able to make this trip to our ancestors’ homeland together, and I wanted (perhaps needed) a way to express restoration in the midst of loss.

What genre does your book fall under?

As I earlier mentioned (bragged?), I’ve just decided it belongs under the genre of ‘mystical realism’ (more often referred to as ‘magical realism‘ – but Ireland is a mystical place, as are the book’s experiences).

Which actors would you choose to play in your movie rendition?

Funny how my characters have lived among me for these past three years to the point that I can see them clearly in my mind. However, I can’t place a finger on specific actors that match those characteristics. I would want the Donnellys to all be authentic Irish actors.

Setting: It begins briefly in Dublin, then transitions to the Lietrim/Sligo region of the Irish Republic.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

My tag-line rolls into three thoughts. Here they are:

Restoration. All souls need it in a broken world. So much so that some unknowingly seek it out – not only for themselves, but also for others.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m in the process of query letter submissions to literary agents. This process is helping me learn to better summarize my overall project, but I know I still have much to learn in the area of appropriately marketing my work (since it wasn’t written as the product of a business mindset – which may be the greatest struggle for many writers).

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The concept for this novel was birthed in early January 2009, and although I had completed a massive amount of it within months, I had to set it aside due to the demands of my doctoral studies. I got around to penning the final words on September 1, 2012, when my characters (and one of my test readers) demanded resolution to their story (or just their freedom from being held captive in my brain – who could blame them for that?).

What other books would you compare this story to?

I’m fairly certain I was strongly influenced by all the Sidney Sheldon books I read in my earlier years – his many female protagonists, with their unexpected adventures and romance always in the way, so to speak (but I guess Sheldon’s Genie is the closest he got to mystical). 😉

Though there are a good number of mystical reads around, and a good number of suspenseful adventure journeys that include a romantic element, I haven’t personally run across a similar read to this. (If I had, I wouldn’t have felt compelled to write about it, I suppose.) The main characters are interconnected from an historical past of which they aren’t even aware; while being influenced from a mystical dream that has occurred their entire lives, yet neither can bring themselves to reconcile (much less admit to) such a connection in reality. This element of uncertainty/denial actually serves to move the story forward.

Who or what inspired you to write the book?

At the Water’s Edge began as a personal expression for processing some losses in my life, while honoring those precious loved ones – all of whom have inspired me, one way or another – throughout my own life’s journey. This is a surreal tale, though, combining both natural and supernatural elements to speak to the importance of relationships with both those in our present and the ancestors of our past. After all, what’s life without a little magic sprinkled in?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Readers are likely going to feel pulled along in indecision with Danielle in the decisions she’s going to finally have to face, both practically and relationally, as they become drawn into the lives and experiences of the Donnelly family with her.

I’ve included excerpts from the Irish bard of my story’s area, W.B. Yeats, particularly seeking to embrace his style of sharing the love of his land, drawing his reader into both the content and context surrounding his subjects.

It’s my hope that, through the descriptive aspects of the landscape, the people, and this region’s poetic elements, readers particularly of Irish emigrant descent might allow their souls to make that magical, ancestry-laden connection with the Emerald Isle.

And now…I would like to tag these folks as…. “The Next Big Thing!”

  • Marla at TravelingMarla surely has a fun, inspirational book in the works on her transformative experiences.
  • Joe’s a Poet and He Knows It (joe2poetry) – with a book of poetry! And he’s bloody Oirish too. 🙂 (I may be pushing it again.)

  • Tom at Cobbie’s World continually inspires me and others with his observant and gracious comments and feedback. I always enjoy reading his shared thoughts and bet you would too.

  • There are, of course, so many more talented bloggers whose work I read & with whom I have the privilege of interacting. It’s an exhaustive list. I’d invite you to peruse my “Whispers & Shouts” section for some of my more prolific commenters, as these are generally the ‘writer-types’ who actively interact on my blog.

  • And if you have a recent project in the works or under your belt that you’d like to brag about, have at it in the comments section! We’d love to hear about your ‘next big thang’!

Dream big,  -jody

SMILE! Knowing How to Push the Right Buttons when Taking Pictures

For those of you who read my recent post, NOW!, you must be thinking, “Did she forget her SD card again?!”

No, that’s not it. This time, I’m addressing a different sort of button pushing.

I grew up back in the days when there were no digital cameras or second chances (as in rescheduled retakes) during annual school photo shoots. Whatever you got at the first sitting (after one magnanimous click) was what was going to end up showcased in your family’s great room (not matching so well, since they weren’t usually that great). Your closed eyes or giggly-wrinkled nose would ultimately end up in your school yearbook, where you would not-so-covertly scribble your name across your face over every one of them you could get your hands on – and that’s how you would forever mercilessly remain in the hallowed memories of those few select people who somehow managed to hold onto those bound books of burden to showcase at your umpteenth class reunion. (Not that I’ve had one of those umpteenth ones yet…)

Because of this potentially life-altering scandalous circumstance of bad PR, our school photographer took his job very seriously – seriously, as in this otherwise complete stranger worked his elementary comedic one-liners on us (of which he had two – one for the girls and one for the boys – that lasted all the way until our junior year of high school) over and over again, trying hard to elicit the brightest smile for this one stop shot at infinite photographic humiliation.

As one charming suitor of mine once put it, after his friend had shown him a yearbook picture of me while we were talking on the phone and then he later met me in person: “Your 8th grade picture is a huge undersell. But I wouldn’t want you to see mine either, come to think of it.” I couldn’t be upset with him. It was a fair, albeit humiliating, assessment. But that was nothing compared to when my dad died and, while we were packing his things away, my then-husband accidentally discovered all my years of school pictures were piled up, one behind the other, neatly in a picture frame for his perusing. He thereby proceeded to pick through them – and to pick at me – year after excruciating year (all reluctantly re-lived in a matter of minutes). Again, it was a fair assessment (but it wouldn’t disappoint me to find out he had to do penitence in protestant purgatory for it – maybe something like having to hang out with Ernest Angley. Oh wait, is he still alive? Well, that was as awkward as my photo story…)

So…that brings me to my own photographic lesson of why we work so hard to push just the right buttons to elicit just the right response – the one we think we’re seeking when taking pictures. Why do we always feel the need to call out, “Smile!”? Isn’t it more genuine to allow our subjects the freedom of their own expressions?

Well…if you do, just be forewarned – you might end up with something like this…

smile or not

er, what a lovely backdrop you have there…

Ahem. That was a little awkward too…

Of course, it could turn out that you’ll get a smile for all the wrong, mischievous reasons, instead (as in, “Do not back your little no-life-jacket-on-self any closer to that pool, little mister…”):

mischievous smile

I’ll just flash ’em this grin, and surely their ‘no’ will become a ‘yes.’ Works on ’em every time…Hey, wait! What’s that sucking on my foot?!’

To be honest, I guess few of us ever get exactly the photo we’re after, regardless of which side of the camera we’re on. Yet, the ability to capture our life experiences and visually carry our memories with us to share with others (even mixing in some good-natured ribbing along the way) is surely still cause enough to make us…

SMILE!

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Word a Week Photo Challenge: Smile

Work-Less-Mess: JOdY-iSm #42

jodyism_42_worklessmess_yoga

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Trifextra: Week fifty-two: Trifextra has challenged me to provide a 33-word example of personification. Since I spend so much of my intimate time with My Work, this only seemed an appropriate response.

Related articles:

NOW!

NOW! denotes the excitement of building anticipation when people are living “in the moment.”

Spectators sit on the edge of their seats, sensing something incredible might surely take place before their very eyes.

now3

Athletes’ adrenaline pumps, as just the right muscles tense to perform some fantastic feat.

now

now4

Teenagers tense and giggle as they walk out, dressed for their first formal dance.

now6

And photographers’ fingers twitch, wondering if the shutter speed-to-brain synapse ratio is set to capture the exact desired effect.

That finger twitching thing happened to me this morning, possibly because it was a windy, well below freezing day, while I was standing where the sun had not yet risen. There I was, looking up, counting heron nests – fifteen, sixteen, seventeen…peering through my lens. (This would be a good time for me to tell you that I’m an amateur of amateurs when it comes to photography – with a new camera, to boot.) My finger’s on the trigger (that’s what you call that thing, right?)…when, suddenly, one of the great herons opens its wings and sets itself for flight. My brain rejoices as my finger pushes down! In this moment…NOW!…I am about to have “the mother of all herons leaving their nests” shots!

But wait…nothing happens. I have one more chance before take-off. Nope. Nada. Sigh. I open my digital screen to read on the display: “SD card not inserted, you idiot!”

I trudge back to my illegally parked car, thaw my fingers so I can put in the spare SD card I thought to get over Christmas break (since my original one is in the laptop at home, of course), and shiver all the way back, noticing the sun cresting and wishing it was coming my direction.

Rather than my “mother of all herons” shot, this is all I was able to come up with (before the frostbite on my ankles set in – yes, I was well-prepared in clothing too, goose bumps popping out from my work-out clothes).

I present this to you as my most current photo – and I am uploading it…NOW!

DSC_0006

Wishes for a warm day, -jody

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I’m participating in the online adventure travel and photography magazine LetsBeWild.com’s Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggers. This week’s Challenge is: Now!

And here are some other pics I took this week too: 

WOOD ya’ wanna’ see my Roots? The A-Bridged version

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And I’ll also throw this one in for the daily post prompt, since after I located the photos I was after & got them ready for upload, I realized I had 7 minutes to get my thoughts written & my post published before I had to leave for my next appointment. (Okay, it ended up taking me the full 10. I made up for the extra 3 on the road – Eek!)

Daily Prompt: Ready, Set Go

by michelle w. on January 24, 2013

Set a timer for ten minutes. Open a new post. Start the timer, and start writing. When the timer goes off, publish. 

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Life’s Greatest Gift

“Life’s a bitch – and then you die,” Woebegone shrugged, as if he could care less.

“No, it isn’t, Woebe,” squeaked Singsong back, full of cheer. “Life’s a marvelous adventure, filled with a plenitude of fun things to do!” She sighed dreamily while looking upward, as if she could peer into the creative recesses of her imagination.

“Which is it, Wise One?” Woebegone inquired in a somewhat circumspect manner.

“Neither,” came the Old Seer’s decisive reply. “And both.” He paused for Woebegone and Singsong to draw nearer to him, patiently waiting until he was certain he had their full attention. He good-naturedly chuckled as he continued, “Though life is never as you plan it and hardly what you, yourself, set out to make of it, precious ones, only you can control your response to the gifts it offers.”

“Gifts?! Hmph,” Woebegone groaned with no tone of gratitude. “I’ll gladly give mine to someone else!”

“And that, young, imprudent Woebe, is why you do not appreciate the beauty of life’s gifts. You lack patience enough to allow them to be fully unwrapped – to reveal themselves to you completely over time,” serenely instructed the Seer.

“I’ll gladly take them all, then!” squealed Singsong with glee.

“And that, my frivolous fairy,” continued the Wise One, “is why you do not ever fully appreciate them either. You strew the packaging all about, greedily flitting from one present to the next – without ever taking time to savor the depth of just one.”

Singsong sobered somewhat, while Woebegone took on an ounce of sprightly spirit.

“Which of the gifts, Wise One, is best, then, to open?”

The Old Seer’s wrinkles each turned upward in delight that his wee ones were learning to ask the better questions of life. “Ah, yes. The greatest gift life offers, my little nymphs, is, without question, the gift of…experience.”

DSCN1032

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Dear Readers, I expect this will be the raciest word post you’ll get from me. Though I recognize the importance of my personal witness to some readers who could become offended, I ask that you take in the message as a whole and remember that it’s not our work to become offended by others; it’s our greater work to offer hope and meaning to those seeking Truth. On the swing side, those of you who are not offended, quit smirking. I am not a goody two-shoes. I just try to walk in the footsteps of the Only One who is Good (and fail every day, but I still know I’m cherished and I am His). 🙂

With that said, this bit of flash fiction…(Wait…did you read that piece as fiction? Hopefully, you’ll buy into what my Old Seer had to say, even if you don’t ever meet up with his magical fairy friends)…

anyway, this week’s writing was in response to Trifecta: Week Sixty-One Writing Challenge:

And now we move on to this week’s one-word prompt.  Apologies in advance to those who are easily offended…

This week’s word is:

BITCH (noun) (3rd definition)

3: something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant

Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone.  Please join us.

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Embrace Life! Embrace Your Gifts! Embrace the Experience! -jody

Luck by the Dashboard Light – as in, Just My…

The WordPress Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen asked:

When you were 16, what did you think your life would look like? Does it look like that? Is that a good thing?

Oh, Sweet Sixteen!

The psychological challenge for parents of teenage daughters
(if they’ve managed to make it this far – I mean the parents, of course)

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I would be shocked to hear anyone say that life turned out just as they thought it would when they were the wise old age of 16. I was convinced that, once I had a driver’s license (and the car to match it), I’d suddenly have control over so many more aspects of my life. I just hadn’t considered those aspects would include controlling my schedule to work in a job (to pay for the matching car and that pesky liquid gas-stuff to keep it running). That was nothing compared to the other life aspects I began learning I’d have to control though…

Let’s go back a couple of years earlier, to me at the naïve age of 14, when I had my first “real” boyfriend. I can’t quite describe to you what was more real about him than any other boy I’d said was a boyfriend prior to that. I can only explain that everything felt different inside whenever he called or he was in my vicinity (most especially if his vicinity was micrometers from my vicinity). Looking back, I now understand (unlike then) that I was feeling that magical mix of life’s first ‘significant other’ experience while being slapped upside my brain by budding hormones – a potent mix that should be dubbed as “puppy love” (or possibly a hazardous chemical reaction) when the teenager has already otherwise named it to be his or her “first love.” (Cue the theme song to that terrible Brooke Shields movie.)

Oh, he could work it “real” well too. He would sing to me on the phone, between chatting for hours. (We didn’t have texting back then). My dad would even let me go off on picnics with his family in the summertime, where he’d hold my hand on long walks and run with me on his back. I’d giggle while feeding the ducks with his little brothers. My butterfly-infested infatuation, which convinced me of his own smittenness (which I now understand is not even a “real” word), lasted one entire glorious summer, as a matter of fact. And then came the school year and the fall (Note: this is one of those foreshadowing words, if you missed that). I was in junior high school; he was officially in high school. Most importantly, he was officially close to getting his driver’s license. I didn’t think much of it when he asked me about car dating when he turned 16. Well, I didn’t think much of it until I mentioned the idea to my dad. I’m pretty sure my dad said a long string of expletives I’d never heard before that day before he finally got around to the word, ‘No.’

A few weeks later, there I was, standing behind the goal post of our junior high football field, bawling my eyes out while our team scored the winning touchdown. No, this wasn’t a Rudy episode. ‘Mr. First Love’ had just delivered the fatal blow, teaching me how my first “real” heartbreak was going to feel. If only I, too, could have been Sweet Sixteen, I was certain our love would’ve lasted forever… (Cue the dramatic music again.)

Fast forward to a time less than forever…I’d lost so many battles with my dad on car dating that, by the time I actually turned 16, I’d forgotten I was old enough to do it, to tell you the truth. (After all, almost one month in and I still didn’t have a car, so it wasn’t like I was a “real” 16-year-old anyway.)

One spring day (openly referred to as mating season for most other species of the animal kingdom), I came spryly bouncing through the commons area of our high school. As I turned the corner, I looked up to see one of the past fantasy men (ha!) of my junior high years coming down the stairs, his eyes and his smile focused directly on me like cupid’s arrow was drawn back in his bow. On that particular (somewhat forgettable) Friday, he walked right up to me in front of my friends and anyone else standing around in about a 100 foot radius or so and boldly proclaimed he wanted to take me out on a date that evening. I was taken aback, for a second thinking my dad would use a long string of expletives along with the word ‘no’ attached to the end. I stuttered and said I’d get back to him on that. By the end of the day, ‘Prince Persistent’ had figured out which friend I had plans to spend the night with and had called her in for back-up reinforcement. I almost reluctantly refused his offer – simply because I didn’t want to face my dad. Later, I nearly fell out when my dad decided to honor his agreement for me to car date at 16 – and still let me spend the night with my friend, to boot. (I’ve since gotten old enough to recognize that my dad must’ve already had his own plans – something that 16-year-olds don’t expect parents to ever have.) Suddenly, the world seemed bigger and brighter (and maybe a little scarier) than it had before.

I must’ve unknowingly bathed in Eau de Pheromones before I climbed into the guy’s car that evening, and perhaps my body was silently screaming something like, “Hey, I’m ovulating!” That’s the only explanation I have for how things went from there – well, scientifically anyway. I was humiliated when I found out that my date’s idea of a, well, date was to make sure he had an ample amount of liquor on hand and a place for us to park. I’m further humiliated retelling this story when I have to mention that I didn’t immediately ask to go home. You see, the fact that I was staying with a friend (so my dad wasn’t expecting me home that evening nor was my friend’s mom expecting me to crash her ‘mom’s night in’) made for a tough scenario for the inexperienced car dater. (Did I mention we didn’t have cell phones back then either? And, no, we didn’t crank-start our vehicles.) So there was the problem of offering an explanation versus the scientific explanation I’ve tried to cover myself with as the best reasons I can offer for helping my ‘Not-so-Romantic Romeo’ steam up his windshield with some heavy, breathy kissing. I had waited two long years to car date, after all! I had lost zillions (okay, that might be a slight over-estimation) of potential dates and “next loves” due to not being allowed to car date. I couldn’t just let this first one slip down the drain.

Oh, but how I should’ve! It didn’t take too many of those heated kisses to realize where this date was going to lead. It also dawned on me in mid-kiss that this guy hadn’t even had the decency to work his way up from small talk, much less singing to me or taking me for long walks on picnics first. I slammed on the brakes to this car date so fast at my “real” revelation that I’m surprised he didn’t get whiplash.

“You need to take me home,” I said, straightening my, um, dignity, assuring my body wasn’t accidentally denoting, I’m ready for take-off.

“Already? We just got started,” he tried for the “real” convincing tone.

(Insertion of the string of my dad’s expletives here) No, we just ended,” I assured him.

Not to be too easily dissuaded, he slid across the seat and tried to let his fingers do the walking. “The other girls don’t act this way.”

Rather than try to break his roaming fingers, I gave a rapid summary of what I was feeling (emotionally, anyway). “I swear, ___ ___…” (that was his first and last name, which I’ve decided to omit for my own sake – and because he’s no longer 16 either and has hopefully learned a thing or two, himself), “…if you don’t take me home right now, I’m never speaking to you again.”

I doubt he cared about future verbal communication, but he took me back to my friend’s house anyway, where I had to wallow in humiliation to her mother – oh, and worse, watch her mother’s television programming that evening while the rest of my friends were out having a fun time together. ‘Casanova’ didn’t seem too disappointed about it. After all, there was probably still plenty of time to find one of those other girls.

My humiliation didn’t end there though. I forgot to mention that, at the beginning of my car date, I was leaning out of his car window to speak with one of my friends. When I pulled my head back inside, my necklace got caught on his door lock and broke, allowing a long string-full of beads to go scattering in all directions across his floorboard. He made a show of bringing them back to me in a clear envelope on Monday morning, announcing to everyone standing around before classes that he’d gathered them up from his floorboard after our date, while cleaning out his car over the weekend.

I swore off car dates on my own for several months thereafter, especially after two dozen guys within hearing range rushed to ask me out.

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So let me provide some “real” practical dating tips for early female car daters the parents of early female car daters, as I now understand the reason for all the expletives my father used as a prefix to the word ‘no’. (Trust me, girls, you’ll thank me one day – it’s just that I’ll probably be in my grave by then.)

  • Feel perfectly justified to say plenty of expletives ending with the word ‘no’ when the guy pulls up in a cargo van and introduces himself with a nickname like ‘Big Mike’ or ‘Ample Alex.’ No further explanation should be required.
  • Have clearly defined time parameters (know the exact time of the event, the exact travel time to and from the event, and allow no additional time for unplanned extracurricular activities – oh, and demand to see the stub from the event. Yes, I know your daughter and her date can snag a stub from someone else, but at least make them work hard at being deceptive).
  • Better yet, show up at the event yourself. Or how about double dating? You parents haven’t been out in awhile, right? (If you mention you’ll spring for the meal, you might get some takers. Of course, these could be the guys who will end up being deadbeats. Tread carefully on that one.)
  • Insist on group dating at first, where all the young men and ladies will accompany one another somewhere. (Ultimately, at least one of the boys will not have yet completed brain-induced puberty and will irritate all the other young people present, making most of them wish they could end the night early.)

themes

Practical Date Night TiP: Themed group dates (that come with a swarm of chaperons built in) are always in style.
(And it’s psychologically challenging to your teen to get romantically involved with a Disney character he/she watched as a child. Okay, um, maybe don’t let your daughter leave the ball with Prince Charming.)

Parental Engagement TiP: Parents should feel free to hang around taking lots of pictures, too, for as long as possible. Teens love this kind of attention.

Other Top TiPs that will be Most-Appreciated by your Teen:

  • Search the young man’s car (and maybe even strip search him) for any signs of alcohol or illegal paraphernalia. (Wait. Some of you may be from a state where paraphernalia isn’t illegal anymore – so let’s just say ‘paraphernalia that will get your daughter into fewer clothes than what she left the house in.’ Parent-unapproved paraphernalia, maybe?)
  • Do background checks on the parents. You really don’t want to be stuck having extended family meals down the road with some of these people, do you?
  • Extend the dating age to 26. Tell your kid once he/she can afford to be on his/her own health insurance plan, then he/she can afford to deal with the emotional and physical risk factors of dating.
  • Have any tips of your own you’d like to share? Feel free to do so in the comments section below.