Hello, my friends, glad you could make it. Give a warm welcome to Maggie Berkley. Take it away, darling…
10 Things I Hate About You.
I watched that movie the other day and as always I cried during the part when Julia Stiles’s character Kat read her poem in class, declaring why she hates Heath Ledger’s character Patrick. It reminded me so much why I hate love stories, hate the idea of romance and hate falling in love for it invites another person into your emotions and gives them the ability to see your vulnerabilities. No body enjoys the idea of another person having that type of control over them, especially not me. Maybe that’s why it took so long before I admitted to myself that I loved my husband.
You see my love story is a bit different. I grew up the oldest child in a military family. My family constantly moved so the idea of having life long friends was a vague notion. The longest I ever lived somewhere was four years, the shortest, one. If friends were hard to get close to imagine how it would be to have a boyfriend. Me being sensible, I skipped that process completely and avoided boys with a passion. As far as I was concerned boys were the numbnut idiots that teased me all throughout grade school and I wasn’t about to explore the world of first loves with them. Beat them up, was my chant and I was fairly good at putting the fear of me into them. (ask the High School jock who was dumb enough to ask me out while I was right in the middle of reading a good book)
Well, years passed and I’m finally on my own. At this point of my life I’ve had men (not boys) show interest in me and now I’m facing the aggressive nature of males on the prowl. Okay, so yes, they had nice packages on the outside but I wasn’t about to get to know the inside. I’d seen the talk shows and movies of the week. Men cheating on women, men beating on women, men being a general nuisance in my book. I was so anti-male that I was nicknamed the Ice Bitch by some, Amazon by others. Once a guy took an attraction to me, once his eyes drifted down to my chest or him telling me how nice I looked (man speak for I want to see you naked) I lashed out at him with all the venom I had stored. I saw myself as the voice of a time…women unite and lets kick male butt!
Well, imagine my surprise when I met a man (a friend of a friend) who was known to be a woman-hater. Oh joy, for I found someone to bash heads against. He thought all women were bon bon eating, gaggling bitches. All high and snooty, worth nothing beyond their made-up faces and manicures (I, btw, was a tomboy. Couldn’t put me in a proper dress for nothing and my nails were bitten to the quick). Needless to say a war began, though on all accounts a friendly one. We each had to one up the other. I knew I was safe in my iron chasity belt and had the strength of my will behind me. He was one of those manipulators who found the weakness of the woman psyche and exploited it. Oh yes, this was too good to be true.
We became roommates and actually managed to commune without killing each other though we clashed over bathroom hygentics (I was the sloppy one, he the neat freak). Then one day a friend of mine asked me to move to another city with her and I jumped at it. Life was good at my new apartment with my new roommate. Life with the woman-hater was forgotten and I went on to terrorizing new men who stepped into my path. I was on a roll. Now twenty years old and I could look a stranger in the eye on a dark night and have him step aside to let me pass. But the strangest thing started happening. I started getting love poems in the mail from my woman-hating ex-roommate. Oh, why me?
At first it was annoying (my new roommate really didn’t like him very much) then it became funny but suddenly, after he started visiting me (one time after I hadn’t seen him for a while he showed up in shorts and a V neck looking OMG fine) I realized, hey…something’s wrong. Something was changing in me and I didn’t like it. It was scary and dangerous and oh so confusing. The more we visited each other, the more I started missing him when he was gone, until one day he told me on the phone he loved me and was going to somehow win my heart. I scoffed at that. I was going to be no man’s weak kneed chickidee. My job in life was to put men in their place, groveling in the mud they crawled out of. But inside, my belly started doing strange things, butterflies kept getting trapped there and my heart would race. This was wrong and the more my body reacted to his presence the more I fought. After all, I’d seen the statistics and I refused to become one of them. So I put on my armor with the spikes and picked up my mace for a fight. Unfortunate for me, he had allies…my mom and grandma.
Argh! He spoke to them, convincing them he was the perfect one for me and my mom, bless her heart, the traitor she is, helped him move to my new city in the quest for him to woo me. Yes, the woman-hater was actively pursuing moi. I flinched when I heard that and no matter how loud I complained or stomped my feet and refused to talk to him he was there.
Months passed and my will started breaking down. Though my mind was strong, my body was weak and needless to say, nature took its course. Every night when we went to bed he’d tell me he loved me, and every night I’d respond with ‘that’s nice’. Some of those nights he’d ask me to marry him but all I could think of doing was rolling over and pretend to not have heard him. Then D-day happened. My mom discovered I was sleeping with him. Being the old fashion woman she was (and looking back I can’t help but wonder if this was a set up) she arrived on the doorstep. Marry him or never see him again, that was her demand. I was conflicted. I didn’t want to be married, to be vulnerable to a man. Let’s face it, sex is but sex when you don’t put your heart into it, but looking over at him I realized I didn’t want to never see him again. My insides stared acting funny again.
The shotgun was at my back. Be a good girl and listen to my mom or…ah, who was I kidding (even these days mom and dad still put a bit of fear in me, the fear of disappointing them). We set a wedding date right then and I could actually hear the jail door slam shut. I was trapped. I was numb. And I was scared. Everything thing else went by in a blur, I remember a bit of the wedding (very very small) and crying (whether in happiness or helplessness I don’t know) and I remember him telling me he loved me and me saying ‘that’s nice’. It wasn’t until almost a year later that I actually told him I loved him for the first time. Throughout that he was always kind and patient with me, never demanding, never condescending. Slowly over time I’ve allowed myself to open up and give him a glimpse of my true self, of my fears and my hopes and you know what?
I know he loves me, that he’ll never betray me. That he will stick by me for better or for worse till death do us part. I took a chance and it was worth it. Although at times he makes me cry, even more he makes me laugh. That is while I hate love stories and why I can’t resist reading one.
This December we will have been married for twenty years.
Books availiable at Red Rose Publishing: http://tinyurl.com/maggieberkley