I had not seen my old buddy Steve in Kentucky since just after his wife had died. I was headed that way and called him, and he insisted that I stop over. He said he had a surprise for me.
When I arrived, he ran out of the house and grabbed me tightly for a big hug. Steve means a whole lot to me, always has, and I was tickled to see him. A stern woman stuck her head out the door and called, "Steve, please get in the house now, I need your help."
"Who is that?" I asked him after she'd gone back in.
"That's the surprise I told you about." He dug his hands deep into his pockets. "Her name is Carrie, and she is my, uh..."
"Yeah, I guess you could say that."
"The question is, can you say that."
He punched me playfully on the shoulder. "Sure I can. Girlfriend. See, there, I said it."
"I'm glad you found someone. I was worried about you after... you know."
"I lost my wife, and I grieved. But now I met Carrie, and she has helped me more than you know."
I smiled. "I'm glad, Steve." We walked inside together, and I walked up to Carrie. "Hi Carrie, I'm--"
"I know who you are," she snapped. "Steve has told me all about you. Frankly, he talks about you so much I'd almost think you guys were queer."
Steve shook his head. "Oh, honey."
"Don't Oh Honey me, you need to set the table. Dinner is almost ready."
"It smells very good," I offered.
"Oooo, praise from Bill Thomas. I can die and go to Heaven now." She chuckled and turned away.
"How did you two meet, Carrie?"
She spun around and looked at me with piercing eyes. "You know what your problem is, Bill? You are too damned nosey. You need to learn to mind your own business."
Steve said, "Hey Carrie, he's our guest."
She turned on Steve. "You need to hush up and do your job." She looked back at me. "Just look at you, Bill. You are rubbing your hands together nervously. What's the problem? You got something to hide?"
I looked down and realized she was right. I was rubbing my hands together. But I really didn't think there was any hidden agenda involved. I grinned and asked, "So what's for supper?"
"No, no, don't try to change the subject. You know what your problem is, Bill? You can't face the world directly, you are always looking for diversions. You don't know how to look life square in the eyes."
"That's an interesting perspective," I said, trying to stay friendly.
"I'm just stating the plain, simple facts. There's nothing subjective about it."
Steve walked up to me and patted me on the shoulders. "So Bill, tell us about your latest adventures on the road."
Carried slammed her hand down on the kitchen counter. "No sir, we do not need to hear about that crap. If you want to know what he's doing out on the road, why don't you just read his stupid blogs?"
Steve stared at her. "I always do."
"I know you always do, and there are more important things in life you should be focused on." Then she pointed her finger directly at me. "You know what your problem is, Bill? You write about life instead of living it. No wonder no woman ever wants to be with you."
"Beg pardon, who said no women want to be with me?"
"Isn't it obvious?" she asked
"Not to me."
"Well according to Steve, you are in love with a lesbian. How weird is that?"
Steve spoke up. "Carrie, this girl Karen and Bill have a long history. It's not that cut and dried."
"Oh yes, it is that cut and it is that dried. Don't try to tell me differently. Bill has no idea what to do with his life."
I was taken aback. "Really? I don't?"
She leaned in towards me. "You know what your problem is, Bill? You are waiting for your ship to come in. Every day you wake up and run to look out the window, just hoping that today will be the day your ship comes in. I got news for you, its never coming in. Learn to deal with that."
"Gee Carrie, you've given me a lot to think about."
"That's who I am and what I do. I tell it like it is. You don't have to tell me I'm right about you, because I see right inside of you. I can see right through you. When your head hits the pillow tonight, the last thing you're going to think is 'Wow, that woman really nailed all of my problems and shortcomings.' I'm trying to help you."
"Thanks, I guess."
"You know what your real problem is, Bill? You know some intensive therapy from a good psychotherapist. Seriously. For your own good, you need to deal with your screwed up situation. Dinner is ready, let's eat."
The dinner smelled a whole lot better than it tasted. I didn't say much, and neither did Steve. Carrie had a lot to say, most of it not very positive. After dinner, Steve and I walked outside. I told him I was going to stay at a motel, and he was obviously hurt that I wouldn't be sleeping at his house.
"It's not because of Carrie, is it? She doesn't mean any harm."
"Buddy, if she makes you happy, then I'm all for it. But I'm not prepared to deal with a sleepover at that level of negativity. She doesn't know me well enough to tell me what my problems are."
"My wife used to do it all the time. You never seemed to mind."
"I hated it. But I never felt empowered enough to do anything about it. Guess I'm growing as a person, because I won't put up with that kind of crap anymore. I care about myself."
Steve got emotional. "I care about you, too. You're my brother."
We hugged tightly, and I said into his ear, "Love you too, bro." Then I got into the car and drove sadly away.