Short story: “James”

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James

Violins play softly as I sit drumming my fingers on the red checked tablecloth with flickering candles as the only light in the whole room. This is a horrible spot to meet James for dinner. The candlelight, soft music, Italian food…it all spells out disaster. It’s the final piece of the puzzle, the last straw, the point of no return. It officially labels me as a romantic.

I’m independent, not romantic. It’s my thing. My older sister is the pretty one and I am the tough one, the daughter my Dad doesn’t need to worry about even though I don’t have a husband to take care of me. I’m a smart and strong and independent woman and then I have to go and meet James. Wonderful James, who gives me butterflies and makes me do stupid things like smile to myself at work while I dreamily braid my hair and send text messages with kissy faces and x’s and o’s. I even pretended the other day that I couldn’t open the jar of pickles so he would have to come and help me but it turned out the lid wasn’t even screwed on and so he saw right through what I was doing and laughed and kissed my forehead and called me adorable. How mortifying. No, I’ve never felt this way before.

Jeez, I’ve even gone to church with him the last three Sundays. I’ve never been a very religious person. The truth is, airports see more sincere kisses than wedding chapels. The walls of hospitals hear more prayers than the walls of churches. And then I meet James, and he turns everything I think upside down and I contemplate things like religion and heaven and angels and all other kinds of stuff. I start to enjoy going to his church services, and I like the God he tells me about and I start to wonder if maybe my view of God is messed up, not James’s. His God is different than mine. James talks about forgiveness and redemption and second chances and my God sits up on a dark thundercloud in heaven, angry and disapproving and ready to strike down the pathetic mortals for not living up to His expectations. Especially me.

I sip from my wine glass. It’s a wonder James still stays with me; not only stays, but wants to stay. I have a broken soul; I know that. I don’t pretend otherwise. It makes every one else run screaming but James wants to hear about it; he wants to talk with me about what gives me awful nightmares in the middle of the night and why I hate rainstorms. And so I tell, and he listens and just when I start to think that this story, this secret, this skeleton in my closet will be the end of us, will be too much for him to hear, he just holds me and sometimes I think his eyes are full of tears when he says he wants to protect me from ever being hurt again. And I start to believe that he can. And the scariest part is…I want him to. I don’t hide anything from him anymore. I expose it all, and then I wait for him to run, just like other guys did—not that there’d been a lot of them. But there’s something different about James. He doesn’t run. And I don’t want him to.

I wish I didn’t feel this way. We’re all immortal until that first kiss and second glass of wine. I met him when we were in line getting coffee. It was a Tuesday and he said something ridiculous and cheesy like he didn’t know angels flew so low and I got flustered and dropped my coffee all over his shoes and while we were cleaning up the mess he asked for my number and I gave it to him and ran away. So I thought that was the end of it and then that night my phone rang and I answered and then four hours later I was laughing more than I’d ever thought possible and we had made plans for a date the very next day. Eight months later I’m disgustingly head over heels in love, one of those annoying girls who constantly talk about how amazing her boyfriend is and sings “Crazy in Love” in the shower and looks at wedding dresses online. My family keeps asking when we’re getting married. They love him almost as much as I do and I’m just shocked because I’ve finally done something my older sister approves of.

I check the time as the waiter stops by for the fourth time to see if I need anything. It’s not like James to be late. I had actually been the one to plan this date, and he had been so excited. I don’t plan dates. I don’t get excited about them. I say things like, “I don’t care; wherever you want to eat,” and now look at me. I make myself sick. I’d bought a new red dress that was much more sensual than anything I’d ever owned before. Red! It made me feel like a fire engine but I bought it anyway because it was kind of sassy and James loves red and I curled my hair and I was wearing the pearls he’d bought me. I’d even put perfume behind my earlobes. Ugh. I know he’ll love it, though. And yeah, maybe the heart shaped pizza is a bit much, but I’ll just say I hope he doesn’t think I’m too cheesy and then he’ll throw his head back and laugh that wonderful laugh of his, the one that thrills me right down to my toes and then he’ll lean across the table and kiss me. He kisses better than anyone I’ve ever kissed, and my older sister says that I can’t say that because he’s the only man I’ve ever kissed but that’s not true because Billy Driscoll kissed me behind the librarian’s cart in 7th grade and one time this really drunk guy kissed me in a bar and I let him because I was tired of having only Billy on my list. Billy, who cut my lip with his braces and then tattled to Ms. Cambridge that I’d gotten blood all over Pride and Prejudice and I had to face her wrath. The drunk guy had reeked of whiskey and stopped slobbering on me long enough to throw up on the floor and then resume his ardor without even rinsing his mouth and so those were both such awful experiences that they better count for something. Third time’s definitely the charm. James is the best because I can feel the love and sincerity coming right through his lips and I don’t worry about if I’m a good kisser or not because all I can think is, dang, this guy really likes me a lot and so I just kiss him back and he doesn’t complain, so there, Tessa. I used to hate couples kissing in public before, but I don’t protest anymore.

My phone rings, James’s picture popping up on my screen. “Hello?”

“Hey, beautiful.” His warm voice makes my heart beat faster and I start to believe that I am what he always calls me.

“Hi.” I giggle, something I never do except around him. “Where are you?”

“Stuck at work.” He lets out a frustrated breath. “I feel awful, but we might have to postpone tonight. I just can’t get away.”

My heart stops beating. I force my lips to move. “Sure. That’s no problem.”

“You know I wouldn’t miss tonight if there were any other way. My boss—“

“Yeah. No, I know.”

“Tomorrow for sure; I promise. I can’t wait. I gotta go but I’ll call you later, okay, baby?”

“Sure.”

“I love you.”

“Love you.” I hang up the phone and sit staring at the dark screen for a moment.

“Signora?” The waiter comes over. “Is your date coming?”

I sigh as I try to stand in the crazy high stilettos I had bought for that night. “No. He’s not.” That’s what happens when you follow your heart.

I leave James a voicemail that night, breaking up with him.

“Because of His Love for Her:” a One Act Play

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In my junior year of college, we studied how to write one act plays in my creative writing class. I originally wasn’t too thrilled with the genre, but the idea for this one came to me and I ended up scribbling it down (while I was in another class half listening to the lecture….oops.) After some polishing, it’s actually one of my favorite things I’ve written.

Because of His Love For Her

(Setting: café. Friends eating lunch.)

Rachel: You’re such a cynic. It’s disgusting.

Jacob: I’m not a cynic; I’m a realist. There’s a difference.

Rachel: Predicting that every single one of my relationships will fail isn’t realistic, Jacob. It’s pessimistic.

Jacob: (affronted) You wound me! Did I say anything about charming Harold when you asked me not to? I never once foretold any ill tidings about that relationship. I kept my mouth shut.

Rachel: Harold left me for my best friend!

Jacob: (laughing as he takes a drink) You make this too easy for me.

Rachel: Say what you want about Nathaniel. He’s the one; I know it.

Jacob: You’ve been going out for three weeks! I have leftovers in my fridge I’ve had a longer relationship with!

(Waiter arrives with food. Jacob waits as Rachel bows her head and prays silently)

Rachel: Nathaniel is different. He’s sweet and funny, and he treats me well!

Jacob: Well, that’s true. I mean, I wasn’t the one who had to come jump your car this morning. (loudly slurps straw, looking innocent.)

Rachel: (hesitates) He…he’s an auditor. He doesn’t know a lot about cars.

Jacob: Really?

Rachel: Why do you say it like that?

Jacob: No, nothing. I was just thinking about that mechanic you dated in college. That was handy, considering the beat up old trap you insist on driving around.

Rachel: Jesse? Yeah, he was nice. Thanks for ending that, by the way.

Jacob: What?!

Rachel: Don’t play innocent. You introduced him to every attractive, available woman you knew! You were there after he gave me the whole, “It’s just not working out, Rachel,” speech before dating Kelly three days later.

Jacob: Ah, yes. I do remember that. You got tears and snot all over my hoodie that night. (shudders)

Rachel: You’re a jerk.

Jacob: That is entirely your opinion. So, what does Nathanial think about the book you’ve been working on?

Rachel: (picking at salad) He’s not a—a big reader.

Jacob: No?

Rachel: (slightly longer pause) No.

Jacob: Huh.

Rachel: What?

Jacob: I was just thinking about that one guy you dated who loved reading. What was his name?

Rachel: David.

Jacob: David! He was a nice guy.

Rachel: (irritated) Are you kidding?

Jacob: What?

Rachel: You intimidated him every chance you got: challenging him, tearing him down, humiliating him–

Jacob: You do have to admit that sweater he bought for you for your birthday was atrocious. And several sizes too big, I add. I was merely defending your honor by pronouncing it the most hideous thing I’d ever seen and suggesting that perhaps any man who buys a sweater for his girlfriend of almost two years is afraid of commitment. Is it my fault that he was offended by that?

Rachel: YES!

Jacob: Debatable.

(Rachel rolls her eyes. Brief silence)

Jacob: So what does this wonderful Nathaniel do instead of reading?

Rachel: (faintly) He…camps.

Jacob: Camps! Does he hunt?

Rachel: I don’t—

Jacob: He probably does. All hunters camp, you know. He probably enjoys killing innocent animals for fun. Then he’ll keep your fridge stuffed with all that meat and make you wear the furs.

Rachel: STOP. You don’t know that. You don’t know him. Just because you hate marriage doesn’t mean all relationships are doomed to fail.

(Silence. Jacob removes the onions from Rachel’s plate and puts them on his own. She drums her fingers on the table, irritated. Suddenly drops fork, which makes a loud clattering noise.)

Rachel: Nathanial is charming, and sweet, and he has big plans for his life. He’s ambitious, and-and polite—(with a sudden burst of inspiration) His name means gift from God!

Jacob: (with mock seriousness) The heavens have foretold it.

Rachel: I’m serious. He’s fantastic.

Jacob: (checking watch) Well, apparently punctuality isn’t on the list of wonderful attributes for our dear Nathaniel.

Rachel: He’ll be here. And I was doing fine waiting for him by myself.

Jacob: Of course you were.

Rachel: I didn’t need you to come sit with me so I wasn’t eating all alone.

Jacob: Of course you didn’t!

Rachel: I am a strong, independent woman, perfectly capable of surviving on my own.

Jacob: (patronizing) Of course you are.

(Silence. Jacob lifts up the top bun of his burger; Rachel removes the pickles and places them on her plate.)

Rachel: Do you want to know the best thing about Nathaniel?

Jacob: His rugged good looks?

Rachel: (irritated) No.

Jacob: You mean he’s NOT good looking?

Rachel: No! I mean, yes! But that’s not what I’m talking about. Nathanial….(important pause) actually believes in marriage. (sits back, pleased)

Jacob: Hm. Does he want kids?

Rachel: (triumphantly) Yes! He does! Lots of kids!

Jacob: Awwww, how sweet. Is he gonna help take care of them?

Rachel: Well, no…he travels a lot for his job–

Jacob: Huh. So, YOU’LL stop teaching?

Rachel: We…haven’t really talked about that.

Jacob: Oh, my mistake. I thought since you’ve been discussing marriage you’d have talked about kids. (brief pause) And religion.

(Rachel is silent)

Jacob: (overly shocked) SURELY you’ve talked about RELIGION?

Rachel: I mean….sort of…(firmly) I definitely think he’s Lutheran.

Jacob: Lutheran.

Rachel: Yes. (pause) Or maybe Baptist.

Jacob: Baptist?

Rachel: Yes. (pause) Or…or maybe Catholic.

Jacob: Catholic!

Rachel: Yes.

Jacob: Ah.

(Silence)

Jacob: Perhaps he’s Jewish!

Rachel: (frowns thoughtfully, considering) No, I don’t think so….

Jacob: Or maybe he’s Mormon. Maybe he already has a couple of wives!

Rachel: He does not!

Jacob: (chuckles and takes a bite of his burger) You don’t even know his religious beliefs.

Rachel: I do, too.

Jacob: Prove it.

Rachel: Prove it? What, are we 7 years old again?

Jacob: Well, you’ve told me you’re probably gonna marry this guy, so you must know all there is to know about him. So, prove it! What religion does our dear gift from God follow?

Rachel: I…I think he’s actually…more…non-religious (sneaks look at Jacob, who is nonchalantly chewing.)

Rachel: So. (another pause. She awkwardly toys with her silverware. A sudden burst of laughter from Jacob startles her.)

Rachel: What? What?! What’s so funny?

Jacob: This guy is your polar opposite, and you think he’s the perfect one. You’re going to end up chained for the rest of your life to an illiterate chauvinist who makes you quit your job to take care of all the kids you keep popping out, and skips church on Sunday to murder Bambi’s mother!

Rachel: Stop it! (Jacob continues to laugh, slapping table) Rachel: You know what?

Jacob: (still laughing) What?

Rachel: You…you are…just…

(Jacob’s laughter flusters her)

Rachel: A mean cynic!

Jacob: Realist, my darling. Realist.

(In a huff, Rachel turns to her Coke. Jacob continues to laugh softly.)

Rachel: Shut up.

Jacob: Oh, I just can’t.

(They eat in silence for a moment; Jacob’s amused, Rachel’s indignant.)

Rachel: Why do you have to be so mean to me all the time?

Jacob: It’s good for you. It’ll put hair on your chest.

Rachel: I don’t want hair on my chest. I want to have a conversation with you for once without you shooting down all of my choices in men and making me feel like an idiot.

Jacob: Is it my fault that every guy you pick out has mortal flaws? You missed a pickle.

Rachel: They weren’t all bad.

Jacob: Nah. I especially liked the guy who liked to argue that he really was abducted by aliens. Take this pickle.

Rachel: One date! I went on one date with that man—he does not count!

Jacob: I’m giving you my opinion. Pickle!

Rachel: I don’t want your stupid opinion.

(Exasperated, Jacob gingerly picks the pickle off his burger and holds it between two fingers out to Rachel, stops when he sees she is sitting dejected.)

Rachel: I just…what’s wrong with me that all of my relationships have failed miserably?

Jacob: They’re jerks.

Rachel: Not all of them. Jesse was a nice guy. David was a nice guy. Harold— (pause) Okay, Harold was a jerk. But everyone else was great. They were great! And it ended badly. And now they’re all married or engaged. It shows that the problem wasn’t because of them. That leaves one person. Me. So, I ask you. What’s wrong with me?

 (Long silence as they stare at each other.)

Jacob: Maybe it’s your man hands.

Rachel: (shocked) My what?!

Jacob: Nah, that’s probably not it. Maybe it’s your cooking. Or your whining. You do whine a lot.

Rachel: (hurt) That’s a mean thing to say!

(Jacob raises eyebrow, grinning.)

Rachel: I hate you.

Jacob: Sometimes, yeah, you do. And sometimes I deserve it. But you have to admit—I’m always right. You could even call me Mr. Right.

(Silence.)

Rachel: (glumly) Nathanial’s gonna be out of town for my cousin’s wedding.

Jacob: Oh. When is it?

Rachel: Next Saturday. Do you have a game?

Jacob: Nope. We lost last week and the tournament ended. I can go with you so you don’t have to deal with Grandma Ruth’s proclamations of, ‘Oh, my poor, poor Rachel, doomed to single-hood forever!’

Rachel: Thanks, Jacob. (smiles.)

Jacob: Any time. (brief pause) Now will you please take this pickle before I throw it at you?

(Rachel removes the pickle from his burger and eats it. They sit in companionable silence, eating their meals. Nathanial enters, sits in chair next to Rachel.)

Nathaniel: Sorry I’m late—

Rachel: You’re ALWAYS late.

Nathaniel: (taken aback) What?

Rachel: And I don’t want to quit my job!

Nathaniel: But I never—

Rachel: And I AM A VEGETARIAN! (throws napkin down and exits)

(Nathanial looks bewildered at a very pleased Jacob, who quickly schools his features to look sympathetic.)

Jacob: Tough break, Sport. (shrugs innocently) Women! (pats shoulder and leaves him sitting alone at the table, dials a number on his phone.) Jacob: Hey man, listen. I’m not gonna be able to play in the tournament next weekend….

Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Book Review

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Zora Neale Hurston covers many themes in her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. She writes about the concept of God, searching for love, marriage, and other relationships. Perhaps her most significant theme, however, is that of independence. Throughout the course of the novel, Janie is always searching for her own character and identity, which she believes she will find through a man’s love, but her value is actually inside of her own soul.

Janie is 17 when she first marries Logan Killicks; she is starry-eyed and dreams of affection and romance. She quickly realizes that Logan will not satisfy her expectations; he is older than she is and has no use for romantic love. When the marriage proves to be less than she expected, she begins to dream of and search for another way to fulfill the void in her heart. Joe Starks comes along, and she believes she will find love and fulfillment in him. She leaves Logan and runs off to “marry” Joe.

Her relationship with Joe also proves to be less than desirable, however. In the beginning before they run away together, Joe is full of promises, bright ambitions, and charisma. These aspects rapidly change after he becomes mayor; he controls and oppresses her, to the point that she is never allowed to wear her down. He always wants her to have it wrapped up in a handkerchief. After he dies of kidney failure, Janie lets her hair fall freely and begins to obtain a little bit of independence and identity. She sees herself as a grown woman and runs the store successfully on her own. She continues in this way until Tea Cake comes along, and her life changes drastically again because of her desire to have a man’s love and attention.

Unlike her first two husbands, Tea Cake is flirty, charming, and pays Janie the attention she has craved since she first allowed Johnny Taylor to kiss her at the gate when she was a child. Even he, however, does not represent the perfect love that she has been searching for. They have a nice relationship in the beginning; he is flattering and adventurous and makes her feel excited, but he also proves to have major faults. He beats Janie, despite the fact that he admits she has done nothing wrong or to anger him. He says he beats her because he wants to prove that he is in control. He also leaves her and spends the $200 that she had earned and hidden when she ran away with him, spending it on throwing a party so that he can know what it feels like to be rich. When he goes mad from the bite he received from a rabid dog, Janie is forced to either kill him or lose her own life. Tea Cake’s death, at the hand of Janie, is symbolic; she is now free to live her own life, and she made the decision to do so, even though it is heartbreaking.

Janie does not feel bound in any way to her first two husbands, as evidenced by the fact that she left Logan and did not really mourn after Joe’s death. On the other hand, she desperately loves Tea Cake and the lavish attention he pours out on her. She does not realize that theirs is not a healthy relationship either, however. Hurston begins the story with Janie returning home and reveals the rest of the story in a flashback because it is symbolic; the end of Tea Cake and Janie’s relationship is actually the beginning of Janie’s new life, in which she can become her own person and realize that her identity is not found in being Logan and Joe’s wife, or even the center of Tea Cake’s affection. Janie realizes this at the end of the story after she tells Pheoby what happened. She looks forward to discovering what it means to live her own life in a world that she alone can discover for herself. Her worth is found not in a man loving her, but in in the strength of her character, and in all of the hardships she has overcome throughout the course of her life.

Book Review: Interpreter of Maladies

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved reading. When I was little, my Mom set up library trips for me and my sister every Thursday.  I would check out an enormous stack of books, devour them in a few days, and wait impatiently for the week to roll by so that I could check out more. I have high standards both for what I write and what I read. (It sounds nicer to say it that way than, “I’m picky.”)

So when I say I’ve discovered one of the most incredible books I’ve ever read in my life, it’s high praise.

Interpreter of Maladies

Interpreter of Maladies

If you’re a writer, you need to read this book. If you’re a reader, you need to read this book. If you’ve never read a book before in your life, you need to read this book.

In her arrangement of creative fiction essays collected as a series of works in Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri writes about Indian culture and life, but her overall themes are very broad. She is able to write very specifically about various aspects of her own culture, but she also conveys world truths. This is especially seen in the fact that she frequently talks about relationship in her writings, especially marriage.

Marriage relationships are seen instantly in her first short story in the collection, entitled “A Temporary Matter.” Shoba and Shukumar are struggling after the still birth of their first child, a boy. Neither truly know how to cope with the situation; they retreat rather than attempting to comfort each other and attempt to grieve. As the story progresses, however, they begin to bond and rediscover their relationship. They start sharing secrets about themselves, and Shukumar especially begins to look forward to it every night, where before he had dreaded being alone with Shoba. After their electricity is repaired and they are no longer required to eat their dinner in the dark, Shoba confesses to Shukumar that she has found an apartment and is leaving him. The story ends (as so many of Lahiri’s do) with little resolution; they are simply weeping in each other’s arms. Although the story is distinctively Indian, conveyed by their names, the foods they eat, and the rice ceremony Shoba had been planning for their baby, the loss of a child is a universal pain, as is a struggling and then failed marriage.

The second story in which marriages are discussed is the title story in the collection, “Interpreter of Maladies.” Mr. Kapasi, a tour guide, becomes infatuated with Mrs. Das, does not have a healthy relationship with her husband or children. As he dwells more and more on Mrs. Das, he becomes discontent with the thought of his own wife. Towards the end of the story, Mrs. Das confesses to Mr. Kapasi that her son Bobby is not Mr. Das’s biological son. She tells him because she hopes that he, as a translator for a doctor, can help “cure” her, as well. He is unable to, she becomes angry with him, and the infatuation is over almost as quickly as it began. Unhappy marriages, as well as infidelity, are conveyed strongly in this story, more universal themes.

A third story involving relationships is “Sexy.” Miranda meets Dev, a married man, in a department store, and the two begin an affair. Miranda knows from the beginning that he is married, but chooses to pursue and continue the relationship, anyway. Dev is also not bothered by the fact that he is being unfaithful to his wife. This story is woven in the midst of another story; Miranda’s coworker Laxmi is attempting to counsel her cousin after her husband has been unfaithful. The story ends in disillusionment after Miranda learns the truth of what she is doing from Rohin, the little boy of Laxmi’s cousin. Affairs are again expressed in this story, a (tragically) common occurrence not only in the Indian culture, but also in the world as a whole.

Another story that conveys universal truths is the last in the collection: “The Third and Final Continent.” This story is flavored more heavily with Indian culture and references; the narrator (who is interestingly never named!) moves from India to Boston to begin his new job after an arranged marriage to a woman named Mala. He expresses neither unhappiness nor pleasure over his marriage; it is just his duty. The two have an awkward relationship, especially when she finally arrives in America. As the story progresses, however, things begin to change. For the first six days of their marriage, Mala would cry all through the night about missing her parents. This changes as the two of them become accustomed to each other, and eventually the shyness they feel is replaced by genuine care and love. Perhaps Lahiri makes an intentional choice in ending her collection of stories that ended with unhappy or unresolved marriages with one that is successful and wonderful.

Lahiri is able to express many different features of her culture, conveying important aspects and showing her pride for her heritage. She also writes on the universality of humanity as a whole, however. This enables people to be able to relate to the deeper truths behind the stories she writes, no matter their ethnicity. She is very skilled at having a successful balance between the two.

I was absolutely inspired. I’ll be returning for more, Ms. Lahiri.

Call of the Wild

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I don’t always write depressing stuff; I promise. In fact, I love to write humor….especially when it pokes fun at myself.

I’m sitting in the library innocently working on my homework when it happens again. The quiet atmosphere of the peaceful valley is turned into a jungle as a girl waltzes by and the boys instantly straighten up. It’s like watching something from Animal Planet; the males preen themselves, trying to impress the female, who spreads out her feathers while pretending not to notice.

“Hey hey, what’s goin’ on?” One of the hopefuls asks smoothly.

Her lower lip sticks out in a cute pout. “I forgot my credit card, and I have no cash, and I’m starving!” She leans on his shoulder as she clutches her stomach to emphasize this point.

The peacocks turn into lions, fighting to see who will come out on top. The lion who brandishes his credit card like a flag wins. “Getcha self whatever ya want, babe,” he croons.

“You’re adorable!” She pecks his cheek and accepts his card. He gloats over the rest of the pack. He’s the Alpha dog now.

I shake my head in wonderment. I’ve tried to learn this little flirting game all my life with no success. I always end up embarrassing both myself and the poor victim who attempted to play the game with me. The preening and seducing is too much for me, and I pack up my stuff. I have to go grocery shopping anyway.

As I drive, Cosette and Marius sing together, “For this isn’t a dream; not a dream, after all.” How did she learn this art, while I’m left floundering? She was raised in isolation by an ex-convict, for Pete’s sake.

I’m in the checkout with my milk and eggs and a bouquet of roses catches my eye. February 13th. I decide to buy them for my Mom; my Dad is great, but he doesn’t really care about Valentine’s Day.

My items are being rung up, and I dig through my wallet for cash. Where’s Mr. Alpha Dog when you need him?

“What’s this, now?” The cashier holds up the bouquet.

I blink at him, wondering if I’m being Punk’d. “Roses?”

“No, no.” He looks at them and frowns sadly. “A pretty girl like you should never have to buy flowers for herself.”

That’s my cue, I know. It’s time for me to say something witty and cute in response. For a wild moment, I consider hopping up onto the conveyor belt and planting a kiss on his cheek. I’ve got nothing else.

He’s waiting for a response from me so he can deliver the next line in this script everyone but me seems to have memorized, and I finally unstick my tongue from the roof of my mouth. “Well, I’m not buying them for myself. They’re for my Mom.”

“Oh.” I’ve done it again. The mood is killed. I’m like the Ancient Mariner, only my actions are always unintentional and I don’t have a beard. Nevertheless, I’ve clumsily shot the preening peacock and turned him into a limping bird. “Well, I….hope she enjoys them.”

I take my bags and retreat in shame. I’m pretty sure I had my nose stuck in a book when God was passing out flirtation skills.

An Objection to Frozen

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I don’t want to be a Scrooge, especially since people are calling Frozen the best Disney animated film since The Lion King, and I tend to agree. I won’t reveal any spoilers, but it was so nice to see a princess movie veer off the normal “girl in distress gets rescued by the handsome prince” storyline and I appreciated the love of family Disney chose to implement. I wanted to stand up and applaud at the end. The music was beautiful and I loved the movie so much that I saw it twice. (I’m pretty sure I was the only 20-something woman in the theatre without a little daughter. At least the first time I saw it, I had the excuse of my little brother and sister.)

I do, however, have one issue with the movie.

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Oh, Disney. You were so close.

It wasn’t until the second time I saw this movie that the words from the song “Fixer Upper” really set in. (If you haven’t seen the movie, the lyrics can be found here.) I sat straight up in my chair, making the five-year-old girls surrounding me look at me even more warily than they had been before. First, I was just the crazy grown up watching a cartoon with another crazy grownup; now I was the indignant, crazy grown up watching a cartoon with another crazy grownup.

I doubt those five year old girls will read this, but hopefully impressionable pre-teen girls will. Maybe even adult women who need to hear this message will.

You cannot save or change a man, no matter how much you love him. I promise. It will not happen. Please don’t try. It’s not fair to him, and you will only disappoint yourself. (Guys, the same goes for you. The damsel in distress/charming prince relationship only works in Cinderella.)

I understand some people claim that it was written to remind Anna to show some love and compassion towards her sister, but that argument unravels a bit when the lyrics are considered.

He’s just a bit of a fixer upper
He’s got a couple of bugs
His isolation is confirmation
Of his desperation for healing hugs

Nope. It’s a sign that you need to get out. Fast. Let me say it again: You cannot change him. You cannot save him. You are not Jesus.

People have told me I’m overreacting, over-analyzing, and over-thinking this, but as someone who used to fully believe in and romanticize the “I can save him if I date him” mentality, I can tell you that this song is potentially detrimental. We all talk about the danger of little girls receiving unrealistic expectations from society about their looks, but no one raises an eyebrow at a song that suggests that Anna just put aside her misgivings and help out this poor, troubled guy by dating and/or marrying him.

Being pressured into a relationship never ends well, nor does dating him to repair him. Don’t let him and his wounded soul that you want to heal (or his rock/troll family) try to persuade you otherwise. I applaud Disney and Frozen for several reasons, but I think they fell a bit short of the mark with this song.

There is, however, one redeeming quality from this scene. I’m pretty sure we’ve all wished for an Olaf when a supposed knight in shining armor just turns out to be a lunatic in tin foil.

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What do you think? Did the song bother you, too….or do I just have a frozen heart?