A Masterpiece


I lied. “Yes, I have repaired, resurfaced, and painted probably dozens of wrought iron fences like these.”

The estate’s property manager tilted his head down so he could see me clearly over his reading glasses. Then he glanced down at the written proposal I had given to him.

I needed the work. I’d been doing odd jobs ever since I got discharged from the army sixteen month earlier and some of them included repairing and painting fences. Wood fences. So it was just a little white lie.

“Check my references,” I said. All the names on the list were my army buddies who were willing to vouch for me even though I’d never done any handyman work for any of them.

“Fine,” he said. “If your references check out, you can start the day after tomorrow.”

It took me almost two weeks to complete the work, and the property manager told me that I had far exceeded his expectations. Then he told me the owner called my work “a masterpiece.”

(170 words)

Written for this week’s FFfAW challenge from Priceless Joy.

A Good Idea at the Time

face punch

The car pulled up next to mine at the rural intersection and honked its horn. Both Pat and I looked over and saw a guy in the front passenger seat move his hand and arm, signaling me to roll down my car’s window, which I did.

“Are you the dickheads who were out with Claire and Mary tonight?” The guy asked.

“Oh shit,” Pat exclaimed. “Hit the gas.” I punched it, but the car’s engine trembled and I felt the car lurch forward before the engine sputtered out and the car came to a halt.

Pat and I had just dropped off our dates and we were heading back to the apartment we shared. Pat’s girlfriend, Mary, thought it would be fun to fix me up with her friend Claire. I was never a fan of fix-ups, but Pat persuaded me to go along. “It will make Mary happy,” he said. “And Claire is hot!”

My stalled car was now surrounded by four rather large, thuggish looking guys. One of them on Pat’s side of the car, asked “Which one of you assholes was with Claire tonight?” Without hesitation, Pat pointed towards me.

“You, huh?” said a voice coming from my side of the car. I turned my head around to look at the guy who was talking just in time to feel a fist punch me hard in the mouth. “Stay the fuck away from her or next time you’ll wake up dead.” With that, he and his buddies jumped back into their car and sped away.

I was literally seeing stars. The pain was intense and I felt blood running down my chin from my mouth. I looked in the car’s rear view mirror and saw that I was missing one of my front teeth and the other was loose and almost hanging by a thread.

“What the fuck?” I said, looking at Pat.

“Yeah, sorry dude,” he said. “I probably should have told you that Claire’s married. The guy who hit you is her husband.”

“You probably should have told me? Are you fucking kidding me? Why would you and Mary want to fix me up with a married woman?”

“I dunno,” Pat said, shrugging his shoulders. “Mary said Claire wasn’t happy. It seemed like, you know, a good idea at the time.”

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “lurch.”

Opposites Attract

In a previous post, I gave a number of examples of polar opposites, like right and wrong or day and night. My blogger friend Jim, in a reply to that post, asked, “Why are people usually attracted to their opposite, the one who is totally different from or the reverse of themselves?”

My snide response to Jim was, “I don’t know, but that may be why the divorce rate is so high.”

That got me wondering if there was any validity to my off-the-cuff comment about the divorce rate being in any way related to people being initially attracted to their opposites, so I did some digging.

The United States has the highest divorce rate in the world, with roughly 45% of marriages expected to end through divorce. The good news, though, is that the overall divorce rate in this country has decreased slightly since its peak in the 1980s.

In fact, in 2017 the U.S. divorce rate has dropped for the third year in a row, reaching its lowest point in nearly 40 years.

Infidelity, money issues, lack of communications, and lack of physical intimacy are generally cited as the most frequent reasons for getting divorced.

I found it interesting, though, especially for a Baby Boomer like me, that while divorce has been studied extensively among younger adults, the research to-date has essentially ignored divorce that occurs to adults aged 50 and older.

Gray Divorce

According to the Pew Research Center, in contrast to the dropping overall divorce rates, the divorce rate among those 50 and older has increased substantially in recent years. And among those ages 65 and older, the divorce rate has roughly tripled since 1990. Divorce within this group of older Americans is sometimes referred to as “gray divorce.”

Among the top reasons for divorce by Baby Boomers is irreconcilable differences.

So perhaps people are, indeed, attracted to their opposites and may even end up marrying them. But it’s also possible that, as people age, their opposites grow less and less attractive.

And that might explain why the divorce rate for those over fifty is increasing while the overall divorce rate is going down.

Maybe, for older married couples, there is some truth to that saying that familiarity breeds contempt.