SHE CALLED HIM AL.
Gin had many scripts that fleshed out her fantasies about a life with Harry.
One of her fondest ones had their lives played out according to Paul Simon’s “Call me Al”.
So we shall take some poetic license now and script this story to Paul’s song.
Gin will become ‘Betty’ and Harry? Well, we will just call him ‘Al’.
We find Al walking down the street, muttering, bitching and complaining, “Why am I so soft in the middle? The rest of my life is so hard.”
Al’s soft middle held her attention more than one might imagine.
She’d first noticed it while he was standing on a ladder reaching up to staple insulation. Betty was sitting on a chair talking to him while he worked. She glanced up to ask him a question when she caught sight of his exposed belly.
It was the first time she’d ever seen his bare flesh, save for his face, neck, arms and then only in the summer when he wore short sleeved shirts.
Al was modest, foiling Betty’s attempts to get better glimpses of a body that she’d begun to find most attractive.
So as he worked in front of her, she pretended to listen to what he was saying.
What mostly preoccupied her attention was the view in front of her eyes. Al’s lovely soft middle was a sharp contrast to the hardness of the rest of his body…at least what she’d been able to get glimpses of.
And the most delectable part of that belly was the golden fur that circled his navel. Like smoke, it wisped and curled upwards and then, in a breathtaking swirl of curls, drifted sensuously below his belt.
Betty almost drooled. It was sheer will power that stopped her from getting up and walking over to him. She knew that the vision in her head would erupt if she began rubbing his belly. She dared not contemplate the thrill of slipping her hand down to see where the golden curls ended.
Al may or may not have been looking for a photo opportunity.
He may or may not have wanted a shot at redemption.
For sure what he did NOT want was to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard, and that was the life which seemed to be unfolding in front of him.
There may well have been bone diggers and dogs, dogs in the moonlight hiding far away from his well lit door.
In his fear he grabbed his beer belly soft middle and cried, “get these mutts away from me, you know I don’t find this stuff amusing anymore.”
A life with Betty had always been a possibility. She certainly did her best to communicate her willingness to participate in the process. It was perhaps a tragedy of errors that her own fears meshed so perfectly with Al's. His fear of having things he loved taken from him was interwoven perfectly with Betty’s fear of never having what she wanted most in the world.
Ironically each of their fears was addressed most succinctly by the great philosopher of their generation, Mick Jagger. His words of wisdom…”You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you find you get what you need”, fell upon deaf ears.
Ironically, neither Al or Betty seemed able to grasp the full meaning of those words, let alone adjust their hopes and dreams to calm their fears. Tragically, two people who were very well suited one to the other, passed like ships in the night.
The deepest sadness was actually Al's seeming inability to fathom the depth of Betty’s love.
For she was a creature who possessed an innate ability to love without condition. And when her heart was captured, the depth of her passion knew no limits.
Al’s blindness to this reality became an insurmountable wall that eventually wore Gin down in her attempts to scale the vastness of its slope.
It seemed that the harder she tried to penetrate the wall that shackled Al’s heart, the more he resisted.
Betty’s own shortcomings added greatly to the burden of her pain. Yet again she realized she had attached herself to someone who’s ability to accept and return love was virtually nonexistent.
Her valiant efforts to reach his heart became an exercise in futility and most definitely a huge deterrent to even a remote possibility of achieving what she believed to be her heart's desire.
Al had a mother. This rather remarkable woman had coddled and protected her boy his entire life.
When she first met Betty, she fell to her charms and confided details of a life that hadn’t always been easy. She liked Betty but was blinded to possibilities other than her own possession of a man who had been at her beck and call for years.
She did her best to warn Betty that her dreams were not likely to be reciprocated.
Betty was never quite sure who the Mother was trying to protect, her son or a woman she’d come to be somewhat fond of. Her darkest suspicion was that the mother’s overriding inclination was to protect an exclusive relationship with a son that provided her with many benefits.
Betty had once jokingly told her “You know, you could share him a little.”
The serious reply, “No I don’t want to!” made Betty giggle.
She understood the dynamic between the mother and son very well and in the light of this knowledge knew that the odds of securing this woman’s help, were stacked against her.
In many ways, she reminded Betty of her own mother. When she was younger, many had told her she was ‘tied to her Mother’s apron strings’. Betty never minded the accusation, in fact, she liked the umbrella of safety in that garment.
The reality was that she had paid a price for this maternal bond.
Amongst other things, it had caused many problems in both her marriages. Her mates had been somewhat jealous that Betty’s mother seemed to come before them.
In many ways they were correct.
Betty wasn’t sure if it was complacency, habit or something else that kept Al tied to this dynamic with his mother. What she did know was that no amount of wishing, hoping and dreaming seemed to get him out of his mother’s arms and into hers.
In Betty’s carefully scripted play, where a life with Al became reality, she began the affair with fond hopes of being his bodyguard, a rather arrogant assumption implying that she understood what he needed.
Al may or may not have encouraged her.
In Betty’s imagination, when Al walked down the street, she could clearly hear him mutter…”Why am I short of attention, why are my nights so long, where’s my wife and family? What if I die here? Who will be my role model now that my role models gone?”
Betty desperately wanted to be his roly-poly little bat faced girl, walking down alleys with his arm around her.
It was a destiny that never seemed to unfold even though all along there were incidents and accidents, hints and allegations that gave Betty cause to hope.
And still Al continued to call her Betty, and she still continued to hold up hope that one day he might actually call her, and take the initiative in moving on to another stage in their relationship.
Betty yearned for a time when Al would realize that she was the girl he adored and a key to unlock the box that he had longed to break out of since as far back as he could remember.
In Al’s heart of hearts, that secret place he hid from the world, he knew himself to be a free spirit, an unchained artist.
A welder by trade, his hands while working were enclosed by thick fire impenetrable gloves. Even so, they held a magical power that never failed to set Betty’s desires towards a yearning that burned deep.
She would gaze longingly at Al’s hands.
His response to the raw desire in her eyes was to experience an itching that began as a tingling in his fingertips and traveled up the length of his sinewy arms. The sensuous energy urged him to draw Betty into his arms. He secretly longed to reach out and caress her ample curves. His hands tingled in anticipation of the glorious exploration he knew would follow.
Quite simply, against better judgment, Betty adored Al.
It took much imagination and great leaps of faith to make herself believe that he might feel the same towards her. And though she overlooked much, she was not blind to Al’s defects. In fact he had the ability to irritate her in a very small amount of time.
Sometimes this was done with little foresight, sometimes he studied the situation carefully and produced exactly the necessary words to send Betty into a sputtering tailspin.
He knew he had been successful when she was almost at a loss for words and began to turn an unflattering shade of purple.
His smirk became visible when her metaphors began to scramble like a poorly cooked breakfast.
His ultimate satisfaction occurred as Betty hissed at him, “you're just trying to provoke my buttons…..I mean you're just trying to poke my buttons…”
As she began to descend into a lake of tears, Al would snidely remark, “Are you trying to say I push your buttons?”
Betty instinctively reached for her cane.
Then came that day, the magical one Betty had prayed for.
She saw Al walking down the street.
It was a street in a strange world, maybe even the Third World.
It could well have been his first time around, it may even have been that he’d never really been there at all.
Poor Al. He didn’t speak the language, he was only a foreigner who didn’t speak the language, who held no currency.
He was surrounded by sound, it was like cattle in the marketplace, like scatterlings and orphanages.
His eyes were wide with terror, he looked around and around again.
He saw angels in the architecture, they all had Betty’s face and they spun on into infinity. An eternity of possibilities, and Betty’s softness the lure that pulled him forward.
He finally surrendered. He put up his own white flag of defeat and knew that he was in love and always would be.
He cried out Amen! Hallelujah!
He looked around for Betty, knew she had to be somewhere close, but lo and behold, she was nowhere to be seen.
He called, he searched, he looked all over. No Betty to be found.
Ginny however, much further down the road from the spot Harry stood upon, looked back and sighed.
Would Harry catch up with her?
Would he be able to perform the miracles that would induce her to give the whole affair an honest chance?
Well dear Reader, who really knows? For after all this is a work of fiction and though anything is possible, some things just aren’t meant to be.
Without doubt, some things are vastly out of the hands of mere mortals and must simply be left in the hands of a Higher Power.
And the BIG questions became, would Ginny stop and wait?
Would she continue to yearn for Harry?
Would she stop her own journey to allow him time to catch up?
The answer should be perfectly clear….
This story is taken from a chapter in a book I am working on, called:
”Fat Chance - Tales of Unrequited Love”.