May 22 ē 05:15 AM

Familiar characters in twisted love triangle

June 27, 2007
I don't know how he got in, but there he is, big as life.

Bigger, even. Bigger than I remember, in fact. He seems to bulk up more and more every time he makes his annoying little appearance.

Stress in a t-shirt two sizes too small appears to want to make himself at home with me and quite frankly I'm not in the mood to play hostess.

Does that matter to this particular musclebound foe? Negative. In fact, that's what he's all about. That's one of his favorite words. His steady diet—sprinkled with a little sour moodiness, swilled down with a couple of shots of pouty control.

He elbows his way right through my door, hovers like an obnoxious tourist clad in loud clothing. Shoving his way up to the front of the line. Hogging all the space. Towering like an ominous mountain whose shadow goes on for miles.

He wants to get his tensed up paws on me, this I know. And while he's really not my type—what with the pointy spiked hairdo and sharp, weathered edges of his jawline, I'm oddly attracted. Stress has a way of insinuating himself with me and I find it difficult to give him the brush off. I am, after all, a nice person. And he's desperate for my attention.

"Look at the huge pile of gifts I bring you," he says, confident voice booming.

Indeed, right before me they loom large: bills, deadlines, chores, upkeep, diet, chores, deadlines, bills, exercise, pets, family, self-discipline, self-examination, shortcomings, bills, chores, and more deadlines are all stacked up like craggy lumps of coal and Stress wants me to smolder under the pile and snuggle up to the heat.

He follows me around—nags me like a shrew and insists that I pay attention to him right now. And later on. And tomorrow. And the next day. I'll give him this—he's persistent. He's not a good listener but he's pretty strong. And he's in love with himself, obviously, and thinks I should welcome him with open arms. And sometimes I even do. Good Grief!

Just like my gut tells me, inviting Stress into my little sanctuary is never good. Never. Not once, not one bit. For one thing, he's boring as all get out. Sure, sure there are the "gifts" and all, but they're always the same: bills, deadlines, chores, self-discipline, self-examination, etc. etc. etc. Boooorrrrring. Secondly, he's just a tad bit too paranoid for my liking. If I try to give him the boot he comes up with bizarre speculations about my honest rejection and all sorts of admonitions about the terrible fate I'll seal by doing so: missed deadlines, unpaid bills, disappointment, weight gain, blahblahblah. I'll admit, this makes it somewhat easy for me to string him along.

That is until Harley calls.

Harley. That lean, lanky friend of some 15 years. Sure he's loud, and a little bit cranky, but he's really, really smooth.

"I'm right here, Cat," Harley whispers from his post in the barn. "I'm always here for you, don't you know?"

Well, no. I don't always know. Sometimes I have to be reminded. Harley's not as pushy as Stress. He's not around as much, either. It's not that he's a fair weather friend, but when I really think about it, that's exactly what he is. For a good seven months of the year Harley makes his fine self scarce. And believe it or not, that's quite alright with me. Perfect, almost, in my opinion. None of that 24/7 type stuff that Stress and others of his ilk insist on.

So needless to say, Harley's not always accessible, so he's not always at the forefront of my mind.

But when he's ready to get together, there's nothing like it. Year after year, it's true what they say—absence makes the heart grow fonder.

We meld together and become one. Harley beckons me to hit the road, reminds me how much fun we have together and for the next couple of months I'm like a newlywed. And Stress is left standing at the altar, wringing his hands, all worked up into a tizzy, watching himself grow smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror, vaporizing into a cloud of dust. Buh-bye, sucka!

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Castle Creek
Milnes Ford
05 - 22 - 19
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