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Friday, March 25, 2011

Miss Havana on Love

While I lived, love was simple. If Mr. Right wanted to love me, he needed to bring money and lots of it. That worked when drugs didn’t, booze couldn’t and sex was a temporary fix. I believed easy girls opened their legs, smart girls open their minds and foolish girls opened their hearts. I was smart and easy, but never foolish.

Maybe I’ve grown a little since my death, servitude with Lucifer and stint in heaven’s probation, but I see things differently now that observing love has stabbed me in the heart. While I lived, I believed there was a "lie" in believe, "over" in lover, "end" in friend, "if" in life and after Monday and Tuesday, the rest of the week was simply “WTF!” Back then, had I been a bird, I would’ve shit on you just to light the fuse on your tampon. Now I know a man doesn't need to undo your top to see a better view of your heart, and that love is being able to pee in front of him, fart on him, eat whatever and how much you want and constantly win arguments.

I don’t talk about it much, but here’s a scene from my staring role in Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! when I began to get a clue about love. Yes, even I can learn by observing:

Jack returns in three hours. As promised, he has new child car seats, supplies for the children, just in case they are short on things at home, Jackie’s clothes, and a huge surprise. When the children have been fed and are playing in their rooms, he takes Jackie by the hand, pulls a small box from his coat pocket and kneels. “I should have asked you sooner. Will you marry me?”

No pretense. No preparation. No warning. Jackie is stunned. “I…I don’t know. Would you ask if my sister were alive? Is this a sympathy proposal?”

He smiles and shakes his head. “My time with you has been the happiest of my life. I love you, Jackie, with every fiber of my soul, I love you. Your sister’s death might have encouraged me to act sooner, but there’s no question I would have asked at some point. I want to be with you. I want to love you. I want to be part of your life, to raise these children with you. Let’s do it together. They need a family. So do we.”

She sheds more tears, but these are different; these are tears of joy. She kneels in front of him and pulls him close, sobbing deeply. “Then yes. I love you, too, so very much. This will be a our family, and we’ll do it together.”

I can’t stand it. The love between them rips my soul more strongly than Lucifer’s demons ever could. I want to bawl. I need to leave. At no time while I lived did any man love me like that. For that matter, I never loved another with such passion as she loves him. Why, oh why, did I waste my life?

The more I observed, the more I hurt. I tried many times to join with those two during the pleasure of passion, but was immediately reprimanded for attempting to steal pleasure from the living. Sternly warned by my guide that I mustn’t engage in theft while on probation, I gradually learned what many of the living knew all along. Men and women are different, and not just physically—their mind’s process data in vastly different ways. She needs affection, conversation, honesty and openness, financial support and family commitment. He needs sex, recreational companionship, an attractive spouse, domestic support and admiration. To my surprise, the top five needs of each gender don’t overlap at all.

Let’s look at these top five briefly. Men see life as sex you can't have, while women don’t care much about it at all. Women need affection, which is vastly different from sex. Sex isn’t one of her top five, but affection isn’t one of his either. It’s one of God’s little jokes.

Now, before you take issues with me, remember God has given me the ability to understand what people want to hear, and then say what they need to hear. That’s the reason I have an advice column and you don’t. You need to hear this. Judge me all you want, but don't think I'll give a damn. My point in mentioning this is simply to say, ladies, if you deny his need, there will be trouble, and guys, if you deny her need, there will be hell to pay. Want to get along? Give a little romance, guys, to get a little sex. Easy enough. A card, some flowers, a gentle thank you, snuggling just for the heck of it—you get the idea.

So what’s next? Ah, yes. Conversation vs. recreational companionship. He wants someone to play with; she wants to talk. Men view meaningful conversation like medicine. It can cure some things but can be harmful if taken in excess. “Whine, whine, whine. I'm so miserable when you’re gone, it's almost like you're still here.” Listen with your hearts, guys, she needs to talk about how she feels about the events of her day, not about your favorite fishing hole.

Most dates center around showing each other affection and talking. Try treating the woman in your life in that way. And ladies, leave the ugly looks behind. If looks could kill, the male race would have died out eons ago. Be prepared to hike, go boating, ski or some similar activity. For me, rugby is totally out, but I can offer a couple of tips for good conversation: don’t use it to punish each other, don’t use it to force the other to agree to your point of view, and don’t dwell on past mistakes. Enough said.

Honesty and openness vs. an attractive spouse is a personal favorite of mine—need number three for women vs. men. I’ve always told men, if you want a perfect girl, go buy a Barbie, while in response I’ve heard, “Time may be a great healer but its a lousy beautician.” Okay, maybe it sucks on both sides, but let’s look a tad deeper. What a man really wants is the woman he married, and men aren’t completely oblivious either. If he married a natural girl who later turns into Tammy Faye, then he might resent it. With fake tan, fake eyes, fake hair and fake nails, he might respond, “Bitch, were you made in China?”

On the other hand, honesty is a big thing for women—love is not an excuse to put up with shit that you shouldn't. Guys, screw with a woman’s trust, and you will destroy both her sense of security and your relationship. Lying sucks. Cheating sucks. Don’t do it.

Girls, there are limits on this score you should heed. After an evening fight one husband taunted, “Good night mother of three” and his wife replied, “Good night father of none.” That might be taking honesty to the wrong place. Trust also means keeping jealousy in check. Remember, love might be blind but jealousy has 20-20 vision.

Which brings us to financial support vs. domestic support. It’s the hunter-gatherer thing. Women expect men to bring home the mastodon, while men expect women to keep the cave clean and the children in check. It’s a fair balance that needs to be maintained between reasonable people. Happy couples live on what they need, not what they want. They also budget and live by it. But here’s a news flash, guys: in many modern families, both partners work. That means both should share the domestic chores too. Demanding the cave be cleaned while she’s hunting the mastodon will get you tossed out of the cave. Do your share.

Lastly, a tough one, her need for family commitment vs. his for admiration. This is like saying she and her kids are a package. Guys, you need to accept both. Being a good father means taking time with the kids, helping them mature and being part of the solution to their problems while not contributing to them. A basic rule is any dick can make a baby, but it takes a real man to be a father. The corollary is the best husbands are the best fathers.

Now, ladies, about this admiration thing, I understand the difference between men and pigs is that pigs don't turn into men when they drink. That can be a problem. I also understand the way to find a perfect man is to put on nice clothes, do your hair and make-up, cook, and then give up because none of them are perfect. I know, I know, many of you believe your knight in shining armor turned out to be a loser in aluminum foil, but if you knew that going in and the man you wanted when you married him is still in there, then he needs to be admired by you. If you show him genuine admiration, he will bend over backward to try to please you. Men need approval; don’t force them outside your relationship to find it.

Thank you for reading today. If I offended anyone, get over it. I leave you with this toast: here’s to the men who won us, the losers that lost us and the lucky guys yet to meet us,

Miss Havana

Note: Miss Havana is the outrageous leading lady in The Substitute, a novel available in PDF from http://www.solsticepublishing.com/ and in Kindle format from Amazon.com (search the Kindle store using the key words James L. Hatch). The Substitute is the first of a paranormal comedy trilogy staring Miss Havana. The second novel, Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! is being edited for publication by Solstice Publishing. The third, The Training Bra, is currently being written.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Earth-Shaking Events of March

As a former substitute teacher, I always have plenty to say about most everything, but even I was surprised at all the vital events associated with this very special month. For example, who knew National Noodle Month and National Craft Month coincided with National Frozen Food Month? They do! Really. Perhaps you were already aware of that, but being the devilishly curious sort I am, I needed to know if more earth-shattering events lined up in March like a rare alignment of planets!

I frantically Googled…and then looked up wide-eyed from the vivid colors on my computer screen, gazing across the peaceful snow-covered limestone formations out my back window and over the serenity of the lake beyond. My mouth dropped agape in near shock. There are more, many more, and I was awed by the plethora of incredibly important March events that scrolled up on my screen!

Just considering the critically important individual days of March nearly made me swoon. Did you know that March 1st is National Pig Day? I suspect not! It’s simply amazing that most people completely ignore it, as well as National Pound Cake Day on the 4th; Multiple Personality Day on the 5th; Barbie’s birthday on March 9th; Buzzard Day on March 13th, an important carry-over from the Great Hinkley Varmint Hunt of December 24, 1818, that has unfairly taken a backseat to the beginning of daylight savings time; Potato Chip day on the 14th; Submarine Day and the birthday of the rubber band on March 17th, both of which have somehow been overshadowed by St. Patrick’s Day; Sparky the Fire Dog’s birthday on the 18th, again unfairly overcome by Johnny Appleseed Day; National Teenagers Day on the 21st, which, let’s be real, no one celebrates except with a headache; National Goof Off Day on the 22nd, which everyone seems to celebrate every day; National Toast day on the 22nd, which is generally eclipsed by National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day on the 24th; Something on a Stick Day on the 28th (really); and let’s not forget, Tater Day on the 31st.

Why, the opportunities to party down simply boggle the mind. However, beyond these vital important days of note, and ignoring that the second week of March coincides with both National Bubble Gum Week and National Crochet Week, I was shaken to the core to realize that today, March 9, 2011, is…National Panic Day! Trust me, I would not kid you about something so serious. On this day, everything you know—everything I know—could simply disappear. Poof, it’s all gone! You must restrain yourself in light of this new knowledge, and try not to press the panic button until the day is over. But then, if the day reaches a peaceful conclusion, you might not need to press the panic button at all. Not knowing what could happen, here are some suggestions to help you through the day:

a. The fetal position. Try it. It’s very comforting, especially when properly robed in a ‘Snuggie’ and accompanied by new age music and aroma therapy. By the way, did you know that new age music played backwards sounds like new age music?

b. Use a pillow. Fold one over your face and scream into it, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!’ To be most effective, you must scream at least ten times or until your voice fades, whichever comes last, but don’t hold the pillow over your face while breathing—only while screaming.

c. Watch violent movies. I recommend the Steven Segal series because the sound of other people’s bones breaking can be quite comforting, especially if you are in the midst of a nasty divorce.

d. Blitzed. This is a good state to be in if everything goes “POOF!”

e. Adopt a cat. Cat ownership will make you feel so insignificant you won’t care if it all ends.

f. Pierce your eyebrows. It will make you even less relevant than owning a cat. Two piercings and people won’t even know you’re in the room.

g. Deep breathing in a paper bag helps in most all panic situations, if you can find one. Plastic bags aren’t recommended.

h. Finally, better living through chemistry. Try Prozac.

March is also well-known for both people and events. Who can forget the astrologer who warned Caesar to be on guard on March 15th, 44 BC? Caesar greeted him smugly on the way to the Senate, feeling quite self-assured that dire forecasts of bodily harm were completely off base, ‘The Ides of March has come’, and the seer responded with sadness, ‘Aye, Caesar, but not gone.’ Yes, March is truly a noble month, where pleasantries are exchanges in all circumstances.

Of course, ‘Near Miss Day’ is a day that simply can’t be missed. The day is so named because 4581 Asclepius, a small asteroid of the Apollo group, passed within 680,000 km of Earth on March 22, 1989. Unfamiliar with it’s name? You might remember it by it’s alternate designation, “B 1989 FC Category Apollo asteroid Orbital elements C Epoch November 26, 2005 JD 2453700. 5 Eccentricity”. Asclepius is named after the Greek demigod of medicine and healing, not for its potential for destruction, but it received special note because it passed through the exact position of Earth only six hours earlier, a close call on the cosmic scale of things. A tiny deviation in orbital mechanics, and Asclepius would have punched our lights out, releasing energy equivalent to a 600 megaton atomic bomb, which itself is the equivalent of one Hiroshima-sized atomic bomb detonating every second for 50 days. Clearly, ‘Near Miss Day’ is a day to be celebrated with the whole family.

And let’s not forget my personal favorite, the vernal equinox, or as my people call it, Ostara—the day of equal darkness, ‘equinox’ literally meaning “equal night”. That event occurs between March 19 and March 21, and starts the clock for Easter, which falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. As I indicated in my book, The Substitute, Lucifer still claims he got a bad wrap for that one, but Lilith settled that score once and for all!

Oh, pardon, I digress. The Vernal Equinox sets the date for Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday as I always called it when Mrs. Wansworth was present. Mardi Gras was a personal party time favorite of mine when I lived, and it was extremely reliable, always being exactly forty-six days before Easter. But the Vernal Equinox has been around much longer than Easter. In fact, since the Earth began turning. Even early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it points directly toward the rising Sun on that day.

The Vernal Equinox is also the day when Wiccans and Neopagans gather in a circle around a fire to celebrate, some ‘star clad’, which is a fun topic in itself. When a bell rings thrice, a parchment is passed from person to person. Each writes what they want most, thus affirming their heart’s desire and helping them to attain it. The leader then takes the parchment to the altar and lights it, allowing the ashes to fall into a soil-lined bowl before mixing the ashes and soil with a special knife. The participants dance around the circle, hugging and kissing each other in a time of merriment, drinking and feasting. Ah, yes, fond memories celebrating fertility, a topic I can go on and on about, but my time is up.

It’s been most extraordinary being with you today, but before I go I’d like to push my book, The Substitute. I, Miss Havana, am the star of that novel, but my public persona is far from the truth because, in my capacity as substitute teacher, the small community where I lived knew me as the breathtakingly beautiful young woman who demanded every student learn (the fools), but in my private life, ostensibly caring for aging parents in Chicago, I raced through the lives of powerful men, leaving a wake of destruction…and a deep desire for revenge. Little did I realize my conflicted life would end in a chaotic a death at an early age, and to eternal conflict with the devil. The Substitute is clever and witty, your really should get a copy from http://www.solsticepublishing.com/ or http://www.amazon.com/The-Substitute-ebook/dp/B004M18UI2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1299840257&sr=1-1, and I promise you won’t guess the conclusion until the final paragraph!

Excerpt from The Substitute told from Lucifers POV during his first day on the surface for some time:

The extremely dark sunglasses I take from Fred tone down the sun’s glare and make me look cool, but from my bus stop vantage point, things appear to have changed a lot since my last visit here, especially the quantity of people and the complexity of everything around me. However, I suspect people remain essentially the same as I knew them in the distant past, even though they’ve replaced their stinking camels with stinking automobiles.

A large brown delivery truck whizzes by, oblivious to everything but the green light ahead, and splashes water from a gutter puddle onto an old lady nearby. Not that I care about the old lady. I don’t in the slightest, but it seems a call to irony if I’ve ever seen one, as well as an opportunity to disrupt the orderly flow of things. I change the oncoming light to green with a single thought and another large truck carrying sugar races through the intersection to meet the first squarely in the middle. Both spill their cargo onto the ground, blocking the intersection completely. Ah, chaos. Before I amble on, I ensure every ant in the vicinity rushes in to check out the free meal spread across the ground.

I stretch my arms and crack my knuckles, feeling smug that I’ve still “got it”, and briskly step out toward Burger Town, but few people notice me. That will have to change. I’ve grown to expect far more adoration over eternity—or at least a little fear. I will demand it here as well after I rid myself of the black-and-yellow checkered shirt provided by my employer. Although, in my not so delicately modified condition, I suspect the fawning of women will be wasted on me. Waldo is in for some very rough times when we return to my home.

Burger Town is a beehive of activity as I enter fashionably late. I casually pick up an apron and hair net on my way through the kitchen, trying to look as much like the other toiling fools as possible. Taking time to enjoy the refreshing moist heat and smell of searing meat, a touch of home to be sure, I note with interest the smoking rancid oil would be a nice aroma therapy addition to my own d├ęcor.

A young man removes frozen meat patties from the freezer as I wander aimlessly toward the back of the establishment. I can’t resist picking one up and taking a bite, like having a refreshing Popsicle on a hot day. He looks at me with an absolutely blank expression, apparently having checked his emotions when he came to work, takes the partially eaten patty and throws it on the grill. “Look, dude, you’re not all that new here. You don’t eat ‘em, you fry ‘em…right there.”

Ah, sarcasm! If everyone is like this, I can see how Miss Havana learned to be so irritating. I begin frying the pile, but change things up a bit by adding a layer of flies between patties. I also concoct a touch of botulism for each slice of meat, knowing I’m doing everyone who will eat here today a big favor. While burgers generally cause considerable weight gain, these particular ones won’t. I snicker just thinking of the rampant diarrhea that will fill the customers’ evenings for the next few weeks, assuming they survive.

By eleven I’ve grown weary of playing with the meat patties. This job, unlike eternal judgment, has no requirement for creative expression whatsoever. I hand my yellow-and-black checkered shirt to my nearest neighbor, the guy handling the buns and cheese, and I walk out of the kitchen with the tune of “Take This Job and Shove It” playing in my mind, just as the lunch crowd is beginning to gather. Finally, recognition! But the boos and jeers of my co-workers, as I leave them short-handed, are somehow less satisfying than those from my normal gallery. In fact, many encourage my premature return to my home.

Thank you all for reading!

Miss Havana

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana

You all know I provide forthright answers to difficult questions, but did you know I am also the subject of two novels? The Substitute was the first, a hilarious romp through my brief life, death and stint in hell. Few are aware of the second, Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! now being considered for publication by Solstice Publishing. In the second, I am in probation somewhere on the outskirts of heaven. Here is a brief sample of the humor, which I personally believe is funnier than hell!

I tear open the envelope, but the heavy paper cuts my finger with a vengeance. I shake my hand with a snap and nearly scream a profanity, but catch myself. I haven’t forgotten The Brazilian’s warning: “Yo’ got to clean up yo’ act, Miss Havana, we don’ talk like that here! If yo’ don’ follow the rules, yo’ be highly disappointed with the outcome.” I can’t imagine what he means—like, would they really send me back to my former home where my daughter is in charge? Frankly, I think they wouldn’t like that outcome. My daughter and I could do a considerable amount of damage, and that would be especially true if Lucifer joined in. I could organize quite a comeback, especially if I could pry Lucifer’s lazy ass off his straight-backed chair.

What’s this, an invitation? It looks like a carefully folded doily. Do people really send shit like this anymore? I scan the invite as a trickle of blood from my finger runs raggedly down the doily, until I get to the last line. “RSVP, Regrets Only”. What the fuck?

What in my home is that about? Sure I have regrets, doesn’t everyone? I regret the two pounds I gained after high school—never lost those bastards. Regret getting pregnant on prom night, too, but I’m not sure I regret the abortion that followed. If there’s a party, how much shit would I have to list before I get a pass to the food and liquor? Crap! Parties, who needs them! I place the doily back into the envelope and put it in my pocket next to my new watch. It’s probably against some obscure rule to litter here, especially with The Brazilian sitting—. Whoa, where is that bastard? Damn I hate that.

After some time enjoying the sun, I head back along the path. I’m delighted to see the long table has been cleared of food; I hope dinner will even be more spectacular than breakfast and make a mental note, “Drop some food for the old broad in the wheelchair.”

Back in the barracks I’m faced with the same vexing problem—which one is my bed? I should have counted the number from the door. I pick one arbitrarily in the approximate area where I’m sure mine is located and am about to settle down when I notice a small book on the pillow two beds farther from the door. I could be a sign. I casually meander to it, and am certain it’s for me when I read the title: “The Twelve Step Program”.

I sigh deeply, sit on the bed and scan the book. It’s not much to look at or read, but it makes a great bed marker. There’s not a soul in sight, even the unpleasant Mrs. McBrady is missing, so I pull the invitation from my pocket to look it over again before crumpling it and tossing it on the floor. Lying down with my feet on the scratchy woolen blanket doesn’t help. I’m still fuming that I must dredge up irrelevant regrets just to get a drink.

Before I can drift off, however, The Brazilian appears. My cheery guide always seems high on caffeine, and this time is no different. He picks up the invitation and smoothes it out between his hands. “Why, Miss Havana, yo’ needs to deal with yo’ invite. The party just won’t be the same without yo’. I mean, this year, yo’ be the guest of honor!”

I sit up and immediately smooth the blanket to avoiding responding, but must admit it’s been a long damn time since I’ve been the center of attention. “They will have liquor, won’t they?”

The Brazilian seems taken back, but by now I’m absolutely certain he’s just acting. There’s nothing I can do that should surprise him. After all, he has my file, not to mention that his efforts to train me have fallen flat. He responds anyway. “Oh, Miss Havana, there be much better than liquor there. Yo’ just need to come. Yo’ll see. Yo’ don’t need to list all those regrets, either. Everyone there already knows yo’ soul be burdened with them.”

Oh, shit. Just what I need, another full exposure encounter group. Don’t they ever do anything here just for the fun of it? I sign deeply. “Okay, okay, I’ll go, but only if you tell me why they call you The Brazilian.”

He cocks his head and shakes his finger slowly. “Oh, that’s been eatin’ at yo’ for some time, ain’t it. Okay, since it’s nearly Christmas, I’ll tell yo’, like a early Christmas gift, but the secret gots to stay just between the two of us.”

He pauses, probably waiting for my agreement. I scoot to the edge of the bed, look him directly in the eyes and respond flatly, “Fine.”

“Okay, then. Yo’ knows me to be a fastidious fellow, a true meterosexual, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I got my name because I always waxed my privates when I existed below. My bottom was always smooth as a baby’s!”

He radiates pride as I slap my forehead. TMI! The image disgusts me. “Oh, crap, sorry I asked.”

He grins. “Sometimes it’s best to not know all the details, Miss Havana. Like dis here party. Yo’ just needs to come, open yo’self up to it, and not fret about the details. Yo’ needs to trust me. I is yo’ guide. I do yo’ no harm.”

What bullshit. It turned out to be an intervention! And they didn’t have booze. Is anything ever what it seems?

Yours in Spirit,

Miss Havana