Freddie, the French Bulldog

Freddie, the French Bulldog
Lazing on a sunny afternoon

Ellie Mae

Ellie Mae
Beautiful Ellie Mae

Ollie Mac

Ollie Mac
A boy and his elephant

Ollie and Annie

Ollie and Annie
Azorean grandmother

SoCal

SoCal
My excursion

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach
Walking along the berm

Papa and Ollie Mac

Papa and Ollie Mac
Priorities, Baby

Beauty

Beauty
Annie, my Sweetest of Apple Blossoms

Area 101

Area 101
Collins and Casey

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Monday, February 22, 2021

Tin Can Beach

 

The light in the wilderness

I could not go from a pinprick of light, brilliantly glowing in the timeless night void, to a grain of sand, lost in the endless sandy beaches of Southern California, without feeling ungrounded. That minute spark in the blackness was tangible proof of my presence, my very existence, whereas that grain of sand would likely remain forever, only one of an infinite number of others. Piling together those grains of sand together, however, like the sandy beaches of SoCal, creates some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. 

The first morning I was in SoCal, Denise and I strolled under idyllic skies along the berm in Sunset Beach, between homes lining the coastline, and the ocean. We gazed out to sea on the left, while inconspicuously trying to spot the barbecues belonging to each home that we passed on the right. Having both partied and stayed over in spots exactly like one of these back in the day, I felt strongly nostalgic there for a minute or two.


Fast-forwarding from the time period following my graduation from high school, to fifty years into the future, is enough to grind the gears of any 68-year-old “senior.” I could not differentiate between the cloudy images in my brain from my youth, and what I saw in front of me as Denise chauffeured me around her ‘hood.


When I said I felt ungrounded, I don’t mean that I felt so in Denise’s home-perish the thought! Set amidst a track of homes built in the late fifties, it is located about four miles from the coast. Her home has a spacious area out front and a back yard that is larger than normal because the road curves out in front of her home, elongating the back.



No, the feeling of being ungrounded had more to do with having homes to the left, right, rear and to the front of us, than anything else. It had to do with the image of the urban mosaic in my mind, from the vantage point of the airplane window seat. Finally, that feeling had to do with never being in a place outdoors, where there was not evidence of humanity’s presence. 


Having arrived at Dee’s late on Tuesday afternoon, I woke up Wednesday morning feeling buoyant. Part of this I attributed to the success of my plane flight and survival of the ride home from the airport, but most of it was because I had managed to fulfill a promise I had made to myself to visit Denise in her space.


Before I was drafted in January of 1972, I had spent more than a fair amount of time in this neck of the woods. Every chance I got I had strapped my ten-feet-one-inch-long Chuck Dent surfboard on top of my Nova and headed over to Bolsa Chica, or what had been called Tin Can Beach. When we were done with the early morning dances-with-waves part of the show, we would venture up the coast a short distance to Newport Beach. Food, rays and body surfing were the purported reasons for being there, but that was all subterfuge to the real mission: chicks. Fortunately, girls were also attracted to food, rays and body surfing, so it worked out nicely. I’m not sure I ever realized that people actually lived down there near the beach.


Wednesday we sauntered along the berm for a comfortable length of time before turning around to return to the car. Instead of walking out on the sand, though, we returned along the front of the homes we had just been checking out from the rear. Each was unique and pleasing to the eye. There were people out and about, many doing little tasks in front of those homes. 


We ended up walking down the center of the divided road, though, because masks on the locals were few and far between. The beautifully coifed median strip was planted with grass and palm trees, both central props for SoCal, but so perfect in their symmetry as to create an almost artificial air to the block.


What were the folks who lived along here like? Would living in this aesthetically stunning environment jade the average palate? Could one still find evidence that this was just an ordinary neighborhood in an extraordinary setting?


We were suddenly aware that an older model pick-up truck had drawn up alongside us from behind. The extended left arm of the driver, a weather-beaten older man, held out to Denise the scarf that she had unknowingly dropped on the avenue a few minutes earlier, a hundred or so feet back.


And just like that two grains of sand, strolling along the avenue, got noticed by the cosmos, and received a helping hand through the thoughtful gesture of a local.


It was such a genuinely sweet act of kindness (the scarf is one of Dee’s favorites) that it brought a glow of appreciation for a neighborhood that could be so kind to a total stranger. It also effectively answered my question about whether or not this could be an ordinary neighborhood in an extraordinary setting.


The proof is in the returned scarf.



Wednesday, February 17, 2021

I Got This

If you want excitement, betrayal, despair, chivalry and success all in one neat package, have I got a tale for you. 


We designated Saturday, the day before Valentine’s Day, as Denise’s arrival day from Orange County. This being our first together, plus the nature of long-distance romance created nice glow of anticipation. This plan was in place long before I got notification, that I was to be given the second Covid-19 vaccination on Friday. 


I emailed Dense that I would be in Santa Rosa to meet her 4:55PM flight, even though we both knew in advance that there could be side effects from the second vaccination the day after receiving it. Having experienced no side effects from the first vaccination except for a sore shoulder, I wasn’t skeered.


Having been given sage advice by Taylor to massage my shoulder where the needle had gone in, I did just that. We had to wait fifteen minutes before we could leave and then we had a forty-five minute ride home, so I just kept gently working that shoulder. 


As a result, when I woke up Saturday morning my shoulder was hardly sore at all and I felt no ill side effects from the vaccination. I had dressed in layers when I first got up and I kept both wood stoves stoked to make sure the house was plenty warm. I did nap during the day prior to setting off for Santa Rosa to pick up Denise, but I nap every day so I drew no conclusions.


I had informed Dee that I would be bringing the two dogs, Ellie Mae and Freddie the French bulldog. I put a dog blanket down on the back seat for the pups, got a water dish and some water together and fed the dogs before we left. Unfortunately, I forgot their leashes, which I realized at some point along the highway. I figured I would worry about that when I needed to. 


I was sailing along between Willits and Ukiah when I got a text message. Not one to try and walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, I pulled onto the shoulder of The 101 to see what was up. 



The text was succinct: “Don’t come to Santa Rosa; my flight has been cancelled.” I had already hung a u-banger across the highway and was headed north again when I got another text. I pulled off on the north off-ramp of Willits.


Denise had texted, “I can catch a plane to San Francisco and then Uber up to Santa Rosa. Can you still come and get me if I get in by 6:30?” My one-word response was, “DUDE!” only it came out, “DUD!” I sat there on that off-ramp and tried to figure it all out. I was looking at a two-hour delay at best down in ‘Rosa, and I had the two dogs with me-without leashes.


It was too much so I just phoned Denise. She sounded as cool as though she were reclining by the pool with a frosty Margarita in-hand. She said some things to me on the phone in calm and soothing tones, that she thought I might understand, but my brain had left the building. It was all kind of sad.


I said simply, “Tell me what you want me to do. I am past making a decision.”


“Come down to Santa Rosa and get me.” There, that was easy.


“Great success! I got this!” and I started up the car but instead of heading down to ‘Rosa, I drove to my son Ben’s spot, only a few minutes away. Arriving, I found he was not home so I called him and informed him of the airline’s betrayal of Denise. He told me he was five minutes away and would be right there. I stayed in the car with the heater going, as per my plan all along. I had been warned by multiple folks that chills were one of the side effects.


And of course, I couldn’t get out of the car with the dogs until I figured out a solution to the no-leash problem.


When he arrived Ben solved that by grabbing a tattered old leash that was handy and taking Ellie Mae into the house. I got out of the car at the same time, intending to snag Freddie, when a wave of cold hit me like an ice cream truck.


Chills racked my body as I maneuvered up the front steps and into the just-opened front door. The house was not much warmer than the outside air because Ben had not been there all day. I stood in the middle of the living room as spasms shook my entire body. I may have been more right than I thought when I said, “I got this!”


Ben had retrieved Freddie and closed the door behind him as he came into his house. Hitting the button that magically sent warm air circulating throughout the house, he came over to me. Grabbing a blanket from the sofa he started wrapping it around me while directing me to take a seat in the recliner part of the sofa.


Once situated, Ben proceeded to double up that blanket and tuck it around me on all sides. He assured me the heat was on and that the place would warm up quickly. 


“Listen, Dad. Why don’t I drive you to Santa Rosa to get Denise. I haven’t seen you since Christmas with all of the Covid stuff, and we can catch up.”


When I hemmed and hawed at the inconvenience to him, he added, “I was just leaving on my way up to your place to deliver a truck load of wood. I was going to hang out and see what’s up, but now we can do that on the way to Santa Rosa. Besides, it will give me a chance to get better acquainted with Denise.”


When he put it like that, I put all pretense of arguing aside, grateful for the helping hand at a critical junction. I just could not believe he was going to actually drive from Willits to Bell Springs, unload that truck and then drive all the way down to meet Denise’s plane at 6:30 in ‘Rosa, and then back to Willits.


Who is this guy? 


Believe it. When we pulled up in front of the terminal and texted Dee, she told us she was only four minutes away. It was half that. Independently of each other, one of us coming from Orange County and the other from Bell Springs Road, we met in Santa Rosa, arriving only two minutes apart.


I got out of the car to give Dee a hug and then repaired to the back seat, my blanket and my pups. It was a long ride home but at least I was warm and cozy and not experiencing any other possible Covid vaccination side effects.


If you tell me “Not all heroes wear capes” is a cliche, I will heartily agree. I’m just saying, Not all heroes wear capes.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

One Pizza, Delivered Please!

You know you are no longer on the mountain when:


…you have to bring the keys to your car into the house with you, when you return from an errand.


Fresh from the backyard...
… you walk out into the back yard and have your choice of fresh lemons or fresh oranges, waiting to be picked. 

…you see palm trees everywhere you go.


…someone asks if the dishwasher is full, and I say, “No, could you please pass those mashed potatoes over here?”


…you spend a week driving around local streets without seeing a dirt road. None.


…you see lawns.


…you go to the living room wall and push de button, and heat pours out into every room in the house. Downright surreal…


…you turn on the oven without having to turn on the generator first-or at all…because there is no genny.


…you do the laundry and there are no clothes draped over three or four clothes racks, the railings and the backs of dining room chairs afterwards-for forever.


… you spot a Toyota truck of any kind and you can determine what color it is because there is no layer of mud. [It’s also clean and waxed]


…you see houses to the left, houses to the right, houses in front of you and houses to the rear. 


…you hear the ding of a microwave.


…you can access Netflix without getting hypnotized by the spinning icon first.


…people wear masks like the guy with nine kids wears condoms, kind of hit and miss.


…you are in the diamond lane of a five-lane freeway.


… you go a week without putting the car into 4WD. Oh, check that. The car doesn’t have 4WD.


…you put coffee grounds down the sink, flick a switch and think to yourself, “Whatever is down there-I hope it never escapes.”


…you open the refrigerator and realize that your own fridge at home would fit inside the freezer section of this baby.


… you have members of the family arrive for a socially-distant, backyard visit, driving a golf cart. 


Welcome! Which arm, please?
… you find out that Covid vaccinations are being administered at Disneyland or Dodger Stadium.

… you get separated from your backpack going through Security and whisked aside-over there, please-for forgetting to ditch the water bottle.


… the sound that wakes you up in the morning is not coyotes, wood-peckers or roosters.


… you don’t see electrical cords crisscrossing your line of vision.


… not only do you not have to haul your trash and recycling away, they come and get it!


… there are no wood boxes to fill.


… there is nary a propane tank to be seen.


… you can have pizza delivered.














.


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Complicate My Life, Please

I am in a relationship with Denise. Ours is not a unique love story because we come from different sides of the railroad tracks, but rather, in spite of those tracks. Dang, there aren’t even tracks-just a five-mile dirt road, leading to another 595 miles of asphalt separating us. 

Bell Springs Road going north, from on
top of Blue Rock, or the railroad tracks...
As rocked as my world was to lose Annie, I had known for more than seven years that this was going to happen. I had also known that I was not going to go into any shell and smoke myself into oblivion, no matter how cozy that shell might have seemed. I was simply staggered by the degree to which I suffered from being lonely.


I even posted a piece of writing last March (https://markyswrite.blogspot.com/2020/03/mature-women-only-need-apply.html) in which I informed the readers of this space, of my intentions to pursue a mature woman, 

with whom to become involved in a committed 


relationship. I did not want to be by myself for the rest of my days.


Denise, a friend of mine who walked across the same high school graduation stage in 1970, was in a similar life position. As fate would decree, her home is in Westminster (Orange County, only four miles from the coastline), whereas my home is on a ridge-top in northern Mendocino County, five miles up a dirt road, off the grid.


Fortunately, Denise is a savage when it comes to her ability to maneuver around in today’s complex world. She is an independent woman who lives alone and enjoys traveling, which is why she wanted to come and visit the farm in the first place. 


And why was that? We have much in common from our background in SoCal as kids, graduating together and already being friends. We had each been recently involved in the hospice experience, we were both living by ourselves and we were what might be termed, geographically safe. Neither of us was moving anywhere. 


When she first proposed the visit, I interpreted it as someone who was out for a lark and I welcomed the diversion. The rest is history, as they say, as our correspondence seemed to have a life of its own.


As it is, Denise’s sense of adventure is in direct contrast to mine. I'm the guy who went more than four months without leaving the mountain, during the early part of the pandemic. Though I have flown to Asia (Japan and Korea), Europe (Ireland), criss-crossed the country twice and made many flights up and down between NorCal and SoCal, it had been a solid ten years since I had been on a plane.


As for the proprieties, I had made it clear in my blog piece that I was not interested in a casual relationship, and Denise had already made reservations to stay in Laytonville, so I didn't think any eyebrows would be raised. 


I did warn Denise about what she might expect from country life but I left certain tidbits for when we were up here together, and I could sense when the time was right. Some things about country living just need to be approached carefully, lest too much be revealed too soon.


The kitchen wood stove (and Ellie Mae)
Generally, when country living is compared to city living, the assumption is that living in the country is a simpler lifestyle, while the city is more complex. Let’s look at heating our respective homes. I heat my home in winter via two wood stoves, only one of which I burn when I am here by myself. Pretty simple, I guess, until I look closer.


Firewood must be obtained, whether by me when I was a minute or two younger, or by paying someone to cut and deliver it to me, up on the mountain. I am most fortunate in this regard, because one of my sons cuts, splits and delivers it, while the other two, through the farm, pay for it. 


I must then wheelbarrow it to the back of the house, stack it and then move it an armload at a time into the house, as needed. I spend a minute each day removing ashes from the previous day, and then I build a fire using kindling I have split up and stored, and slightly bigger pieces of wood to get the fire ready for bigger chunks of oak/madrone. After a while the house begins to warm up.


In contrast, Denise goes to de wall and pushes de button with one finger. Heat pours into every room in the house, unless she doesn’t want it to do so. If that is complex, I’d like to complicate my life accordingly.


I live five miles up a dirt road so I might see a half-dozen vehicles on the commute up or down the mountain, if it is during rush hour. By comparison, the only time I struggled in SoCal was being driven from the airport to Dee’s home, when I first arrived, during late afternoon rush hour traffic. We were in the diamond lane for vehicles which had two or more passengers, so we were going faster than the other lanes of traffic, by design.


There is no need for a diamond lane on Bells Springs Road.


I found the experience unnerving until Denise gently suggested that I simply shut my eyes. From behind closed eyes, I thanked her, saying I hadn’t wanted to be rude but that I had been struggling. There were way more than six vehicles on the freeway down in Orange County.


February, 2019
So no, I do not have indoor forced-air heating, a dishwasher, clothes dryer, microwave, garbage disposal, mail delivery, recycling/trash/green pickup or remotely comparable internet access. I am not plugged into PG&E, which sounds less complex, but actually requires far more personal involvement in providing my home with power. On the other hand, with a generator backing up our solar power system, we don’t have to worry about blackouts because of bad weather. We just have to [carefully] remove the snow from the solar panels. 


Denise and I have not yet figured out a way to be together at both residences simultaneously, so one of us has to visit the other if there is to be an “us.” Until my excursion down to SoCal last week, all the heavy lifting had been done by Denise. In addition to leaving her modern, beautiful home, she also has had to leave behind her beloved dog, Clyde, with whom I got well-acquainted while down there. Her adult kids have sparkled when it comes to supporting Denise in this department.


I think it is because Denise is kind, compassionate, generous, giving, beautiful and loving. The idea that she would venture 600 miles from her comfort zone to visit me, was simply intoxicatingly sweet.  We then proceeded to exchange pleasantries via email for six weeks before we met in person. I felt wanted and even desired. That is what solid relations are based on, or so say the girls I go with.


Next: SoCal through NorCal eyes




Sunday, February 7, 2021

Who Is Dee?

Though my life around me crashed and burned slightly over a year ago, I refused to crash with it. Like the now famous Chesley Sullenberger (Captain Sully), I managed to make an emergency landing, and have subsequently clawed my way out from the depths of sadness to find happiness again. 

This is where my trip down to SoCal comes into play: I went down to Huntington Beach to visit Denise, a friend of mine in high school, and someone with whom I have recently grown close. Our story is not your garden-variety love story, first because we hooked up during a world pandemic and second, because it was a case of City Girl being attracted to Country Boy on social media, and being intrigued. 

Denise was as stunned as the rest of my universe when I posted about Annie slipping away from us, a year ago in January. She wrote me a long letter at that time, expressing sorrow and revealing some things about herself, that let me know we shared some commonalities. 

As 2020 inched its way along, we barreled head-on into a world pandemic. 

I went 134 consecutive days without leaving the mountain early on, before I went down to the Eel River of a Sunday afternoon in August. It was not long before this when I had received what could only be described as a thunderbolt-out-of-the-blue letter from Denise, with an amazing message. 

At last, something that is orange and good...
Like most, she hated being confined to quarters, and she practiced appropriate social distancing meticulously. No hugs for grandkids from Masked Nana when meeting outdoors in the spacious backyard, and curbside pickup for groceries in a setting where Californians actually protested [against] the wearing of masks. Yes, Virginia, Orange County is indeed, orange. 

None of that need have had an impact on Denise, who built a career on being able to handle adversity in the workplace. Functioning as a supervisor for much of her career, Denise was no stranger to filing sex discrimination suits and sexual harassment suits, successfully. In her own words she has “always been 
about fairness ad employee empowerment. 

I do NOT owe my soul to the company store.” 

Dee wrote that she made reservations in Laytonville for six days in early September, for the purpose of coming up to visit on-farm each day. Specifically, she wanted to walk in nature, observe me as the chef of HappyDayFarms and she wanted to check out any harvesting going on while she was visiting. 

Now, Denise and I had been exchanging pleasantries on social media for a couple of years already, renewing a friendship that began in high school. We were chums, with Denise having attended St. Christopher’s elementary school, while I went to St. Martha’s. I mention this because we had many friends in common from Bishop Amat High School, with whom Denise had also attended grade school. Denise and I walked across the same stage in May of 1970, the only class in Amat history to have done so in May. 

Between the time in late July of last year, when I received the letter announcing her road trip, and the time Denise arrived on September 8th, we had exchanged many emails. Among the first ones I sent to her was an invitation to forego the exotic nature of Laytonville’s motels, and stay on the mountain in the recently refurbished Big House. 

Just the logistics of having to make the drive from Laytonville to the farm, including five miles of dirt road, seemed overwhelming. Add to that staying in Laytonville? Does the fun never end? 

On top of it all, as Dee was driving from SoCal halfway on September 7th, all hell broke loose all over our neck of the woods. Local wildfires running amuck shut down The 101 and forced Denise to head over to Highway One, where she maneuvered up to Branscomb Road, and then inland to The ‘Ville. 

Through skies darkened as though at night, Denise made her way up to the farm, arriving twelve hours before the decision was made that we needed to evacuate. I will say that had Denise not been there, I would never have left that mountain, but I now had new responsibilities. We headed up to Eureka, staying from Wednesday afternoon until Sunday morning. 

Consider it your basic baptism by fire. 

Next: The Union of the North and the South

Friday, February 5, 2021

Step-by-Step into the Chasm

The problem with planning my itinerary across a swaying plank bridge, step-by-step, is that when we left out a step, I fell through that bridge and into the chasm. 

Flying into Orange County Airport
I accept full responsibility for the omission; I was the Stranger in a Strange Land, not anyone else. It was up to me to envision my path-not someone else. Dee and I had gone over the process of getting me from Orange County Airport, to Santa Rosa Airport twice, step-by-step. I had overthought it sufficiently, if that is even possible, and I was ready for action-ready for danger: ready to get dropped off in front of the Alaska Airlines Terminal.


Wait! Are you really driving off? I mean, it’s not as though I didn’t know this moment was coming, but yikes! Talk about caught in the headlights…


Whereas Dee and I had gone over my steps back to Santa Rosa twice together, I had also made more solo flights inside my cauliflower brain than I could keep track of. Every one of those rehearsals committed the identical sin of omission: how to escape from Parking Lot A, to the freedom of The 101. 


Dee had parked the car so it was the closest to the walkway coming from the terminal. I knew right where the car was and right where the exit was; I was the Pro from Dover on a routine mission. After all, each step of the way from SoCal had proceeded according to plan, and not even the delay in the departure time (about an hour), had fazed me one iota. 


Delay? Say What? Delay!? Are we talking hours or days? Should I pitch a tent?


Even having the big policeman confiscate my backpack, while going through Security, and telling me to “meet him over there…” indicating the ominous regions out of view of the others, did not bother me. There was nothing in my backpack that could possibly have led to trouble.


I must have said “My bad” to that nice policeman three times. How do I know he was nice? Because he did not yell at me for being a pain in his ass. I guess a plastic water bottle could just have easily been a Molotov cocktail. Who even remembered it was there?


Walking along the berm on Wednesday.
I was almost the first on the plane and almost the first off, and all it cost me was an extra thirty bones. I thought about boarding last and debarking first, but I didn’t figure it mattered if I read John Grisham in the waiting room or on the plane. Everyone was masked and remaining socially distant. 


As George Carlin put it, I could sit in the waiting room, or wait in the sitting room. 


Boarding the plane first meant I could dig into my Subway sandwich, acquired while waiting from the shop within eyesight of Alaska Airlines Terminal. I had waited until there were no patrons to be seen, put my backpack on, left my suitcase within eyesight and made a beeline.


Can’t wait for the flight attendant to bring the snack tray around while I’m munching half of a footlong. I could use a bag of peanuts to go with this. 


Dude just called me Mark! Gawd, I love First Class…


I ate half my sandwich on the plane and half just before debarking the car (sorry) for Raley’s, to grab some much needed provisions. But first I needed to exit Lot A. And wouldn’t you know it? The instant I pulled up to the gate, where I still might have had a chance, a sleek, black sedan pulled up behind me, right behind me.


Then another vehicle pulled up behind Sleek, Black Sedan and the rest is a blur. That SOMETHING needed to happen, I knew with a certainty. The iron bar across my path was not going to open simply by my saying, “Open Sesame.” 


Oh, Fudge Ripple! [or something like that]. The charge card! I use the charge card! I know THAT much. I have it right here. Now what? I Know! I’ll just stick the charge card in one of those slots on the bar-raiser-thing, and the bar-raiser-thing will cosmically recognize that I am who I am and that I have been here-nooooooooooooooooooooo-wrong hole! Wrong Hole!


Something was not right and if it’s not right-it’s gotta be wrong.


Profusely passing on my apologies through vague but expressive hand gestures, I managed to maneuver Dee's new Honda out from between the gate and the sleek, black car, without damaging either. I appealed to the throng of waiting cars, that even though this was my doing, they should not hold me responsible, for I was a lost soul. There were now five cars in the line, with thousands more waiting to join them. OK, you got me. The thousands of cars waiting were only inside my head.


Why hadn’t I just sat in my parking space before starting the engine, and done nothing for another minute or two? 


By this time the woman who was driving the sleek, black sedan had made a call to the terminal, and alerted the powers that be that there was an issue in Parking Lot A. Within a minute a knight in full regalia, galloped on a white stallion from out of the terminal, and high-tailed it out to the bar-raising-thingie of Parking Lot A.


Once there, he jumped out of his golf cart and extracted my just-acquired-stimulus card from the devious device. The throng of waiting vehicles from Parking Lot A was then able to exit, stage left.


Still spinning myself, I awaited as the attendant then hastened over to me and inquired, “Do you have the ticket that you got when you first parked here-how many days ago was that?” “Six days,” I said.


Ticket? Oh, yeah, duh. The Ticket. Where was that dude?


“There it is,” he added, pointing to the center console, alongside my right thigh, right where Dee had placed it. “You just need to insert that where you had the charge card.” He made it sound so simple even I could follow his directions. 


“Don’t worry,” he assured me, and I really did want to believe him, “it happens all the time.” 


Seriously? I had wanted to say, but held my tongue. I figured it was better to say nothing and have him think me an idiot, than to open my mouth and prove him correct.



Next: Why was I In SoCal? And who is Dee?