Single. Single is
a bad word. Nobody should have to say “single.” Well, some people like to be
single. But I am not one of them. There were times when it was convenient, I
guess. But most of the time it was darn lonely.
I was single for a
long time, twelve years after my divorce. I never was too whippy at dating even
before I was married. Shyness. I think my shyness stemmed from a dearth of
self-esteem. Most people thought I was okay lookin’, I guess. But I never was
all that convinced. I had a heck of a time talkin’ to anyone. Never thought I
had much to say. Did an awful lot of thinkin’ though. Sometimes I think
thinkin’ gets in the way of doin’. I wasn’t much of a doer where the opposite
sex was involved.
I grew up in the
big city. Big cities are nice for a lot of stuff, but if you’re shy I think it
causes some problems. Kinda hard to get to know people when there is a lot of
competition. Big schools, big churches, big cars to drive on the big highways.
Me, I never had a car except when I borrowed Mom’s. That doesn’t make a great
So now here I was
single in a medium sized college town. Thinkin’ got me this far at least. I was
workin’ on my doctorate. Not a lot of people make it that far in education, and
I wasn’t real sure I was goin’ to make it much farther. Tough goin’ that
degree. The rest seemed awful simple by comparison. Lots of readin’. Lots! I
never even sat down to watch TV without a big textbook in my hand. Readin’
between the lines—kinda a joke there—between the lines of dialogue on the TV,
or the other meaning of the phrase. Guess that’s another one of my problems
with folks. My sense of humor doesn’t exactly click with a lot of folks.
So I find myself
goin’ to a singles group. Never particularly liked to do that. Gotta meet a lot
of folks and you know all of them are there lookin’ for Mr. or Ms. Right. So am
I the right one? Is there someone there that is right for me? Kinda’ like the
old junior high dances. I was one a’ them that sat around the edges waitin’ for
somethin’ to happen. I wasn’t too eager to put myself out there in front and be
embarrassed. Geez! I remember High School prom. Had a date with someone three
years younger. Doubled with another couple in his dad’s old beater of a car.
Talk about your losers! Lotsa kids rent limos now, do the big dinner and make
an all nighter out of it. Not us. Tried the dinner deal, but that wasn’t great.
Date fell asleep halfway through the dance. Went home early. Not a great
Anyway so here I
am at a singles’ group meeting. Heard about it someplace and decided to give it
a try. I’m sittin’ there lookin’ around, tryin’ to be a little sneaky about it.
But then everyone knew I was sizin’ things up. Big range of ages. Maybe 30, 35
people. What was I then, about 35 or so? Prime age for a lot of things, but
some think its too old. Wish I was thirty-five again, in a way. But I like my
life now too. Guess it is a lot better than it was when I was thirty-five and
So here I am
wonderin’ if it is worth trying to date again. I had been in love with someone
for a lot of years after my divorce, but it wasn’t workin’ out all that well
since I moved to the college town. Maybe it was ending—I didn’t know for sure,
but I felt I needed to explore more options. Dated a couple of people before I
moved up here, but they were real short term and not too memorable. Didn’t feel
very comfortable being here. I knew there would be introductions, and what do
you do’s? and stuff like that. Never know just how much to say about what I do.
Right now I’m a full time student. No money, rental places, all that baggage.
Tried to keep a job goin’ after I moved, but the doctoral work required too
much time and energy. Used up all my savings. Geez, sometimes I think I’m too
dumb to live!
At least I have a
goal. Goal setter, that’s me. Sometimes the goals are not real logical. This
time I am trying to prepare for a college teaching job. It’s what I’d like to
do, but I don’t know how or when it will work out. Somethin’s gotta happen soon
or I will be flat broke and hungry as well as being horny and lonely.
Lookin’ around the
room. Anyone attractive? Anyone makin’ eyes at me?
I had a kind of
weird experience. My money situation was really getting desperate. I finally
decided I had to make some money but I couldn’t afford the time it would take
to get a menial job for hourly wage. I decided I should use my skills that I
had already developed to get something that paid better than minimum wage and
didn’t require a lot of time. I am a musician, I thought. I am working on my
doctorate in music education, says me to me. What you ought to do is get a job
involving music. Let’s see. Private lessons? Maybe, but I really didn’t want to
do that. Aha! Church choir director. I did that before and didn’t really like
it all that much. But I was getting desperate and that seemed like a good
choice. I had a lot of faith, but didn’t really like sharing it with others and
often felt that church people were quite hypocritical. Besides you have to do a
lot of recruiting to keep your numbers up and people like to sluff off
sometimes. It gets to be pretty hard to please a bunch of church going people
when it comes to selecting music. And I was a hard taskmaster. I expected a lot
of my musicians and of myself. Sometimes I turned people off in a volunteer
Okay, time to act.
One day I grabbed the local telephone book and started writing down addresses
of churches. I started with Disciples of Christ (Christian) since that was the
denomination I was raised in. I also wrote down Baptist, Methodist, and
Lutheran, but I was not too positive about Lutherans since I didn’t know much
about that brand. There seemed to be three Disciples churches, a couple of
Baptist and several of the others. I wrote about 10 letters introducing myself
and explaining that I was hoping to be able to lead their choir. Scrounging
around in my desk I found one lousy stamp! Decision time again, which letter
got the stamp? Did I mention I was broke? I picked First Christian Church, mailed
that letter and saved the rest until I got more stamps.
I must confess I
hadn’t been going to church since I arrived in the college town. I already said
some of the reasons, but now it was time to face the music, so to speak. I got
up Sunday morning, put on a suit, and went to the church nearest my apartment.
It was one of those newbies that had no real building, but met in a
multipurpose building on Sundays. I thought it might be more to my liking since
those kinds of churches often have younger members and like newer music.
I walked in with a
little trepidation since I was so shy. But I knew I had to bite the bullet and
face the music (oops, used the same cliché twice). I could hear a few voices
somewhere, but couldn’t locate the people. I guessed I was too early and
thought I would sit down and wait. I sat for about two minutes and felt really
uncomfortable for some reason, so I got up and left. What a chicken! I started
to drive back home, but thought better of it and decided to go by First Christian,
just to see what kind of people were walking in. I parked out in front and
watched for a while. I had absolutely no intention of going in. But after a few
minutes I found my feet making tracks for the front door.
Finding a seat
about three quarters of the way back in the sanctuary I sat myself down. I was
really surprised how many people came over and introduced themselves and shook
my hand. That had not been my experience in most churches. The minister was
about my age and got up to make the morning announcements.
“Good morning!” he
said. “Lottie Mae is sick in the Memorial Hospital and would like your prayers.
Roger Dodger has resigned as choir director effective in two weeks. He has a
job in Loosey Goosey and will be leaving then.”
Did I hear right?
The choir director resigned? How strange is that? The first letter I mailed was
to this church. The first church I went to was this church. The first day I
attended the choir director resigned! Too much coincidence for me!
After the service
I stood in line to shake the minister’s hand. I introduced myself and told him
I had sent him a letter a few days before.
“Oh yes! I was
going to call you tomorrow. Can you come by my office, say, Tuesday, at 11?”
“Sure! I’ll be
I got the job
immediately and started to work. The choir was about 25 or so relatively
permanent members. Some were older folks who had sung for years, and had the
screechy voices to prove it. But some were my age and wanted to hear the choir
improve. When I look back on it now, I gave it a pretty good shot for a few
years, but not my best shot. I was too busy taking care of business with my
doctorate and dealing with personal issues. One of those personal issues was
the singles’ group.
The evening was
not quite as uncomfortable as I had feared. The people leading the group were
sensitive to privacy and didn’t pry too much. They had no huge agenda, just
trying to provide a way for people to be comfortable meeting others of like
mind. I noticed a woman about my age in corduroy slacks and a blouse, both of
which seemed to fit nicely. I guess that’s a euphemistic way of saying I was
attracted to her. We made eye contact a bunch of times and there were probably
some exercises where we broke into small groups a time or two. Anyway, we wound
up talking a bit during the evening.
When things broke
up we walked out of the building into the cold night together. She was easy to
talk to and we decided to go someplace and get a cup of coffee. Her smile was
nice and wavy dark blonde hair framed a rather pretty face. I guess she liked
what she saw in me because she sure smiled a lot. I was beginning to like that
smile. I didn’t remember ever having such an easy time talking to a woman
before. But then I had had a pretty interesting life up to that point and she
asked a lot of questions. I didn’t want the conversation to focus just on me,
so I think I managed to make a few good inquiries myself. The evening went well
and we decided to get together again soon.
What a week that
was! I got a job that I could handle without too much strain on my studies, and
met a woman with whom I felt something might happen. I sure never expected to
have so much success in either department so easily. Well, actually I had to
work a little bit at it.
When I hear religious
people talk about “Leaving things up to God,” I often wonder what they mean.
Too often I think people assume that there is no responsibility on their part.
“God will take care of me.” That may be true with someone who has no ability to
take care of him or her self. But I had to decide to seek a choir director’s
job, had to write the letters, had to mail them, and then had to approach the
right people. Maybe God put those ideas in my head, I can’t argue about that
because I don’t know. But if I hadn’t taken the steps I did, it would not have
happened. But the coincidence of events is unexplainable in logical terms.
Someone gave me a little push along the way.
My life at that
time was a real balancing act. I had two sons who were probably 7 and 11 or so.
I had a dog, a beagle mix, who was cute as heck, but loved to run away. And I
lived in an old house in the poor part of town. My neighbors on one side were a
really old couple that seemed to be glad that a decent guy had moved in. On the
other side was a single guy about my age, a stonemason, or actually a creative
layer of stone, a really interesting guy.
My boys lived with
me on an every other week basis. I was not one of those single dads who left
their kids to the vagaries of fortune without any fatherly guidance. I love my
boys. I wanted very much to be a part of their lives. It has always boggled my
mind how many single fathers have not seen their kids for years in some cases.
How can you do that? We did a lot of fun, creative things together. Since I
didn’t have much money, we learned how to have fun with practically nothing.
were a favorite activity. We would gather up some Styrofoam cups, cans, string,
wire, whatever we could find. Then we would make stuff. Usually we had no plan
when we started out, we would just mess around until something came out of it.
Fantasy trips in
the park were another fun thing. We would go to the park and just be walking
around. When things seemed to be getting a bit boring I might shout, “Watch out
for that alligator!” The boys would flinch and look around. Then they would get
the idea and we would be off on some fantasy adventure.
When we went
driving, especially on long trips, I would start a story thread. Each guy would
have to add to the story when I stopped. The story would get passed around the
car and mutated in amazing ways consuming tons of time and a great deal of
brain power. Trips went a lot faster that way.
I remember a time
when I was walking Blaze, my dog, through the park, which was just a few blocks
away. An old man with very few teeth, and probably drunk, exclaimed, “That dog
has teef as big as his mouf!” His eyes bugged out and he seemed terrified of my
little beagle. I always get a chuckle out of that one.
Another time the
boys and I and Blaze were walking around the park on a very cold morning. We
discovered a pizza box on the frozen ground and one of the boys picked it up.
It had a whole pizza in it. I have no idea how it got there and why nobody went
back to get it if they dropped it. But there it was. I told the boys to leave
it there since its heritage was suspect. Blaze either didn’t hear the order or
understand it, because he started wolfing it down. Now Blaze was only about 25
or 30 pounds and here he was eating a 14 inch pizza. Comically, he got it all
in his little tummy and proceeded to waddle the rest of the way home. I don’t
think I have ever seen such a small dog eat so much.
I loved living in
that medium sized college town. I rarely used my car, either riding my bicycle
or walking almost everyplace. When it was time to pay bills each month I would
write the checks, seal the envelopes, then ride my bike to the places that were
in town and hand them the envelope. I haven’t done that for more years than I
care to count.
I usually walked
to my church job that was just across the same park. One very cold Sunday
morning I headed for church with a sport coat and slacks on. Since it was less
than a mile I thought I would be okay. Halfway across the park my legs started
to shake and then freeze up. I honestly thought I was not going to make it.
Since I was halfway it made no sense to go back home and get the car so I kept
going. I don’t think I was ever more happy to be in the warm church.
explained that I am a musician. I have always wanted to write songs and the
guitar and my songs became a way for me to cope with some of the ordeals that I
was facing at various times. Since Joanie and I seemed to be getting along
pretty well, I decided to write a song about it. I had grown up in Colorado and
still considered myself a mountain man, in spite of my absence from the
mountains. Well, here. I’ll let the song say it for me.
Country Lady/Mountain Man
©1983 BG Anjou
You were just a little Texas country lady
With a little bit of drawl shown’ round the edges.
You were just a Colorado mountain man
With those eyes that could look right through a lady.
Now here we are lovin’ each other
In the only way we can.
Now who would have thought we’d be together
In this Kansas country land?
You had those hands that were so expressive
When you worked your magic music on my mind.
You had your lovin’ arms to hold around me
When I needed tender lovin’ to see me through.
Now here we are lovin’ each other
In the only way we can.
We’re livin’ a life dedicated to the One
Who made this mighty plan.
Soft lovin’ hands sendin’ shivers down my spine again
Bringin’ you back to my lovin’ arms
Wonderin’ where you’ve been.
You had a way of climbin’ my walls
That finally brought me a little bit out of my shell.
You had a way of singin’ your songs
That made me light up with delight.
Now here we are lovin’ each other
In the only way we can.
Now who would have thought we’d be together
In this Kansas country land?
Soft lovin’ hands sendin’ shiver down my spine again
Bringin’ you back to my lovin’ arms
Wonderin’ where you’ve been.
As you might
have figured out, we alternated phrases when we sang it as a duet, except on
the chorus and the bridge (Soft lovin’ hands). We sang for both her church and
the singles’ group that helped us meet.
I also wrote a song for the singles’ group,
named “Heartland”, also the name of the group.
©1982 BG Anjou
you came along at the right time of my life
friends who care and who share
to each other of ourselves
toward abundant life.
interdependence is the center of our theme
making friends along the way
in a growth experience
lead me to a new day.
I had the group members make up
subsequent verses each time we sang it.
were some fun days and we enjoyed them fully while they lasted. It seemed
almost a miracle to me that I actually met someone at a single’s function and
we enjoyed each other’s company.
and I started dating quite a bit. She had four kids while I had only the two.
We had a lot of fun together and the relationship seemed to be going rather
well. I have to admit that I am a male and have a libido. A quite healthy
libido as a matter of fact. That is another thing about some religious folks
that I find hard to tolerate. I was single, Joanie was single, and things
happen. I began to drive out to her house on the north side of town, across the
river. Since Blaze loved to get out of the yard every time I left him, I had to
take him with me. While Joanie and I sat in the living room I tied Blaze to the
tree out front. One night I noticed he was missing after chewing through the
rope. I called and called to no avail. The next day I got a call from the dogcatcher
that my dog had been picked up that night. I went to bail him out of jail and
had to pay a five-dollar fine. I decided to use a stronger rope next time.
few evenings later I ignored Blaze a little too long and the same thing
happened. It seems there was a dog in heat a few blocks away and Blaze,
although neutered, could not resist going down there. This time it cost me $10
to get him sprung from the hoosegow.
of my major problems in life is my temper. When I get upset at something that
seems trivial or would be easily fixed with a little common sense, I get angry
and express it in sometimes-inappropriate ways. The third time I looked out the
window just as Blaze slipped out of his collar. I ran down the street after
him, but of course a man is no match for a dog. I piled in my car and careened
down the street knowing exactly where to go to find him.
owner of the dog in heat had already locked Blaze up in the yard and had called
the authorities. I arrived at the same time as the dogcatcher and jumped out of
my car and headed for the gate. The dogcatcher stood in my way and asked me
where I was going. “To get my dog out of that yard,” says I. “Oh no you’re
not!” says he.
I mention that my anger sometimes got out of control? I cocked my fist in
preparation to forcing my way through this obstacle to get my dog. As I looked
up at the uniformed officer I noticed he was about six feet three or so and I
stand a meager five-ten. The moonlight glinted off the badge pinned to his
uniform and I happened to notice the bulge of his pistol at his side. Better
sense prevailed just in time. I uncocked my fist and slunk back to my car. That
time I had to pay a larger fine and go to court to get my dog out of trouble.
But when I think about it, it could have been much worse. I could have been the
one in jail and the fine could have been huge. That was the incident that
forced me to consider counseling for one of my persistent problems. I needed
with Joanie were heating up too. I was spending more and more time on the
street where Joanie lived. In some ways it was good for me, but in other ways
not so good. I still had a very strong feeling for the woman I had been dating
for so long, but she did not share that feeling anymore. In my judgmental way I
compared Joanie to the other woman whom I thought was perfect for me. The thing
of it is, she was not perfect for me. If she had been, we would have still been
together. But I was having a lot of trouble dealing with that.
looking back, I was not real fair to Joanie. We had a good time for several
months and I even took her to meet my parents. That was a very strange trip.
parents lived in Arkansas at that time. Joanie had a relative that lived
someplace along the way, so we decided to go see the relatives in one trip. I
don’t remember much about the trip except her relative was not around or
something and I didn’t feel that Joanie and I could sleep together at my folks’
house. So Joanie got the spare bedroom and I slept on the couch. Sneaky me did
not stay on the couch all night!
seemed like a great trip in some ways, but it became apparent to me that our
goals in the relationship were a little off kilter. I had no desire to make
things permanent with her, although I was not the type to love them and leave
them either. Part of the problem stemmed from the way she pressured me in
certain areas. The trip highlighted some of those problems.
mentioned that I compared her to an ideal woman. That is always unfair. One
person is very much different from another and each should be appreciated for
who they are. I achieved that for a while, but my resolve was beginning to
looked pretty darn good. Sex was a little different though. As I said she had
four kids and yet had recovered rather nicely from that. I appreciated that,
but she liked sex kinda rough, while I am a romantic at heart. (I hope I am not
offending the readers who thought I was a nice guy because of the church choir
thing. I think I am a nice guy, but I like sex too.) There were times when I
was just not up to the task. I remember one night when she kept asking for more
and more and I was struggling with the odor that was rising from her. It just
was not working for me, and I finally gave up in disgust. When she asked what
was wrong I had to be honest about the odor problem. It was not the first time
I had been turned off by that. She admonished me that I should have told her so
she could do something about it.
it was more than that. As we talked she explained that her husband had abused
her, at least once with a broom handle. She explained that caused some of her
problems. The demanding nature of her needs may have turned some guys on. But
it put me off. The overnight trip and other encounters had shown me that this
was not the person I wanted to spend my life with. Still, I was not prepared
for what happened next.
professional life was changing rapidly. I had finished all the class work for
the doctorate and was beginning research on my dissertation. Although I was
still directing the church choir, I decided to start a canoe rental business in
Arkansas where my parents lived. I have always loved being outside but found
Arkansas full of poisonous snakes and bugs, everything had thorns on it, and it
just seemed really uncomfortable to me when I tried to go outside there. My eye
turned to the rivers. There were no places at that time to rent a canoe, so I
decided to start my own business. I bought five canoes, a trailer, and moved in
with my folks for the summer. I had to stay in Kansas for the church job but I
would drive down to Arkansas every Thursday and stay until Saturday night
renting canoes. Needless to say it was a very tiring, demanding time.
is an honest to God true story. As I said, Joanie and I were beginning to have
a few problems, but she seemed like she really wanted to marry me. The night
before I left for Arkansas the first time, she begged me to marry her. I had to
say no for the time being, but said I still wanted to date to see how things
would work out. After a few days down there I started feeling a little bad
about the way I left and began to miss her a bit. It could not have been more
than a week, so I called her. She coolly informed me that she was married! I
was shocked! I did not even realize she was seeing anyone else in the months
that we had been dating. Obviously she had been. She must have been playing us
off each other the entire time. I still wonder if the other guy knew about me,
and how she managed to get him to marry her in such a short time. For gosh
sakes I was only gone a week!
guess things turned out as they should have. I am happy with my life and I hope
she is with hers. We had a good time together when we needed each other. We
enjoyed singing together and I helped her deal with a situation regarding her
mentally retarded son and his assisted workplace. So, I guess we had a mutually
helpful relationship for a short time. And in many ways I think that is all we
could have asked for.
no longer go down Joanie’s street. I have no idea whether or not she still
lives there. I may still have one or two pictures of her someplace, but I don’t
know where. She was a vivacious woman and I wish her all the best. Joanies’
street was interesting.