Never date, get into a relationship with, or, God forbid, marry a writer. That includes me. Because if you do date, get involved with, or marry me (I’m not the marrying kind, but never say never), every little thing you do or say, good or bad, will be stored and filed away in my brain. Chances are it will one day end up in an online magazine article, short story, or novel. That said, I would love to settle down one day with another writer. Or someone who’s some kind of an artist. Somebody to share ideas with; someone to share and critique work with; somebody to celebrate successes with; to understand pitfalls and rejections with.
I’ve never been in any kind of long-term romantic relationship with a writer. I’ve never met or been slightly involved with one I think it could have worked out with in the long run. Maybe we’re too much alike about things, who knows. I don’t even mind if I’m ever a muse for one. The agony and ecstasy of being with me could probably inspire a few good and bad words. They often have, just not on paper – at least none of which I’m aware anyway …
Now, a painter or an actor, I could probably also try and have something with one of those. I’ve been slightly involved (I’ll let you read between the lines there) with two writers and one musician in my life so far, but it never went anywhere past a friendship with those three after “the fun part” was over. Two of them ended up with people better-suited for them than I am, so there you go. But a painter or an actor, well, I haven’t gone there yet.
As I work on edits and another draft of book two, I’ve written another short story. That makes three in the past month. I titled the latest one “Tamales”, though it’s really about a relationship gone sour. I even threw my love of running into this story, though it’s a love I’ve neglected a bit too much lately.
There’s this Hispanic woman who pushes a cart through my neighborhood every evening, selling hot tamales to passers-by. She prepares them during the day and goes out in the late afternoon/evening and sells them. She yells out “TAMALES!” in a booming voice. It echoes through city blocks. She can be two blocks away or right outside the door. I can never tell. What incredible range she has. She can’t speak English, or perhaps she can’t speak or understand it well, because her teenage son tags along with her and handles the English end of business. He’s obviously there to look out for his Mom as well, since some shady types hang out on the streets.
I hope she has more children to help out, or else I can’t imagine what she’ll do when he finishes growing up and goes off to his own life one day. She will likely still have a language barrier to live with. I hope she makes some kind of decent living from her efforts. She does so much cooking and walking every day. Some people with small minds say such big and nasty things about immigrants and non-English speakers in this country. Some of these people they speak so ill of are hard workers who contribute more than some lazy, handout-collecting English speakers. I’m not saying anyone unemployed who collects handouts is lazy; many of these people are simply unable to work and deserve the assistance – but you have a few out there who take advantage and put the ones who are truly in need at a disadvantage. The Tamale Lady is a hard, honest worker, no doubt.
Anyway, I’ve bought tamales from her a couple of times, and she’s a sweet lady, probably near me in age. Her tamales, though, instigated a huge fight with a now-ex, and I’ve managed to work it into my latest short story, “Tamales”. Maybe there’s a part of me that hopes this story will cause the kind of indigestion for a certain ex all the spicy Mexican food in the world can’t bring. Ha, pass the antacid.
I try not to be bitter by failures. I try to look back at mistakes as a learning curve rather than a waste of time I’ll never have back at the end of my life. There are always slivers of truth and real-life events I’ve either lived or heard about or seen with others that make their way into my writing. It’s true of nearly every writer, if not all, and if they say I’m lying then they’re lying! Don’t mean to throw you under the bus, guys.
“Tamales: A Short Story” may be the first time I’ve ever pulled out a secret recording I made of a fight with a now-ex (on the iPad I held at the time, pretending to read—but I stored the nasty recording away there and a few other places for safekeeping) and used it verbatim as dialogue in a story!
Hey, I changed the names, so all is good. I don’t make it a habit of recording conversations with others. It’s actually the first time I’ve ever done such a thing, honestly, but I needed something to hold on to that day in case I ever regretted or grew sad later about ending it.
Thank you, Tamale Lady, for your indirect contribution in speeding up a breakup to a relationship with a maniacal jerk that should have never happened in the first place. Unlike the events of the short story, we didn’t break up until nearly a month after the “tamale episode.” I took a little creative license with how the fictional/semi-real story ends. We will call the ending wishful thinking, on some of my more “look back in anger” kind of days. No spoilers, but if you read it you’ll see what I mean.
I owe you one, Tamale Lady.