We are taught as little girls that love is easy. And perfect.

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In the movies we watched, the sweet, naive, gentle and gorgeous 16-year-old girl lives a quiet, pleasant life full of impromptu song and dance, no matter how unsavory her circumstances. Her flawless skin is ever so carefully painted, with the shadows going only in the flattering places. Her waist is tiny with no exercise, her eyes are clear certainly without enough sleep (given her life of servitude), and her feet are uncalloused, no matter how many hours are spent barefoot in the rocky castle yard or thorny forest.

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The prince rides up, strong, handsome, full of character and goodness. He instantly falls in love with her, and she him. There may be a snag or two (never because of their compatibility, but because of an evil external influence), but in the end all ends with white silk, wedding bells and happiness trailing off into "ever after."

Girls in real life have pimples. We are not always good and kind and sweetly oblivious. And boys are not always full of character and effortless muscle, riding up on a big gorgeous horse and sweeping us away into a sudden life of perfect wedded bliss.
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Unlike the beautifully drawn characters in the movies we often still love, even as women, we evolve. Our lines are not scripted from beginning to end so that we never lose our tempers, or make mistakes, or learn.

Rather than being a flaw, what a gift this is!

There are countless works of literature where it is said that the angels in heaven are jealous of us - of our messy and beautiful and poignant and real lives.

In truth, how can it be a bad thing that hardly any of us fall in love only once, at 16?

If we are not scripted and easily summed up into a half page, how in the world can we expect to just automatically
a) know who is best for us, and
b) find that person on our first try?


We should try love out, test it, glorify it, leave it when it is time to leave.

That is what the pink spoon theory is about.

Our mothers and grandmothers have paved the way for us to have this glorious freedom. In most areas, a woman no longer has to make herself into a man (more or less) to earn respect from men. We are coming at a time where you can be a woman, still feminine, and be just as successful as any man. No longer do we have to toss aside the womanly wiles that give us our unique strength and shoulder the common masculine qualities instead (not to mention the fact that they don't look good on us most of the time anyway).

Of course there are exceptions. Everyone should follow their heart.

But for many of us, this is our time.

We can finally approach dating, love, and life with a carefree nature - still being women, and discovering ourselves, our preferences, and our matches with as much freedom as men have always been able to.

The truth is, there are probably a few Prince Charmings out there.

And there's no reason in the world to settle for less. That's not saying, of course, that dallying for some amount of time with someone who makes you happy for whatever reason, although you know he's not the one you want to go into a 'merger' with, is wrong at all.

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It's just fine!

Pink spoon to your heart's content!

And besides, after the wedding bells' ringing faded into the credits and the credits faded to a blank screen, we don't know what happened, do we?

Maybe things aren't as simple as they seem.

Of course not. They never are.

Hallway Escort

Late Fall 2004

I came out of the side hallway as Ethan was passing the door. I caught up with him and slipped my hand between his arm and body, lightly resting my fingers right below his elbow.

His arm curled up automatically and he laughed.

"What, you need an escort down the hallway?"

"Yes. Yes I do."

Ethan was one of my few male friends. He was safe because he had a serious long-term girlfriend who he was crazy about. (He may have also been safe because the first time I saw him I thought he was gay....)

He was polite and charming and had a lightbulb smile. One of those grins that has a cartoony twinkle at the end: you can't help but imagine a five-starred animated bling come from their left canine. (Kinda like this guy - no they don't really look alike at all, but he definitely has the lightbulb smile I'm trying to describe.)

Ethan was a few years older than me (okay, 9 is more than a few when you're 21 years old and he's 30) and refreshingly calm.

Not that everyone that age is calm - another coworker within a year or two of Ethan did ask me whether my boobs were real or not the first time I met him, which had been about a month before...as the rest of the table looked on with interest
...let's move on.

Since I above all, wanted a life free of romance drama, I was only befriending those men who were not at all available. It was a perfect combination - I had the testosterone in my life that I was wanting through friendships, and none of the backlash of crushes and flirting and feelings and kisses and such that I wanted to avoid.

So Ethan escorted me down the hallway.

I didn't notice a few days later when he stopped mentioning his girlfriend.

One night at a friend's house watching some ridiculous movie and eating as much junk food as possible in order to balance out all of the exercising that we health and fitness teachers had done all week with our students, Ethan offered to give me a foot massage.

Who in the world would pass that up? Not I.

So he settled himself on the opposite end of the couch and promptly sent me into a coma.

It was a great foot massage, and he knew it was great. He told me later that it was a well-planned-out way to get closer.

An hour later, the movie had ended and he asked me to walk him out to his car.

After the 'friendly' hug lasted for three minutes, I walked inside in a daze.

"What the heck just happened?"

I asked my friend (who's living room we were in) what the heck was going on with him.

That's when I found out that he and the serious, deeply loved girlfriend had been broken up for three weeks.

Oh, great. That's just great.

In another week and a half he was giving me foot massages on his couch on the other side of town, drawing hearts on my arches.


Early Fall 2004

No boys.

I didn't want to flirt. I didn't want to go for a walk. I didn't want to get coffee.

Leave me alone.

I wanted to teach, and study, and go to school, and enjoy my life - without the hassle of any kind of romantic distraction. That's what all of that butterflies and boy and first kiss business equaled in my estimation that fall - hassle.

Besides, my heart was still aching a bit over Greg, although I probably would never had admitted it, especially to myself. The campus reminded me of him, and I was always subtly conscious that the halls, restaurants and streets that I was frequenting was where we'd met. By the way, he had undoubtedly pink spooned me, although I was unaware of it at the time, blinded by his intelligence, charm and emotional transparency (or so I thought). Thinking back, I can't blame him. I'm sure it was a nice diversion. However, it would've been nice if I was on board too.

That's the thing about
properly using the pink spoon theory - there are no tricks, no lies involved. You stay karmically clean while also avoiding stagnation and being bogged down.

So, with all of these things in mind, and mainly focusing on the fact that I was going to aggressively and completely avoid any romantic attachments of any kind, I got my new life underway. I arose at 5am, put on my waterproof mascara (sweating abounds when you teach aerobics and conditioning classes), went to campus, taught, studied, and went to class, just as I'd planned. The other graduate teachers had offices along the same two hallways and on the same floor. It wound up being a sort of voluntary dorm lifestyle - most of us were always there (I was averaging 12 hours a day on campus), and things moved slowly enough that an hour wasted watching funny videos online or discussing the meaning of life didn't put a damper on anyone's schedule.

I perfected my teaching style, came up with a new course for the department (yoga and Pilates, if you're curious), went kayaking alone every Saturday morning on Lake Alice with the gators (I miss that the most, and knew I would), and watched old movies as I made myself dinners for one on the rare nights that I spent alone in my apartment. I created a pyrotechnic wonder out of a glass pan once by accident too, which pretty much topped my danger scale (not counting the gators, which weren't actually dangerous), and was just as exciting as I wanted things to be. Thank goodness for old-fashioned deep kitchen sinks.

I made some fabulous girlfriends, and a guy friend or two. (perhaps there was a cuddle buddy involved that I thoroughly regretted for a while afterward, but we won't discuss that...) I refused to properly befriend any guy who was not in a serious, long term relationship that he was committed to.

That way, the option of romance didn't even exist.

Yep, that one sure did come back to bite me.

Summer 2004

I don't remember this one's name.

Matt? Mark? Merv?

Whatever, we'll call him Mike.

I met Mike at a dinner that was being thrown by a friend of a friend in Richmond. We ended up frequenting moonlit patio parties together and sitting in my silver pickup for hours afterward, talking about summer and work and the inflatable twin mattress I always kept behind the passenger seat, in case I felt like stargazing on the fly.

Yes, that is actually why it was there. And sure, I inflated it from time to time, and became lost in the infinite depths above, always alone, and always perfectly content. (except for the horrendous Virginia mosquitoes, that is)

But back to Mike. He was handsome and smart and polite and funny, and he was a terrible kisser.

Just terrible.

I'm not kidding, I mean awful.

I didn't really mind though. For good company once a week, I'd trade a couple of bad kisses. Besides, I was leaving soon.

The last time I saw him was the first time I went to his house - a small bachelor pad shared by him, a couple of roomates, and a well heard but unseen mongrel of some kind of another. We sat on the couch and shared some bad kisses. He said he'd call me. I said I'd call him.

I got in my truck and drove home.

The next morning, I woke up before dawn, curled my hair, and went to work.

What did I learn from that relationship?

I learned that I liked apple beer (who knew they had apple beer?), my understanding of enjoyment without commitment (either internal or external) being perfectly fine was deepened, and I learned that having a mattress in my truck was an interesting topic of conversation.

It's not that I ever intended to not call Mike again, I was just done with that pink spoon. It's just the way it happened.

A week or two later the next one solidified out of the woodwork, along with a nice jawline and rock-hard biceps, but that's for another chapter.

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