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Category Archives: Love

Love & Other Illusions: Short Stories by Marcy Sheiner

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Finally! A collection of deep, delightful stories on love, friendship, joy and pain by… oui, c’est moi!

For decades I’ve been editing stories by other writers, and in between I’ve written a few myself. Now they’re ready to face the world as a collection. And no, they aren’t sex stories, which some readers expect from me, since I’ve published plenty of those. The eleven short stories in Love and Other Illusions are mainstream literary fiction, some sexy (I hope) but nothing explicit.  I’d like to think they still generate heat and passion: I was feeling passionate when I wrote them.

As I say in the introduction, I’ve always been drawn to novels—both reading and writing them—more than to short stories, just because I always want more, and I’m sorry when a story ends. But in the time I spent preparing these for publication, the genre began to grow on me, and I developed more respect for the form. I’ve even been reading more of other writers’ short stories.

I’ve edited a dozen collections of women’s erotica, wrote the self-help  Sex for the Clueless, and a memoir, Perfectly Normal. I also ghosted eight books of nonfiction under other people’s names. These stories, however, are a different breed: all were written by me, are credited to me, and are being promoted by me. (My publisher, the brilliant Jean Marie Stine, says the time for humility has passed!) The point is, you never know if and when there’ll be more where these stories came from,so don’t miss reading them.

Brief story synopses:

ocean.jpgSAVING MY LIFE: In which Uncle Yernie pulls his little niece out of the crashing ocean, and saves her life in more ways than one.

LO SIENTO: Martha leaves her live-in boyfriend at home and goes to Mexico to ponder their relationship. Will she leave him? Will she stay? I’m not telling!

(Lo Siento means “I’m sorry” in Spanish.)

WHAT: The anxieties of commitment are overcome and love conquers all—doesn’t it?

LETTER DELIVERED AS A DREAM: A couple share a summer idyll with a colony of ants in this short-short story.

A TRAGEDY OF CHILDHOOD: An older woman is hurtled back to her past when she befriends a young mother and toddler, and helps the child overcome her fear of escalators.Escalator

THE UNIVERSE WILL PROVIDE:  Will it? The answer would be a spoiler, so you’ll just have to read it to find out.

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: What makes a woman beautiful? How do her looks affect her life and personality? Her loves and her friendships? Even her career is affected in one way or another, especially if she’s extremely beautiful or extremely not. Every woman privately knows—even if she won’t admit it—that what she looks like is one of the most basic yet complicated issues in our lives.

images-1THE COUCH: Q: When is a couch more than a piece of furniture? A: When it’s sold as part of a self-improvement plan.

A woman’s decision to sell her couch brings the house of cards she’s built, and the man who’s in it, crashing down around her.

BAD AIR DAY: What begins as another bad air day for asthmatic Sharon ends up just the opposite when someone new comes into her life. Caution: This story might Feed your Head with its mind-reading and other psychic phenomena.

heartstitchesbrokenTHE SOUND OF ONE HEART BREAKING: As war breaks out in the desert, two people on the precipice of a relationship discover they  are also breaking out—with herpes!

NEVER LOOK BACK: The most popular story among baby boomers these days seems to be the loving reunion of high school sweethearts, years or decades later. In this case he’s a Vietnam vet, she’s an anti-war ex-hippie. Can they find each other again?

THE FOURTH AND FINAL MARRIAGE OF SADIE NUSSBAUM:  When octogenarian Bernie Solomon has a heart attack, his adulterous affair with Sadie Nussbaum is exposed. After he dies, his agoraphobic wife doesn’t even notice he’s gone, while Sadie plays the role of grieving widow and his daughter finds out about them.

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Millionaire Matchmaker Does Bi Woman Wrong

Millionaire Matchmaker

Image by freeloosedirt via Flickr

Watching Millionaire Matchmaker is my most guilty pleasure. Though Patti Stanger abuses her clients and makes off-the-wall mismatches, it’s great fun, and once in awhile she does hit one out of the park. She did it last night, matching a Christian farmer millionaire from Indiana with a wholesome former 4-H girl — and in the heart of LA–who’da thunk it?! These two seem headed for the aisle. Her other project this week, though, wasn’t just a bust — it was, IMO, a crime.

An adorable millionaire named Tricia who recently left her cheating husband told Patti with conviction that she wanted to check out her “bi-curious” nature. After sending the girl to a shrink to be sure she wasn’t just temporarily angry at men (groan!), Patti actually did a fantastic job of inviting  a bunch of A-list bi and lesbian women, and a few men, to Tricia’s mixer. She ended up choosing to date Tyler, a smokin’ hot  butch who claimed she’d “flipped” many a straight girl. When Tricia didn’t feel sparks on their date, though, she and Patti both decided in a New York minute that she was unequivocally straight.

Hello? When a hetero couple doesn’t hit it off right away, Patti doesn’t send them to the nearest gay bar; she finds them more hets to choose from. Plus, the reason Tricia didn’t drool over Tyler the way I (and no doubt every femme in SF) did is because she’d unwittingly screwed up the date by taking Tyler roller-skating; Tyler could handle it, but barely. Skating was something she was obviously not very competent or confident doing. Thus, on their first date Tyler was effectively emasculated .

This butch was the type who’d show a femme a great time, but here she had to spend most of her energy keeping herself vertical without appearing spastic. Meanwhile, Tricia showed off her repertoire of roller-skating tricks. What a sad waste of butch energy! If Patti knew the least little thing about butch/femme dynamics she would have seen what the problem was and sent these two off to climb a short hill with a picnic at the peak. Tyler, unthreatened, would have easily swept Tricia off her feet, something she couldn’t do with the babe on roller skates! I can envision her assisting Tricia up the rocky terrain with a chivalrous hand, the way a super butch once helped me, then putting down a blanket in a clearing and pouring the wine.

Tricia deserves another shot or three at women — unless the whole point was to reassure herself she’s not bi or gay. Straight girls do that. Ask any heartbroken butch who was a straight girl’s first and was later dumped for “the real thing.”

If I were a millionaire, I’d save Tyler’s butch ego by calling Patti about a date with her. I would only do it, of course, for that reason, to save Tyler’s ego.  As everyone knows, I’m straight.

Millionaire Matchmaker

I’ve been working on a list of books, movies, tv, and podcasts that I ingested in 2010, but it’s gotten to be quite exhausting, and I might not finish. I see I was being overly ambitious to think I could review or even briefly comment on every single piece of cultural flotsam and jetsam that came my way in the course of a year, and I’m probably going to omit many of them, and list some without any commentary. In the meantime, I offer this teaser, a fluffy commentary on my favorite fluffy reality show.

Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo. Patti Stanger, a “third generation matchmaker,” or yenta as they were known in the shtetl, takes on millionaires (of either gender) and finds their soul mates for them. Patti’s m.o. is to hold a “mixer” to which she invites a pre-screened select group of potential mates to mingle with “her” millionaires, as she calls them; at the end of the evening the clients select one person for a “master date” (which she articulates utterly poker-faced).

Not only are many of her clients out of their minds, so is Patti. Disobey one of her numerous rules and you’re “out of my club! Now! Out, out!” The show’s teaser says matchmaking takes “a lot of patience,” but this gal’s a fuse that blows whenever a client makes a misstep – which they frequently do. And yet, Patti turns out to be right every time: when a client disobeys her, he or she suffers consequences far beyond exile from the club: whatever they did, Patti triumphantly declares, is to blame for their miserable state of singlehood.

Patti’s punky assistants are a young man with a huge black mohawk and his wife, who, not to be outdone in the hair department, sports a hot-dog shaped roll of bright purple bangs upon her forehead. When these two started out with Patti they were somewhat shy, but by now they’ve adopted the boss’s bold style and attitude, to the point where they can blithely tell someone he’s “creepy” without mussing a spike or a curl.

The whole gang recently moved their headquarters from LA to Manhattan, where they freely toss out observations about the differences between the cities. Briefly, LA women are blonder, better dressed and physically maintained, but a little ditzy; New York women are quick and sharp, but dismal dressers and too aggressive with men. New York, in contrast to LA, is teeming with acceptable-plus single men, but unfortunately their response to female aggression has been to lie down and take it. Thus, confusion reigns on the New York dating scene – but not to fear: Patti’s on the case. After persuading a few women to change their dress style, she proclaimed her conquest over the City of New York. Yes, Patti is certifiable —  but it’s all very entertaining.

Recent Poetry

My Relationship With My Daughter
According to Planetary Influences

All her planets are in Earth signs.
She is rooted like a tree to the ground
while I—restless butterfly—am never
still or quiet. I weave nests through
her branches, use her leaves as camouflage
from danger. A tree, this tree, holds steady:
no need to roam the earth
when one is Earth.
No search for solid ground
defines her. Fire is anathema while water
flows freely within and above.
Air only is lacking in our
mutual space. Without air,
no respite: we choke and
claw in futile struggle.

For the pleasure of standing beside her on Earth
I would on occasion do without air
but she needs none of the elements I offer
and prefers to go on breathing.

Runaway Haiku

Early risers catch the moon—
before daylight or
birds. Before the clouds return.

Before the clouds crossed the sky
I rose to watch the
full morning moon sink slowly.

Morning moon sinks slowly, her
light fading. Birds chase
her, singing madly, joyful.

Singing madly, joyful birds
chase the full morning moon
as heavily she sinks from view.

Full moon sinks heavily. I
mourn the loss of light
like every loss before.

Sleepers miss lesson conveyed
by morning moon:
Loss will come again soon.

Regrets

The things I did, decisions I made, actions
I took: moving restlesly from one house,
town, city, job, lover, to another
in search of more and better but

every move turned out to be lateral—
–or collateral—leading to this
endgame.

Worse, the things I did not do,
decisions I made to take no
action: allowing things to happen with a
shrug, pretending to be flowing
not knowing every shrug is assent—
leading to this empty endgame.

Of these, the action not taken
out of fear: denial, pretense,
turning away. The time the
Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in
the next town and I
continued my report
on the town’s new sewer
system.

Found Poem 1987

PROFILE

Your framed profile sits beneath

a bunch of tightly shut anemones.

By the time they blossom

you will lie beside another.anemones

Bloody purples, pinks and reds—

even virgin whites—

will trumpet your

betrayal.

All attempts to hold you

or to leave you have failed.

I watch the tender petals spread

raining spores upon your photo.

Each reveals a layered center,

each one brilliant,

each distinct.