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Mike, Mike and Me : Red Dress Ink Novels
A tale of two Mikes...and the one that got away
Once upon a time in the 1980s, a girl named Beau was torn between two Mikes: did she prefer her high-school sweetheart or the sexy stranger she'd picked up in an airport bar? One she eventually married, the other she left behind (and forgot all about, or tried to, anyway).
But which Mike did she choose? This delightful tale by the bestselling author of Slightly Single and Slightly Settled alternates between the story of Beau's summer of Mikes and the outcome fifteen years later...without giving away which Mike ended up where -- in Beau's marriage bed or in her memory.
In "The present" chapters, the former swinging single lives in the 'burbs with a childbirth-traumatized body, an increasingly distant husband and a sad sack maid who isn't much for cleaning. When out of the blue the Mike-not-taken sends her a flirty e-mail, she suddenly finds herself back to square one, trying to decide which man is the Mike of her dreams.
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Red Dress Ink
June 14, 2012
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Excerpt from Mike, Mike and Me by Wendy Markham
So in case you've been wondering, I married Mike after all.
Which Mike, you might ask?
And rightly so.
For a while there, it was a toss-up. But when I finally made my choice, I honestly believed it was the right one -- that I'd chosen the right Mike.
Only recently have I begun to question that...and everything else in my life. Only recently have I been thinking back to that summer when I found myself torn between the guy I'd always loved and the guy I'd just met.
That they shared both a name and my heart is one of life's great ironies, don't you think?
Then again, maybe not. According to the United States Social Security Administration, Michael was the most popular boys' name in America between 1964 and 1998. Odds are, if you're a heterosexual female who was born between those years -- as I am -- you're going to date a couple of Mikes in your life. As I did.
Meanwhile, if you're a heterosexual male who was born in those years, you're going to date a couple of Lisas. That was the most popular girls' name the year I was born.
I'm not Lisa.
Remember that song? All about how she wasn't Lisa, her name was Julie. It was a big hit when I was a kid. I remember singing it at slumber parties with my best friends -- two of whom were named Lisa.
But I'm not Lisa. I'm not Julie, either.
My real name is Barbra. Spelled without the extra "a," like Barbra Streisand's. That's not why mine is spelled that way; I was born back in the mid-sixties, before my mother ever heard of Barbra Streisand.
My father -- who if his own name weren't Bob probably wouldn't be able to spell that -- filled out the birth certificate while my mother was sleeping off the drugs they used to give women to spare them the horrific childbirth experience.
That, of course, was back in the Bad Old Days when they didn't realize that the fetus was being drugged as well -- otherwise known as the Good Old Days, when nobody was the wiser and nobody was feeling any pain.
I always figured that when it was time for me to give birth, I'd want those same drugs.
Am I a wimp? you might ask.
Um, yeah. I've never been good with pain -- I'm the first to admit it. I stub my toe; I scream. I get a sliver; I cry. I see blood; I faint.
By the time I got pregnant, I had heard enough gory details from my friends to know that it would be in everyone's best interest if I were knocked out before I reached the stage where it was a toss-up whether to call in the obstetrician or an exorcist.
I envisioned drifting off to a medically induced la-la land, waking up feeling refreshed,and having somebody hand me a pretty,pink newborn,even if my husband spelled its name wrong while I was out.
Alas, that wasn't to be.
For one thing, we knew that our firstborn son would be named after my husband, who is conveniently familiar with the spelling of Mike.
For another,when -- about five minutes into my first pregnancy -- I asked my doctor about drugs, he recommended a childbirth class where I would learn to use breathing and imagery to control the pain.Call me jaded,but I didn't see then and I don't see now how huffing and counting and focusing on a flickering candle or,God help me,a favorite stuffed animal,can possibly make you forget the nine pounds of wriggling human forcing its way out of you the same way it got into you nine months -- and nine pounds -- ago.
As the scientific theory goes, what goes in must come out. Eventually. Somehow. And the coming-out part is never as much fun as the going-in part.
Whose scientific theory is that? you might ask.
It's mine. And you should trust me, because I'm an expert.
If you've ever eaten all your Halloween candy before the calendar page turned to November -- or if you've ever done too many shots of tequila on your birthday -- then you're an expert, too.
But if you can't relate to childbirth or vomiting up a pound of chocolate or a pint of hard liquor,think about this: back when Mike and I were first married, he and my father carried our new couch up two flights of stairs to our one- bedroom apartment in Queens.When we moved a few years later, the movers we hired couldn't get the couch out. No matter which way they turned it, they couldn't make it fit through the doorway. They finally told me that the only way to get it out was to remove one of the legs.
Now, normally, I don't balk at being the decision maker in our marriage. But, normally, strange men don't request a saw to disfigure our furniture.
I tried to reach Mike at work to see what he wanted me to do -- in other words, to ask his permission for the couch amputation -- but he wasn't there.
So the movers sawed off a leg; the couch fit through the door; they moved it to our new house up in Westchester.
When Mike arrived that night, fresh -- not! -- from his first train commute and ready to collapse, he immediately noticed that the surface he was about to collapse onto was tilting dangerously.
I explained what happened.
He was incredulous.
Okay, not just incredulous. He was other things, too. Including royally pissed off.Now that I've had almost a decade of enlightenment regarding Mike's daily commute to the city, I can attribute his fury that night, at least in part, to an hour spent on an un-air-conditioned railroad car sandwiched in a middle seat between two large businessmen who carried on a conversation across his lap. But at the time, in my seminewlywed overanalytical self-absorption, I concluded that everything was all my fault.
Him: "How the hell could you let them cut the fucking leg off the goddamn fucking couch?"
Me: "I had no choice."
Him: "We got the fucking couch in. They're goddamn professionals and they couldn't get it out? And what kind of movers carry a goddamn fucking saw around to cut the legs off people's furniture?"
Me: "They don't. I ran out and bought one."
Him: "You bought the saw?"
Me: "The goddamn fucking saw. They told me to."
Him: storms off,spends sleepless night trying to keep balance on the aforementioned -- and seriously listing -- god- damn fucking couch.
Me: spends sleepless night sobbing into pillow over first significant married fight.
When I say significant, I refer to the fights that stand out in a couple's mutual memory. Not the arguments that happen along the way: arguments about the thermostat or what color to paint the bedroom or who should buy the Mother's Day cards for his side of the family. I'm talking Fight, fights. Lying-awake-at-dawn-crying fights. Who-are-you-and- what-have-you-done-with-the-man-I-married fights.