Is It Love?

14 Jul

A young woman wonders if she’s receiving mixed signals. I am only to happy to adjust her antenna and other metaphors…

Ashley –

You’ve got a heck of a conundrum there. It’s tough to tell these days (or any days, really) if someone is interested in you or just wants to touch your arm.

I know I had to send a ton of signals to my future wife back when we were in high school. I started out subtly, by making eyes at her on the sly or passing by her several times a day, including a few awkward times in the women’s locker room.

As that didn’t seem to be working, I tried different tactics. I sent her anonymous notes, scented with her favorite perfume and worded with letters cut out of the local newspaper. They would say sweet, but innocuous things like, “When you turn around, I’ll be the first person you see.” Or, “You look like an angel when you sleep.” Sometimes I would throw her a curveball like, “I borrowed your dog.”

Well, she was obviously flustered and panicked by the extra attention, so much so that she had to take off several days from school. I passed the time by sending her locks of my hair and handcrafted dolls in her likeness.

When she returned to school (coinciding with the dismissal of our suddenly overwhelming law enforcement presence), I began to make another, more intense play for her affections.

The first thing I did was switch all my classes so I could have the desk directly behind hers. This was a bit of a struggle, but I was able to maintain my grades. I did draw a few questioning looks during the Home Economics class and was asked to leave the Rhythmic Gymnastics class entirely, but I remained faithful, eventually bringing home a B+ in Advanced Quilting.

It took nearly 18 months but one day I finally got through to her. While I was innocently carving my initials into her wooden leg, she glanced my way. At first she seemed apprehensive and mildly terrified, but as we got to know each other, her face regained some color and she agreed to accompany me to the Fireman’s Ball if I would agree to stop carving things in her leg.

All in all, it was a magical evening. We drank punch, ate tiny sandwiches and danced under the stars (thanks to a recent devastating fire at the VFW, during which most of the firemen were too drunk to put down their drinks and douse the flames). The night went off nearly without a hitch. The lone exception was a small leg fire caused by some careless cigar ashing by the Fire Chief. As we beat out the flames with some alcohol-soaked towels, she asked me if I would mind accompanying her at the Box Social the following Tuesday.

The rest is, as they say, history.

I’m hoping those signals start coming in loud and clear, Ashley. This could be the “one.” A quick hint: take a good look inside your locker or on your person for any anonymous letters or carvings.

Clifton L. Tanager

23 Responses to “Is It Love?”

  1. trailerparkbarbie July 14, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    Oh, Mr. Tanager….this was one of the most “touching” love stories ever! I must ask if you are still with your Wooden Leg Love. And, are your initials still carved in the leg?


    • Clifton L. Tanager July 18, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

      TPB –

      I am still with my wooden-legged temptress all the years on. However, she has asked me to give her a little space recently, most likely due to her ongoing marriage to her new husband.

      The initials are still there, as is the wooden leg. Her new husband is looking to upgrade to some sort of space-age, vandalization-proof composite, if what I’ve heard being yelled through the living room window is correct.

      Thank you for the visit, TPB.

  2. thecodger July 14, 2010 at 8:51 pm #

    Mr. Tanager, I find your advice on this issue to be sound, as always. I would humbly add that as a young person, it is important for Ashley to know that former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s famous “No Means No” campaign had the chilling effect of causing young men to give up too easily when attempting to woo a pretty girl. If you say ‘no’ too many times, he’s liable to give up, so if you’re serious, Ashley, you need to tell him directly and sternly. If you do, you might end up with a delightful anecdote of your own, just like Mr. Tanager.

    The Codger

    • Clifton L. Tanager July 18, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

      Codger –

      Thanks for your vote of confidence and for pointing out the consistent inconsistencies of Mrs. Reagan’s “No Means No” policy. While this may have kept America 99% drug-free, it really has no place further muddying the waters of courtship “do’s” and “don’ts.”

      As it stands now, pretty much everything means “no,” especially “yes,” which can retroactively mean “no” depending on parental mood/harsh morning hindsight.

      However, it should all make for a delightful anecdote, one which will most likely be related to your legal representative, who in turn, will most likely be court-appointed.

      Thanks for the comment, Codger. Always good to see you.

  3. jammer5 July 14, 2010 at 9:31 pm #

    Ashley, dear Ashley,
    In answering your question, which was in, my unlimited ability to ascertain exactly what women are talking about, thinking, or projecting: Do I play hide the sausage with this guy, or go buy a some of those great big cucumbers in season right now?

    That’s both quite a question, and indeed, quite a choice. And one you shouldn’t take lightly. Now Mr. Tanager touched extremely well on how a male catches a wife, now that the old standby, a big club, is no longer accepted practice.

    But one must look at it from a female point of view, so I’ve put on a lovely outfit, consisting of black silk slacks, an open collared white silk shirt, and nine inch spiked heels. My dog, at this minute, is attempting to change my shoes into loafers.

    In order for you to get and hold this individual you refer to as, “guy”, you must walk around completely naked, and send the pictures of that to me for evaluation as to whether or not you need to do anything else. Ya gotta start someplace, dear.

    • Clifton L. Tanager July 18, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

      Jammer –

      You’ve touched on a sensitive area there, Jammer, albeit one I don’t think we should ignore simply because of its controversy. Many, many women are facing this choice everyday: should I continue in my omnivorous ways or should I jump the fence to a more socially acceptable and popular lifestyle as an hebivore?

      While it may seem to be a cut-and-dried question to most men (obviously: jerky), it seems to be a bit more a struggle for some of the fairer sex, who may find themselves short on produce at inopportune times.

      I do appreciate your willingness to see the feminine side (and risk arrest) clad in a fabulous outfit and sky-high nine-inch heels. I’m sure your pet respects you all the more and is hoping you’ll head out on a shoe-buying spree, which is a uniquely female burden.

      Thanks for the eye-opening comment, Jammer. Should any of this photography reach my desk, I’ll be sure to forward it to you and to the inmates of the Hutchinson County Correctional Facility as part of my 1200 hours of community service.

  4. RubyTwoShoes July 14, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    My, arn’t you the master of subtlety? Smooth Mr Tanager, very smooth. My only surprise is that you didnt go to further efforts of inconspicuousness, perhaps drawing of your army training, to remain undetected in the Rhythmic Gymnastics class, blue face paint to help you blend into the crash mats for example….

    In any case, following this fine advice, I wouldnt be surprised if Ashley’s suitor started leaving ‘the call is coming from inside the house’ messages on her phone….

    • Clifton L. Tanager July 19, 2010 at 6:44 am #

      Ruby –

      I was quite the pipe-smoking smoothie but unfortunately this happened pre-mandatory military service, and as such, I was unable to avail myself of regulation blue facepaint and various chemical anesthetics.

      We can only hope that Ashley’s suitor (or suitors?) helps her get past the unwanted arm touching and moves quickly towards the unwanted phone calls, letters and late-night singing telegrams, which are often delivered drunkenly and nudely.

      Wonderful to see you again, Ruby. Thanks for visiting.

  5. elizabeth3hersh July 14, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    I haven’t heard a case of perseverance quite like yours, Mr. Tanager, since my ex-business partners’ father confided that he endured excruciatingly painful cuticle trimming by his future wife (the Marchioness de Sade) who was then working as a maniacal manicurist and whom he was diligently wooing. While he was merely pestiferous and a diminutive man, she was much stockier and a ball-busting battle-ax and her words cut far deeper than her trims. I once heard her call a politician a “bandy-legged momser” at a political event. Fortunately (for them), their only child became a multi-millionaire which afforded the entire family the ability to become insufferably obnoxious and overbearing and whom the entire city of Miami Beach despised. It was during the time that I was inextricably tied to this family that I met a young man. Our first date essentially boiled down to him installing a ceiling fan in my bedroom. I’m not sure who stroked who first during the trip to Home Depot for nuts and bolts (I am certain I had the first beer), but one (in this case back) stroke led to another and before one could say “customer service in hardware” over the intercom we were going at it under the freshly installed ceiling fan which mercifully air-dried our glistening bodies. Least Ashley think this was just a ‘fling’, I should point out that the installation (both of them) resulted in a marriage proposal (I believe it was more of a ‘declaration’). Arm (and back) stroking is very serious business and should be taken as such as it is clearly foreplay (assuming it is ‘spine-tingling’ and not ‘bristling’). Of course, the whole thing ended dreadfully with him being persona non grata and with a lifetime restraining order, but I have to admit, I still get butterflies thinking of that first stroke (both of them). In closing, I would advise Ashley to firmly withdraw her arm from the gentleman she does not like, and stroke the guys arm that she does like when the coast is clear.

    • Clifton L. Tanager July 19, 2010 at 6:54 am #

      Elizabeth –

      That is quite a beautiful story, filled with various strokes and hardware installation. It calls to mind the later life of one of my neighbors, whose days are filled with occasional strokes and lock-changings.

      It’s truly a wonder how relationships get started. For some, it’s a trip to the hardware store. For others, it’s just being able to avoid arrest until the woo has been successfully pitched, to coin a phrase.

      Of course, the first anecdote is a little more frightening. We’ll let that one stand as a cautionary tale to those who leap into casual stroking without doing a full background check for possible unsavory traits, like obnoxiously opinionated speech or stocky, ball-busting trim.

      Thanks for the wonderful comment, Elizabeth. Always a pleasure having you swing by.

  6. Shafali July 14, 2010 at 11:59 pm #

    Beautiful story Mr. Tanager. It clearly puts forth the virtues of patience and tenacity, and I sincerely hope that it will help Ashley determine her position in her loved one’s lovelist.

    Warm Regards,

    • Clifton L. Tanager July 19, 2010 at 6:56 am #

      Shafali –

      Thanks for the compliments. I hope Ashley is willing to look past my rather dated look and lifelong pipe habit to see that real love springs from tenacity in the face of adversity and restraining orders.

      Thanks for the comment and visit, Shafali.

  7. superdupermommy July 15, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    Lol, 🙂

    Wow, you’re wife has a wooden leg? That is so brave. I went to a costume party dressed as a pirate once so I can sort of relate but not really because I didn’t have a wooden leg (just a funny eye patch and a really nice blouse). I had one of those hook hands but it was made of plastic not metal. Good thing too because I had a reaction to the shrimp and was scratching myself like crazy all night! Ouch. Splinters! LOL. 🙂

    I love hopeless romantics and have been called that soooo many times.


    • Clifton L. Tanager July 19, 2010 at 7:00 am #

      SDM –

      She was quite the fighter, wooden leg or no. I often offered to pick her up some pirate accessories during my many trips to the costume store, but she demurred, stating something to the effect that it wouldn’t be funny to me if I was the one with a wooden leg.

      I would reply that my lack of wooden leg allowed me to enjoy a fuller spectrum of humor, which would be greeted by indignant silence, a very lengthy cold spell and a night on the couch.

      I hope you’re recovering quickly from the costume party, SDM. They can be a bit of bear, especially if alcohol and sequins are involved. Shrimp has its own problems, the least of which is its self-contained digestive system, which often has to be removed with ill-suited cocktail forks and fingernails.

      Great to see you, SDM. Thanks for the comment, exclamation points and smilies.

  8. bschooled July 15, 2010 at 8:52 pm #


    Your vast and extensive knowledge of all “queries pending” never ceases to amaze me.

    I must say, based on your account of how you and your wife moved on from the restraining order predicament and eventually fell in love, she sounds like quite the convivial (not to mention resilient) woman. I can only imagine the laughs the two of you must have shared over the years.

    You- “Darling, ‘wood’ you pass the salt?”
    Her- “Hahaha!”

    You (tapping her leg with your knuckle)- “Knock on wood!”
    Her- “Haha.”

    You- “Is that a splinter or are you just happy to see me?”
    Her- “Heh.”

    You (late for dinner with your new boss)- “We were supposed to be there an hour ago. Why are you always lumbering behind?”
    Her- *tight-lipped smile*

    You (introducing her to your new boss)- “…Have you met my wife, Peg?”
    Both-*awkward silence*

    All I can say is that you’re lucky to have found each other, Clifton. Just like Ashley is lucky that you of all people stumbled upon her profound (and somewhat arbitrary) question.


    • Clifton L. Tanager July 19, 2010 at 9:40 am #

      Bschooled –

      As was detailed above in the comments, we both have moved on with our lives. She has moved on surprisingly quickly, given her mobility issues and I would imagine it has a little to do with my sense of humour, or rather my sense of humour by proxy as your set of wooden leg jokes has pretty much detailed our relationship up to the point she left.

      I always felt that if you can laugh about your problems, there’s really no stopping you in life. However, if you can laugh about others’ problems, there’s really no stopping them in their life, which will now be lived elsewhere with someone who doesn’t use your wooden leg as a centerpiece in their conversational gambits.

      Sometimes I think all we had in common was the leg. Of course, I didn’t have one, but it was one thing we could always talk about. (Again, mainly me.)

      Thanks for the delightful comment, Bschooled. I haven’t laughed that much at someone else’s expense in years.

  9. Fundamental Jelly July 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    Hilarious Clifton, you do love right. You may want to tell Ashley that if love doesn’t work out, she may have the chops to be a novelist.

    • Clifton L. Tanager July 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

      FJ –

      Thanks very much for the kind words. I’m sure Ashley is well on her way to a bright future as a romance novelist or on the receiving end of a hefty payout from a sexual harassment lawsuit.

  10. thestuffinbetween July 17, 2010 at 10:21 pm #


    LOL … I have to giggle (so many times, too!).

    When you sent your wife love notes with *her* favorite perfume, shouldn’t that have been *your* masculine cologne so that when she smelled it she could think of you? She doesn’t want to think of herself when reading your note? You are just lucky the notes were anonymous, because she didn’t know *who* to think of while she was reading creepy notes with her perfume on them!

    I would have loved to have seen that quilt, Clifton!

    I appreciate all of your attempts no matter how awkward and, frankly, terrifying they were.

    You have a good heart, Clifton.

    • Clifton L. Tanager July 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

      Stuff –

      You’ve got a keen eye for detail. It would seem to make more sense to drown the increasingly frightening letter in my cologne to get her mind on me, but I felt that, due to the sensitive nature of the communication, it would be better to “throw her off the scent,” if you will, by using her perfume.

      I did actually have her favorite perfume, which I had picked up late one evening, along with a few locks of hair to better craft her dolls with. These were also doused in perfume and occasionally, set alight with some careless pipe ashing on my part.

      Thanks very much for the compliments, Stuff. Wonderful to see you again.

  11. lookingforsomethingtofind July 20, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    One of the most romantic stories ever, and I have to admit I find it very impressive she was able to do rhythmic gymnastic with a wooden leg.

    • Clifton L. Tanager July 20, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

      Looking –

      It was quite the story and she was/is quite the lady, still doing rhythmic gymnastics (and her new husband, presumably) at the ripe old age of 71.


  1. Word Around the Campfire – the Going Fishin’ edition « Hidden Leaves - July 18, 2010

    […] Clifton L. Tanager: Is It Love? […]

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