We’ve all heard that old saying that sticks and stones will break one’s bones. There are some people who get wrapped around the axle when other people call them names. Not me. Actually, I’m okay with a little name calling between friends, especially when it’s in the interest of good-natured humor and parody. I mean, really, who doesn’t appreciate a little change-up every now and then?

When I write, I maintain a robust roster of character names that I interchangeably use. I think it adds a bit of color and dimension to what might otherwise be a boring story. Why let a story be a reduced to a snooze-worthy recitation of random facts? You know what I mean?

Hey There Little Red Riding Hood

In light of that, Little Red Riding Hood is one of the many self-deprecating names I use to refer to myself in my essays. And I think it’s a pretty fitting moniker. It describes me to a T—at least me in my former days.

I have to admit that at the time when my husband did his infamous ‘Sea-Bag Drag’ [i.e., when he ghosted me after decades of marriage], I was still SO very much like Little Red Riding Hood. In other words, I was still deliriously happy—or so I thought in my denial. nevertheless, I was still skipping through the woods wearing my red cape, still swinging my wicker picnic basket on my arm.

As a matter of fact, that’s me in the picture above. And before you ask … yes, I did borrow the socks from Ronald McDonald. LOL

There’s simply no other way to put it. I lived the majority of my adulthood/married life very much like Little Red in that picture—very much ‘out to lunch’ in the love and trust department. And why wouldn’t I? I grew up in America, home to Hollywood, the romantic-comedy capital of the world.

You Are What You Eat, Or So They Say

Consuming a steady diet of romantic comedies guaranteed to  always delivers a safe and predictable happy ending conditioned me to believe this was reality. This resulted in me being so easily taken in. In other words, I internalized some very skewed and unrealistic notions about life and about what love is/is not. I chose to believe things that weren’t true—things that weren’t even close to being grounded in any semblance of reality.

Some of those untrue things that I chose to believe were things such as the unrealistic notions like ‘love conquers all’ and ‘people who love each other stay together’.

Like a David Koresh cult member, I gulped down the rom-com Kool-Aid. I honestly believed that once a person found ‘the one’, then they magically locked arms with their life partner and from that point in time, they put their head down, walked against the wind, and faced whatever life would throw at them. I believed that they would do all this with undying devotion. [This is the part where y’all either laugh or groan in sympathy.]

Skip To My Lou, But Remember, There’s Predators In Those Woods

Little Red Riding Hood here never once considered that A Big Bad Wolf existed outside a story book or that one might appear wearing sheep’s clothing—at least not in her perfect world. Banish the thought [!] that she might may have actually met him in nursing school, cordially invited him in, and subsequently went on to marry him when she knew better.

Oy vey! Once I said “I do’ to Cute-Guy-From-College, I promptly proceeded to slap on the blinders and walk straight ahead. I never looked around. I never took inventory of who/ or what might be on the periphery or lurking nearby.

Huffing my daily dose of The Love Drug, I was still just as enamored with my husband on the day he shockingly ghosted me as I was on the day I said, “I do.”

And They Lived Happily Ever After—NOT

Okay, so obviously [!] I wasn’t holding the winning ticket in the ‘cute-and-really-good-guy’ lottery. But in my Pollyanna/Red Riding Hood delusion, it was still within the realm of possibility that I may have found my version of ‘happily-ever-after’.  In a sick way, I suppose I thought that finding him was a perverse reward for my having to become an adult at age 7 when I had to assume taking care of my invalid mother, and the fact that I never had a normal childhood.

Like an idiot, I thought I’d found my own version of  ‘to have and to hold … from this day forward … as long as you both shall live’. A veritable slice of heaven. Right? … Wrong!

Nay, Nay

Maybe in an imaginary parallel universe somewhere, but not in this astral plane—and certainly not with the Romeo I’d chosen as it played out. Nope, in this universe and this reality, I was simply a naive woman who fell for the well-rehearsed lines of a wolf in a wool sheep suit.

In a watershed moment of clarity, I had to accepted the fact that ‘our song’ [‘Endless Love’ by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’ that was so popular when my husband and I were dating] had become satire at best—and as such—it needed to be deleted it from my music library as soon as possible.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Recycle Bin …

Realizing this fact, I nodded my head in acknowledgment. I felt a sense of pride and made the decision to step up to the plate and purge my technology of all the sappy false advertising. It was then that I remembered that in order to fully finalize the deletion, I needed to do the extra step of emptying my computer’s recycle bin.

When I started to do that, my humor imp jumped on my shoulder, suggesting that I backfill the void left by Lionel Richie & Diana Ross’ eviction with a different song.

Why let the highlight reel of the memories and photos from three decades of my life be reduced to a silent film? Wasn’t it still worthy of a fitting sound track?

Yes, I declared to myself. So with that in mind, I set about finding a new song. My humor quickly suggested a new, more fitting theme song.

The Ending Credits

Looking at it now—-with all things considered—the new song really IS much better at describing my walk through the woods and my real-life version of The Big Bad Wolf.

Take a listen: