He's got it, too.

Him. Not so much.

I’m offering you this story as my birthday present to you, because today is my birthday and it just feels so right.

When: A little less than a year before Chuck left me.

Where: The Lodge in Keene during a typical weekend family gathering.

Who: My mother; my older sister and her husband; my younger sister, her husband, daughter, and son; a friend/business associate of my brother-in-law’s (Ed) who was single and his son, J and S; and Chuck and me.

What Happened?

My family likes to stay connected, and not via the internet. We get together as often as possible. This was something Chuck found pathological weird disturbing annoying. He tried to convince me that “normal” families just don’t like each other enough to want to see each regularly. There was something terribly wrong with us. As I result, I missed a lot of these family gatherings or arrived late and left early.

Chuck knew that an occasional appearance was important because, as it was, my sisters didn’t like him much barely tolerated him. He had a habit of berating me in front of them. If anyone was going to criticize me, darn it, they were going to do it, not him. So, to not totally alienate himself from my sisters who had a low opinion of him (and he of them), we’d go every once in a while to a non-holiday family event. I wanted to go more than he did, but he drove Ms. Dizzy and, unlike the movie, the chauffeur had a lot more say in our outings than the passenger.

Don't worry, Miss Dizzy, um, er, Honey. I'll take you somewhere much better than your family's place.

As was the case at these soirees, there was plenty of beer and wine for the drinkers. That always helped to lubricate the potentially sandpapery atmosphere. My brothers-in-law and mother seemed to get along well with Chuck so he had people with whom he could lecture chat about his assessment of the Political-Corporate Complex and downfall of America; you know, light party banter. As was the case at these soirees, except for the routine story I’d overhear about something I’d done wrong, Chuck ignored me.

J, Ed’s friend/business associate, was not in the business of ignoring shapely blondes, especially ones who appeared to be unattached. He was about my height, “beefy,” and had a dark complexion. I guessed he was Italian, Armenian, or a cast member of Ben Hur.

Yup. Could've been anyone of these dudes, except for Charlton...

J didn’t strike me as a guy with low self-esteem. At dinner, I listened to him talk about his successful business and his exciting extravagant travel adventures. He also asked various people around the table about our mundane lives, so he wasn’t totally self-absorbed. But maybe he just wanted us to think he cared about us. I don’t know, I’m a very bad judge of character; I think everyone is super-duper. He didn’t yawn when we were talking and he maintained eye contact. That’s good, right?

I walked pass J to get a cup of tea. He was chatting with Jim (my other brother-in-law) at the end of the kitchen bar.

J: Hey, Lorna, right? Whatcha doing?

Me: Just getting a cup of tea.

J (with devilish, crooked grin): Oh, aren’t you the good girl?

Me (with both eyebrows raised because, dag blammit, I can’t raise just one): I like tea. And that makes me a “good girl?”

J (same grin): I bet there’s more to you that makes you good. (Jim, who had more than a few beers was snickering like a 12-year-old.)

Me (trying my best to look incensed but enjoying any positive male attention): You’d win that bet, but you’d never get to collect on it. (I stepped away to get my tea.)

J (serious eye contact action and something very different about his smile): Hey, Lorna, wait. Can I ask you one question?

Me: Sure, and you just did. (Stepping away again.)

J: Oh. I like you. Blonde, beautiful, sexy, and smart. Okay. One more question?

Me: Okay. Just one more. My tea is getting cold.

J: When were you born?

Me (looking surprised): Why do you want to know?

J: Just tell me. You promised.

Me: I said you could ask, not that I’d answer. (Jim was about wetting his trousers at that point.)

J (fake, sad eyes): Please, sexy-smart lady?

Me (real, narrow eyes): November 14, 1957. Happy now?

J (sitting back with smuggification all over his face): I knew it.

Me (not caring about cold tea): Knew what?

J: You’ve been throwing one wicked Scorpio Vibe all evening. (Jim choked or spat out the beer he tried to swallow.)

Me (real, wide eyes): What? A “Scorpio Vibe?” What the heck is that?

J (more smugification): Oh, you know.

Me: Oh no, I don’t. Tell me. Because if you’ve caught something that I don’t even know I’m throwing, I think I should know about it.

J (shaking his head, standing up so we’re eye-to-eye, smiling, and walking away): Just like a Scorpio.

Fair warning: apparently I have a wicked Scorpio Vibe, whatever that is. If you don’t want to fall victim to my Scorpio-Vibe-erific-ness, well, talk to J. He knows a heck of a lot more about it than I do. Don’t bother talking to Chuck. He either had a natural immunity or discovered a vaccine.

Pretty hard to ignore, huh?