Last month, the Living Out Loud column started its eighth year in CityBeat. That’s a little amazing to me, but maybe it shouldn’t be. Those who write here are observers of everyday life. If you’re paying attention to that life, you’re always going to find something to write about.
Sometimes in everyday life, you look back. For me, that was the case with “Erin in Springfield” (issue of Jan. 13). I lived in Springfield, Ohio, for a few months in 1993 and came to know an alcoholic young woman who had to drink to keep her hands from shaking. Looking back now, I realize I probably loved her. I did nothing about it.
I wrote the column, in part, thinking somehow she would read it and contact me. Now, almost a year later, I haven’t heard from her. Maybe looking back is a lesson in looking forward. Next time, I’ll follow my heart.
Everyday life is also about dating. Becca West found herself single again in her mid-forties. In “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been” (issue of Mar. 3), she shared some of her experiences with Internet dating. This included one where she sucked down a lemon seed from a straw directly into her windpipe during a first meeting dinner with a guy she wanted to impress. So far, no follow-up from Becca on whether this was the first and last date.
Bus rides are part of my everyday life. Sometime on these rides, I encounter people I don’t necessarily want to encounter. In “The Most Miserable Man in Cincinnati” (issue of May 5), I ran into Lee, a guy who used to live next to CityBeat World Headquarters downtown.
Lee hates blacks, illegal immigrants and our president. Actually, Lee hates just about everyone. If my heart was in the right place, I could say I feel sorry for him and wish him the best. I could say these words, but I’m just not that big of a liar. Lee, keep your hate to yourself.
In May, C.A. MacConnell took a road trip which brought back memories of another road trip several years earlier. In “One Desert Night” (issue of May 19), C.A. remembers James, their road trip to California in 1996 and the night they spent together in the desert in each other’s arms.
When they reached California, James wanted to stay, but C.A. decided not to. She continued to travel on and hasn’t seen or heard from James since. I guess thoughts of people we meet, then lose track of, remain part of everyday living. One way or the other, memories stay with us.
Can seers predict what’s going to happen in our lives? I don’t think Shari Goldhagen really believes this, but in “Fortunate Girl” (issue of Jul. 14) she does visit a few “predictors” to see what her future holds.
Here’s my prediction, Shari. Looking into my crystal ball, with one successful novel already under your belt (Family and Other Accidents), I’m seeing that your next novel will be even bigger and, in turn, I’m seeing you’ll have more time to contribute to this column. Actually, as far as the column goes, maybe it’s simply wishful thinking on my part.
Living one’s life leads to forming opinions and K. Bunthoff let her opinion known about the Queen City in “Cincinnati’s Just OK” (issue of Jul. 28). This column generated the most mail for the year with several not appreciating Ms. Bunthoff’s views.
I’ve gone back and reread this column and I could ask those who got angry about it if the truth hurts, but it’s still the holiday season so I’ll shut up.
Life is sometimes about loss. In “The Root of All Evel” (issue of Sept. 14), Julie McAnary wrote about the stillborn death of her son and about putting one’s foot in front of the other while dealing with the blow. The following week, I wrote “Farewell Old Friend” (issue of Sept. 22) about the passing of Andrea, an older person I’ve known for over 30 years.
I’ll always have memories of this conservative, very funny woman. But all Julie has is a memory of what could have been for her baby boy. I don’t think there is anything sadder than this.
Everyday life can also be strange, at least if you’re Mark Flanigan. In “Eternal Flame” (issue of Oct. 27), Mark writes about condom or no condom, his David Byrne suit and false teeth that fall out at the worst possible moment. Needless to say, Mark didn’t get the girl.
I didn’t get the girl either. In “Rubber Balls” (issue of Nov. 9), I wrote about my sleepover with a woman who had breasts implants and my reaction to them. Let’s just say that in everyday life people, especially me, can say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Of course, the 10 columns I’ve mentioned here from 2010 are really just teasers. You can go back and actually read these columns in their entirety and all the rest of the LOL pieces at CityBeat’s Web site.
Life is a journey — sort of like a roadmap — and if nothing else, in 2010, like in prior years, I think this column proves that. We were a bit all over the place, just like life should be.
In case you didn’t know it, thanks to all of you for your continued support and readership through the years. It’s much appreciated.
As long as CityBeat allows us, when it comes to everyday life, we’ll continue to pay attention. We’ll keep writing.
CONTACT LARRY GROSS: [email protected]