Kimberly Raye

Still Waters Run Deep

I went to the saddest funeral I’ve ever attended yesterday. While the widow (a second wife, married 15 years) seemed sad (she was crying), she was alone in her grief; hers was the only damp eye in the house. The pastor’s eulogy was formulaic. When the dead man's eldest daughter spoke about her deceased father, the most personal detail she shared was how many blue jeans he owned, because it was all he wore. I didn't know this man well, but I found myself thinking I didn't miss much. Could that be true?  Could it be that there was no there there? Contemplating the superficiality of some lives got me to thinking about  Kimberly Raye’s Dead End Dating series. The protagonist, Lil, about whom I've written before, is certainly likable, but she's not particularly deep. I wonder what her eulogy would sound like--she was sweet and she loved Prada?  Because, honestly, there's not much there, there. On the other hand, as my friend claims, maybe depth is highly overrated. 

But is it?  I'm a big fan of depth. I persist in the belief that every human has some there, there even if it's not much. As a natural health practitioner, I spend quite a bit of time listening to people’s backstories. On the surface, some of these folks appear simple, mean, shallow or petty. But it's been my experience that when you scratch the surface, assuming someone has lowered their defenses enough to acknowledge the itch, there is usually a hidden current that others may know nothing about. But, do still waters always run deep?  Is everyone who plays their cards close to their chest hiding a royal flush?  I think the law of averages says that not all are – but there are some. How can we distinguish between those whose depths are worth mining and those whose veins have run dry, or worse, yield only fool's gold?

Sometimes, it's hard to discern the difference.  In some cases,  the vein is buried so deeply beneath denial, distractions and the deadening effect of abandoned dreams, that it becomes wholly inaccessible to anyone. And how sad is that?  If we assume that every child on this planet is born with the potential to lead an extraordinary life and to experience the full spectrum of emotions, why doesn’t every embodied spirit do it?  What happened to those who don't?  Or, is my assumption wrong, and there are some who enter the world superficial from the start? What about the guy whose funeral I attended? What happened to him along the way that the most the pastor could say was that he had five children, owned an HVAC business and dressed in denim? What happened to his there? And do Lil’s waters run deep – so deep that we’ll have to wait until another book to see what’s churning beneath her designer duds?

Many of us project our own inner screen onto others. If we are deep and interesting (as I know all of my readers are!), we assume the same about others and that we just haven't uncovered it all yet. This creates a delicious challenge to uncover the buried treasure of someone's hidden personality, one of my favorite activities. All of us want to know what's behind the mask of the Phantom of the Opera, don't we?  Of course, sometimes we are disappointed or horrified when we pull that mask off, but what’s life without a little risk? And that is the promise that keeps me digging like a dog after a bone–I want to plumb others’ hidden depths.  This insatiable and optimistic curiosity will incite me to buy another book in the Dead End Dating series in the hope that Lil’s creator will allow us to see further beneath her still waters.

I'm a wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve, don't-try-to-play-poker-because-your-face-will-give-you-away kind of gal. As a result, I tend to project sagacity and iron-fisted control (which I admire) onto those who keep their thoughts and emotions to themselves (I also tend to want to poke such people till they bleed, which I've discussed here, but I digress). I figure that all of that silence and intensity is masking profundity.  After all, if someone has the ability to look wise and contemplative in the face of titillating revelations and provocative rejoinders, there must be a plethora of activity occurring below that placid surface. If we could only get to it.

Unfortunately, I've had to (reluctantly) abandon this belief. Sometimes, it is ignorance and apathy that inspire silence and solemnity.  Maybe that was the case with the recently deceased denim-wearing HVAC dude?  Maybe, because sometimes those quiet types offer no supremacy of circumspection and authority of erudition to explain their measured, non-committal responses. Sometimes there really is no there there--no deep thoughts, no concern for the world at large There are people who just meander through their days wondering which questions they can answer on Jeopardy, or the size of  Kim Kardashian's butt , the next HVAC job or the latest Prada collection. Some folks create and inhabit worlds that are so small they have nothing to talk about and don’t leave people with anything to say about them at their funerals. 

I don't want to be like that poor dead man. And I don't want to be like Lil, frankly, even though she is funny and entertaining and has a better wardrobe than I. I want to make sure there's a lot of there there in me and in those with whom I hang . I don't think depth is overrated – I think it’s highly underrated. I believe in buried treasure. So, if your waters are still – I will come digging… and maybe find something worthy of inclusion in a eulogy. I plan to leave people with a lot to say – hopefully most of it good.

To Infinity and Beyond

To infinity and beyond.png

I'm in the middle of reading Dead End Dating by Kimberly Raye. It's as light and airy as a good soufflé, and just about as filling. But one needs a good dessert every now and then, and I'm enjoying this sweet diversion. Ms. Raye has created an interesting world. One's outward appearance and social and economic status can be trumped by one's ability to procreate; male and female desirability is rated according to their fertility. This matrix would’ve put me at the edge of the dating pool. But because I wasn’t born a vampire, it doesn't matter. Of course, I'm not a made vampire either, or even a werevamp, so I don't fit into Ms. Raye's world at all, more's the pity. But here's the thing about the world of Dead End Dating (DED): it's just like ours, except that it includes creatures of the night. Which allows me to think about eternity in terms I can understand—and which make me shudder. In the novel, our protagonist, Lil, must deal with parental expectations, financial realities, adult responsibilities, family obligations and the stigma of being single. Lil tries to buck the system by remaining aggressively unattached and attempting to make her own way in the world through innovative entrepreneurship. But her choice of commerce belies the militancy of her stance concerning the need for a life partner—which in this world is called—frighteningly—an "eternity mate."  Lil runs a dating service for lonely heart vampires. Yup. She's a vampire Yenta (for those of you who don't speak Yiddish, that means "matchmaker"--like the one in Fiddler on the Roof). Just what the vampire world needed. 

And while this novel indulges my taste for escapist fiction— it's certainly doing the trick of distracting me from my errant children (who are grounded this week and banned from their electronic devices, including phones) and the confounding dashboard on my new car (which I had to get because I totaled my old car last week—don't ask), there is an unsettling undercurrent pulling me toward dangerous waters as I metaphorically turn the pages on my Kindle.

The problem is a mixed message on a number of different levels. In the born vampire world of DED, there is no such thing as love, and finding an eternity mate is all about propagating the species. Individuals with the best chance of making baby vampires are supposed to get together and take – or make as the case may be –one for the team. Very clinical. And yet, apparently, these practical pairings are expected to go the distance—which in this case can last hundreds of years, if not more.

Contrast that with Lil's perspective, which is a little paradoxical. She claims to be a modern vamp—who happens to be 500 years old. She is a ‘fish and bicycle’ kinda gal. But, simultaneously, she's holding out for true love—fertility ratings be damned. And, her clients are the antithesis of her claim that women need a man as much as fish need bicycles.

So which is it?  Do women need men or not?   Should we hold out for true love or settle for compatibility? This is not a facetious question—there is a lot to be said for compatibility especially over the long, long haul.  Everyone always says passion fades—but a similar approach to neatness, eating, sleeping, money and sex, among other things, makes a lifetime together pleasant as well as pleasurable.  In the DED world, compatibility is gauged in terms of fecundity and virility, but it presents a good thought exercise for our world nonetheless.

Seems to me that the answer is simple—which doesn't make acting on it easy. Women don't need men to be complete their lives. There is no shame or tragedy in being single—particularly when it is by choice and not circumstance. We women can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never forget that we don't need a man (isn't that how it goes?  No, well maybe it should). And for those of us who choose men with whom we had passion but not lasting love, that's okay too. Passion is fun and life affirming. Which is awesome and not everyone gets to experience such passion.

In the same way, some of us choose a more steady, less exciting path. Also an excellent choice, and many of these pairings are able to run the marathon and not just the sprint because of the even keel of both boats (yes, I'm shamelessly mixing metaphors, I know). Again, not everyone gets to make this choice, and not all of us would choose it, given the chance.

Some of us, among those who desire to partner for life, are lucky enough to have it all—passion and compatibility. Lucky us. But from where I'm sitting, this is not an everyday occurrence, and should not be expected. Because while most of us grow up thinking we will eventually marry and perhaps reproduce, some of us come to believe that the idea of an eternity mate inspires thoughts of Meatloaf. Not the dinner entree, but the musician who sings "Paradise by the Dashboard Light."  Poor Meatloaf is praying for the end of time, so he can end his time with his mate. Eternity can feel like forever, especially with the wrong partner.

Let’s hope Lil does her job well, even if not for herself. Because in her world, the dashboard light is on for an awfully long time – as is the one in my new car… which I hope to have figured out how to turn off shortly.