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One had to admit

To be fair, one had to admit that after fifteen cans of Red Bull, Vladimir had managed to explain to us how each and every 3rd edition feat ever published by anyone made up the very bedrock upon which stood the legitimacy of the entire edition.

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Always vigilant

“Look, I know you don’t see anything out there, but I’m a cat and I’m telling you I rolled a nineteen on my spot check!”

 

 

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We’d been together a long time.

We were happy. After all the time we’d spent together – the weekends, all that time after school and even some of the time during school – we’d come to know each other pretty well. We’d grown close, like you do when you are young. We’d tested one another and learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to allow for them. If there were a stumbling block in our way, or if something did not work for us, we were confident enough to simply work to find satisfactory way around it. We “house-ruled” a lot of things together, sure, but we always made it a point to be safe while we did.

We were secure. We were happy. We were together.

But, like in any relationship, over the years we both changed. That’s just part of life, I suppose. Oh, we were still happy, but looking back now, I can see that we were starting to drift apart. There were signs, little things, things that I probably should have caught. Probably. Things I could have mentioned, and then maybe it wouldn’t have…

No. Just… no.

Let me get on with this, then.

She put on weight. Oh, not all at once, and not a tremendous amount. Not at first, anyway. But it was obvious and I should have seen it. Every few months, a little bit more. A splat of fat here, a little bit of fluffiness there. It was gradual. The effect of all of that, however, was that she slowed down. That much I did see. She’d gotten heavier and it slowed her down and I, ever loyal,  I slowed right down with her.

Then there were the costumes. Oh, how she loved her costumes! Several times over the years, I’d find her all dressed up and almost barely recognizable. She’d had several favorites, some of which I confess that I just did not understand. There was the “Wizard”, the “Airship Captain”, “The Vampire” and the “Hot Desert Nomad”. I guess that I have to admit, as much as I don’t wish to do so for you now, that I did enjoy some of her costumes.

I guess I did. I mean, I think I did.

Sure I did, because no matter how she’d dressed herself up, no matter what the outside wrapper was, underneath it all I knew that she was still the same and that she was still mine.

Okay?

Then there’s this.

The hard part to admit is that, back then, I had a roving eye.

I was a younger man. I was weak, I was open to the temptations of the world.

I could not help but see other younger and slimmer versions of her almost everywhere I went. It was impossible to ignore all of them. They were smart, svelte and probably most importantly, new. I mean, it was hard not to think about it, you know, just every once in a while. Look, I am trying to be honest here. I’ll just say it.

I was tempted to stray.

But I never did. Not once. No, I just smiled and declined all offers. I remained faithful to her.

In the end, I guess we both just drifted apart. She’d grown, that was obvious. She had grown and perhaps I had not. Okay, I’ll take my share of the blame; I was busy with school, and then work and then life in general. As my attention was divided and drifted, I spent less and less time thinking about her. Less and less time was spent simply being with her. I have to say that while knowing that part of all this is my fault, it does not make this next part any less painful to relate. But I think that I have to do so, if for no other reason than to put it in the right context.

So I am just going to say it.

She left me.

I watched from afar as she found new paramours; they were younger, stronger, swifter and more agile than I. I watched in shock as she just changed, and started tossing away some things that we’d both once held as important. Other things were adapted and transformed to reflect her new outlook.  I know. She had the right to do it, and by all means please don’t think I am complaining. I’ve consoled myself for a long time with the thought that all of this was inevitable.

Perhaps it was.

She had grown. As much as it pained me, I had to admit that she was now truly marvelous; deep and complex and intoxicating. I was old, stodgy and too set in my ways to change that much. It finally occurred to me that while I spent all that time distracted, I had simply become a part of her past. I’d been left behind and it was over, no matter how much we’d once meant to one another.

It broke my heart.

She’d moved on, and I watched her go.

Now, I did keep an eye on her, over the years. Oh, not that I was stalking her. Please don’t let me give you that impression. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I suspect that it would have been impossible for her to tell that I was even there.

Had she’d looked. Had she cared.

Which she didn’t. But I’d like to think that if she ever did see me back then, that somewhere there was a little warm spot in her heart for me.

So that’s my story. But you’re right to ask me what all of this is really about?

Only this:

It was with complete empathy that I recently watched as it all happened again.

This time, of course, it was happening to someone else. The hurt, the pain, the anger, the emptiness, it was all there again, but this time it was coming from another source. Someone who was so sure, just as I once was, that she’d never change. That they’d never split. I watched as it became obvious that he who was my replacement could not now understand how, after spending so many years and so much of value on her, she could just decide to simply get up and walk away.

And walk away she did. Just like that. It was brutal.

Where our split was gradual and bittersweet, her split with my successor was ugly. Ugly and public. Emotions were rubbed raw and things on both sides got heated. Strong words were used. Dire predictions made. Her new paramour (because you just knew that there had to be one) jumped into the fray, defending her and her choices. She made several not-so-veiled comments about the intelligence and wisdom of those in her past. She included me in that, but that was fine. After all these years, this time it was not about me. I was beyond being hurt by her.

I was.

I thought I was, but it still hurt to see her denigrate, in public, her own past and those who were nothing but loyal to her.

So now she has a new suitor. This paramour is young, very young. They are both very happy, or so I am told. There is still a lot of grumbling from those in her past and I’d guess I’d have to include myself in that.

But not so much. Anymore.

If I had one wish in all of it, it would be this:

It would be that when she tires of her latest flame and again decides that she must re-invent herself, when she decides that she has no choice but to break clean with the past and move on to someone else, that the current suitors  remember with regret all of the harsh things that they’ve said to those of us who had come before them, and that they understand that in order to truly heal, they must come to the same realization that all of the rest of us have.

The realization that it’s not about us. It never was.

It’s about her.

Really, she’s bigger than any of us.

And eventually, soon enough, she’ll not be that into that next guy, too.

.

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