A few of the writers I follow have named their muse. “Give it a name,” said one of the characters in Things to in Denver When You’re Dead. Great movie, by the way – it’s out there, but it’s great and plays on my romantic nature. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about what my muse’s name would be. That’s a tough one for me. So many influential women have come into and out of my life, thank God.
But one name pops into mind – Monique. I knew a Monique when I was growing up in rural Illinois. There was a girl in my class when I was in sixth or seventh grade, right at my preteen years. Her name was Monique. Her family had a pool, and she lived in my same subdivision. My friends and I would go over, and there would always be an equal number of guys and girls.
Monique was an attractive, chubby girl with a forceful nature who liked to play truth or dare, in the pool. With me. I may have mentioned I’m rather shy and was much more shy when I was 11 or 12. I was at the age where I wasn’t sure what women were even about yet. Sure, I was attracted to them, but I had no idea about the whole thing yet. I surmise that Monique did have some idea.
Shortly after we played awkward games in the pool between parental supervision. I moved away. 2-3 years later, I moved back, closer to town, and after six months or so of me getting comfortable in my new setting, I was introduced to “someone you might know” at my church. It was Monique. What was a cute chubby kid had blossomed into an exceptionally attractive and curvaceous teenager. She’d always had a little southern accent, but now it was more pronounced. It definitely added to her attractiveness. She came over and said hi, closed my gaping open jaw with her hand, thanked me, and said, “I bet wish you could play some games in the pool with me now.” I thought that was a pretty stuck-up thing to say, but she wasn’t wrong. I can still picture her like it was yesterday. She had brown wavy hair that hid her face a little. Her large glasses accentuated her eyes and her large, lucious red lips were inviting. She wore a floral print dress that wasn’t too tight, but it didn’t hide her body, either. We were in church, as I mentioned.
I don’t think I ever saw Monique again, she had come to church with a friend because she had heard I moved back to town. I have no idea what her intentions were. I never found out.
A few years later, when I went off to college at Northern Illinois University, my roommate had a blanket he had named “Monique.” I asked him why, and he said, “That way if someone calls you can tell them, I’m in bed with Monique.” I thought it was kind of lame but funny enough to a 17-year-old. But what I loved about my college roommate was his refusal to give something up just because it was lame. He insisted on saying that joke whenever he could. He did it when I was in bed, he had me do it when he was. It became “a thing.” Most everyone knew about it on our floor, but there were plenty of times to imply that we were in bed with some exotic beauty named Monique. I’d even tell his girlfriend he was in bed with the lovely Monique. She’d reply, “I’m throwing that damn blanket away.”
So when I look at naming my muse, I feel it’s better to name her after something that never happened, after something that only happened in my imagination than to name her after some of the best women I’ve ever known. I know that won’t be a popular thing to say these days. I’m not trying to harass anyone, nor have I been accused “yet” but I think naming the muse after someone you’ve actually had sex with is a pretty arrogant thing to do. The muse is unattainable, beyond reach. If anything I would name her after the one who got away, the one girl I always wanted to take out, but never got the nerve or chance to. That would be “Melissa.”
So here’s my challenge, name my muse after one with some memory and stories, or name her after the one my 18-year-old self fell in love with the first time I saw her. I chased Melissa for several years and got as close as going on one “not date” with her. Her mom despised me because I had to work for a living and they came from stupid money. For clarity, stupid money is the type of money that one has so much of that to think about how much they have makes you stupid. Melissa was filthy rich and one of the most elegant women I’ve ever met. I lusted after her until I met her, and after I met her, I pursued her in honesty. She’s the only person who ever made my stomach have butterflies when I’d see her out and about.
I’m sure I could have made her perfectly miserable. There was a family portrait over their mantel that was so over-the-top that it still haunts me today. She was perfection, however.
Ah, sweet memories. How I love going back and thumbing through the memories of my youth. I’ve always managed to enjoy myself, and that created great memories. Monique and Melissa will carry me through the day. I don’t think I’ll name her today. I think I’ll let Monique and Melissa duke it out and tell me which one wins. Oh my, a catfight between Monique and Melissa. Excuse my dipshit manliness right now, I’m going to need a moment to visualize those two in Bruce Lee “Game of Death” suits having a catfight. If I could find a name for that interaction, I’d be done here.
I wish I could see the two of them now. Actually, that’s not true. I don’t want to burst the bubble of my memories. I want to preserve Monique as that cute kid who couldn’t keep her hands off me when I was in sixth grade, and the gentleness of my lack of understanding or action in return because I didn’t know how things worked yet. That was youth right there in a nutshell.
I want to preserve my memories of Melissa in her VW Rabbit convertible with the top down, her sunglasses on, and me staring at her through the drive-through window of the bank I worked in. I want to remember how I tried to court her by putting a poem on the windshield of her car and failed wonderfully.
Those are great memories, and I think both of those women helped shape who I am today. I can’t go wrong naming my muse either one, but for today, the name will stay as elusive as the muse herself. My muse is a lovely tease. Make no mistake, I do love a woman who knows how to tease just enough to show herself, but not be crude. She leaves me in a state where I want to spend more time with her, get to know her better, and have more chances to flirt and play. Yeah, that’s my muse, regardless of her name.
After some thought this morning, I realize that my muse is more than one entity. She’s both of these personalities. Monique and Melissa, they’re BFFs now, bonded over their mutual torture and teasing of me. I wouldn’t have it any other way – Meet Monique and Melissa, the magicians behind the curtain of my life.
My college roommate will love that I can reuse his joke from 1987. If you need me, I’ll be in my room with Monique and Melissa, pounding out something I probably ought not to be doing.
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