Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad with Greek Yogurt Garlic Ranch “Mayo”, and The End.April 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Posted in Dinner, Healthy, Lunch, Poultry, Rainbow, Sandwiches/Wraps, Seafood, Vegetables | 105 Comments
Tags: Carrots, Celery, Chicken Salad, garlic, Greek Yogurt, Onions, Roasted Peppers, Sandwich, Tuna Salad, Wraps
I wrote a long preface to this post, but was told to ditch it. Too personal, too revealing, too much apologizing and explaining, they said. So, I gave in and ditched it. All that matters is that the end is finally here, so let’s celebrate with sandwiches, or wraps. Did you just hear the dull, hollow thud after I said that? Yeah, it’s there, an apropos response to sandwiches after 2 years of jotting down this long, drawn out memory.
Sloppy and blurry, but oh so good.
Man oh man oh man, I never thought I’d be ending this story with chicken salad sandwiches. I wanted to make something spectacular, and I tried, and I failed…twice. It was the most disgusting thing I’d ever put in my mouth. Then I felt sick again, so I gave up and made an easy chicken salad, which really isn’t much of a recipe, but it’s the best I can do for now. Plus, I can sit and chop, so win-win.
I’ve been making this chicken (or tuna) salad since I was 12 and learned how to roast peppers. I add roasted peppers to all of my mayo based salads because it makes them remarkably better – the sweet, roasty undertones, just magnificent. You get your crunch from the celery, so nothing is missing.
Back in the day, I used to mix some of those ranch seasoning packets into the mayo before mixing it in with the chicken and veggies. I thought I had discovered something brilliant, but people have been mixing ranch seasoning packets with mayo long before me. They just add buttermilk and call it ranch dressing. I decided to go as a fresh as possible, eliminating the salt lick packs they call ranch seasoning. I also switched out most of the mayo for Greek yogurt, but, by all means, use all mayo or all yogurt..either way is delicious.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I like my sandwiches big, overstuffed and messy, If the filling falls out while eating it, even better. However, this salad is so pretty, it would make delightful, dainty, crustless tea sandwiches too. No need to pick up after me, I’ll get to it eventually.
If you want to take chicken or tuna salad to a realm above and beyond the norm, a realm that elicits “OMG” with eat bite, this is the way to do it.
Loaded Chicken or Tuna Salad
Makes a good amount of sandwiches, depending
on how much salad you use per sandwich
2 to 3 cups shredded chicken (I use a roast chicken and a mix of white and dark meat) or 4 cans of white albacore tuna, drained
2 green onions, both the light and dark green parts, sliced
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
1 small carrot peeled and grated or shredded (sometimes I steam the carrot shreds, about 1 to 2 minutes, for more flavor)
2 large stalks of celery, peeled (this is the best way to add it to salads, no strings), thick white end cut off, split vertically three or four times, finely diced, LIKE THIS
1 very small red onion or one-quarter of a large red onion, diced LIKE THIS (or 1 large shallot, diced)
1 to 3 avocados, depending on how many sandwiches, each half slightly mashed
Garlic Greek Yogurt Ranch Mayo (recipe follows). the amount depending on how ‘wet’ you like your chicken salad
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, if needed.
1. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix in as much of the Greek Yogurt ranch mayo as you desire.
2. The Secret – Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I refrigerate it overnight) before serving to allow the flavors of the chicken salad and yogurt ranch to really blend or shall I say ‘sing’? Because it really does sing! You’d be amazed at the difference it makes, not unlike beef stew eaten the day after it’s cooked. Season it with extra salt and pepper after letting it chill, if need be.
3. Serve as sandwiches, slightly mashing an avocado on top or spreading the avocado on one or both slices of bread (which I should have done for photos – neater) then layering boston or butter lettuce and tomato, if desired, or roll into whole wheat flour tortilla wraps or flatbread. Keep it low-carb and gluten-free by serving as is on a salad plate or spooned into a ripe avocado half.
Greek Yogurt Garlic Ranch “Mayo” (Double or add add another half of this recipe for more ‘mayo’)
Adapted from this recipe
Makes about 1 cup
Print - Highlight the recipe, then right click on it and choose print. in the drop down menu. Voila..only the recipe prints, nothing else.
2/3 cup Greek Yogurt (Use all mayonnaise instead of yogurt, if desired)
2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (if using all mayonnaise, just 2)
1/4 cup chopped. fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh dill weed
1 garlic clove chopped and smashed into a paste with a pinch of kosher salt, LIKE THIS
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup buttermilk (more or less, taste as you drizzle it in and stir, or 2 teaspoons buttermilk powder*) You can omit all the buttermilk, if you like. It’s great without it too, since yogurt is already tangy. If using all mayo, you need to use it.
salt and pepper to taste
* You can usually find buttermilk powder in the baking or dried milk aisle in supermarkets. If not, you can order it online.
1. Place Greek yogurt in a strainer lined with cheesecloth (or a paper towel) over a bowl. Cover the strainer and allow excess liquid to drain for about 1 to 2 hours. You’ll be replacing the liquid with buttermilk to make it ‘ranch’. (While it’s draining, start roasting the peppers and prepping the rest of the vegetables for the salad).
If you’re using all mayonnaise, obviously you can skip the above step.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together strained Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, parsley, chives, dill, garlic paste,, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir in buttermilk. Add more or less buttermilk for desired taste and consistency. I like it thick, like, well..mayo. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Wrap and refrigerate for several hours before adding it to salad, if you have the time. Even more flavor!
Without further adieu, the conclusion to Bad Boy First Love.
If you’re tuning in for the first time, here are the previous parts to this story. Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE, Part Ten is HERE, Part 11 is HERE, Part 12 is HERE, Part 13A is HERE, Part 13B is HERE, Part 14A is HERE, Part 14B is HERE , Part 15 is HERE, Part 16 is HERE , Part 17 is HERE and Part 18 is HERE, and Part 19 is HERE., Part 20 is HERE, Part 21 is HERE, and Part 22 is HERE.
I cleared my throat and tried not to sound upset or desperate.
“Hi, is Dreamboat there?” I asked, hoping I sounded cool and confident in a way that suggested ‘No bitch is gonna take my man..yeah, thaaas right! Don you even think about it, missy!’, but still cordial, if that makes even the slightest sense. She could just be a friend, I thought, although I didn’t know of any girl ‘friends’ he had down the shore, or at home for that matter. Come to think of it, he had never had a girl ‘friend’ in the almost 7 years we were together.
“Who’s this?” she asked, miles and miles more cool and confident than I.
“Lisa” I replied, breezily. This was turning out to be a war of voices, but she was there with him, so her arsenal was loaded. She was Union to my Confederate.
“Yeah. hang on.” she said in a somewhat amused voice, and then a loud smirk/laugh after she told him “It’s Lisa,” while handing him the phone.
Do you know what a smirk/laugh is? It’s a diss of epic proportions when it’s girl versus girl. It’s a combination of a hiccup and a laugh, or a small cough mixed with a chirpy giggle – Uhh Heh with a with a slight breath in between. The ultimate FU, a complete knock down..a childish taunt of “Neener Neener, he’s mine now!”. Apparently, she found it funny that I was calling..or even worse, I was a joke not to be taken seriously. That hurt, but also made me start to rage just a leetle bit.
She’d thrown down the gauntlet. I was ready.
As soon as he said hello, the smirk/laugh looping through my head, mocking me repeatedly, my first words were;
“WHO WAS THAT?” No hello, no small talk, just “WHO WAS THAT?” Not the greatest way to start off when you want to make up and get back together, well, more like win, now that I’d be KO’d by a smirk/laugh.
He immediately started to placate me – pure, unadulterated pacification, his usual weapon of choice. Remember, he was always as cool as a cucumber when I was angry with him or overly emotional, and it always bugged me. In fact, in all of our years together, I don’t think he raised his voice in anger once. When compared to most other bad boys, who are quite extrovertive when angry, he was milquetoast. However, if that toast was burned by those of the male persuasion, he talked alright – with his fists. A strong, silent bad boy. A strong silent bad boy who was possibly no longer mine.
“It’s no one” he said softly. She was either out of earshot or enjoying his ruse with me, because no woman in her right mind would put up with being called ‘no one’. He continued to assuage the situation, but at the same time, sucker punch my heart, callously dislodging the feeding tube he’d placed there 7 years ago, stating several more times “It’s no one.”. He didn’t even say she was just a friend..just, “It’s no one.”
“Bullshit, is she your new girlfriend?” I asked, my voice about 3 notes higher than normal and kind of screechy.
“It’s no one, okay? I’ll call you later.” He replied calmly.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but knew him well enough to know that his insistence that she was ‘no one’ not only made her a ‘someone’, but a very important ‘someone’ at that. In all of my years with him, whenever he undermined something, whether it be a person, object or situation, he, she or it was always on a much grander scale than he made he, she or it out to be.
“I don’t believe you.” I said, trying not to cry, and then hung up. I sat cross-legged on my bed in a sort of stunned silence, the enormity of what had happened not having yet sunk in. I began absentmindedly chewing my cuticles, something I’d stopped doing when I was 11-years old and got my first manicure. I remember the nail technician telling me that boys didn’t like chewed cuticles on girls, as she painted a perfect black and white daisy on one nail.
Dreamboat chewed his cuticles a lot. I wondered if he was chewing them now.
I was trying not to work myself into a poisonous lather of anger and jealousy – trying so hard not to foam at the mouth. For a few minutes, I thought about driving down and confronting him and the smirk/laugher in person. It’s harder to be a sarcastic, mocking bitch when the object of your smirk/laugh is standing right in front of you.
I thought better of it. What would that solve? He was obviously already involved with her to some degree, and she was, to quote Charlie Sheen, circa 2011, “Winning!”. Plus, my desire to go there had a tiny bit more to do with confronting her rather than salvaging our relationship, so I would have just ended up embarrassing myself. I was amazed I could think so rationally in that moment.
I picked up the phone and called Raven, tearfully giving her the play by play. Raven liked to think she had some kind of extra sensory perception, a soothsayer of sorts, and in a way she did (another story), so at this point, I was more than willing to listen to her ‘vision’. She told me she could see him, at that very moment, standing on the street in front of the shore house in a pair of cut-off sweats, barefoot..with her, which just made me feel worse.
As an aside, Raven had never seen him in the cut-off sweats she described since they were just recently cut off. But, she hit the nail on the head, right down to one of the tie strings being chewed and frayed by the family dog, and the second letter on the label washed out. Eerie.
But none of that mattered because I knew it was over. Even if he called and wanted to see me, it would never be the same. You can’t put a band-aid on a gaping wound and expect it to fully heal, and even if by remote chance it did, the scar would have been ghastly.
Soon, the ‘light-bulb’ moments began to pile up.
It finally dawned on me why everything he did with me our last night together was so cold, awkward and peculiar. It was because he had been with her while working on his parent’s shore house. She was probably the reason he stayed those extra days ‘to paint’. Yeah, the only thing he was painting was her body with his..okay, no need to elaborate any further. You get the bitter gist.
Well, I knew one thing for sure, she was an extraordinarily bad kisser and he’d adapted to it, kissing me like he was used to kissing her, touching me like he touched her. She was obviously busty since he’d kept reaching for them and missing, his wide open hands in a sporadic, upward slide, fingers spread and stretched, awkwardly hitting my collarbone, then sliding back down and cupping in defeat. I cringed from the inside out every time I thought about it. Even typing it just now made me cringe!
I had a strong feeling it was the girl who pulled up to the front of the house and beeped when I was down there with him and P a few years back. The girl he made P run outside and talk to. The girl he briefly dated when I was in college! All I recalled was long, light brown hair, one side tucked behind her ear. I didn’t see her face. Then it hit me. That girl was also the faceless drive-by night stalker from a few months earlier. Same hair and car. No wonder he had blown it off. He knew.
Now I understood the smirk/laugh. He’d chosen me over her for years, so I had become the enemy, the girl she undeservedly hated and placed blame on because she was in love with him and couldn’t have him. She wanted to make me feel as bad as she had for a period of time. For all I knew, he could have been using the old ‘I’d be with you, but I don’t want to hurt her’ excuse that many a cheating boy uses to soothe the rejected girl while keeping her on the back burner. Not at all unlike a married man persuading his mistress with empty promises, since he’s only staying in it for the kids or to avoid being taken to the cleaners.
So, he cheated on me while working on his parent’s house, and he cheated for keeps. She finally got her man and he got his ‘shore’ dream, since she was a local.
He called twice a few days later, but didn’t leave a message. I didn’t bother calling him back because I knew they were just courtesy calls. There was nothing left to say on either end.
It was hard to fathom how something so intense for so many years could end the way it did. I grew up with this guy, he was my first everything. The abruptness was startling. After about a week, I had a change of heart and wanted some answers and ideally, closure, but, he wasn’t a phone chaser, and I wasn’t going to phone chase him, especially after that last call. BUT, again, it didn’t matter. He didn’t want me anymore, so I definitely wasn’t going to get the answers I was desperately seeking, at least not while it was fresh.
Nonetheless, something was amiss. Why wasn’t I sobbing face down in my pillow? Why did I still have a slight appetite? Why wasn’t I mourning him like I did when he broke up with me that awful night at the lookout? Don’t get me wrong, there were many nights of manic supposition, a smattering of regret, horrid visuals of him loving her, and a healthy dose of tears, but those tears weren’t flowing like I thought they would. Much to my surprise, it didn’t feel like I was pinned under the wheels of three tons of sadness.
So I cracked, but I wasn’t broken. However, our emotional umbilical cord, which had been stretched many times but never broke, was now broke.
Maybe I could live without him. I’d move on and be okay, I promised myself.
Of course, my brain welshed on that promise. I was stuck in a rambling, inner soliloquy of whys, what ifs, and analogies, even going as far as comparing my breakup to my friend’s past breakups, looking for some kind of self-soothing, small consolation.
I’d been front row and center for some of my friend’s crumbling relationships, and they always seemed to be a lengthy series of fights, breakups, games, reconciliations, lather rinse repeat – fractures and bone chips all over the place until someone finally surrendered, sweeping up the carnage and ending it for good. We had broken up once before, but it was discussed for three hours and he had articulated his feelings sufficiently. This time it was sudden, the expansive floor of our love wiped clean with one, voracious sweep of a soaking mop. It was as if we’d never happened.
After 7 years, from the fevered flush of first love, to the well-seasoned bliss of mature love, to nothing, in a split second, the cold, dead silence was crushing. I felt empty. This was ‘another woman’ breakup, and unfortunately, that’s how those usually end. But still I continued to ponder it relentlessly;
Why couldn’t he have just told me he didn’t want to wait any longer? Why couldn’t he have just told me he had fallen for someone who could give him what I couldn’t? Why couldn’t he have just told me he wanted to date someone else before actually doing it?
Why couldn’t he have he just told me he didn’t want me anymore?
Cake and eat it too was the general consensus among my friends. Whoever broke first (me, obviously) was let go to fend for herself. She was probably ready to give him what he wanted. I was not. So, instead of just telling me he didn’t want to wait any longer, or that he wanted to move on, he surreptitiously kicked me to the curb.
Just like the moment the opening chords to Sweet Child O’ Mine wiped out glam metal and synthesizers forever, and then these guys wiped out metal altogether, a smirk/laugh wiped out me and Dreamboat forever.
After about a month or so, I slowly started to date again. It was difficult at first, but I eased into it as you would an ice-cold swimming pool on a scorching day, my body eventually adjusting to the temperature. Soon I was treading water comfortably.
One guy I met while driving to work. He pulled up next to me and started a game of red light, look and smile, green light, glance and go. He was very cute, in a Taylor Lautner sort of way. He motioned for me to pull over, I motioned for him to follow me. I felt safer meeting and talking by the tanning salon. Soon we were seeing each other on a fairly consistent basis and it seemed promising, in a transitional sense, since I wasn’t even close to ready for an exclusive, committed relationship. He didn’t give me mad butterflies, but, damn, the boy could kiss! Maybe it could become something eventually, I thought.
As we spent more and more time together, something started to feel off. There were moments where he kind of looked like he should be sipping from a juice box instead of quaffing his favored gin and tonics when we went out to dinner. Not to mention, he would get crazy excited to do late night donuts in an empty parking lot down by the Hudson in Edgewater. After a while, I got tired of all the scary spinning and skids and made him let me out first, sitting on the steps to a gym, yawning, while I watched him play Dukes of Hazzard with his ‘vette.
Then I found out why.
He told me he was 21, but he was really 17 and a senior in high school, thanks to one of his ex-friends who actually came up to the tanning salon to out him.
I knew his ID was fake!
A five-year age difference isn’t a huge deal, but it is when you’re 22 and the guy is a freakin’ teenager in high school. Not to mention, he wasn’t even legal for me to date! Now the gin and tonics made sense. They ‘aged’ him. He kept calling on and off for about two weeks after I found out, first claiming he was really 21;
“It’s a lie, I swear I’m 21! John just said that because hates me and was jealous!”
Then he resorted to making up all kinds of excuses as to why he lied, one of them being; “My grandmother has been really sick. I’m all out of sorts, man.”
“Oh, so that led to you forgetting your real age?” I couldn’t resist asking. I continued to listen to his excuses, letting him say his piece because it brought me back to when I added a year plus to my age when I met Dreamboat. But, we were both teenagers at the time.
He finally realized there was no way I was going to continue dating a 17 “But I’m gonna be 18 in January!!” year old and let it go.
For a long time the jabs from my friends were rampant; “But, Lisa..you’re passing up the opportunity to take him to his prom!” was one, and it still makes me giggle to this day.
Dreamboat and I had now been broken up for 3 months and I was really starting to miss him again, especially after unknowingly dabbling jail bait. He’d pretty much been my life for 7 years, and the intrinsically tangled heart is not that easily untangled. I was starting to hope he might call, even just to see how I was doing. There were some moments when I almost called him, but fought it off, repeatedly slamming the fridge door shut on that seductive slice of pie. Clearly, I was still susceptible to the sporadic emotional currents trying to pull me back to him, but I’d learned to paddle my way to safety, or cling to the betrayal buoy, to avoid drowning in the vast ocean of memories with him I so cherished.
Regardless, you can’t fight for someone who doesn’t want you anymore.
After a few months of on and off dating, and just when I started to worry I was never going to feel butterflies again because Dreamboat had ruined me forever in ways both positive and negative, I sparked with someone at a club in Hoboken. He was a combination of Dreamboat and Hockey Guy; a tall, dark and handsome college athlete (baseball pitcher), but tough with a bad boy edge and that deep, sexy voice that only guys who grew up on the other side of the GWB had. In fact, he lived in a town between me and Dreamboat, the next town over from the tanning salon I worked at in Fort Lee.
Aside from the fact that he was the first guy who induced those now elusive butterflies since Dreamboat, I could talk to him about most anything, no blank looks or feigned interest. We had some pretty awesome phone conversations before our first date and they continued into our first date. and second and third….. Ding, ding, ding!
The urge to hear from Dreamboat began to fade with each amazing date, and soon my malnourished heart was feasting again.
After dating for a few months, right after we both said the first “I love you” and couldn’t wait to have a fantastic summer together, he got a phone call from the Atlanta Braves and soon after, the NY Mets, both offering him a contract to pitch for them. To backtrack, he’d gone to an open tryout a few days earlier since he was injured his senior year in college and lost out on the draft. He chose the Braves because they upped the ante, and he was a Yankee fan. In New York and New Jersey, if you’re a Yankee fan, you hate the Mets, and vice versa. Crosstown rival nonsense we all adhere to.
It figures, I thought, and it happened so damn fast – a little over two days to be exact. The phone call, then a going away party for him put together by his family and friends, and the next morning he was on a plane to some boonie town in the Appalachians where their rookie league was located. At the airport, with my face crushed against his chest (He’s 6″4′) while he held me in a farewell bear hug, he told me as soon as he was settled in and knew where the hell he was, he would call, and of course, send me money for a plane ticket to visit him.
Just like that..poof. This time the feeding tube was removed gently, but the pain wasn’t much different. On the drive home from the airport, I remember stopping at a small candy store in the town we lived in briefly before moving to our forever town. I stocked up on a pound of penny candy (which was now nickel candy) like I did back then with the quarter my parents gave me every day, but no kid excitement this time, just a need to sugarcoat the gloom.
When I didn’t hear from him after two days, I started to worry a bit, but tried to remain positive. One afternoon at work, when it hit day three and still nothing, I thought maybe I was a flash in the pan and he’d already met some hot baseball groupie. After what happened with Dreamboat, distrust had snaked its way into my head and nestled into a corner of my subconscious. Suddenly, I needed to talk to an old friend. The intensity came on fast and consumed me like wildfire for several minutes. I should have waited and let it pass, but instead, I hastily dialed. After the second ring, Dreamboat’s voice was on the other end.
My stomach fluttered when he said hello.
Was it possible I wasn’t fully over him?
He was surprised and seemed really happy it was me. One “How are you?” led to him chattering on about what he’d been up to since we’d broken up, a lot of it about going to see bands play with his friends and how the night before they actually met and partied with Joan Jett and she looked “HOT” for her 40-something age.
“You know she’s into chicks, right?” I asked, to slacken the awkwardness. He paused for a moment, then responded with a “Yeah.”, followed by a timid laugh.
He was nervous. I’d never heard him like that before. Ever.
After the moment of awkward that I tried to make not awkward, I just listened because I had nothing more to add to the conversation. It was strange – incredibly familiar, but at the same time, incredibly bizarre. When he finished rambling on about his rockin’ nights, so unlike the guy I used to know, he asked how I was, but before I could answer, he said;
“I miss you.”, and his voice cracked in the middle of it.
He was actually choking up.
I waited for that old, familiar feeling to come over me..the butterflies, the good jelly legs, even happy tears, and then both of us would cry, realizing we were meant to be together.
But that didn’t happen.
I felt nothing…zero..zilch. Not even a speck of butterfly larvae.
I could only respond with “That’s sweet, thank you.” because I would have been lying if I said I missed him too. Wow. I couldn’t believe it. Just as I was feeling my forehead to make sure I didn’t have a fever from some brain eating disease that rendered me callous to his sentiment, he said;
“I wanted to call you so many times, but I really messed up and thought you’d hang up on me. Plus, I heard you were seeing someone…”
All at once, I felt uncomfortable and desperately needed to get off the phone. I made up some lame excuse about customers coming in and said goodbye, hanging up quickly before he could say anything else.
I suppose it was the closure I needed?
When I got home from work later that afternoon, Raven called.
“Start packing, H (another friend, though not close) and I are going down the shore and you’re coming with us!” she exclaimed excitedly.
Knowing, or hoping, rather, that Dreamboat needed to stay home for work and wouldn’t be there, made the decision easy. I needed this. A fun weekend with the girls at the beach would be the perfect elixir for missing/waiting to hear from Baseball Guy and the discomfort I still felt from the phone call with Dreamboat.
We didn’t stay in Seaside, but we went there one night to hang out. It was strange being there without Dreamboat and without any connection to Dreamboat, and it was changing fast. Dance clubs were now dotting the boulevard and boardwalk. One strip of arcades, and a pizza stand I’d been so used to seeing, was now one huge strip of dance club. Gone was the casual, wind-blown, cut-off crowd and Jon Bon Jovi wannabes (with hair exactly like this, bandana included), replaced by decked out, deeply bronzed guys slathered in hair product and decked out, deeply bronzed girls slathered in makeup, some wearing heels, moving stealthily to avoid jamming one between the boards.
“High heels on the boardwalk?? WTF?” I remember the three of us clucking abashedly in unison.
We always went barefoot, (sandals or sneakers at most) no matter what we were wearing (cute and casual, but never dressy), to avoid being called a benny. When you were vacationing there for a while, like we used to, you did not want to be called the dreaded benny and went to all costs to avoid it. Besides, it was summer, it was the beach, so walking barefoot was freeing and worth the occasional splinter.
Ironically, on this eff men - fun girl’s weekend we spent the majority of our time checking our voicemail. Raven had a few dates with a guy she really liked and hadn’t heard from, but kept hearing from a guy she went out with once and wasn’t interested in at all. Every time there was a another message from him, she’d have a hissy fit, banging the phone against the wall (the man she later married). H had just broken up with her boyfriend a few days earlier but missed him and realized she’d made a mistake, so she was hoping he’d return her messages, and, of course, me checking for Baseball Guy.
We were a pathetic bunch.
On our last full day down the shore, we decided to go to the beach in Seaside, not the usual main part between the piers, but the side at the end of the boardwalk next to Ortley Beach, right by the street we’d spent those incredible teenage summers on. H had bought a few of those small beach lounge chairs because we were now “..old and didn’t need to be getting any sand up our butts” as she so succinctly put it. We lounged back by the dunes like little old ladies, replete with sunglasses, SPF 30, hats, and a cooler full of hidden Corona Lights with lime, a far cry from the beach-blanketed, well-oiled, sun worshiping teenagers we were just 4 years earlier.
The girls were happily pickled, the Coronas washing away all thoughts of the men they were missing. I managed one, then refrained because I’d barely eaten anything and was feeling a bit woozy. I just vegged out in my own little world, watching with amusement as they succumbed to flirtatious barbs from a group of 20-year-old guys a few feet away.
“Oh, damn, we’re out of Coronas.” H moaned as she lifted the cover and looked into the cooler.
I quickly volunteered to go buy some more. My kind gesture was a farce. It was an excuse to sneak in a call to my voicemail to check if Baseball Guy had left a message. We’d decided to stop checking, and I’d held out for as long as I could, but I wilted, and needed to check one more time, I pulled on some shorts and off I went..with some guy named Pedro. Yeah, some guy named Pedro.
Pedro was one of the beach blanket bimboys (as we jokingly called them, resulting in a fun name flame war with them – we were The Golden Girls) my friends were flirting with. I vaguely remember him asking to come along because I was so caught up in my thoughts, but I must have said yes because he was walking alongside me as I trudged down the ramp to the boulevard, then a right to one of the side streets where there was a liquor store. All I recall is dark, spiky hair, caramel tanned skin, puppy dog eyes and a pretty nifty six-pack. I couldn’t help realizing that this new breed of Seaside was loaded with six-pack ab boys. He was wearing a thin, gold chain with a cross. Not quite guido, but he could be on his way, I thought.
It was slowly turning to dusk, my favorite time of day down the shore. The lights of the arcades and carnival attractions were starting to come on, so beautiful against the pink blue sky. Dusk always held promises of amazing nights to come, nights when I’d scamper down the boardwalk breathlessly to meet Dreamboat after work, or wait outside for him to pick me up, my heart racing at the familiar rumble of his Beetle a block away, scads of butterflies erupting in my digestive system when he pulled up. A moment of that old excitement returned as I watched the lights to the Star Jet coaster flicker and zip while we walked, and then a brief feeling of sadness since it was no longer that time and I was no longer that girl.
As we walked across a small, sandy lot leading to the liquor store, I watched a car pull in and park in one of the spots near the door. I knew that car. I knew that car very well. I stopped dead in my tracks and hung back, slowly moving sideways towards a tree to hide behind, instinctively reaching back to keep Pedro from moving forward.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
I put my index finger to my lips to suggest “Shhh”, but mumbled through it..”That car that just pulled in, it’s my ex-boyfriend.” He got it and stood still.
I watched as he got out of the car, followed by his familiar stretch, then a hand through his hair. Now I realized why it was so easy to feel nothing on the phone a few days earlier. I hadn’t laid eyes on him since that awful night when he fumbled me like a football.
He looked beautiful, but his beautiful was now bathed in betrayal. I had deluded myself into thinking I was completely over him, but in truth, the full emotional fallout had been cloaked by the anger of that betrayal. Just one look at him, and the pain and longing resurfaced, much worse than it had ever been since the split. He was wearing a favorite pair of black jeans I’d bought him two birthdays ago. I remember marveling at how great he looked in them while he smiled bashfully. Much to my dismay, I wanted to run him. He did say he missed me and he choked up while saying it, and he was edging towards more before I hung up, so it’s not as if I was playing with half a deck here.
After watching him walk into the store, I took a step forward, and then another. The mix of emotions running through me was puzzling. He’d hurt me tremendously, and I thought I loved someone else, but suddenly, I needed to be in his arms again.
Not so fast.
It was then I saw the dark silhouette of a girl’s head in the passenger seat that used to be mine. I knew it was the smirk/laugh girl, the faceless drive-by stalker, the long, light brown hair tucked behind one ear and when stalking, beneath a baseball cap. And with that realization, I started to feel woozy again, the Corona blowing bubbles in my empty stomach, threatening gastric Armageddon.
It happened so fast, I couldn’t control it. My legs started to give out, and for a second I thought I was going to faint. I turned and slowly crouched down, squatting, one hand against the tree, the other over my mouth, trying to hold back the bile that was rising way, way, way too fast. No matter how many times I’d felt that bile in the past, from possible rejection after a year, to marriage, babies, and houses talk, to his almost arrest, I’d always managed to keep it down and recover. I looked down at the gravelly sand while Pedro tried to comfort me, his hands on my shoulders, asking frantically what was wrong. Should he call 911?
Oddly enough, I ended up focusing on his feet, trying hard to will the nausea away. I remember thinking he had very nice toes for a guy and could easily be a foot model..and then it all came gushing out, all over those pretty toes.
The poor kid didn’t see it coming. I’d be forever remembered as the girl who threw up on his feet. Well, at least it was liquid, it could have been worse.
I have to admit, the boy done good, meaning he didn’t freak out. I sort of half smiled up at him, trying to convey “sorry” with my eyes. When he saw I was going to be okay, he ran into the liquor store, the liquor store Dreamboat had hopefully vacated, and bought some bottles of water. Two for me, and two for his feet. I inwardly blessed his puppy dog eyes and six-pack abs.
Almost immediately, I felt better..and not just physically. It was like my whole being was finally clean, no sticky residue clinging to my heart, no hidden dust in any nooks and crannies, just spic and span, white glove test, clean. I felt lighter, fresher, brand new. I guess when I threw up on Pedro’s feet, I’d finally purged Dreamboat completely from my system.
The fat lady capped off her cadenza with a curtsy and the Poltergeist lady announced that my house was clean (forget that in the movie it actually wasn’t).
Pedro helped me up. This time there was a real spring in my step. I was really going to be okay, well, okay if I heard from Baseball Guy, I thought as I stepped away from Pedro to check my voicemail. He had called. He had left a message. My heart swelled when I heard his voice. The spiritual/ju-ju side of me deemed it fate, and fate wasn’t going to let us be in touch again until I was thoroughly cleansed of everything Dreamboat, the good and the bad.
I finally had full closure.
I couldn’t help grinning ear to ear while I listened to him fit as much as he could into the 2 minute message time limit, first explaining why it took days to hear from him (7 game road trip the minute he arrived, working with the pitching coach for hours on end, and rooming with him), and proudly boasting about his first 3 outs in professional baseball, a K, a ground out and an infield popup. Rapidly running out of time, he shouted out the phone number in the trailer he was now living in with three teammates, begging me to call him ASAP because he loved me and wanted me there with him ASAP.
So I was to become a traveling baseball woman for years to come.
But that’s another story.
I never spoke to Dreamboat again, although his number did show up on my phone a few times the next few months. Blondie spoke one more time to his brother, about a year later. He claimed Dreamboat married “..the girl he loved second best.”, as if that was any consolation (it wasn’t). She had their baby soon after I puked all over Pedro’s feet, so he got his first kid at the tail end of 25, just as he’d wanted and planned. I think it would be pretty safe to say he knocked her up during the those two plus weeks down the shore working on his parent’s house, or in Virginia Beach. Yeah, she was the one he went to Virginia Beach with. She had relatives there. He hadn’t spun any globes.
I found out years later that they had 5 kids. Yep, 5 kids, and possibly more to come. I’ve often wondered if she wears a flowery housecoat and dilapidated flip-flops. All kidding aside, I’m happy for him..and them. They were meant to be together to create a beautiful family, true soul mates. There was no way he would have ever gotten 5 kids out of me, no matter how sexy or persuasive, so major, major kudos to her.
Having said all that, even though I was hurt in the end, I don’t regret even one second of our time together. I was lucky to have had such an amazing first love. He wanted to start a family more than he wanted to wait for me to be ready to start a family, and that’s just how it goes sometimes. But, he gifted me with a bunch of killer memories, some of which I’ve shared with all of you, so I’m richer for it.
As for me, well, that will all come as or if this blog goes on. There will be more stories, but none that cannot be finished at once..no more parts, even if I have to make a separate page for it. Dreamboat will show up occasionally in posts because it was during our time together that I fell madly in love with cooking and baking, so he factors into some of the treats I have in store and the stories behind them.
I was never in Seaside again, Long Beach Island and the Hamptons becoming our new summer playgrounds. As you all know, super storm Sandy ravaged Seaside, and the last remaining bit was eaten up by a fire last year, so there’s not much left from my memories with him. Most everything is brand new.
I had always planned on returning one day, especially to see if something I carved into one of the wooden beams beneath the roller coaster on the Casino pier, was still there. It was simply L loves D, carved deep with a quarter into the wet wood during low tide one late afternoon on my way to visit him at work. That roller coaster, called the Star Jet (formerly the Jet Star), is the coaster in this now iconic photo, before and after. The beam I carved it into broke off with that coaster. However, I can always see the Seaside I knew, forever in here (tapping head), so it really isn’t gone, and I’ll always remember it like this, and this..and this.
walking hand in hand
love letters in the sand
I Remember You