GETTING PERSONAL FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME
Excerpt from "Getting Personal"
My mother wrote erotic fiction under the penname, Busty Galore, a misnomer because unlike me her shoulder blades protruded more than her breasts. I loved her dearly, but she had a way of butting into my life. Plus, her 20/20 eyesight and keen ears were capable of seeing and hearing only what she wanted.
As she clicked onto the personals, apprehension sliced through me.
"Look at it this way, by helping me, you'll help yourself too." She checked the box in front of men looking for women, then continued down the column, ages 28-40, built athletic, average, or slightly overweight.
I swallowed past the lump in my throat. "The last time I got involved in one of your schemes I ended up knee deep in mudflats with bullets whizzing over my head."
"That clam digger sure got edgy when he thought you were staking claim to his territory." My mother laughed. "Anyway, everything turned out fine once I explained I was gathering information for a book I was writing. Besides, that was so long ago, I'm surprised you still remember."
"How can I forget! My boots were suctioned in muck. I ran barefoot, pursued by a wild-eyed man toting a sharp clam fork and shouting obscenities. I'm lucky I wasn't killed."
"You exaggerate," she said sweetly. "Besides, I thought he was kind of cute. And thanks to you, I got enough material to write my book, which I've already sold for a considerable sum, I might add. If you hadn't been so crabby, I bet he'd have asked you out."
"The man was a lunatic!"
"Once he calmed down, he seemed nice enough."
"I refuse to discuss this again." I smacked my lips shut.
My mother turned back to the computer.
I was twelve years old when my father died. My mother worked two jobs, often doing without so my brother, Thomas, and I could wear the right clothes and fit in with the other children at Saint Joseph's Parochial School. We owed her big time. Unlike me, my brother made himself scarce, which didn't matter because it was a Catholic daughter's duty to assist her "poor decrepit mother"—her words, not mine.
Ten years ago my mother sold her first book, and much to the family's surprise became an overnight success. Unfortunately, each time she coaxed me into helping her, something backfired.
I rolled my eyes. "I absolutely refuse to root around in dirt, scale buildings, or anything else that might do bodily harm."
"There'll be no bullets this time. No mud either. This is very safe, and you'll enjoy yourself." She eyed me warily. "You really need to go out more."
"Humph," I muttered, knowing I'd already lost this battle.
"Look, mom, I know you mean well, but I'm happy, really."
"Keep your phony baloney for someone else. I know you're lonely, and I've found the perfect solution."
I groaned. If she heard, she didn't let on.
My mother clicked several categories. Checkmarks filled small boxes. A list of screen names appeared.
"Here we are, dear, males for the picking, just like ripe fruit off a tree."
A wormy apple sprang to mind. I shook my head in disbelief.
"The internet is a viable way to meet the opposite sex."
It finally sunk in. "You expect me to talk to men online?"
"Yes, and once you get to know them, you'll tell me all about your conversations. Of course, you'll go on dates with a few of our favorites and then report your results."
She beamed an innocent smile. "Who knows, you might even find the man of your dreams."
I glanced at the screen names on the monitor: Studman, MusclesManiac, I'veGotIt, Babemagnet, and Willin&Able. I turned to my mother. "You can't be serious?"
"I'd like to submit an ad with your profile and a recent picture. That'll allow me to learn what type of man prowls the Internet for love."
"There's no way in hell…"
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