10/1/13

Love Choices
By Jerry Guarino


“So, who do you choose? Would you rather be with someone you are in love with or someone that is in love with you?”
“Why can’t I have both?”
“That isn’t the question. It can be with a woman who is in love with you or one that isn’t but that you are in love with. You can only have one woman. Which one do you want?”
“Is this a temporary relationship or permanent?”
“Permanent. Life partner. Marriage and kids.”
The two college friends had come to this final question after years of looking for the perfect mate. Jeff and Bob were both from good families, graduated from New England medical schools and had good careers as doctors. But they found themselves on opposite sides of this question.
“What about other factors? Looks, brains, sexual compatibility?”
“We’ve been through all this. The only difference is that one woman can’t live without you and you can’t live without the other one, but she doesn’t feel the same way.”
Jeff was first to compare. “So for me it’s Pam or Beth?”
“Yes.”
“But we’ve been through this.”
“I know, last year. Time changes a person. Start again.”
“All right. Pam is perfect. She always has been. I wouldn’t change anything about her. Except.”
“Except?”
“Except she doesn’t feel the same way about me. We date, but it doesn’t progress into anything serious.”
“What have you done to move the relationship forward?”
“Everything short of proposing. Whenever it looks like we’re going to be exclusive, she has a way of backing off. Not breaking up, just not evolving. She’s beautiful and we have great chemistry; she’s just a little aloof.”
“Aloof?”
“Yes. You know I have to carry the conversation. A woman that lets the man do all the talking is not serious about him.”
“Hmm. And Beth?”
“Beth. Well, the situation is flipped. Beth is gorgeous and we have great chemistry, but I don’t feel like committing to her.”
“Why?”
“That’s just it. I don’t know. Beth is everything I should want, until I compare her to Pam.”
“That’s sad, my friend. You have great sex with two beautiful women and you have found a problem with it.”
“Well, everyone has to settle down sometime. I just can’t decide with who.”
“Jeff that’s exactly why I decided to choose between Sara and Linda.”
“You’ve made a decision?”
“Yes, I’m going to propose to Linda. She’s crazy about me and I do love her.”
“You do? I thought you weren’t in love with her.”
“I’m not Jeff. But I do love her. There’s a fine difference.”
“Bob. What happens when you start comparing Linda to Sara?”
“I’ve been doing that for a year now. I can’t convince Sara to love me the way Linda does. So while you wait for Pam to come around, I’ll be coaching my kid’s soccer team. You’re still my best man, yes?”
“Of course. Don’t tell me you have a date already?”
“I already know Linda wants a June wedding. I’m proposing next week, so you have six months to be ready.”
“So you’re ready to give up on Sara?”
“I’ve tried for two years. It’s not going to happen. I’ll be very happy with Linda. She is totally in love with me, in every way.”
“I’ll see you next June then.”
“Hopefully, you’ll have decided between Pam and Beth before then.”
“I hope so too.”

***

Jeff arrived at Legal Sea Foods on Thursday night, the day before the rehearsal dinner. He saw Bob at the bar. They hugged and sat down for a drink.
“You’re a man of your word Bob. I wish you and Linda a lifetime of happiness.”
“I am happy. It’s funny. Once I made a commitment, I felt myself falling in love with her. I have no regrets now.”
“That’s great. Maybe there’s hope for me too.”
“Why? Have you made any progress with Pam and Beth?”
Just then they were interrupted by Sara, who rushed to the bar and gave Bob a hug and kiss. “Bob, I’m so happy for you. I only wish I could go to your wedding.”
Bob gave Jeff a look. “Sara, you haven’t met my friend Jeff. He went to Dartmouth med and practices in New Hampshire.”
Sara inspected the tall, athletic friend and gave him a friendly kiss. “Bob, how long have you been keeping this one away from me?”
Jeff caught Bob’s eye over Sara’s shoulder and mimed out a question. Bob just shrugged. “Sara, at the time I thought you and I had a future.”
“You know I’ll always love you Bob. But Linda’s a better fit for you.” Can I steal him for a private drink over there?”
Bob shook his head. “Sure, have your way with him.”
“Just give me a minute to go to the ladies room Jeff.” She winked at Jeff and left.
“Well Jeff. I don’t believe it. Two minutes with her and she’s ready to bed you. How do you do it?”
“I’m a doctor Bob. We have this aura.”
“Very funny.”
“Bob, you think I could bring Sara to the wedding as my plus one?”
“OK, why the hell not. We already had a place for a guest.”
“Hey you never told me about Pam and Beth. What’s the story?”
“They’re running a bakery in Vermont. I just got an invitation to their wedding.”
Bob was stunned with his mouth open.
Then Sara came back from the ladies room. “Ready for that drink Jeff? Or maybe we should have dinner.” She put her arm inside his and they walked into the dining room.
Jeff glanced over his shoulder and winked at Bob who just threw up his hands.


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Jerry Guarino’s short stories have been published by dozens of magazines in the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain. His latest book, "50 Italian Pastries", is available on Amazon.com and as a Kindle eBook. Please visit his website at http://cafestories.net


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