Love Finds Its Way

Perfect Strangers
Bruce Zimmerman

Skyline of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Original image from Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress collection. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

Pat was born and raised in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers and other men of steel who worked in the factories and proudly molded the skeleton of our country’s buildings, bridges and various transportation routes and on both the land and the waterways of the world. It was a family tradition. You worked in the factories as your father had and you expected your boys to grow up strong and follow your chosen path. Pat, who preferred to be called Patrick, was sickly as a youngster and never fully matured physically. Mentally and artistically, he was an interesting and talented young man who could fabricate wood with magical hands and an imaginative mind yielding projects of beauty and passion.

Hammie was a man of steel. He played at both the left and right offensive guard for the Pittsburg Steelers for sixteen punishing years, including a time when they claimed four Super Bowl victories. But then came the inevitable, when physical punishment left him not only incapable of continuing to play football but created difficulties in handling the daily functions of life. This took its toll on him, both body and spirit. Over the years he had never stayed in the closet; he was openly gay and a strong advocate of his lifestyle. At six foot five and on the south side of two hundred eighty well-proportioned pounds, he commanded respect and earned leeway whenever it was needed. He was, and always will be, a respected superstar of that dream team.

Pat’s trade brought him to Las Vegas at the request of the Rooney family, owners of the National Football League Steelers, who were constructing a new, upscale real estate development. They were familiar with the ingenious designs Patrick had delivered for the Pittsburg Glass Works and sought out his artistic talent to enhance the interior space of the Clubhouse.

After Hammie moved to Las Vegas, the same Rooney family took him under their wing, and gave him responsibility in areas of his choosing. When Hammie was playing football, he had always adjusted to each environment he faced, inevitably standing as a fine example for both teammates and opponents. Even in inclement weather and freezing temperatures he played at his position bare-armed, delivering a silent message to the opponents. This is who I am, and you need a big set of masculinity between your legs to take me on.

It took a while, but Hammie eventually acclimated himself to the desert heat by indulging in chores involving cool water. He would wash the limousines, maintain the pool, and—his favorite thing—wash the cylinder wing which was lodged behind a structural wall constructed entirely of one-way-glass. On one such day Patrick was diligently fitting specially selected wood into a functional structure within the cylindrical suite of private offices, library and trophy room.

“Heavens to Betsy, what an astonishing distraction!”, Pat mumbled to himself, as he grabbed a couple of water bottles out of the cooler, stepped outside, and turned off the water source. He walked up to Hammie with the refreshing offering, before realizing that he could hear “what the hell did you do that for?” Instead, he got a welcoming grin from the hulk and a gigantic hand to shake. Pat introduced himself, explaining he needed no introduction to the jubilant super jock. Together they walked around to a shady spot, squatted comfortably, and exchanged small talk about home, neighborhoods, school, football, past and present accomplishments…. As time went on, neither one of them showed any interest in returning to their work.

Magnetic vibes eddied like a whirlpool. While the sun’s angle declined in the evening sky, wending its way to a photographic session on the California beaches, they stared at each other, solidifying their emotions.

Just as one would expect, the courtship was brief, like a rollercoaster or the laps at Daytona—a buggy ride around the block, with the participants waving and throwing kisses to a cheering congregation of admirers. The wedding itself was large and mighty, like the beauty and power of the Alleghany and the Monongahela on their thunderclap journey through the City of Pittsburg, forming the Ohio River—at one time the gateway to the West.

X and Z in Love
Marilyn Myerson

On a rare relatively quiet day on Planet Earth, our guardian angels perused an ancient text…

Their hands met in mid-air, fingers gently lacing together. Slowly, and with utmost grace, their bodies swayed in rhythm to their secret harmony. Their eyes sought each other’s, with subtle glances and then full-on attentiveness. The rest of the world disappeared into a fine mist around them.

These two alone inhabited the earth, soft breezes ruffling through their hair. Hands firmly now clasped, eyes locked in love; they knelt facing each other, their hands opened to caress each other’s face. They lowered their bodies down onto the velvet grass, in sweet, loving embrace. Magical energy infused them as their bodies moved together, now slowly, now with urgency, in their joyous union.

“See”, Xerploo said to Zanyplex, “If we inhabited human bodies, that’s what it could be like for you and me. WE could express love on the physical plane.”

“But, in those bodies?” marveled Zanyplex. “They seem so clumsy, so awkward. And those positions? Crazy! Your elbow would dig into my ribs. I’d knee you in the solar plexus. Unintentionally of course, but I think that pain would detract from physical pleasure. We are in no way accustomed to the weight and mechanics of the human form.”

“I know you are perfectly content with our exchange of ideas and our mind-melds, but sometimes I want more”, sighed Xerploo, a tad embarrassed by this disclosure.

“Oh my stars”, rejoined Zanyplex,” I had no inkling. Well, I did actually, but I thought I must have been projecting. That it was you, too, seemed light years away from my imaginings.” Zanyplex’s tone dropped. “Now I am at a loss for words.”

“Do you mean that you might have feelings for me too?” Xerploo took on a flirtatious tone. “Whew, it feels hot – Is it just me or is it the superheated solar wind?”

“And what about Rule 12, no dating a co-worker?” They laughed in unison. “There’s nothing to say we can’t indulge in a fantasy.”

The very next day, they went through the dimensions and found themselves in front of Physical Planes R Us. Xerploo and Zanyplex looked at the brochure: Are you seeking new travel adventures? We offer the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a spiritual being having a human experience (thanks, Teilhard de Chardin…)

“Okay, let’s check it out. Are you ready to do this?”

Xerploo and Zanyplex emerged from the embodiment process, staring at each other’s cocoa-coloured form, feeling their soft skin and their strange shapes, newly-discovered fingers running through the wondrous texture of their hair. How unbelievable to be encased like this.

”And how weird are these things? Genitals, as the humans call them.”

Both blushed.

As time moved on, they explored the ins and outs, the boundaries imposed by their human form, and also the new-found sensations and joys: jumping and skipping, smelling flowers, dabbling their fingers in a running stream, the sun on their faces, the amazing flavours of food and the glorious feeling of good wine and more good wine.

Our guardian angels awoke the next fine morn slightly the worst for wear. “So this is what a hangover feels like. Care for ‘a hair of the dog’ as the humans are so fond of?”

“Aw, ya know, I think it’s time to explore the reason we donned these human suits.”

“So, a romantic tryst? We’ve already decided it’s allowable to ignore Rule 12, after all this is just a one week fantasy indulgence. Time to explore physical love.”

With fierce blushes, shy hesitation, and much inept fumbling with buttons and zippers, Xerploo and Zanyplex finally completed the bizarre task of taking off the so-called clothes in which they had wrapped themselves. Gazing at each other, intensely aware of their nakedness. Like Adam and Eve, Adam and Steve, Eve and Dawn.

“In for a penny, in for a pound”, Xerploo sat on the bed (they had absorbed far too many Earthen clichés).

“A penny saved is a penny earned”, smiled Zanyplex; then, taking a deep, and then a deeper breath and reaching toward Xerploo, “enough of this silly banter.”

Despite some initial awkwardness, they learned quickly.

They luxuriated in pleasure beyond understanding. They engaged in meticulous exploration, till the aches of over extension and exhaustion took their toll.

They returned to Physical Planes to be divested of the human forms and of the human memories. Restored to their former formlessness, they prepared to live happily ever after.
Though, sometimes at night, when the earth’s moon was full and the lingering chant of the whippoorwill filled the ether, they experienced strange stirrings which they were at a loss to explain….

Bruce Zimmerman was born and raised in New York City during the depression years. After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, he served in the Korean War. In 1957 he and his family moved to Tampa, where he started his own construction company that remains in existence. Bruce began taking OLLI writing classes with “Writing your Life Story” and is a current member of the Imaginative Writing “crew.”

Marilyn Myerson, PhD Philosophy, has learned to take nothing for granted and to have fun. She retired from USF after 38 years of teaching, learning and kicking up her heels in Women’s and Gender Studies. Marilyn was the first outside hire in W(G)S, starting in 1973, when the department was just one year old. She was an administrator at various departmental and dean’s levels, including a stint as W(G)S Chair before her retirement as Emeritus faculty in 2010. She shepherded the Human Sexual Behavior class through its many incarnations, developed the original women’s health classes, and taught feminist research methodology. She is currently in three writing groups, and happily involved with OLLI-USF, taking art and writing classes. She created and teaches OLLI Imaginative Writing classes and facilitates writing groups.

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