It’s late. I’ve been in a deep, refreshing sleep for hours – completely uninterrupted which is close to a miracle for a middle-aged man. I don’t know exactly what time this started, but at some point I feel her scootch close to me. Even though I am asleep I feel her touch as if she has invaded my dream. It is a good touch – soft and gentle, yet unrelenting. But I can’t focus. I am too caught up in the spidery web of slumber and cannot will myself awake to take part in this late night liaison. Part of me wants to though, I admit.
So what should I do? Should I be honest and say, “No, thank you”? To speak would give away cogitation letting on that I was awake. So I do nothing. I feign sleep. I may as well be dead for all of the affection I return.
Only she doesn’t accept my complacency. She forces herself on me and digs her claws into my chest – not too hard, but enough that I feel their sharp tips penetrate the first layer of skin. I wonder if I’m bleeding. I wonder if my blood will stain the opulent 800 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets.
Then, to offset the roughness of her claws, I feel the gentle pull of her tongue on my nose. I feel the hotness of her breath. Many times I would court this kind of behavior yet at this moment I can’t bring myself to wipe the haze from my mind and accept the love I am receiving.
“Get off me, Liza!” I cry as I push the kitten off of my chest and roll over.
It only takes a second until she is once again snuggled against my sleeping better half. I’ve probably blown it now. The sweet kitten won’t try to nuzzle me again for weeks. Rejection stings.
We’ve all been rejected.
I remember first time my love was spurned like it was yesterday. Her name was Jenny. It was Mrs. Lampton’s second grade class at Cochrane Elementary. Most of my days were spent in the “special chair” next to the teacher facing the other students. I may have been put there for disciplinary reasons, but I like to think I was a kind of a teacher’s assistant. My behavior must have been better this particular day because I was actually facing the teacher in the same row as Jenny. When she went to the front to sharpen her pencil, I opened my desk and found the profound piece of literature I had crafted to woo her. Woo her for what purpose I had no idea, but this was what a man does when he feels this way. Things would work out after the wooing was done. At least that was the scenario my seven year-old mind had constructed.
When she sashayed back down the row, I summoned the courage to hand her my note. It was done! We were practically engaged now. Two lovebirds, ready to do whatever lovebirds do. I smiled smugly and felt total zen-like peace wondering when the love would begin to bloom.
Only it didn’t. I never got a response. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Over the ensuing weeks, I recounted the words I had painstakingly written:
Do you like me?
Check a box YES  NO 
What could go wrong? That tried and true note is what Jeff told me to write and he got it from his older brothers and they were in middle school! At the very least she could have checked NO and returned it! Then I would know. Now it is 41 years later and I’m stuck wondering what happened to the love I had offered. I don’t remember anything else from second grade except for Trey, the clairvoyant kid who somehow knew exactly when Mrs. Lampton was about to walk back into the room.
I wonder if Jenny is a wife and mother now. Or a high powered attorney with a cold, analytical persona. If they still make old spinsters she’s probably one of those because she spent her life rejecting love. I would stalk her online only I don’t remember her last name and Facebook profiles don’t usually list elementary schools.
Rejected love is still love, regardless of whether it is ill-timed, somewhat demented, or aggressive. If love must be rejected, one should have the courtesy to explain why – even if they are seven!
I don’t want to be like Jenny.
So Liza, I’m sorry. I check YES  and will make every attempt to accept your love as you can provide it. But since only one of us is nocturnal, let’s shoot for daylight hours.