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After my son’s school program last week I ended up chatting with a man who has just been hurled off of the same cliff I was 20 months ago. Our conversation started innocuously enough when he saw me taking a picture with my phone and asked how I liked my Droid. He’d been thinking about a smart phone, but was looking for one really good reason to justify getting one. As a policeman who spends 12 hours a day in a car with a laptop at his side, I don’t happen to think he would really benefit from one. I told him that when I break it down to wants and needs my Droid, my constant companion, is really nothing more than a want that I caved in to when I no longer had someone to tell me no. He was amused at the idea and seemed to still be looking for permission to…oh, I don’t know…want something.

I told him that my Droid was not my first freedom purchase. Twelve days after my husband left I traded my GMC Acadia (because I must be the only person in America that hates this vehicle). I’d gone to the dealership looking for a minivan because I had to do the responsible mom thing. I was just minutes away from signing on a used Toyota Sienna that smelled like french fries, when the clouds parted and a sunbeam shown down on the prettiest Jeep Wrangler I’d ever seen.

“I want that car,” I told the dealer. And he did his best to talk me out of it, as did my husband when he came to sign the paperwork. I owned the Acadia jointly with my husband (which was the official impetus for the trade). I pointed out that it was 4 doors, it seated 5 and there were only 4 of us now. There was plenty of room in the back for hauling dogs, luggage, or sports gear, and the removable top was hard so I didn’t have to worry about climate control. Besides, I only needed his permission to trade the old car, not for the new one I was purchasing on my own. And also, sometimes, “because I want,” really is all the reason that is needed.

I told OfficerBummedout that the Jeep was instrumental in exploring my new world and I put 50k miles on it last year. This idea excited him. He said he just realized the night before that there was really no reason he couldn’t go ahead and buy that little sports car he’d always wanted now.

It has been six weeks since his wife told him to move out. Though he stood tall with broad shoulders and the same, perfectly chiseled non-expression I’ve seen on every single officer who’s ever written me a ticket, I found it hard to reconcile his outward picture of strength with the pain I know he is in. He said he still had so many questions and asked if he could pick my brain. As it turned out, he had only one question and did not realize he was asking it many different ways. The one he loves does not love him. His family is broken. He has to visit his children. He wanted to know if life would go on.

I assured him it already is.

A month has come and gone without so much as a peep from me. Life has been busy, and that’s a good thing. But I slowed down and asked ShirtlessRoland out on a post-dinner date tonight. After the kids were educated, bathed, read to and tucked in, I left TallGirl in charge and sneaked out to meet him at Mellow Mushroom for trivia night.

Among the nuggets I can add to the list of things I learned by guessing, you may be surprised to hear that Luke Skywalker of 2LiveCrew is running for mayor of Miami. Good luck to him. This news brought back fond memories of 1989 and riding around in a golf cart with Q-tip somewhere in the general vicinity of Myrtle Beach.

Among the Answers We Knew Were Wrong But Wrote Them Down Anyway were bits like Wyatt Earp was a marshal in Oklahoma. Ronald Reagan was born in Missouri. Maverick’s dad’s name was Mr. Mitchell (technically correct). And who knew Tubb’s first name was Ricardo? I never even saw that show anyway.

Had ‘Songs Billy Joel Had Nothing To Do With’ been a category, we would have swept it, as I recently learned Two Tickets To Paradise was actually recorded by Eddie Money. Now I know. Instead, with a handful of anally derived answers, we came in 2 points behind the first place winners. But with a $20 gift card, 4 beer glasses and a small, long sleeved T-shirt, I’m pretty sure we raked in more loot. However, that may have had more to do with our conversation with the bartender. He was from Pennsylvania and ended up in Wake Forest by way of Las Vegas. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever been to these two cities but let me tell you, direct entry from one to the other should not be allowed. I imagine he suffered something akin to the bends that SCUBA divers get from surfacing too quickly.

Wake Forest, you see, is not a drinking town. This makes the opening of the new Waffle House down the street a little curious, but anywho. Wake Forest is the home of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is inhabited by people whom you would not be alone in at first mistaking for Temple of the Dogs fans. But sadly, no. They are simply emulating our Lord Jesus Christ and Personal Savior and if you sit next to them one too many times in Starbucks, they will mistake this as an invitation to point out why the things in your life (including a surprising list of items that can be found in your pantry) will send you to Hell. Mr. Bartender was not adequately warned.

But he was generously tipped and I hope to see him and the small crowd again next Thursday.