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 Hard

 

30 stories sharp and real, from the creative and perceptive mind of Dusty-Anne Rhodes

 

She was dating more than I was. She asked me, “What do you do? I end up giving them a paw … they’re just so grateful.” That was the only time I ever heard the expression ‘giving a guy a paw’ for a hand job. Bewitched 

“Don’t do it! For God’s sake!” Stage-whispering to her two friends, Laurie has eyes only for the couple interacting on the sofa across the room. Love Abroad

Neither married. They became their father’s business partners. Neither actually left home, simply moved a few streets away. My sister’s drastic explanation: our entrepreneur uncle was too overwhelming a personality for any man to ever hold a candle to him in his daughters’ eyes. First Cousins

I’ve asked on numerous occasions: “Don’t you believe – among all those intelligent unattached women in Manhattan – you could find someone to share your life with whom the sex would be good as well?” A Gin and Tonic

I had never before come across a married couple in which the wife constantly corrected her husband’s behavior. “I refuse to go the theater with you tonight,” Harald’s mother stated, “unless you change out of those pants immediately.” Fall of the Wall

For instance, he manages his Polish porn star wife’s career. Age-wise she’s practically over the hill for the biz, so they’re squeezing as much as possible out of her last film shootings, her last appearances at erotic trade fairs. Georg

Over their ten plus years together, I’ve met him alone more often than the two of them, maybe once a year. The air between us still crackles with sexual excitement. Franzs Affair 

Hermannplatz is a marketplace – of the formal variety two days a week, informally most any time of any day. Guys are huddled together, some moving fast, others slowly. People wait for others here. Someone’s always looking to sell you something cheap and fast. No sales tax, no receipt. Ahmed and Rashid

When I met him early in 1989, I was blinded by his riveting personal history, and I didn’t recognize his tendencies. Hartmut

“My problem is: I started trying in vitro at 42. They thought my problem was I was too old. I have been to 5 different clinics. In 2 of them they did not want to do what I was asking.” Trying 

“I guess some Africans just meet a nice European lady, get married, and then they’re all set for life, right?” Nice and Easy 

When I got to know her, she had developed a habit of ordering books, reading them without breaking the binding – and then quickly sending them back to Amazon. A Nice Old Lady

These two don’t particularly like each other: it’s not friendship bringing them together tonight. The second woman is more successful (explaining why she turned up later). Power Games 

But I don’t want to get old, I don’t want to slow down, I don’t want to struggle to get up out of my armchair, toddle down the hall supporting myself on someone’s shoulder – not if that creakiness is a permanent state, a one-way street to ceasing to exist at all. Getting Older 

Then, after their daughter was born, he would often take care of her. “Isn’t she just the most beautiful baby you ever saw?” he boasted to us. But he refused to move in with them. “Sabina is completely insane,” he’d say, but didn’t explain his words. Disinherited 

Discretion was important to him, he wrote. Also that he was unhappily married. Actually he chose an even more dramatic phrase: was it “tragically”? “So unhappily I want to die?” Ships Passing

They didn’t pose urgent questions like “Mom, where are my sandals?” that would expose her inadequacies at being present in her own home, in her own life. They sat close and looked at her tentatively as if she were fragile. A True Love 

“You’re a stupid bitch!” she said. There was no anger in her voice. I looked at her – she was speaking into her phone. Then I got it. She wasn’t ‘saying’ the sentence, she was quoting it. Triggering the Imagination 

As I wander through the stacks, I see an older man with a hook nose sitting on a stool examining a grammar book; from ten feet away the lesson appears to be on verb declinations. Perhaps he’s working on German in his spare time? The AGB 

Unfortunately, the sexual openness he sensed in her at the beginning of their relationship has not held up: “When we stay at her parents’ place in Thüringen, we have to sleep in separate bedrooms. And it’s so boring – she only wants to do it one way.” Benno 

I have no desire, however, to laugh maliciously about her relationship to her daughter, to my step-daughter Debbie. That’s where I’d rather cry out in anger. Schadenfreude 

Tom’s flat in London had a broken closet door, a beat-up futon as living room sofa, a motley collection of dishes and glasses, a broken shower spigot. He was an executive at a TV network, selling ad spots, proud of having broken the £100,000 a year mark. It just didn’t add up! Moving Insurance

Buying a motorbike was an act of thumbing my nose at my ex-husband. He owned a big BMW Boxer. I sat behind him at the same height, but I was much smaller. Motorcycle 

The cops took her twice through every physical detail of what had happened – how he pulled her by the arm down the stairs into the basement, kept squeezing and touching her. “He focussed on the lady bits,” she said with an embarrassed smile. Pink Hair

He invented business trips to meet me, thought about leaving his wife and daughter, started sessions with a therapist. What he offered felt frightening in its intensity and yet tenuous. It was going very fast – but what was ‘it’? I Want You to Know Me 

Zia was one of the first Jewish people I spent time with. Playing with words, being funny in a self-deprecating way seemed to come from being Jewish. So I wished I were Jewish too. Zia and My Mother

He keeps trying to catch my eye to size me up: how can he make best use of the diminutive, apparently sympathetic American interpreter? My Uncle, My Girlfriend 

I went out to dinner at an elegant restaurant with a man I hardly knew. I had taken out an ad: readers of the Dutch business newspaper drawn to the ad were to write me a letter in English. I received seventeen letters, and met six of the letter-writers. Blind Date 

“Wait, this is for 350 Euros,” the policewoman exclaimed. “350 Euros? Those must have been some fancy chairs! Did he show you the invoice for the repair?” Darn Fancy Chairs 

“I loved him. He helped me in my moment of greatest distress. I truly loved him.” He beat her severely, and on at least four occasions, the screams were so intense that the neighbors called the police. Margaret

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