tagNovels and NovellasWith Help from Michael O'Leary Pt. 02

With Help from Michael O'Leary Pt. 02

byBOSTONFICTIONWRITER©

Chapter 7 Romance and Love

A true romantic, Michael yearned for love much like Don Quixote searched for Dolcinea. Never relinquishing his belief that, one day, when he found his special person, he would find love and romance. Like innocence and virginity, something not shared with more than one in a lifetime; he believed that love and romance were as one and that both were pure and sacred. He knew that he could only give all that he had to offer, emotionally, spiritually, and physically to only one woman. Anything that he had left to give to someone else, perchance if they divorced or is she died, would serve as more of a relationship of companionship rather than of love.

He knew that once giving all of himself to his one, true love, whoever she may be, that he could never love another. He believed that being in love was like playing a character in a movie, you had to give your all to your role, moreover, that love was like a movie because the sequel was never as good as the original.

With everything occurring for the first time, he knew, with someone else, that he could never recapture the anticipation of the first kiss, the rapture of their first lovemaking, and the comfort of knowing that everything together with her was everlasting. He believed that if given the chance, because not everyone had the chance, that you had only one chance to get it right.

If something happened to his true love, if for some reason they did not stay together or if tragedy befell them and she did not live to share their love for the rest of their lives, until death do they part, as sworn to in their vows of holy matrimony, he would rather spend the rest of his life alone. He would be the one who took up sentry at her gravestone planting flowers, talking to his departed beloved, and praying that her soul made it to Heaven. He would be the one who stayed home watching videos of their trips and pausing through photographs to allow images to redevelop memories of times they shared. Like a shrine that preserved memories of her forever, he would keep her room and her things the way that she had left them.

Those who did not know how he felt about love called his beliefs drastic. Those who did not know how he felt about how much the one, true person meant to him called him dramatic. Those who could not understand his regard for the sanctity of marriage and his devotion to the Catholic religion called him a fanatic. He called his beliefs about love idealistic and his feelings about true love quixotic. Till death do you part, he considered that vow and himself, romantic.

In the way that he felt about love, if something was to happen to his true love, someone else might contemplate suicide, like did Juliet over Romeo, but a devote Catholic; Michael would never take his own life. He envied the love stories of those couples that were married for 50 years. He thought it the epitome of romance, he liked to believe, that when one died, the other pined away with the loss of her or him, and unable to live one without the other, she or he died of a broken heart within the year.

He hoped to have a storybook romance with "...and they died while sleeping in each other's arms" ending. Of course, he knew that ending may sell romance novels but, in reality, it was a fairy tale. By the time marriages transgressed with all the problems of life, one was almost glad to see the other go, finally.

He held these beliefs for himself and not for the person who he must meet. He knew that, as he could never force his beliefs on another, it was an unrealistic expectation to find someone who shared those things that he felt so strongly about, the things that made up his character, and the traits that made him so irresistible to women. He understood that it was still a man's world and, with the pressures, expectations, and demands that men made on women, that his intended may not be a virgin, may have had other relationships, a marriage, and/or children, even. Still, it was different for a man. A man did not wear the scarlet letter upon his forehead in the way that society brands women who were half as promiscuous as were men. Yet, he held the belief that it was too easy for him to partake in the casual sex that some of his customers offered him. He rejected those who tested his resolve to remain faithful to his true love, even though he still had not found her, yet.

He wanted something more, something lasting, and something real, and was willing to wait for her. He wanted to be ready when he finally met his intended and believed that he would meet her sooner than later. He did not want to ruin his chances with her by filling his mind with meaningless relationships and his heart with unnecessary emotions. He knew, with the clarity of a focused mind, that he had a greater chance of recognizing the one meant for him when he happened upon her. His unusual stance and high personal standards made the women who could not have him, want him more.

He viewed much of the dating scene, blind dates, computer dating, nightclubs, singles dances, and the whole social, love hunt for a mate as a charade. The process of trying to find someone to love defeated the concept of love. How could you find love when love is something that you never see coming? He believed that love must happen in its own time, passively instead of actively, when it hits you in the head like a sledgehammer and takes command of your heart in the way that hunger controls your stomach.

He felt that television and the show-all movies revealed the fantasy, spoiled romance, and ruined love. Hollywood used graphically explicit realism for box office draw at the expense of love and romance. Why go to the movies anymore when you can step outside the theatre and see all the realism you want? People love movies for the escape from reality; they love the fantasy and enjoy imagining whatever the movie did now show them. He wondered whatever happened to romance. He wondered whatever happened to a good love story. He wondered when he would meet his true love. He tried to imagine what she might look like, but he could never hold on to an image of her in his head. As elusive as she was to find, the imagined image of her was just as vague and just as fleeting.

He believed that the current women's magazines that tried to liberate their female readership by chastising men commercialized love by wrapping it up in an 8" x 11" glossy package of fake photos with equally as phony models. No one looks like that. The process of editors driven by the intellectual immaturity of their audience, spinning their definition of sex down to their level for the sake of selling magazines, cheapened love and made romance impossible in the process. As was the inherent nature of much of the dating scene, he believed that you could not hurry or manufacture love and romance with alcohol, with money, with a planned social gathering of the opposite sexes nor with insincere lines stolen from a book or a movie. If fate meant it to happen, then it will happen. So, why try to change fate and ruin your chance at real happiness by rushing something not meant to be. Besides, the excitement that everyday that you awake could be the day that you meet your true love, on the subway, passing her by on the street, seeing her at a restaurant or a bus stop or while shopping for food or hardware renewed his hope and made him persevere in his search for her.

Yes, he was much like a modern day Don Quixote in that regard, in the regard that he was looking for love and for his one true love. Much like his Man of La Mancha, he believed in love at first sight, in fate, and in kismet. He believed, in some respects, that he was a pawn in the plan of the Almighty God and that part of that master plan, one day, was the appearance of this true love and it was solely up to him to recognize her when that opportunity presented itself to him. He knew that there was one special someone out there, somewhere, waiting for him to find her. He was willing to wait to open the book of his love story and uncover the identity of his true love. He was willing to wait to find his true love so that they could spend the rest of their lives in romantic bliss together.

He felt that too many people rushed love. They wished for the wrong person and finding the person that they had wished for and falling in what they thought was love, they never took the time to look beneath the outside appearance until it was too late. Now, stuck with a person that they do not love, instead of a person that they could have had, if only they had taken the time to see what may have been in front of them the whole time, is so profoundly tragic. Imagine wasting your life living with the wrong person. Imagine settling for a life that could have been magically if only you had waited, if only you had not been so impatient, and if only you had not been so shallowly blinded by solely the outside appearance of someone and allowing the one who had real substance slip away because she was not pretty, and/or blonde and/or busty?

He believed that there are stages of love and that age, as well as physical appearance, are important in who appeals to you during each stage in life. A man in his twenties feels differently than a man in his forties, of course, about the type of woman who appeals to him, as a man in his sixties feels about the type of woman how appeals to him. He understands that we look for different traits in a mate at different times in our lives. It is harder to find the person in his twenties who may satisfy all that he needs for the next fifty years, than it is to find the person when he is in his forties and has a better understanding of not only who he is and but also who he needs for the next thirty or forty years. Unless, if the man and woman grow to become extensions of one another and dependent upon one another while developing in a way that they may not have chosen if they were alone or with another person, then that one person may satisfy the other for a lifetime.

He felt that a thin, buxom blonde in a tight shirt and short skirt blinded most men and, if she paid them any attention at all then, they were hopelessly in love with not her, but with the image that she portrayed. Conversely, he understood that most women fall in love with the first decent looking guy who treats them well. Then, of course, there is the issue of money. He believed that money was responsible for the death of love and romance. Of course, he understood the importance of money but, when people place money before love, it ruins romance and destroys relationships.

He understood the importance of physical appearance, unless if corresponding with someone by mail, telephone or the Internet. Unfortunately, appearance, the initial attraction, gets in the way of finding true love because, if that outwardly beautiful person does not possess those things needed to grow and sustain a relationship, such as a commonality of conversation and of dreams, goals, ideals, and ideas, then there is nothing between you and her to blossom from attraction to something more, such as love. Typically, the person of average or below average appearance has a limited chance of attracting you in the first place, unless, perchance, fate brings you together in a stuck elevator or a crashed airplane on a mountaintop or an abandoned ship that strands you alone with her on a deserted island.

Nonetheless, there is nothing worse than drifting through life in a rowboat without oars when you could have been aboard a sailboat, unless, of course, the person who you are drifting with makes you not want to get where you are going any faster than in a rowboat without oars. There is nothing worse than living with someone you do not love when, if you had waited and allowed fate to intervene, you could have had the one meant for you.

He believed that you had to give love and romance to receive love and romance and had to give it room to not smother it so that it will grow and blossom into something spectacular. Too many relationships never develop because of the petty immaturities, the selfish actions, and the disrespect that interferes with the growth of love, which, he believed, explained the high divorce rate in this country. He regarded love and romance as a once in a lifetime occurrence, a special event that does not happen to most people, mainly because, most people are too caught up in the every day pettiness of life and are not listening to the gifts that we are have that will help us to identify our true love. Still, we have to work to bring those inherent abilities that we are all born with for them to help us in our search for love. You cannot find someone until you know who it is you are looking for, and in the case of love and romance, you do not know who it is you are looking for until you find him or her.

Love and romance are something that, until it happens, like a lightning strike, you do not know what it feels like and, because of that, you are always unprepared for it. He prayed that it would happen to him and remained hopefully convinced that, one day, it would. Still having not found that special someone, the one who he believed he would know was the one as soon as he saw her and the one who he convinced himself he would find, one day, he faithfully saved himself for her.

Chapter 8 Father Michael

The youngest of six, Michael had brothers Peter, Patrick, Brian and Ryan, the twins, and a sister, Irene. He inherited his Irish mother's orange hair, freckled complexion, relaxed disposition, and short stature, and his bothers and sister inherited their English father's blue-black hair, ivory complexion, quick temper, and height. All but Michael graduated college, had successful careers, owned homes, and was married with children, except for Brian and Ryan, who were happily living the single life together, a twin phenomenon that only other twins understand. Everyone, including the twins, pressured Michael to accomplish the same: college, career, marriage, home, and children. They could not understand how Michael could be happy without college tuition bills, a stressful job, a big mortgage, and the responsibilities of matrimony with children.

His mother wanting him to be a doctor, his father hoping him to be a lawyer, Michael hid behind the stone walls of seminary school leaving that to see the world, a world that began and ended with a teller's job at Neighborhood Bank on South Boston's East Broadway, the predominately Irish section of Boston. He grew up here, everyone knew him and he knew everyone, and he liked it that way. He was comfortable. His customers were his relatives, his friends, his neighbors, his old classmates from South Boston High School, and acquaintances who he greeted while walking to and from work. This job heightened his dwarfish stature from 5'3" to 6' tall, or so he felt, especially when standing on the 4" high platform behind the counter.

Charged by daily doses of gossip, this job plugged him in the community. With what a hairdresser learns from their customers after exchanging chitchat with their monthly visit, Michael updated gossip with his customers weekly and, with some, daily. He knew everything about everybody, including how much money they made and how much money they had in the bank. His customers, willing to share their personal information with him, were happy to have someone who appeared interested in their lives. Yet, few returned the courtesy asking him about himself. He knew not to volunteer his personal information to those not interested. Consequently, other than knowing that he was almost a priest and that he was the youngest of the O'Leary clan, few knew any more about him or cared to know.

A fixture in the neighborhood, a minor celebrity with his customers, no one had to tell him, as Head Teller of the Neighborhood Bank for three years, that he served the community an important service. This, his first job, after leaving the security and the solitude of the seminary just before taking his vows, he belonged here and never wanted to live or work anywhere else.

Yet, Michael wrestled with job satisfaction. He always greeted his customers with a smile, made eye contact, and asked, "How may I help you?" but, he thought that that was not enough. Sure, he cashed their checks, recorded their deposits, and prepared their money orders, and made their change while exchanging polite conversation, but that was his job. Whenever his customers left his window with a sullen expression, as if they had withdrawn or cashed their last dollar, and many had, that is, until next week's paycheck or next month's social security check, he felt dissatisfied. For the few moments that they were with him, he worked to make them leave his window feeling better. He succeeded most of the time.

As if he had any control over their finances, he felt responsible for their monetary situations. He wished he could help them more. He wished he could replace their gloom with a smile and their pennies with dollars. Sensitive to their plight, he wished he could make their lives monetarily better. He wished he could educate them on how they could become financially sound, free of credit card debt, and secure in the knowledge that they had enough money in the bank to handle any emergency with a little extra cash for a vacation or a spending spree.

He thought about applying for a position with the bank as a financial consultant, helping people make informed decisions about investing their money. He decided that he would only be helping the rich customers, those who did not need his help to make more money, those who already had the business acumen, the financial savvy, and the money to invest to ensure themselves and their families' financial security. He did not want to be part of helping those who already had more money than they needed.

He wanted to help those poor customers who would appreciate having a few extra dollars at month end each month, those who needed the money to pay their rent, heat their homes, and feed their family. Many did not even have a checking account and most did not have a savings account, never mind an investment portfolio. He tried to convince them to open a checking account, reminding them that it was a free, interest paying account, and they refused, preferring instead to pay their bills with the money orders that they had to pay $3.00 each to buy. Without a checking account, a savings account, and a credit card, they would never build a credit history to warrant a loan for a house, a car, or for any occasion in their lives. They would always be poor, and in the way that they did not teach their children how to live in a society that thrives on savings, investments, and credit, their children would continue their legacy of poverty.

He thought about transferring to customer service, but decided that the biggest part of a customer service representative was answering the telephone, opening accounts, ordering checks, making ATM cards, and listening to the grumblings of unhappy customers. He knew that he would never become management material, promoted to loan officer, assistant branch manager, and then branch manager unless he made the transition from the teller's window to the customer service desk and learned all of the banking duties. Yet, he viewed the customer service job as a negative job filled with complaints and complaining customers. Besides, he would have to conspicuously sit out on the main floor behind a desk and wear a suit coat and he looked ridiculous in a suit coat.

His narrow shoulders appeared narrower when squashed within the confines of a suit coat. He felt more comfortable in the somewhat informal attire of a shirt and tie, or bowtie, as he preferred to wear. He believed that his job as the head teller of the bank was like the master sergeant's role on the battlefield, the non-commissioned liaison officer of war between management, employees, and customers. It was not that he viewed his place of employment as a battlefield, his job as a battle, and his customers as the enemy, but some customers became testy when it came to their money. Even though he liked most of his customers, he preferred the isolation of standing behind the window and doing business behind the protection of bulletproof glass.

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