Well, here I am at my desk on a quiet, mostly sunny Sunday morning in August. Not quite silent, mind you, I’m listening to the digital copy of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Expanded Edition), which I have because I bought the CD album earlier this morning. (Amazon often includes a complimentary digital copy for its Amazon Music app when you buy a physical media album.)
But other than the music and the occasional sounds from upstairs (the Caregiver’s middle son has a heavy tread when he walks; when he goes up or down the stairs, I can hear his loud thudding footsteps all the way from my room), the house is relatively quiet.
Last night was essentially a repeat of the previous evening. The Caregiver left the house sometime after 2 PM to meet with a new boyfriend she met on Plenty of Fish, an online dating site that I used – without success – for a while when I lived in Miami. (I also have an account on OKCupid, which has a “free” option that in the past was useful – I hooked up with my previous ex-girlfriend on there in late 2009 – but now that online dating sites emphasize their pricier premium options, OKCupid is next to useless for me.)
Anyway, the Caregiver is hardly ever home in the evenings now that she found a “rebound” boyfriend that she calls, literally, “my friend.” And last night was no exception, although she did leave me a plate of fried calamari and fried eggplant (which I enjoy, thank the Force) so I’d have dinner.
So, what did I do on a Saturday night by my lonesome?
While I did play MicroProse/Bird’s Eye Games’ Regiments for a while, I steered clear of Phase Two of the game’s campaign mode and opted to try Skirmish mode instead. I tried two Attack scenarios – one with a regiment from the U.S. 3rd Armored Division, and another with a West German panzer (armored) regiment against the Soviet 40th Motor Rifle Regiment. I figured that (a) I’ve learned how to coordinate the various types of platoons (armor, mechanized infantry, and support units like scouts, mortars, and self-propelled artillery with tactical aids (TacAids) such as divisional artillery, close-air support, and reconnaissance assets and improve my timing with bombardments and attacks.
Unfortunately, Regiments’ “deployment points” system of allocating platoons and the fact that you don’t have an entire unit at your disposal at the start of a battle gets in my way as a tactician, so I must proceed in a piecemeal fashion and attack the Soviets with the platoons I get with my first batch of deployment points.
I am – at least when it comes to land warfare – a cautious commander and tend to be averse to suffering heavy casualties, so I usually do not launch a pell-mell attack on the enemy’s nearest Objective Zones. I obviously can’t wait till I have enough deployment points to activate more platoons, so I move forward, but not in a way that Patton, Abrams, or Rommel would approve of. (In this, I think my command style is more like Montgomery’s in the Northwest Europe campaign of 1944-1945.)
As a result, I did not do well with my American forces in the first Skirmish. I did not take a screenshot of the After Action Report, but I think I only captured one Objective Zone out of seven or eight, and even though I inflicted a lot of casualties on the Russians, my losses were higher in proportion; at the end of the battle, I had more platoons on the field than I did at the beginning, but they were replacements to units that the Soviets had annihilated.
With the Germans I did a bit better; I captured way more Objective Zones this time around, but – again – the Soviets had a better kill percentage ratio than I did. So even though this time I was more Rommel-like and was more aggressive with my panzers and mechanized infantry, the Soviets laid several well-planned ambushes on my advancing troops, and not even constant air strikes from my Alpha Jets and considerable use of artillery allowed me to win even a Pyrrhic victory against the “Ivans.”
I still had fun playing Regiments; I don’t regret buying it, and I’m determined to improve as a commander of ground forces. Right now, though, I am more adept as a submarine commander (in both the World War II-era Silent Service II and my Tom Clancy-like Cold Waters) than I am as an army officer.
I also read a few pages – albeit without much enthusiasm – from Fire & Steel: The End of World War Two in the West by Peter Caddick-Adams, a former British Army officer and now a respected military historian who specializes in World War II. It’s a great book, don’t get me wrong, but I guess my heart is not really into anything lately. Reading requires a lot of concentration and a comfortable reading environment; currently, I can only concentrate on computer stuff and the occasional movie or TV show (either on Netflix, my home media collection, or Disney+.) Breakups, even necessary ones, suck, and I can’t even make a connection on OKCupid here because the premium option is pricey as fuck.
As you can see, I don’t expect today to be much different from the previous two days. The pattern will be the same; the Caregiver will make me a late brunch, exchange maybe a few pleasantries, then go to her room to get ready for her next date with her, ahem, “friend.” And just as we can expect the weather to get stormy after three in the afternoon – we had a few thunderstorms in the early evening hours yesterday – after a hot morning and early afternoon, she will disappear from the house until late at night.
Meanwhile, I’ll kill time on social media, check my nearly useless “free” OKCupid account to see if any women left me a message (I’ve messaged a few but none have replied), and play Regiments even if I am no George Patton or Creighton W. Abrams.
 “Allie,” as I liked to call her, was one of the best girlfriends I’ve had as an adult, although our relationship was the briefest one I had (if you don’t count the brief four-day fling I had in Colorado with a woman I met in a Yahoo chat room 23 years ago and hooked up with in early 2000).
Allie was a neuroscientist and a faculty member of a local college, and she was considerate, generous, and fun to be with – in bed and out of bed. I can’t really say our relationship was deeper than “friends with benefits,” because even though we went out on a couple of dates and spent quite a few weekend afternoons in her Kendall apartment, we weren’t together every day, nor did we exchange phone calls every day. She worked five days a week, and although we met before my mom’s health “crashed” in early 2010 and I could see her on Saturdays or Sundays, she had other social commitments to keep. So, really, “Allie” was a great “friend with benefits” more than a formal girlfriend.
She was still my FWB when Mom had her surgery to repair her lower spine, and it was Allie who told my half-sister that it might be a better idea for our mother to do her post-operation rehabilitation at a specialized rehab center rather than at home. Vicky, of course, pulled the “I’m a nurse, and I’m her daughter” card and refused to even think about it, despite Allie’s prediction that if Mom did rehab at home, the recovery would be slow at best. And as it turned out, Allie was right. Mom made significant progress – albeit at a painfully slow pace – with her physical rehabilitation, but it took so long that by the time Mom was able to get around the house using a walker, dementia began to wear her down and sap her desire to leave her hospital-style bed at all.
I think Allie started to put distance – physical as well as emotional – from me and my now complicated home situation in the fall of 2010. She probably realized that since I was Mom’s primary caregiver, the task would be all-consuming and I would not be as available as I had been before. We did have sex – in the master bedroom upstairs – once in September of 2010, and a month later I gave her an early birthday present because she was going out of town on her real day to spend it with family. After that, we exchanged occasional text messages and even planned to get together a few times, but I never saw Allie again. She cited work-related issues (problems with scientific grants, as I recall) and depression. And since she was not around during the holidays or even my 48th birthday, I decided to end the whatever-it-was that we had.
Still, as ephemeral as that relationship was, Allie was extremely “sex positive” and was a fun, energetic, and willing partner. I am still – as you can see – fond of her, and I wish we had met at a time when our lives were less complicated.