OTHER PEOPLE'S PROBLEMS 

OTHER PEOPLE'S PROBLEMS

Listen: A year or so ago, I met this crazy mad girl named Sophie. We were both on spring break in Florida and ended up spending an insane week together. We met the first night in a hotel lobby and ended up partying the rest of the time, going to bars, out to clubs, spending days passed out on the beach. She was like one of those Girls Gone Wild videos, except that she was really intelligent and always spent the night with me. I never met any of her friends and I don’t even think she went back to her room after the first day we were there. Near the end of the week, we realized that we didn’t live that far away from each other -- I live in Memphis; she lives outside Nashville -- and I told her I wanted to see her when we got back to Tennessee. I was interested in pursuing all the fun and games we’d started. She seemed into the idea, if not enthusiastic, and we made plans for her to call me when she got back. She calls one day, probably six months after spring break, long past when I’ve almost forgotten all about her. She asks me to come and see her and remembering how much fun we had, I get on the road. When I get to Nashville, I find her house, only to see her and some guy standing outside screaming at each other. Turns out it was her husband of three years and he wanted custody of their four-year-old child. The whole thing was a little too “Springer” for me, so I hopped right back in my jeep and drove off. I never called her and she didn’t call me again until last week. Now she says that she’s divorced and that if I come and see her it’ll be just like old times. I still want to spend time with her, but I’m a little wary. What do you think? Signed, Like Crazy Okay: Sometimes, Crazy, we get little gifts from life. Like a snow day when we really want one or that one perfect summer when we’re 17. You accept these gifts, you enjoy them and then when they’re over you’re sad, but grateful for the experience. Sophie and your week with her was one of these little gifts. You had a great time, but that’s it. I can see how you would want to create some more of these little memories, but let’s face it, at this point I think you should work like hell to protect the memory you have. Because if you start seeing this woman now, you’ll lose it. It will become poisoned by the badness that will happen. How do I know? Because you can never go back to spring break again, just like you can never go home. And no matter what Sophie says, I hardly think -- even in the best of circumstances -- that it will be like old times. When you met you were two happy-go-lucky people living it up on Spring Break. You had your bags packed, but there wasn’t any baggage. Now there’s a four-hour-drive, an ex-husband, and a small child in the mix. All that sounds a little serious -- to me, at least -- and I’m wondering how wild this love thang will be with all those entanglements. See, if you were madly in love with her, couldn’t imagine being away from her, it killed you those six months when you lost contact, I’d be answering differently. As it is, you’d almost forgotten her by the time she came sniffing around and your letter might as well have been soaked in cheap keg beer; it said party all over it. It sounds like you’re just looking for a little “fun” and it might make a little more sense for both of you to look for that in your own zip code. Not to mention that from the few details you gave to me, Sophie sounds a little suspect. The meeting in the hotel lobby, the booty call six months later. Perhaps she was trying to escape from something, say a marriage, and fell upon you, a shining knight in board shorts and a suntan. You want to keep your perfect week? Don’t go back for seconds. You want a girl gone wild? Buy the video. Listen: I've been dating "Sam" for a couple of months now. We were friends for a long time before that and our relationship gradually progressed. So even though we haven't been dating long, we've been in a relationship of sorts for a few years. I love Sam deeply, and there is absolutely no one else in the world that I want to be with. Sam feels the same way about me. I've never been in a relationship this wonderful before, Sam and I are truly partners in everything we do. I guess you could even say that we're soul mates. So by now you're probably wondering what the problem is. Well, there's a couple of problems. The first is that I married my high school sweetheart shortly after graduating from high school. We had two beautiful children and then divorced when the youngest was less than a year old. My ex and I have been divorced for seven years now, my children are 10 and 8. Sam adores my children and they adore Sam. The other day my ten year old even told me that he would really like it if Sam and I got married. My ex and I are amicable - he and Sam have met and they too get along pretty well, as well as can be expected. You're probably thinking, "no big deal". After all, blended families have been kosher since Carol, Mike, and the rest of the Brady Bunch blazed that trail. However, Sam is HIV positive. He told me this early into our friendship, long before he and I became sexually involved. We enjoy a healthy, normal, safe, sex life and I've been tested regularly since we began having sex. Sam has not come down with full blown AIDS - but I know the possibility looms, and frankly, it scares me to death. Sam recently asked me to marry him - and though I really want to, I worry that it would eventually harm my children. I know that there is a good chance that I will bury Sam - and there is also a good chance that I could become infected myself. Every time we have sex I realize that I am increasing my chances. I sometimes feel guilty that by choosing to have sex with Sam I am selfishly increasing my children's chances of losing a mother. I also worry that if my ex (who is fairly close-minded) were to find out about Sam's condition he might try to take custody of the children away from me. I honestly do not know what to do. If Sam were not HIV positive, it would be a no-brainer. I want to be with him forever, I know that. But he is and I have children to think about and know I'm just, Miserable in Love. Okay: It’s funny that you mention the Brady bunch, but I’ll get back to that later. I think you should get married. Go over the top, have a huge white wedding, take lots of photographs, rent a limo, smear cake on each others’ faces, and generally make a great big nuisance of yourselves. Here’s why: that sappy little thing called love. You say it would be a no-brainer if Sam was not HIV positive. While I dig what you’re saying, I can’t help think that a wedding, no matter how ostentatious or how small, is not going to make that much of a difference. Especially if you’ve already slept together and plan on continuing to do so. The only thing that keeps you out of harm’s way is if you stop having sex, either by mutual relationship decree or because you decide not to be together at all. Likewise, you worry about having to bury Sam. Truth is, you’ll probably have to do that whether the two of you get married or not. You might not have to bear the onus of making the arrangements if you don’t wed, but, even if you don’t, you’ll still be mourning over a lost love. And if you break up beforehand, you will have lost him twice. Better, I think, to spend the time you have together together. And really, that might be years. I don’t know when Sam was infected or what his medicated cocktail is, but there are tons of people living with HIV. Let’s be honest, if not a bit macabre, either one of you could get into a car accident today and that’d be that. So the deck is a little stacked against Sam. Is that really a reason -- if you’re being safe -- to not play at all? Do you really want to end something prematurely just because it will end eventually? The kids do up the ante a little bit. You don’t want them to lose you and you don’t want to lose them. So you’ll have to take precautions, like not letting your son use Sam’s razor to learn to shave. That’s not a big sacrifice. And if you think you’re being selfish, you’re not. Both the kids and Sam want this, too. It’s just going to be little difficult. I think if you and Sam talk it over, you’ll see a way to live happily ever after. Even the Brady Bunch, which no one thought would even make it after the first season, is in syndication all over the world. So make most of the time you’ve got and maybe in the long run, you’ll still be going strong years later. (Gotta problem? Wanna make it my business? Write cashiola@memphisflyer.com.)

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