Last night a beautiful thing happened – and caused me to have a bizarre reaction. I'm still trying to figure this out. The beautiful thing was a very lovely review that someone posted on Amazon for my book The Old Mermaid's Tale:
Wendy Catalano - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Old Mermaid's Tale (Paperback)
This book has to be one of the best love story's I have ever read.
Kathleen Valentine has a magical skill of making her characters real, believable and true. Although fictional, she has the ability to make them reach out of the pages and touch us.
It was beautifully written and it reached out into the depths of my soul.
This book will stay with me for a very long time and I highly recommend it.
The Old Mermaid's Tale has received other lovely reviews and I appreciate all of them but for some reason this one hit me really hard and I wound up in tears to the point where I couldn't fall asleep. It was about Baptiste, I know that, for some reason of all the characters I've ever created, he has the capacity to knock the wind out of me at times – even years after having written the book. I wrote about this a few weeks back and about the man with a disability that I once loved who was much a part of Baptiste when I was creating him but there is another man who was also important in the creation of my Baptiste. His name actually was Baptiste which is how I came to pick that name. I only met him briefly but he has stayed with me all these years.
Like Clair in The Old Mermaid's Tale, I was going to college in Erie, Pennsylvania (Port Presque Isle in my story) and I was working the night shift in a diner. I was young and impressionable and didn't know much about love. There was a football stadium not far from the diner I worked in and every year a circus came to town and set up in that stadium. At night, after the circus closed, all the people who worked there would come piling in to our diner and drive us all crazy. People who tell me how realistically I write now know how I was able to create those scenes in Clair's diner.
One of the men who came with the circus people was an animal trainer named Baptiste. He was from Quebec and had a Quebec accent, long dark hair and lovely blue eyes. For whatever reason men take a shine to a certain girl, he took one to me and he used to flirt with me. He brought me candied apples and invited me to come see the animals he worked with some time. I didn't. On the last night of the circus, when everyone came into the diner he said he wanted to say goodbye and then he said, “Why don't you run away with me?”
I laughed when he said it. I thought he was being funny but there was a part of me that knew he was only half-joking. If I had said I would.... well, who knows what might have happened?
I was 19 then, I'm over 60 now. He was probably about 30 at the time and, if he hasn't gotten eaten by one of his animals by now is well past 70. And still I think of him as he was then, young and strong and sexy with that accent and those blue eyes... Last night I couldn't stop thinking about him. I couldn't stop thinking about what never would have happened but what if? What if, what if, what if?
There is a case to be made that at virtually every moment in our lives we are offered a choice to do something different than what we do. It is up to us to decide which path we take. But last night when I read Wendy Catalano's words, a “love story like no other”, I thought about the original Baptiste and I hoped he was happy and well and had found love.
Thanks for reading.