Angels and Devils


It’s Sunday morning. My two coffee shops are closed. Only the odors of the hotel lobby Starbucks are blasphemous enough to drift past the constructed constraints of the Gregorian calendar we all agreed to live by sometime way back when.

It’s cold out, anyway, and taking my dog for a drag on the frigid, abandoned streets is no one’s idea of a good time.

Lobby coffee it is.

My week in Iowa is coming to a close. I like this little city. Everything is pretty in its simple, American way. But there’s a rumbling underneath, less than savory, that gives me hope. And something to fear.

I had a date with a wedding videographer last Monday. I can’t remember if I read his profile, but he seemed nice from the few emails we sent, so we agreed to meet.

He suggested Starbucks in the Suburbs. I countered with a unique Des Moines coffee joint. He raised the ante: wine instead of coffee. I threw in my chips and said yes.

He was a passionless man. Soft on the inside, broken down, and sad, living in the suburbs of Iowa where he had grown up.  He was burnt out on dating.  His back hurt. His face was bloated. His hair was thinning from front to back. But, he wasn’t bad looking. He had a nice smile.

“How many dates have you been on?”


I laughed.

“Their expectations are too high. They judge a person by the way he looks. They’re not realistic. What do they expect?”

“Did you contact them?”


“Based on how they look?”


“Why don’t they have the same luxury of liking you based on your looks?”

“It’s different,” he said, but offered no explanation.

I wanted to help him. I wanted him to see. To feel good about himself. To understand the true nature of dating, of relationships, of people.

I kicked into dating hyper drive. I made him laugh. I made him feel good about himself. I stroked his ego, and took him out of his sad, sad life to see what he’d done from a different perspective. I made him feel like a winner.

Tonight was about him. Pure and simple.

He played bass. He once owned a bar. He had never worked for anyone else.

“I used to play bass,” I told him. “When I was young.”

“Who are you?” Misty-eyed, he sipped his wine. “You must be my angel.”

I was euphoric, my messianic complex fully realized in that moment. I was doing what I was born to do. And so, I started talking about myself.

Once upon a time, I had been a singer/ songwriter, I told him, and a good one, at that. He asked me to sing him a song.

I sang him three.

Walking home on the Des Moines city skywalk, hovering above the streets, I hummed those three songs to myself. I smiled loudly and the old cop who wanders the hallways at night smiled back.

For a brief moment, I remembered that time when a music producer chased me down the hall after a studio rehearsal and told me I had a number one hit and he wanted to produce it. And the time I amassed an audience of passer-bys while playing at an outdoor cafe. Once I sang at a small venue and later walked into the street to hear people singing my songs. Those were a few of the good days, way back when, before I slid backstage, beside the computer, and behind the camera. I thought anything was possible and that my dreams were coming true.

I wondered who the real angel was. Him, or me.


Sometime paradigms don’t mix so well.

I woke the next morning to an email from my Iowan date.

“What was that?”

“Say what,” was my reply. I didn’t catch his drift.

“I walked away knowing nothing about you… and you telling me I was amazing.”

“Oh, well, I’m just a blip on your computer screen of life,” I wrote back. “Remember who you are. You are amazing.”

“I’d like a second blip.”

I had to let him down easy. “I can’t very well remain a mystery if I let you get to know me,” I answered. “I’m heading to New York for a meeting this weekend. If all goes well, who knows where I’ll end up.”

This did not go down well.

“Who are you, really,” was the first email.

Followed by, “This was a set-up.”

A text message next. “Tell me one true thing.”

Then there was a quick follow-up email. “Do you think you kicked out your coverage?”

The devil in me wanted to respond. To be defensive, mean, honest. I had been nice to him to show him how good things could be. I encouraged him to follow a path, to see himself as more than the loser he was pretending to be.

The angel in me knew that nothing I said would change a thing.

“You’re creeping me out,” I answered.

“You wish. When you get the meds adjusted, hit me back.”

About that time, when I was 26 and thought I was almost famous. When people told me I was worth listening to, and so I talked a lot. I wasn’t kind. I wasn’t happy. The truth is, I was a miserable person. I wasn’t supportive to my friends, and I didn’t want anyone to succeed. It’s fun to remember how I wished things had happened. But sometimes it’s the job of our angels remind us how we really were and show us who we’ve become.

3 thoughts on “Angels and Devils

  1. So… there must be a fine line between “proping up his ego” and him thinking he’s made a love/soul connection? Also, I don’t understand what he meant when he emailed, “Do you think you kicked out your coverage?”

  2. Wow! Sounded like a good date to me; why the after-drama? Maybe it has something to do with living in Des Moines…Maybe it was the wine. All anyone can hope for, is that he takes away something positive, after he gets over his disappointment. So much for romance in “the heart-land”.

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