Defining Checkered Mates: Multiple Choice

  • Australian mates range from an impoverished widower from the same side of your freeway who paints houses gray to the girl with salmon-pink socks from your third-year French class. A mate is not necessarily the person with whom you bed down.
  • Imagine a frayed red-and-white tablecloth. Sunburned hands sop up pinot noir on an August picnic table. You are sitting in unspoken sympathy with a friend’s story of how she was raped. You also think of the black teenager whom police shot last night. 
  • Visualize a jump from a red to a black square. You’re chasing kings, risking loss of pawn-power. The doorbell rings, your spaniel knocks over an aspidistra, smashing a green Shawnee pot. 
  • Those crosshatched cracks in the concrete commons that will break your mother’s back – if you step on moss, do you believe you hurt her?
  • Hugging a former husband in front of neighbors known for gossip.
  • The bullied teenager you admire who hangs himself two weeks after graduation. 
  • The retired banker who leaves out one-eighth of a cup of antifreeze for his neighbor’s barking beagle. 
  • Moving toward candlelit lovemaking on a stormy January night. The power company hotline insists lights may come on any minute. A squirrel fried in the rigging. Neither lover remembers which switches are flipped on, which off.   
  • A brain hiccough bigger than when one spouse spells checkered, the other chequered. More like when well-worn, stable plaids of relationship go zigzag, one squabble off-kiltering another.
  • Do you seek the robot petting zoo to keep your loneliness a secret? 

All of the above?