Jealous? Or Just Competitive? By Liz Crowe
We all get jealous. I, for one, am envious of anyone with a neat house, organized fridge and “meal plans” for the family. My idea of a “meal plan” typically has the name of a restaurant at the top, preferably one with a bar. But that surely will not earn me any Martha Stewart Mom of the Year awards. I avoid Pinterest because of this—as it makes me feel:
- like a failure because I don’t pack fresh quiche and steamed veggies in my kid’s lunchbox (she’s lucky I remember to buy bread)
But the older I get and the more self-realized I become as a result, I will fully acknowledge that my innate competitiveness makes it tough for me to handle NOT being “number one.”
I am in the unique position of not only being a striving, scrabbling published author in a teeming sea of the same but also part owner of a business that is also becoming very trendy, and, some would say, easy to get into. The craft beer biz is hot right now and more breweries pop up around me daily. This of course, in addition to the many successful ones who have been around for 20 years or more. Do I get down when other breweries find success, have longer lines at their beer fest booths, get coveted national publicity? Sure I do. It’s the competitor in me. I want that for me and my brewery and I feel I work just as hard to get it.
Just because their investors have bottomless pockets to dip into for fun things like swag, advertising and other awesomeness that I do not, should not be a reason that they get ahead. But, that is how it works. So I get down, then I get back up and find a new outlet for publicity, or plan a new event in my Tap Room to get a few more folks on board with my brewer’s beers.
Same goes for books. We’ve all done the “my life is great, my books rock, and I’ll prove it with a bunch of facebook posts/twitter updates” game. And, conversely, tsk-tsked when others spend a lot of energy and time bitching about their lives and how badly they’ve been treated or how hard they have worked for nothing on their time lines. But I will be the first to admit that sometimes I let everyone else’s “I got a six-figure contract for my self published book, I got movie deal, I got 8,000,000 followers” updates and their “NYT Best selling author fill in the blank with your name here” tag lines make me fume and want to open my own rant about the relative unfairness of life pursuant to the fickleness of the reading population.
However, just like with my beer jealousy, I must have it, own it, and put it to use. Because at the end of the day, I am competitive. I know my beers are great and unique and also know my books are the same. They are not formula, either in characterization or style or even settings. They will not appeal to some but buried within them is a nugget of reality that my rapidly expanding fan base is latching onto with gusto. I respect those who have made a success of themselves, study their methods, adapt if I think I need to and move forward. I tip my hat to formula book writers who get those NYT BSA letters behind their name but remind myself I have no intention of writing what they do, no matter how tempting it may be JUST to get those letters.
One More Reader.
One More Wolverine Beer Drinker.
One more convert….one day at a time.
“Jack!” He heard his name, rolled over, tried to hug her close. But his hand found air. “Jack! God damn it.” Something hit his head, and then again.
“Cut it out.” He grabbed at it, still half asleep, aching deep in his muscles, his cock raw and sore under the sheet. “Go the hell away.” Once he realized he was in his own bed without Mindy to curl around and mess with, his mood darkened immediately.
The whole of the last few weeks had been a blur, but a pleasant one. Until recently, when Jack had been getting a distinct sensation of rejection, of having to work too hard for Mindy’s attention. It was pissing him the fuck off. And setting off all sorts of alarm bells.
“Get up, you ass.” Brandis’ voice was clear now. “Your room is a pigsty. Are you on drugs or something? Drugs you aren’t sharing? Because I’ve never seen you like this. Get up!” The pillow hit him again, making him grunt, sit, and glare at his oldest friend.
For some reason, the serious look on the boy’s dark-skinned face made Jack want to burst into laughter at the utter absurdity of what he’d been doing —fucking himself into sweet oblivion. In every possible way, shape, and position with the woman who, at the same time, wanted to marry his father.
He groaned and lay back, tugging the blanket up over his eyes, wishing the whole stinking mess away.
“Come on, dickhead. Let’s go…. I need some hoops time, and I’m sick of your excuses.” Brandis stood to his full six-foot-three inches, glaring down at Jack.
Jack blinked then put his feet on the floor, rubbing the back of his neck, trying to sort out why he was so god damned pissed off. He was the same guy in the same body, albeit one that had come a long way since he’d walked into the office that day eager to go to a party and grope a girl.
“All right.” He got up and stretched, relishing the way his sore muscles sang out and his body tingled all over. “Hold your water.” He made his way to the bathroom, took a piss after his morning hard-on receded, then wandered out naked. He grinned at Brandis who’d reached for Jack’s not-so-secret stash of Penthouse mags.
Jack got dressed, then flopped back onto his bed and put an arm over his eyes. His head still pounded from lack of sleep and a strange sort of elusive stress he couldn’t pin down. Oh, right. Mindy. She of the teaching skills who had let him more or less live with her for nearly three months then told him last night he needed to “move on.” To “find some girls his own age and use his new skills on them.” This after he’d fucked her standing up, in the hallway, unable to even wait the short few steps to the bedroom.
Jack ran a slightly shaking hand down his face. Truth was, he didn’t want any “girls his own age.” He wanted nothing more than to hole up with Mindy, eat the crappy Chinese takeout she loved, watch whatever she wanted on TV. Just be with her, content, totally at ease in his skin.
Well, and fucking her a lot, like four or five times a day. He sighed as his cock stirred to life, then sat, needing to redirect his energy. Maybe Brandis was right. He needed to get out and use his body for something other than getting laid.
“Let’s go before you have to spank your monkey all over my magazine.” Jack smacked the titty mag out of his friend’s hand and walked out of his room.
“Are you calling me a monkey, you racist pig?” Brandis ran past him into the hall, hitting the door and tumbling out into the light of the early summer day, making Jack smile.
“No. Just a poor, sex-starved loser. I couldn’t give a fuck less what color you are.”
“Ha, you don’t know me very well, do you?” Brandis snapped, tossing Jack a basketball then climbing behind the wheel of his Shelby Charger. “Don’t get your loser germs on my leather seats.”
Jack grinned, flipped his friend off, then licked his palm and wiped it, ostentatiously, across the steering wheel. “There. Some of my ‘hitting it with regularity’ mojo for ya.”
Brandis snorted. “You’re such a liar.”
“Oh no, I’m not,” Jack said mildly, staring out the window and trying to come to terms with how lonely he felt at that moment.
They screeched out onto the quiet street, stereo blaring, and parked at the high school where a couple of outdoor courts were already busy. Brandis kept his hands on the wheel a minute, staring out the windshield. Jack barely noticed, so sunk in his own stew of self-pity.
“Where have you been?” he said quietly.
Jack blinked then looked at his friend. “What do you…?”
Brandis held up a hand. “Gordon, it’s not like I need you around me or anything but shit, dude, you are like…gone somewhere. You’ve missed the team workouts more than once. You never go out on the weekends. I mean…what is it?”
“If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.” Jack said, suddenly needing to spill it, to tell somebody. Why not his best friend since elementary school? He rolled the basketball around in his hands, its familiar leather contours comforting.
“I’ve been, uh, sort of hanging out, I mean, staying over…um…well,” he sighed and rubbed his neck. “I’ve been banging my father’s secretary nearly constantly for about three months. She’s um…been teaching me stuff and…ah….” He stopped, glanced at his friend who was staring at him, open-mouthed. “What?” Jack frowned, suddenly angry. “This is too much for you?”
“Je-sus H. Christ. You lucky bastard!” Brandis smacked his shoulder. “Damn. I thought you were in a cult or got some bad acid or…I don’t know. Fuck!” He pounded the steering wheel. “Finally, no longer the Big V!”
“Shut up,” Jack muttered, the day darkening around him again. He wanted Mindy, needed her. Did not want to be here, doing this. That made him furious with himself. He jumped out of the car and headed for the court. Movement, that would help and mindless hours of playing his favorite game.
It takes a wealth of collected experiences, emotions, successes and failures to craft the personality of a true Alpha Male
Jack Gordon, real estate broker, licensed builder, Juris Doctorate, has had his fair share of strife. His ability to cope, to fall down and pick himself back up has lead him to a place where he believes he has it all. Friends, money, cars, more women than he can count, and a club in Detroit where he can exorcise his inner demons, fill his days and his nights.
When he walks up to a penthouse door on a hot Ann Arbor summer afternoon, frustrated, exasperated and ready to call it quits after hours of condo shopping with a wealthy couple, the last thing on his mind is meeting his destiny.
House Rules: The Jack Gordon Story. A prequel novella of the Stewart Realty Series.
Microbrewery owner, best-selling author, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three teenagers, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town. Years of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as an ex-pat trailing spouse, plus making her way in a world of men (i.e. the beer industry), has prepped her for life as a successful author.
When she isn’t sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, she can be found writing, editing or implementing promotions for her latest publications. Her groundbreaking literary fiction subgenre, “reality fiction,” has gained thousands of fans and followers who are interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”)
Her beer blog a2beerwench.com is nationally recognized for its insider yet outsider views on the craft beer industry. Her books are set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch and in high-powered real estate offices. Don’t ask her for anything “like” a Budweiser or risk painful injury.
For more information on Liz Crowe, please visit her website www.lizcrowe.com or www.brewingpassion.com (her author blog). She enjoys interacting with her fans on her Facebook author page www.facebook.com/lizcroweauthor. Information for all of her books, including eBook and print formats (where available), can be found on her Amazon author page.