Once You’ve Had the Best

Love Letters


There’s nothing better once you’ve had the best.”
-George Jones

I’ve always loved old country songs. Ranging from Randy Travis (whom I can’t fathom being in the genre of old) to George Jones and Merle Haggard.

My boyfriend knows this too, as he thought it was important that I own a vintage Randy Travis Fan Club pin, which for the record just about undid me. And the other day kidded about hiring musicians to serenade me.

“I’m going to get you Travis Tritt and Miley Cyrus,” he said with chest-swelling pomp.

“You know those two aren’t a combo, right? It’s Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus.”

I say all this, really as an aside—though it’s an important aside, so remember it—because that song lyric has always given me dreamy pause. Sure I’ve thought each past boyfriend ought to be the best, because he did this or that: took me up in a plane, sent me flowers for no reason, did the big grand gestures.

And while the big grand gestures never hurt a girl, those other men were missing a key component. They didn’t truly know me. They couldn’t have because I was only allowing myself to be a cultivated version of myself to please them.

I tried to be the kind of girl who went to country clubs and showed up to affairs 30 minutes early.

I’m not that kind of girl.

I tried to be the kind of girl who would keep my mouth shut and be less of a flaming hippy, the kind who wants to chain herself to trees to save the rainforest and join protesters for Native American rights.

Yeah… not that kind of girl either.

I even tried to be the kind of girl who was less interested in sugar.

And sadly, I will never be that kind of girl.

So, naturally, as God would see fit, none of those relationships worked out. I was of course surprised and dismayed and threw seven dozen tantrums.

Then I met him. So the story usually goes.

And this is how our story goes:

One night late after work, when I was lazy and tired, I suggested takeout: cheeseburgers and sweet potato fries. We walked in the door, only for me to immediately rip off my bra and start changing into my comfies, my usual, M.O. I was elated over not having to cook and to have a cheeseburger sans ketchup with extra pickles in my mouth in 2.5 seconds.

My sir started getting handsy and pulling me in for a kiss. Fine, a kiss, but when he started pulling me toward the bed, I halted, absolutely appalled.

“No way. There are cheeseburgers and sweet potato fries in there,” I pointed to the kitchen.

He laughed and kept trying to pull me back.

“No, I am not kidding. I want the cheeseburger much more than you right now. There is no getting in my way of that.”

I walked away to the kitchen. He laughed again and followed, while I unabashedly sunk my teeth into my cheeseburger in happy glee. And he knows. Because he knows me. The real me.

He knows I eat faster than he does, I could generally outeat him and certainly love food inexplicably more than he does.

He also knows the me who does weird faces and imitations at him in line in Starbucks while he stands stock still seemingly perusing the menu. I persist, rubbing my nose against his face and doing loony jigs around his body. He looks sideways at me and raises his eyebrows and I giggle. He later points out that he loves when I am exuberant like that.

“You mean when I’m a weirdsmobile?”

“No, you just seem really happy.”

“I am happy being a weirdsmobile.”

Also I am happy with him. But being a weirdsmobile? Yeah that’s an enormous part of my personality too. I have never really hid that with men, however, I have never had one who dishes it right back.

Like today while shopping he asked if he could buy a WWE comforter set. I pretended to be horrified but secretly thought it was hysterical and wonderful. Not that I like WWE, but I could be on board liking it ironically.

I led him by the hand back to the WWE sheets where he hemmed and hawed.

“Nah, I mean these are all the new guys. Maybe if the bedspread had Steve Austin.”

Then we looked at wrestling belts in the toy aisle and I suggested that he buy one as consolation, but only if he did WWE moves with it on.

“Maybe we should build a wrestling ring,” he mused.

I think to myself as I often do when I am with him, one of two thoughts:

He truly is the best.


He is the best human I know. 

I literally find myself wanting to ask strangers, “can I tell you about the best human I know?” and it’s him.

I don’t do it, of course, but I oftentimes think it.

Which brings me back to the beginning, almost.

There was this woman I once knew whose fiance was a firefighter and died in the September 11th attacks before they could marry. She never wanted another love, because she said she’d already had the best one and wasn’t interested. At the time I thought it was a sweet sentiment, but she had been young when it happened and had time for perhaps another love. As long as I had known her, her best love had been her only love.

But now I see, there’s nothing better once you’ve had the best.

And that is how I feel about him.

He isn’t the could be best, or should be best, he is simply the best.

Besides, I think it’s pretty obvious if a guy gives you a Randy Travis Fan Club pin, you’re his for life. At least, that’s what works on this girl.



A Love Letter… to Zingerman’s

Love Letters

It’s no secret that I am mad over Zingerman’s Delicatessen. I have been for some time now and with good reason. Zingerman’s does it right. All of it. The meats. The cheeses. The bread. Even their employees are full of good will and don’t make me feel bad for wanting to try 17 different cheeses before I inevitably just go buy a sandwich and put myself in a meat coma.

Then I take deep breaths and will myself to go over to the bakery side and treat myself to a small dark roast and macaroon.

No Zingerman’s isn’t paying me to write this. I just am so enamored with Zingerman’s that every time I go there and sink my teeth into my favorite food: the heartily stacked sammy, I make a note to myself to write a love letter to my favorite food establishment in all the land. Hey Zingerman’s, side note—I definitely want you at my wedding. Um, obviously, this is a love letter to you; you’re going to need to be there. Oh, yeah I am actually not getting married. Or engaged. Nor do I have a boyfriend. Or any real prospects per se. But when I have a wedding one day, God willing, I would like you to be a part of the festivities so everyone can nod their understanding that this is what true love is all about. Meat and cheese expertly placed on two pieces of perfect bread, obviously.

With Ann Arbor on the brain today, I thought, hmmm, do I go to Zingerman’s tonight? I have been there kind of a lot lately and am trying to conserve on fundage for my big move. But I feel it’s a disservice to go to Ann Arbor and not see what’s happening between two flaky pieces of sourdough.

With that overly verbose introduction, however, I have a few more words if I may:

Dear Zingerman’s,

I like you. No, it’s more serious than that. I think you know it too. Something has developed between us that is more than mere fondness. I hesitate to say it’s love and speak on your behalf but I feel sure of my feelings and they are in that arena. Every time I visit you, I feel so welcomed. So satisfied. I am surprised by new tastes and surges of pleasure through my entire being. The people that I feel most embody the way I want to live: the French, duh—the connoisseurs of pleasure—would certainly agree with my sentiments regarding you. You have a real panache in all you do and I for one am smitten. Even though every new meal I try simply tops the last, I never let myself get the same thing twice. I force myself to try something new at every turn because I know you’ve never let me down before and why would you start now? Hence why I am loathe to say I even have a favorite sandwich of yours. I can’t even recall which one could be the best. I can only recall feelings of satiated glee with every visit. So naturally I would be very remiss if I didn’t tell you of these feelings. I am not the type of girl that keeps my lips zipped when I am in love. So with a grand and deep well of gratitude I tip my hat to you, Zingerman’s. For your attention to detail in selecting the finest ingredients. For being the best deli around. For being from my wonderful home state of Michigan. For being so tirelessly delicious. And for making my top list of things that make me infinitely joyful.

Yours in utter adoration,

Cassandra Lee Sturos