MAY 1. MAYDAY. MAYDAY.
I’m tired of being tragic.
Hot Flash Queen of America reporting in: Yesterday I timed them—like perverse labor pains—2.6 per hour averaged, a new record. By the end of the day, I was exhausted with the surges and the sheer effort of ripping my clothes off and then putting them back on. The blazing heat and drenched clothes are bad enough, but it’s the nausea and vertigo that really whack me. Lucky Lindsey, you win the rare triple whammy!
So I was going through the checkout line at Food Land (ha! no more Nick telling me where to shop) and there in the impulse-buy rack was this battery-powered Chinese plastic purse-size fan. On special at a buck! I slipped one in with my groceries, hoping no one was noticing.
Then of course the little cutie with the curly hair and soul-patch goatee picked it up, cocked his head, and gave me a puzzled look. “These are selling pretty hot lately, but it isn’t even summer yet.”
The gal in line behind me started chuckling, gave me a nudge. “Oh, honey, you got the reverse curse, too? Men just don’t know how lucky they are!”
Then down the line a blue-haired granny type piped up, “Don’t worry, you’ll be glad to put all that behind you. Think of the money you’ll be saving on those glad rags.” In her cart I saw she had a packet of adult diapers.
By this time the whole line was chortling, and the poor checker had gone beet red, whipping the rest of my stuff through the scanner as fast as he could.
So naturally all this triggered another flash, roaring up my back prickling and blazing. Broke out into a sweat, face ready to burst, but I’d be damned if I was going to cap off the performance by tearing off my sweatshirt right there to the applause of the crowd.
And the beat goes on….
“Hrrm. Lindsey? Ted Horner here. Hrrm. Yeah, well I thought I’d just say hi. How you doing?”
Out of the blue, it’s a phone call from an old friend – no, really just an acquaintance – from high school days. Or maybe not so out of the blue. The hometown web seems to be wired, signals going out and in. Seems Ted ran into Cheri, living in Seattle now but up for a visit, and she’d been talking to Don, who mentioned he’d seen Nick with his new girlfriend.
Ted keeps clearing his throat. “You know, when I saw you last winter out with Megan and Joe at the Grizzly Bear, I don’t know why I didn’t ask you to dance.”
Lindsey doesn’t remind him that was when Megan asked about his wife who wasn’t in evidence.
“Well, since Zhia and I split, I figure I’ll get out more. Hrrm. I’ve got two tickets to the Theater Guild this Friday….”
All that sticks in Lindsey’s memories of him is a vague image of shaggy brown hair and a motorcycle. He was on the football team. Now he tells her he owns a commercial fishing boat in Alaska, where he captains it during the summer salmon season.
What the hell, he’s being straight with her, so she says yes.
The play’s a farce – a bedroom bedlam of closed and opening doors, lovers and would-be lovers hiding in bathroom and closet while jealous wives stalk and disguises get swapped. Lots of pratfalls and exaggerated facial contortions. She and Ted are sitting front row, where they can literally see the actors spraying spit. And Lindsey can’t stop laughing.
She always used to embarrass her big sister when she’d tag along to the weekend movie matinees. Fran would threaten to gag her. And now Lindsey’s doing it again, breaking out even during the beats when no one else in the theater is getting tickled, her helpless laughter echoing over the pause. It’s almost like she gets possessed – like those Voodoo dancers when the gods take them over and they eat coals – and the line between pleasure and pain gets blurred, her gut spasming, and she breaks into a sweat it’s so absurd. Joni Mitchell had it right on so many things: it’s the same release, laughing and crying.
By this time the woman sitting next to her is looking over pointedly, but Ted doesn’t seem to mind. In between her laugh attacks, he whispers questions about the plot or makes comments like, “Oh, it’s really the boyfriend in the Italian tenor’s costume.” Which makes Lindsey laugh even more helplessly, when she realizes he’s serious.
She’s limp by the end, and he ushers her outside, apologizes because he forgot to open the car door for her. He explains again about his other car – the Mercedes – that’s in the shop so they had to take his SUV. And even though the evening’s mild, they now have to wait while the huge vehicle warms up, so he can demonstrate the features of the leather seats. She feels something weird under her butt, really pretty unsettling, then she laughs some more when she realizes it’s a heater and not some new insane menopause symptom.
Which thought in itself triggers another massive hot flash prickling down her back, blazing out through her skin. She manages to resist the urge to rip off her jacket and run the car window all the way down for the short drive back to her place.
It’s only polite to ask him in for a glass of wine. HighJinks strops himself on Ted’s legs while Sombra, still suspicious of men after Nick’s raging around the house, sits atop the scratching post fixing them both in the high beams.
“Nice little place you got here,” Ted says. He’s average height, but stocky, and somehow seems to crowd her small living room as he paces over to check out the windows. “Nice, looks like the original wood trim. Good investment, houses in this neighborhood. Hrrm. I’ve got a rental like this, fixed it up and I’ve had the same tenant for twenty years, she could have bought the place twice over by now. But I never sell. That’s my rule. Just live in them for a while, fix them up, use the collateral to buy a new place. I’m good as gold now, any bank will loan me a hundred grand no questions asked if I just walk in. I planned it all out that way, it’s working out good.”
“Oh,” Lindsey manages. “And you like the lifestyle, fishing? I guess you’d get a lot of time to travel during the winter.”
“Well, I stay busy trading online. I like to buy cars, too, drive them while I detail them out, then sell and I come out okay. I like Mercedes.”
“Oh.” Now she’s the one Hrrmming. “And you go to plays a lot? I haven’t been to the Guild for ages, didn’t realize they were so ambitious with the productions. That was really pretty tightly choreographed tonight–”
“Well, it’s something to do, get out of the house. I watch cooking shows, too. I got this incredible new high-def TV, gets direct satellite downloads. The picture is so sharp you can really see the moisture in the people’s eyes, see inside their mouths. You’ve got to come over and see it. You won’t believe how real it is.”
All Lindsey can manage is “Hrrm,” as he goes on to explain his longterm investment strategies and retail philosophy in buying only quality. He shows her the label inside his jacket: “One hundred percent camel hair. That’s why it’s so warm.”
Which Lindsey pounces on as his exit cue. “Well, I have an early morning tomorrow.” Gets jacket on him, and he’s out the door Stage Left. Sagging back against the closed door, she lets out a long breath. Outside, a stretched-out silence. Then, finally, his SUV starts up, growls down the road, and fades. Curtain.
From: HotDawg Horner
Subject: Good Time, etc.
Great to connect with you last night and spend the evening together. I’m planning to get rush tickets tonight for the jazz band concert at the Starlight—if you get tix on the day of the show it’s a big discount and you sit up on the balcony where the sound quality is great. I bring my Fujinon binocs for closeups. If you’re free, I’ll pick you up, got the Mercedes out of the shop. Dinner first? My treat.
Got a confession: I am smitten….
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