Zoe & Sophia Enjoy Heavy Breathing and Recall Their Sexy Twenties as the Sublime Consumers of the Lightness of Being

January 14th, 2010

January 13

Thank you for the WONDERFUL ADVICE you’ve offered the two single women, whose lives are suddenly crashing in chaos! Zoe and Sophia, BFFs for thirty years, find themselves unexpectedly cast into the world of re-creation and redefinition after decades of being faithful wives to George and Marty. They need advice from anyone willing to give it. For instance, what advice would you give your BFF as she cried, I RAN INTO MY EX’S GIRLFRIEND AT THE GYM, AND I COULDN’T REFRAIN FROM STARING IN HER EYES AS I POINTED AT HER GROSS THIGHS? Any advice you can give to Sophia would be helpful, but this is what Zoe said.

Sophia stood looking at the piles of summer clothes on the floor of her bedroom. With Zoe’s help, Sophia managed to clean up the plates she broke a few days before, on the afternoon when her despair reached such a pitch that she danced around her living room in a grass Hula skirt, singing to the heavens in her pathetic attempt to expunge cheating Marty from her heart. But the clothes she danced on, amidst the broken pottery, merely shifted from the living room to the bedroom, and she still hadn’t begun packing for their trip to Florida.  Sophia knew that when things became overwhelming, it was difficult for her to START somewhere. So, once again, she stepped around the clothes piles and headed downstairs to begin cooking dinner for Zoe who would be joining her shortly.

As she stoked the fire in her chilly 1770s N. H. home on Lake Winnipesaukee, her phone jingled.
“Hi, Zo.”
“Hey, Sophie. I’m on my way. I have to bring Sparky though. George won’t look after him tonight.” George was Zoe’s soon-to-be-ex who lived in the cottage on the same property as Zoe’s large 1790s home, five miles down the road from Sophia.
“No, prob,” said Sophia, but she wasn’t thrilled. The last time Sparky (Zoe’s incontinent, stroke-victim yellow Lab) came to the house, he limped around until he found the cat food and consumed it. After that, he shoved his nose into the crap in the cat box, and just as he was about to enjoy “dessert,” Sophia shrieked at him, alarming the poor thing, and he peed involuntarily all over Sophia’s mudroom. Good times.

Zoe looked forward to dinner at Sophia’s because her friend was a great cook. But as she drove from her job, where she earned an excellent income, her mounting concern over the sheer number of people she was “seeing” on Match.com began to bother her.  She asked herself if she were a “whore.” She answered herself with a resounding, “Of course not. I’m an extremely well-preserved, single, fifty-something blond, with a slender torso, legs up to my chin and pretty eyes. If people don’t like my choices, they can sit on it and rotate.”

The loud chatter in her head quieted once she walked into Sophia’s house and planted herself next to the roaring fire. The food smelled divine, and the glass of Bordeaux Sophia handed her tasted even better. Zoe’s only irritation occurred when Sophia nearly knocked over Sparky as she raced him to the cat box. Sophia won only because of Sparky’s bad limp, but the doleful look he gave Sophia practically broke her heart.

“Sorry, Sparks,” she said.
“What?” called Zoe from the dining room.
“Never mind. Who you gonna get on the webcam tonight, Zo? Can we dance for them?”
“God almighty, Sophie, will you get off the dancing shit?”
“Okay. Have you packed for Florida yet?”
“Fuck, no. I’ve been too busy “dating” all times of night and day. In fact, I was just thinking about that. It seems my fans are getting younger.”
“How young?”
“Well, there’s this intern named Jerry from Bangor Maine is thirty-two. He goes off into some back room in the hospital, lies on a gurney, and phones me at the oddest hours.”
“Does he know how old you are?”
“He does. Apparently, he’s into older women.”
“What do you talk about?”
“In the beginning, we just talked about work and stuff. He was impressed with my high-powered job, and I’ve always had a crush on my doctor. So, it worked out. Now, I don’t really do much talking. I say two words and he starts with the heavy breathing for about three minutes and then tells me to “Have a nice day.”
“Hey, maybe we could hook him up with my niece Lulu when she comes up for her skiing trip next month in Vermont.”
“Nah. Too much distance. She lives in Texas. But I do have Gene from Tennessee who’s twenty-something. She might like him.”

“Do you remember when we were that age, Zo. Wasn’t life a blast?”
“Perhaps you’ve forgotten some of the more salient details.  As I recall, you had just divorced Poppy’s dad, who beat you. I know he was the most gorgeous black man you ever saw, but he wasn’t wrapped all that tightly.”
“That’s true, Zo, but don’t we have beautiful offspring?”
“Yes, we do. And those were the days when my passion for George was so consuming, I thought of little else, except the struggle to survive. I was so innocent then, but so lost in many ways. I was a mother almost before I was a woman.”
“Well, one thing about you, Zo, is that you have such a capacious mind, that it seems like the world always has to catch up with you.”
“What do you mean?” asked Zoe.
“You have an amazing curiosity for life, and your ability to reach out, to look inside of other people is like, I don’t know, an octopus or something.”
“Jesus, Sophie, make sense for once.”
“Well, an octopus has all those arms or whatever they’re called. People are just born with two arms. It’s like you have a whole bunch of hearts and minds, and everyone else just has one heart and one mind. You’re really special, Zoe. You were when we were young, and you are now.”
“Thanks. Pour me another glass of wine, sister.”

For a while the women sat quietly by the fire, sipping their wine, thinking about their twenties when they were both destitute graduate students and young mothers of bi-racial toddler daughters. One day, thirty years before, they both happened to take their daughters, Poppy and Meg, to the park on Jamaica Pond, near where they both lived in Jamaica Plain, a Boston neighborhood. Even then Zoe had a defective dog, Fluffy, which was actually so far removed from what Fluffy was, that you’d have to invent a new word for “Fluffy.”

She was a mongrel with some strange disease by which she’d lost great patches of her hair, and she’d been nicked by one too many cars in the city’s streets to walk very well. She also suffered from asthmatic attacks and apart from sneezing all the time, her half-blind eyes ran mucky fluid that made her a dog no one really wanted to touch, except Zoe, of course. She loved that dog. In fact, Zoe acquired Fluffy by snatching her away from the original owner, a mean neighbor, who was beating Fluffy right out on the sidewalk. Zoe marched up to the owner, pushed him away, picked up Fluffy and threatened to call the police on mean neighbor man. The man looked at her with startled eyes and then growled, “If you like her so much, why don’t you keep her.” Tears of joy leapt from Zoe’s eyes as she walked back to her apartment, clutching Fluffy in her arms. And it was Fluffy who brought Zoe and Sophia together on that early summer day, when both of them sat in bikinis, greased with iodine-laced baby oil to get tans, surrounded by books they studied as their daughters played nearby in a sand box.

Suddenly, a squirrel caught Fluffy’s attention, and she leapt from Zoe’s side and tore after it. Unfortunately, Sophia lay in Fluffy’s path, and Fluffy plowed right over Sophia, kicking sand into her eyes. Sophia jumped up, blinded by the sand. She was trying to find the pond to clean out her eyes, but she tripped over a rock, and fell. On her way down, she hit her head on the side of a rowboat and was knocked unconscious. When she came to, her head sat in Zoe’s lap, and Zoe stroked her hair gently, smiling down with sweet concern. Sophia looked up at profoundly kind eyes, eyes that reminded Sophia of the way her mother looked at her when Sophia hurt herself as a child.

From that day on the women became BFFs and shared all their trials and tribulations, not to mention food, gas, clothing, babysitting, secrets, ambitions, wine, siblings, parents, laughter and on and on. Zoe and Sophia were uniquely well matched since they came from well-educated, middle class white families, and both of them loved African American people and their culture, not a common perspective in those days. Sophia’s marriage was already over, after just two years, but Zoe was George’s faithful wife and remained so until her fourth child went off to college.

Sophia interrupted the silence. “Do you remember the Groove Mobile?”
“Oh, yeah. The one with the battery acid that ate holes in the kids’ clothes? Who could forget?”
“Why did we call it the Groove Mobile, Zo?
“Because the radio was the only thing that worked, and it was always on full blast playing ‘70’s and ‘80s Soul and Funk.”

The car they referred to was a boat-sized “older” model, four-door Buick, with plastic bags taped to the back windows to keep out the elements. The women shared it to drive to the grocery store and to the laundry matt. The only battery they had with juice in it didn’t fit the battery box in the engine, so a set of permanently attached jumper cables ran from under the hood, through the dashboard and fastened to the oversized battery that sat on the floor of the front seat. Those were the days before seat belts, when kids sat in laps, and it was no big deal to cram ten people into a car meant for five.

“Music was good back then, wasn’t it, Zo?”
“Oh, yes, and didn’t we have some fabulous parties out on your second-floor deck, the one that listed dangerously off the side of the building. It looked as if it was gonna give way at any moment.” Suddenly, Zoe let out a gawfaw.
“What?”
“I can still picture Poppy at every party, with her hairbrush “microphone,” doing a perfect imitation of Tina Turner singing “What’s Love Got to do With It,” while Meg go-go danced next to her. Poppy and Meg really knew how to work a crowd.”
Sophia chuckled and said, “Meanwhile, Sara would be in the bathroom making soup in the toilet, stirring massive amounts of toilet paper with the bowl brush…which kinda jammed things up when people had to go.”
“I guess life calmed down a bit after Jamison and Emily were born and after you met Marty.”

Sophia met Marty, who was from New Hampshire, after she’d finished her Masters in Journalism and was finally making some money writing for a newspaper. Sophia left Boston to get married and soon their son Colin was born. But the two families remained very close, and eventually Zoe parlayed her great job as an entertainment labor representative into a fabulous job as a contract negotiator for film and music producers, and moved the family to New Hampshire as well.

Just then, Zoe’s lap top alerted her of an incoming email, and her eyebrows did their up and down thing.
“Show time,” said Zoe with a misty grin.
“What’s that mean?”
“Can you go read Pema Chodron’s Buddhist teachings for a little bit, just until dinner’s ready. Walter–the guy who likes to travel–is on-line, and we need to “talk.”
“Fuck sake, Zo. Go upstairs. I need the kitchen to cook in, remember? And who the hell is Walter?”
“My newest crush. Never mind. I’ll get him on the webcam. He hasn’t seen you dance yet.”

“Let me go change,” shrieked Sophia as she dashed from the room. Sparky trotted after her at a fast limp, as large turds plopped from his hind quarters. Excitement did that to Sparky, whose incontinence was a trait Sophia sought in earnest to accept.
“Sparky, what the fuck? You know you can’t do stairs,” said Zoe, jumping up and collecting Sparky’s “presents” in a wad of toilet paper and flushing them down the toilet.

Moments later Sophia reappeared in a pink, sequined, off the shoulder evening gown, still wearing her snow boots. Her hair was a rat’s nest on top of her head, and the make-up she’d plastered on was running down her face from a steady stream of tears. While she was changing into “dancing clothes” for Walter, Marty sent her a nasty text.

Zoe looked up distractedly. “What’s wrong now, Sophie? Please try not to make a bad impression on my date.”

“I can’t talk. I need to meditate.” With this, Sophia stormed to the CD player, turned off the cool jazz and replaced it full blast with her favorite song by Mary J Blige, “You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down.” Sitting in correct practice posture on the dining room floor, she tried to find the open space. She told herself to dismiss her painful, bitter thoughts about Marty and his girlfriend Fugly, as she called her, by gently saying the word “thinking” every time a thought popped into her head. She was good with this for about thirty seconds then she leapt to her feet, grabbed a candle from the table to use as a microphone, and drowning out MJB, wailed repeatedly, “ YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD WOMAN DOWN,” as she danced with frenzied abandon for the webcam. Zoe looked at her virtual date Walter and shrugged. “I keep telling her she’s scarier than a Stephen King novel, but she doesn’t get it. Where were we, anyway?”

Sparky meanwhile was so worked up by Sophia’s war dance, that he tried joining in, but his legs kept giving out, and he finally peed all over the fireplace hearth, nearly extinguishing their romantic fire. It was only then that the smell of burning food conquered the stench of Spark’s hot urine, and both women dashed into the kitchen to try to salvage the food. In the end, they shared a small bag of Cheerios Mix and a half-jar of Nutella for dinner.

“Hey, Soph, I think I like this Cheerios Mix better then Chex Mix. What about you?”
Sophia, who had Nutella smeared on her face and bits of Cheerios hanging from her split ends was sobbing too hard to answer.
“Okay. What’s up, Sweet Charlotte?”

Sophia reached for her phone and began reading Marty’s earlier text, which said:
“Sophie, you take manipulative pleasure by boundary smashing. You are vindictive and mean-spirited, and just trying to make me pay for what I did.”
“What’s he talking about?” asked Zoe.
“Who does he think he is attacking me for boundary breaking? For fifteen months I read the emails Fugly sent, sometimes in the middle of the night, which had one theme—‘Oh, how I long for thee.’ Doesn’t she know she was breaking boundaries to have an affair with my husband? Doesn’t Marty know the boundaries he broke telling me I was crazy because I figured out the affair. He actually had me believing I was crazy, just because he was too much of a coward to admit it—even when I begged him to.”
“All true, but all in the past. The past is gone, Sophie. Now tell me why Marty sent that text tonight.”

“I know Pema would say I’m not showing restraint, I’m not on the path of true compassion, and that I’m only hurting myself when I strike out at Marty and Fugly. Where’s my book, Zo?”
“In the sink with the burned pots and pans.”
“Shit.” Sophia jumped up and ran into the kitchen to dry off her current Pema read The Places that Scare You. Then she sat down again by the fire and cradled the book in her arms for a moment.

“Zoe, I know Pema would say that I’m resisting the true transitory nature of existence and that my ego keeps getting in the way of taking myself and my grief less seriously. If I don’t begin to challenge my fixed view of the world, the ways I affect others and myself by my actions, then I will just shut down and never be awakened to the tenderness of my true heart and the tenderness of everyone.”
“All good stuff, but why did Marty send that text tonight?”

“I did something today to make Fugly feel bad about herself and to pay her back for the months that she and Marty put me through hell, hiding their affair. I RAN INTO FUGLY AT THE GYM, AND I COULDN’T REFRAIN FROM LOOKING INTO HER EYES AND THEN POINTING AT HER GROSS THIGHS. THAT WASN’T VERY BUDDHIST OF ME, WAS IT?”
Zoe tapped her finger on her chin while she thought about Sophia’s question. Then she said, “THINK OF IT THIS WAY. GOD GAVE YOU LONG, LEAN THIGHS, A PRETTY FACE, A KIND HEART AND A LOVELY BUTT. ALL FUGLY GOT WAS A FAT ASS, A GAIT LIKE A TROLL, A FAMOUS MUSICIAN FOR A HUSBAND, A LEGENDARY FATHER-IN-LAW–AND MARTYYOU HAVE THE BETTER DEAL, SOPHIE, SO BE GRATEFUL.”

“Was that a Buddhist thing, Zo?”
“Sounds like.”

“Hey, Zo, can you come upstairs and help me pack for Florida?”
“Okay, but you can’t take that stupid evening gown with you, and fuck sake, go wash the Nutella off your face. It’s irritating me.”

Then Zoe and Sophia, the glistening fifty-something single friends galloped off on another adventure as The Sublime Consumers of the Lightness of Being.

To be continued, but IF YOU WANT TO READ ABOUT EARLIER ADVENTURES, KEEP READING DOWN. As you can see, these women need your advice. Won’t you please help them out?

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  1. Fonzie
    January 14th, 2010 at 13:50 | #1

    Very nice… I find myself so full of thought of concern, amusement, excitement, curiosity, and several other emotions that I really am speechless. All I can say is…

    “Aaaaaaayyy!”

    -Arthur

  2. Fonzie
    January 14th, 2010 at 14:05 | #2

    Hey, I almost forgot, I was wondering if you could tell Zoe that in lieu of her comment:

    “If people don’t like my choices, they can sit on it and rotate.”

    She could have used one of my faves:

    “If people don’t like my choices, Sit on it!

    – Aaaaaaayyy!

  3. January 14th, 2010 at 18:30 | #3

    @Fonzie
    Fonzi, you have the girls giggling with all your wonderful compliments. You know that Fonzi is their idol. Have you greased back your hair today or ridden on a motorcyle backwards or anything cool like that. They love the devilish types. Keep writing. Laughter is the first law of healing!
    j

  4. January 14th, 2010 at 18:34 | #4

    Okay, the girls HEAR THAT. They try not to be so graphic, but it’s in their DNA. And you know how they love their exercise…especially when it comes to cerebral workouts. Think, one, two, three….cry, one, two, three, laugh, one, two three, ROTATE, one, two three. That’s enough exercise for one day. But thanks for being their coach…although right now coaches make them gag…but not you, Fonzi. They have a very soft spot in their hearts for you.
    Rock on, Brother

  5. AMI
    January 15th, 2010 at 09:53 | #5

    Or how about “If people don’t like my choices they are welcome to slide down a banister of razor blades and land in a puddle of alcohol.” That is one of my personal favorites…it’s an image for sure.

  6. Fonzie
    January 15th, 2010 at 12:15 | #6

    @AMI:

    Aaaayyy, Mrs. C would be looking to counsel you on that one, but excellent mental image indeed…

    I couldn’t say anything like that in the 1970s, or the would have canned me . I got into enough trouble with “Sit on it” at the time.

  7. AMI
    January 15th, 2010 at 12:36 | #7

    Fonzie:

    HAHA, the really amusing part of this is that I got that line from my boss, who is in her late 50’s and has a bit of the Mrs C. in her!! :)

  8. Fonzie
    January 15th, 2010 at 13:19 | #8

    @AMI

    The razor blade thing sounds like something out of my little-known days in parochial school. While there was no alcohol, the razor blades were instead long oak splinters sheared off of the wooden banisters through the ill-advised process of sliding down them on one butt cheek.

    These wondrous wooden gems could sometimes become so deeply embedded that they were only removed through the painful process of the body’s infection management systems (and Mrs. C digging around with a pair of sterilized tweezers and a common pin; in short, days)…

    (Another mental image there)

  9. FoB (friend of Barry) from Nob
    January 16th, 2010 at 12:26 | #9

    Hi there! My good friend Barry turned me on to this bouncy blog, and I must say that it’s swiftly becoming one of my guilty pleasures! As a writer myself, now dabbling in publishing, I feel like I’m on the look out for talent 24/7! You obviously have a real knack for storytelling.
    “Keep it up” girls!

    P.S. Just thought you should know that your titillating tale is spreading internationally! Our friend Charles, an international dealer in photography, who splits his time between London and NYC has joined the ranks of Zo and So addicts!

  10. January 24th, 2010 at 01:26 | #10

    Hi, FOB
    I’m sorry it’s taken me awhile to write back. Since Zoe and Sophia left for Florida, it’s positively impossible to get them to respond to any of my questions about their trip or to give me any feedback about all the good advice people are sending. I guess they are too busy with guilty pleasures or falling down stairs or staring at walls to talk to me. However, I finally reached them this evening, and they told me they’re thrilled FOB person that you “like” them, but they wish they knew your gender. Zo says if you’re a guy, she can fit you in if you make an appointment a month in advance. Sophia says if your a woman, you should come hang with her on the beach because Zoe’s too busy “dating” to talk much these days. They both asked me to tell you that, at the risk of sounding like total hams, they’d love you to tell your friend Charles that they’re free to pose for him anytime, anywhere…preferably London. He can send the the plane tickets to Florida Guy’s address.
    Rock on sister? brother? pet? freight on board?

  11. January 24th, 2010 at 01:36 | #11

    Fonzi, darling
    Zo & So take great interest in butts of all sizes and shapes, but not yours especially, I’m afraid. Why? They are positively shocked that your butt has been so heavily embedded with splinters. Did you first go down the banisters on your head, which caused you to lose enough brain cells that you repeated your exposure to butt splinters, or did the nuns beat you about the head so many times that they affected your power to think with your brain rather than your butt? Never mind answering their silly question. They think with their butts far too often to judge anyone else’s butt power.
    Rock on sweet fan…or should I say…slide down.

  12. January 24th, 2010 at 01:42 | #12

    Who the hell is Mrs. C (Zo & So just shouted)? They also what to know what “line” and whose line is it anyway? (I can barely hear myself think they are yelling so loudly over the phone! Okay, they just asked me to ask you…”Where is this boss who thinks she can laugh at her age. Lock her in a room. She must be mad.”
    I gotta go. Zo & So are driving me nuts.
    Fly on, sweet sister.

  13. January 24th, 2010 at 01:47 | #13

    Fonzi–more butt talk, I see. Zo and So are sitting on their butts as we speak. The sun shines down on them, the ocean breeze feels great, and they were just wondering if your butt has any good advice for them. I had to remind them that butts don’t talk, but they said some of their dates’ butts “talk” entirely too often and at the oddest moments. They are not fond of talking butts. but they do like rounded ones that ride high.
    Bye, butt boy. XXXOOO

  14. January 24th, 2010 at 02:12 | #14

    Listen, missy. Don’t be wasting good alcohol on Fonzi’s splintered butt. You need to talk to Sophie’s niece Lulu. She knows a good butt when she sees one and she knows a splintered butt is not a pretty sight. And she would NEVER waste good red wine on anybodys damn butt. Although, she might consider pouring wine over Marty’s head, which has just as many brain cells as his butt. But…then again, I don’t want to offend his butt. Come to think of it, his butt is smarter than his brain.
    Lulu told me to tell you she loves you and wants to be your friend.
    Rock on wine waster.

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