Zoe & Sophia Enjoy Hot Dates and Appreciate Standard Poodles as the Sublime Consumers of the Lightness of Being

January 8th, 2010

January 8th, 2010

Please keep your WONDERFUL ADVICE flowing for 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 offer it. For instance, what advice would you give your BFF IF HER HUSBAND INSISTED UPON SHARING THE MARITAL HOME WITH HER ON THE DAYS HE WASN’T ALLOWED TO SLEEP AT HIS GIRLFRIEND’S HOUSE? Any advice you can give to Sophia would be helpful, but this is the advice Zoe gave her.

As January slithered into her midst, Sophia stood upstairs in her Exeter, NH house, looking down at her faithful Coleman blow-up bed. She didn’t know how to fully deflate it, but she was sure Zoe could help her when she arrived. To economize, Sophia realized she had to give up the house. She originally rented the empty place after she fled her large 1770s home on Lake Winnipesaukee in early September. At the time, she couldn’t bear being in the space filled with the wrenching associations of her husband Marty’s evolving affair with Fugly, as Sophia called her. At least every day now, she could be just five miles down the road from Zoe’s similar house on the lake. Moreover, she wouldn’t have to worry about Sparky so much. Sparky was Zoe’s stroke-victim dog, which meant he was incapable of climbing stairs and profoundly incontinent. Without warning, he peed and shat everywhere. Sophia’s lake house had no outdoor steps to challenge Sparky.

As usual, Zoe was running late. Earlier, she promised Sophia that she would help her move the last few of her belongings out of the Exeter house. Unfortunately, Zoe made the promise before an unscheduled Webcam “date” with Jackson from Florida, whom she and Sophia would be flying down to visit soon. Jackson was smart, tall, dark and handsome. He had a good job, a lovely home, and pearls of wisdom were forever spilling from his lips, along with a whole lot of other alluring messages. Zoe had trouble resisting any communication with him, so whenever he went on-line with her or called, texted, face-booked or poked, Zoe dropped everything, including her recollection about things like helping Sophia clear her shit out of the Exeter house.

“Zo, where the hell are you?” asked Sophia into her phone.
“Driving to you. Don’t get your panties in a bunch,” said Zoe.
“Do you even have your panties on?”
“What kind of thing is that to ask your BFF? Of course, I do. I’m going past the toll attendant. I don’t want him to see me undressed.”
“Whatever. Just get here. I’m worried about things. Did you leave Sparky at home?”
“Yes. Gotta go. Tom from D.C.’s on the line.”  Tom from D. C. was one of Zoe’s virtual “friends,” the campaign chairman for some idiot who thought he had a shot of running against President Obama. Although Tom was nowhere near as compelling as Jackson, he faithfully called Zoe on the downtimes, so she rarely ignored him.

Sophia stopped staring at her Coleman blow-up bed, the only piece of “furniture” she bought on the day she fled her home. She started packing up the rest of her stuff in the bedroom, which wasn’t much except her stash of Chex Mix and Nutella, some homemade signs she had taped to the walls with Buddhist reminders about “LETTING GO,” a pile of Pema Chodron’s Buddhist books, a full length mirror, and a fabulous assortment of lubricants in every color, size, taste and temperature. These she kept at the ready, just in case she found a lover. As she carried the last box downstairs, her phone blinged, signaling a text message. It was from Marty and read:

“I know you’re moving back to the house, but you’re gonna have to share it with me.”
She texted back: “I don’t think so. Work it out with Fugly. Since you live there most of the time, make it permanent.”
Within a minute her phone rang.
“Hello.”
“It’s Marty. Look, you can’t keep me from living in my house.”
“I have to move home, Marty. I can’t afford this place. Did you forget that I’m living on unemployment?”
“Well, it was your choice to move out,” he said.
“WHAT? It was your God damn choice to have an affair with that woman. You already live with her at least half of the week.  I need you to leave me alone, Marty. You’re driving me mad.”
“I can’t live at her house full-time.”
“Why?” asked Sophia.
“I just can’t.”
“You just can’t because she has kids, and her rich husband and even richer in-laws are probably going to spend as much money as they can to drive you out. You told me yourself they think you’re a shyster.”

Fugly’s husband was a famous musician, but his father was a legend, a universal household name.  They were sort of like Donald and Keifer Sutherland or Hank Williams and Junior or Martin and Charlie Sheen, well actually more like Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Point being, enough money was floating around between the husband and the in-laws to effect significant and perhaps unpleasant changes in old Fugly and Marty’s utopia. For starters, Sophia inferred that Fugly was invited to leave the marital home and granted visitation with her kids. And Sophia finally figured out that the only nights Sophia was allowed to stay in her own home, were the nights Fugly didn’t have the kids because those were the nights Marty stayed with Fugly. The sheer unfairness of having her life governed by Fugly’s child visitation schedule began to cloy at Sophia.

Suddenly something snapped, and she burst out crying and hung up on Marty. When Zoe walked in ready to pack the cars, she found Sophia sobbing on her half-inflated Coleman blow-up bed. The edges of the bed had flipped on top of her friend, who was barely visible, and Sophia appeared to be trapped inside a large balloon. Zoe reached her hand out to help Sophia stand. Sophia’s face was a mess of smeared make-up and her hair was a fright.

“Fuck sake, Sophie. What is wrong with you?”
“I’ve lost my mind.”
“That’s obvious, but did you forget I arranged a double date for us in three hours. Get your shit together.”
“I can’t,” wailed Sophia, “I just want to die.”
“Never mind that. Let’s just pack up the rest of the stuff and go to my house. We only have enough time to shower and get ready. MOVE IT.”
“Ok, Zo.”

On the drive to Zoe’s they talked about their children. Usually this was a blow-by-blow about the varying degrees of pain the children felt over their parents’ situations. But today Zoe and Sophia talked about how proud they were of the kids. When the two first became friends, the most significant bond between them was they were white women married to African American men, so their infant daughters were bi-racial. Sophia divorced her husband when Poppy was two because he was neither a good husband nor a good father. George, on the other hand, although not such a great husband, was always a wonderfully loving and supportive father whom his children adored, which was why Zoe stayed married until her last child went off to college. By the time the women drove into Zoe’s driveway, they were filled with warmth and gratitude that life had blessed them so richly.

When they opened Zoe’s front door, Sparky mowed straight into Sophia, knocking her down in the snow, and Sophia had to roll away fast to avoid Sparky’s pee spew. By the time Sophia crawled into the house on her hands and knees, Zoe was already in the downstairs shower, so Sophia headed upstairs to take hers. After her shower, Sophia hurried to the downstairs bathroom where all the finishing stuff was stored.  There, she found Zoe in panties and bra lathering lotion onto her body.  Sophia joined her in front of the mirror and covered herself in Jojoba Oil.  Next, the women blow dried their hair and applied expensive moisturizers and subtle makeup to their faces. They both dressed in skinny jeans, boots and low-cut sweaters.

As they worked in front of the mirror, Sophia asked, “Can I tell you about my conversation with Marty today?”

“Not now, just concentrate on getting out of here,” said Zoe as she glanced quizzically at Sophia’s backside.   Unfortunately, Sophia’s skinny jeans sagged sadly, but Sophia failed to notice.  Once they were all dolled up, they tipped out the door just in time to make it to Portsmouth to meet their dates at the Dolphin Striker, a restaurant with a piano bar and a demure ambiance.

The date Zoe selected for herself was an articulate, handsome African American zoologist who worked at the New England Aquarium. For Sophia, Zoe selected a seventy-year-old, Irish American retiree, who wore an Old Navy sweat shirt and who, just after meeting Sophia, brandished pictures of his Standard Poodles for her to admire.  The fact that he belched every time he spoke was off putting, but he was rich, so Zoe thought that balanced things out. It didn’t matter anyway. Sophia was a mess and couldn’t stop crying. Good times.

Between drinks and the arrival of their appetizers, Zoe grabbed Sophia by her sleeve and dragged her off to the ladies room.
“Fuck sake, Sophie. STOP CRYING. I kinda like this guy, and you’re really screwing it up for me.”
“Am I? Sorry, Zo.”
“And get the fucking snot out of your hair. How did you do that? Did you wipe your nose with your hair or something?”
“Can I tell you what happened with Marty today?”
“Later, babe. Will you please just try to control yourself in public?”
“I’ll try.”

For the rest of the dinner Sophia sat like a zombie digging her nails into her cheeks every time she felt a wave of hysteria coming on. In the end, she looked like she’d been attacked by an angry monkey, who’d bitten ugly, red blotches into her face. Before dessert, she pulled from her purse Pema Chodron’s book The Places That Scare You and began reading aloud. The dates didn’t know what to say, but they kept flashing Zoe looks as if asking her to do something about her weird friend. Just then Zoe’s phone jingled.

“Hello, Zoe. This is your favorite chiropractor. Did you forget your appointment this afternoon?”
“Oh, shit. I’m sorry. Did you remind me?”
“Well, I sent you a telepathic vibe, and you know what a strong telepathic connection we have. I just assumed you received it.”
“It must have been lost in transmission,” said Zoe with about as much as enthusiasm as she felt when she found mold on her bread. Zoe visualized the little harpy with his pony tail and bad complexion. As much as she liked to have a man’s hands on her, she wasn’t crazy about his. But he did a good job correcting her back, so she let him do his thing.
“Look, Doc, gotta go. I’ll call to reschedule.”

At this point the men had their pens out and were tabulating who owed what on the bill. The Poodle guy balked a little since his date with Sophia was clearly less than enchanting, but he was too much of a gentleman to protest strongly.
“Do you guys want to go somewhere else for a nightcap?” asked Zoe once she was off the phone. It was a race to the finish line as to which date could come up with an excuse fast enough not to prolong the agony.

As Zoe and Sophia walked to the car, Sophia said, “That went well.”
“Not too bad.”
“But, Zo, I wonder why they didn’t want to go out for a nightcap?”
In unison the women faced each other and said, “I guess they just weren’t that into us.” Then their faces lit up, and they poked each other, howling, “JINX-you owe me a Coke.”

“Hey, Sophie, let’s go shopping for stuff to wear in Florida. Shit, the mall’s open for another two hours.”
“Can I tell you what happened with Marty today?”
“Fire away.”

“The more I think about the situation, the crazier I get. Do you remember when he first met Fugly, how he used to make fun of her man-ish walk and voice. He said she kinda creeped him out, but she offered him a business deal, using her father-in-law’s money, so he decided to put on the charm.”
“Oh well, I guess love (of money) is blind. But what happened today, Sophie?”

“Do you think I could tell my story to Oprah?”
“No. Get to the point, Sophie.”

“You know that he’s toxic for me–in more ways than one. Lately, I’m afraid he’s gonna turn violent when we argue. But worse, I have an emotional meltdown every time I see him because I’m reminded of how those two tortured me. For fifteen months I had to watch that bitch make her play for him. She often emailed him in the middle of the night, and his computer was in our fucking bedroom. The sound of her incoming emails woke me up, but I pretended to be asleep. Then I watched him sneak out of bed and skulk over to the computer to answer her. And the hours he spent in the bathroom at night texting her were ridiculous.  But the worst was when we went to Europe on vacation, and he left our bed at 2:30 in the morning on our wedding anniversary, taking his phone with him.  When I got the phone bill, I counted over 500 text messages in one week. You do the math.”

“I know, Sophie. He was brutal to you. That’s why you moved out as soon as he told you the truth. But what does that have to do with now?”
“NOW…HE’S INSISTING I LET HIM STAY AT OUR HOME ON THE NIGHTS FUGLY WON’T LET HIM STAY AT HER HOUSE. I’M SO CONFUSED.”
Zoe thought for a moment then said, “I’M SORRY HE’S NOT A BETTER PERSON. IF HE WERE, YOU WOULDN’T BE WHERE YOU ARE. TELL HIM HE CAN’T STAY THERE, SOPHIE, AND FOR FUCK SAKE–BUY YOURSELF SOME NEW SKINNY JEANS. THOSE GIVE YOU A SAGGY ASS.

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

Zoe’s and Sophia’s spirits lifted measurably when they stepped into the Foxrun Mall, and off streamed the shimmering, single, fifty-something women, on another adventure as the Sublime Consumers of the Lightness of Being.

To be continued…read about preparations for their trip to Florida.  For earlier adventures keep reading down.  If you want to offer chonological advice, start with the first post dated December 29th, 2009.

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  1. Em
    January 8th, 2010 at 20:04 | #1

    It is good that Zoe is there to help Sophia out of those large balloon entrapments and into the skinny jeans so that she can shimmer again. Zoe and Sophia just need to keep sticking together …. anxiously awaiting another installment!

  2. Barry
    January 9th, 2010 at 20:10 | #2

    I’ve recommended your blog to my good friend from S.F. and he seems to like it so far, just thought I’d let you know.

  3. January 10th, 2010 at 09:55 | #3

    Hi, Barry
    Sophia wanted me to tell you that San Fransisco sounds like a nice place to visit this time of year, and Zoe wants to know more about you. Do you live some place warm? Do you wear an eye patch or carry pictures of your Standard Poodle with you to show your dates? If so, she has a friend you might like. But I’ve told them both that if you have any sense at all (especially now that they’ve sniffed you out) you might consider running for the hills. Sophia’s response was “Aren’t there hills in SF?” Thanks for writing.
    Rock on, brother.
    J.

  4. January 10th, 2010 at 10:04 | #4

    Hey, Emily,
    Have you considered that it might be kinder if Zoe just to let Sophia stay in the baloon entrapment indefinately? It seems like the safest place for her. Just yesterday Zo found Sophie dancing around amidst the broken chard of several plates she’d smashed–wearing a Hula skirt and singing, “I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Out of my Hair.” Thanks for your advice and keep writing.
    Rock on, sweet sister.
    J.

  5. Maizy
    January 13th, 2010 at 19:16 | #5

    OMG how funny are Zo and Sophie in this episode… Love love love the meal w/the old Irish Guy!! How funny was that … this my friend is one of my favorite types of thing to watch in a restaurant … I would have been so focused on the group My date would have been pissed too!

  6. January 14th, 2010 at 19:30 | #6

    Hey, busterette…why would a date be pissed if you were watching a train wreck? Ditch him this minute. (That was Zoe talking. She’s very opinionated) I think the Old Navy/Standard Poodle Guy was pretty adorable, but not my type. –That was Sophie. I say, the girls love it when people appreciate them. So, keep on trucking, old girl. And even though I don’t know you, I think you must be very, very pretty.
    Laugh, love, spit when you feel like it, but never belch in front of a date!
    Twizzle and out, sister.

  7. Barry
    January 16th, 2010 at 12:32 | #7
  8. Barry
    January 16th, 2010 at 12:59 | #8

    @julieknight
    Sorry no patches and no poodles. I just got back from the “hills” of San Francisco, with jet lag and a bad case of tennis elbow. But, there’s no hills where I am, unless you count the sunny sand dunes. I’m glad to be home relaxing for a while, my job has me traveling often, and I’ll be back and forth from the UK for most of the Spring, where I stay with a friend and associate. My friends and I are having great fun following your adventures.

  9. January 24th, 2010 at 01:55 | #9

    “Barry, Barry, Barry” That’s the girls screaming your name because they are so thrilled to hear from you again. Zo wants to know how you are going to pick her up and carry her off to some private (or public cause she’s not fussy) place if you have tennis elbow. Sophia wants to know if she can come with when you go to the UK because Zoe’s driving her a little crazy. They both want you to know that sunny sand dunes might be just wonderful in SF, but they’d rather have you lying on your back between them in Florida right now. Fuck sake, Barry, I can’t shut them up. I’m sorry. They just keep screaming your name, “Larry, Larry, Larry.” Okay, so they don’t hear too well anymore, or maybe they’ve already forgotton your name is Barry. Most likely though, they don’t care what your name is as long as you agree to come lie on your back between them on the beach in Naples Florida.
    Lob on, sweet Barry.

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