Zoe & Sophia Enjoy More Sexy Fun in the Sun but Sophia Wishes She Heard Less Heavy Breathing as the Sublime Consumers of the Lightness of Being

January 24th, 2010

January 23

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 help them. For instance, what advice would you give your BFF as she said, “HEY, SOPHIE, ARE WE “WORKERS” WHO TAKE THE BUS OR THE OTHER TYPE OF PEOPLE?” Any advice you can give to Zoe would be helpful, but this is what Sophia said.

As Zoe floated just beneath the surface of awake, she sensed things were not quite right. Where was the smell of Sparky’s nightly accidents, involuntarily purged from his rear end? Sparky was Zoe’s stoke-victim yellow Lab. Yes, he was incontinent and walked sideways, but he was the sweetest dog known to woman. Where was the cold, heavy air, sitting like a pall over her head? Where was the cough of the struggling furnace in her 1790s N. H. home? Wait a minute–who was that long, lean, gorgeous man lying next to her? Zoe’s smile awoke her. Not bothering to cover her naked body, she slipped quietly from the bed, aching to smell ocean air. She tiptoed past Sophia’s room, not wanting to wake her friend. In the soft darkness of pre-dawn, Zoe threw open the french doors leading to the deck, closed her eyes and stepped outside as the warm Florida breeze bathed her face.

Sophia was not asleep. No, she was sitting in good Buddhist meditation posture, legs crossed, hands on thighs, right outside the french doors. The serenity of the moment splintered once Zoe walked over Sophia, lost her balance and plunged, face first, on the deck. Sophia was knocked on her back when Zoe’s knees raked across her face. But Sophia, the bastion of focus, remained legs akimbo, hands still on thighs, breathing in and breathing out.
“Fuck sake, Sophie. Why there? Why right in front of the door? Not two feet to the left or right, but dead center in my path?
“Sorry, Zo,” said Sophia, swimming out of the open space of her spiritual journey, into the mired waters of Zoe’s scorn. “At least Sparky wasn’t here to pee on me. Hey, you wanna go to the Botanical Gardens today?”
“No. I want to lie by the ocean and get a tan.”
“You wanna go to the Collier County Museum?”
“You wanna go to the Naples Information Center?”
“Fuck sake, Sophie. I want to lie on the beach all day roasting like a chicken on a spit. Anyway, go brush your teeth. Your breath is drowning out the sea air.”
“Well, you should consider doing something about your hair, Zo. Your bed head might be mistaken for a rat’s nest.”

Into this genteel discussion walked their host, Jackson, who was awakened by the commotion. Like a broken light switch, Zoe’s attempt to reveal her demure, charming side fell short. Jackson coughed politely, trying like hell to pull his gaze away from whatever might be growing out of Zoe’s head then asked if the two friends would like some breakfast. Since Zoe and Sophia rarely ate, really only on odd-numbered days, his words failed to convey meaning. Instead of responding, Zoe jumped up and ran past him in search of a hair brush, while Sophia pressed her meditation pillow to her face to mask her breath. Of course, it was difficult to see anything with the pillow also masking her eyes, so even though she meant to walk around Jackson, she slammed into him, tripped over his foot and landed across the threshold of his tasteful french doors. Pulling her nightgown down from up around her head, she crawled into the room. Only then did she stand and dash away in search of a toothbrush.

Zoe and Sophia met in the bathroom.
“Hey, do you think we impressed him, Zo?”
“We didn’t do a bad job.”
“What do you want to do today?”
“Let’s not start that again, Sophie.”

After coffee, Jackson, who was gracious, kind, and generous despite his growing curiosity, gave Zoe a passionate kiss. She looked up into his compassionate eyes and smiled. Next, he enfolded Sophia in a friendly hug then handed her a map of Naples. Sophia looked at it in horror, maps being something she understood not at all. Finally, he slipped Zoe the keys to his red Audi sports car and fondly wished them both a wonderful day. Standing on the front balcony, they watched Jackson’s backside walk to his Landrover. The lanky gait of the tall, fifty-something African American business owner was a sight neither woman wanted to miss. As he pulled out of the driveway, they jumped up and down and waved crazily until he drove off.

After showering, Sophia nearly threw out her back, as she had the night before, pulling on her new, tight swim suit. Zoe, on the other hand, slid easily into her new bikini. They stood side-by-side in the master bathroom blow drying their blond hair, rubbing on layers of expensive facial moisturizers, and artistically applying eye make-up. Finally they very delicately massaged Extra Virgin Olive Oil onto their arms and legs, while promising each other to apply sunscreen the minute they felt a burn coming on. Over their swimming togs they wore shorts and skimpy tank tops.  They slipped their feet into high heeled sandals, grabbed their totes filled with bottled water, towels and books, and headed toward the Audi.

Zoe, who was good with maps, figured out how to drive them to the Naples Pier, the city centerpiece. Flanking the pier was a lovely expanse of beach with fine white sand, bordering sea-green water. Parking near the pier was a problem, so Zoe wended the car through the grid of streets filled with cute shops and beautiful homes. Finally, she found a spot, and the two eagerly walked toward the pier. Because it was only 9:00 a.m., a chill lingered at the water, but their enthusiasm was undiminished as they sat on the deserted beach in low chairs, wrapped securely in sarongs from head to toes. As they willed the day to warm itself, pelicans circled in the sky then clumsily fell into the water. Nearby, a flock of egrets strutted about poking long black beaks into the sand.

“This is the life,” said Zoe, shivering.
“Hey, Zo, have you checked your Blackberry today?”
“No, why?”
“When you and Jackson were having “breakfast” in the bedroom earlier, it jingled a few times.”
“Okay. I’ll check it later.”
Sophia turned her gaze from the vast expanse and poked her friend. “Zo, did you have a lobotomy?”
“Two days ago I thought I’d have to call the paramedics.”
“Make sense here, Sophie.”
“I thought you would pass out from deprivation of your phone during the flight.”
“Well, something’s changed. I don’t know what, but I’m contented not to be constantly communicating with a bunch of men. I like the peace.”

Just then the sun burst from behind a cloud, washing them in warmth. Within a blink they de-saronged and stripped off their shorts and tops. Over the next hour other people dotted the beach and men cast fishing lines up and down the pier, while people of all ages strolled its length. Zoe and Sophia weren’t even trying to be seductive when they lay on their towels side by side, flipping positions in unison, so each could have an ear bud to the single I-pod. Their long, lean legs and tall, fit bodies moved to the rhythm of the hip hop they listened to. Countless men walked past them, gazing, wishing Zoe and Sophia would open their eyes long enough to engage. The eyes of several women narrowed to slits of envy, especially when they had to jab their men to quit gawking.

Lying in the sand, gyrating gently and flipping every few minutes, Zoe thought about her internal peace. She wondered why since landing in Florida her restlessness receded and about how she had no desire to be talking or texting or emailing the bevy of men who sought her attention. She was grateful that the edginess of her existence moved over, making room for her tender heart and self-love. At the same time Sophia thought about how she often meditated in the tanning bed at home, even though Pema Chodron, the Buddhist teacher (and a saving grace for Zoe and Sophia) instructed a more conventional meditation posture. It occurred to Sophia that meditating on the beach was far superior to her tanning salon. Then she felt grateful that since their plane left New Hampshire, her searing pain and bitterness seemed to melt away. Until then, for over a year, her whole life was consumed by her husband Marty’s betrayal with his girlfriend Fugly. Worse, Marty showed very little remorse and continued to be cruel to Sophia in his selfish oblivion and lack of sensitivity.

“I’m gonna take a swim,” said Zoe.
“Me too,” said Sophia, trying to liberate the I-pod wire which was tangled into her hair. But just then her phone rang and it was her daughter Poppy. She was crying, which panicked Sophia until Poppy assured her everyone was okay, especially Sophia’s beloved granddaughter Lily. But when Zoe returned from her swim, she saw the familiar dark misery in her friend’s eyes.
“What’s up?”
“Fucking Marty. Poppy went over to the house to confront him about taking Lily off for the whole day without asking. Marty was supposed to see Lily for an hour then drop her off at Mark’s house so he could have his weekly visitation.” Mark was Lily’s father whom Poppy divorced when Lily was two.
“Not much she can do about it now.”
“But what’s worse is Marty took Lily to spend the day with Fugly and her kids and didn’t ask Poppy or Fonzi if that were okay. Poppy was wild. Lily was the one who told her. The man has no boundaries.”
“So, what happened?”
“You know, Poppy’s tried to stay neutral, but she’s resentful for all the months Marty had everyone convinced I was crazy because I railed against his denials that he was having the affair and that he was too much of a coward to admit it.”
“Okay, but what happened today, Sophie?”

“I guess Poppy just cracked, especially when Marty said I’ve been lying about him hitting me several times lately. She threw all his clothes onto the closet floor. Then he screamed that she was as crazy as I was and kicked her out of the house.” As Sophia spoke, Zoe watched her face collapse, watched the hint of joy she had gained vanish, as her body sunk into itself.

Sophia then ran from the beach. Finding a spot where the trees would hide her, she sobbed for awhile before reaching for her phone, her rage and despair dueling for supremacy. Marty accused Sophia of rifling through his clothes. Sophia laughed at the absurdity of the accusation and reminded him that she was in Florida. But it was a typical Marty move to blame Sophia for everything. And then in true Marty form, he shouted her down, claiming he wasn’t responsible for Poppy’s anger. It was Sophia’s fault. After that, he hung up on her. Something about his delusional affect calmed Sophia, and she began walking back to the beach.

Zoe saw Sophia approach from a distance. She was struck by the fact that Sophia’s head and back were erect, not slumped. The turquoise swim suit against her browned skin accentuated the confidence in her lengthy strides. Watching Sophia’s long, straight blond hair whip in the wind, Zoe thought Sophia had never looked lovelier or stronger, and that perhaps she was beginning to escape the bondage of Marty’s toxic self-absorption.

At that very instant, Sophia let all thoughts of Marty melt away as she studied Zoe from afar. Sophia thought Zoe looked stunning, sitting with her flawless body in the bikini, her face raised to the sky, and her eyes framed by sunglasses. But more importantly, Sophia perceived a positive flow and peaceful mien, missing from Zoe for a long time, but especially since the end of her marriage the year before. Neither woman told the other what she was thinking.
“Doing okay?” asked Zoe.
“Wanna go to the Visitor’s Center, Zo?”
“Did you talk to Marty, Sophie?”
“We’ve been promising ourselves to split an order of French fries for a month now. Do you think they have French fries at the pier snack bar?”
“You need to put on some sunscreen, girl,” said Zoe, pressing the issue no further.
“I feel sun stroked. Let’s do a little shopping.” Zoe didn’t have to be asked twice.

The women spent the next two hours buying a little, browsing a lot, and chatting cheerfully with shopkeepers. Their feet started hurting, so they decided to drive back to the house. But when they went in search of the car, they couldn’t remember where it was parked. Zoe called Jackson, who was in a meeting, and she was told that he couldn’t be disturbed. After another hour they gave up the car search and headed to the Visitor’s Information Center to see if they could catch a bus home. Zoe asked the middle-aged man in charge if he knew where the bus stop was.

“I don’t know anything about the bus system in this city,” he said.
“Is there a schedule?” asked Zoe. Info Man begrudgingly handed her a pamphlet that said CAT Public Transportation.
“This is the only bus, and you don’t want to take it,” he inserted with a scoff.
“Why,” asked Zoe. Info Man looked at her as though he had gas then he arched an eyebrow and sneered.
“That bus is for bringing the ‘workers’ into the city to work.” In other words all the poor people of color or shady nationality.

Zoe sniffed at the sheer snobbery and odious connotation of his words. “Well, public transportation is good for the planet, you know, mister.
“Yeah, and being a “worker” isn’t something to be ashamed of. “Worker” isn’t a dirty word, you know,” added Sophia with a tone so sharp it could have cut off his ugly nose. After giving them incorrect directions to the nearest bus stop, Info Man snorted, then the women swung around, flipped their sleek hair back and sashayed to the door. Zoe threw one last contemptuous look at the old bigot and said, “We are riding that bus today because we like the workers better than your kind.”

Before they boarded a bus, Zoe and Sophia trudged for nearly another hour through the fancy, pristine section of Naples, Fl, a neighborhood filled with unsullied ‘non-workers.’  The driver was patient with them because their Spanish was not so good. They took seats amidst of sea of black and brown faces, mostly women who looked as if they’d been cleaning other peoples shit up all their lives. Zoe and Sophia smiled at anyone who would make eye contact—very few. Half way through the route, the bus driver pulled into a stop, drew a sandwich from his bag, and announced he was hungry and would be back in five. Twenty minutes later the bus resumed forward motion. One passenger, an aging African American hippie, boarded the bus during “lunch,” and took the women up on their offer to talk. Small world, they discovered, after squeezing every drop of the man’s bio from his brain. The hippie knew Vermont people the women knew, pot growers from wilder days, and the fellow also grew up in the same tiny hamlet in NC where one of Zoe’s “dates” grew up. When they reached the last stop, they still had to walk another two miles to Jackson’s house.

The women he greeted did not look the same as the women he’d left in the morning. They were red people with swollen feet who hobbled through the door. Sophia begged off the idea of cooking, so Jackson offered to take them to the best local fish joint for dinner, “Fish and Chips.” The invitation required intensive transformation efforts, which landed Zoe and Sophia working their magic for the second time that day, side by side in the master bathroom.
“Hey, Sophie, why do you think we prefer the “workers?”
“Well, I work out every day. And you’ve been working hard on your back since we arrived. Hey, don’t forget we’ve been working hard on our tans too.”

“What I mean is that I think I prefer “workers” because my children are multi-racial and I’ve raised them to be inclusive of all types of people.”
“I think that’s true.”

“I’m hungry, Soph. Should I eat Bouillabaisse or blackened Snapper tonight?”
“I thought we were gonna split an order of French fries, Zo.”
“Honestly, Sophie, I’d rather eat my arm than French fries.”
“Fewer calories, for sure,” said Sophia, “but let’s order gum.”
With a woman on each arm, Jackson swept Zoe and Sophia, the elegant, single fifty-somethings off on another Adventure of the Sublime Consumers of the Lightness of Being.

To be continued, but if you want to read about Zoe & Sophia’s earlier adventures, please start at the bottom of the blog.  They need your advice!  Thanks in advance.

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  1. Nick from Vermont
    January 26th, 2010 at 19:27 | #1

    My glass in raised to the ladies in Naples for taking the bus. I say fuck anyone who won’t take the bus. Through out the world the bus is often the vessel of the flow of humanity. So are these people who won’t take buses not humans? Do they think they are gods. I think more that they are diseases. No one wants diseases to travel on busses. Mr. Info man has a disease and he was trying to spread it.
    Have fun, Zoe and Sophia, wonders of modern romance, and don’t get burned.

  2. January 27th, 2010 at 07:02 | #2

    Thanks for writing, Nick from Vermont. Sophia has a friend in Vermont too, a painter with fabulous talent. Zoe wanted me to tell you she likes your kick-ass political bent, and Sophia said everybody from Vermont should be living in a warmer climate, unless they use a tanning bed daily. They both wanted you to know that they don’t have to be reminded to have fun, for crying out loud! Fun is their middle name. Keep writing and thanks for your advice.
    Rock on, sweet fan

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