Zoe Dances with Gorgeous Gay Guys in L.A. & Sophia is Still Confused by her New Sex Toys as the Sublime Consumers of the Lightness of Being

February 7th, 2010

February 7th

Please send your ADVICE to 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. For instance, what advice would you give your BFF if she asked, “HOW CAN I SUSTAIN THIS PEACEFUL FEELING?” Any advice you can give to Zoe would be helpful, but this is what Sophia said.

Late one morning, Sophia lay in her bed in New Hampshire, yearning to call Zoe, who wouldn’t be home until the next night from her business trip to L.A. Sophia stayed up most of the night before obsessing on her cheating, soon-to-be-ex Marty. She needed to talk to Zoe, but the “man of the house” since Marty left, lay on top of Sophia, preventing her arm from reaching for the cell phone. This “man” was her enormous Maine Coon cat, Tolstoy. Sophia loved Tolstoy, but lately, he’d become possessive of her. Whenever she was in bed, he jumped on her chest, then spent hours cleaning Nutella chocolate spread and Chex Mix off Sophia’s cheeks and chin. This meant that poor Sophia was often pinned down for hours or until Tolstoy ran out of “food.” With all her might, Sophia pushed and poked until Tolstoy gave her a dirty look, jumped to the floor, and wondered why Sophia was being such a bitch.

Meanwhile, Zoe stood in panties and bra, studying her face in the bathroom mirror of her hotel room in L.A. She was preparing for her last day of contract negotiations with various film producers. What she saw reflected in the mirror was a certain calm she hadn’t seen in her eyes for a long time.  Since Zoe arrived in L. A., she was so overwhelmed with work, that she barely had time to think. And two days into the trip, her lap top crashed and was taking forever to be repaired. Normally, the absence her lap top, with its trusty Webcam for convenient “dating,” would cause Zoe extreme distress, but following a few hours of withdrawal anxiety, she began to feel a certain liberation from her obsessive need for virtual communication with men.

As Zoe stood wondering whether there was a connection between her inner peace and her broken lap top, her phone rang.
“Hi, Sophie. How are you?”
“I’m not that great, Zo. How are you?”
“Exhausted from the all the meetings, and I’ve had no time to work on my tan.”
“That’s a shame.”

“You don’t sound good, Sophie, did Marty upset you again?”
“Yes. Colin and Poppy both told me that Marty’s been comparing me to his mother.” Colin was Sophia’s son who lived in Boston, and Poppy was her daughter who lived with her husband “Fonzi” and her daughter, Lilly, just down the road from Sophia’s and Zoe’s homes.
“That’s not nice,” said Zoe. “Marty’s always said mean things about his mother, called her crazy and a pathological liar.”
“Well, that’s what he kept saying about me when we were still together, when he was cheating on me with Fugly. Every time I confronted him, he denied the affair–claimed I was crazy—that it was all in my mind. He tried to convince the kids I was crazy too, and he’s still doing it.”

“Sophie, do you have any idea how cruel Marty was to undermine your sanity, just because he was too selfish and cowardly to ‘man up’ and admit the truth? Sounds like he’s consumed with guilt now or he wouldn’t keep it going.”
“Yes, Zoe, and that’s what kills me. For him to continue to demonize me to the kids, in order to justify his actions, is beyond the pale. Marty told the kids he didn’t want to end up like his own father, married to a crazy woman forever.”
“Don’t take it to heart, Sophie. Your kids are grown, and we all know you’re not crazy, just grieving. They also know Marty adored you for years. Just because he says that shit, doesn’t make it true. We also know Marty’s weak, and not that bright. Look what he picked. Fugly might be younger and rich, but she looks and walks like a troll, laughs like a man and has deformed thighs with purple pimples on them.”

“Honestly, Zo, it’s not really Fugly’s looks that confound me. I thought Marty had more depth. I always respected what he read and his shrewd insight into people. Fugly’s the original “greeting card lady.” For months I read her “deepest” reflections in her long emails to him. I used to laugh to myself, thinking Marty was too smart and philosophical to be with someone so ordinary and lacking in profound thought. But I guess if that’s what he wants, it says something about him. Am I wrong?”
“Just ignore Marty. I’ll be home tomorrow night, so stay strong until then. Look, I gotta run to a meeting, and tonight I’m hanging with Gavin and Ken.”
“Have fun, Zo. Send the boys my love.”

Gavin and Ken were dear friends of Zoe’s and Sophia’s from the “old” days when they were all thirty-somethings living in Boston. Back then, Gavin and Ken were a couple; now they were a couple of well-preserved fifty-something gay men who shared a house in L. A. They moved years ago, when Ken inherited scads of money from his father. Gavin was an interior designer to the stars, and Ken dabbled in real estate, just to stay busy. Although they loved each other and lived together, Gavin and Ken hadn’t shared a bed in decades. They preferred younger men.

Later that same day, Sophia decided it was time to dust and vacuum her bedroom, tasks she had put off too long. She avoided the room except to sleep in, since Marty’s spirit haunted her there more than in the rest of the house. When she finished cleaning, she sat on the bed. Next to her were the sex toys she bought a few days before at the Naughty Party which Poppy took her to. As yet unused, the toys lay in a pile on Marty’s old side of the bed. Sophia was still confused by the toys, so she decided to wait for Zoe to get home to explain them to her.

She reached for Pema Chodron’s book, When Things Fall Apart, and began to read. Pema Chodron was an American Buddhist writer Zoe and Sophia adored. Sophia interpreted Pema’s words to mean that experiencing pain is an integral part of living, and that we often run away from pain and sustain our anguish by grasping and fixating on things over which we have no control, like the past. But, instead of hiding from pain, we can become friends with our inner tenderness and learn to better love ourselves and be more compassionate toward others.

Sophia was trying hard to let go of the pain of Marty’s selfish accusations about her mental state. She knew the children didn’t believe Marty now, but he was so persuasive in the months leading up to their split, that Sophia herself had called into question her sanity. Although deep down, she always knew that insanity and intuition were quite different, and it was her intuition that led her to the truth about Marty and Fugly and about so many other situations during her life. Even Marty used to say that Sophia’s intuition was her blessing and her curse and that he trusted it implicitly. Just remembering Marty’s words made Sophia begin to cry. Just then her phone rang.

“Hi, Poppy.”
“Are you crying again, Mom?”
“No,” she lied.
“Have you showered and dressed today?”
“Yes,” she lied.
“Go take a shower, Mom, and put on something comfortable. I’ll be over in a half hour to pick you up.”
“Where are we going, Poppy?”
“I’m taking you to my Hip Hop class.”
“I don’t know how to dance the Hip Hop.”
“Ma, that’s why they call it a class. You’ll learn. It’s fun.”
“Okay, Poppy.”

When Sophia walked into the dance studio, she felt self-conscious at first. Younger women dressed in yoga pants and skimpy tops chatted and stretched as they waited for the dance class to begin. They were friendly and cheerful to Sophia when Poppy introduced her. Sophia copied the women and stretched, which wasn’t a problem because Sophia was limber from going to the gym every day. When the energetic, incredibly buff, thirty-something teacher called them to assemble, the women eagerly took their positions on the floor. Since everyone except Sophia was a regular, the teacher offered very little explanation about the dance combinations. She simply called out the name of the first song and turned on the music. Next, she walked to her place in front of the two rows of students, who stood facing a room-length mirror. Then she turned her back to them so they could follow her steps. When she started to dance, the women followed suit, and the buff teacher moved beautifully, skillfully, while still observing the reflection of the dancers behind her.

Poor Sophia. She flailed about, bumping into people as her arms smashed into Poppy and several others. Sophia gave up trying to follow the impossible steps and thrashed around with her own spastic version of Hip Hop. Her attempts fell short when she tripped over another woman and flew through the air, landing on her back. The lucky dancers were able to step over and around Sophia. The unlucky ones trampled her and lost their balance, falling themselves, until the studio resembled a train wreck with bodies piled up everywhere. Poppy had to endure dirty looks from the buff teacher. She viewed Poppy as the one responsible for trashing her class by bringing Sophia. When the hour was up, the dancers fled without returning Sophia’s smiles, and the buff teacher hid in the bathroom until she was certain Sophia was gone.

“That went well,” said Sophia as they walked to the car.
“Not too bad, Mom,” said Poppy.

Early the same evening Zoe stepped out of the elevator and glided through the hotel lobby. She looked fabulous in a casual strapless dress and heels. Her blond hair and long, lean legs turned the heads of the men she passed as she searched for Gavin and Ken. When she spotted them perched on stools in the bar, she stood for a moment just to take them in. Gavin was six-four, with salt and pepper hair and a stunning smile. Although much heavier than the last time Zoe saw him, Gavin still looked fairly scrumptious and would attract any woman his age until he opened his mouth. He was fey to a fault and hilarious. Although, he did have a bitchy side and gossiped viciously, especially if he was mad at someone. But Gavin was also sensitive, worried neurotically, and was given to unprovoked fits of crying. Frankly, he was as hyper as a two-hundred-and-eighty-pound hummingbird.

Ken was six-feet, well-built, and much more masculine in his affect than Gavin. Ken came across as aloof, masking shyness, and he was known for his generosity and loyalty to his friends. He also was calm, confident and articulate, but when he spoke his eyes danced with an impish twinkle.

Unable to contain her excitement any longer, Zoe cried out their names, and the men rose and hurried into the lobby for delightful kisses and hugs. In Ken’s Mercedes, they rode for several minutes, catching up on their lives, before Zoe asked where they were going.
“We’re taking you to Kitty’s for dinner then the four of us are going out dancing until dawn, if we can make it that long,” said Gavin.
“Fabulous. I can’t wait to see Kitty again.”

Kitty was another L.A. transplant from Boston who was part of Zoe’s and Sophia’s old crowd. Years before, people called her a “fag hag,” a term Zoe found unflattering and vulgar. What Kitty had always been to Gavin, Ken and to other gay men was a nurturing, loving friend who invited them to dinner regularly, gave them a place to celebrate the holidays far away from home, and provided them an ever faithful shoulder to cry on. Kitty moved to L.A. soon after Gavin and Ken, and as before, helped construct a family to which the men could belong without recrimination or bigotry.

Kitty’s pretty smiling face and short, but curvaceous, figure appeared at the door of her home, one bordered by fantastic gardens and surrounded by a fence dripping with masses of pink and purple bougainvillea. She led them into her kitchen that smelled like a Tuscan villa at dusk. Next, she put her guests to work washing and peeling vegetables, opening wine, and selecting the music for dinner. Cooking was a long, luxurious process for Kitty, and one that guests were expected to participate in while they visited.

“So, we heard you left George,” said Ken. “How’s everyone coping?”
“I’m doing well,” said Zoe. “But the transition’s been awful for George, and the kids are hurting and naturally protective of him.”
“You were crazy about George in the early days,” said Ken. “What happened?”
“Life happened. But I’ll always love George. He’s the only man who ever understood the eight-year-old girl inside of me, the little girl whose father died. George knew how to protect and comfort that vulnerable, arrested place. But the marriage stopped working because the woman in me kept growing and George didn’t.”

“Well, everyone knew you did the lion’s share when it came to earning money,” said Kitty.
“Yes, I did. George made the choice not to pull his weight, and let’s face it, he wasn’t always faithful either. But his health isn’t good right now, and he’s afraid I won’t look after that side of things once the divorce is final. Nothing I say will convince him. But, of course, I will provide for his health needs. That’s the least I can do to honor the good years we had together raising our amazing children.”

“Still, it was a gutsy, move,” said Kitty. “A lot of people our age stay together because they’re scared they’ll die alone.”
“I was already dying inside,” said Zoe. “I left the marriage because it was time to take my own journey, just for me, after years of sacrificing my needs for everyone else’s.”
“No offense, Zo,” said Gavin, “But aren’t you afraid you’ll never find another man at your age?”
“Finding another man didn’t factor into my decision to leave the marriage,” said Zoe, “And as it turns out, the number of single men wanting to get next to me just keeps multiplying like rabbits, so I’m having a blast. Sophia, on the other hand, that’s another story.”

“How is our Sophia?” asked Ken.
“Not good, I’m afraid. Marty’s been a shit to her.”
“Yeah, we heard that he had an affair and is now living with his girlfriend,” said Kitty.

At this Gavin launched into a fit of indignation, spewing out graphic descriptions of Marty that made them all laugh, except Gavin himself. He flew around the kitchen, wringing his hands, until he burst into tears and leapt toward the patio to calm himself. Unfortunately, he didn’t see Kitty’s dog Boohoo lying across the doorway, so Gavin tripped. On the way down, his six-four frame caught a coffee table and three chairs, which crashed on top of him as he landed in a fetal position, sobbing.

Kitty rushed out to help Gavin. Ken poured himself a second glass of wine and turned up the music, and Zoe marched to the patio and stood over Gavin with her hands on her hips.
“Fuck sake, Gavin. Did ya break much?” said Zoe as she picked up chair seats broken off from their legs. You and Sophie are cut from the same cloth. No wonder you two get on so well.”
Gavin looked up at Zoe, still weeping. “I can’t bear to think of Sophie suffering. She’s one of the kindest people I know. Zo, you two are like sisters to me.”
“Let me help you up, Gavin, dinner is nearly ready,” said Kitty, extending her hand to him.
“Okay, Kit,” said Gavin as he lumbered to his feet. The eighty or so pounds he’d gained in the previous decade hindered his ascent slightly, but he finally made it to his feet without wrecking any more furniture.

Over a fabulous dinner of grilled chicken, eggplant, zucchini, and red pepper, atop rice pilaf, under masses of melted fresh mozzarella cheese, Ken asked for details about Marty’s girlfriend Fugly. When Zoe told them about Fugly’s famous musician husband, they nodded absently. But when she told them the name of Fugly’s legendary father-in-law, their eyes widened in disbelief.
“Wow,” said Gavin, “Marty knows how to get his bread buttered, doesn’t he?”
Then Ken chimed in. “They are kinda like Kirk Douglas and Michael Douglas.”
“Or George H. Bush and George W. Bush,” said Kitty. At this remark, the other three squinted and scrunched up their noses before saying “EUU” in unison.
Gavin then smiled and said, “Hey, what about my idols Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli. Well no—actually– more like Judy Garland and Lorna Luft.”
“Huh?” said Zoe.
“Who?” said Kitty.
“I get it,” said Ken.

Later that night the four friends whirled and twirled and thumped and jumped to their hearts’ content, amidst a sea of glistening, gorgeous gay men. Zoe and Kitty danced so hard with several minx-y lesbians that their hair dripped with sweat. The music was deafening and the sexual energy, electric. But they were all a little too old to dance until dawn. In fact, Zoe was back in her hotel room by midnight.

Even though it was very late in New Hampshire, Zoe was afraid Sophia might be flying around her house like a rabid bat, obsessing on Marty, so she gave her a call.
“Hey, how’s it going?”
“Pretty well, Zo. You?”
“I’m good. What are you doing?”
“Watching one of my old Sex and the City DVDs. Did you have fun with the boys tonight?”
“I had a great time, and we spent it with Kitty. You’ll hear the whole story when I get home. But I want to tell you, I have felt so emotionally peaceful this week.”
“Kitty, oh I love Kitty.  Anyway, why so peaceful?”
“After my lap top crashed, I couldn’t go on the dating sites a million times a day. I texted Jackson in Florida a few times, but otherwise, I’ve been out of touch with that whole scene.”
“And this has brought you some peace?”
“I think so. That virtual dating thing can be addictive. It seems every time I feel edgy to fill up the lonely place inside of me, I jump on line, and talk to a bunch of men.”

“That’s what Pema calls grasping and fixating, Zo. When we do that, we don’t look our pain in the face. I do the same thing over Marty. My problem is letting go of the past. You have some very old hurt from your childhood, Zo.”
“That’s deep, Sophie, and I know I do. But, I guess what I’m asking is “HOW CAN I SUSTAIN THIS PEACEFUL FEELING?”
Sophia pondered for a minute before answering. Then she said, “INSTEAD OF WEBCAME DATING EVERY NIGHT, YOU COULD WATCH OLD DVDs OF SEX AND THE CITY. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, YOU SHOULD WRAP YOUR ARMS AROUND THAT LONELY LITTLE GIRL INSIDE OF YOU AND COMFORT HER.”

“Humm. That’s an interesting concept, Sophia. Hey, are you in bed?”
“Yes.”
“Is your face covered with Nutella and Chex Mix?”
“No. Tolstoy licked it off.”
“Are you still hungry?”
“I could eat some more Nutella. Hey, Zo, do you want me to talk you through the scene where Carrie confesses to Aiden that she was cheating with Mr. Big then Aiden dumps her right after Charlotte’s wedding?”
“I’d rather hear about Miranda dumping Steve for being immature, Sophie.”
“No, wait, let me tell you about the episode when Samantha thinks she’s hit menopause and sleeps with that dweeb neighbor of hers.”

“Fuck sake, Sophie, could you be a little quieter licking the Nutella off your spoon. You sound like you’re having sex.”

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

So, on the last night Zoe and Sophia would sleep 3000 miles distant from each other, the dazzling fifty-something friends fell asleep, with their cell phones to their ears and Nutella on their chins, off on another adventure as the Sublime Consumers of the Lightness of Being.

To be continued, but if you want to read the story from the beginning, click on the calendar to the right of the screen and go back to December.

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