Zoe & Sophia Meet Two Men for a Hot Date and Enjoy “The L Word”

April 11th, 2010

April 11th, 2010

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 them. For instance, what advice would you give your BFF if she asked, “WHY DOES MOVING TO FLORIDA FEEL SO RIGHT EVEN THOUGH I’M UPROOTING MYSELF FROM MY LOVED ONES AND EVERYTHING FAMILIAR THAT I CHERISH?” Any advice you can give to Sophia would be helpful, but this is what Zoe said.

As the sun began to rise, Sophia lay sleeping in her 1770 home in New Hampshire. Canada geese squawking overhead awakened her. Voltaire, her border collie, lay by Sophia’s side. She tried to reach over to pat him, but her huge Maine Coon cat, Tolstoy, was asleep on her stomach, pinning Sophia on her back like a beetle. She poked Tolstoy until he moved off, then she rolled over and wrapped her arms around Voltaire, smelling the scruff of his neck. Finally, she arose, walked to the french doors of her bedroom, and looked down at the lake behind her house. A few feet beyond the doors, mist hovered over two weathered rocking chairs, where several birds perched. When Sophia opened the French doors, her pets bounded outside, and the birds took flight.

Sophia stepped out of the room and stood on the dew drenched grass for a moment. She breathed deeply the spring air, which reminded her of a San Diego dawn in December, delicious and inviting. When she turned to go back indoors, her eyes scanned boxes of books, suitcases filled with clothes, paintings stacked against the wall, and electronic cords wrapped with tape. Contemplating another day of sorting, discarding, lifting, cleaning and packing heightened the stiffness in her limbs. Anticipating another day of culling through decades of joy, struggle, pleasure, pain, dreams, disappointments, love, and loss deepened the heaviness in her heart. But what she tried to avoid was starting the day feeling anger and pain about her husband Marty’s betrayal and departure from the marriage. Her move to Florida was an attempt to regain the spirit that seeped from her daily, an attempt to retake her power instead of handing it over to him, like a nameless servant delivering wine to a drunk king.

Zoe sat at the kitchen table of her 1790 house on the same lake, five miles up the road. She’d been awake since four o’clock, unable to shake off an anxiety dream that awakened her. In front of Zoe was a compartmentalized box containing hundreds of beads. Until recently, her laptop would have sat where the beads now were, and Zoe would have been studying the pictures and informational profiles of dozens of strangers on dating websites. But she had decided to stop obsessively connecting online with men, and instead, spent countless hours stringing beads onto wire, creating an exquisite line of necklaces and earrings. Her devotion to filling time this way stemmed from an intense need not to feel alone. That need was especially strong as she pushed from her mind Sophia’s eminent move to Florida.

Zoe looked at her watch, hoping Sophia was awake. Just then her phone rang.
“Hey, Zo. Whatcha doin?”
“Beading. You?”
“Getting ready to start more packing.”
“You need help?”
“I need boxes. Help is good too,” said Sophia. “Why are you beading at this hour?”
“Couldn’t sleep.”
“Why not?”
“Stress. Do you have any food at your house?”
“Not much,” said Sophia.
“You wanna go out for breakfast?”
“Not really. Once I get my packing momentum going, I don’t like to stop.”
“You gotta eat,” said Zoe.
“Why?”
“Duh.”
“Shut up. Okay, I’ll go out to breakfast with you.”
“I’ll be over in bit. You need anything?”
“Some dog food. I’m almost out.”
“Hey, you must be so happy to have Voltaire back with you.”
“Zoe, I can’t even describe what a source of comfort and joy he’s been.”
“Has Marty tried to fight you about keeping the dog?”
“Marty who?”

When Marty left the marriage to go live with his girlfriend, Fugly, he took the dogs, Voltaire and Dickens with him. Fugly was married to a famous musician, who was the son of someone really famous, Famous Father. When Fugly moved out of the marital home, she left behind three small children whom she saw on a visitation schedule. Pressure was applied in such a way that Marty had not been allowed to stay at Fugly’s on the nights she had visitation. So, for months Marty stayed those nights at a dumpy motel near Fugly’s house. The dogs were not allowed to stay at the motel. But rather than letting the dogs stay with Sophia on those nights, Marty insisted they stay at Fugly’s, and Sophia suspected it was because Fugly wanted the dogs to be her dogs, the same way she wanted Sophia’s husband to be her boyfriend. From the day Sophia met Fugly, before Fugly and Marty started their affair, when the two were first involved in the project funded by Famous Father, Sophia’s impression of Fugly was that she was a predatory woman without boundaries, who took whatever she wanted out of a ruthless sense of entitlement.

Just a few weeks before, after months of absence, Marty re-entered Sophia’s life and said he wanted to reconcile with her. They spent two intense, (and at times brutal), weeks together before Marty returned to Fugly. Sophia figured out the main reason Marty decided to come home was to force Fugly’s hand about living with her full time, not just on the “off visitation” nights. Fugly had probably called Marty’s bluff when he threatened to return to Sophia if he couldn’t get what he wanted. But Marty never bluffed without being willing to carry out the threat behind it. Once Fugly took care of her end regarding the children, Marty left Sophia again, and moved in full-time with Fugly.

When Marty left the second time, again he took the dogs, despite Sophia’s repeated pleading that Voltaire and Dickens belonged to Sophia just as much as they did to Marty. Then, serendipity intervened. On their first weekend back together as a couple, Marty and Fugly wanted to go off for a romantic getaway. Rather than asking Sophia to tend the dogs, Marty asked their daughter Poppy and her husband Fonzi to care for the dogs. Poppy mentioned the arrangement to Sophia on the phone.

After Sophia’s call with Poppy ended, she tried to calm the rising torment and rage. But inside, something cracked and Sophia began to scream and scream. She screamed so long and so loudly that she thought her voice might travel the distance of an ocean. When the screaming finally stopped, Sophia sat limply in a chair in front of the fireplace, sobbing. And then, Sophia decided to stand up, to take back her power.
Sophia drove to Poppy’s home. During the drive she thought about what to tell Poppy and Fonzi to explain her actions. But when Sophia tried to talk, she couldn’t be heard. Her voice was too hoarse from the strain of screaming. Instead of speaking, when Sophia opened Poppy’s front door, she whistled to Voltaire, the ten-year-old border collie. He ran straight to her, wagging his tail. She gestured for Voltaire to follow her outside, and then she closed the door. It broke her heart to leave young Dickens behind, but Sophia wanted to be fair. She wouldn’t dream of depriving Marty of both dogs.

“Sophie, are you there,” hissed Zoe. “You zoned out on me.”
“Sorry. I was thinking.”
“Tell me what happened when you told Marty you were keeping Voltaire?”
“I didn’t tell him. I texted him. I said if he fought me on this, then I would have a ‘voice.’”
“I don’t know what you mean?”
“He knew what I meant. Marty has too much at stake and too much to hide from Fugly, particularly about what went on here and what was said while he was back with me. My “voice” will speak the truth, and he can’t risk that. He has to live in the shit he created for himself. But I don’t wanna hurt him. I just wanted my fucking dog back. Now, Voltaire is home, and that’s all I care about.”
“You sound empowered, Sophie. Good for you. Look, I gotta go. I’ll see you in a bit.”

As Zoe stood in the shower, a sense of excitement about spring began to stir in her. Hot water jettisoned her back, down her bottom and onto her thighs as she thought how novel it would be to buy food and actually cook a meal. A hot brunch would make a nice change from the Chex Mix and Nutella that Sophia practically lived on these days. Perhaps they could eat outside in the one of Sophia’s many gardens.

After Zoe slathered her body with lotion and blow-dried her hair, she selected clothes to wear and carried them into the kitchen to dress. But as she walked past the table, she glanced at the bead box and decided to create just one more pair of earrings before driving to Sophia’s. Zoe strung a fabulous dangly earring with tiny, pale jade beads mixed with even more delicate crystals and one pink onyx teardrop bead at the end. When she looked for a second teardrop bead to make the other earring, she realized she’d used the last one.

Why the lack of a bead became so bewildering was hard to say, but Zoe felt abandoned suddenly by her beads. Knowing her reaction was absurd, she pushed away from the table and walked outside to see whether any daffodils were open yet. As Sophia had earlier, Zoe breathed in the spring smells. And there was some quality about that amazing spring air that gripped her with yearning to be with a man again. It had been weeks. As if guided by a force beyond her control, Zoe walked back inside, turned on her laptop, and fell to the temptation of her dating sites.

For the next three hours, Sophia tried calling Zoe several times, but she didn’t answer. Concerned that Zoe might be living on Planet Nuts, Sophia decided to take Voltaire up the road to Zoe’s. The day felt like mid-June rather than early April, and Sophia lowered the car windows, letting the warm air stream in. When she drove into the yard, Sophia’s eyes widened at the glorious sight of hundreds of opened daffodils growing in flower beds and around trees that surrounded Zoe’s home.

Sparky, Zoe’s stroke-impaired yellow lab lay in the sunshine on the front porch. He struggled to his feet, dragged his hind end down the three porch steps then ran sideways out to the car to greet his guests. Normally, Sparky was less than keen on Sophia’s visits, and he was even less ardent about visiting at Sophia’s house. He thought Sophia was a bitch who monopolized his lovely Zoe. She also lived with that mean, bully-boy Tolstoy, the biggest, most intimidating, territorial cat Sparky had ever known. Except for the food Sparky stole from Tolstoy’s bowl and the cat crap he enjoyed as dessert, Sparky saw no point in gracing Tolstoy or Sophia with his presence. But today, his senses told him Sophia had brought someone so special, that he could overlook Sophia’s shortcomings. Voltaire was back!

Voltaire danced around in the back seat the minute he heard Sparky’s howl. Sparky and Voltaire had loved each other since they were puppies. Voltaire thought Sparky’s stroke was an unfortunate turn of events, but Sparky certainly had more vigor than the last time Voltaire saw him. The minute Sophia opened the back door of her car, Voltaire bounded out and the two old friends dashed across a field and into the woods to wrestle and catch up on old times.

Sophia hurried into the house in search of Zoe. She found her at the kitchen table sitting in her bra and panties, with the clothes she’d neglected to dress in still slung over a chair next to her.
“Fuck sake, Zoe, what happened to breakfast?”
“Hi,” said Zoe, looking up at her friend with a distant dreaminess in her eyes.
“You’re cruising the dating sites, aren’t you?”
“I was missing a bead.”
“Huh?”
“I’m just gathering pen pals, Sophie. No dating, I promise.”
“Why are you promising me that, Zo? You’re an adult, single woman. You can do anything you wanna do.”
“Yeah, but I’m afraid you’ll judge me.”
“Not my dealeo. You’re the one who thought the dating site business was becoming compulsive. I don’t judge anything you do. I love you just as you are.”
“Thank you, Sophie.  Are you hungry?”
“Not really. But are you gonna get dressed today?”
“I guess I should.”
“Let’s get the hell out of here. It’s gorgeous outside.”
“I don’t know, Sophie. I’m pretty happy sitting right here.”
“Suit yourself. But I’m going back home then. I’ve got shit to do.”
“Like what?”
“Well, apart from sorting and packing up the house and barn, I haven’t even cleaned out my flower beds.”
“Why are you gonna bother to clean out all those beds? You’re not going to be living there?”
“My gardens are a masterpiece I spent nearly two decades cultivating. I can’t just let them go—not while I can still see them. Zoe, I gotta tell  ya–you are acting really weird.”
“Am I?” asked Zoe as her eyes slowly drew away from Sophia’s and focused once again on the laptop screen filled with strangers’ faces
“I’ll see you later,” said Sophia. Zoe didn’t bother to respond. Outside, Sophia whistled to Voltaire who reluctantly parted from Sparky.

As she drove home, Sophia felt odd. Sensing a disconnect from Zoe was foreign to her. But once home, she shook off the feeling by putting on some Cuban jazz.  Then she changed into a bathing suit and rubbed olive oil onto her legs and arms. Her mood lightened instantly as she danced out to the barn to find a rake, with Voltaire prancing by her side, trying to herd Sophia’s every step. Before long, Sophia was enraptured as each rakeful pulled back layers of leaves, revealing the very tops of thousands of plants, which were just pushing through the soil of her twenty flower beds. To someone who didn’t know flowers, they just looked like masses of green things. But Sophia could see in her mind’s eye what they would look like when they bore the blossoms of lilies, oriental poppies, foxglove, phlox, peonies, roses, purple coneflower, coreopsis, campanula, Shasta daisies, bee balm and a myriad of other flowers. Soon, Sophia was talking to them, to her “babies.”

Several hours later, Zoe grew hungry. She still sat at her table and starred at her laptop as she sent off dozens of pithy emails to men she cared nothing about. It wasn’t until her stomach churned after one particularly interesting exchange, that she noticed Sophia’s absence. She felt something akin to panic when she realized the place to which she had let herself go. Zoe picked up her phone and called Sophia, but there was no answer. Hurriedly, Zoe dressed and dashed from the house, calling to Sparky. Excitedly, Sparky galloped sideways toward the car, involuntarily dropping turds in his wake, a common expression of Sparky’s delight. Together, they jumped in her car and barreled toward Sophia’s house.

When Zoe drove into Sophia’s, she heard loud music blasting from the windows and noticed that all six doors stood open. Tolstoy, dreading the sight of that bitch Zoe and her moronic, lame dog Sparky, sprinted into the woods.  But Voltaire barked with glee and ran to greet them. Sophia was nowhere in sight. Zoe walked inside, looked around mystified then called out for Sophia. As Zoe walked through each room, she was appalled by what she saw. Finally, she hurried back outside and walked down to the rose garden, which was surrounded by a white picket fence. Under the white arbor she saw a massive pile of leaves thrashing all by itself, and she heard the low tones of unmistakable keening. Next to the leaf pile lay a rake, which Zoe picked up and used gently to poke the gyrating, noisy heap. Before long, Zoe uncovered Sophia curled in a fetal position, rocking back and forth, tears streaming down her face.

“Fuck sake, Sophie. Why are you under the leaves?”
“I don’t know. I guess it feels safe here.”
“What’s going on?”
“I’m bonding with my earth before it’s not mine anymore.”
“That makes no sense. Stand up.”
“No.”
“You have avoided living on Planet Nuts for awhile now. What happened?”
“I started thinking,” said Sophia as she sat up. Leaves clung to her hair and face.
“Meaning?”
“I realized once I move, Marty will bring Fugly here, and they will claim this land as theirs. They will sit and walk and play amidst the beauty I labored to create for so many years. It will be as if I never existed.” With this, Sophia wound into a whole new round of sobs.
Zoe sat down next to Sophia in the leaves and rubbed her head.
“Sophie, here’s a visual that might ease your pain. Picture Fugly, who looks and walks like a troll, stomping around the grounds on her gross, misshapen thighs with the purple pimples on them. She’s apt to offend the flowers. And you know she is gonna scare away the birds with that weird, manly voice of hers.”

Sophia began to laugh and Zoe joined in, then they both lay down on the leaves and stared up at the blue sky.
“Sophie, you’ll create new, magical gardens, tropical ones. Won’t that be fun?”
“You’re right. It’s just hard to let go.”
“By the way, what the fuck is going on inside the house?”
“What do mean?”
“You’re not just packing up. You’ve re-designed the rooms.”
“I want to leave the house looking beautiful, different, but still beautiful.”
“Why?”
“I dunno.”
“If I were you, I’d just move my shit out and walk away.”
“I can’t do that, Zo.”
“Don’t get me wrong. The place looks incredible. I miss your antique blue and white china on the mantelpiece but I see why you replaced it with the muted pottery.  It’s more masculine.  But how come you’re leaving so many of your paintings behind? Never mind that.  Why are you leaving the house perfectly arranged?  Is it to please Marty–so he’ll remember you a certain way?”
“Hard to say,” said Sophia as she paused to think for a moment. “Not really, I guess. I just can’t leave it all ugly and empty looking. My spirit is in this house. It’s not fair to the house. Also my family will visit here, and I want it to look nice for them. Marty has no imagination when it comes to decorating. He hangs pictures too high and doesn’t really think about colors and spatial relationships that complement one another, things like that.”
“You need to stop caring, Sophie. You have to let go.”
“I know. But I’ve never been able just to drop anything and walk away leaving a mess.”
“Kinda like Marty did with your marriage and your so-called reconciliation?”
“That’s how Marty and I differ. I like tidy endings, Zo. You know that.”

Just then, Zoe remembered why she’d rushed over to find Sophia in the first place. She sat up quickly and thought for a moment how she would broach the subject. But she couldn’t come up with a graceful segue, so she just took a deep breath and dove in.
“We have dates tonight.”
“WHAT?” cried Sophia.
“And they’re coming here to pick us up?”
“HUH? When did you arrange these dates?”
“This afternoon. I’ve just been doing a little rekindling of on-line friendships, that’s all.”
“Okay,” said Sophia, shaking her head in resignation.
“Don’t worry,” said Zoe calmly. “We already know these guys. We had dinner with them in Portsmouth a few months ago. They’ve been friends with each other for years. You know, the ones from Boston. One of them is an accountant and the other teaches literature at Emerson College. Anyway, they’re up here on a fishing trip for the weekend. In fact, they’re staying on the lake, just down the road.”
“And they’re coming here because?”
“I thought it would be easier if they picked us up.”
“Jesus, Zoe. I’m not sure I can pull it together to be charming tonight.”
“How’s that different from the last time we had dinner with them?”
“Fuck you.”
“What would you be doing instead, Sophie? Crying? Watching old DVDs of Nash Bridges with your boyfriend Don Johnson?
“No, you bitch. I finished watching all those. I would be watching the second season of The L Word.”
“I thought you didn’t watch TV.”
“I don’t. I was in the bookstore the other day, and they were having a sale on DVDs. Early seasons of The L Word were the cheapest thing on the sale table. I got the whole first season for ten bucks. It was worth every penny to save my sanity in the middle of the night. According to my shrink, my psyche’s had a setback, which translates into intrusive thoughts and uncontrolled crying, especially at night. When I’m this bereft, I can’t concentrate enough to read. But I can’t watch crap either. With something well-made, I’m engaged enough to find a little peace.”

“I’ve seen a few episodes of The L Word,” said Zoe, smiling. “What do you like about it?”
“I love all of it,” said Sophia. “But it’s kinda funny how behind I am on everything. Entire shows air on cable, run a few years, have finales, and I don’t see them until they end up in boxed sets on the bargain table of bookstores.”
“Well, no one would accuse you of being in the loop, Sophie.”
“Just as well. Anyway, I love the lesbians and their friendships. And I think the writing and acting are amazing. You know, I might try writing some screenplays.”
“You should ask your agent what he thinks.”
“I will. So what time are these guys picking us up?”
“Eight.”
“That’s in two hours. We’d better shower.”

A little while later, the two old friends stood in bras and panties, in front of the bathroom mirror, rubbing moisturizers over their slender bodies and long, lean legs. After they dried their blond hair, their eyes met in the mirror as they artfully applied subtle make-up.
“Zoe, why am I having such a hard time letting go of my marriage?”
“As you pack and sort through all the stuff that reminds you of the wonderful years, your emotions get stirred up.”
“It’ horrible.  I can find no peace here.  I hate Marty. He’s a fucking bastard.”
“That’s the problem, Sophie. You don’t hate him. You’ve tried to feel indifferent toward him, but that doesn’t work because you still love him. Then he rejected you again, so all you’re left with is hate, but it’s not hate at all. If you could just understand that he’s not a very good man. He’s acutely narcissistic and is absolutely incapable of holding himself accountable for his actions. In his mind everyone else is the problem. With Marty, there’s no gray, no middle ground. He’s always the hero of every story, so if people don’t worship Marty, he dislikes them. Right now, he spurns you because you hold up a mirror of himself that he doesn’t want to see. Anyway, fuck Marty. Why are we talking about him?”

“Wow, Zo. You sound like my therapist.”
“Can we talk about a far more pressing matter, Sophie? Me? I’m having trouble thinking about your move. It’s really starting to depress me, even scare me a little.”
“Me too, Zo. I can’t bear the thought of us being so far apart. Yet….”
“Yet, what?”
“ZOE, WHY DOES MOVING TO FLORIDA FEEL SO RIGHT EVEN THOUGH I’M UPROOTING MYSELF FROM MY LOVED ONES AND EVERYTHING FAMILIAR THAT I CHERISH?”

Zoe rolled a hank of hair onto the curling iron.  She held the iron still for a couple of seconds.  Then, as she released her grip and a curl sprang free, she answered.  “IT’S ABOUT SAVING YOURSELF, SOPHIE. YOU’VE DECIDED THAT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN GRASPING AND FIXATING ON THE PAST. YOU’RE NOT AFRAID TO STEP INTO THE GROUNDLESSNESS, THE OPEN SPACE. YOU ARE TAKING THE ULTIMATE, FEARLESS RISK. I’M PROUD OF YOU.”

Just then, they heard the doorbell ring.
“Fuck sake, the guys are early,” said Zoe as she dressed quickly and ran to the front door to let in their dates. Zoe greeted the dates warmly and offered them a beer and a seat on the couch. She then went back to the bathroom to check on Sophia. Sophia looked radiant and unusually confident. Zoe followed her to the living room, and they sat across from the men and engaged them in a lively conversation.

Once the four agreed it was time to leave for the restaurant, they stood up and walked through the dining room.  In the kitchen Tolstoy stood over Sparky glowering at him.  He was pissed because he wanted to take a nap next to Voltaire, but Sparky and Voltaire lay curled around each other, sound asleep.  Tolstoy was mortified at having to share Voltaire with Sparky.  As Sophia stepped into the kitchen, she was looking behind her, attempting to come across as demure and flirtatious with the literature professor, a tall, handsome, forty-something man with longish brown hair and beautiful blue eyes. He asked Sophia if she would be willing to look it over a manuscript of his. She said it would be her pleasure. Then just as she asked whether he would be one of her readers too, Sophia walked into the sleeping dogs and started to fall face first. Two strong hands grabbed her by the waist and caught her fall. She turned and blushed, smiling up into the man’s lovely eyes. She realized she really liked this man, and suddenly she felt that distant, almost forgotten tingling, of sexual longing.

“Wait a sec,” said Zoe, “We better let the dogs out before we take off.” Zoe opened the door and the dogs trotted outside. Zoe then closed the door and leaned her back against it, smiling up seductively at her date, a handsome, bald, fit, African American man.  Just then, they heard a terrible clatter, and the dogs bayed pitifully to be let back inside. The source of their desperation was no secret.

Sparky and Voltaire lurched through the doorway, frothed at the mouth, and then ran in circles as their stunned, miserable eyes sought Zoe’s and Sophia’s. The men jumped back at first and then bolted from the house, followed by Tolstoy. Zoe and Sophia just looked at each other frantically.
“FUCK,” they said in unison, “Skunk.”

After the dogs galloped through the downstairs and up to the second floor, the women finally cornered then and drove them back outside. Zoe and Sophia declined the meek offer of help from the men. Instead, they stood in the doorway waving goodbye to their dates, trying to look sexy while gagging on the dense, ghastly smell. Sophia’s date held his thumb and little finger to his ear and mouthed “I’ll call you.” But Sophia wondered vaguely whether he would.

Like reluctant soldiers going into battle, the women forged ahead with the necessary tasks. Sophia ran around the house and opened dozens of windows while Zoe made a bathing concoction for the dogs. It took both women to lift each dog into the bathtub for soaking, and even then, the dogs were so startled, so overwhelmed by the direct skunk hit, that they splashed much of the solution onto the bathroom floor.

Two hours later, Zoe and Sophia knew the smell was still too strong to sleep in the house, so they piled the dogs into the back of Zoe’s car. But just before driving away, Sophia opened her door and jumped out.
“I forgot something,” she called to Zoe as she ran back into the house.
When Sophia reappeared, she juggled in her hands boxed DVD sets of The L Word and the book When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, Zoe’s and Sophia’s favorite American Buddhist writer.
“What are you doing?” asked Zoe.
“I thought maybe we could read a bit of Pema. After that, I want to watch these shows. I like my imaginary lesbian friends, plus the stories are full of important political ideas and poignant universal themes about love, loss and humanity.”
“God almighty, Sophie, you are so strange.”
“Don’t you want to watch my shows?”
“Maybe I’ll watch them or maybe I’ll bead. Right now, I can’t think about anything but fleeing this disgusting stench.”
“Your house is gonna stink too, you know, just from us.”
“Oh well. It’ll be better after we shower. I think getting skunked was a sign, Sophie.”
“Of what?”
“I fell off the straight and narrow today with the dating websites, and you are creating a footprint rather than detachment with all your work in the house, creating beauty for Marty that he’ll never appreciate.”
Sophia smiled. “Ironically, the embedded skunk odor might be a lingering parting gift for Marty.”
“That would be apt. But I still think the gods are punishing us.”
“That’s ridiculous, Zo. Now, listen to me. I’ve wanted to say this to you for awhile. Most artists are driven by compulsion. As I writer, I know I am. What you’ve done recently is to use your compulsion to create some magnificent jewelry. Most of the creative people I know are filling some black hole or another. It shouldn’t be a source of shame.  When you cruise the web for men, you are compelled to express through words. Now, you’ve transformed that energy into fantastic artistic expression. I’m really impressed.”
“Wow, Sophie, I never thought of it that way.”

“Zo, do you think those guys liked us?”
Zoe shrugged. “Hard to tell—there’s just nothing sexy about skunk musk. So, I wouldn’t call it the most romantic second date, but it wasn’t the worst one we’ve ever had together.”
“Do you think those guys would come over to your house after we shower, you know, for a nightcap?”

“I think they’d rather eat bat shit.”
“Bats shit?

“Everything shits.”

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

Once Zoe and Sophia were clean again, they tucked into Zoe’s warm bed. They could barely smell the skunk on themselves as they lay alternating handfuls of Chex Mix with spoonfuls of Nutella. For hours, The L Word drama unfolded, filling the heads of the two old friends with fascinating imagery–until they finally drifted to sleep–off on another adventure as the Sublime Consumers of the Lightness of Being.

To be continued…but remember, if you want the whole story, begin at the bottom of the blog. The easiest way to find earlier episodes is to go to the calendar in the right-hand column and click on the bolded dates. And please, keep those comments coming. Thanks.

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