It’s always something

I believe in love. I’m sure that fate will find my love partner.

I’m at The Enchanted Crystal, my favorite shop on Union Street. Because of too-high rents, after 40 years, this unique and beautiful shop is going out of business. Dennis Beckman, the owner, is helping me choose beautiful crystals when I bump into Richard Glick. He was my first high school love. He’s heavier and almost bald, but I look into the same joyful eyes. He’s a retired film editor. We talk nonstop and he invites me to dinner. We date for months and fall in love.

My best friend, Janet Frumpkin, and I are on the phone. We’re talking about our dating life. She is 68. “I’m spending my first night, tonight, with Richard. Can you believe?”

“Honey, be glad you’re alive. Most of the boomer oldies have eye transplants, heart transplants, hair transplants. Look at poor Bunny Blumenthal. Finally she has a new lover and before he goes to bed, he takes out his eyes and puts them in a dish. If it isn’t the teeth, it’s the eyes.”

“Well, Richard is perfect. A doll. So loving.”

“Honey, you’re living in fantasy. Trust me, he’s not Heathcliff. In real life the oldies can’t handle romance. It’s always something.”

I arrive at Richard Glick’s Victorian house. I carry my overnight bag with my new on-sale Victoria’s Secret red-lace nightie. I feel like a bride.

He cooks a superb pasta dinner, and we talk endlessly about film and writing. After dinner we sit by the fireplace, drinking brandies and reminiscing about our junior prom, slow dancing to Nat King Cole singing ”Unforgettable.” He’s always loved me, he repeats. He’s romantic. Caring.

“I never got over you and my wives knew it. We’ll get old together, Princess.”

“I don’t believe in old. I believe in undying romantic love.”

He smiles. He has a nice smile. “Yes, I do too. In real love.”

“What is real love?”

“It’s taking care of each other. Dependent on each other. ”

I ponder this. What does he mean? “I want romantic unconditional love,” I say. “Yet each of us happy and content with ourselves and independent of each other. Love has its own existence.”

He frowns. “Is that in one of your novels?”

“Probably. I believe in romantic love.”

He frowns. Yawns. “Well, let’s turn in, Cinderella.”

“Sure.”

I follow him into his bedroom. I’m surprised to see this humongous waterbed, straight from the ‘60s. A huge framed poster of Marilyn Monroe hangs above his bed.

He goes into his dressing room. In his narrow bathroom, I quickly change into my nightie. Just in case I can’t sleep, I pop in my Advil PM, brush my hair, and apply my Olay night cream to keep my skin moist. Next, I spray the Chanel No. 5 cologne Janet Frumpkin gave me for my birthday. I always apply a mist of Chanel before I go to bed; in case I die during the night, I don’t want to smell.

I’m ready. Ready for love.

Except for one dim lamp, the bedroom is dark. Moonlight straddles light across the bed. Slowly I get into the waterbed, the bed gurgling and moving up and down like I’m on a boat at sea. I wait. When Prince Charming enters the room I’m shocked. He’s wearing this black rubber mask — a long rubber hose extending from it. He looks like an anteater.

Is he kidding? Should I laugh? Or scream?

“I have sleep apnea,” he says, standing in front of me. “I want to show you how I sleep.”

“Oh shame,” I say, trying to sound like no problem.

“Let’s get to know our sleeping habits, and so on.”

“Sure,” I say.

He settles heavily into bed.

“Goodnight, Princess.”

“Sleep well, my Sweet Prince.”

In a few minutes his snoring sounds like a wind tunnel. The rubber hose dangles over the blanket. I’m terrified. Between the gurgling bed and his snoring I can’t sleep.

Do I want this? No. Not that I’m so perfect, not that I don’t take diuretics, find the toaster in the fridge, lose my remote in the garbage, but this?

Slowly in the dark I get up, quickly dress, write a note, “Goodnight, Sweet Prince,” and leave it on the table.

Outside, I hail a taxi home. Maybe Janet is right. It’s always something.

 

Barbara Rose Brooker
Barbara Rose Brooker

Barbara Rose Brooker is a native San Francisco author. Her latest book is “There’s Something Wrong with All of Them.” Barbararosebrooker.com.