seniors | Did you take your pill?by barbara rose brooker
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One of my main goals for the new year is to make myself emotionally available for Mr. Fantasy.
We met at a Brahms concert several weeks ago and I was wildly attracted to his smarts. We started dating and I imagine him as my Heathcliff. Mostly we’ve gone to concerts on Sunday afternoons, then to these out-of-the-way Indian restaurants, talking forever about film, books, the essence of creativity. Stuff like that. I’m sure our first night together will be “it.’’
I shop for days for just the right silk pajamas. Lingerie. Overnight bag. I have my teeth cleaned, my hair blown dry.
“What’s the matter with you? Go already. Get married!” my 48-year-old daughter, Bonny, advises on the phone.
“I’m not for marriage.”
“What are you for?’’ she shouts. “Dancing around with these boomer jerks? You’ll end up folk dancing at a nursing home.”
Well, maybe she’s right. But oh, my Heathcliff. It’s going to be a night of passion.
He arrives. He’s short. Maybe about my height, about 5 foot 7. His hair sticks up and makes him look taller. His head is quite large and his body small. He wears blue faded baggy jeans, sandals and a Harvard T-shirt. Dandruff floats on his shirt like confetti, but he’s got this professorial presence. This air.
He drives his SUV, the car bumping in and out of freeway traffic. Mr. Fantasy man turns up the radio to Bach. I love Bach, only the music is so loud, and with the windows shut tight, I can’t hear myself talk. So I’m shouting things like “I love the ocean, don’t you?”
He shrugs. I can tell that his mind is on some essay he’s writing. He publishes his essays. He drives along a narrow ridge, the ocean swirling beside us. By now I’m feeling kind of nauseous. Thank God I have my Immodium tucked into my purse. And I’m nervous.
Two hours later, we arrive at his house. Inside, it’s small but right on the edge of the sea. Bookcases are stuffed with books and magazines are all over the Swedish-style leather chairs and sofas.
In the kitchen, Heathcliff makes coffee. He loves coffee. Coffee means we’re going to sit at the table and I’m going to listen as he discusses the political forces in the 18th century. Don’t ask. I listen, all gaga eyes.
Then he suggests a walk. By now the sun is down and a low gray fog settles along the beach. He walks fast and I try to keep up with my arthritic knee, wishing it wouldn’t make that clicking sound. Our shadows merge into one.
After dinner of fried artichokes dipped in yogurt, and grilled sea bass, we go to the master bedroom. Thank God, there’s no oil portrait of the dead wife above the bed, only a ceiling fan and the sound of the ocean crashing on the beach.
After I change into my new silk PJs, my hair in a ponytail and my face moisturized with Olay, we go to bed. Heathcliff is flat on his back reading a periodical. His clothes are strewn all over the room. Then he turns off the lights.
When the lights are out, I’m feeling kind of nervous … but romantic.
The sound of the sea is like Heathcliff and Cathy on the moors — Emily Bronte knew how to write about romance. I sigh, moving closer to him. His eyes are half-closed.
“Hmmm. Gatsby was always at the end of the pier, watching Daisy’s house. So —— romantic,” I say. “Don’t you think”?
This is it. The big moment. His feet are ice cold. I’m glad I’m wearing the new Indian scent. Very subtle.
“Did you take your pill?” he asks, after a long while.
“I don’t take pills.” Why did I lie?
“Well, I do.’’ He yawns.
“Can you close the window — it’s freezing?’’ I ask. We hold hands.
“I need the air,” he replies. He yawns again.
“Don’t you think the moonlight is beautiful? I love the moon … It’s so … Hello, I’m here? Are you here?”
He’s snoring. My Heathcliff. But Heathcliff is a boomer now too. And maybe boomer love is about the real things —sharing an ache, a secret, a pill — not the big highs. Maybe it’s … And I slip into sleep.
Barbara Rose Brooker is an S.F. native and author. Her new novel, “Should I Sleep In His Dead Wife’s Bed?” was published in December. http://www.barbararosebrooker.com
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