Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 6
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Two
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Three
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 4
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 5
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 6
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 7
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 8
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 9
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 10
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 12
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 11
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 13
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 14
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 17
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 15
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 16
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 18
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 19
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 20
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 21
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 22
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disaster at Age 40: Part 23
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 24
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 25
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Epilogue
Recently divorced Anna Waite is learning to appreciate life after first love. With the support of her best friend Kira and a solid sense of humor, Anna tackles the world of dating. This is her coming-of-middle-age story.
THE (NON) DATE WHERE I MOVE A COUCH
I often ask myself, how did I get into this situation? Whether it’s an argument with my ex or a bad date. Or using the name Deltoid Dan for the gym owner I’ve been crushing on. But my current predicament wins the prize for most bizarre.
Where am I? Stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or, more literally, a couch and a door. Like a scene in a movie, the lead-up to this moment comes back to haunt me.
As I exit, the gym doors close, and my tired body drags from a hard workout. My trainer stands outside, talking on the phone. His words fill the air, saying, “It’ll be done tonight,” and “trust me.” As I pass, he shouts for me to stop, ending his call. “Anna, just the person I need.”
“Why does that scare me?” I narrow my eyes at his earnest, puppy wanting more affection expression.
“I have to move a couch. Right now. Can you come?” He holds his hands in a prayer pose, adding a layer of please, please, please.
Glancing back at the doors, I picture the myriad muscled men inside. “Don’t you have gym buddies you could ask?”
“You are my gym buddy,” he laughs. “Whaddya say? Consider it an extra training session.”
So here I stand, pinned on a third-floor apartment landing with a heavy, leather couch bearing down on me. And while the mild winters of Texas make snow bunnies laugh, tonight, a bitter wind blows. It chills my bones. My sweaty exercise clothes and light jacket offer little protection.
Squirming around the couch constraint, I reach into my pocket and pull out my cell. Because when one finds themselves in an uncomfortable position, it’s best to call a friend to laugh at you. The phone rings four times before Kira picks up.
“Please tell me you saw Deltoid Dylan at the gym. I could use some good news.” Her less than chipper voice concerns me.
“What’s going on?” I shift under the pressing weight of stuffed cowhide.
“Mrs. Song is coming for her annual inspection of my life.”
Oh, dear. Mrs. Song, Kira’s strict, disapproving mother. “I’m so sorry. When?”
“In three weeks.” Her sigh trembles and an uncharacteristic sniffle sounds through the speaker. “It’s not enough she insists I keep her portrait on the mantle. Or that she asks if I’m using the tooth whitener she sent. Now she wants to stay at my house. For a month.”
“A month?” Cold dread shudders through me.
“What do I do? I can’t cook on the stovetop because she says tiny grease particles float everywhere. And she hates eating out because it’s unhealthy.” She takes a breath to calm the rising panic. “How long do you think we can sustain ourselves on the prison diet of bread and water?”
“It’ll be okay. Even soul-sucking vampires need sustenance.” Surviving on the blood of good people who deserve to fry bacon.
“Probably not a vampire, but soul-sucking is right.” She sniffles again.
“Yeah, no vampires. They’re immortal, and I’d never wish that on you.” An icy chill shakes me, maybe from the weather, or maybe the thought of eternity with Mrs. Song. “Your mom scares me more than double coupon day at Walmart. With small children at my side.”
Her soft laugh warms my heart. Kira is good people. “I didn’t mean to hijack the conversation,” she says. “Were you calling about Deltoid Dylan? Please say yes.”
“I wish.” The wind picks up, and I brace for impact, burrowing into the couch like a naked mole-rat seeking shelter. “Jason stopped me after our session and asked if I could help him move a couch. The only reason I said yes is because the boys are with their dad.”
The line stays quiet long enough that I check my phone. Still connected. “Kira?”
“Sorry, I’m trying to process this.” She clears her throat in a delicate ahem. “Jason, your gym trainer, who presumably has many athletic friends, asked you to help him move a couch. Do I have this right?”
“You are correct.” I put my phone on speaker and slip it in my bra, nestling it next to one of the sisters. The left one, Khloe. Then I adjust the couch in my limited space. “And even worse, Jason, the fitness guru who we suspect has many burly buddies, ditched me. I’m pinned between his huge leather sectional and a wrought iron railing on the landing of his apartment.”
“Where did he go?”
“To his parents’ house, picking up some tools. The couch didn’t fit through the door, so we need to take off the legs. He might have brawn, but he’s short on brains.
I’d walked backwards up the stairs, and Jason lifted the other end of the sofa. The narrow stairway left no room for anything other than leather rubbing against rail. And with an even slimmer doorway to get through, I’d asked him if the sectional would fit.
“It’ll fit,” he’d said with a confident nod.
Rehearsing the sequence of events over the phone, I tell Kira how it’ll fit was a gross miscalculation. The old square peg, round hole game bested us despite working every possible angle. And with no escape from behind the couch, and no way into the apartment because the door opens out toward me, I wait for his tool retrieval. “Not to mention I’m in sweaty clothes, and the wind is freezing.”
“Shove it over the edge,” Kira says.
“What?” I ask.
“The couch. Push it over the railing.” Hidden depths of her fierceness come out. “Just picture it falling and crashing on the ground.”
I do. But for some reason, my vision includes flaming leather sailing in slow motion. Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory plays in the background to the trail of smoke and the smell of burnt cow. Finally, it ends with me standing over a pile of embers, dipping my fingers in the ash and swiping it across my forehead like Simba gone wild.
This woman, with the charcoal stripe on her brow staring at the bonfire, commands respect, and I want to be her. But that’s not me. I am Anna Waite, emphasis on the surname. Besides… “This couch is way too heavy for me to toss.” I put my shoulder against the side, nudging it forward a few centimeters. No way I could get it over the railing. Nor do I have matches and gasoline.
“I can help. Where are you?” Kira wants to destroy something. Clearly, Mrs. Song’s impending arrival has influenced her mood.
A door slams and I squeeze my head through a small gap to see Jason getting out of his car. “He’s back. Gotta go,” I tell Kira.
“Quick, take a picture of yourself and send it to me. I need a good laugh.”
“Deal.” Pulling the phone from my bra, I snap a selfie. Me crammed with my new buddy, Bessie, the couch. We’ve spent some quality time together, and naming her feels right. “Done and sent. I’ll call you later.”
We hang up, and I wait for Jason, tapping my fingers on Bessie’s arm. Humming some classic Bon Jovi (Blaze of Glory is so catchy), I get through the song twice before wondering where he is. My hip digs into leather as I cram my head into the open space. Jason leans on his car, phone in hand, his feet rooted to the pavement.
Are you kidding me? “Jason,” I yell, wedging into the gap and gaining another inch. “Get up here.”
“What’s the problem?” He yells back, his attention divided between me and his phone.
If I find out he’s playing Candy Crush, Bessie will have to die. “I’m trapped outside your apartment. Holding your couch. Hurry up!”
“Wow, give me a minute. I’m replying to a couple of texts.” He shrugs me off, tap, tap, tapping on his phone.
“I’ve given you twenty minutes. Move it.”
My vision goes red. I wait for no man. Not anymore. The need to escape consumes me, and I push Bessie. Throwing my body weight into the effort, plus the weight of anger, I force a space wide enough to slip out.
A metallic groan echoes, followed by a loud crack. The rail breaks, and a huge section drops to the ground, clattering below. Poor Bessie tips, suspended at an unnatural angle, a leather Leaning Tower of Pisa defying gravity. Time slows, and I reach out, brushing my fingers on the couch as I search for a place to grip. But the wind gusts, sending Bessie tumbling over the edge.
The couch falls in a quiet plummet, the soft whisperings of air disrupted by a heavy thud of sectional meeting sidewalk. I race down the stairs in shock, questions bouncing in my brain. How did the railing break? Did Bessie survive? Is it too late to start a fire?
Jason meets me by the carnage, his jaw slack, eyes wide. Doors open, and heads peek out, his neighbors surveying the scene. Bessie is…surprisingly okay. No shards of wood protruding or pieces of upholstery ripped. Guess she’s made from hearty stock.
“You threw my couch off the balcony.” Jason’s head turns to meet mine, a slow, Exorcist style spin.
A buff guy, one of the gawkers, jogs over. “Looks like you could use a hand.”
He introduces himself, and the two menfolk talk about Bessie, flexing muscles and making plans. Taking my cue, I wave and step back. “You’ve got this figured out. I’ll leave now.”
“Anna.” Jason grabs my arm and stops my retreat. “Let me walk you to your car.”
We move in silence. His fingers wrapped gently around my bicep. My thoughts waver between apology and triumph. I, Anna Waite, shoved Jason Polanski’s couch off a three-story landing. I’m going down, in a blaze of glory…
Once we reach my minivan, I face him, almost ready to say sorry. “Jason—”
“That was the hottest thing I’ve ever seen.” He laughs and glances at Bessie. “You remind me a little of my first ex-wife.”
“Your first…” trailing off, I shake my head. No need for clarification on something I don’t want the answer to. Instead, I stick with, “Thank you.”
“I was too hasty in dismissing what we could have.” He leans in, his breath hot against my cheek, and I realize with utter horror that he’s attempting a kiss.
“Whoa!” I plant my hands on his shoulders and hold him back. “What are you doing?”
“I’m about to kiss the hot Amazon woman who threw my sofa.” Attraction dances in his gaze. “C’mon. Let’s go out. For real, this time.”
Jason, the trainer who duped me on our first date. The guy who collects ex-wives and tried to kill me with a treadmill, who works at the gym owned by the person I do want to date.
“No,” I say, and his boyish grin falls faster than Bessie off the balcony. I soften the truth. “You’re a great trainer, and I don’t want to find a new one.”
“You’re right. I’m an epic trainer. You just threw a couch.” He gives me a longing glance before winking. Then he runs back to Bessie and his new athletic friend.
I may not have a trail of ash across my forehead, and I never set fire to the couch, but I am that woman. The one who commands respect. I am Anna Waite. A woman who takes matters into her own hands.
And it’s time to ask Dylan on a date.