Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Two
- 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 FIRST DATE
Ten minutes ago, I thought my date, Jason, planned to take me bowling. I prepared by painting my nails and wearing pants that made my butt look its best. After all, this is my FDAD, the First Date After Divorce. But I learned, meet in The Bowl-r Hat parking lot meant working out at the gym next door. Yep. Working out.
He answered all my excuses with a smirk, his head dipping lower as he addressed each one. “I’m not dressed for exercise,” I told him, but he brought clothes for me to borrow. “It’s been a while,” I admitted through a pained frown. And he said, “We’ll go easy.”
So, I stare in the locker room mirror, debating whether to slip away unnoticed or give this a shot.
My reflection laughs at me and mocks my weight. It taunts the borrowed clothes with their sloppy fit. Insults the makeup I applied to be subtle, which now looks out of place and overdone. I hate the mirror.
I didn’t dare confide to Jason the biggest problem, though. The holy mother of woman problems: I am not wearing the right bra for this.
To prepare for “putting myself out there,” my best friend, Kira, took me shopping at Victoria’s Secret, a frightening place full of smells, lace, and strings. Scary, scary, stringy things. The colors, textures, and fabrics overwhelmed me, and I longed for the jumbo-packs of stretchy cotton purchased at Costco. Kira wouldn’t give in and waved her credit card like a hunk of meat in a shark tank. The attendants circled and snapped, measuring me and stuffing me in a dressing room with a buffet of silk.
I appreciate Kira’s efforts. I do. But the lightly lined lace demi bra with rosette detail is not going to keep my boobs contained. The sisters, or Kim and Khloe as I like to call them, will bounce around without tether, untrained animals chasing cars and squirrels.
With a deep sigh, I adjust the Kardashians, begging them to behave.
“Excuse me.” From my right comes a deep voice. A man’s voice. It startles me, and I turn to see someone who would earn a lot of swipe rights. He’s around my age with muscles that prove he knows his way around the fitness circuit. “You’re in the wrong place.”
“Obviously.” I gesture to my fluffy physique, very different from Bicep Brad standing in front of me. But he doesn’t strike me as a Brad. I dub him Deltoid Dan. Where are the deltoids located? “I broke up with my last gym membership a decade ago.”
An almost smile tips his lips. “No. I mean, this is the men’s locker room.”
“The men’s…” my words trail off as I glance around. Lockers, showers, mirrors, a bathroom area including urinals. Oh. “This is embarrassing.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m the only one in here.” He runs a hand through his hair, and I stare at the muscles of his arm. Can I get an Amen? A moment of guilt spoils my enjoyment, and I remind myself it’s okay to find other men attractive. Going from loyal wife to lady on the prowl takes a major shift in my mindset.
He moves toward the door, ready to leave, and I follow behind. “These aren’t my clothes, and I’ve never been here. I didn’t even know I was coming to the gym.”
His hand pauses, and his fingers freeze on the door’s handle. “Are you here with Jason Polanski?”
“You know Jason?”
Turning to face me, he takes a deep breath. “Just a heads up, he brings girls here all the time. He’s a personal trainer. At the end of your ‘date'”—he uses air quotes as he says it— “he’ll ask if you’re interested in more sessions.”
The borrowed t-shirt clings to Kim and Khloe, and I pluck at the fabric. “Jason asks girls out on dates as a ploy to build his clientele?”
“Pretty much.” His shoulders shrug, and his gray eyes squint in a silent apology. “I’ve told him not to do it, but he listens about as well as he dates.”
I am a minnow in Jason’s bait and switch. A wave of embarrassment crashes my limited confidence. Worse than the circling sharks at Victoria’s Secret. Weightier than staring at my frumpy reflection. More intense than finding myself as the accidental woman in the men’s room. Choking down the shame of my FDAD, I manage a response. “Thanks for letting me know.”
Pinpricks dapple my eyelids. I command the building waterworks to cease and desist. Since the divorce, my cry baby tendencies have gotten out of hand. Searching for anything to stop the momentum, I think of the recipe for a perfect pie crust, Rosanne Barr singing the national anthem, the opening sequence to a James Bond movie. I refuse to shed tears in front of Deltoid Dan!
“Hey.” A soft touch nudges my arm. “Don’t let Polanski get to you. This is a good gym. Enjoy the free session.”
“Okay,” I say and nod my head. “You’re right.”
He opens the door, and I exit my hidey-hole of the men’s locker room. Might as well get this over with. His smile glints, and he flashes me a double thumbs up, which makes my lips edge into a grin. Walking backward, he mouths, you got this, and heads to a weight machine. He’s cute and funny, and I wish I’d asked his real name. Nevertheless, thank you, Deltoid Dan, for the confidence boost.
The gym is laid out with rows of treadmills, stair climbers, and other torture devices on the right. All kinds of weight machines, dumbbells, kettlebells, and bells of mysterious origin are on the left. Mirrors line the walls because, why not spend more time with my frumpy reflection. I scan the area, looking for Jason, and see him talking to another woman. Oh goody.
Her tiny shorts stretch tight over athletic thighs, and her blond hair hangs in a ponytail. No crow’s feet mar her eyes, no extra pockets of fluff cushion her…everything. To add insult to injury, she wears the right bra.
As I get closer, Gym Barbie stops talking, and her eyes follow my progress. Jason notices her noticing me and turns. His eyebrows lift, and his mouth falls into an oh. “Annie, I thought you left.”
“It’s Anna,” I answer. “And nope. Still here.”
“I sent Giselle to find you, and she said the locker room was empty.” He scowls and shoots a glare at Giselle—of course, that’s her name—and she shakes her head.
“It was empty,” she defends. “I even peeked in all the stalls.”
Okay…talk about excessive effort. “Funny story. I was in the men’s locker room. Guess I missed the whole girl-in-a-skirt symbol.”
They both stare at me with vapid eyes, my sarcasm falling flatter than West Texas. And I’ve been through West Texas, so I would know.
“Right.” Jason claps his hands and motions to the rows of dumbbells. “Should we get started?”
Music plays through overhead speakers, Lynyrd Skynyrd singing Sweet Home Alabama. The notes pump extra loud to compensate for gym noise, but few people compete with the sound at this time of day. Jason hums along as he pulls weights from the rack, setting them at my feet.
“Today, we’ll focus on the arms and keep it simple. Lateral raises, tricep kickbacks, hammer curls.”
He laughs and throws a playful jab. “You’re hilarious, Annie.”
Still Anna. I bet he never forgets Giselle’s name.
The rubberized weights start light, but as the minutes pass, the exact same dumbbells gain a few pounds. My muscles tremble and the only thing helping me lift to the full height is my grimace. By the time he shows me to the treadmill, sweat drips from all the pores, and the Kardashians sag like exhausted puppies.
He pushes a few buttons, and the treadmill moves at a casual walking pace. “Feel those endorphins?” he asks.
Indoctrination? “I sure do, Jason.” Although my voice fills with sarcasm, I can’t deny the truth. I do feel good. Maybe there’s something to this exercise thing after all.
“Hey Jason, be gentle with my friend.”
I look over to see Deltoid Dan standing a few feet away. Sweat glistens like sparkly pheromones and his blond hair spikes. Did he get more attractive after his workout? Then I realized what he said. He called me his friend.
Jason glances between Dan and me. “She’s doing great. We’re finishing up with a cool down.”
“Good to know. Her last relationship with the gym didn’t work out.” He winks at me, AT ME, and my cheeks heat. Not that anyone would notice with my lobster red workout face. “See you around.” He does that dude head tip thing and walks out the door.
The treadmill hums. The music pipes overhead. My feet press forward in a rhythmic beat. And Deltoid Dan called me his friend.
“So…you guys know each other?” Jason rubs the back of his neck.
“Don’t tell him I asked you here on a date. He doesn’t like it when I do that.”
I mime, locking my lips and throwing away the key. Better not to mention that Dan is wildly aware.
The digital countdown finishes and the treadmill stops. My legs quiver like Jell-O on a four-wheeler ride, and my arms flop at my sides. Kim and Khloe surrendered long ago, half-stuffed, half-loose from my lightly lined lace demi bra with rosette detail.
“I don’t think things will work with us dating,” Jason says with an aw-shucks expression. “But would you like to sign up for more gym sessions?”
Sonny and Cher sing I Got You, Babe from the speakers, and I scan the gym. Machines line up, shiny and clean. The mirror-lined walls stopped mocking me and instead, congratulated me on a job well done. I take a long pull from the water bottle Jason gave me, and the refreshing liquid douses my cardboard tongue. “I would like to sign up.”
“Are you sure?” He seems so surprised, I laugh.
“Do you want to talk me out of it?”
“No. Not at all. Let’s get you signed up.” He hustles to the front, and I waddle behind on quicksand legs. The paperwork waits for me on the counter, and he holds out a pen. “Do you have any questions?” He asks.
“Just one,” I say. “Where are the deltoids located?”
“Thanks.” I fill out the paperwork and leave with a lightness in my chest and an extra bounce in my step. Metaphorically. My actual feet drag along the pavement in a zombie stride. But it’s not Jason that has me grinning. Or even Deltoid Dan, although he’s welcome to a starring role in my imagination. I’m excited to get in better shape.
I’ve set everyone else in front of my needs and ahead of my dreams. Giving my ex-husband priority status, he didn’t appreciate or deserve. Anna wait has defined me for a long time. But now it’s my turn. To focus on my health and maybe, just maybe, put myself first for once.
Because I deserve it.
Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash. Edited by Debbie Hibbert