Monday, April 13, 2015
Good sex karma in midlife relies upon a whole lifetime of baggage and lifestyle choices. If a man drinks too much, is obese, has an ego the size of Texas that won’t allow him to seek medical help for Erectile Dysfunction and begins to blame his wife or partner for the fact he can’t function, he’s screwed. And not in a good way. If a woman drinks too much, has a lifetime of body image issues, was ever violated and unable to heal, allows her repressed anger to squelch her desire and poison her view of her partner and doesn’t do proper maintenance on her private bits as they begin to atrophy, then she’s up the creek without lubrication.
Literature on sex after 50 makes it clear that the sex can be mind-blowing and the best of your life, but ONLY if the man can keep it up long enough to begin (let alone finish) and the woman’s vagina hasn’t shriveled to the size of a raisin and hardened like a fossil.
Things are further complicated by the Russian roulette of dating, Tinder anyone?
So here I am, 50 years old, in a small Southern beach town. I may never have sex again.
(Pelican Plaza, Early morning, Entrance to Phoebe’s Gallery and Studio)
Phoebe arrives to open her gallery and finds an elegantly wrapped box placed on sidewalk in front of the door. She looks around but no one is in sight.
She picks up box and reads the small engraved card.
“From a friend.”
She carries the box inside and lifts the top. It’s a beautiful silver necklace with some kind of Celtic-looking pendant. A circular tree of life design with a small green stone, a peridot, at the heart of the tree. Phoebe is no expert, but it looks like real silver, not plated. She hesitates a moment then shrugs and puts it on.
She goes back to door and turns the sign around from Closed to Open.
(Later that morning)
Phoebe is showing a pitcher and goblet set to a customer and explaining the glaze she used.
Phoebe: It’s completely safe for use with beverages. Also, it’s both microwave and dishwasher safe. Possibly you could sit inside your dishwasher while drinking your lemonade and all of it would be…safe.
Customer: I’m just not sure it goes with the curtains. They’re cream and Swedish blue and this is more of a Cerulean. Honey, what do you think?
Customer’s husband (pulls smartphone ear bud out of one ear): What was that?
The bell on the door rings and Lucy walks in. Phoebe, eyes beginning to glaze, perks up.
Phoebe: You don’t know how happy I am to see you!
Phoebe leaves customer and husband and walks over to the small sitting area she put together near the entrance so that bored kids and husbands could relax while moms fill out summer camp papers and wives shop for items to fill their summer homes. Having bartered with other local craftspeople, Phoebe has scored a funky mixed media coffee table made partly from recycled hubcaps, a 1950s metal loveseat and two stuffed chairs interestingly shaped and covered in fake animal furs. Sitting in one of the chairs is like sitting in the lap of a leopard. For extra whimsy, the backs of the chairs sprout ears.
Phoebe and Lucy sit in the chairs.
Lucy: Hey, I like that necklace! A tree of life?
Phoebe (puts a hand on pendant): I think so. I just got it this morning. Someone left me a package on the doormat. Isn’t that strange?
Lucy: I don’t know. Any cute customers over the weekend?
Phoebe (thinks): Nope. Not really. The most intriguing stranger was that Julian. Lord of the Manor.
Lucy: The amazing, disappearing Julian?
Phoebe: One and the same. By the way…any word on whether or not Sheila and animal control tracked down those dog things?
Lucy: Sheila’s been a ghost since then. Haven’t seen her.
Phoebe: I just wonder if, in all the, I don’t know, ambiance of nighttime and the full moon, if we imagined that some harmless wild dogs were bigger and badder than they actually were.
Lucy: Yeah, I mean, come on. Werewolves? Seriously. I know we need some excitement around here, but we don’t need to lose complete touch with reality. Or, at least, I don’t think we do. (She shrugs)
Phoebe: Yes, by the time I saw the castle, it was getting a bit Gothic. And Julian, what kind of name is that? And why was he dressed for 5th Avenue?
Lucy: Cooper must know him. He said the nails from that house paid for his widescreen, I think.
Phoebe (still with her hand on the pendant): Well, the note that came with this said, “From a friend.”
Lucy: That’s better than, “From an enemy.”
Phoebe: Yep. Don’t need any more of those. I’ve got my ex taking up all the enemy space in my life right now, thank you very much.
Lucy (frowns): Sorry about that. One day soon we will have a long talk over a wine bottle, or several depending on the story, so we can, you know, swap stories.
Phoebe: Sounds like a good plan to me.
Lucy (brightens): Actually, that reminds me. I wondered if I could bring over my equivalent of a casserole tonight since you are my new neighbor and all.
Phoebe: Aw. Thank you. Um, just out of curiosity, what’s your equivalent of a casserole?
Lucy: Wild greens salad, hand-picked from the island and sprinkled with wild flowers, also hand-picked from the island. I also make my own dressing, but that’s a secret recipe.
Phoebe (looks surprised): Wow! I think you might be my foodie soul mate.
Lucy: I felt it the moment I saw you.
Suddenly the room begins to shake and Phoebe barely catches a plate that falls from the shelf behind her. The customer screams and grabs her husband, who looks around clueless.
Customer: What was THAT?
Lucy (turns to customer): Um…new construction? Just behind us, I think.
Phoebe: Yes, it can be a bit loud and shaky at times.
Phoebe (quietly to Lucy): In all the excitement of opening a business and running from werewolves, I was hoping the earthquake talk was just one of my nightmares.
Lucy: Do you think that’s what that was?
Phoebe: As long as it doesn’t ruin my inventory and doesn’t scare away the tourists, I am going to affirmatively state right now that I don’t care what it was.
Phoebe locks the gallery and walks to her golf cart. As she gets in, Maude and Irving appear out of nowhere. Phoebe shrieks just a little and grabs the steering wheel. Maude is holding a bag of groceries.
Phoebe: I really do hate it when you do that. Isn’t there some kind of bell you can ring, like a doorbell? Just to give me a heads up?
Maude (holds out grocery bag): These are for you, dear. We got clementines, honey, black tea, watercress, walnuts, goat cheese and lemon. Did I forget anything?
Maude looks at Phoebe. Her eyes reflect the heat lightning developing in the distance
Phoebe: How did you know what I like?
Maude: Pffft, how did we know. Of course we know, we’re your guardian angels. Consider it a house warming gift.
Irving: Also, if you could just give us a lift, dear.
Maude climbs beside Phoebe, groceries on her lap. Irving gets in back seat.
Phoebe: I am happy to give you a lift, but I don’t know where you live. Where do you live?
Maude: First, let’s go to your house. I could use a cup of tea.
Phoebe: Angels drink tea?
Maude: Guardian angels. It’s different.
Irving: And there are important matters to discuss.
They drive off just as skies open up with thunder and lightning all around.
Phoebe (loudly over the noise of storm): Pull down the rain flaps!
Maude snaps her fingers and suddenly rain flaps are down and secured.
By the time they pull into Phoebe’s short driveway, the rain is coming down in sheets and the wind is howling like wolf on steroids.
Phoebe: Follow me!
(Phoebe leads them to the door, fumbles with keys, leads them upstairs and turns on first one light then another. The place is still littered with boxes and suitcases. )
Maude (to Phoebe): Sit, sit! You are tired. Let me make tea.
(She pushes Phoebe rather forcefully into an over-stuffed chair.)
Irving: I’ll tend to the fire.
Phoebe: I have a fireplace?
Irving snaps fingers and a stack of boxes moves to reveal a cute fireplace. Irving proceeds to make crackling fire and Maude brings tea tray.
Irving (Clears throat): Phoebe, have you ever wondered about your ability to climb trees?
Phoebe: I mean, I was definitely a tree climber in my day, you know, at the age of nine. But I hardly think…
Maude: But dear, you don’t just climb, do you?
Irving: Don’t you sort of leap? Fly, perhaps…?
Phoebe: I don’t know about that…
Maude: And your hair, dear. Haven’t you ever wondered about it? The way it takes on new textures and colors on a whim of its own?
Phoebe (laughs): My mother used to say, “I never have to brush your hair. It styles itself like movie star hair.” But, I don’t know. It’s just hair. Isn’t that what everyone means by, “a bad hair day or a good hair day?”
Maude: Not exactly.
Irving: And the explosion in your house. Don’t these things seem…unusual to you sometimes?
Phoebe (Bows head): I don’t like to think about the house. It’s why I’m away from my own children.
Irving: Phoebe, we are your Guardians. We have watched you since the day you were born. We have been waiting for this moment for all these years and the time has come.
Phoebe: The time has come for what?
Irving: There is much darkness and negativity on this planet, in this dimension. Your time has come to help.
Maude: My dear, as a fairy, it is your job to bring light to the world of darkness.
Phoebe begins to laugh. She laughs so hard she spills tea on her overalls and the chair.
Phoebe (Laughing uncontrollably): Me? Bring light? That’s too funny! Me, the heap on the curb. Just barely getting through each day. I’m afraid the world is…(She has difficulty speaking while laughing)…doomed!
Maude (Stands. Her hand shoots light at the doorway): Declare yourselves now or suffer the consequences!
Cooper and Lucy stand at the top of the landing, looking like they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Cooper is carrying a grocery bag and Lucy has a Coleman lamp.
Cooper (to Phoebe): Uh, we just thought you might want some supplies if the power goes out. We knocked but thought maybe you couldn’t hear us over Stormaggedon out there.
Lucy: We didn’t mean to intrude, really. We barely heard anything about flying or magic hair or Phoebe being a fairy person. Which is kind of cool, if you stop to think about it.
Irving: You are going to need a better cover story, young man, because this cockamamie idea that the power might go out is just…
(The lights flicker and go out. The fire and Lucy’s Coleman lamp illuminate the room.)
Phoebe: Okay, okay! Everybody settle down. Cooper and Lucy, please have a seat. Everyone play nice while I go down to the garage. I saw a bunch of flashlights and candles down there. Hang on.
Phoebe runs down the stairs and thinks maybe she could just keep running and not look back. But the glow of the fire doesn’t reach the bottom of the stairs and she has to grope around to find the door handle. Running away in absolute wet, electrostatic darkness seems less appealing. Outside, all hell has broken loose and the wind is blowing about 80 different directions. Under a lightning blast Phoebe sees her way to garage. Inside garage, she feels her way along the wall to find the box she’d seen earlier. When she finds it, a light goes on behind her. Relieved the power is back, she turns around and screams.
Not three feet from her, Julian is holding a flashlight. He wears a dark trench coat. Reflexively, Phoebe leaps back and somehow lands on top of the workbench. Julian stares in wonder at her amazingly high and nimble leap. Phoebe seems to realize she’s just done something unusual.
Phoebe: What the hell!
Julian: I just wanted to see if you were alright.
Phoebe: What is this, Grand Central? Why are you all here when I just want to be in bed? Asleep!
(He looks around.)
Julian: All who?
Phoebe begins to shake. Julian holds out his hand. Phoebe stares at his perfectly proportioned fingers and his smooth skin. She reaches out but there’s a slight electrical current when she touches him. It runs through her whole body.
Phoebe: Wow. You’ve got a…firm grip.
He helps her down.
Julian: And you…smell really good. What is that scent?
Phoebe: That would be clay dust and rain.
Julian: No. (He seems to be sniffing the air and leans toward her neck) It’s something else. You are different.
She looks into his eyes, which are slightly hooded, but in a kind of handsome way. They both seem hypnotized.
Julian (Let’s go of her hand): Anyway, I was out walking and saw you run in here. I thought you might need help.
Phoebe: Oh, you were just “out?” Like, for an evening stroll. Let me enlighten you that I am not that stupid. And how come I only see you at night?
Julian: I don’t think you are stupid. I just like storms…and the night.
Phoebe: Well, you go right ahead and enjoy the stormy darkness, then. Now (Phoebe grabs box) if you’ll excuse me, please.
She walks past him and leaves garage.
Julian (To Phoebe, who has left already): Do you like the necklace?
Julian (To himself): Why is she so…aggravating?
(To be continued…)