Today was going to be the day. After a dry spell lasting longer than she cared to think about, Shannon was finally going to get her some. It had been so long since she had seen the shape of her partner’s figure—unless one counted the body-hugging long underwear Ruanita often slept in on cold winter nights—that she could only vaguely recall the placement of all of the organs necessary for their morning plans. She would muddle through though.
Their love life had taken a turn for the worse in recent years as Shannon’s and Ruanita’s three children became fonder and fonder of sleeping in their moms’ bedroom. The well-meaning moms kicked the children out of their bed a year prior and forced them into sleeping bags on the bedroom floor. Try as they might, however, they could not get the children to vacate the room completely. Lovemaking in between the kids’ deviously spaced nighttime arrival in their bedroom was too stressful to be enjoyable. They stopped trying altogether.
Shannon and Ruanita worked somewhat opposite schedules. Shannon worked a normal Monday through Friday daytime schedule. Ruanita worked ten hours a day on Saturday, Sunday, Monday evening, and Tuesday evening. On Mondays and Tuesdays, Shannon was snoring soundly by the time Ruanita snuck into bed after midnight.
The previous Monday, Shannon and Ruanita had made optimistic plans to meet upstairs after Ruanita dropped the kids off as school. However, as is their usual luck, their daughter started throwing up Sunday evening and couldn’t go to school on Monday. Their efforts at intimacy were always being thwarted by some communicable disease or another.
Today, however, was going to be the day. THE day. Shannon was sure of it. No one was puking. No one was snotting or sneezing. No one was running a temperature above 100 degrees. All was well in the world and Shannon and Ruanita were finally going to get some alone time.
While Ruanita took the kids to school, Shannon showered. While Ruanita volunteered in their daughter’s 1st grade classroom as she did every Thursday morning, Shannon shaved the Yeti-like pelt that had grown on her legs during the long, cold Minnesota winter. As Ruanita stopped at Bruegger’s on the way home to pick up bagels—sustenance was of vital import in the long-awaited lovemaking session they had planned—Shannon spread copious amounts of lotion on her flaky elbows and crusty heels. Dry skin was yet another unwanted byproduct of turning 40.
As Shannon contemplated the other unfortunate changes turning 40 had brought about, there was a knock at the door.
Don’t open it, Shannon thought. Don’t do it. Ignore it. Whoever it is, they can come another day.
Shannon contemplated crawling behind the sofa to hide from the world until Ruanita got home, but her dog, Stella, had other plans. Stella was simply incapable of ignoring the knock at the door. She barked. She yelped. She growled. She jumped up on the blinds hanging from the widow beside the door. Shannon was certain Stella would pull them down.
I’ll just take a little peek, Shannon thought as she straightened the disorderly blinds. It’s probably just a solicitor looking for a donation for some noble cause or another. People were always knocking on Shannon’s door asking for donations.
Her elderly neighbor, Betty, stood on her front porch.
Betty was bent over in an osteoporotic slump on the front porch. It was cold outside. The porch was icy. Betty wrapped her coat around herself and knocked again, her purse dangling from her wool-clad elbow.
Against her will, Shannon opened the door. She had a thing about leaving poor old women out in the cold, unfortunate as it would prove to be.
“Hello, Betty,” she said.
“Oh. Hi, Shannon. I thought maybe you weren’t home.”
“No, I am here. What can I do for you?”
“I have a huge favor to ask you.”
“Sure. What’s up?”
“My car won’t start and I have a doctor appointment in twenty minutes in Richfield. My son’s out on the road and can’t take me. Is there any chance you can drive me?”
Damn. Damn. Dammit.
“It shouldn’t take long.” Betty flashed her most saccharine old-lady grin. “The doctor just needs to re-check a mole.”
Damn old lady moles. Damn.
“Umm…well, I’m kind of in the middle of something.”
“Is there any chance you can do what you are doing this afternoon instead?”
“Well, I don’t know. I suppose I could…”
“Oh, that’s good. So you can take me then?”
“Okay, sure. Let me run upstairs and get dressed.” Shannon gestured for Betty to sit on the couch and handed her the television remote. “Here, you can watch the Today show while I throw on some jeans.”
Shannon walked upstairs, closely followed by the dog. “This is all your fault.” She pointed at Stella, who wagged her tail in typically bewildered canine fashion.
As Shannon buttoned her blue jeans, she heard voices coming from downstairs. She walked out of the bedroom to find Ruanita standing at the bottom of the stairs.
“I can take her,” Ruanita said.
“Okay. I wasn’t sure when you were going to be home.”
“Not a problem. I’ll run her over there.” Ruanita smiled knowingly at Shannon. “I’ll be right back.”
Shannon watched as Ruanita helped Betty down the icy front steps. Certain Betty was going to fall and break a hip and, therefore, further thwart her efforts to get a little love in, Shannon reached out to help steady her neighbor on the steps. As she did so, Stella darted out the front door.
Ruanita looked up in confused agitation as a flash of brown fur ran past her and down the sidewalk. Shannon quickly slipped on a pair a boots and followed her outside—
—only to fall with a painful thud on her ass. The steps she had just warned Betty were too icy to navigate proved…well, too icy to navigate.
Ruanita was too busy chasing Stella down the street to notice Shannon’s fall. Shannon regained her composure and followed after Ruanita as Betty stood clutching her purse as if an escapee boxer was going to wrestle it from her wrinkled hands.
“Stella! Come back!” Stella was at the corner of the street when she turned and started racing toward Shannon at full speed.
“Grab her!” Ruanita yelled.
Stella ran toward Shannon, past Shannon, and across the street into Betty’s yard. That dog was stealthy.
As Ruanita helped Betty into her awaiting mini van—Betty was going to be late for her appointment, after all—Shannon chased the dog through Betty’s back yard, onto her ice-covered deck, off of her ice-covered deck, and into the alley behind the house. Her ass throbbed all the while from her fall on the steps. She saw a flash of brown scamper into the yard of the house behind Betty’s. Park Avenue sat beyond that, a busy street on a Thursday morning.
There was no use chasing a suddenly footloose and fancy free boxer on foot. Shannon wasn’t likely to outrun her geriatric neighbor, much less a happily scampering dog. She went home, waved goodbye to Ruanita and Betty, grabbed her car keys and set out in search of her dog.
How in the hell will I explain to the kids that Stella is gone? Shannon’s head was full of worries as she drove up and down the snowy streets of her neighborhood. What if I find she’s been hit by a car? What if I never get to snuggle her bristly fur or kiss her wrinkly little face again?
Shannon was almost in tears as she drove around for half an hour without so much as a glimpse of her dog. Finally, she gave up. Maybe some kind stranger would find Stella and call. Shannon’s phone number was on her collar, after all. And she was micro-chipped. Short of being struck by a car, she would find her way home. Wouldn’t she? Shannon wasn’t so sure.
All thoughts of the sexy morning she had planned dissipated. Instead, Shannon’s brain teemed with visions of a sad, dogless future.
As Shannon’s Toyota turned the corner onto the street she had lived on for seven relatively sexless years, she immediately saw a brown blur standing on the icy front steps of her house. As she approached the house, the blur bounded toward the car, bouncing happily. When she opened the car door, Stella jumped in her lap. The stupidest doggie grin Shannon had ever seen was plastered on her face. She cocked her furry head to the side and looked at Shannon as if to say, “Where in the hell have you been? It’s cold. Let’s go inside.”
Shannon went inside, put her exceedingly unattractive sweat pants back on over her freshly shaved legs and commenced to eat a bagel. Then another. She might as well drown her sorrows in asiago parmesan-crusted goodness, after all.
Betty’s “short” mole check ended up taking most of the morning. The compact window of opportunity had passed by the time Ruanita arrived home again. Shannon was on conference call, so Ruanita ate bagels and watched trash television until time to pick the kids up from school.
The second opportunity of the week came and went in mundane glory.
Like married couples the world over, Shannon and Ruanita were destined to live a sexless life–invariably thwarted by the very young, the very old, and the very hairy.
Moral of the story: Never, EVER, open the door.