Teaser Tuesday

While I'm working on revisions on my novel, I thought I'd post a short story that's been sitting in a drawer for a long time. I wrote this for a class years ago and it just never found a home, but I really like parts of it. It's one of the few contemporary things I've written (or at least it was current ten years ago) and is about 2900 words, so I'll break it up into 4 chunks and post them over 4 weeks. And just so you're warned, it does have some sexual content/language.

Never Buy Another Self-Help Book Again!™

I knew our marriage was in a rut when my husband, Steve, and I went a whole month without sex and I didn't notice right away. I don't want you to think I'm a nympho or anything; it's just that sex usually showed up on my schedule at least once a week and I'd gotten used to it.

I guess it took me a while to notice the lack-of-sex thing because I was trying to pick a major in college, now that I could afford to go back to school full time. I took classes in art, drama, women's studies—just about every subject, but I was having a hard time deciding which way to go.

If I decided to get a degree, I'd be stuck with that subject for years. I wasn't sure if I was ready for that kind of commitment, especially with my tendency toward flakiness. Like when I say I took all those classes, what I mean is that I took the classes for a month or so and then decided they weren’t what I was looking for, so I dropped out. Except sometimes I forgot to officially drop at the Admissions office, so my transcript shows all these F’s that I didn’t even earn.

Maybe now is a good time to say I was born under the sign of Gemini; my friend Kristal says that Geminis are notorious for starting a million projects at once and only finishing half of them. I met Kristal at a support group for Wronged Children, and she's really into astrology and numerology and stuff. Nothing like black magic or voodoo, just harmless things about how the planets control your destiny.

Anyway, Geminis are also supposed to be really good at everything, but they only stick with it if they excel right away. Otherwise they lose interest and move onto the next project. To help me stop scattering my energies so much, my other friend Tammy gave me this book on how to organize your life and stop procrastinating.

That's what it's called—Organize Your Life Now and Stop Procrastinating! It helped me a lot because I got in the habit of making lists of things to do. I got this wonderful feeling of accomplishment whenever I crossed an item off. Since I started cutting back on fat at the same time, that was really the only treat I allowed myself.

All on my own I took that list idea a little bit further. I started giving myself a deadline for each task and making it into a schedule, like this:

8:15-8:30 Wake up
Mentally go over a list for the day

8:30-8:53 Shower

8:53-9:00 Dry off
Free time to squeeze blackheads, pluck eyebrows, etc.

9:00-9:15 Get dressed

9:15-9:30 Style hair and put on makeup

9:30-9:55 Eat
and so on . . .

I usually scheduled all my waking hours this way so that I was never without something to do. In fact, if I did something that wasn't on my list, I added it on so I could cross it off and get that extra little kick.

My husband always teased me about my lists. If I left one lying around, Steve would add things like, "Breathe every three seconds," and "Read horoscopes to determine best time to empty bowels." He thought he was being cute, but it was just more work for me because I had to recopy the lists. Which reminds me, I started out talking about our relationship.

It was obvious to everyone except Steve that we were having problems. My friends gave me all kinds of advice, but my sister said it was all my fault for marrying a guy eleven years older than me. After all, she argued, he peaked sexually like twenty years ago, and I should just be getting started. I wasn't sure whether or not to believe that because I've heard older guys stay primed longer, as long as they don't have a heart attack right there on top of you.

Tammy told me that the thing that first attracts you to a man is also the first thing you come to hate about him. Like if you're charmed by his boyish playfulness, by the end of the relationship you can't stand his childish behavior. I think that’s so true because when we first started going out, Steve was nothing like the other guys I had dated; he was stable, tender, and easygoing. Of course after a few years, I saw him as predictable, soft, and apathetic. It was the mediocre sex that was really starting to worry me, though.


Kaitlin Ward said...

Love the voice in this. I was definitely hooked.

Phoebe North said...

I really, really wanted to read more. This is clever without being cloying. Wonderfully done!

Ellen said...

Argh! Tried to comment and it got eaten. But I love the voice in this, it's so great! :)

RAD - Dot Painter said...

So very curious how the self help book fails...great job!

Glen Akin said...

This is a great tease, and it's so very true! Married couples should read this!!! I'm not married by the way (thank God for that)

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Sorry if you tried to leave a comment and had the field cut off, I've fixed it now so that the comment field pops up in a new window. Hope it wasn't too frustrating, I hate that too!

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