I need to refill my Lipitor prescription so I walk into the local Rite Aid with Ann in tow.
“I’ll check my blood pressure while you’re waiting,” Ann says.
Ann’s blood pressure is perfect, but she has a strange fetish. She likes the crushing feeling of a blood pressure cuff on her arm. She also like Indian burns. In case you’re wondering, she’s exhibited no other masochist tendencies – at least not yet.
Ann settles in to the blood pressure machine with a big smile – like a little kid getting into one of those crappy rides you find in supermarkets. Luckily for me, there’s no line at the pharmacist’s counter. I hate waiting in line behind people with obvious rashes and hocking up bio-hazardous phlegm from their lungs.
“Have fun, honey,” I call to Ann. “This will just take a minute.”
The clerk behind the counter is a very pretty, dark haired young woman in her mid twenties. I smile at her. She smiles back, enthusiastically.
“Hi,” I say. “The name’s Dublanica. You’re holding a prescription for me.”
“Yes, sir,” she says, her eyes never leaving mine. They’re very pretty eyes. “Let me get that for you.”
The girl goes over to the pharmacist and mumbles something. The pharmacist, also attractive and in her early thirties, looks over at me and stares. When she realizes I’m watching her, she too breaks into a big smile. “You still got it, Steve,” I say to myself. “You’ve still got it.”
I’m pleased as punch. It’s been a while since young women have looked at me admiringly. But I can’t help but wonder why I’m getting all this extra attention. I haven’t really changed much since the last time I was here. Maybe it’s because I lost five pounds. It could also be the grey coming in nicely at my temples or the two days worth of facial hair making me look all edgy and rugged. Maybe it’s the shorts I’m wearing. Every woman I’ve ever dated has told me I have nice legs. Sure, a potbelly is perched on top of them, but hey; flaunt what you’ve got.
“How’s it going honey?” I call over to Ann.
“Oh” she says, squirming delightedly in her seat. “It feels wonderful.”
“You’re a strange chick.”
The clerk returns with a plastic bottle and a sheaf of paperwork. Again, she looks at me with a look that I interpret as lust.
“Here you are, sir,” she says. “How would you like to pay?”
I give the girl my card and, as she’s running it, I look over at the pharmacist, catching her eye. She blushes. I am a sex machine.
Ann comes over to me, rubbing her arm. “How’d you do?” I ask.
“110 over 70,” she says. “Perfect.”
“Good,” I say. Mine’s higher, but not by much.”
“You need to exercise more.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Oh my God!” the pretty dark haired girl says, covering her mouth.
“What’s the matter?” I ask.
“Oh,” she says. “I’m so embarrassed.”
“When you came over here I thought you were talking to yourself. I didn’t see your girlfriend over there.”
I look at the blood pressure apparatus. The workers can’t see it from behind the counter. Oh dear.
“So I told the pharmacist,” the girl continues. “I’m so sorry. We thought you were odd.” In back of me I can hear Ann chuckling.
I feel my ego deflate. These pretty women weren’t looking at me because they thought I was attractive. They were looking at me because they thought I was nuts.
“Well,” I say, trying to mask my disappointment. “When I was a kid, if you saw someone talking to themselves they were crazy. These days they’re just probably talking on the phone. Hard to tell now.”
“I’m so sorry, sir,” the girl says, handing me my receipt.
“Don’t worry about it,” I say. But I want to scream. “Why the hell didn’t you keep all this to yourself?”
Clutching my bottle of cholesterol lowering meds, Ann and I walk out to her car. I’m very quiet.
“What’s the matter Steve?” she asks. “You look sad.”
Now this is a sticky wicket. How do you tell the woman you’re going to marry that you’re upset that two attractive young women didn’t want to jump your bones?
“It’s nothing,” I say, shaking my head.
“No,” Ann says. “Something’s bothering you.”
I know the cornerstone of all relationships is honest communication, but I could end up on the couch for this. But Ann is very persistent so, against my better judgment, I tell her what happened.
“I understand,” she says. “No matter how old you are, you want to be thought of as attractive.”
“It’s just depressing,” I say. “Young women act like I don’t exist.”
“I think you’re being too hard on yourself. I’m going out with you, right?”
“You’re eight years younger than me,” I say. “But I’m talking about 25 year olds. I’m not saying I’d act on it, but it’d still be nice to be wanted by that group.”
“And what would you do with a twenty-five year old?”
There are a couple of answers to that question, but the truest one works it’s way past my more piggish visions. “Nothing,” I say. “I wouldn’t know what to say to them.”
“There you go.”
“But if I was George Clooney or Bruce Willis…that would change things. “
“You think those guys are happy?” Ann snorts. Uh oh. Banishment to the living room is imminent.
“Maybe not,” I say, knowing they’re probably ecstatic.
“Well, I think you’re sexy,” Ann says, patting my butt.
As we walk out of the pharmacy I see my reflection in the sliding door. My face is flushed from the summer’s heat and the sight of my stomach makes me feel like a beached whale. There’s grey in my beard to boot. I feel old. Maybe I should go back inside and get some Just for Men. What I should do is get my ass to the gym. What Ann sees in me, I’ll never know. But as Hemingway once said, “You never understand anybody that loves you.”
We get in the car and start driving back home. But I’m still shaken.
“But they thought I was nuts,” I whimper. “Do I come off as crazy?”
“If you were crazy,” Ann says. “You’d be cute crazy.”
“That’s not helping.”
Ann pats my thigh. “Hush, dear. Hush.”