He strides into the gym like the king of beasts — bold, muscular, lion’s mane of thick, silver hair and big, strong hands. He is the fearsome Titan, the dominant male, and all the other men suddenly look like mewing cubs. The sight of him makes me melt on the treadmill. Sweat starts seeping through in dark spots on my already damp tank top. I see him survey his surroundings with a dismissive glance. He looks like a man who has everything under control. He looks like a man who has everything he needs. He looks like a man who gets everything he wants. And, I don’t even know his name.
I daydream about those large hands kneading my neck, my back and … fade to black. I imagine holding them and looking up while slow dancing because, being a tall woman, size does matter. He takes the masterly lead with no instruction from me, but we move to the rhythm of balanced beats and equal footing. I wonder what it would be like to stare into those sky-lit eyes and have them stare back into mine. He is blessed with sculpted cheekbones and a strong jawline. They’re included every night in my prayers. I cry like a silly school girl, frustrated tears, cursing fate’s loathsome folly. That old rascal lust has found me again after all these years, and I am lost in confusion. Why now, when I’ve finally accepted my aloneness; when menopause is standing at the front door, ready to send my Aunt Rose and Cousin Cramp packing?
I’m comfortable with myself and no longer feel obligated to touch up my hair and makeup. I can spent a Friday night and Saturday morning in pajama pants with Cat curled at my feet. I can eat a banana, write a little poetry, switch on the old movie channel and watch Bogart and Bacall deal with the dicey game of love, all under the protective cover of quilts. I don’t want cupid’s tender trap and foolish romantic fiction.
What’s a grown-up girl to do? The Titan never makes a move. He never gives me the eye. He never even leans his well-built body towards my treadmill-trekking tush. I try my hardest to look like a leaping gazelle or at the very least, a darting doe. But no amount of running in place is going to make the sexual connection with this almighty man.
Our relationship evolves in my own fevered brain. I feel all the same yearning and burning desire as if we were actually together. I feel all the same crazy, mixed-up emotions I did when I was 17 and in lust with my first boyfriend. Only now I’m middle-aged and been around the track a few times. I feel vulnerable and frightened by these alien impulses.
I’d settle for one night of carnal knowledge with the Gym God. This mere mortal would cast a magical sex spell over him. He’d swiftly sweep me off my size nine feet and onto his mountain of heavenly delight. Heart strings stay intact and feelings of love stay in the closet. Our tryst is playful, uncomplicated because I no longer want to own or be owned.
It’s a funny thing. I thought I had put my mojo on hold a long time ago. In fact, mojo mold was spreading rapidly. Good riddance, I was done with wanting anything from a man. But while treading, I’m salivating up a storm, and filming all sorts of hot takes in my own personal porno flick. It’s only a movie, a fantasy. I crash, head first, down to Earth. I’ve never learned the intricate art of flirting. And, I’m not as liberated as I should be. The ’70s taught women how to get out of the kitchen but not how to ask for what they need in the bedroom. I’m not one of the new feline class of cats that assertively hunts to satisfy their hunger. These predatory goddesses are made to conquer and topple timid males. I’m shy, short on feminine wiles and oddly off balance in my New Balance shoes.
My fear and fancy are mixed together in a big bowl of mush. I suppose I’ll never know the feel of him next to me — what’s it’s like to have his arm draped across my bare body. I’ll never know the salty scent of the man before he jumps into the shower. (He emerges with hair carelessly tousled, just a hint of aftershave and wrapped in a fresh white towel.) I’ll never know the ache of smoldering passion as he spots me in a crowded room, nodding recognition, then taking my hand and whispering, “You look incredible tonight.”
But what if he did ask? What if he approached me and said, “You and yes?” Would I remember how to respond? It’s been 20 years of marriage and martyrdom, and I still feel like I’m hanging on the cross waiting for my divorce lawyer to pry the nails out.
The no-risk consolation prize is that this man will always be perfectly mine. He will never stray or disappoint. He will never grow tired of me and ask for a newer model. He will never say the wrong thing or give me a bum birthday present. He will hold me in those massive arms and tell me I’m beautiful and funny and smart and that I should never, ever change because I’m just exactly what the gods ordered.
The king is close. I feel his divine warmth as he passes. Pheromones are at a fever pitch, and I nearly slip off the treadmill. Is that a smile on his lips? Is he appraising my doe-like darts and dodges? But no, he has sought out the young blonde lounging on the chest press machine. Taut body, no laugh lines, perfect tendrils spilling down her back, and she is what all the men want. He says, “Hey, honey. How’s my girl?” I bite my tongue, taken aback by this corny line, so unworthy of the God of Mount Elliptical. She says, “Hey dad. Thanks for coming to get me.”
And, I’m off again, sprinting at the sound of a long shot. Daydreams, it seems, have definite advantages. No gain but no pain either, and a girl can always hope. Hope is a powerful aphrodisiac. Especially on those nights when King Titan is fantasy fodder and Prince Rabbit is just a hair’s breadth away, ready and waiting in the nearby nightstand.
— Wendy Schmidt
Wendy Schmidt, a native of Wisconsin, has written short stories and poetry for the last 10 years. Her pieces have been published in Strange, Weird and Wonderful, Daily Flash 2012, Three Line Poetry, Tainted Tea, Fear and Trembling,Verse Wisconsin, One Million Stories and Twisted Dreams, Taste Like Pennies Anthology and Haunted Object Anthology.