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The Climacteric

Skin deep

A few years back, in a mindless stupor, I had profiles of the Golden Girls tattooed on my lower back. Though I still watch and appreciate, what sometimes feels like season-long, nightly reruns on the Hallmark Channel, I have regretted getting the tattoo. As I’ve aged, the skin of my lower back has lost tautness and is showered in age spots. The poor Golden Girls have evolved into some kind of unrecognizable sludge funneling down into my buttcrack.

And because I abhor chest hair, especially when it peeks out over the collar of my shirt, I’ve been shaving my chest since I was 16, and now because of that my chest skin looks like a plucked chicken. I’ve also had a recurring duel with acne, since puberty through to this day, that requires a medicine cabinet-full of weaponary including overly priced hypoallergenic, fragrance-free creams and cleansers. Not to mention the foods that I’m forced to pass by in a grocery store without a second glance: olives, pickles, potato chips, bacon, nuts, soda and dairy products (including soy-based). I’m forced to buy fragrance-free laundry detergent and water-softening agents, and forced to cover my face with a veil when I go out on sunny days … OK, that’s an exaggeration. Yet, needless to say, grocery shopping is a constant reminder of my many, many physical faults.

That is, until recently.

The other day, while waist-deep, in a grocery-store shelf unburying the last bottle of soap-free, dye-free, fragrance-free and hypoallergenic Aveeno body wash, a masculine voice hinted with playfulness asked, “Are you OK down there?”

The sheer beauty in the connotation made my body jerk upright, the top of my head slamming against the shelf above and disrupting rows and rows of skincare products.

Rubbing the top of my head, and flushed with embarrassment, I emerged with bottle in-hand. “Uumm, yes, I’m all right. Just on a little fishing expedition.” I waved the bottle in my hand like it was a trophy.

The man behind the playful, masculine voice was stunning. A couple inches taller than I, hazel-burnt eyes, robust lips and the smoothest facial skin I had ever encountered. My mind immediately flashed to me licking his face … it was startling.

“Are you sure you’re OK,” he asked again, “you look like you’ve just been slapped?”

“Uh, I’m sorry … this situation is making me feel a little ridiculous.”

“It shouldn’t.” He consoled with such expertise that I want to nestle my head in the crook of his neck.

That’s when I noticed a nest of blond chest hair poking out from under is collar. And that’s when I realized, to my dismay, that I found it sexy on him.

“I like a guy who’d go to any length to get what he wants,” he said with a brilliant smile.

I suddenly found myself wanting to lick the whitest set of teeth on earth.

The rush of emotions stammered me. Shit Tommy, you’re not a labrador, I scolded myself.

“Uh, thanks. I better be going.” I dropped the body wash in the cart and pushed off.

“Hold on a second,” he demanded in an easily succumbing tone.

I abruptly stopped, turned to him and lied, “Look, I don’t think this is such a good idea.”

“Well, if you’re referring to you buying my groceries, I would have to agree.” He smiled at my confused expression. “You’re taking off with my cart.”

With what little dignity I had left to muster up, I turned his cart around, gave him a weak smile and apologized.

“I couldn’t help but notice that we buy a lot of similar things,” he said, trying to keep up the conversation.

“Well, that’s probably why I thought your basket was mine,” I replied.

“Sure, probably.” The disagreement in his voice made me crack a smile.

“Wow, you have an incredible smile.”

Oh gag! “Thanks.”

“Sure, but it didn’t really deserve gratitude, I was plainly stating a fact.”

I felt my knees give out a little, then an unusually pleasant moment passed between us.

“My name’s Charlie,” he finally introduced, offering a hand.

“Tommy,” I returned, the touch of his hand as soft as his face.

After some charismatic goading, I finally accepted a date for later that evening. He picked me up at my loft in a silver Acura, an older model, but obviously well-maintained. He suggested going for ice cream.

“I really shouldn’t have anything with dairy,” I said.

“Oh, you’re allergic,” he stated matter-of-factly.

“Well, it tends to make me break out,” I replied, shocked at how comfortable I felt admitting it.

“Really, that’s so weird.”

“How so?”

“I have a long list of things that make me break out,” he said. “Things I try really hard to stay away from, including dairy.”

“Then why suggest ice cream?”
“I think it’s a great first-date thing to do and it’s worth taking the hit for you.”
Is this guy for real … I sure as hell hope so.
“But your skin is so clear and smooth and young looking.”
He gave me a quizzical look and said, “You sounded astonished just now when you said young looking,” he said. “How old do you think I am?”
I felt the comfort level start to drop.
“Oh, I don’t know … I guess I’m just assuming you’re around my age.”
“Well, how old are you?”
“I’m forty-one,” I replied.
“I’m twenty-eight.”
“Oh jesus …”
“What? I’m attracted to older men.”
“But I’m thirteen years older, that’s a pretty big range.”
“Age doesn’t matter to me, it’s only skin deep. I see much more than age in you, things that I have a feeling I will really like.”
Oh boy, this guy is as smooth as his skin. I have a feeling I’m going to get myself into trouble.

About the author

A.E. Storm

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