Leah Gold brought her BMW to a screeching halt in the driveway, piercing the perfect stillness of her suburban South Florida neighborhood at almost 2 a.m. The click clack of her high-heel sandals echoed her brisk steps on the neatly landscaped stone walk leading to her townhouse.
After slamming the front door with a might that belied her petite frame, she kicked off her shoes and stripped, scooping up her garments without losing any momentum as she stomped down the hallway toward the spiral stairway.
None of her temper-tantrum antics were helping. She was still furious. At the top of the stairs, she stopped and leaned over the railing, yelling to an imagined audience in the living room below, “Fucking assholes! Men are such fucking assholes!”
With 1,200 square feet of marble floor, no carpet and barely any furniture to absorb the sound, her words spilled from the second-floor landing, hit the ground floor and reverberated back around her. She laughed wildly, but didn’t feel better as she continued into her bedroom.
Glancing across the hall to her daughter’s room, Leah felt momentary relief that Ali was sleeping at a friend’s house. That girl could read her like a book, no matter how hard she tried to disguise her feelings and Leah was grateful that tonight she didn’t have to try.
Throwing herself face down on her canopied bed, Leah swept aside the carefully placed decorative pillows and lace adornments as she stretched across the bed to pull her journal and favorite purple pen from the nightstand drawer. She began furiously pouring out her vengeance onto the page, stopping only briefly to impatiently push back her wavy blonde hair, which kept falling against her face as she bent her head down, intently focused on her writing.
June 14 2:13 a.m.
Pond Scum. Men are Pond Scum. We want to believe differently because we cannot reconcile the truth about them with our values—but the fact is: Men are pond scum, the lowest form of life in the universe.
My brother tried to warn me when I was 13, but I didn’t believe him. I still denied it even at 18, 25, 42—until now. It’s time I accept the truth and learn to use it to MY advantage.
Too bad I’m not a lesbian. Women are a much higher life form.
Pond scum. What a fucking bunch of assholes. How did I get so lucky to collect so many? Must be some inner talent or perhaps self-destructive tendency.
Just remember the next time you think you’ve met a nice guy: There are NONE! They’re ALL pond scum.
Her anger only slightly abated, Leah sat up and glared into the long oval vanity mirror across from her bed. “What is wrong with me, anyway? Why can’t I get a guy to commit?”
Her reflected image and those words brought her instantly back thirty-five years to the fifteen-year-old insecure teen who spent hours in front of the mirror, constantly inspecting herself and wondering why boys didn’t like her or ask her to parties, and why they always seemed to like her friends better.
All these years and nothing had changed, she thought. She ran her fingers through her hair. She even still wore her hair the same way except that now she had to touch up the color, a process she started when the gray hair began to appear. Her fingers traced the curve of her face and traveled down to her breast and hip. Of course, now there were a few more facial lines and certain body parts sagged slightly where they once stood firm.
Leah studied the full length of her naked body. At fifty she was still about the same size and weight she’d been at fifteen. “Why am I still comparing myself to other women and wondering why men don’t want me? Something’s wrong here and it must be with me.”
Staring at her reflection revealed no clues as to what that something was. She looked into her eyes, so blue they stood out even from across the room. She shook her head and scolded her reflection; “There’s nothing wrong with me. Any of those assholes would be lucky to have a woman like me—good looking, trim, smart, independent and sexy.”
She made a face at herself and continued her journal entry.
Men are the problem. Men love to be seen with me, like I’m some sort of prize. But as soon as it becomes apparent that I’m not just going to be a background figure to boost their male egos, I get the boot. A strong woman intimidates them. You’re a tough broad, they tell me. Well, screw them. “Tough” because I have my own mind and have more to say and do than stroke their already inflated egos? Why can’t men accept women as intellectual equals?
But, that’s not my real problem. My problem is that I continue to believe that somewhere out there is a man who is different. My Prince Charming, my Edward, a man who would give up the throne of England to marry me, the woman he loved.
Go ahead and kiss all the frogs you want, Leah. There are no princes, only toads. Waiting for the perfect guy is like waiting for Godot. Absurd.
Closing the journal, Leah thoughtfully stroked the soft suede cover like a favorite pet. She tried not to think the unsettling thoughts she dared never speak aloud, or even write about in her journal. Putting her fears into spoken or written words might give them validity. She placed her treasured notebook and pen back in the drawer and turned off the lamp.
As usual, the darkness only increased the unnamed apprehension that haunted her. Sometimes, she’d toss and turn with growing uneasiness until she jumped from the bed trying to escape her torment. Many nights she’d wake drenched in sweat, unable to shake the terror until daylight came and forced the dark thoughts to subside.
She felt the familiar gnawing in her stomach, constriction in her chest and nausea increasing. Leah closed her eyes. “Go away,” she whispered to her demons. “This night has been bad enough already.”
She reached back into her nightstand drawer, but this time she placed her hand on her vibrator. She leaned back, barely making an indentation in the high pile of soft feather pillows. Pushing her hair off her face, she wiped her tears and let herself concentrate instead on the steady whir and pleasant pulsation between her legs. She moaned as her pleasure escalated and she began rocking the bed with her own vibrations until she fell asleep, exhausted.