Not the Gal He Married

By Linda O'Connell

Much like the first year of marriage, the first year of retirement can be stressful as partners adjust to their new arrangement. Add a menopausal woman and a broken thermostat (mine, not the furnace’s) to the equation and life can be a blast.

My husband is now aware that I’m not the gal he married. I’m using night cream in the daytime to hide the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. My self-confidence, weight and forgetfulness have increased, and the only firm thing on me is my hairspray. My brain is on a 30 second (and sometimes a 30 minute) delay when trying to retrieve common words that I have used for more than half a century. Yet I am not dreading my second coming of age. I have developed a newfound self-confidence. Unabashedly, I speak my mind and express opinions. Just this morning, my husband bore the brunt.

“You act like a big clown! Why can’t you just tell it the way it is?” I made direct eye contact with the youthful newscaster as I sipped my coffee. Bill gazed at me in stunned silence.

“Do you think he can actually hear you?” He shook his head in disbelief.

“Well, those kids have no idea how to report the news; they want to tease us with tidbits and entertain!” I said. I went off to get ready for work, and then I went off on another tangent.

“For the last week you’ve been absolutely useless!” I bellowed from the laundry room.

“Are you talking to me?” Bill asked.

“Why do I keep you around?” I hissed at the sometimes-steam iron. I walked to the fridge, opened the door and spoke into the cavern, “Now what am I looking for?”

“Lunch?” the retiree quizzed.

“Can you sputter a little more?” I snipped at the mustard bottle.

“I didn’t stutter,” replied my hard-of-hearing husband. I smiled at him. I went into the study and ranted, “What is wrong with you? I don’t expect much. Why won’t you just cooperate with me?”

“Who? Me?” Bill poked his head in and raised his eyebrows as I flipped off the malfunctioning computer.

“No honey,” I assured him. “I can’t get my e-mail, and it’s so hot in this house.” I brushed past in a rush, flinging perspiration off my brow.

“Where are you? Where are you now?” I whined as I rummaged about in the kitchen.

“I’m in the study re-booting the computer,” Bill shouted.

“Not you, I’m looking for my car keys.” I searched high and low, muttering at the inanimate objects. My honey sent me off to work with jingling keys, a hug and kiss and this sage advice: “Cool down. (Yeah right!) Try to relax, and have a nice day.”

“Oh come on, come on,” I mumbled at the traffic signal.

“Get it out of your ear!” I hockey-yelled at the driver in front of me as she lollygagged on her cell phone.

“Bill’s right,” I said aloud. “I do have to relax. Life is too short to fret over little things. Man, it’s hot in this car.” The air conditioner blasted air on my flushed face.

I thought ahead to a parent-teacher conference scheduled later in the day.

“Welcome Mrs. So and So,” I rehearsed aloud at the next stop light. “Your child…” I smiled animatedly, and wiped my forehead with a tissue.

That’s when I noticed the man in the car alongside me. He was noticing me. I hit the radio knob and the automatic window button simultaneously. As the window rolled down, I sang at the top of my lungs. When the traffic light changed, I flashed a pumpkin smile at the guy. I’m sure he could see that I was one hot old gal.

My husband says if I continue speaking my mind about everything, to no one in particular, he might find a part-time job.

About this writer

  • Linda O’ConnellLinda O’Connell is a seasoned preschool teacher and award-winning freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri. Her prose and poetry have appeared in books, magazines and anthologies. As Linda waltzed through the decades, she discovered her age of elegance was in her forties, but she isn’t complaining. Life has been an adventure. Linda resides in the Midwest but her heart and soul hang out at the beach.

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