“Were we ever that young?” Margie nudged me with her elbow and I looked away from the camera feed to the three twenty-somethings inside the store.
I took in their painted on jeans and leggings, the tops that showed off their navels.
“I don’t think so,” I said with a sigh. I definitely had missed the phase that involved driving around with gorgeous men at 11pm on a Sunday night. The men were out by the car, waiting for the women to finish browsing.
“Two boys and three girls.” Margie wiggled her eyebrows at me. “Could be a ménage,” she whispered.
“Geez Margie.” I shook my head at her. I really shouldn’t be surprised. “How do you know about ménages. No wait,” I hurried to say when she opened her mouth to answer. “I don’t think I want to know.”
“I read. A lot,” she said with an eyebrow wiggle. The young women came over with their selections and we killed a couple of minutes serving them.
It was a nice change sharing part of my shift with Margie. I was usually paired with an older man named Duncan, he worked 6pm – 2am so we had a 4 hour overlap. Then I was on my own for a couple of hours as it was generally pretty quiet then. The day shift came in at 4am though as Margie was a great boss, her employee’s safety just as important as making money.
We watched as the group got into the car and drove off much too fast, then I went and straightened up the magazines they had looked at and did a circuit of the store before going back to join Margie.
“You’re quiet tonight Lil,” she said as I perched on the stool beside hers.
“Just tired.” I shrugged. “My sleeping pattern gets messed up on the weekend.”
“So nothing to do with the handsome man in the classic car then?” She asked it so casually it took a moment to sink in.
“Handsome man?” I repeated with a smirk knowing that Margie’s son would not have said that.
“Sounds better than ‘bro in a classic car’,” she mimicked her son’s deeper voice badly. “So who was it?”
An email was one thing but I couldn’t lie to her face. “Just someone I knew once,” I said vaguely because I really didn’t know how to explain Tyler.
“Are you trying to sound mysterious Lily?” Margie said sceptically and when I only shrugged in reply she gaped at me.
“I just … don’t know what to say really,” I said with a choked laugh.
“Remember I said I read a lot?” She asked me with a thoughtful look.
“There’s no ménage happening so I don’t think that will be of much use.”
“Funny girl.” Her tone said otherwise. “What I meant is, I’ve read so many variations on relationships, the conflicts and problems. What ever yours is, I’m sure we can solve it,” Margie said confidently.
We heard the roar of engines before we saw the bikes roll in to the pumps and I breathed a sigh of relief. I watched as Margie flirted with a couple of the riders, big and bearded men who flirted right back. After they left I glared at her.
“What would your husband say?” I chided.
“I was just being friendly,” she defended herself. “It’s called good customer service. Anyway, don’t change the subject, we were talking about you.” She crossed her arms and gave me a look. “Come on, spill.”
“He’s just … someone I thought something might happen with, you know, later,” I said finally.
Margie stared at me then blinked a couple of times. “That’s um, so very concise Lil.” She spread her hands wide and shrugged. “Can I buy a clue?”
“I don’t have any time in my life for a man,” I said, my voice heavy with frustration. “I don’t have anything to give Margie. I’m either working or with my boys and the whole time I’m worrying about the future.”
“So you’d like to have time for this man then?”
“Of course,” I said because who wouldn’t. “Well I think so, I don’t know him that well,” I added since I was being honest.
“He came here looking for you?” Margie frowned at me.
“No, he was surprised to see me here. I haven’t contacted him since, well it’s been a few months,” I admitted.
“So back when you were sorting out things with Paul?” Margie knew some of the gritty details of my separation.
“Yeah.” I nodded.
“Okay, so he came in and saw you then came back and waited to talk to you,” she muttered looking thoughtful. Then she looked at me and smiled. “He’s keen, you’re keen, I say go for it.”
I was speechless for a moment, just staring at her. “It’s not that simple Margie,” I said at last.
“Sure it is hon.” She dismissed me with a wave of her hands. “Look, I get that you’re time poor and your situation sucks.”
“Sucks the big one,” I muttered.
“But don’t put your life on hold waiting for things to change Lily. If this man is a good man, he’ll be there for you. If he’s not, then maybe you get some hot sex, a little stress relief.”
“Oh god,” I groaned and buried my face in my hand.
“What?” She gave me a gentle shove and laughed at my reaction. “I have kids, you have kids, safe to say we’ve both had sex.
“Sure,” I mumbled through my hands. “I’m just not used to talking about it.”
“Look, I’m not saying you should just sex him up.” If she only knew! Oblivious to my thoughts, she went on. “Get to know him, maybe go on a date. It would do you good to get out of that house.”
That brought my head up. “A date?” I repeated, horrified. “I don’t know how to go on a date.”
“You know how to eat a meal and have a conversation right because that’s pretty much what a date is,” Margie said logically.
Margie’s words stayed with me through the rest of my shift and on the bus ride home My boys were a distraction with the usual Monday morning chaos but before too long they were off to school, Paul was closed up in his office and I was alone with my thoughts.
Don’t put your life on hold she had said and she was right. I was on hold, in limbo, and in many ways I was scared to move forward. I might not be ready to date but Tyler had asked only to talk. Maybe I could do that. I sent the email right before I went to sleep so at least I wouldn’t sit there staring at the screen, waiting for a reply.
Thanks for both of your emails, I wasn’t upset or offended. I’m actually flattered that you have persisted with me. Let’s face it, I’m a mess! I don’t really know what you want or expect to happen here but I don’t want to shut the door on … well us. What ever that is.
So, to answer some of your questions, easy ones first …
Yes that’s my shift. 10pm – 6am, 6 days a week. I don’t work Saturday nights.
I don’t drive home because I don’t have a car.
No rings is a sign of progress, you’re right there. It’s only a few months now until my divorce will be final.
The only people I’m seeing are my kids. They and work take up all of my time.
The other questions, maybe will get answered another time. For now, if you’re interested, I’m open to talking. Or emailing as the case may be since my hours are so crazy.
Can we try to get to know one another here please? Maybe build to that breakfast? Let me know what you think?