"What am I doing?" Bob asked himself, as he drove toward the local community college. It was his first day back in college since 38 years ago. He'd already graduated from the Junior College, but was now taking an adult education course in Beginning Sign Language. This course was necessitated by an inner ear problem that was slowly taking Bob's hearing away. "Better learn it now, while I can still hear the instructor," he thought.
So, Bob parked his car and found the classroom. He was soon delighted when a classmate plopped down in the seat next to him. She was a beautiful coed with long blonde hair, and she had an amazing smile. Bob also couldn't help noticing she filled out her sweater and jeans very nicely, too. When she spoke, Bob was mesmerized by her accent. She introduced herself to him as Sonya Kovalchuk.
Before class, Bob had time to find out Sonya was 20 years old and visiting for a year from Vladivostok, in eastern Russia. That explained her accent! Bob thought back to many years ago when he studied a little Russian and said to Sonya, "dobriy vyecher. kak dela?" (good evening. how are you?). He knew his little thoughtfulness had the desired effect when Sonya flashed her smile at him.
Then class started. Bob had a tough time picking up the signs he was learning, but then again, so was most of the class. He figured in 12 weeks he would at least have a basic understanding of American Sign Language (ASL).
When Bob arrived home that evening his wife, Belinda Goodman, was already asleep. "Just as well", Bob mumbled to himself. He and Belinda had been married for over 32 years, but spent the last 15 years living as roommates. Bob wasn't happy about this arrangement, but what could he do? Belinda just seemed to lose any intimate feelings in him, and she seemed to have no interest in rekindling it. Bob still loved her. She was still very attractive at 5'2" and 118 pounds with smiling "half moon" eyes that had attracted him so many years ago. Belinda even had the same light brown hair color, although now she had assistance from a bottle in maintaining the color.
Another problem with his marriage was a little female 6 year old, 6 pound gray toy poodle Bob had named Velcro. Velcro was very friendly, but had a very close bond with Belinda. Bob had named the dog referring to the way she was almost permanently attached to Belinda's shoulder. He even joked of how Belinda would take her dog for a "carry", rather than a walk. More than once Bob had attempted to kiss his wife, but before their lips could meet, a little doggie nose was in between them. Velcro had effectively taken any possible free time from the "happy" couple.
So, the morning after Bob's first sign language class he was all excited to tell Belinda about it. When they met at the breakfast table, Belinda asked how the class went. She then walked out of the room calling back, "that's nice" as she went about getting ready for work. Belinda was an administrative assistant at a local lawyer's office. Bob didn't know anything more than that about her work, and to be honest, he didn't really care.
Bob tried to practice his sign language lessons all week. He thought it would be easier to have a study partner, so he could practice both signing and reading the signs. Belinda couldn't be bothered. She didn't have time for such foolishness. Surely Bob could learn his lessons without annoying her.
When time for the next class arrived, Bob had an idea. He arrived early for class and waited. When Sonya arrived, Bob took the opportunity to again greet her in Russian. Sonya appreciated the little gesture, and again flashed her dazzling smile. They chatted quietly while classmates arrived and quickly became friends. During the mid-class break Bob finally presented Sonya with his idea. "Would you be my study partner?" Sonya thought it was a great idea. She, too, wanted somebody with whom to practice her signing. They agreed to study and practice two days each week.
"Who knew signing could be such fun." Bob thought. He and Sonya both picked up sign language quickly. They signed instead of talking whenever they were together, finger spelling any words they didn't know, and looking them up later.
The lessons started to get boring, so Bob and Sonya just chatted about anything and everything such as themselves, friends, and the differences in their home countries. They talked non-stop, but never said a word. Signing was becoming easier and easier to them, and Bob was becoming a very happy man.
Although it was inevitable, Bob's happiness came to a sudden end. His sign language class was nearly finished. Sonya pushed Bob further toward depression when she announced her visa was soon expiring, and she would be returning to Russia.
Sonya left Bob with a ray of hope. She had e-mail. Bob could keep in touch with his new friend, even if she was in a time zone fifteen hours away. Sonya also delighted him with the news that she hoped to return to the US in the future to live permanently.
Before he said goodbye to Sonya at their last class, Bob gave her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. He also made sure to exchange contact information with her.
A month had passed since Sonya had returned to Russia, and Bob was again lonely. He decided to try to put some spark back into his marriage. But how?
The next day, a Friday, Bob raced home from work, showered, shaved, and changed clothes before Belinda got home. He met her at the door, and told her he wanted to take her out for dinner and maybe dancing afterward. Belinda shook her head and said, "How 'bout we just get a pizza out of the freezer? I'm too tired to go out tonight."
Saturday morning Bob approached his wife saying, "Let's go to an early movie and then lunch!" Belinda said, "I'm going to go to an aerobics class, but you can go." Bob tried again, "Maybe we can go ice skating this evening or even tomorrow afternoon?" His wife shot him down again. "I don't like to go skating on Saturday evening; it's too crowded. And I want to go visit my mother tomorrow."
Bob's heart sank. He actually chuckled a bit under his breath as he realized, "I'm trying to get lucky with my own wife, and I can't even get her to go out on a date with me!"
Bob sat down and started up his computer. "This is one friend that is always ready to spend time with me", he thought. Bob brought up his e-mail, and there it was ... an e-mail from his favorite Russian cutie. Sonya even had some good news. She hoped to return to the US by next year, and maybe even right after she finished school in only four months.
Sonya tempered Bob's excitement just a bit with a concern. She would only be able to get a visa for one year, and that would make it difficult for her to find a good job for such a short period of time. Bob told her not to worry; things would work out.
The good news put a smile back on Bob's face. He felt so good, he decided to try again with his wife. Bob quickly lost his smile after getting turned down yet again, he finally asked Belinda why she was so distant from him and if she still loved him. Belinda confessed that while she still loved Bob, she wasn't "in love" with him anymore. She further explained that when people were married as long as they had been, they ceased to be lovers and became housemates.
Bob couldn't believe what Belinda was telling him. "Nobody ever told me that before. Was that part of the wedding vows I missed? I don't want to be a monk!" Bob was incensed.
Belinda was never one to back down from a fight either. "Well, I'm telling you NOW! Why don't you just get a girlfriend and leave me alone?" She then turned on her heels and left the room in a huff.
Did Bob hear that right? Surely his wife didn't tell him to get a girlfriend. Bob just stood there wide eyed with his mouth hanging open for what seemed to be an hour, but was probably only a few minutes. Bob had never been unfaithful, nor had he even considered cheating on his wife. He just sat down in a chair and stared at nothing for a long time.
A couple hours later Bob got up and found Belinda sitting at the dining room table not drinking the cup of tea in her hand. Her eyes were glazed over, apparently deep in thought, with streaks of tears running down her face.
Bob quietly approached her and asked, "you weren't serious about me finding a girlfriend, were you?"
Belinda kept staring straight ahead but said calmly, "Yes, I was. I've lost all interest in having an intimate relationship, so if that's what you want, you should just find a girlfriend."
Bob couldn't believe what his wife told him. Could he do as she suggested? He just decided to do nothing different, and see what happened with Belinda. She probably only said that in the heat of the moment, and tomorrow things would be back to normal, so to speak.
"Guess what!" said Sonya's e-mail to Bob. "I'm getting my Green Card! I was selected in the lottery!" Sonya and Bob were both ecstatic. Sonya was going to be moving to the US after she finished her classes in just a few months. The e-mail then showed a definite change of moods. "Now I need to find work and a place to live."
After the big blow up, conditions between Bob and Belinda were greatly improved. They actually started talking to each other without fighting. Maybe Belinda had been right. After all the years of being married, they were now housemates and, surprisingly, friends. Neither wanted a divorce, but Belinda had not changed her mind; Bob was welcome to find a girlfriend.
Tear Jerker /