Working on Sunday mornings was never any fun. Working on a beautiful Sunday morning in June, the day after your birthday was probably the least fun of all. I was not only a year older, I was also dressed in the green double knit pants and tan cotton shirt that made me look about two inches wider in the ass and two smaller in the chest.
No woman needed two more inches of ass and two less of boobs, no matter who she was. Okay, I wasn't exactly the perfect height / weight ratio to begin with, so on me the park ranger's uniform really looked awful. It was the kind of uniform that went perfectly with the kind of dorky job, a plain Jane woman like me ends up with.
A woman like me; who had been divorced for the last three years, with two kids. Also one with an ex husband who was about half worthless. He worked enough to pay his rent, but not enough it seemed to keep his child support current.
"Sarah, you cannot depend on that piece of shit you were married to," My Uncle John had said after the very first divorce hearing. "You need to talk to your daddy, it's time to make peace. Let him say I told you so, then let him be, daddy again."
"Uncle John you know he hasn't spoken to me since I married Eddie; and that has been 12 years," I said.
"That isn't true at all," Uncle John said,
"Uncle John, Mama spoke to me and the kids, daddy ignored us," I said. "After Mom passed last year, we haven't seen each other."
"It's time to stop the stupid shit. You need each other and deep down you both know it." He threw up his hands and left me standing on the terrazzo floor of the courthouse hallway.
He made it three or four steps before he turned and added, "Nobody said being Wyatt Earp's Daughter was going to be easy."
My daddy's name was Keith Earp not Wyatt. He was the County Sheriff though. Then again it was a poor county, so there wasn't a lot of competition for the job.
When I stopped by his office on the way out of the courthouse, he was glad to see me. At least that is what he said. "So is the hearing finished?" he asked trying to restrain himself and not say too much.
"Yes, I am a free woman now," I said sarcastically. "As much as I can be, with two teenage children."
"So how does that feel?" he asked.
"Some things have felt a lot better, but a lot of things have felt some worse," I said trying to be serious without also being depressing.
"So are you going to be okay?" Daddy asked.
"I honestly don't know dad? I need a better job for sure. I don't think I can depend on Eddie to take care of us." I said.
"Would you allow me to make a suggestion?" Daddy asked seriously and yet still trying not to be overbearing.
"Of course not; at least not as long as you don't get pissed, if I don't take your advice." I said and he grinned.
The advice had been this job as city park ranger. It was a job that was far from perfect, but it paid pretty well. It had regular hours, and the kids could visit me on the job. I worked 14 hour shifts Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I joked that it was a lot like an ER nurse, except that it was to save trees and ducks, not people.
I had been divorced for three years on that Sunday morning, and a park ranger for the same amount of time. Three years before that Sunday morning my father and I had made a shaky peace, we had managed to forgive each other. He really still didn't like how I lived my life, but he was more than willing to let me live it.
After that first coming together moment in the courthouse I was in for a lot more surprises and compromises. I found almost immediately that a 35 year old divorced woman with very little experience, with men or life, was sitting at the bottom of a steep learning curve. My first date after the divorce was a real example of how little I knew about life or men.
Of course I was a wreck after the divorce. Since Eddie left me for a much younger woman, I was a mess. I also was 35 pounds overweight so that was in the back of my mind as well. All that had me thinking much less than crystal clear, when Michael asked me to the movies.
"So, Ms. Trainer would you like to go to a midnight movie on campus," Michael asked. I had known Michael for years; he was one of my friend Evelyn's children.
"Your mother is my very good friend Michael. I am not about to go out with you, even if it is harmless," I said.
"Come on Ms. Trainer please, I have to go see 'Rocky Horror Show the Movie' for a class. If you don't agree, I'll be the only one without a date. Take pity on me," he said. He seemed very sincere, so I waivered.
I admit that I was flattered, especially since I had been left very insecure by the divorce. It also sounded like fun. Being around kids, that weren't mine, honestly did sound fun.
"If anyone finds out, we will both be in trouble," I said giving in finally. It took him more effort than this little narrative shows, but in the end I relented.
"It's a college movie in the student union. Not only that it's a midnight show. No one is going to know." he said convincingly.
"And this is just a movie, nothing more?" I asked just to be sure it wasn't some kind of trick. He was younger, but he was still a man. His penis was his motivational tool.
"I promise just a movie," he said smiling.
My daughter was 13 and my son was 12 at the time. Even at 20, Michael was way too close in age for comfort. Still there was something exciting about the wrongness of it all. I was sure that I could keep control of the younger man.
When that Saturday night arrived, the kids were with their father for the weekend, so I had the house to myself after work. I arrived home from the new job in time to take a shower and dress for the evening ahead. Since I could remember college I dressed in jeans and a knit top. Over that I wore a nylon parka with a thermal lining. I was dressed warm just in case the theater was cold. Many movie theaters are cold for some reason, I though. There is nothing more miserable than an hour and half of shivering.
Back in the present that early Sunday morning found me on the sign in desk inside the office of the city park. Most of the time all I had to do was remember and then try to make peace with my past. Starting at the beginning of my new life was my new plan. The plan was meant to help me understand what was going on with me at that moment and come to terms with it.
The kids were with their dad on the weekend of my date with Michael three years earlier. He showed up at 10PM just as we had agreed. With the movie starting at midnight, our plan was to go for pizza first. That being the case, I hadn't eaten after work. By ten I was feeling pretty hungry. Had he not arrived on time, he would have found me munching on a sandwich of some kind.
Since he was on time, 10:30 PM found me sitting at Sal's Pizza and Pasta Shoppe across from the college. Sal's had been there from the very early days, so the college seemed to be more or less built around Sal's. It was kind of an institution in my hometown.
I enjoyed the pizza, even though the sly glances of the people around me were a little distracting. They were mostly young college age couples out for the evening. The men seemed to be ranking me on some grading scale known only to themselves. The women on the other hand were showing open signs of disapproval. I could have told them that I was Michael's mother and it was a pity date. I wondered if boys ever took their lonely divorced moms on dates.
With the parka off, the guys could see I had slightly less than average sized boobs, and when I stood to go to the lady's room, they could tell my ass was a little wide. With me as his date I doubted that Michael would raise any in the standings of his peers. It had been his choice to 'mommy date' me, I told myself.
The pizza was good and the coffee was delicious. I had enjoyed dinner without my constantly arguing teenagers along. At the time Cindy and Charlie had just one argument but it ran nonstop from sunrise, until they were safely tucked into bed. I reminded myself daily that their lives were difficult, which was the only thing that prevented me from smothering them in their sleep.
"We should leave," Michael suggested after almost an hour in the restaurant.
"Sure, while you settle the bill, I will go to the lady's room again," I slipped him a ten dollar bill as I stood. He tried to refuse, but I whispered. "You are going to make a scene, and it will only be worse. It's just for my half; I'm not paying for you." I smiled as he sheepishly accepted the bill.
We were seated in the College Amphitheater waiting for the movie to start when I had the first warm flash. I should have known something wasn't right, but I didn't feel sick, just a little flushed. I could tell that I was also covered with a thin layer of perspiration.
"Are you okay?" Michael asked but he didn't seem more than mildly curious.
"I'm fine I think. It was probably just a hot flash. Us old ladies get them now and then," I replied. As soon as the lights went down it seemed to pass or maybe I just accepted the slightly warm state as my new normal condition. Either way it was at the same time that Michael's arm went around me, it seemed to be no big deal at the time.
.... There is more of this story ...