Leave it. The shovel stands against the door, dripping. The cat licks at it, though her water bowl is only feet away. Kick off your soggy shoes. Resolve to find your winter boots. For no particular audience, begin.
The unsexy strip-tease. Peel the gloves off with your teeth but note that this only leaves little black wool balls on your tongue. The houndstooth coat, hat, and scarf get hung on the vacuum. You look back and realize it's a bit like a scarecrow....a half-stuffed scarecrow, and the vacuum looked better than you did.
The cold huffs against the glass. Steamylike. Truthfully, it weeps. Condensation. Dense. Problematic as the upstairs neighbor who took a liking to you. At first you talked to him because you hadn't talked to anyone all day. You were scared you were going to start talking to the cat. You made small talk. You found yourself saying your boyfriend wouldn't be home for another two weeks and then scared that you did so. He said he was a student taking journalism classes, and having nothing better to say, you said you were an English teacher. You could see his eyes light up. He asked if you'd published. A poetry book. Does that count? He said he wrote Romantic Sci-Fi, and he emphasized Romantic, and you felt a little nauseous, though it could have been the peanut butter and cranberry sauce sandwich you ate before you went out to shovel.
You are polite, and say, "Well, publishing is publishing." And before you know it, he's taken the stairs by two or three, has disappeared into his surely dungeonous apartment, and is back just as quickly with a copy of The Book. He suggests that he shovel while you read his book. You say, "No, I'll keep shoveling." So he opens it and reads about human slavery. He skips a part and mumbles something. You are sure he said the word "sexy," and you know one of two things is true:
1) He stopped reading because he'd reached a part he thought was too sexy or
2) He thought reading aloud to you was sexy.
You dig deep, putting more into the shovel than your back would like you to. You are fat, and your body likes you to take things slowly, if at all, when it comes to exercise. He asks if you are in a writing group, and without waiting, he tells you that HE is in a writing group that meets Saturdays at a local coffee shop. You keep shoveling and remark that writing groups are like book groups...that they end before they start because no one can commit. And then you think you just said something that sounds like you're talking about a relationship.
You are now at least 20 feet away from him. You're shoveling like you've never shoveled before: head down, shoulder literally to some sort of grindstone. You are moving that snow, by God. You think you might be bent in half. You are a woman warrior. Bad Ass. If he touched you right now, you'd rip off his head and shit down his sci-fi writing neck. You know that you should feel sorry for him because he's wearing a jean jacket, and the bottoms of his jeans are flannel like a jean/pajama combo, but instead you feel creeped out. Invaded.
But your only violence is verbal. You will stop this flirting he's doing by mentioning your boyfriend approximately 30 times in the space of 30 seconds. You're not quite sure how you managed to cram in all those mentions. You said something like, "Mike is in Connecticut, but boy he calls me day and night. Mike will be home soon. Mike loves the snow. Mike hates to shovel. Mike will be glad to get home to US--the kitty and me. Mike sure is a big bruiser. I will be glad to be in Mike's big muscular arms--I think Mike said he killed a man just for looking at him wrong. I think Mike said that once. "
But this guy's is MORE verbally violent. He says, "Isn't he like TWENTY-FIVE?" And he sort of hisses it, and it wriggles up my pant leg and bites me on my ass.
"Yesssssss," I hiss back, but it's not a comeback.
"So you're a cougar?"
And before I can say anything, Creepy Upstairs Neighbor Sci-Fi writer goes upstairs, and I'm left in the cold, with another half of the driveway to shovel. So what's a girl to do? She comes inside and takes the only antidote she can. She turns on some Black Keys. She peels down to nothing but skin. She's not a bubble bath kind of girl. She's a water-so-hot-it-nearly-scalds-you kind of girl. She's a get-in-before-the-water's-finished-running kind of girl. She's a fuck-you-age-doesn't-matter girl.
Okay, as pointed out earlier, she's not a girl at all. She's 100% all-natural, "bring home the bacon, fry it in the pan....I'm gonna show you how to be a man" woman. And this woman is slippery when wet and washing away winter. A bath a day keeps the rude neighbor away, and hopefully it will speed the clock until her "boy" is home.