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  The Day I Understood Little Red Sports Cars  

his is my dirty little secret. This is not for my husband or in-laws to read. This is not for anyone to read. This is my confessional. It has to do with illicit fantasies and surges of unaccustomed energy. It has to do with outstripping one’s own perceived limitations.

It has to do with being 41, a mother of two, a professional with a regular office job. I pay the household bills, I wash the clothes, I make sure the dog gets her medication refilled. And I go through my life with hunched shoulders and low-grade headaches. My mouth is turning solidly into a disapproving smirk, like my mother’s used to do when she felt beleaguered and tense, which was almost always.

It was in this bedraggled state that I was strong-armed into working on the end-of-the-year play at my boys’ elementary school. I had accidentally mentioned to the art teacher that I sometimes design lighting for theatre. Once she knew that, she would hear none of my excuses.

Keith, the other parent commandeered by the play committee, was tan, strong, skillful – and single. He worked with manic inspiration, rocketing on and off the stage, climbing the ladders effortlessly. His energy was contagious. We rigged trusses, we strung cable, we wired dimmers, we created magic. The smell of stage dust on the cables and lights took me back, made me think thoughts I hadn’t had since college. Young thoughts. Wild thoughts. Crazy fun thoughts.

I felt blood circulating through my fingers and muscles. My steps were bouncy and I looked upon the world with a benevolent gaze. I found myself acting with patient sweetness to my children. I even managed to refrain (briefly) from nagging my husband. I could feel my hair growing. Food tasted better than it had in years, but I had lost my appetite.

Now, it is true. There were probably other forces at work besides stage dust. By night my dreams were populated with images of glistening forearms, writhing muscular bodies, dark thrusting impulses. The physicality of the work plus the creative collaboration with Keith put me over the edge. I was taken hostage by my hormones. I looked differently at every man walking on the planet. I was a sexual being and commanded my power with skill.

It was an insanely glorious week.

Everything changed. I was too amped to drive so I walked everywhere, my manic crazed energy propelling me mindlessly through the streets of Pasadena. I grinned and laughed more than I had in years. Inside this sedentary body was a 23 year old, and that person was glorying in her triumph.

But there was danger involved. The crazed hormones kept me awake, working on scenarios that would tap me in like this forever. Now they had gained ascendance, they were reluctant to let me go back.

There was no future for them in paying bills and doing laundry. Oh no. They wanted me to make the leap, join the circus, shake things up for good. Find a muscle man, they urged. You’re a hot babe, they sang to me at night. You’re not getting any younger, they whispered hot against my neck. Now’s the time. Now or never. Do it do it do it do it. . . .

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