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Scorching Hot Sweetness: The Fence
I woke up that morning soaked in my own sweat looking through my skylight at the blazing sun. The ceiling fan was spinning at full speed, but all it was doing was swirling fiery, thick, desolate air around my bedroom. The blades of the fan made an incessant TICK, TICK, TICK noise. There was also the sound of a bee buzzing around my screen window, and that’s it. There was no other sound. No one was snoring next to me; there was no pitter-patter of little feet. Just me—lying in my bed in near total silence.
When I was younger I thought by now I would have kids, a husband, a white picket fence, dogs, the whole deal, but life had other ideas. I have come to terms with not having children, the lack of a man however, that I haven’t come to terms with yet. I don’t understand guys, I never have. I have been able to attract them easily enough, but I attract the wrong ones. The tough guys, the bad boys, the just plain jerks—I have a lot of them in my wake. But I just can’t find Prince Charming; hell, at this point I’d settle for the Court Jester if he were nice or even funny.
Nice guys are a complete mystery to me. I’ve never really been with a nice guy before (and I probably wouldn’t know what to do with one if I found him!)
The white picket fence, though, that I have.
I bought this house last year and I’ve been fixing it up ever since. I have a lot of ideas of what I want to do with it; it’s just taking longer than I had hoped. On the other hand I’ve been enjoying my weekend trips to Home Depot, the planning, the painting, the scrubbing, the sweat and the slivers. I’ve also enjoyed seeing it come together little by little and watching the spoils of my hard work coalesce.
By the way—Hi! My name is Heather James, I just turned forty-five years old and (as I said) I am single.
That sounds like my introduction to a group for sad, lonely women, I don’t mean it to; it’s simply a fact. I have been in a few serious relationships, or at least I thought I was, the gentleman, however, had another take on it.
My life was somewhat chaotic in my younger days and for awhile it wasn’t looking good for me. But I got my act together, I went back to school (this time to actually study) and I got my Masters degree. I found a good job, I made some great investments (which have really begun to pay off) and things are finally looking up.
I bought this 1950’s Cape Cod (without central air, which now seems like a poor choice) and I view restoring this house as a metaphor for renovating my life.
My current obsession is the backyard. In the front of my house there is a beautiful white picket fence, but in the back there was a broken down, rotted mess of a fence. I had that torn down a week ago and replaced with a fence very much like the one in the front. In the very back, however, I want to plant some Emerald Green Arborvitae trees between my backyard and the Gordon’s yard.
The Gordon’s are nice people, I only know them a little bit, but their son Joe, works at Home Depot. Joe has helped me out a lot in deciding what trees would work best for a fence line, the fact that he happens to live in the house that will have to look at those trees only sweetens the deal.
Let me tell you about Joe. He is nineteen, with piercing blue eyes, perfect skin, a tight young, strong build, thick and curly brownish hair, and a gorgeous smile. And yes, you’re right, I have a bit of a crush on Joe. He is glorious looking and very shy, which in many ways makes him seem even sexier. I’ve seen him working in his backyard a lot and I’ve talked to him several times at the store. I know him much better than I know his parents. Joe is clearly nervous around people, or women maybe, but he is very polite (the way guys are supposed to be) and he is simply the perfect man. I know I know I’m twenty-six years older than he is and I should be ashamed of myself, but hey, shut up!
I’m entitled to a guilty little fantasy, right? It’s not like I’m going to date him or fuck him, but I can dream can’t I?
Long story short when I asked for his opinion about the trees, he suggested the Arborvitae and even offered to help me plant them so I took him up on it. We agreed Saturday around two in the afternoon would be great and he showed up at exactly two o’clock.
“Hey Joe!” I said as he walked into my yard.
“Hi, Ms. James.” He said.
“Nope, the name is Heather and thanks for helping me out today, you’re the best!”
Joe smiled that wonderful smile, “No problem, Heather,” he said looking at me, making sure that using my first name was cool. “I’m glad to help.”
“It’s a hot day,” I said, “Muggy. I’m sorry to make you work outside on such an awful, humid day!”
And it was humid. The thermometer read eighty-nine degrees, but it felt like one hundred and ten!
“No, I don’t mind. I love working outside. This is what I want to do with my life.” Joe said.
“Oh yeah, for my last two years of high tuzla escort school I went to a trade school and got my certificate in agriculture. I’m hoping to get a job with my Uncle’s company landscaping and moving into exterior design, and whatever from there.”
My turn to smile at him, “So you’re the Salt of the Earth type, huh?”
He looked down at the ground sheepishly, “Yeah, I guess.”
I smiled and looked at him for a long moment, longer than I probably should have, “Good looking and likes to work with his hands, you’re a double threat!” I said and he blushed. Then I noticed his attire, he was wearing old, faded jeans that were torn in the knees, boots and an oversized white T-shirt that, in this heat, occasionally clung to him enough to suggest a strong chiseled torso beneath.
“Aren’t you hot?” I asked.
“Well, it’s a hot day.” he said.
“That’s what I mean, aren’t you a little overdressed for a day like this, I mean jeans? It’s sweltering out here! I’m barely wearing anything!” I said and I noticed how his eyes dropped down to look at my clothes.
I was wearing short shorts, sneakers and a tank top. My hair was in a ponytail and that’s it. That’s how I work—no muss no fuss and as comfortable as common decency allows. I modeled a little in my younger days and I’m comfortable with my body.
Joe took a moment to look at my body then his eyes darted away as if he saw something he shouldn’t have. At that moment I remembered I wasn’t wearing a bra. I looked down and noticed I was poking out a little from my tank top (if you know what I mean) and I felt flattered that he had the virtue to look away.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to embarrass you, I just can’t stand being hot and this day is so miserably damp and well . . . bras are uncomfortable, I hope it doesn’t bother you.” I said.
Joe looked like he was almost sick, “No, it doesn’t bother me, I just . . . no, I’m fine.”
I paused. What is that? I wondered. He’s got to be jerking me around, right? Has he been living under a rock his whole life? Is he super religious or something?
Joe suddenly seemed more uncomfortable than was reasonable and I felt like I had said or done something wrong. I became a little self-conscious, which is not my normal sensibility.
“Do you want me to change? I can put something else on if it bothers you?”
He began turning pale; he looked as if her were almost in a panic, “No! I like this!” he gestured down at my chest and then looked me in the eyes again, now in full alarm for being so obvious in looking at my boobs. “I mean . . . I’m sorry, I just . . . oh shit!” Joe said and turned away. Joe closed his eyes and mouth and looked like he might pass out or puke or something.
He was clearly in some kind of distress. I had no idea what was happening and I put my hand around his arm taking a moment to notice how strong and developed his bicep was.
“Joe, Joe relax! What happened? Did I do something wrong?” I asked.
“No, it’s not you, I’m just a fucking Spaz . . . I’m sorry for swearing. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.” He started to walk away, “Maybe you should get somebody else to help . . .”
“Wait! Joe stop!” I said a little too insistent. “Talk to me, tell me what’s wrong? I don’t know what’s happening.”
Joe stopped and really looked upset; he began muttering like crazy, “I’m sorry, I just, I’ve been having some problems lately and I thought I could deal with them, but everything isn’t working—
“What problems?” I asked.
“Nothing I shouldn’t bother you with this but I’m like really nervous around people and I have anxiety around people like women in general and I don’t know what just happened but it made me freak out and I feel like I’m going to throw up.” He said without taking a breath.
“Okay, well it’s no big deal. I’ve seen guys puke—lots of times, actually. Just sit down and take a deep breath.” I felt for him, I had no idea a guy with these kind of looks could be so uptight. I always thought that confidence came with hotness but Joe just blew that theory right out of the water!
“Are you seeing anyone about this?” I asked.
“Yeah, a doctor and she said I should try to be more outgoing and talk to people, interact and everything, so I did. That’s why I offered to help you out today, that’s why I asked Kelly Stiles out tonight. And I think that’s why I’m having a meltdown now. I took on more than I can handle all at once.” He said looking more innocent and helpless than the young, strong man I thought he was.
“Okay, well, good news—we’re just going to plant some trees—that’s it. It’s a piece of cake and nothing to be stressed about! And I’m a really easy person to get along with so there isn’t going to be a problem. You don’t have to feel weird or embarrassed or anything around me. There’s literally nothing you could say or do that I haven’t heard or seen before. Okay? So chill out Dude! We’re going to get through this and no matter what happens to you, I’m still going to be tuzla escort bayan your friend!”
Then I paused and added, “And if seeing me dressed in very little clothing excites you, then that’s okay too! I don’t mind if you steal a glance every now and then. I think it’s kind of nice, so just loosen up and enjoy this miserably hot day, okay?”
“Okay.” He said and he looked me in the eyes with a look of admiration and dependence. That’s a look I don’t regularly see from guys. Like I said, Joe is a very sweet guy. He’s a “nice guy” and I don’t attract nice guys. But I had a feeling that this nice guy was interested in what he saw and I suddenly felt like the Alpha dog. And if I’m being honest, I have to admit Joe’s insanely hot sexiness didn’t discourage me from enjoying having a little dominance over him. I was actually starting to feel a little nervous getting the sense from him that he might follow me anywhere. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself—
“So take a minute to recover and then let’s get digging!” I said as cheerful as I could.
Joe took a deep breath, as if he were conjuring some yoga power, then said, “Okay!”
I grabbed his arm helping him up. I noticed he managed to steal a glance at my tank top as he rose. I may be twenty-six years his senior, but I’m still looking good enough to get a glance from him—that didn’t hurt my self-esteem!
So that was that. We dug a lot of holes and began planting the trees. I tried to get him to talk and, for a guy who says he’s shy, he doesn’t have any trouble talking about himself! Joe told me everything; everything about his plans for the future, about how he loved working outside, a little about his job, as well as the few friends he had (one of whom was this girl Kelly who he clearly had a crush on). In a very short time I realized Joe was a truly wonderful guy and I swore to myself to help him overcome this horrible self-consciousness that was destroying him.
“So, tell me more about this anxiety problem, when did it start?”
“About a year ago, I mean I’ve always been a spaz, but it really got out of hand about a year ago. It was when Kelly asked me to the prom that I totally freaked out. I’ve never dated a girl before and the idea of going out with her made me literally sick to my stomach. I mean, I like her a lot, we’ve been kind of friends forever, but I just panic whenever I get close to her, you know, like THAT. It’s stupid, I’m such a loser!” He said.
“No you’re not, you’re a really good guy. You just don’t know how awesome you are—that’s your problem. You’re like the exact opposite of just about every guy I’ve met—they all think they’re the best thing that’s ever happened. You really might be the best thing and you don’t even realize it.”
“How am I the best thing?” he asked.
“Joe, you’re gorgeous! You’re smart, funny, and sweet. You’re a genuine human being and that’s so rare these days. You’re honest and forthright, you just told me your deepest, paralyzing fear flat out in a straight and courageous way. No guys do that! And how many guys your age would offer to blow off a Saturday to help out their neighbor?” You’re just a good and decent man. Can’t you see that?
“That’s what everybody tells me, but I don’t know. I mean there’s no reason for me to feel this way. I don’t have any trauma or abuse in my life, I don’t hate myself; I just have a crippling fear of people—well . . . of women. Why couldn’t I be afraid of heights or snakes or something normal like everyone else?”
“Women are nothing to be afraid of, believe me. We’re actually pretty basic for the most part. Okay, that may not be totally true, but we’re nothing to fear.” I said.
“I know, that’s what my doctor says. She told me that exposing myself to people, women especially, would fix the problem and it will just take time. But time I don’t have, I’m going out with Kelly tonight! And I’m feeling a sinking feeling in my chest already even though it’s hours away, I’m having a hard time breathing—and not because of the heat, and I think I’m going to have to cancel tonight, she’ll just have to understand.”
“No you’re not going to cancel. Listen, Kelly may understand and she may be willing to tolerate your problem, but for how long? You’re lucky she’s been cool about it for this long, you know? I’m going to help you with this and soon enough you’re going to be falling madly in love with Kelly, and doing all the stuff nineteen-year-old kids should be doing! I guarantee it. I have a new mission in life, Joe, and you’re it!”
Joe looked at me believing every word, if only I believed me! I have no experience in psychology. I was barely able to get my own life under control! On the other hand I know guys. I know relationships. How hard can this be, right?
“You know what? You’re supposed to expose yourself so go ahead—do it! Doctor’s orders—take your shirt off!”
“Huh?” he said.
“I knew it, this “uniform” you’re wearing aren’t just your work clothes, you’re hiding! Take your escort tuzla shirt off in front of me.”
“No, I . . . I can’t.” he said and started digging the next hole furiously kicking up a cloud of dust.
“You don’t take your shirt off in front of people, do you? Not even your family, your Mom?” I asked.
“No, I don’t. I’m not comfortable doing that. I don’t do nudity!” Joe said and blushed at the word.
“But you clearly work out, I can see your muscles under that oversized shirt. You must want to show them off.” I said. In full disclosure I wasn’t sure where my desire to help him began and where my need to see him shirtless ended.
“I think it would be good for you to take your T-shirt off in front of me. Stand here and let me see you shirtless, I won’t laugh, I promise. Listen Joe, you don’t have time for baby steps—your date is tonight! We need to give you some extreme therapy, immediately!” I said and I think I oversold it because he clamed up.
“Okay, never mind. I’m sorry I don’t want to push you too hard.” I said.
He shrugged his shoulders and continued digging. We worked in silence for awhile. The heat was absolutely burning us up. We were both sweating profusely. It felt like the air was on fire. I decided I couldn’t take anymore.
“Okay, lunch!” I said and he stopped. “Come on, I’ve got some sandwich fixings inside.”
This morning I stopped by “The 365”, a local convenience store I go to, and bought a bunch of lunchmeat. I made us some sandwiches and we ate on the back deck overlooking our accomplishment thus far. I sat on my creaking patio swing and Joe sat opposite me looking dirty, sweaty and delicious. He looked so masculine, and yet, so boyish eating his sandwich.
While we ate, Joe and I had a nice conversation. I could tell he was forcing himself to be conversational and I was happy to help him through it. At times, though, he was totally natural and very funny! He genuinely made me laugh multiple times. I couldn’t help but wonder how this kid with such a great personality and sense of humor could be so painfully shy, but life is weird like that. I wanted to grab hold of him and tell him how beautiful he was as a person and make him see himself as I see him.
We talked a little about my house and my plans of fixing it up.
“What is that deck on your roof all about?” Joe asked.
“Oh that. I had that installed when I moved in, it’s a skylight, but it’s also an access door to the roof for my telescope, so you want to see it?”
Joe nodded his head and we were headed upstairs. We entered my bedroom and Joe stopped dead in his tracks before entering. I grabbed his arm, “Come on in, Stud, don’t panic, we’re just going onto the roof.”
I pulled the skylight open and stepped up the ladder to the roof deck. I should have let Joe go first (not very ladylike of me) he probably had a perfect view of my butt with my short shorts riding high, but you know what? I hope he looked, I hope he got an eyeful, it’s good for him!
We climbed out onto the deck of my roof and I showed him my telescope.
“I’ve always wanted a setup like this ever since I was a little girl. And now I have one. Sometimes when I can’t sleep I come out here and look at the stars. I love it; I could sit out here for hours. It’s so peaceful and it reminds me of how small we really are. I’m kind of an amateur astronomy nerd, if you haven’t noticed.” I told him.
“That’s cool. I’ve seen you out here at night before and I always wondered what you were doing.” Joe said.
“Oh really? You can see me from your house?”
“Yeah, that’s my bathroom window right there,” He pointed across my backyard, past where we were digging, across his backyard and to his house, to the only window visible from my roof.
“Oh really, that’s your bathroom? I’ve seen the light come on a few times, but the shade is always closed, so I didn’t know what room it was. Is it your personal bathroom?” I asked.
“Yeah, my bedroom window is on the other side, there. That bathroom is all mine.”
“So you’ve been spying on me?” I asked.
You should have seen the look on Joe’s face.
“No, no! I just sometimes have looked out the window and . . .”
“The window that always has the shade down?” I teased.
Then I decided to let him off the hook, “I’m teasing you, Joe. It’s okay even if you have spied on me. I don’t mind. I take it as a compliment.”
I studied his face; he was lost in thought and terror.
“Tell me, you’re a honest guy, have you ever looked out your window at me on purpose? Trying to see in my bedroom? I mean, it’s pretty far away, but I never close the blinds. Or maybe when I’m tanning in the backyard? Tell me the truth.” I said trying to be as non-threatening as possible.
“I mean, I’ve peaked once or twice. One time I looked out and you were sunbathing and I was surprised . . .”
“Did you like what you saw?” I asked.
Joe looked down and shrugged, “Yes. Very much.”
“Good. I’m glad. It’s a charming that a young, sexy guy like you is interested in seeing me. We’re meant to look at each other that way Joe, it’s natural. I don’t mind at all. You know I used to model when I was about your age?”
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