Sometimes my wife talks about Ringo Starr and the bed they used to share. The bed itself was nothing fancy, a standard Queen-sized model, slightly smaller than the bed I currently sleep in alone. My wife–still my wife–has her own place now, an apartment called King’s Manor popular with older singles. It’s a sex den. They have those pills now–everyone gets down and oily in the King’s Manor. I can’t stand it. I picture her covered in hands and various lotions and maybe even snakes. Snakes!
Sandy, my wife who no longer lives with me, spends most of her life tanning, by pools, by the Atlantic, but mostly in tanning beds. Her skin is like a moisturized tangerine. She’s almost sixty and we’re both retired. But, oh, Sandy’s body, let me tell you, Sandy’s body is like a statue of a woman’s body if that particular woman had a smoking orange body.
At night, most nights, I walk over to King’s Manor, and stand in the tomato patch behind the swimming pool. I like it there, the smells, wind chimes tinkling, wind nicking pool water, and the feel of manure on my bare feet, between my toes.
Ringo Starr really enjoyed feet, Sandy once told me, in what passed back then as pillow talk. He would linger about, inhale each toe.
Huddled by tomatoes, I wait for Sandy’s silhouette the way a child waits for a banana pancake.
Sandy agrees to meet me for milkshakes at the Dairy Queen. It used to be our spot until my (still) wife decided she wanted to fit herself into a tangled world of orgies and skydivers.
I sit beside her at our table, our bare thighs touching, but she laughs and tells me to take the other side like a normal human.
“Where would Ringo sit?” I ask.
“That was a long time ago,” she says. “I doubt Richard even thinks of me these days.”
“What about Pete Best?” I point out. “That wasn’t cool, kicking him out of the band for your precious Ringo. People should be faithful, don’t you think? Swans mate for life, Sandy.”
“That’s why they’re so mean,” says Sandy. “People should live out loud, with jubilation. You were the oil slick on my wings.”
“Ringo had an awful voice,” I say.
“It’s been lovely,” says Sandy, standing, jingling her keys. “But, ta-ta, I must be going, now.”
I have a guitar but I never play it. It’s too late to join a band. I won three spelling bees back in my prime, but now I can’t even spell enunciate. I just now looked it up.
I picture Ringo Starr, my wife’s feet, her toenails painted blue. Once, at Myrtle Beach, I told her how much I liked those toenails, how pretty they were.
At some point in history, somewhere in Liverpool, Ringo turned to George and said, “This American bird, Sandy, her feet, so lovely.”
“Oh, Ringo,” said George Harrison.
IT DON’T COME EASY
I was drinking. I know, I know, that’s the universal disclaimer for bad behavior. So, whatever: I was drinking in the daylight and standing behind the chain-link gate that imprisoned the swimming pool. Sandy swam laps, backstroke, butterfly, freestyle. I called out her name. When some guy in a summer weight vest gave me a look draped in bad intentions, I informed him, “She’s my wife.”
The guy moved closer to me. Sandy exited the pool, dried off.
I said, “I know that body, I know every inch of that body. We have explored each other, carnally.”
“Buddy,” said the guy, no friend of mine. “Private property.” He scratched a little bump on the tip of his nose.
“Hey, Sandy,” he called. “Friend of yours?”
“Nope,” she said. “He’s my husband, but I’m gone, gone, gone.”
“You need to follow toot sweet,” said the guy. “Get.”
He looks like he wants to hit me. I’ve seen this before.
“Sandy,” I say, but that’s all I have left. All our words are gone.
I lie down in a patch of shade beside the tomato patch. The vines curl around bamboo shoots. Someone starts a lawnmower, the industrial kind. Cars lollygag in the parking lot, barely moving, windows open, music spilling out, everything so languid.
If I were Ringo, I’d treat Sandy with so much tenderness she’d forget I was famous. I’d quit the band for her. I’d clean myself up. She would close her eyes, touch her hair, and I swear I would absolutely cherish every toe.