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from The Kiss by Shirley Holder Platt

Copyright © 2020–2021 Shirley Holder Platt

Ted and Tina

I am a bartender. A man came into the bar last Tuesday night, it was rainy and messy outside, a quiet night for business. This man came in shaking the rain from his overcoat and ordered a double shot of Tequila, straight up, no lime, no salt. This is unusual, and since no one else was there, I struck up a conversation. He started talking about love and how life changes lovers. Before I knew it, he told me all about a couple of people he said he knew. His story went like this.

Ted and Tina were in love their first year of marriage. They had a link with each other. Tina would be thinking of hot dogs and Ted would say, “Let’s get a hot dog.” They would laugh when these things happened, and Ted would hold Tina’s hand. They drove everywhere. He had this cute little sports car that he'd souped up with headers and dual exhaust. He drove fast and dangerously. Tina felt exhilaration as Ted pressed the gas pedal or raced corvettes. He always bragged about the handling, saying, “I can’t beat them on the straight-a-way, but I’m hell in the slalom!” And he was. That little car would zip through traffic like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They were happy that first year. They looked into each other’s eyes and saw nothing but love. They took long showers together. They sat in that little car and listened to funny radio shows late at night. They gave each other loving back rubs and foot massages.

Tim wrecked the sports car. The new car was a disaster. It was American made, just like Tina’s dad recommended. Practical, a heavy lumbering machine. It stayed in the mechanic’s garage. Ted did some of the work himself, but the repair bills kept adding up. Tina never understood cars. Ted knew she would never be of any help to him in this area, so he tried to be content with the offerings she made of iced tea or cold sodas. Tina felt a shift. She thought she needed to try harder. She began getting up at the crack of dawn to make huge breakfasts for Ted. He would sit at the breakfast table and stare at the plate.

“Don’t you like it?” Tina would ask.

“Oh, yes, Tina. Thank you honey,” Ted would answer.

Then one day they were visiting his mother. Ted said, “Tina makes me eat breakfast every morning, Mom. Remember how I always hated breakfast?” 

Tina overheard and felt an ache in her heart. When they got back home she asked him why he didn’t tell her he hated breakfast. All he could say was that he hadn’t thought she would understand. And she didn’t. If someone did such a nice thing for you, why wouldn’t you like it?

Things bumped along for them and before they knew it, they were celebrating their fifth anniversary. Sex had gotten pretty routine by then, and Tina wanted to jazz things up. She arranged a great vacation trip in the mountains. They flew to Colorado in a big jet plane. Tina gripped her seat in abject terror while Ted consoled her and patted her hand. They changed planes in Denver, took a puddle jumper to Steamboat Springs. Tina loved the prop job. She sat by the window and talked excitedly. Ted just watched and wondered where she was coming from.

Steamboat was lovely. A fresh blanket of snow made the world look like a Christmas card. They checked in and popped the cork on a bottle of champagne. They drank lustily by the fake fireplace and went searching for the cork. Finding it upstairs near the bedroom brought them together, laughing once again, for a while.

The next day they went to the ski lift and were told there was not enough snow. No skiing. They looked at each other forlornly and said, “We’ll make do.” They went shopping. The temperature was below freezing, and their tennis shoes offered no warmth. Tina was cold, her feet hurt, and she wanted Ted to take care of her. He marched stoically ahead, not even holding her hand. He thought a hurried approach to warmth would be the best. Tina started to compl...

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