How to Rate a Soulmate
D. L. Fisher
SARA’S CHERRY WAS POPPED by Derrick. It was the inevitable result of mind-numbing college parties and mistaken identity. After each shot of tequila, Derrick looked more and more like Jon Bon Jovi and less like Pee-wee Herman. Luckily, Sara had little memory of the actual event beyond a few disconnected flashbacks, thanks to the tequila.
Sara’s first love was Brad. He was a sensitive artist with long wavy hair who wore t-shirts that said, Save the Whales, and, Trees Are People Too. But no one warned Sara of the horrible truth about Brad: he had Scorpio in his eighth house. This made him a great lay, but also a slut. At his first opportunity, Brad shagged Sara’s best friend, Kathy, who had insider knowledge of Brad’s prowess. A hideous fight and breakup ensued, with Sara alone again and no best friend to bitch to about it.
Then there was Jim, a clean-cut physical therapist who was romantic, caring, and had excellent muscle tone. Things seemed to be going pretty well until Sara began finding mail addressed to Jamie. It wasn’t long before a tearful, apologetic Jamie announced that he had a new boyfriend, but they could still be girlfriends.
Sara still blushes when she thinks of Night. Night was a wild man, extreme sports enthusiast, and rode a crotch-rocket that rarely had both wheels on the pavement. While he was not ideal husband material, his extreme gymnastics in the bedroom and his boyish charm made her fall for him hard. Night, however, went off one day to climb Mt. Everest and was now somewhere in Nepal snowboarding down the other side. He hadn’t officially broken up with her, but effectively postponed their next date for a few years, breaking Sara’s heart nonetheless. Sara never really got over Night.
She could have married Greg. She met him at work. He was as boring as macaroni and cheese, but this was a relief after Night. It was the Internet that did this relationship in. While Sara thought Greg was up late researching his latest solar-powered-weed-eating-robot idea, he was actually “chatting” with the likes of blackleatherbabe and teenhottie. She caught him one sleepless night with his pants down, red-handed, having a nice little chat with spankme2nite.
Sara’s enthusiasm for a relationship flagged at this point.
Sara’s new boyfriend
Sara looked at the box. The box looked back.
No one’s looking,” the box seemed to say. “For pity’s sake, open me and stop gaping.”
Sara bit her lip in embarrassment.
She remembered hearing somewhere that all mail was routinely x-rayed. She thought of Larry, the mailman. She thought of the mail sorters. She imagined them all gathered around the screen, commenting on her package as it slid through on a conveyer belt.
“Nice shape!” “Looks like an eight-incher.” “It’s probably hot pink.”
“Okay, get a grip,” Sara said to herself. “Nobody but me knows what’s in this box and what color it is. The mail sorters don’t know anything about my discreet, online purchase, except for the dubious return address label. They don’t know the flesh-colored ones gave me the creeps because they looked like dismembered members. Besides, I like hot pink. Why am I babbling to myself?”
“Because you haven’t gotten a grip yet,” said the box.
Sara grabbed the box and was about to tell it to shut up, when she finally got a grip.
She opened the box, and pulled out another box. On it were photos of the hot pink dildo in use.
The photos gave Sara ideas for wielding a dildo she hadn’t thought of.
But life was ticking by as Sara stared at photos on a box. She had somewhere to go, and if she was going to get there and try out her new purchase first, she must stop gaping and get on with it.
And so, on to the birthday party
Sara took a deep breath and smoothed her shoulder-length, dyed-to-hide-the-gray-strands auburn hair. She reflected with relief that this was a good hair day. She was meeting friends for a latte. While this sounded like a pleasant idea, Sara was more in a mood to mutilate Barbie dolls.
It was her birthday, and Sara was dangerously close to tears.
She wished she had lived her life differently. If only she could go back nineteen years and start over.
She would go to the gym every day and by now, at age thirty-nine, she would look like Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2.
She would use moisturizer faithfully and never squint or frown. She would wear sunscreen and not get a tan. She would eat only raw vegetables and drink carrot juice.
She would shop at Walmart and save money. She would sell her condo at the peak of the real estate bubble, and live in a one-bedroom apartment to save more money. She would invest the extra cash in Apple before the iPhone came out.
She would not waste her youth trying to please a man. She would drive herself mercilessly in her career. She would produce the espionage novel she fancied herself writing during the half hour a day she allowed herself for downtime.
She would read only educational books.
If she had done all that, Sara thought, she’d be sitting pretty now. She’d be happy.
But she had not done any of those things. She was certainly not sitting pretty.
Sara had a good visual going of melting the cone-like plastic Barbie boobs with a lighter, carefully, so they didn’t burn but lost their youthful pertness and sagged realistically, when she heard “Happy Birthday!”
“You are the center of the universe darling and this is your day,” said a stylishly disheveled man.
Sara slid into a chair with “please shut up” written clearly on her face.
“Ash,” she said, “what makes you think I want to flaunt my thirty-ninth birthday in front of a roomful of highly caffeinated cheerful people?”
Ash didn’t have an answer for this. He could not imagine being unhappy on his birthday. So he looked at Andi, who was stirring her caramel-whip-frap trying to think of something nice, but not too cheerful, to say.
“It’s PMS isn’t it?” Andi said. “Murphy’s law—the one day you are supposed to be happy, you get PMS.”
“I don’t have PMS,” Sara told her. “I’m merely dealing with the inevitability of my decline into decrepitude.”
“Oh, well,” Ash perked up, “then you’ll be delighted to know we brought a wheelchair so we could take you somewhere special. It’s in the van.”
“What van?” Sara asked. “Neither of you owns a van.”
“I bought it in preparation for our old age,” Ash said. “It’s my duty as the man in this circle of friends to take care of my aging women. Besides, I can use it for my bookstore.”
“Ash, you’re finally growing up just in time to decay and die, and what makes you think I need taking care of?” Sara felt her chin tremble. “I’m getting a coffee.”
“No,” Ash said, “let me darling. It’s your birthday. Jeesh, you need some drugs.”
“Birthday blues,” said Sara while she slumped further into her chair and suffered Ash to get her some drugs.
Ash came back with a triple latte and an iced brownie the size of a small pie. Sara sipped the high-octane mood-enhancer. Here she was, celebrating a birthday she didn’t want, biological clock ticking away, no husband, no boyfriend, and relegated to wielding a dildo for sexual satisfaction. Sara was wondering if things could get worse.
“Can you believe that wanker Greg is getting married?” Ash asked Sara, thinking a little healthy anger was better than depression. “What?” he whined to Andi, “stop kicking me.”
“Ash, you idiot.”
“Greg’s getting married?” asked Sara. Her coffee suddenly tasted like plutonium.
Ash, who now figured out he had screwed up, sipped his mocha for all it was worth and hummed a happy little ditty trying to turn Sara’s thoughts.
Andi glared at him and told Sara, “Yeah. You know Brittney, the—”
“You mean the overdressed-kiss-ass designer? The overdressed-kiss-ass designer in our freaking office?” Sara hissed through bared teeth, eyes leveled at Andi.
“Well,” Andi hesitated, “you didn’t still care for Greg, did you?”
“That’s not the point.” Sara gritted her teeth so hard she corrected the slight misalignment in her bite.
“Listen love,” Ash soothed, “Greg’s an idiot and you’re lucky to be rid of him.”
Sara suddenly saw her life as it must look to others: pathetic. The box was right, she did not have a grip at all. She started to tear up but mastered her vulnerability by gritting her teeth again.
“Okay,” Andi said, “time for the birthday surprise. Guess where we’re taking you?”
“To another planet where thirty-nine-year-old women with thighs full of cottage cheese are actually considered sexually attractive?”
“What are you talking about?” Ash said. “Thirty-nine is the new twenty-nine.”
“Either way, it’s a baby step away from an unwanted decade change,” Sara reminded him.
“Sara, eat your brownie,” Andi urged. “You need the endorphins. And your thighs are not fat.”
Sara stared at her iced brownie. It had the texture of a fresh dog turd. She sipped her triple latte and thought about cow’s teats. The segue here was the milk in her latte.
“I need liposuction,” Sara moaned.
“We’re taking you to a psychic,” Ash blurted out. “It was Andi’s idea.”
“A psychic? You mean, as in, fortune teller?”
“As in, she’s the best psychic around,” Andi said. “It took months to get an appointment.”
Sara smiled to hide her apprehension. She was secretly worried the psychic would know about the hot pink dildo, which she had used vigorously just before she came to the coffee shop.
“Cheer up love. You have a good forty years ahead of you,” Ash reminded her. “You can always hire cabana boys for sex.”
“You’re entering the best years of your life,” Andi said. “All women over forty say that. I can’t wait to hear what Celestara tells you.”
“The only forty-year-old women who ever say that are celebrities,” Sara said, “and they’ve all had plastic surgery.”
The embarrassing past life
“Ash, you’re such a dork,” Sara said. “Are you trying to be a soccer mom?”
“Soccer moms drive SUVs, not vans. Vans are for old fogies like us. I’m going to have it wrapped too. Pictures of books all over it. It’ll be brilliant.”
“Not one of us has even hit forty yet,” Andi pointed out. “Old fogy does not apply to us.”
“I’m just trying to go with the flow. Sara is whining about aging so I thought I would too, darling.”
“The Einsteinian Relativistic Age Reversal timeline is different for men anyway,” Sara said.
“What the bloody hell is that?” Ash asked.
“It’s the sudden shift from wanting to be older, to actually getting older and not wanting to. For women it’s twenty-five. I figure we get a five-year window of peak opportunity.”
“It’s not twenty-five for me,” Andi said. “I was a bumbling idiot at that age.”
“Ditto. I couldn’t even speak in complete sentences,” said Ash.
“All Brits speak proper English, even when they’re two,” Sara reminded Ash. “Makes you sound intelligent.”
“I am intelligent. And sensitive. I’ve read Jane Austen. I must say however, that Pride And Prejudice was her only decent work.”
“Right, if only I could have my thirty-nine-year-old brain and my twenty-five-year-old body,” Sara sighed. “On second thought, my brain is generally fried from estrogen dominance. I’m screwed.”
Ash slowed down and began scanning addresses in a very nice neighborhood. Sara’s heart skipped a beat.
“I’ll bet you weren’t happy with your twenty-five-year-old body when you were twenty-five,” Andi said.
“What’s your point?” Sara asked her. “I’d be happy with it now.”
“You could join the ranks of celebrities and have plastic surgery,” Ash said. “Nip and tuck your way back to your twenties, and keep your aging brain in the process. Ah, here we are darling.”
Sara stiffened and her pupils dilated with fear. She was not sure at all she wanted to do this. In fact, she knew she didn’t.
Unable to back out now, Sara reluctantly followed her friends to the covered entryway. Ash rang the doorbell.
The door was answered by a middle-aged woman wearing what looked like a galaxy: cosmic colors and filmy layers all swirling and flowing mystically. She was rather plump and comfortable-looking in a maternal sort of way. Then Sara noticed the piercing steel-blue eyes, which were even now probing her secret depths. Sara didn’t even know she had secret depths, notwithstanding the pink dildo.
“Ms. Somers,” the psychic said, taking Sara’s hand. Sara could hear little amazed gasps beside her from Andi and Ash because Celestara knew who she was.
They were invited into the house and Ash and Andi were left to wait with a pile of strange magazines. Sara noticed a large-headed extraterrestrial on the front of one magazine as she was directed into the consultation room.
Celestara lit a candle after they sat at a small table, and invoked an all-inclusive prayer to angels, spirit guides, Jesus, Buddha, Saint Germaine, and all the ET’s. Sara was wondering if Celestara was her birth name. It could be, she mused, considering Andi’s bohemian parents had named her Andromeda Universe Morrison. The Morrison part was actually her father’s last name, not any reference to Jim.
“I sense a lot of anger,” Celestara began.
Well no shit, Sara thought. Her lips thinned.
“The Twelve are telling me that you are entering a period of accelerated personal growth and change. The anger is a sign of your resistance.”
“My guides are a group of light beings who call themselves The Council of Twelve. If you have any medical questions, I am also in contact with a Doctor Peebles whose last incarnation as a physician was in seventeenth-century Europe.”
“Didn’t they do bloodletting then?”
Celestara’s cosmic gaze wobbled a bit.
“Could you ask your guides why we age?”
Celestara closed her eyes, then, “The Twelve say that you only age because you believe you will. You have to let go of your expectations. Doctor Peebles adds that you have circulatory blockages; he suggests you exercise to move your blocked chi.”
“So, am I supposed to accept that I age and exercise to stave it off, or not accept it and eat all the donuts I want?”
“There is no ‘supposed to.’ You are in charge of your own reality. Hmmm . . . ”
Sara sat forward. Celestara was apparently receiving something interesting.
“Yes . . . yes . . . ” Celestara was nodding with her eyes closed. Sara fidgeted impatiently until Celestara opened her eyes and continued, “I see a past life in Iceland.”
I knew it, Sara thought, that’s where I got these Nordic, cottage cheese-filled thighs from. My name was probably Fat Helga.
“You were a married woman, and your husband was a Viking gone at sea most of the time.” Celestara closed her eyes again to consult the beyond. “You were young and not inclined to wait for his return. I see many affairs with men of your village.”
Sara cringed. Why couldn’t she have been Cleopatra, or Joan of Arc or someone admirable? Why did she have to be a Viking slut with cottage cheese thighs?
“Your husband was killed . . . in a raid . . . it looks like an English coastal village. You cared for your husband and felt guilty for cheating on him . . . yes, very guilty. This is why you sabotage your relationships now. You feel you don’t deserve to be loved. You have been doing this in many lifetimes since.”
“I don’t sabotage my relationships,” Sara said at the same time she was thinking that relationship failure always did seem a bit familiar. She scared herself by asking a question she was not sure she wanted the answer to.
“Well, will I ever meet my soulmate and have a lasting relationship?”
Celestara closed her eyes again. She nodded. She listened some more. She nodded. Sara felt sweat forming in her armpits.
The Plan is born
“So what did she say?” Andi asked the minute they were out the door.
“Tell us everything darling,” Ash added.
“I was an adulteress in a past life, I actually do have a soulmate, and I now know why my thighs are fat.”
“Your thighs aren’t fat,” Andi said, rolling her eyes to heaven.
“A soulmate,” Ash said. “Does that mean one sexual partner for all eternity once you hook up?”
“I would love to find my soulmate!” Andi gushed. “Who is it?”
“I don’t know or if I’ll ever know. Celestara says he’s not what I’m expecting, and if I don’t change, he won’t show up.”
“Darling, we love you just the way you are, fat thighs and all.”
“Thanks a lot, Ash.”
“How did she say you have to change,” asked Andi.
“Something about loving myself.”
“Ah,” said Andi sagely.
“Tough one,” Ash admitted, ruffling his already ruffled hair. “I still hate myself for mean things I did to my brother when I was twelve.”
“I love myself,” Andi said, a bit guiltily Sara thought.
“You do not,” Sara told her. “If you did, why would you hang out with me, a bona fide self-hater?”
“What the bloody hell is wrong with you today?” Ash asked Sara.
“Birthday blues, I told you already,” she said.
“No such thing love. It’s a contradiction in terms.”
“Not if you’re over thirty.”
Andi brought them back to the issue at hand. “What’s not to love about you Sara?”
“Fat deposits, frizzy hair, sucky job, past my prime, shall I go on?”
The whole idea of meeting a soulmate and all of its implications hit Sara suddenly.
“The thighs have got to go! And . . . I need Botox! Look at these crow’s feet!” Sara pointed desperately at her hideous eyes.
“Try not smiling,” Ash suggested. “They don’t show up as badly then.”
Sara gaped at Ash with a dropped jaw.
“You don’t want to smile just with your lips like some Stepford wife do you?” Andi said.
“All the movie stars do it,” Sara pointed out.
“Botox is botulism darling,” Ash said. “Do you really want to stick your face with it?”
Just then, a Porsche rumbled by. A fat, gray-haired man with no chin was driving, and a tanned, blonde beauty was sitting next to him. What the hell!
“Yes, I do want Botox. And I want liposuction. I don’t want to be left behind with the dregs of the unenhanced. It’ll be my birthday present to myself.”
As they were driving back to the coffee shop, Sara made plans to become the woman she wanted to be. If she was going to love herself, one thing was sure, she had to stop hating herself.