THE FOLLOWING MORNING PREPARING for work, she informed Drew, “I’m taking the car today.” Sitting on the edge of the bed, he was looking at his phone, “You should take the shuttle.”
“Why? I like driving when I want. Besides, you don’t need the car today do you?”
“No. I don’t. Neither do you.”
He placed his phone on the nightstand, devoting attention to Mag, “One of the benefits of your job is the free shuttle service, right? Why don’t you ride it every day instead of driving? That way we don’t have to pay for gas or maintenance from unnecessary driving. Plus, there’s no chance of you getting in an accident that we’d be liable for, if your sitting safe-and-sound on the shuttle.”
Dissecting his words, she searched for errors in his logic. Any room she could construct a defense. But there was nothing. Stuffing her keys and credit card holder into her bag, she fumed internally… I don’t care! I wanna take the friggin car! I don’t like waiting for the bus. Sitting on it with strangers. What’s the use of having a car if I can’t drive it when I want?
Mag glared at him, “We pay insurance for the car whether I drive it or not! And sometimes I do our laundry at work. I’m not gonna carry laundry bags on the shuttle like a hobo, am I?”
“Oh! Great point.” Drew’s words soaked in sarcasm, “Are you doing laundry at work today?” He paused momentarily for a response. A rhetorical gesture since he knew the answer, “No! You’re not. Obviously, it makes more sense to take the shuttle. It’s free! This argument is fruitless. There’s nothing more to discuss.”
Her heart rate increasing, Mag was unable to think of an effective way to counter and didn’t relish the idea of fueling an argument before leaving to work.
“Fine! I’ll take the shuttle.”
Exiting the apartment, she tilted her head back inside, “Since the car’s gonna sit here all day, can you wash it? It’s super dirty.”
“I have to research a company. I’ll do it if I have time.” Closing the door, she knew his answer meant, ‘no.’
Downhill, she boarded the shuttle and reached into her tote-bag for her phone; inadvertently grabbing the ‘Excitement, Inc.’ business card she received from Monica. Having forgotten about it, Mag launched her mobile browser and typed the company’s web address. On their homepage, several links appeared and she reviewed them all, searching for additional insight into the service. Other than what she’d already learned from Monica, she found nothing. Regardless, the site promoted the concept of women being accountable for their happiness. Emphasizing the company’s mission; to help all women achieve and maintain sustainable levels of personal satisfaction. There was no information about price. But she found testimonials from customers, describing their Excitement experience. A few comments peaked her interest. Reading them, Mag wondered… are these real?
‘Thank you Excitement INC. You’ve changed my life for the better and did it so quickly. The service you provide is a godsend, and something I’m spreading the word about to my closest friends. Finally! A platonic service for women, that’s created by women. I am forever grateful.’
‘I am more than satisfied with Excitement INC. The signup process was easy and my Engagement Consultant assisted me during every step. The encounters are intriguing, and after a bit of fine-tuning, I found myself enjoying interactions that previously existed only in my dreams. I wish Excitement were around when I was younger. I would’ve joined a lifetime ago.’
‘The energy and power that woman command is amazing. Excitement Inc. you’ve found a way to help us harness feel-good-emotions that usually happen by circumstance. For that, I thank you! You’ve changed my life. I am more confident because I’ve gained control of my interactions. Does the service make me feel positive about myself? Yes! Do I recommend Excitement to anyone who is currently undecided? Absolutely, yes! You’ll be happy you did.’
After reading ten positive reviews, she found one criticizing.
‘The concept of Excitement Inc. is cutting edge. I never thought anything like this existed. Upon completing my trial engagement, I was intrigued. But after I joined, I was unable to experience the spark that others raved about. I met with my Engagement consultant a few times, tweaking preferences. However, I still didn’t experience the type of interactions I’d hoped for. Maybe I expected too much? When I requested to cancel, I anticipated losing all (or most) of my money. What a surprise! The cancellation process couldn’t have been easier. I was prorated credit, and able to use the reserve to buy things at retailers (like Macy’s and Nordstrom). While I do wish Excitement’s service worked for me, I am impressed by the efficiency of their cancellation process. Thank you Excitement INC. You made this disgruntled customer happier than she thought possible.’
ABSORBING EACH TESTIMONIAL WITH A GRAIN OF SALT, she surmised… there’s no way to know if these are real. Regardless, for the remaining ride, Mag wondered… what could I want from their service? What am I looking for? Contemplating for ten minutes. She summarized a response and typed it into a sticky note on her phone. Then edited and re-edited again. Ten minutes later, it was done,
‘I want to feel listened to and respected. I like to know people desire spending time with me, even though I may not have time to spend with them. I enjoy conversations with intelligent and interesting people.’
Reciting her summation five times, she questioned the last sentence in particular… I enjoy conversations with intelligent and interesting people? She sighed… it sounds corny. But that’s how I feel.
The previous testimonials texts accompanied her feelings. Desiring more from the daily repetition of life. More positive interactions. More fulfilling conversations. More respect from others. Wishing Drew could satisfy these basic needs, she slouched… I’ve tried maintaining mutual respect with him. But it’s not working. Connecting headphones to her mobile, she closed her eyes and leaned back. Music. Spilling into her ears. Images of Drew. Piercing the darkness… our relationship wasn’t always tense.
Whatever happened to spontaneity?
Engaging in dynamic conversations. They’d embark on surprise trips within a moments notice… it was exciting.
What happened to understanding?
She made effort to empathize situations from his perspective… why doesn’t he do the same for me?
What happened to desire? Comparing the passion of their initial love life to present-time… it used to be super exciting. Now it’s a chore. It’s so predictable.
And what happened to respect?
TWO WEEKS EARLIER, IN A RESTAURANT. They sat a table for two, when a waitress greeted them,
“Hi. I’m rude-girl. Can I get you started with appetizers or drinks?”
Drew ordered Guinness for them both.
“Oh wow! That’s amazing beer.” She cascaded him with an awestruck doe-eyed gaze. Smiling cheekily like a college socialite, flirting with a handsome new professor. “I love Guinness! I sooo wish I could go to Ireland someday. Have you been?”
…. we were there to eat dinner, not discuss your stupid travel aspirations!
Drew provided detailed description of his visits to Dublin, Limerick, and Galway. Informing her of the country’s wonderful people and the amazing Guinness storehouse he’d visited with friends.
… he rambled for five minutes! Why didn’t he just say, ‘Yeah, I traveled to Ireland. It was nice.’ and be done with it?!
The waitress stargazed, “Oh. I’m so jealous! I wanna go someday. But it’s insanely expensive.” Tilting her head. Her finger, twirled through elbow-length, red-orange hair as she angled her hip toward him; edging Mag out of the conversation, “Did you visit England too?”
… of course he visited England, you wench!
He explained highlights of his cross-country adventures in Manchester. Liverpool. London. Remarking how the English receive unfair reputation for bland food. It’s clearly untrue… ‘Bangers and mash taste wonderful. And Fish and chips? Amazing! What about Yorkshire pudding and Shepherd’s pie?!’
… he went on for five-more-minutes! And that ratty-waitress followed every word like he was the friggin Pied Piper.
Rude-girl left to retrieve their beverages and Mag leaned toward Drew, “Wow! She’s super into you.” Drew shook his head, furrowing his brow, “What? No. She’s just interested in travel.”
“Nobody’s that interested in travel. She’s hitting on you.”
“I don’t think so. She’s just friendly that’s all.”
Sneering, Mag leaned in closer, “Of course she’s hitting on you! It’s obvious! How can you not see it?”
Rude-girl returned, giggling, “Here are your Guinness’.” She placed her hand on Drew’s shoulder, “I hope these comes close to the taste you remembered in Dublin.” He ordered food and she cheered, “Excellent choice! That’s my favorite dinner item!” Her hair draped down. Body, arching over his menu as her finger trailed across the side options for his entrée, “You can choose any two of these.” Drew’s eyes widened. Gazing into her cleavage and boobs, prominently presented to the side of his face.
… so slutty! How can you not see we’re together? He’s my husband!
She left and Mag peeved, “Oh my God. It’s incredibly obvious she’s hitting on you. She just put her tits next to your face and you stared at them!”
“You’re paranoid. Just because she’s friendly and talking to me, doesn’t mean she’s hitting on me.”
“What!? Yes. It does! Especially the way she’s doing it. She’s checking you out and giggling at everything you say!”
“No, she isn’t! Obviously, she knows we’re a couple. Besides, what’s wrong with her talking to me? Am I not allowed to speak with a waitress after she receives my order?” He placed both hands on the table, leaning in, “How do you suggest I order? Should I ask her to consult my insecure wife, or you’ll freak out?”
“I’m not insecure! And I’m not freaking out! That’s not even what I’m saying! I’m saying she’s hitting on you. Why are defending her?”
“Because she’s not hitting on me. Why are you acting so paranoid?”
Her accusation escalated into an argument and for the remainder of their meal, they dined in silence. But Drew talked with rude-girl, seemingly out of spite and Mag brooded… why won’t you admit she’s hitting on you? Are you that naive? Or is it me? Am I wrong?
Is she not hitting on him?
Yes! She is hitting on him! It’s obvious!
Questioning her assumption, she perplexed… what if I’m interpreting this wrong? How could I be misunderstanding this? The following day she explained the situation to Rebecca and Rebecca agreed, making Mag exclaim… I knew it!
Arriving home, she informed Drew of Rebecca’s opinion and he scoffed, “Of course she agrees with you. She’s your friend! The bigger question is why are you asking co-workers their opinions about our private conversations?” His inquisition spiraled into another argument. Debating which conversational topics were appropriate to discuss with people outside their marriage.
Sitting on the bus, Mag steamed… the principal issue is respect! If I were hit on by some dumb-waiter, I’d acknowledge he was hitting on me! I wouldn’t chat him up, and degrade my husband’s feelings. How can Drew be so disrespectful?!
THREE HOURS LATER, IN A SECLUDED SPOT on ADKAR’s campus. She called the number on the Excitement business card and an administrative assistant answered,
“Thank you for calling Excitement. How can I direct your call?”
“Hi, is Summer Lindquist available?”
“I think She’s in a meeting, let me check.” Seconds later, “Sorry, Summer’s in a meeting right now. What’s the nature of the call?”
“I wanted to talk to her about Excitement’s service.”
“Oh, I can help with that. I’m looking at Summer’s schedule right now. She’s pretty full for the week. But I see a last minute opening later today. Can you stop by this evening?”
“Um… I was hoping to talk to her over the phone.”
“We try to keep all initial meetings face-to-face if possible. Summer’s free at 5:30 p.m. today; does that work for you?” Mag guesstimated… if I take the early shuttle, I can arrive in the city around five. From there, it’ll take fifteen minutes to walk to their office.