You’re unlocking the door to your apartment, thinking, “Maybe she’ll be different. Maybe she’ll see there’s still some potential in me.”
You kiss her once more before you push the door open.
“I’m really glad we met tonight,” you say, hoping to win her over before the big letdown.
“Me too,” she says.
You lead her inside your one-room studio, trying to get her into the kitchen before she looks around. Trying to get one more drink in her before she starts asking questions.
“How about a cocktail?” you say, walking backwards, trying to hold her eyes.
She looks in the corner.
“Is that a tanning bed?” she asks.
Here we go.
“It is,” you say, surrendering to the way things always play out. “But it’s more than that. It’s the last remnant of a dream.”
You tell her that you used to run a tanning salon and it was very profitable but your ex-wife was stealing from the company and one day she emptied the bank account and ran off with one of your best customers.
“I don’t blame her,” you say. “He had one hell of a shade.”
You had to liquidate the company, and sell all your furniture, making a point of keeping just one last tanning bed as a memory of what you had, and what you lost.
“I sleep on it,” you say. “And we’ll have to have sex on it if you still want to do that. Unless you wanted to have sex on the floor. Or like, against a wall or something.”
She hesitates, staring at the tanning bed.
“But I guess you probably don’t want to do that anymore,” you say. “They usually don’t.”
She walks across the room and takes your hand.
“Let’s go,” she says.
“Where?” you ask.
“Come with me,” she says.
You get in her car and she drives you across town to her apartment.
“I didn’t want you to see this,” she says, unlocking her door.
Inside the small studio apartment is nothing but a massage table with a blanket and a pillow, some tear-stained tissues crumpled up on the floor around it.
“We called it Couple’s Massage,” she said. “My husband and I worked together, massaging couples on side-by-side tables. He eventually entered a polyamorous relationship with a husband and wife we massaged regularly. I tried to keep up the business but all our clients were couples. It was too much for one person. I got carpal tunnel and sold everything. Except my table.”
You make love on that table. Then you go back to your apartment and make love on your tanning bed. In a few months you open Deep Tan Deep Tissue, the only tanning salon slash massage parlor in town. People will come knowing that they’ll get a tan and a massage as deep and transformative as the love you found the night when you were both at your lowest.
Happy Tanning Bed Day!