Hippo in a Bathtub

I have had a horrible day. I feel particularly vulnerable I’m also in graduate school and my thesis advisor has just given me feedback that my writing is atrocious and that I write like a talk, I suppose that means both my verbal and written skills are awful.

In addition to this today I have had to fire an employee who has gone behind my back and even though she wants to stay, I know if I don’t let her go, I will have lost all respect in the clients eyes and I have no guarantee she won’t do it again, I hate pulling rank, but it’s necessary sometimes, the whole thing is messy and ultimately means lost income. My new and still charming boyfriend offers to run me a bath and have dinner ready if I drive to his place.

I can’t resist the chance to get out of the house, I jump in the shower and throw on the cutest comfy outfit I have, prepare a quick dinner for my daughter, get a last minute babysitter and escape my own life momentarily, driving towards his house. As I’m driving to his place just off Montana in Santa Monica, I imagine him opening the door to his apartment, the table set in the living room and a smell of exotic Thai spices filling the room and I have visions of the bathtub full of foam with pretty fragrances filtering through the air and blending with the smell of the food. It’s cold and clammy outside just after a rain and I jump over the gutter puddles after I finally find parking and practically skip toward his apartment. I knock on the door and there is no answer, I knock again still no answer. I check the doorknob and it’s unlocked, I open it carefully saying “hello” into the living room. I hear a faint “come on in” from god knows where and I enter.

I taste dampness and smell bathroom steam. There is no food, no smell of garlic, ginger or cayenne. I’m dehydrated from crying and shaky from low blood sugar not eating for too long. Boyfriend is nowhere to be seen the bathroom door is partially open and steam is oozing through the door. The apartment is cold, it feels like the heat has never been turned on. The walls are bare, a single bulb in what probably was a cool fixture half a century ago illuminating the place, it looks recently moved into still smells of fresh paint and there are two white plastic couches and a glass coffee table, someone gave him for free. I cling to the hope that he’s putting the final touches on my bath and that he’ll fix dinner while I’m relaxing in my bath. I get to the bathroom door the steam hitting my face and all I can think is there’s a hippo in the bathtub, my fat sweaty boyfriend is in the tub smiling at me “what took you so long? The water was getting cold so I though I might as well get in. Sorry I didn’t know what you want to eat so I didn’t get anything yet.”

I should have turned around on my heel and walked right out of his life, but I didn’t.