It’s a week before I see Sands again.Â On the way home from the grocery store, I stop by her gym.Â She’s just finished an aerobics class and waves me into her office.
“I did it,” I say as we step inside.
“I told you not to!” she wails and plops into the chair behind her desk.Â “You can find a guy here for only $12 a month.Â How much did you pay?Â You paid double that amount, didn’t you?Â Triple?”
“It was a special offer.Â $49 for three months.Â But never mind,” I say as I squeeze into the narrow plastic chair in front of the desk and pray it doesn’t collapse.Â Its arms dig into my sides.Â Why did its designer think it necessary to make arms with such sharp edges?Â “I’ll probably delete my account when I get home.”
“So did you meet anyone yet?” she inquires.
“Yes and no,” I offer vaguely.
She peers at me suspiciously.Â “You did.Â You met someone already and you’re going to meet him for dinner.Â No way you’re going alone.Â Text me when you find out where you’re going and I’ll go there and sit at a nearby table and make sure he doesn’t slip you the date rape drug.”
“You’re over-dramatizing this just a bit, aren’t you?Â Yes,” I sigh, “I have chatted with a few guys and am unceremoniously dumped when they find out my weight.”
Now she looks at me like I’m crazy.Â “You’re weight is a topic of conversation?”
I shrug.Â “I feel bad because my photo only shows an extreme close up of my face and I want to be honest.Â I don’t want to lie to men.Â I want them to accept me, ALL of me.”Â I pinch my flabby upper arm for emphasis.
“Hence the extreme close up.Â That’s really honest, Bella.Â What else did you lie about?”
I shrug again.Â “I might have made being a stay-at-home mom sound a bit more glamorous.”
Sands lets her face fall into her hands and she shakes her head in disbelief.Â Sands is my best friend from way back.Â A shrewd businesswoman, she is a fitness instructor and owns her own gym with plans to open more.Â Why we are best friends, I don’t know.Â She has everything yet chooses me, the antithesis of everything she represents, as a friend.Â She’s tall and beautiful and obsessed with staying fit and a consummate flirt.Â She gets any guy she wants, though ninety-nine percent turn out to be jerks.Â While my problem is not meeting any men, her problem is meeting too many men at her gym, the problem being that most take off their weddings rings before entering the gym or hide the fact that they have girlfriends until after she sleeps with them.
“Like I said,” I continue, “I’ll probably delete my account.Â I can’t take more rejection.”Sands looks up and points a finger in my face.Â “That’s loser talk and you’re not a loser.Â You paid for three months and you’re not going to let the money go to waste.
“You said online dating is dangerous and didn’t want me to do it.”
Sands leans back in her chair and crosses her legs. “Forget what I said.Â You don’t want a guy from here, believe me.”Â She fails to make eye contact, which means only one thing.
“Who is it this time?” I prod.
Sands exhales.Â “Gregory, the blonde IT tech who joined a couple months ago.”
“Sands,” I chide.Â “Girlfriend or wife?”
“Wife,” she mutters.Â “And get this: she calls right after we, well you know, and he answers the phone and then leaves because she needs him to pick up ice cream.Â Can you believe it?”
“No, I can’t believe it that you will hop into bed with a guy without knowing more about him.”
Sands looks sad.Â “Do you think I’m a whore?”
“Yes.Â But I still love you.”
“Thanks.Â At least someone does.”Â She brightens.Â “There, you see?Â I get rejected, too, so don’t let one guy’s rejection keep you off that dating site.Â You need to go home and get back on your laptop and meet some men.Â And then come back here tomorrow and start working out.”
“Sands!” I protest.
“No, I mean it.Â If you don’t to lie about your weight, then you need to lose it so you don’t have to lie.Â Now get out of here and find a man.Â The wedding’s getting closer and you aren’t going to take Cat or Riyaan as your date.Â It’s time to take charge of your life.”
I stare at her.Â “Have you been talking to my pa?”
“No.Â How is he?”
“Just as full of advice as you are.”Â I get lost in thought.Â “You know, honesty gets me nowhere, so I might as well lie online.”
“You already lie online” Sands reminds me.
“I mean about my weight.Â I can’t count how many stories I’ve heard where people meet someone from a dating site and they don’t look anything like they made themselves out to be, or their profile photo was evidently taken several trouser sizes ago.Â So why shouldn’t I do the same in order to make first contact?”
“And then it blows up in your face when they meet you in person.Â Yeah, that’s a great plan.Â Let me know how it works out.”
I rise from the chair, taking it with me.Â “I’m taking charge of my life, just like you said,” I say through clenched teeth as I struggle to disengage the chair, which is firmly attached to my butt.
“Let me help,” Sands gets up just as the chair comes off with a pop and crashes to the floor.
“No, I can help myself,” I say and hurry out of the office before she can argue.