Looking back, Sheila came to the realization that she had shared fifteen years of her life with a man who was a stranger.
This moment of truth arrived with the delivery of a forty-two inch big screen TV. If she had known then what she eventually discovered the hard way, she would never have bought him the gift in the first place. Since installing it in their den along with a satellite dish offering two hundred programming choices, fifty of which were sports networks, Hal spent most of his waking time in a leather recliner.
His obsession was all consuming to the point where he now ate and slept in the chair to enable him to watch televised hockey games, in all the time zones. She was convinced that if it had a built-in toilet accessory, he would probably stay there forever. Some people had teddy bears and blankies
as comfort items - her husband had his leather chair. Such was her life.
An intimate birthday party for Hal seemed like an inspired idea
at the time but in hindsight she should have waited before acting on it. After
ten years of marriage their relationship had become predictable and dull. She
hoped that a party for two would rekindle a flame that once burned brightly but
was in peril of flickering out. It was blatantly clear that her husband
preferred watching televised hockey games to anything resembling a normal
conversation between two people. Her usefulness for him was relegated to
covering household expenses with a part time job that enabled him to stay home
and do what he did best, which was nothing.
In a desperate but futile bid for his attention, she had once
stood naked in front of the TV, posing provocatively.
"You're blocking my view," he had barked at her, between bites
of a sandwich she had just brought to him, followed by "you made me miss a
It came as no surprise when a night out at the movies was
rejected within seconds of the words forming on her lips.
playoffs started," he told her. "Can't expect me to leave now!"
"And I'm sure the players have come to depend on your valuable
support," she snapped back, storming out of the door, slamming it behind her.
It wasn't as if time spent with her best friend Estelle was an
unusual occurrence. In fact, their get-togethers at the coffee bar had become
part of a regular routine. Sipping lattes they discussed the planned birthday
celebration for Hal.
"Since you feel compelled to create a
special menu for the insensitive dolt, the only place to shop is at Epicurean
Edibles, but he's really not worth the effort you know..."
"Let's not go there again," Sheila jumped in before her friend
could finish the sentence, knowing another scathing denouncement of Hal was on
"Why don't you just divorce him and get it over with?" Estelle
asked. "He doesn't give a damn about you, anyway. Given the choice you'd place a
distant third after hockey, his only real love. He probably saves his romantic
moments for a hockey puck!"
They both laughed but Sheila was very much aware of Estelle's
feelings about Hal. In fact Estelle had suggested on countless occasions that
the best thing that Sheila could do for herself was walk out and even then, he
probably wouldn't even realize she was even gone.
"You're so negative! Okay – I admit things aren't the same as
they used to be but what marriage is? Hal's got his good points…"
"Like?" Estelle asked, waving her perfectly manicured nails in
the air for emphasis. "Name two of his strong points."
"Well - he's honest and… I can't think when you're pressuring
"See? You can barely come up with one! Be honest with me and
yourself, for once. Aren't you just the teensy bit curious what your life would
be like without him? More importantly, don't you want to find out?"
To be continued.
Go to Chapter 2
"Starting Over" - a continuing chapter-fiction story focusing on the trials
and tribulations of Sheila, once married to a loser, who attempts to re-start