THE EXCITING JOURNEY OF Writing
a Fictional Book
"IT'S A LUXURY BEING A WRITER,
BECAUSE ALL YOU EVER THINK ABOUT IS LIFE."
BECAUSE ALL YOU EVER THINK ABOUT IS LIFE."
How strange, I’ve often scoffed at those who keep diaries, chronicling their lives, but here I am, Roger Hillstein about to go over to the dark side, and become one of “those” people. It seems silly to write about everything that occurs daily in one’s life. Might as well start a blog.
Recently retired, it’s difficult to imagine life will be nothing other than boring. Sure, I could sleep longer, which won’t happen, travel, not interested, or could improve my golf game. One out of three works for me.
Today is the first day of a New Year, the Rose Parade, made a great lunch, watched football. This is my first entry of my new life in my new diary. Already bored reading about me.
Woke up today with a stiffness in my lower back. Decided New Year’s resolutions are as follows; Join a gym, eat healthier, take better care of myself. Also, improve my golf game. Now have the time to find a good instructor. Retirement will be fun, not too extravagant, but it will be a great retirement. I promise.
Resolution #1 done. Joined a gym and met with the health instructor, a young man named Kevin. He said I wasn’t in bad shape, then added, for my age. Not sure it was a compliment. We discussed my diet and Kevin said I needed to gain a few pounds. Personally, I look okay.
First, we started, I mean, I started with a light exercise routine. Already feeling sore. During my session, Kevin introduced me to a pretty, dark-haired, young woman named Stephanie. I think she also works at the gym. Kevin’s her boyfriend.
Decided today to drive over to the sporting goods store and buy workout clothes. Might as well look the part even if it’s only for show. Found several good after holiday bargains, spent under $100.
Going to have the inside of the house painted and will begin getting estimates. Might even redo the kitchen, but an hour later decided against it. Funny thing happened at the gym this morning. As I’m leaving, Stephanie, the young woman I met the other day ran out after me. “Excuse me, you dropped your towel,” she said.
“Thank you, Stephanie, right?”
“That’s right, Roger.”
I was impressed, she remembered my name. We talked a bit, she seems very nice, then out of the blue I did something crazy.
“Would you like to have lunch?”
“Oh Roger, I’m so sorry I can’t today.”
“I understand,” I said feeling foolish I even asked.
“I’m free tomorrow, if the offer still stands.”
My face must have lit up like a little boy who’d been given seconds of chocolate cake. “Really,” I said, “I mean sure, tomorrow’s great.”
“Fine, see you tomorrow here in the parking lot.”
Driving away my mind was in a fog. I can’t believe I'm going on my first date in over 15 years. If one could call this a date. Not wanting to ruin the moment I didn't have the heart to tell Stephanie the towel was probably from the stack of towels near the door. It was white just like all the others.
Diary- Have re-read the first five days of this year's entries and don't know if I can keep this up.
We met in the gym's parking lot and had lunch at a nice restaurant in Santa Monica. Found out Stephanie likes Champagne.
“Would it be all right if I order a bottle?”
“Sure, go ahead,” I said not giving it a second thought.
A man Stephanie knew, Harry walked by our table
“Stephanie, is that you?” he said.
“Harry, my gosh how long’s it been. Come here and sit down.” She scooted over and said, “Roger this is Harry― Harry― Roger.”
They seem to have known each other quiet well because within minutes Harry had his arm around Stephanie's shoulder during our entire lunch, which Harry invited himself to. After lunch Harry got up.
“Stephanie take care, I miss you,” he said walking away.
“Miss you too,” she said.
“Nice meeting you, Harry,” I said under my breath.
As Harry left the restaurant Stephanie said, “I feel bad for him. He lost his wife several months ago, and I was friend trying to help him through a difficult time.”
“That’s nice of you,” I said as the server came by with the check.
Lunch for three- $105, Champagne- $390, total with tip- $575.
This is a new experience for me. Stephanie seems nice and thoughtful. We're seeing each other again tomorrow, apparently to return my workout clothes.
Diary-At least this entry is an improvement.
Picked Stephanie up at the gym's parking lot, but this time after lunch. We drove over to the place I bought the workout clothes and returned them.
Returning to the car she said, “Let’s go over to Montana Avenue, I know a great place that specializes in workout clothes.”
We drove to the store she knew and purchased three t-shirts, a pair of shorts, and three sweat pants.
“Roger, you’re going to look great in these clothes.”
“Yeah, they’re nice.”
The young sales girl totaled up my purchases. “Cash or credit?”
“Credit,” I said handing her my card.
“Just insert it with the chip in the machine.”
“Excuse me,” I said, “it says $543? There must be a mistake.”
“Roger, sorry about that I forgot to say I’m Carol’s friend, Stephanie.”
“Oh, thank you for telling me,” she said. After a moment, “Go ahead sir, put your card in again.”
I didn’t know what to say, the new total was $495.
“That’s better,” said Stephanie. “You will really like the feel of these clothes. They come from the best Chinese factory in the world.”
I was not aware China had a best.
Stephanie is so nice, and generous with her time. I have to admit the clothes were nice. She apparently knows quality.
“Let me buy you something,” I said.
“No, thank you Roger, I couldn’t let you do that.”
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Be my guest.”
“Stephanie,” said the young girl, “we just got in some great new shorts and tees. They’re right over here.”
Stephanie picked out this cute little, and I do mean little, tank top, in four colors, along with matching, in my opinion, skimpy shorts. Also in the four matching colors.
“Since we’re going back to the gym, would it be all right if I wear one of the outfits? I’m going to work out the minute we get back.
With the “friend” discount the four tank tops and the matching shorts came to $650. Whatever happened to the days when fashionable workout attire was nothing more than sweatpants and a matching sweatshirt. Throw them in the laundry and you’re done. These all had cleaning instructions that said, “dry clean only.”
As we pulled into the gym’s parking lot Kevin was leaving.
“We got back just in time, there’s your boyfriend,” I said.
“What?” she said looking around. “You mean Kevin, oh no he’s not my boyfriend. Sometimes we hang out together, work on our techniques.
I never knew there was so much to exercise-Gym Clothes-$1,188.
Stephanie and I spoke on the phone for a while today. Didn't go out because my Maserati was in the shop. She asked what I did, and I told her I was retired. She asked where I lived and I told her near the ocean, and of course, with an ocean view. We arranged to see each other tomorrow, because the day after, Stephanie is going out of town. She needed to see a sick friend for a few days.
This is crazy, it's only been a few days but I am starting to like this woman. How ridiculous, she is over twenty-five years younger than I am.
Diary- Am still new at this, so don't know if all of this information is necessary.
Stephanie is turning out to be a great person. We walked down by the beach talking about nothing until.
“Where is Mrs. Hillstein?” she asked.
“No silly, your wife.”
“Never met the right person I guess. I had my business that kept me busy.”
“You probably kept everyone out. You’re one of those guys who’s never lived life.”
“What’s that mean, I’ve lived life,” I said objecting to her assumption.
She stopped walking. “Listen Roger, life’s an adventure, to be enjoyed to its fullest.”
“I’ve had adventures,” I said.
“Tell me one you’ve had.”
“Well, when I was a kid―”
“No Roger, an adventure as an adult.”
“Okay, as a dare I ate six hamburgers in thirty minutes, plus two beers.”
Stephanie resumed walking and I could see she was shaking her head.
“What,” I shouted, “you don’t think that wasn’t an adventure. I almost ended up in the hospital.” She continued down the beach. I caught up to her and blocked her path.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I’m sorry for asking all these questions. I don’t want you getting the wrong impression.”
“I’m not. What about you? Tell me one of your adventures. Has there ever been a Mr. Stephanie?”
As if winter had set in, the warmth in Stephanie’s eyes evaporated. “Take me back to my car,” she said turning around and walking back to where I parked.
“Stephanie wait, what’s going on.” I was confused at the change in her attitude.
“Roger, my yesterdays are not open for discussion. It’s best if we were just friends. We’ll talk now and then.”
Did I just miss something? Did I read the invitation wrong? Where’d all of this came from? I asked Stephanie about her past and she got defensive, then silent. She was upset.
As we were driving I asked, “What could I do to make you smile again?” The words spewed out. It was too late to take them back.
“Roger, if you have to ask pull over right here and I’ll call Uber.”
Maybe there was an intelligent reason why there had never been a Mrs. Hillstein. Suddenly I had an idea. I would make everything right. I surprised Stephanie and drove to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
“Let’s go shopping,” I said.
As if it had been a freak storm twenty minutes earlier, Stephanie’s disposition changed and those warm eyes returned along with the most beautiful smile I had ever seen. Bought her two purses, one from Gucci, and one from Prada. Continuing to window shop, we stopped in front of the window at Tiffany's. She pointed out the type of ring “Mr. Right” would buy her, if she were to become engaged.
Happily, not getting engaged, felt I got away cheap today. Two purses-$2545.
Sitting at dinner, which cost around $450 Stephanie said, “You saved one hundred and forty-seven thousand dollars today, Roger.”
I took a minute to realize she was referring to the ring at Tiffany’s. We both laughed.
Diary-It was a strange moment with Stephanie today. She got quite defensive about her past. It's probably my imagination. It’s nothing.
Stephanie has gone to Las Vegas to see a friend who is sick. She said she would be back in a couple of days; I miss our conversations.
Stephanie returned from Vegas, exhausted. She said her sick friend kept her up all night. The whole time she was there, Stephanie said she could not get any sleep. They just stayed inside and went nowhere. When she left, he was feeling much better. We agreed to see each other tomorrow.
Today, saw another wonderful quality about Stephanie. After another one of our champagne lunches, we walked the Santa Monica Promenade, and stopped by the Apple Store. Her laptop was recently stolen, and she needed to replace it.
“Funny how things work,” she said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I was planning to replace that laptop, it was over three years old.
Stephanie found the best laptop in the store, and then, this is where my heart melted a little. Along with the laptop, Stephanie picked out a new iPhone, which also came with an iWatch. Personally I can’t keep up with all these new gadgets. She picked out another phone and watch set.
“How many phones do you need?” I said
“This is for you, as a gift from me. You’ve been so kind, it’s the least I could do.”
“What am I going to do with it?”
“Roger, this way you and I can be sync’d up together, wouldn’t that be cute,” she said smiling. She handed everything to the young sales associate who agreed with her.
I had no idea what “sync’d up,” meant, but said, “This is too much Stephanie, I couldn’t let―”
“Stop it Roger, I insist,” she said grabbing my hand and pulling me up to check- out stand.
I stood next to her as she pulled out her checkbook.
“Damn,” she said.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“My checkbook, I’m out of checks. I wrote the last one this morning and forgot to put new ones in,” she said shaking her head in disgust with herself.
“Why don’t you use a credit card?”
“If I can't pay cash for these types of things, I won't buy them. I’m so embarrassed. I’m sorry,” she said to the person at the register pushing them away. She looked at me, “I’m sorry Roger.”
“Don’t be. The offer alone was generous. I couldn’t let you buy me something like this,” I said slipping my credit card to the sales associate.
“What are you doing, Roger?”
“Please, we’ll talk about it later,” I said.
She tried to object, but I wouldn’t hear of it. I know this is crazy, but I think I might have feelings for Stephanie.
Apple Store $3,987 Lunch $399
Diary- Reviewed my last several entries and see a pattern developing, but can't put my finger on it yet.
Today, surprised Stephanie at the gym. I walked into the large workout room and spotted her in the corner near the weightlifting equipment. She was standing there with a man who looked like he spent 22 hours a day, every day, at the gym. They were standing face to face. One of his hands gently held Stephanie’s chin while his other hand's thumb was in her mouth.
“Hello,” I said walking up behind her.
My surprise startled her, causing her to chomp down on the man’s thumb. He screamed as if a nail was being driven through his hand which caused Stephanie to scream equally loud.
“My god, Roger what are you doing here?” she said.
“I had nothing to do I thought I’d come to the gym.” I looked at the guy, “Are you okay?” I asked, but realized it was a stupid question seeing a painful expression on his face.
“Roger, this is my vocal couch.”
“Your what?” I said looking back at the guy. He appeared to be in a lot of pain. “He was showing me the proper way to position my mouth to make the right musical sounds.”
“We’re― work―ing on her, damn it, vocal chords. Ow, god this―hurts. We were strengthening her throat muscles,” he said.
“Maybe you should try holding it above your head,” I said.
He removed his hand from around his thumb and I could see a steady flow of blood. I could see the color in his face disappear when he stared at the wound. He staggered. Stephanie grabbed him before he fainted and helped him to a bench.
Every day I am learning more about this great, and just found out, talented woman. I’ll never surprise her the way I did today. Stephanie's vocal coach needed stitches in his thumb, which I felt responsible for. Offered to pay for the emergency room. ER visit, $1,100.