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No matter how old we get, we still appreciate a good-looking man when we see one. Am I right, ladies?
I met Mark on the dance floor. He was 20 years old and we both were taking salsa lessons (of all things) he was earning his engineering degree and I was still in nursing school. I remember how he looked in those tight pants (long before skinny jeans were in style), his hips twisting back and forth like a washing machine agitator. That first night he spun me around the dance floor, his hand hot on my back, my hip, the palm of my hand, I knew he was the one. I just knew it.

Fast forward 28 years. That hot salsa dancer of mine stands in front of the grill on our beautifully-landscaped patio (he’s good at that, too), flipping burgers around with a spatula. His pants are tight, but for a different reason. There’s a little too much in front and not enough in the back. His hair is thinning on top. But I still love him.

“How is dinner coming along?” I ask him. His beautiful smile hasn’t changed, nor his big brown eyes. But his smile isn’t as quick anymore. And it doesn’t stay as long.

“It’s coming,” he answers.

Then it’s back to pushing burgers around on the grill. He’s taking no joy in it. Even the burgers themselves look miserable.

“I’m going to put some music on,” I say. I shout to our Echo dot on the porch: “Alexa, play salsa.” She starts to play an oldie but goodie. I sidle up behind my husband and move my hips suggestively. “Do you remember this one?” I ask, holding my wine glass high as I make the moves.

He grunts. Grunts! And that’s all I get out of him.

I dance a little by myself. After all, I’ve been feeling pretty good (considering) since I started my bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. It’s been two months and my energy is up, my focus is better, and my libido is . . . well, let’s just say it’s been healthy, unlike my husband’s.

“Come on, papi, dance with me,” I encourage him.

“Not now, Mindy. Cant you see I’m cooking.”

Now it’s my turn to grunt. More of a harrumph! It’s not fair. I’m finally feeling good again, vibrant, healthy, and I’m stuck with an old grouch.

“Maybe I’ll go find myself somebody else to dance with,” I say.

“I’m cooking your dinner for crying out loud! Can you just let me cook?”

My comment was supposed to spark a little healthy jealousy, not set him off like that. I stop dancing and stand there just looking at him. Something is wrong. This is not my carefree, fun, happy husband. He has changed. He has been changing. I’ve noticed it bit by bit.

He is glaring at a grill full of hockey puck burgers. I see they are getting “a little” overdone, but he doesn’t seem to notice. He attacks them with the spatula over and over again. I pick up the plate and hold it out to him. That seems to snap him out of his alternate reality, and throws me an apologetic look, then slides the burgers one by one onto the plate in my hands.

“Mi amor, what’s the matter?” I ask him.

The burgers are all on the plate now, but he’s still staring at the grill.

“Mark, you are scaring me,” I say.

His eyes flick upward and catch mine. He hesitates, and then he says the terrible words: “Mindy, I have something to tell you, and it’s bad.”

**You can read all future parts of this story on our blog.