Monday, March 10, 2008

So Much For Signs

Here's the next installment. Thanks so much for reading!

After she takes over, the rest of the rehearsal goes smoothly until Jeff reads his passage, sounding as if he's part of a third-grade learning group. He stumbles almost every other word, reverses lines, and generally can't get a rhythm going. When he finishes even I'm relieved, as if he'd negotiated some particularly rickety bridge.

"God, I botched that one. I felt like my tongue had blown up, or I was drunk or something."

"You know what they say. Bad rehearsal, good performance." I pat his arm.

"Let's get out of here," he says. We sneak off into the night, leaving everybody without saying good-bye, something I don't approve of as a rule, but I'm willing to make exceptions now and then.

It's gotten even colder outside which I didn't think was possible. Until the car warms up, my lungs hurt and every breath takes considerable effort. As we drive back into the city, I think about the first time I saw it, how it seemed like hell itself with its smoke stacks and burnt-out buildings. In one of the neighborhoods, I saw a man urinating on a house in the middle of the afternoon. So much for signs.

"Long night," I say. "I don't know how we're going to make it in the morning."

"God," he says. "I feel terrible. I just kept thinking about Joy tonight. If this is love, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, not even you." He brushes his hair out of his face. "But you're too tough for that, right?"

"That's for me to know and for me to know."

Truth: I've been in love once.

It was a few years ago and if I had to explain it, I would say the experience was like being bit by a rare spider I've read about. When this particular spider bites you, you don't feel it at first, but a rash eventually spreads all over your body, little by little for the rest of your life. There's nothing to done. It affects you by degrees, but the reality of it is that you have the rash until you die.
Even now, I see hints of him everywhere in the subtle features of strangers. Even now, this man visits my dreams and I'm ashamed at how happy I am to see him.
With him, none of the usual questions like where do you see this going? mattered. During that time, my prayers weren't focused on good things happening, but only on bad things not happening.

And in our brief time together, he slept around so much I didn't have to look for evidence, I had to ignore it. I was as pathetic as I've ever been and didn't care. I read books written by prostitutes about becoming a better lover. One thing I remember from the books is the principle of acting "as if." If you don't want to have sex, act as if you do and pretty soon you won't be acting anymore. Talk to his penis and pretend you are addressing a person that is like your lover, but needier. Act as if you like giving blow jobs and you will eventually learn to relax and enjoy it.

Okay, so it's not The Song of Solomon. But the thing was this: I was trying to learn how to please him. I would have done anything he wanted, but in the end, he wanted the one thing I couldn't give him: resistance.

What's to say? I believed in that man like a religion and when he left me, the question wasn't who next, but what next. When he left me, I didn't think I could stand the loneliness, but I've learned.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"No matter how many miles a man may travel, he will never get ahead of himself." George Ade

Cocktail Hour
Drinking novel suggestion: Texasville Larry McMurtry

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!


Anonymous said...

I always talked to my husband's penis. I wanted to know where he'd been and with whom.--Helen Gurley Brown

Anonymous said...

See Here or Here

Lana Gramlich said...

Enjoying the story, although it does remind me of sadder times...

Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, a little sad.

Lana Gramlich said...

BTW, if you get a chance, please vote for my drinking story; "My First & Last Experience with Scotch."

justin said...

did Helen want to know where her husband had been, or his penis?

Anonymous said...

No just the foreskin I cut off.--Achilles