Jul 8, 2008

Another husband has been reported "unavailable". There's been a whole slew lately. Gone limp, eyes lost that oval look of anticipation, lips reduced to solid yellow lines. Apparently, he has been this way for the last ten years, which came as a surprise to me. I thought his warranty was still good. Who better lived the illusion of the endless bon vivant, drinking, carousing, from one end of the earth to the other. He's a travel writer by profession, now abandoned in the Sierra of his mind. He has arguments: a series of operations; various organs are on the fritz. Run down to his bed, left to listen to traffic and the gardener doing what was always his job. Left to hate himself for being infirm, for being what he always was.

So naturally his wife is disconsolate, with no illusion home. The last lovemaking is not still to come, which whether good or bad, would be memorable for that alone. Any promise has hope in it. But now the last time was so long ago she cannot remember any details, nor does she want to remember. And so what to do?

She has her devices, as she refers to them, and those have provided the jittery part of what she requires but nothing for the slower sensation of skin itself. Lately, she goes for long walks in the park, to keep her enviable shape and to seek refuge in routine. She begins and ends at the rose garden, where she re-examines all the varities, notes the irony of 'Love's Promise' and marvels at how all the roses resemble vaginas within vaginas. And always, like a dope addict, she inhales the scent of 'Marmelaide skies'. On the way out she pauses before the statue of Thomas Masyrk, her one link to an emmigrant past. She is always put off by his look. The bronze and shadow, with hair flat against the head, as though Thomas just got out of the shower. He looks like a 12-year-old boy just getting out of the shower, she thinks. And he looks somber, like her husband actually. He does not look like all the knowledge he discovered provided much hope. He looks like he could say something cruel as easily as something wise.

Her friends have suggested she take a lover. But who? There is the hunky handyman, but married. There is the waiter, around the corner on Lyon Street, but what if he's gay? A woman friend, who's had a lot of experience with this, suggests a certain website where it's easy to find friendly black men. She can tell you 'til the cows come home about black men, how only they know how to touch, how to move, how to prolong. This afficionado is single herself, just now bemoaning the marriage of her ex to a younger, and much worse — an exceptionally wealthy woman.

If this is the era when women are supposed to take over the world, I haven't seen it. Where's the gaiety, when's the party?

For this woman I'm talking about the idea of taking on a black lover is too intense. She doesn't have the cultural stamina for that. And of course what she really needs is someone to just hold her. For a month straight and then maybe some sex, well definitely some sex then. And from there she wants more than a casual affair. She wants to fall in love, to be a Lina and 'swept away in the blue sea of August.'

There was another similar story I heard the other day. From a much older woman. Fifteen years ago her husband ran off with another woman, a showgirl, a skier, a tennis player, who made it clear, there were no strings attached. Oh boy, he liked it that way, and so he never married her. But now he's 90 and the showgirl skier is in her fifties and she also wants another run down the mountain. Not to mention a little heritage fund, a little money for the help please, for the service of it all. I'm getting this, you understand, from the scorned. She describes how at parties, because she had children and they had children and so there are endless events, and when the other woman arrives filled with bangles and smiles, the old and older wife cannot bear the sight. But she wants me to know the secret glee she feels when she catches the trophy wife in a private moment, eyes falling on her trophy and thinking of how heavy it is.

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