Friday, September 24, 2010

The Third Time

She was tall, that was the first thing I would always say about her when asked to describe her, and generally the first thing you would notice about her when you saw her swanning into your field of vision. And I say swanning as a joke, anyone with legs that long was just one loose pebble in their path from sprawling head first in the dirt. Graceful in her own way, but a bit gangly in a lot of peoples eyes. Very tall, very pale, thin, and possessing piles and piles of bright red hair. Of course she had the freckles of a redhead, and of course I was quite madly in lust, err love, with her at the time. The time, now that I have mentioned it, was about a decade ago, back in the days when the buffalo were plenty upon the plains, and I was a much younger, smarter, and in many ways better man. Speaking of decades, there was (and still is) about a decade difference in our ages. That probably should have been my first clue that this, to quote Sting, was never meant to be, but did I mention she was tall, and redheaded? If she'd had a foreign accent, then I might still be paying alimony, and living in an a room above my mother's garage. My judgment, never my most sound quality, generally checks out when it comes to tall, thin, redheads of the female persuasion.

Also, she remains one of the quirkiest people I have ever met, which considering the zoo I work in, is quite an accomplishment on her part. We had absolutely nothing in common, (well, we eventually had ONE thing in common), and it was a mystery to the people that knew us both what either one of us saw in the other one. That made our relationship just that much more fun. That the mystery of our, quite mutual, attraction was such a puzzler to our friends, made the two of us feel like we were the sole members of some, deep, dark conspiracy against common sense, and our friends "values." It was a source of great amusement to us both, and was probably a contributing factor to us "getting together" in the first place. Neither one of us were really what you would call conventional thinkers, and as shocking as it may be considering my description of her (and its corresponding effect upon me), she was a pretty original thinker (and by that I mean she thought almost 180 degrees differently than I did) in her own right. Long legs, and red hair are a great way to GET my attention, keeping it, on the other hand, requires some degree of talent, and I am not talking about the pole dancing kind of talent (though, she did once, just the once, treat me to how her life would have been as a stripper, I still get goosebumps).

The fact that our relationship tottered on the brink of disaster was part of the attraction. Part of the joy of our (brief) time together was that I (nor her) ever really knew what the day would bring. If we saw each other, and flushed with the excitement of starting a new relationship, we saw each other a lot at the beginning, it could end in tears, screams, cake being thrown, bed, or us playing cribbage in park amongst all the old men playing dominoes and checkers. We just never knew what our (or the others) reaction would be just to seeing each other. It was just plain awful, and absolutely fabulous all at the same time. She would often, (as she loved to tell me), respond to someone asking her about me with the phrase 'Oh, him, he's great just don't believe his lies." Not the most endearing description I have ever heard of me, but she somehow contrived to make it sound like it was a compliment. The worst thing was, I took it as one after she explained it to me. She was that good.

Each time was different in its own special way, no one could fathom what we saw in each other (or more to the point, what she saw in me, what I saw in her was pretty obvious), and fairly quickly my more enterprising friends created a "pool" concerning the ending date of our relationship. Sadly, I was not allowed to throw my money into the pool, because my friends claimed that I would conspire with her to bring about the end of our relationship just to win the bet. Truth be told, they were probably right, and she probably would have went along with it for half of the dough (which explains a lot about my attraction to her). She was a gamble in her own right, being in a relationship with her was like constantly watching the ball spin on a roulette table. She was not interested in filling space, not concerned with being the one I wanted, or the way I wanted, she was a force of nature. Like a hurricane that blows through town that rips it to shreds, and leaving you standing there, somehow untouched, feeling survivor's guilt.

My group of friends would (eventually) be able to judge whether it had been an April day (their code word for a "good day" since my mood would be as bright and shiny as a spring day, and I would ramble about "birds singing, and flowers blooming" and generally be in a sickening good mood), or a November day (their code word for a "bad day" when I would be as melancholy as a Dane; cold, and distant responding to their queries about "what's wrong" with mere grunts, and dark looks. Spending my time brooding over my beer(s), as they tried to cheer me up, or get me to "snap out of it"). Generally, my April days were more of a pleasure for my friends, on those days I would wax lyrical about all sorts of topics, and keep them entertained for hours, also (and I suspect more importantly) I would stand them rounds of drinks until the barkeep told that "we didn't have to go home, but we couldn't stay there." Once they detected the clouds of a November day on my face, my friends became as scare as a virgin in a Chinese whorehouse, and usually concocted ways (i.e. bullshit excuses) for having somewhere, anywhere, else to be. Sick grannies, physics homework, yard work, or a sudden desire to take the veil would all be trotted out as reasons for my friends to flee my general vicinity on my November days.

In retrospect, I cannot blame them, brooding is an activity that is best pursued alone, and my November days were brooding days. On the bright side, my bar tab, while still steep because who broods sober?, was still much less than if my friends had braved my November day just for the free drinks. There were a few brave souls that, on occasion, would stick out a November day. Whether it was a genuine desire to cheer me up, or keep me from doing something stupid, or just an overwhelming desire for free booze, I never asked. I make it a general rule to avoid asking questions which, upon hearing the answer, will cause me distress. Besides, I was generally indifferent to their company anyway, and also these friends, whom I thought were so together have long since left me in search of fairer weather (but that is the subject of another post).

Our fights while not quite the stuff legends are made of, were not something you wanted your (or any) children to see. She had a remarkably large vocabulary, but when angry (and I made her really angry once or twice), she could swear like a fishwife. Actually, the swearing part wasn't her at her worse. When she was truly mad, she would find ways of making me feel like I was a cross between the Black Plague, and cancer. She was a clever lass, and early in our relationship figured out exactly which sequence of buttons of mine to push that would make me feel just how she wanted me to feel. I considered the word "high strung" to have been invented solely to help describe her, she was not amused when I shared that opinion with her. We didn't really fight that often, but when we did we figured we might as well get our money's worth, and those fair weather friends, if they were lucky enough to witness us savaging one another, would regale those who missed it with lurid tales of our attempts "to insult each other in the most arcane language we could think of." Some of our friends were convinced that many of the insults we hurled at each other in our stormier moments hadn't been used since the Middle Ages.

In the cemetery of my imagination, where I bury the non mortal remains of my failed relationships, each month I shared with her has its own, individual grave. In amongst all of those tombstones that have one name and two dates on them, she has several stones that bear her name. When I am having maudlin moments, which is happening with disturbing regularity in my life, I open the gate to that cemetery, and wander amongst those graves it is the group of graves that bear her name in front of which I linger the longest. Perhaps the fact that those graves exist, and that I continue to revisit them, is the greatest compliment that I can paid her. Standing there, in that deep, dark, place I never fail to wonder if perhaps a little more effort, or less stupidity on my part would have made the difference. It is standing there, in the half light between memory, and reality, pretending that I am not there, and this isn't happening, that I feel just a bit curious as to her present whereabouts. She always told me she was "destined to move away," that the town where we lived was just too small, and that she "refused to be swallowed by it." There was always that hint/whiff of "she's going to leave you standing at some terminal someday" about her that made you check the ticket prices for bargains from the nearest airport. To be honest, there were a couple of times where I almost bought her a ticket myself. I didn't care (when this urge struck me) where she when, just so long as it was away from me.

She was both a source of inspiration, and a great demotivating presence at the same time. When I would be stuck for a topic or for just the right word, I would make her stand (just stand fully clothed even) in front of me for about two minutes, and usually the bon mot would arrive. Other times she would come rampaging into my day, and point out my shortcomings like a contractor trying to refurbish a hovel, and turn it into the Waldorf. On those days she was like gravity, ruthless, impossible to resist, and always bringing me down. Maybe she was just a figment of my over active imagination, maybe I dreamt her after a night of just too much rye whiskey, and pink pills. Or, maybe she was all too real, so real that I just could not comprehend what was expected of me, and by the time I puzzled it out she was gone like water vapour on a spring day.

It was a tragedy on the scale of Romeo and Juliet (at least for me), but I never really expected anything else. Our relationship was destined to end in tears, and it was even money on who would be the one shedding those tears. After all, I was raised by a wolf, and she, well she was just too unpredictable. I never saw her cry, and I was never convinced that she was physically able to cry, to this day that remains a mystery to me. She taught me a lot of things, and most of things she taught me were things that other people would soon wish I did not know. In some small way, she took a hammer to my soul, leaving it shattered for quite some time, and since I am at my core, a rotten person, I exacted a terrible revenge in her name. In many ways, this post is an (extremely) long apology to those people that were in the wrong place and the wrong time (i.e. in my path after the implosion of us).

She was either fantastically wealthy, or dirt poor, I could never really figure out which. She drove an absolute wreck of a car, and would sometimes eat butter and saltines as her dinner, but would then buy the most outrageously expensive purses that I have ever seen (think LV). Like many things to do with it her, it made no sense to me, maybe she was a trust fund baby who liked living rough to see how the other half lived, or maybe she just didn't like food, but loved handbags. To be quite honest, I didn't think or care too much about it, because I knew that, at the end of the day, our finances would not ever be intertwined. I knew this, and yet I still, in many ways, ignored it. Like blowing through a stop sign on a busy street, it was not a good idea. She told me often that if "you don't expect too much from me, then you won't be let down." It was my mistake, my school boy error, to start expecting too much out of people is a sure fire way to have them disappoint you.

Of course, all of this groundwork I have laid wasn't the original point of this post. That point was to explain the third time that I suffered a beating at the hands of a bunch of clowns. I suppose I got carried away waxing lyrical about her, but she was, in some ways, the reason I took the beating, and that beating was the final act in the tragicomedy that was our relationship. It was, so far at least, the last clown beating I have taken, and it was by far the worst, and I don't just mean the physical marks it left. Those eventually healed.

It was her sense of the absurd that led to her purchasing the tickets to the circus, it was my sense of dread that tried everything I could think of to get out of going. I was limited in my excuse making, because who can tell someone that, they, a grown ass man, could not go to a circus because he was afraid he might get beaten up by clowns? You trying saying that with a straight face, and see how well it works for you. So, it was with great trepidation that I agreed to accompany her to the circus. She she "it will be fun, two grown up fools like ourselves, eating cotton candy, candied apples, and acting like we are 12 again." Usually I need no second invitation to act like a 12 year old, in many ways 12 is a bit of an improvement in the way I normally act, but when the circus got mentioned, I had the feeling that it was all going to go horribly wrong.

Even with my misgivings, I went, and at first things seemed to be going well. I managed to stay a fairly safe distance from any roaming clown I spied, and we were having a fairly good time. By that I mean no one had called each other a bad name in almost an hour, and no one wanted to go home early. I foolishly began to believe that maybe, just maybe, I was going to pull off this trip without a hitch. However, as usual, I was wrong. Maybe I had ingested too much sugar, or maybe I was just feeling a bit cocky, but I let my guard down, and followed her into the big top. I knew, somewhere in the 2 percent of my mind that still held onto to good sense, that the big top was NOT the place I needed to be. However, it was still a bit of a surprise to feel a hand on each elbow, and to hear "come with us playboy, we need to have a conversation," whispered so menacingly into my ear. I knew I should not have been paying so much attention to the daring, young man on the flying trapeze.

As I was frog-marched out of the rear exit of the big top by two not so sad looking clowns, I caught a glimpse of her. There she was, off in the increasing distance, smiling up at the human cannonball as he sailed majestically into the net set up for him, and blithely unaware of my "clown napping." I was hustled past the snow cone concession, past the elephant's shit pile, and into the darker, more remote areas of the circus, where you really shouldn't go with a bodyguard or three. My escorts did not deign to speak to me on our little constitutional, but I had a fairly good idea where we were going, and what was going to happen when we got there. I am no James Bond, I did not possess any cool gadgets that were specially designed for being taken prisoner by clowns (I am pretty sure even Q never thought of that as a eventuality).

When they got me to a sufficiently dark place, I noticed about 4 other clowns waiting patiently in a circle, and there in the center was their spokes-clown. It was, to my relief, no one I had encountered before, so for a brief second I thought "hey, maybe I can brazen this out." That was merely wishful thinking on my part, the clown in charge just looked at me and said, "I assume you know why you here?" The crashing noise I heard after was my hope that I was going to get out of this situation unscathed. I did say "I can explain, I promise" but they weren't in much of a mood to listen. I got out a few incoherent sentences about "her" being the reason I was there, and I like to think they helped a little bit. The "clown in charge" did say to me, as I felt a large presence behind me grab both arms and pinion them behind me "Tully says "hi" and that we don't have to break anything." After that, about three quick, hard punches to my solar plexus dropped me to my knees like a hot rock. I did manage to sputter to the main clown "tell him thanks." "Jesus, son" was his reply "Tully likes you well enough, he just wishes you would have listened to him." That was pretty much the last thing I remember, if I had some witty comeback to that line, it was lost in a rain of blows to my soft parts, and to the eventual (blessed) unconsciousness.

I woke up, several hours later, next to a bucket of melted caramel, and a stack of apples. It was clear that the festivities (both the real circus, and the whipping my ass type) were over for the night. I took stock of my situation, and realized that nothing was broken, and said a small "thank you" to Tully for his mercy. I guess you can still trust the word of a clown. Once I was able to, and it took a few minutes, I stumbled to my feet, got my bearings, and got the hell out of there as quickly as my battered body would take me. I knew for a certainty that when I did manage to make it home, that the scene that would occur would be just plain awful for me. That dread proved to be unfounded, once I got myself cleaned up, and presentable (or as presentable as you can be after having lumps kicked out of you by clowns), I trundled off in search of her to attempt to explain my disappearance.

I must confess, that I did not really have a coherent idea formed of how to best explain "clowns beat me up, and this wasn't the first time" to her without appearing to have lost my marbles. I hadn't quite sorted out whether to just tell the truth, or to attempt some extravagant lie (I always held the opinion that if you are going to lie, you should lie extravagantly). It would not, as it turned out, matter what I was going to say, because I never got the chance (until now) to say it. When I looked for her, she was nowhere to be found, not at school, not at work, and not at home. All I found was a note that read "I'm gone, don't bother to try and explain, and don't look for me. We both knew that you were eventually going to disappoint me." Of all the blows I took that night, both physical and mental, that note left the biggest bruise.

Of course she didn't just pick up stakes that night, and head for destinations unknown, that took her a while. The few times that we were unavoidably thrown into a social situation at the same time brought a new definition to the word awkward, and I am the walking definition of the word awkward. I am not sure, and don't really care if those aforementioned friends noticed the frostiness in these encounters, but I certainly did (she did icy with real determination). Those, thankfully few and brief, encounters were brutal at least for me. I never found out how she felt about them, and by the time I worked up the courage to try, she was gone, this time physically and for good. There may have been only four cardinal directions for her to have gone in, but that covers a lot of territory, I should know.

In two days, that will have been exactly 8 years ago. For the first 5 years or so, I would "celebrate" what I liked to call the anniversary of the death of our relationship by getting bombed, and acting a fool. That got old eventually, and cost me a couple of other relationships, and a few friends, it even cost me one night in a drunk tank. A few of those type of nights, and a few sobering hours in that tank were enough for me to realize that all the booze in the world (like all the king's horses, and all the king's men) could not 'put me together again'. That realization was the first step on the road to being able to write this story out without wanting to jump off a bridge.

After five years I sort of stopped 'celebrating' the anniversary as it were, and decided to try and bury her in my 'graveyard'. There she lay for about 3 or 4 years until recent events (never mind which ones, they aren't important to an already overly long story). My primary therapist, Herr Kronenbourg, is both a wise, and a literary man, and has helped me make great strides in my attempts to be the man I want to be, whomever the hell that is. I mentioned Herr Kronenbourg's literary bent because he was able to recognize the quote that almost always use when, in those foolish moments, I remember her aloud. I shamelessly stole the quote from Christopher Marlowe, but it is a good quote, and fairly sums up the, now end, result of our relationship. I will end this massive post with that quote because, quite frankly, this post couldn't end any other way.

Herr Kronenbourg: 'Thou has committed--'

Me: 'Fornication: but that was in another country; and besides, the wench is dead'.


Cynnie said...

wow ..i gots to read this a few hundred times ..

but throw cake ? who throws cake ? its cake !

i'm gonna think on this

Cynnie said...

im reading again and again ..
maybe its me ..

I love how you write ..honest ..
But what the fuck with the circus ?
i dont understand how we got to circuses and clowns beating you up .

i liked the beginning and i liked the end
but the clown part is eh

The Grand Inquisitor said...

the clown part was the challenge

c said...

i like it.

clowns and circus too. it's something to make it to the "have to end", or like that.

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