Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The witchdunker himself dunked
Ah, the play's the thing.
My play, The Fire in Bradford, Act V, scene 1
The permutations of unrequited love.
One makes mountains out of molehills.
One gets confusing letters, like those from Celia to the professor:
Yes, its too bad. Too bad the way it turned out for us. You're sitting there in your lonely room, rejected. And yet there is this love. Surely,with your education, the various languages, you must have come across philosophy.
There is the Platonic love that I have for you. I love you only so far as out social circumstances will allow.
I love you spiritually. We can love each other, but we'll have to turn this thing into the spiritual.
I have felt so bad after that time we got together at the Grey Goat, where I made it plain in no uncertain terms that we could'nt be together any more. And there is only one way I can sign this note. With love.
please don't assume that things are that all right between us. Don't assume anything. There has been a change. We can stay together as before, but it'll be on my terms. My terms...Celia.
Well. While it may be true with Kierkegaard that the business of love is to indeed make mountains out of molehills, this was a pretty tall molehill.
So now we set up Act V, Scene One in our ongoing play.
THE FIRE IN BRADFORD ACT V, Scene One
Interior scene of the professor in his apartment. He is extremely agitated. Paces from corner to corner, hitting
a shin on the corner of the antique coffee table, yelling OW, sitting down and finally taking up a corner where the typewriter sits. He begins typing.
The professor's voiceover:
I just got your last note. This is confusing.
My turn to write, but by the time you will have read it, you might wonder wthether to laugh or cry.
It has struck me over this past long weekend that all is not hunky-dory in the state of Denmark, allusions jto ethnic origins and Newfoundland be damned. My ifeboat seems to have this great big hole in it, and I'm not sure whether you can appear as your usual fetching self in a U-boat uniform or, more accutately, be my angel of the mists who has only now guided me to a firm shore. The lifboat is, at any rate safely moored, but I've ben feeling for the longest time that I'd been torpedoed.
When we first met, really met, I was a bit like the hero out of Simon and Garfunkel, was a rock, was an island , was fairly insular in myself, needing littled that stemmed from elsewhere; the asbestos suit was on snugly and some of the king's horses and men had succeeded in doing a fair patch job on old Daniel.
Then along came Celia. Well. I went froma fairly self-possessed man of 47 to a love-struck young paranoid of 18 who possessed all the filigree of love without its frruit and enjoying all the pain even so.
You had me hooked, almost grounded and on the road to even more obscurity than I already possess. The situation was hopeless, no man would touch it with a ten-foot pole, but I would, for I was and am deeply attracted to you as we are both alike, and like tends to attract like, right down to the multiple personalities, changes of appearance, attempts at being Honore' de Cossack, guitar playing, stroking, hugging, making strange warm love somewhere on the far side of the moon through an amber, alcoholic mist.
We were and are (even after these twelve months), in the first stages of falling in love, and I do mean love, for I am so much like you-- and do poople like you and I ever "fall" in love? We probably, each of us, consider the world as our playground for our various schemes, our "collecting hearts like notches on a gun", as you once put it.
Ah but even aliens fall in love, and we soon developed a pretty strong mutual admiration society of two, strangers in a strange land, fairy folk we were, romantics in a farily ugly and acquisitive world.
I was delighted to get your letters, nicely written, well thought out, neat as pins.
Then came a change. I found myself totally unprepared to have you write to me l as if you were a much younger woman, perhaps a girl of 22 rather than an experienced woman of 34. The letters became lovelorny, a little broady, referencs to collecting hearts like notches on a gun and a quick denial of same, the mark of a hand used to dealing with younger men of a long time back, in a style of hearts and flowres that began to have less and less refrence to experienced people people who know what it is to walk through fire, to even trade their bodies in situations that sometimes surely approach World War Three, while strangely possessing an altruism, perhaps even an ulselfish concern for the other, to, in your own worlds, "get us back to whre we belong." But t I'm starting to hae' me doots.
Perhaps your letters were so young-at-face value, so direct and full of unmistakable knowledge of their effects that there was no mistake as to the message sent and to the message that would be received.
You were telling me that we could only be friends, that sex outside your marriage was out of the question, that our love could only be spiritual, all the things you tell a man who is afraid of women, who gets their egos up and is not
really all there, not really grown up, an ingenue, perhaps like our dtinking friend John, thaough I am not sure.
Now, I have enough fear to know that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. I also know that it's much easier to deal with the father of a child whom your dog has bitten, rather than the wife. Yes, Lief is the man, certainly by contract and financial arrangments and he is infinitely easy to deal with becaouse there is no doubt that Lief and I like each other...:Yet in the words that lovers say to each other at night, when the reveal everything, and I do mean everything, the sublect of old Daniel comes up and Celia is told to the last detail as to wha to do or say.
Yet I know you are making a hellish sacrifice by cleaving onto me with fair appraisal of the consequences, and that kind of loyalty has bto be appreciated. And het and yet. We come to the bone of contention, to coin a phrase.
When we first me, you said you would find a way. Later, when I brought up the subject of sex in what was then your "open marriage", you said it was "only sex", perhaps a mere filip or two-in a casual relationhip.
Well. Along comes a developing Daniel, halfway a teacher and halway and alcohol-crazed wild man, driven half-mad by a woman's beauty, not used at all to a woman who will, yet she won't--too used to having women make the first move and not the other way around. I am vain and spoiled, like you, from carrying the auras of too many lovers, and they all had been complementary, coming to me first and not the other way around.
So I was secure in knowing the ways of relationships, certainly my past relationships, too secure I was, and did not go to you soon enough and here we are at this impasse, where the man struggles with the teacher, explaining to the woman why certain things are inappropriate, are just gauche, while at the same time trying to commit those very acts. (The sober Daniel is different fromthe tipsy DAniel, much as the sober Celia is different from the wonderful blues-loving doll that you really are)..
Methinks the lady doth protest too much.
Methinks the lady has explored all her entuitive machinery, which involves a man's income, social position, access to jpower, personal attraciveness , all of that and the lady has found jold Daniel wanting; she will not have sex, real sex outside the marriage, at least not with Daniel.
But the chilling thought comes: What if sex is possible within the marriage, you with me and the inevitable lies to Lief that must come to hold the marriage together?...Take a drink of something bracing.
I am not any more modest than I should be. I am not any more naif than I should be. I am a writer like you, hungry for truth, but if I practice duplicity routinely among my friends and lovers, I cannot make the words come straight and clear, because my heart would not be straight and clear and so I am reduced to the mass of men and women who long ago made their emotional and financial compromise, so therefore I cannot write with all mly heart and also my spirit, for onlly half of me would now be dedicated to the task.
So if there is a sourness to my mood, an effeminacy in my style through the inauthenticity of the way I move and act, it is not because I am still one more teenager looking for ginch, but because I am a writer and a man, not a truckdriver, not a jock, but a man who has had some sort of impact on the world. And not for me the emotional callousness in a world off fleshy Fitzgerald characters who go around and devour each other and everytyhing around them, a world ot the devourers and the devoured.
Many years ago, my then wife, watching me struggling with an angel, said she was witnessing the breakdown of a once-fine man, and in fact, that was the case. She was not a dull woman.
That man has since broken and mended and he is not a semi-literate fuckup that falls heavily for a bit of gash and then has to be treated like a clerk at the take-out.
I have long obsereved you as a person and a writer, an ambitious person, not at all a littlle bit of fluff, a woman of ambition, drive, talent. But there is this unnatural attractiveness that you have, for women as well as men, a fact that gets all the sisty-uglers upset and then you get treated like Cindarella, much like I myself have been treated like Cinderfella by my own sisty-uglers.
You are not a sisty-ugler, but a beauiful woman trying to reach her proper place. For Christ' sake, get us back to where we belong. I am running short of patience, too old for much more of the waiting game and I am audacious enough to mke some demands and set down a contract.
Okay, here is the swagger:
The conditions of the contract between you and me run nothing short of unconditional adulation. This is the contract. You will revolve around me, not the other way around, kiss my ass on request and be my woman, putting her man forward and not being a millstone around his neck, his badge of being iinducted into Celia's Pain Club.
I aim to be your lord and master and the time has come to separate sheep from men. I will not be your uncle, I will not be nslaved like poor old Lief as he watches you change into more and more of a tyrant the older you get. For make no mistake about it, when a woman has these dikey independence famtasies and moves right into them,, when sho goes to night classes she risks the convent and the the house of the rising sun.
There is a way out for both of us in a love that promiseses to be much larger than last year's bestseller. I do not expect you to change overnight, nor do I try to coerce you into a roll in the hay just by fluffing some of my sharpest feathrers. I want you to love me as I know lyou really do. I expect youto be perfectly honest in telling me whom you're invloved with besides Lief and me. I am not a wimp, nor a dweeb, nor a homosexual, your strange preference in men to date. I am a man, a damn good one and that is the source of your roil and occasional spurts of poison as you seen to roll of the anima jof your own animlus. Hell indeed has not fury like a woman scorned., I don't mean o scrro you, Ciliea, I just don't want to be in a contract where you get everything and I get nothing, iterally nothing.
Yes, yes, I have robbed Lief's pantry and sampled some of his goods. I see a hell of a good man in Leif and I blame lyou not at all for still being with him. But it's how you stick with him. I am not the only threat to a marriage in which the initial trust is broken. Please do not cry, for I have been there and it will tak a hell of a lot more tears and a hell of a lot more years until it's all reselved. I have ben succssful int totally destroying a lover of my ex -wife's, am experienced at it, and I am, Machieavellian as the thought is, perfectly capable of destroying Lief. But If I were to destory Lief, it would be not to me that lyou would go, but to somebody else.
Leve me, love me ounconditionally in a form you can find and stop this high school confidential bullshit I am still the naive, slightly incompetent Inspector Cluseau of the litereary world that you had initially met, though a little older now and vrey much in love with you. Find away.Find a wayfor both of us.
STAGE BUSINES: There is a drip coming from the celing, a drop of some strange liquid, possibly bath water, hitting the professor on the shoulder. He looks up. The drip is becoming rain.He reaches for a broom, holds the straw end and taps on the ceiling.
Professor: Hey, what's going on up there?
There is no response. Bath water drips down all over his studio. A window opens suddenly, by its own volition and dry leaves blow in.
Professor. Hey, Hey. (he has given up banging on the ceiling. He puts down the broom just in time to have a sausage-shaped bit of familiar material land on his left shoulder, which is already covered with leaves.
Professor: Holy fuck. Holy fuck. I have become King Lear!
Business: The professor is wiping his tweed jacket with the patches down. He runs out of the studio to an adjoining bathroom of which the door is open.
He enters the bathroom with a yell at the audience. Who the hell invented my life?
..........end Act V, Scene One.