Saturday, September 19, 2009

What do you do when she says she doesn't love you any more. A pastiche of editorial, novel and other mongrel things

Justifying oneself. Justifying oneself.
Why did the professor go mad?
She had stopped loving me. Had said so. "And what do you say to that?"
The professor was overworked. Why was he now badgered at the worst possible time.
"No, no, not now. I'm in the middle of a faculty fight, my novel has come to naught. The children demand attention when you are away at night school when all I want to do is drink. And now this. Thank you for this gift.
And now the games will begin.
But who really wants to play? Law of the jungle takes hold.
Who did whom a dirty?

I retaliate by not only writing, but doing a book where I was the character.

Chapter Five


I didn't want sex exactly. I needed human company, warmth, someone to sleep with. After ten years of marriage, sanity had become family, a bustling group around you, each member of the group somehow very much like you. A country, that's what marriage should be, a country of refuge, support, warmth.

It had been a long time since my single days when I could tolerate entire weeks more or less alone, struggling with my textbooks, lost in my studies. I was a grown man now with wants, needs and anxieties that could be calmed only through the deliberate ways and means of a man who had been married. But the first few days of loneliness in Manuel Hidalgo made short work of my illusion of being an adult and an organized human being. That loneliness reached the silent keen, the keen of a near-madman who realizes at last how vast a difference there is between the sane and the insane, between the sick and the well, that very delicate malfunction of very fine tuning that separates the genius from the madman or the enthusiast from the manic-depressive.

I needed Valerie. I love Loren still, yes, but I felt myself a goldfish dumped out of my bowl and I needed to swim in my natural environment. For after a time no one knows where they bury the goldfish, the goldfish of of tramp salesman, poet, the one who finds himself on the edge and faltering, and one one come to rescue him, the goldfish gasping for air.

I was gasping for air when Valerie rescued me. My need was all over my face, and she came like a rescuing angel.

We had gone to the usual nightclubs, said the usual things, had gone to bed, but in the end we had become very drawn to each other.

In bed, I had been nervous at first. She had gotten under the covers, naked, long an alluring and I wasn't certain of what would really happen. "Let's take it a little easy, can we?" I had said. "It's the first time with anybody other than my wife for ten years." And she understood, and I had soon realized that it was the best with us, that it had been with Loren for the past two years that had changed me and Loren so. Not the quick passion, not the quick entry and quicker climax, but the long loping sex that I recalled somewhere back in my young manhood. I realized that if this was extramarital sex, it was no wonder why the older men were all going for it, the sense of wonder, the sense of mystery. For curiosity does not always kill the cat and it may be true from the kids' rhyme that satisfaction brings him back.

And so we had made love slowly, almost in leisurely fashion, the kind of sex where the lovers are dreaming and the ride is long.

Outside of sex we grew to love each other like a brother and a sister, for it became very clear from the start that we were more or less alike, and physics to the contrary, like tends to seek out like.

I was in love with her within a month, reveling in the Tom Jones love scenes now crowding my mind. I was a thirty-nine-year-old adolescent, delighting in the little things we would do in the marketplace, the chasing of each other up sunny hillsides with the prickly pear in bloom, the cacti flowering everywhere in the early spring. When I was home in my own Americanized apartment, where the notes and equations and the typewriter sat, I saw her face in every jar, bottle, window and I kept hearing our song, Malagena Salerosa. It was about a girl of Malaga with the red petal mouth, but to me it was the girl of the red room. Valerie had been my girl of the red room, damn the English translation, for English is flat compared to a romantic yet physical language like Spanish. Valerie had indeed been my girl of the red room with her long angelic hair and the redness, the velvet plush redness of the La Fragua nightclub, with its heavy oak furniture, its escutcheons, fireplace and red, red walls. And Valerie in a white linen dress with those red, red rose flowers embroidered so beautifully on either side of an open front.

Malagena salerosa indeed.

Que bonitos ojos tienes
Debajo de esas dos cejas
Que bonitos ojos tienes

Ellas me quieren mirar
Pera si tu no los dejas
Pera si tu no los dejas
Ni siquira parpadear.

Malagena salarosa
Besar tus labias quisiera
Besar tus labias quisiera
Malagena salerosa.

How to describe the music, those beautiful major-minor chord progressions, lovely arpeggios added by a little tipple of a guitar, that sound straight out of seventeenth century Malaga, sung no doubt at least once by the likes of Goya or even Cervantes himself. How grand the Spanish tongue, how flat the English translation, any translation. My love is like a red, red rose petal just doesn't cut it. You had to hear the progression of the song and the fat woman in the mantilla that sang it. You had to be in Spain, and the rain it raineth every day. How grand it was to be a Shakespeare in love, leather breeches and all, as I imagined myself to be through the white and red mist of tequila. It was probably irrevocable now. I had made my move. The quitting of the teaching job, the quiet scheming, the counting of the days while I waited for my passport, the hot springs of Los Antes, slow waiters serving food up there to me and Valerie upon the grass, the sun hanging down lazy and overweight; love again at 39. Only later, when I told Valerie that I needed to be alone, that I had gotten a letter from Loren, only then did I suspect that I may have lost my mind.

Oh, but the Mariachis, the guitars and the jam jars!


What do you do when fickle man is fighting with fickle woman? She wants to dump you, but all the while she wonders what you would do.

"Play some pretty good games yourself, Dontcha? she had said
while holding hands with her young lover.

Games, games. How we play our games.

Ah, but as in the song., "Fool when you think it's over."

It's never over.

Games, games games. And who the hell really wants to play?



TomCat said...

Romantic love... the best thing that ever happened to me... and the worst.

Ivan you make memories come alive.

ivan said...


Yep. The rose and thorns departmen.
Glad you could identify.

ea monroe said...

I like this, Ivan.

I see you've been sneaking pictures again. But hey! He'd make a good "Kevin." uh huh ;-)


Charles Gramlich said...

How did JR get onto your blog? ARe you and he really the same person? Multiple personalities perhaps? It would explain much.

ivan said...

Thanks so much Liz.

Yeah. Stealing JR's pictures. Well why not. He looks exactly like "Kevin."...Actually I just got a warning from Google about something else...Can I help it if I am short of artwork? :)

Anonymous said...


JR has no right to look exactly like me at his age! See, there is the plagiarist for you. :)

ivan said...

PS to Charles,

Whoops. I didn't sign that last comment.

.......Woo. She be split all right.

Anonymous said...

Ivan...this is an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous piece of writing,which literally begs to be continued in the landscapes of the blues...reading this,memories and pictures of the past burst through the door without even asking...true,too,"it ain't over,even if the fat lady sings"...

ivan said...

Nice to be appreciated by musicians as well as scribblers.

Thanks much,T.

TomCat said...

Better watch it now, Ivan. Elsewhere, I just accused you of assassinating Kennedy. :-)

JR's Thumbprints said...

Does this mean I'm going to end up looking like Ivan? And no, hell no, I am not Kevin, nor am I IVAN. Although my uncle's name is Ivan.

JR's Thumbprints said...

... one other thing (in case you think you're putting it all together): This Ivan is not, I repeat, IS NOT MY UNCLE.

PhilipH said...

This just oozes sensuousness and tenderness.

It reminds me of when I was sixteen and a half and the first fondling of Stella's voluptuous breast in the deliciously dark confines of The Classic cinema in south Croydon one evening.

Wonderful writing dear chap; wonderful.

ivan said...


I know. I saw it on Jo's blog.

I quote Oswald: I'm a patsy!

ivan said...


Darth Vader says, "It's not your uncle. I am your father!"

ivan said...

Why thank you, Phil.
Gracious of you.

I hear the same thing happened to James Joyce one evening. But his moviehouse experience wasn't as sweet as yours or mine might have been.
Urband legend has it that his trifocals fogged up and that he chased that woman around for a long time in his obsession over her. Oh, when you carry a torch.

ivan said...

JR, Can I help it if ladies are enthalled with your picture?

(He'd make a good "Kevin." uh huh ;-)

Mona said...

Its never over...only clothes change people...( If you know what I mean by that)

Nice piece..that one would like to read more of :)

ivan said...



Donnetta Lee said...

So easy on the reader's eyes and tempting of the senses. Read this aloud and it has a musical quality to it. And who is that handsome man?? Why, it's well...maybe it's Kevin (JR?)! (My first true love in first grade in upstate New York was named Kevin. He hit another boy for running into me and knocking me down on the playground.)D

ivan said...

Thanks, Donnetta,

It seems the the blue hills of Mexico, besides making you visually oriented, kind of help you to write as well.
Charmed that you read the piece aloud.
I guess we're all sort of in this together, getting support from each other.
...And maybe JR saying, "For crimminy's sake, I didn't want to be in this play." :)

the walking man said...

I nominate Ivan for JR's uncle, or maybe something closer. Ivan has been in Detroit and possibly raked a little seed into the ground. JR, are you adopted? The looks are so strikingly similar.

I have been trying for a couple of days now to get away from the rant and working more on the humanity I see around me and I can see that after reading this piece it would only be treadled ground I am walking on if I attempt to write of the human love condition.

My saving grace though is unlike MY uncle Ivan, I am not a romantic having had all of those bones broken early on.

ivan said...


It was America that saved my sorry litte Forrest Gump ass from the Nazis. The child was allowed to live. That gave me an incurable optimism.
Then oddly, came Russian gold, but that was another story.
Little KIng Midas, I suppose, who one day lost the touch. Suddenly like Bob Dylan's Tom Thumb's Blues.
"Don't put on any more airs when you're down on Rue Morgue Avenue
"They got some hungry women there
And they'll really make a mess
out of you."
Well, some did.
Don Ivan met his match.
There are smart redheads that can play hearts like notches on a gun too.
Romanticism can come back on you.
"Now I've got you you little Polack."

It's a good thing JR is such a good sport. We're having so much fun with those stolen pictures.