Friday, October 09, 2009

Two silhouettes on the shade: A 47-year-old teenager in love.

Looking back over a work penned twenty-five years ago, one is amazed over how naive a middle aged lothario can be during a chaotic time in his life.
Things falling apart all around, life and work a mess, dropping from professor to contractor while mind-swoggled by a psycho bitch goddess that you're in love with...And she is pulling on your chain. Break it and "she don't care".


February Blues, 1988.

I was confusing calculus with cabbage heads. Nothing was going right, neither at the newspaper where I worked part time, nor my communications course with the college and certainly not the construction business, where my partner would just sit and drink; he would not do anything with the backhoe that he'd bought, Star Wars state-of-the-art technology or not. He'd cut a vital TV cable link during our last job. We'd been run off a site and he was very depressed. I was certainly cutting my own cable.

I tried to phone Lana once and got a very tired voice, not her usual bubbly and enthusiastic one. "Lana Horvath speaking." It was a croak. She was tuned right out; somebody was succeeding in breaking us up. Lief, I guess. And Lana's voice very low. Was she on something? I was getting the sex-alienation-loneliness chucks. What to do? I was probably now out of a girlfriend from whom I'd hardly had any sex in the first place. I loved her company, but I couldn't possibly just keep her as a mannequin; the devil would soon fix that. Then there was the fact that she was a married woman, at least in convention, a kind of Stepford Wife, living with her husband, doing the grocery shopping, stepping out into town and all that.

Yet I was hopelessly in love and I knew she was too. We had sensed, I think, the two of us that this love may yet bring us both to life, a release from an incubus of manipulation by others. But it seemed to be working the other way. Thantos?

I contemplated hanging myself. The frustration and impossibility of the situation, the stress of the so-called "relationship". And there wasn't just trouble with Lana. The landlord was becoming a problem. There was some hope in this. There might be a small inheritance for me around the corner. I would see my father in Hamilton quite often. My relationship with my father was very good. Among other things, he told me that he had passed on the title to me of a small property worth about $70,000. Not bad.

But property was not on my mind. I would have given Lana $70,000 on the spot just to have sex with her, right now. I was seeing Lana on every doorway and lentil. The Sunshine Girl in a skimpy Santa Claus suit (I had saved that one) looked for all the world like Lana, right down to the ample shanks.

I masturbated to Lana's memory, and still the thing would not let me go.

A drink with the mysterious Jack the K., the salesman. "February will be a bitch for you, as well as March and April and July, all these months. You've realized that something's up, but she's not ready. Above all, don't phone her. Don't call her. She thinks you're stronger than she is. If you phone her, you'll screw up. Meanwhile, get ready for August. Get your best suit ready."

I was still trying to convert part of my office space into a semblance of a proper apartment, or at least finished what I'd started to do on this project, but I wasn't having much look. In the first place, the floor was uneven, the walls that I'd begun drywalling still taped. Pat Skeed and I had an argument. Why did he cut that TV cable? The company's rep was in ruins. Soon Pat was not around, and, of course, neither was Lana. It seems that I had driven them both away. What sort of a curmudgeon was I becoming? What had I done in my fits of anger? How nice it would be in these depressing weeks of February to have had both of them around, Lana coming "home" every night and Pat trying to flirt with her. It would make me jealous, but Pat would hang back in the office sometime, nursing his small beer, until edgy looks from Lana and me would finally send him home. And when Pat would leave, it was always the same with Lana and me. The damn adolescent touchy-feely affection. Even Lana was frustrated by now, "Make a move, make any move!" Yet I could not go beyond adolescent gropings. Why was that? Things happen to us or don't happen to us and it is only years later we realize why.

Mixing and pouring cement, thinking al this over once Lana had gone. Making cement, out of a hand-cranked cement mixer. Making cement. By myself. Perhaps out of myself. Working on stone.

I watched the concrete floor of my proposed living room set through the inside office window. I had taken to sleeping on the couch in the office. Heretofore Lana and I had used the living room with its then-crummy floor. Watching "paint" dry? I waited and I waited, flipping radio stations. Bon Jovi was big those months:

Its all the same, only the names are changed
And every day, we're just wastin' away

Jesu Christo. Didn't Bon Jovi and Ritchie Sambora put our moods together?

Sometimes I sleep, Sometimes I think for days
And people that you meet, they just go their separate ways
Sometimes I count the days, by the bottle that you drink
Sometimes I sit alone, and all you do is think

I was indeed something of a cowboy by night, when I was short on bucks, on a steel horse I would ride, though a four-wheeler, a vehicle of commerce, the taxicab, like Harry Chapin, takin' tips and getting stoned.

After two months of this, I was about ready for the booby hatch. I planned an invasion, to hell with friends' advice.


It was getting onto June, about the time they invaded Normandy some 43 years back, June 6, D-DAY. I would invade Celia's house, would storm Lief's castle and haul her away. Tristan would steal Iseault. I would get a truck outfitted with a winch. I would tear the house down. I would huff and I would puff.

And in the taxi, on the night of a full moon, I would buzz Lana's house. There seemed to be a girl in the window, in a short negligee. She looked like Lana. But she was not blonde. She had bright, henna-red hair.

She seemed to be preening in front of the window, for Leif, presumably, and Leif indeed seemed to be sitting in the middle of the C-shaped chesterfield that Lana and I had become accustomed to. But this Lief-lookalike, who was ogling the Lana-lookalike had a beard about a foot long. I don't recall Lief ever growing a beard.

And the truck parked outside. It looked like Lief's in colour, but it seemed more like a minivan than Lief's little pickup with the cap on it. I was not sure. I had to make pickup calls and I did not buzz the house again, conspicuous as my taxi light had been. Some sleuth! As I drove to pick up a fare in Holland Landing, something snapped into place. The man with the beard was a dead ringer for a famous, limb-snapping cult leader out of Peterborough. Therriault. Tabernac! A Frenchman now up on several charges of mutilating at least one of his concubines. He had claimed he was Moses, but Beelzebub was more like it. It was in all the papers. And now what? My Lady in the Papers? I hoped I was wrong. Easy to spin a fantasy on a full moon. I was going fairly nuts with all this. Twice that evening, I had run the cab into a ditch. I was really ticking off the taxi company's mechanics and tow truck drivers.

She is somewhere very near
And her silence is your fear

Jung: The Eternal Feminine. She is everywhere. Leads straight to the mother. Pure evil...Sometimes one's own wife herself can defuse the situation.

I was still on speaking terms with Sharon, my ex-wife. She did have a sense of humour. "Go ahead. Tell me about it. I will defuse." She was living with another man, was fairly sure of herself. At least in those days. She had gone on to win at last, while I was obviously going nowhere fast, as the late Ray Charles would lament. I told Sharon I had this enormous Lana problem. She was in my blood. She had entered my soul. I told Sharon I had considered going to an exorcist. Sharon had laughed out loud. If there were any doubts in her mind that I was going insane and that's why we had broken off in the first place, those doubts, in her mind, seemed gone now. She was writing me off as a nut. Again.

.....end chapter


the walking man said...

Those mid-life crisis' are a son of a bitch eh? Male menopause with all the hot flashes needed to make life a pain in the ass. Yet in retrospect do you see your guy in the story as maudlin or as having lived his emotions freely, willingly and openly? said...

It's an insight, Mark.

In those days I would, as the therapists might say, have my logic and emotions happening at the same time, not split, as much later. Egad. From swinger to schizo?

Charles Gramlich said...

Humans have very little rationality about them

TomCat said...

I hear you, Ivan. I'm 61, going on 17. said...


For sure, even the great Elia Kazan,when he turned novelist and wrote The Arragement, he said, in one chapter opener, "44 and fucked up." said...


Jung says you get it all back after the midlife crisis. I say when, when?

Mona said...

Was this work published!

OMG! You are quite some writer!!There is such a flow to your perfectly chosen words that one could SEE it happening!

I love your expression! You could be one of my favorite authors!

Thanks for posting this. It was a real treat to read, which I will return to read again :)

ivan@c said...


Why, thank you. ...And I know you are a Doc at the literary stuff!

You have honed my optimism.

This chapter is out of my FIRE IN BRADFOFD. It was published but only through considerable arm twisting of the poor lady librarians at the Newmarket Public Library (Ontario) and the Bradford Public Library, same Province.
A local theatre director, Ray Burdon, here in Newmarket, Ontario has it in script form, says it's produceable, he is marking it up as it "needs work." He added, "We all do."
Ah, so long to pay dues, pay dues.
And we all need work.

TomCat said...

I hear you there, too. My mid life crisis was so long ago, it's become, "Where is it?"

ivan said...

Yeah, Tomcat.

An old friend showed up after my last tantrum/meltdown, registered by me, of course in the local press...I mean, somebody's got to see you suffer, no?
He said: "Oh-oh. Perpetual crisis."