Thursday, March 04, 2010
THE PLAY. CELIA'S BABY SENDS HER A LETTER
THE FIRE IN BRADFORD
ACT II SCENE 2
THE PROFESSOR IS BACK IN HIS STUDIO APARTMENT.THIS TIME, HE IS ALONE.
HE IS AGAIN SITTING ON HIS COT. HE REACHES FOR HIS GUITAR FROM UNDER THE COT. HE PICKS IT UP AND BEGIN TINKERING WITH IT..
PROFESSOR (STRIKES A BLUES RIFF...THEN AGAIN THE BLUES RIFF, AND NOW ALMOST ROCK AND ROLL):
PROFESSOR (NOW SINGING):
I know that you love me baby but you dont know how to show it
I know that you love me baby but you don't know how to show it.
HE PLAYS A RIFF. ANOTHER.
SUDDENLY HE PUTS THE GUITAR TO ONE END OF THE COT GOES OVER TO HIS DESK AND BEGINS TO WRITE.
This is a missive that may have us both wondering whether 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 to ethnic origin or Newfoundland be damned. My lifeboat 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 accurately be my angel of the mists who has only know guided me to a firm shore. The lifeboat, is, at any rate, safely moored, but I'd been 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 little that stemmed from elsewhere; the asbestos suit was on snugly and some of the King's horses and some of the king's men had succeeded in doing a fair patch job on old Daniel.
Then along came Celia. Well. I went from a fairly self-possessed man of 47 to a love-struck young paranoid of 18 who possessed all the filigree of love without its fruit and enjoying the pain even so.
You had me hooked, almost grounded and on the road to more obscurity than I already possess. The situation was hopeless, no man would touch it with a ten-foot pole, but 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 this past year) in the first stages of falling in love, and I do mean love, for I am every bit as vain as you and we were bound to start a pretty strong mutual admiration society, a country of two near-extraterrestrials in a fairly ugly and acquisitive world.
I was delighted to get your letters, nicely written, well thought out, neat as pins. Then came a change. I wasn't going to respond too heavily to sentiments that suddenly became those of a younger woman, perhaps a girl of 22, rather than an experienced woman of 35. The letters began to get love-lornish, a little broody, references to "collecting hearts like notches on a gun" and and a quick denial of all that, the mark of a hand used to dealing with younger men of a long time back, in a style of hearts and flowers that began to have less and less reference to experienced people who know what it is to walk through fire, to even trade their bodies in situations that surely approach World War Three, while (strangely) possessing the altruism--the love, if you will--to get each back to where each belongs.
I know for certain that you have the altruism, to "get us back to where each belongs". You might even have the love.
But I'm starting to have me doubts.
Perhaps the letters were so young, so direct and full of unmistakable knowledge of their effect that there was no mistake as to the message sent and the message 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, a man not "together" at all. This is the kind of man you can only keep as a friend, a borderline gay like John Losell, though I am not altogether sure.
Now I know I have enough fear to know that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. I also know that it'll be much easier to deal with the husband of a child whom your dog has bitten rather than the wife, for a man is a man, the man I'm dealing with now and he is infinitely easy to deal with, because there is no doubt that Lief and I like each other...Yet in the words that lovers say to each other at night, when they reveal everything, the subject of old Daniel comes up and Lana is told to the last detail what to do or to say next.
Yet I know you are making a hellish sacrifice and showing quite a bit of love for me by sticking with me, with a fair appraisal of the consequences. That kind of loyalty has to be appreciated. And yet, and yet. We come to the bone of contention.
When we first met, you said you would "find a way." Later, when I brought up the subject of sex in what you had termed your "open marriage", you said it was "only sex", perhaps a mere fillip to two people who were attracted to each other. Sex didn't seem important to you. It is sure as hell important to me!
Along comes a developing Daniel, halfway a teacher and halfway an alcohol-crazed sex maniac driven half-mad by a woman's beauty, not used at all to a woman who well yet she won't, too used to having women make the first move and not the other way around. I am somewhat vain, spoiled, much like you. Like you, I suppose, I am carrying the auras of too many lovers, who had in the initial meetings, come to me and not me to them.
So I was secure in my resolve, knew that you would come around. I was too secure. I 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 that why certain things should not be done, are not right, while at the same time trying to do those very things. (The sober Daniel is very different from the tipsy Daniel, much as the sober Lana 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 intuitive machinery, which involves a man's income, social position, access to power, personal attractiveness and the lady has found old Daniel wanting; she does not want sex outside her marriage. Why should she?
But the chilling though comes: What if sex is possible within the marriage and what if those are the only terms through which it can come, and what if it involves not only the lover, but the husband too.. Take a drink of something bracing.
I am not any more modest than I should be; I am not any more naive than I should be; I am a writer, like you hungry for truth, but if I practise duplicity more or less routinely among my friends and lovers, I can not make the words come straight and clean, because my heart is not straight and clean, and so I am reduced to the mass of men and women who long ago made their emotional and financial compromises, so therefore I cannot write with my heart coupled with my mind, the emotion divorced from the logic. Only half of me is up to the task now.
So if there is a sourness to my mood, and effeminacy in my style through all my accusations and all the ways I now move and act, it is not because I am, to you, still one more would-be lover. I have some idea of the dynamic, though I think I'd have to be an outright homosexual to get it all.
I am a writer and a man, not a truck driver, not a jock, a person of some consequence who should be treated with some consideration, for I am vain enough to know that I am not like anybody else; I should not possess the emotional calluses of everybody else in a world of fleshy Fitzgerald characters who go around and devour each other and everything around them, a world of devourers and the devoured.
Many years ago, my then-wife, watching me struggling with an angel, said she was watching the breakdown of a once fine man, and in fact, she was witnessing me having some sort of breakdown, the breakdown of a man in a profession that was somehow not for him, in a marriage that was somehow not for him. That man has since broken and mended and he is not a semiliterate fuckup that falls heavily for a bit of ginch and then has to be treated like the clerk at the local McDonald's.
I have long observed you as a person and a writer, and ambitious person, not at all a little bit of fluff, a woman of great drive and talent. But like many another of us, you have more than your share of personal attractiveness, a fact that gets all the other sisty-uglers upset, and then you get treated like poor Cinderfella, much as in the case of my own life. I have been treated like Cenderfella by many of the sisty-uglers.
You are not a sisty-ugler, but a beautiful woman trying to reach her proper place. For Christ's sake, get us back to where we belong. I am running short of patience, too old now for the waiting game and I am audacious enough to make some demands and set down a contract for you and me. The contract, startling as it seems, runs like so:
You will keep me only through showing me complete and unconditional adulation. I am a jealous god, yes.
You will revolve around me, kiss my ass upon request, and generally put your man forward as best you can without constantly operating in "megahurts", like a radio station. You leave me alone most times, encrusted with the deepest attention- sapping pain. There are times when I feel you are some sort of energy vampire, though, I suppose, six must complement nine, at the risk of being vulgar. We may be drawing our energies from each other.
I am now your lord and master, know it, and I hope I don't blow it. The time has come to separate sheep from men. I will not be your uncle; I will not be enslaved, like poor Lief and go along with anything that you do just to have a little peace as he watches you change into more and more of a tyrant the older you get. This is the path of Anna Karenina. Make no mistake about it, for when a woman first goes to night school, she risks either the convent or the house of the rising sun.
There is a way out for both of us in a love that promises to be much bigger 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 by just fluffing some of my sharpest feathers. I want you to love me as your really do; I expect you to be perfectly honest in telling me whom you're involved with besides Leif and me. I am not a wimp, nor an uncle, nor a homosexual, your strange preference in men to date. I am a man, a damned good one and that is the source of all your roil and occasional spurts of poison as you seem to roll off the anima of your own animus. Hell indeed hath no fury like a woman scorned. I do not mean to scorn you Lana. I just don't want to be in a contract where you get everything and I get nothing, literally nothing.
Yes, yes, I have robbed Lief's pantry and sampled some of his goods. I see a hell of a good man in Lief and I blame him not at all for your staying with him. But how you stay with him! I am not the only threat to a marriage in which the initial trust has been broken...don't cry now, for I have been there and it will take a hell of a lot more tears and a hell of a lot more years until it is all resolved. I have been successful in totally destroying a lover of my ex wife's. I am experienced at this now. I am perfectly capable, Machiavellian as it sounds, of destroying Lief. But if I were to, it would be to someone else you would go and not to me.
Love me, love me unconditionally in a for you can find and stop this high school confidential bullshit. I am still the naive, slightly incompetent Inspector Clouseau of the literary world you initially met, though a little older now and very much in love with you. Find a way. Find a way for both of us.
THE PROFESSOR STILL SITTING AT HIS DESK HE STOPS WRITING AND LOOKS STRAIGHT OUT AT US.
MUSIC IN BG:(THE PROFESSOR'S TAPE OF HIS OWN SONG, WHICH HE HAS ON TAPE:
I know that you love me baby, but you don' know how to show it.
I know that you love me baby, but you don't know how to show it...
....end ACT II, SCENE TWO.