Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Lust, American Style

Wedded bliss.

Beats me what it is; never been there myself. At this point, I doubt it's in the cards for me, either. But it sure seems to befuddle a lot of other folks, too; many of which who have or thought they had been there, once.

I've seen lots of situations stumble over the years, among friends and acquaintances. On occasion, such leave me shaking my head between regret (for friends), wry amusement or mild astonishment. Of course, the old " let he who is without sin cast the first stone" thing rings in my ear before I get too critical: I have (and occasionally still) pull a few that leave me wondering where my head was at the time.

The picture at the right probably answers that to a tee, but I digress.

I have a friend, one I've known for at least 25 years. She was a shirt-tailed young teen when we first met; we met via acquaintance with her older sisters and the soon-to-be husband of one of them. She was spunky, ornery, fun-loving and competitive. She found my sense of humor to be...er...whatever it was she found it to be (her older sister referred to it, and still does, as my "case of squirrels"). She never, ever referred to me by my first name; she always called me by my last name.

As time went on, I got to watch her grow up and blossom into a very attractive young woman who retained her spunky, fun-loving competitive spark, with a penchant for calling me by my last name. One of the more amusing things I got to do was, at her request, teach her to shoot a handgun: she turned out to be Annie Oakley with a sharp-eyed sense of humor. Frequently, at least one of her six shot pattern went to a place that made male silhouette targets the world over wince in horror.

She apparently knew something instinctively about the species.

At any rate, I saw that precocious kid grow up beautifully and marry a guy who seemed worthy of her heart and dreams. I and a few others briefly incurred her displeasure with a pre-wedding ritual: we took her soon-to-be to a local, upscale strip club. That was, say, 15-16 long years ago. They got married, and began their journey on the road to wedded bliss.

While I lost touch with her afterward, I was kept up on how they were via her sisters while life and our own personal situations took us in differing directions through the peaks and valleys of our own journeys.

Something happened at some more contemporary point: he came to a fork in the road. One choice was his beautiful wife, their young and budding daughter, a nice home and a very credible career; the other fork took a more inexplicable, incomprehensible path.

And in the words of the old knight guarding the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, "he chose...poorly". He chose lust, American style. In this case, a lust for a social lifestyle. And in this case, totally beyond my comprehension to understand, fathom or ever remotely justify. As I said, I haven't been down the aisle. Perhaps experience changes perspective. But in my case, I doubt this much.

Regardless, whatever he was when we met -- besides lucky as hell that a woman like her said yes to him -- he has changed, if not grown up. Currently, he's living the role of a blithering idiot, trading social "fluff" for the real substance of a loving wife, daughter, and home.

Only recently did I learn some of this still-unfolding story. Some of it from her older sister; some of it from her.

I pretty much hadn't seen her since the wedding (they'd moved out of state for quite a spell). When she showed up at my 50th birthday surprise (not) dinner, I was momentarily nonplussed: she was stunning in appearance, with a smile that genuinely lit and warmed the room. She showed off photos of her daughter with the pride any proud mother would. And she spoke, with both determination and misgivings, about her first steps toward what will likely be an unwanted, but necessary fork in the road for her, too. While the affects of the recent trials and tribulations were masked, the strains and hurts of them peeked through. The hug we exchanged at the end of the evening was as much that of two friends not having seen each other in quite a while, as it was one offering a touch of comfort to one who had need of some.

And you know what? She still calls me by my last name: it was nice to see some things, through all the turbulence and currents of life, don't change.

We stay in touch: she reveals bits and pieces of the puzzle she's trying to fathom, as well as plans for the uncertain future she's trying to forge a certainty in for herself and her daughter.

And me? I do exactly what a friend and kind of a "big brother" should be doing: be there, listen, and offer up all the comfort and "cases of squirrels" I can to keep that radiant smile up, as often as possible. My contribution is minimal at best; I genuinely wish I had more effective substance to offer. I know life isn't fair; it's a test that builds and strengthens our character, yada yada...but in some cases, that unfairness genuinely sucks. I feel that for her right now.

But I have no doubt as to the ultimate outcome here: she bent, but didn't break. Nor will she. I've seen this young, shirt-tailed fireball evolve. She'll come through stronger and better, both for her and her daughter. Her sisters are just as determined in that regard as she is. So are her close friends, including her minimally-contributing "old man" friend of no first name ;-)

In one of my recent emails to her, I threw in what I referred to as a "belated apology": had I had the benefit of a crystal ball that revealed the future many moons ago, perhaps we would have amended our bachelor party plans. Instead of that upscale strip club, we would have taken her groom/fool-to-be to a night out at a Petsmart, planting him in front of a fish tank with a bottle of Yago Sangria and fish food in the shape of tiny $1 bills.

Mighta been better for all concerned.

I concluded that if we ever throw another bachelor party for a potential future spouse of hers, we've learned our lesson: we'll hold it at a Home Depot, and have a clerk do the macarena while watching grout dry on a bathroom tile display.

She laughed. I've heard that's the best medicine.


Anonymous stacy said...

You're a good friend to her, Skunk. Send in the rescue squirrels!

06 February, 2007 06:09  
Blogger deni said...

You do have the gift of making people laugh.

I had to learn the hard way not to be drinking anything when I read your posts or your comments. Otherwise I end up spewing it all over the place, and coffee and my keyboard/monitor don't look so good together.

06 February, 2007 07:25  
Blogger Monica said...

Your post made me smile. I remember when my friend Pat told Sunshine (we had been football armchair quarterback buddies) about my divorce and he "cheered me up" *um, of course, we got engaged down the road...who knows...right? LOL

But those friends that cheer us up and on? They are the ones we treasure beyond anything.

And I'm glad she has a family and friends like you to help her through. :)

06 February, 2007 13:24  
Blogger Raggedy said...

What a beautiful post!
You are a true and wonderful friend.

Have a wonderful day!
(=':'=) hugs
(")_ (")Š from
the Cool Raggedy one

06 February, 2007 22:48  
Blogger Karen said...

You have a special gift; the gift of laughter that you share with many. I can always count on your writing making me laugh and your comments on my blog.

She sounds amazing and it's great that you make her laugh again; it is the best medicine.

Her "husband" lost a lot, from the sounds of it; but I'm thinking he did her a favor. She and her daughter deserve better. Things happen for reasons... although tough at first, time will soon show what the reasons are.

07 February, 2007 09:22  

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