...I'd pour you a drink (you'd need it) and pour out my tales of woe. With luck, if you could stand it, you'd begin to understand why I'm in the mood I've been in for far too long, and why the end of each day fills me with a strange mixture of horror and resignation.
I'd tell you about my work, in ugly detail. I'd tell you how I started out doing this gig with the mistaken perception that I'd always be dealing with ethical people, and how I was convinced, early on, that talent (and one whole hell of a lot of published articles) would earn me a secure niche in my field.
I'd tell you about the things I have done that brought me great satisfaction, satisfaction that faded as circumstances changed and the people with whom I was working vanished from the scene.
I'd tell you about my loneliness, tell you about the women I love (the use of present tense is intentional) and how destructive their absence, how hurtful one's betrayal, is to me.
I'd also insert a few qualifications: I'd tell you about the bonehead decisions I made that set my career back. I'd tell you of my shame that the woman I married was not one of the two women who have affected me most deeply, whom I loved most, tell you that she was right to divorce me.
Most of all, I'd tell you that I understand my woes are nothing compared to those some others have had to endure. I understand, better than anyone, that in some respects I've had it easy; if I had to deal with the really heavy stuff, I fear I would have jacked it in long ago.
No one knows better than I that I've contributed to my own destruction. The times I gave up when one more effort might have salvaged what I was doing, when I opened my mouth too soon, when I tried to wash away my sorrow in a sea of Jack Daniel's.
I'd tell you how much I admire those who have gotten past obstacles I can barely comprehend. I might even let you know that I feel a sneaking envy for those who have gotten undeserved love and support under false pretenses.
But in the quiet of my place, I'd name names, too. Just as no one can claim sole credit for success, no one is solely responsible for failure. I'd want you to know who did what, which people in my life took advantage of my weaknesses (or in some cases, my generosity, love and trust) to set me on the road to a dark and lonely end. One or two of the names might surprise you; you might recognize them.
I'd also tell you about the things that make me smile (most now in the past) and the things and people who brought me, temporarily, a sense of joy and fulfillment.
If you hadn't left by this point, I might tell you about something that happened to me this afternoon: I was out walking and, on the porch of a nearby house, I saw a beautiful girl sitting in a chair. She was young -- in her early teens, I'd guess -- and had a puppy sitting in her lap. She smiled, and waved me over.
When she began to talk, I realized she was severely retarded. I could barely understand her. I tried to talk with her, because she wanted me to. I could tell that she was, within her own cocoon, in a way content. Mainly, I think, because of the puppy that wriggled happily in her lap and never took its eyes off her. They sat in the sunshine, connected by a primal love. She smiled, talked in her incomprehensible way, seemed to enjoy talking to me and having me talk to her.
Finally, I had to say goodbye and walk away. I could not let her see the tears pouring down my face.
I hurt for her terribly.
And yet, in a way, I envied her. She had the moment, the warm sunshine and a happy little dog that loved her uncritically, that accepted the love she could give.
Her mother came out on the porch, waved and smiled at me as I walked away.
Of the times I have had my heart broken by a woman, this was in a way the worst. I know nothing worse than to be confronted with a situation in which you so want to help, want to make things right, but are powerless.
At this point, I think I'd bid you goodnight and walk you back to your car. I don't much enjoy letting people see me weep, even if much of it is for the beautiful girl with no real future. Just as I will not enjoy yet another night alone, surrounded by ghosts and demons who would, I think, relish seeing me break completely.
But at least you'd get a drink or two out of it. And I serve decent booze to my guests....
2 days ago