A Regular Joe of a Tale

Voice Card  -  Volume 33  -  Stuart Card Number 1  -  Mon, Sep 5, 1994 11:29 AM

This tale is a fairly common one, so turn to the next voice card if you don't want to become bored. I'm telling you in advance. Don't say I didn't warn you.

A spouse decides to leave another, is in love with someone else. The abandoned one is left to pick up the pieces of a life. See? I told you. An everyday tale. Boring.

This tale does have an avant garde spin on it, however: The spouse meets her lover at an artist colony, so there are plusieur arty types wandering through the tale: the tall, tousled haired sculptor; the skirt-chasing, self-absorbed composer; the smelly, runty, ass-kissing young novelist; the ultra-post modern, post menupausal, man hating painter; etc.

Now here's the husband back home. No colony for him. He flounders about, just like a man does, a fish gasping for breath on the splintery planks of a pier, dragon flies droning lazily above him as if nothing ununusual has happened. The man, hardly a soul to talk to about all this, feels his loneliness opening up inside him like a deep, dried-up well.

Thus a heart begins to scab over itself. Thus his thoughts, as the hot day unstints itself over, say, to give this story the heft of the local, the specific, southern Indiana. Moisture begins to condense into thunderheads for the afternoon. Distant peels of thunder from over this hills and across the Ohio. He stands in front of the house where he is living, watching lightning dash against the far hills, feeling that his heart is shattered.

Here's other details from the narrative. You can put in the laugh track or not, as you will. Flash to a scene in a living room, furnished in post-modern graduate student mode - futon sofas, Indian quilts, jute rug on the wood floor, soft Jazz on the stereo. The spouse who has just been told that his marriage is breaking up is also told that no one is to blame (No I can't write this without pronouns). The spouse is told that his wife still loves him dearly. The spouse is told that it's just that this other person, this new person on the scene, fulfills her emotional needs more perfectly and completely.

So Sianara Charlie. Adios. Please leave by the end of the year, she tells him. We'll buy you out of your share of the house. etc. etc. ad nausuem...

Flash to close up of the man's face, twisted with bemusement and distant twinges of pain. Besides the part about meeting at an artist colony, here's another avant garde twist: his wife's lover is a woman. Very spicily PC of her. The husband even knows this person. Let's throw in the wrench of irony into the works. He wrote a recommendation to this woman so that she could get into this colony. Chuckles among the readers. Laugh track louder...

Flash to a hot, humid day in late June, the husband driving his post-modern post graduate student car. Husband reels incoherently for awhile. Stumbles nearly blind through dusty, treeless, alienating housing tracks with a sense of imminent departure in his heart, looking at model homes he can't hope to afford, anything to keep moving and not face the grief in his fraying heart, his quickly scarring over heart. A typical tale...

Flash to a park. He sees couples walking hand in hand under the bright orange sunsets of summer. Sees children with their blessed quarrels being herded by their parents down the sidewalk. His heart is like a wash rag now, being twisted dry. A scab being rubbed raw. Being picked so it bleeds again. If the metaphor is inconsistent, it's because the heart defies being tied to one metaphor. Decries it, stamps its feet (another one) and insists on its complexity of pleasure and, in this case, pain.

A boring typical tale. But one repeated over and over again everyday throughout our fractured country. A World phenomenon, a 20th century indulgence, what with social safety nets and people forced away from their Waltonesque extended family as they enter one by one and are devoured by the clapping, gaping monstrous maw, feeding the never hungry needs of industrial capitalistic society.

Excuse the political commercial. But it's a reason that helps to exempt the husband (ex?) from complete fault here. HE could have loved harder. HE could have listened and talked to her more. HE could have gotton more in touch with his feminine side. etc. Blah blah, white bleached lifeless blah...

Not that she tried that hard to meet his needs on his grounds. Oh no. But that's a story of self pity for the therapist. Not for here. Not for this regular joe of a story, this banal, pittance of a tale. Pretty petty when one considers Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia (boy, would he have felt like an even bigger schmuck if he had bought a Yugo to boot!), and the other slaughtering grounds unfortunately all too common on this tiny, spindly planet wending its fragile way in the universe.

So that's the story. Turn the page now. Go on to the next card. This can become boring, this story of a squashed bug heart. This call-it-what-you-will, this regular joe of a story. This jugular scab at a scary. This avuncular stab at abhored scorn. This ribbed glare jab of a stone. Call it what you fucking will...

And so, when asked, what did you do this summer, I say, "this."