I am a catch, an understand your jokes, almost never late, catch who’s seen every episode of Frasier. And if that doesn’t impress you, when we’re snuck up on, filmed, photographer, fired or broken up with, I’ll find a way to your house or hotel room and watch whatever you watch when you’re alone. Even porn. Even that Paris Hilton one.
On TV they tell that you’re lying by blinks, mistakes you make stuttering, speech impediments be damned, it’s incriminating evidence alongside blusher, sweat, spit, finger tips grating against the skin of another.
My eyes are pinned and I won’t close until the entire paragraph is mouth-free. I’ll recite a line from a poem I wrote about you in high school – when you were a student and I was your teacher. I could even re-tell the story of us the way we’ll tell our children, without x-rated, cops, my nails scratching at bra hooks, slipping through the outlines of flowers on the lace that you’re wearing.
And what we will tell, lie-less, is a matter of opinion, an opinion matter.
You sleep first and the neighbours fucking isn’t enough to rouse you.
Learnt all I know from books. I’m an English teacher.
I want you to win. Like every battle we all fought, like The Civil Wars say. Like Plato or whoever really said that. Wikipedia doesn’t know. And that’s like a newspaper failing, everybody getting zero on a test they prepared for.
The poem I wrote I called Aria, I called it all you, but your mum was tugging at my trenchcoat, the sleeves of my fleece, and I knew that she’d find it, research, decide if I was husband number two even though I wouldn’t be. How weird would that be? I’d be like your dad or something. That would warrant a LOL. Or lol? I’m older than you; I don’t know.
This is not indoctrination or a hostile takeover or those people knocking on your door asking if you have Jesus as you eat your cereal and they don’t know what they’re selling, really, because there are so many options in stores now, so many choices and you couldn’t pick out a car let alone religion, a husband.
Whatever I’m told I do the opposite and I always did and you’d think maturity would iron me like a pair of shrunk curtains but the foundation never came out so that’s a problem and it begs asking, why iron something stained anyway? That’s what we call a waste of energy, isn’t it?
You are Lucozade, steroids. Everything’s fine if no-one finds out I’m taking them, or if someone does, let’s hope they’re secret keepers, that they’re fucking good with a lie.
You make me lie better and what more could I want than that? What is there to hope for? We’ll take this to graves.
Any threat, from your father or forces higher – gods or police officers – isn’t enough to stop me.
I read stories in which people leave other people on alters to follow you in streets, to learn how you sleep.
Any sleepover we have is The Exorcist, I Know What You Did Last Summer. I don’t mean costumes and masks, but unsettling, short, inconclusive.
Every past tense or present participle – hiring, doing, eating – is you making beds, taking showers, us buying houses, having having having.
If you had asked on our first night, the first time we broke the other’s personal space, I would not say we would know each other now, or that adversary was something that happened outside of books, film plots.
I delete your voicemails but you aren’t erasable like pencil which isn’t really erasable either unless you’ve pressed so softly there’s little or no indentation at all. And trust, I couldn’t press softly enough.
You couldn’t guess your wife’s name before you met her and now you know it, since you married, you wish you could forget, know that moments clasping the air for words are full of hope whereas this, well, isn’t.
You couldn’t agree on kids, didn’t discuss god, aren’t exactly sure what TV the other watches (you think Dawson’s Creek is a place people go like the Grand Canyon, Palm Springs), don’t know if you ever read the same book – at school or for the hell of it. You don’t know if she ever does things for the hell of it; the regime at your address is an alarm set, a clock flashing.
She wakes before you, and the first few moments, eyes open, she watches your crows’ feet twitch. In the shower, she cancer-checks her breasts as seductively as possible. She thinks about Gemma, Tim. Follows alternate paths she could’ve taken: kissing Paula, fucking Paul.
She’s one thing you can’t fix. She doesn’t want fixing and the fact you’re inclined to try is your fault, a fault of yours, an eternal error. You couldn’t cup her in your palms how you could cake and you can’t pull that ring off without pinning her down, which always ends in police. Your mistakes your mistakes your mistakes are dialogue.
At some point two men is too many men although it seems like a good idea to start: you should always have a redundancy.
Since you saw that Sex and the City episode you back all your files up but you also understand love is unexpected and cyclical and every person you say no to, send away, is due a do-over, and chances are available – like sold out Chanel on eBay. You’ve got to pay a little extra for it, give more of yourself you think you’ve not got, but if you’re serious about completing collections, can say you exhausted every inch and avenue when you’re dying or dead, it’s worth it.
The decision is simpler than you think. When someone calls you “family” you either feel it or don’t. And when Jack says it you picture Annie Hall, Bride Wars, imagine letting go, and realise it’s possible, and that it shouldn’t be, and your choice is made for you and it’s the right one and it’s the right one and it’s the right one and the right one is.
She married you, not the professional knight in shining armour, who does what you’d expect of him: swooping and saving, proposing on alternate knees when one gets tired, buying more than one meal a day for a woman. She married you but it’s not an important distinction. And it’s not a real marriage anyway, if there is such a thing, and it’s not a construct, tradition, imposed by men, invented by them, so they could conquer another thing, now that countries are given back and their sculptures are fought over and sent to their countries of origins and there are no real discoveries, especially as the ones about the universe are insumountable, to your mind, anyway.
There is no win in your head, no decision, action, that could make this divorce right, so it has the desired effect – that she’ll go on a date with you. She basically committed fraud, marrying you so you could scrounge the insurance she doesn’t need yet. Ask yourself, would many women go to the lengths she does to get you medical attention? And the list’s not long, if only she’s on it, then do whatever the fuck you can to stop her. Knights are fairy tales written by men, also.
Let’s create new histories, other stories, in which the unexpected happens, the unlikely is true.
It may not be for right reasons. Ordinarily, I’d ask you out or wait for you to ask. But there’s not time and the doctors here and the boards that meet to decide fates of insurance-less patients, strangers without real ties to afford them the benefits and extras that friendship or sex can provide (when it’s with a surgeon, anyway) are disconnected like teachers, trying to imagine you’re inanimate, not the person I see that you are.
I don’t presume to know you. We’ve barely spoken and the first thing you said was, “I’m proposing,” and it was to someone else and I told you good luck like luck comes into it but apparently it does because she said no. I cradled you. You told me, “Expect the worst,” and if paperless charts are the best, what you expect from people you sleep with, yours certainly were not. I told my boss he’d have done more if my name was different, if I’d worked here longer. He smelt law suits and stand offs and sick days, said he’d see what he can do.
There’s nothing to be done, and my suggestion is it for you. At home you’re waiting to die. I have spare drawers. I’ve barely moved into my place. I recognise you from TV. I’d have married you at sixteen (younger if the laws had allowed it).
I’ll be honest. I’ve conned you. You don’t realise but you only want me because daddy said no. The scar on my chin excites you, and the cut on my nose is an invitation; destruction equates to sex in some people’s heads, and lucky for me you’re some people.
I won’t divorce you. Unless I’ll gain from it, in which case it’ll be done in seconds. I’ll be the one to execute it.
You’re too young. Your hair’s the wrong colour. I’ve had women, paid for the privilege, clawed my way from basement apartments, post rooms. You don’t know how much my seat cost, what they pay for consultations.
But this marriage will last. It’s the match for me. Expect separate rooms though and fights.