John Boston | When burying them alive is not an option
Years ago, a good boyfriend got married badly. Like, AYFKM wrong. A very successful Beverly Hills lawyer and agent, he was a bucket of mischief, loyal, funny, well-off, and smarter than basketball shoes over $ 300. His wife was a real horse pill with sharp edges. Drunk. Thief. Drug. Nagger. Self-righteous. Bully. Cheating on just about every vow from his DMV test to his marriage license.
My boyfriend had one of those Wit’s End conversations with a mutual friend, a famous movie star whose name will remain anonymous. After an afternoon of primary dump listing the deadly sins of his beloved moron, the agent gasped and collapsed, waiting to be slapped with a litany of spiritual wisdoms, from the New Testament to Dear Abby . The agent was surprised by the brevity of the aging actor’s response:
“You are absolutely right,” the actor said. “Now what?”
Even the woman’s few suspected friends agreed. The wife was an eyeliner, an overfilled bra, and 37 trillion cells that were all working for nothing.
Bless his heart.
One would have to work like Hercules pushing back the continents in Pangea to justify this woman’s miserable behavior. Was she in pain? Yeah. Tormented? You bet. Did she just leave the train wreck after setting buildings on fire after knocking over strollers in its wake? All. Or. She. Went.
But then, those two inevitable and virgin words: “What now? ”
Zen, the old actor offered no helpful suggestions. Like: “Set her feet on fire and bury her alive in the desert.” Or, like Wile E. Coyote, from a mile-high rock precipice, drop an anvil on his head.
Science and Warner Brothers don’t lie: anvils bounce back.
Death to rats. Bear traps. Sell her to a Taliban harem. All deliciously satisfying and justifiable solutions. But, as they say in the West, that is not fair.
My friend took this two-word sentence seriously. Now what? He gathered. He took long contemplative walks in metaphorical woods. He chatted with savvy friends and experts, then protected himself legally, physically and emotionally and allowed his beloved boo-boo angel fiancée to crawl 50 miles under the smelly bottom. I always loved this tough woman too. But, he divorced and in doing so regained his freedom and dignity. It was his “What now?” Well planned.
The Chinese flu is a bad excuse. It has been a while since I last spoke to my lawyer mate. It’s not like my phone has melted. I should call and check how he’s doing. I hope like some of us he doesn’t suffer from a fatal dose of Bad Mate Karma and ended up with the identical twin of Mrs. Horribilus except for some more highlights with henna, if that was possible, someone to tear karmic pieces from him by the plyerful.
How stubborn we can be.
I thought of our mutual friend, the actor. I met him years ago. We had a quick dinner and were expecting a friend. I KNEW the guy was a well-known artist, but I’m an absolute model when it comes to Things Show Biz, even though I worked on it for years. Turns out he was a regular on one of the best prime time shows of the 1990s. I used to watch him. We both laughed heartily when, sitting 3 feet apart, I recognized him. We became close in the years that followed.
He was such a capricious and wise soul, patient, measured, overflowing with mischief and history. The lawyer and I were fortunate enough to count him as a friend. Here’s why.
We are all going through difficult times. Sometimes that involves heartbreaking relationship issues. We can be surrounded by well-meaning friends, eager to love and support us and, finally, to advise us. The problem? This overflow of advice stems from good intentions, but can be 180 degrees away from where we need to be. You get slapped with too much There-There / You Poor Thing ointment and soon you have not one, but two psychic eruptions.
But I am amazed at my friend’s Socratic response – which ends up being a question – the movie star offered: “You are absolutely right. Now what?”
The first three words offer much needed reassurance. We are not fools. In our hearts we know when something is seriously wrong, that we are not crazy, that no one should endure endless days of suffocation. We need to speak with a wiser friend and not just get things out of our chest, but also cut off the tentacles that grip our heart and soul. It can take some time. We must be tired of being fed up with our history. This is the first part.
The second part, self-incrimination – what now?
The horrible part of this short question is that it sets us off on a journey that begins with an index finger slowly rotating to point at our own nose. They are not the ubiquitous “them”. It’s not the spouse or the boss with the stupid asterisks. Not the bone-headed parent or mouth-breathing neighbor with the 9 inch forehead.
We do it ourselves.
We sabotage ourselves, painstakingly search for that perfect person, that nemesis to prick our deepest wounds and fears until we scream and crush molars.
I smiled as I remembered that conversation between the actor and the lawyer. Draconian life. There is always that annoying setback.
What if the preamble to the problem was: “You are absolutely … wrong? ”
We all have friends and relatives who are cradle-to-grave magnets for woe and sorrow. If someone’s been wrong a lot of their life, if someone is hanging on to The Life Slapstick, it becomes sadly comical to see them trying to figure out: “What now?”
Chew gum. Raise your eyebrows. Shrug your shoulders and say, “Oops …”
John Boston is a local writer.