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Substitution



Dreamed I was in a rundown place with a mother and a daughter—or maybe a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter.

Ben had fallen in love with one of them. Grandmother? Mother? Daughter? I can’t remember which one. They were all kinda stupid. Kinda loud. Definitely dull. Badly dyed blonde hair.

Ben and his new True Love were going to spend the weekend with Bill (my first husband) and MaryAnne (Bill’s current wife.)

I tried to stop him.

“It’s a bit… inappropriate, don’t you think?” I said.

Ben looked at me coldly. “It’s always about you, isn’t it?” he said.

###

This dream is almost embarrassingly simple to deconstruct, no?

Ben has replaced me. Unlike those earlier substitutes—the button-sewing, prune-mouthed Jayne LeGros; the therapist who conveniently lived 5,000 miles away but inconveniently demanded a relationship contract—this substitute seemed to be taking.

No more endless and hilarious texting sessions! No more demolition derbies! No more editing!

Oh, we do talk and text from time to time, but he seems to have become an altogether different person. Physically, even: He’s shaved his head. He’s stopped wearing hats all the time.

He’s lost that politically incorrect, ironic edge to his conversation that captivated me, that made me laugh. He posts bland things to Facebook. He doesn’t write anymore.

I guess he’s happy.

Which, of course, is good. Everyone should be happy!

In my conscious mind, at least, I have long since decathected. So, it’s kinda humiliating to have a dream like this, which suggests I harbor deeper feelings. That I’m an emotional hoarder.

I’ve written about Ben’s hermit crab proclivity before. How he crawls into other people’s lives, looks into their mirrors, assumes the shape of whatever reflection of himself he sees in their mirrors. An emotional changeling!

So, this new, improved Ben may be a product of the new gf’s expectations or—just as feasible—he’s been this way all along, basically an uncomplicated guy, and I just never noticed, so deep was my own need to have some kind of psychic twin, some face to imagine while I scribbled all those messages-in-the-bottle. Hey! It worked for Dante!

Either way, it doesn’t really matter.

###

When you’re abandoned as many times as I was as a kid, endings are traumatic. What are ripples in a pond for other people are tsunamis for you.

The marriage ended eight years ago. I should be over it. I’m pissed off when my subconscious insists I’m not. Fuck you! I want to tell my subconscious.

Of course, the most efficient way to disentangle is fall in love with somebody new.

That’s probably not gonna happen, though.

For one thing, demographics argue against it.

In my age group, attractive available men are unicorns.

(Kinda interesting the way that works: When you’re young, the burden of pursuit is on the male, but it’s easier for him to have an orgasm. When you’re old, the burden of pursuit is on the female, but it’s easier for her to have an orgasm. I’m sure there’s a HuffPost piece waiting to be written about that.)

But also, I’m selective.

Likely candidates are few and far in between.

Batchelor #3 and I did exchange follow-up texts that included tentative planning for a second date, but fact is we live very far away from each other, and I don’t think he makes it into Manhattan quite as often as he led me to believe. I suspect the pied a terre is a timeshare.

And I liked him, but I can’t say that I found him all that physically attractive. Men my own age don’t physically attract me as a rule. Love would really have to be part of the mix in order for me to feel sexual desire for someone my own age.

###

In other news, I worked desultorily yesterday morning and then spent the afternoon in a rhapsodically beautiful spot along the river reading The Shining Girls.

Lauren Beukes invents a new genre with this one: the magical realism/serial killer novel (heh, heh, heh.)

The Shining Girls is not for everyone! In fact, the novel is a little over the top even for me (Beukes kills off the dog!) but her writing style continues to fascinate me. Short sentences pulsing with metaphors; literary analogues to flashing neon signs. Clichés that stand on their heads.

The Shining Girls is an earlier novel than Broken Monsters, and I can easily see the way Beukes’ style has matured: Broken Monsters is far more of a tour de force, a better realized work.

But I’m reading and thinking, What can I learn from this? ‘Cause in general, my sentences tend to be too long.

This entry was originally posted at http://mallorys-camera.dreamwidth.org. You may leave comments on either Dreamwidth or LiveJournal if you like.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
millysdaughter
Aug. 24th, 2018 05:33 pm (UTC)
Anyone I once loved is required to love me, exclusively, unto eternity...
period.
mallorys_camera
Aug. 24th, 2018 05:36 pm (UTC)
Well, there is that, of course. :-)

They don't actually have to kill themselves pining for me, of course. Joining a monastery and taking an eternal vow of silence will suffice.
mexpatriot
Aug. 24th, 2018 08:52 pm (UTC)
I like long sentences. One of my favorite writers, Thomas Bernhard, wrote sentences that went on for pages. If you can even believe that.
mallorys_camera
Aug. 25th, 2018 12:21 pm (UTC)
And then there's James Joyce...

But if you're hoping to get published now, shorter sentences are better.
lookfar
Aug. 24th, 2018 09:28 pm (UTC)
Ya know, ever since Oedipus, we moms have labored under the misogynist burdens of being accused of ruining our sons by being cold and ungiving while we simultaneously ruin them by being too close and engulfing. It's a chiz. Of course we like that they adored us when they were young; who wouldn't?
mallorys_camera
Aug. 25th, 2018 12:21 pm (UTC)
All this is true!

But I'm writing here about my X-Husband, not my son. :-)
lookfar
Aug. 25th, 2018 06:28 pm (UTC)
Soory!! How embarrassing. I don't have the names right.
mallorys_camera
Aug. 25th, 2018 07:05 pm (UTC)
No worries! :-)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )