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Scroll down to the Foreward to read this book from the beginning
I Hate Those Damn Horns
No, That’s It. I Really Hate Those Damn Horns!
On July 4, 1966, Allen gave me a ride to the local Dairy Queen where we talked about his dreams to go to Annapolis and mine to be an art major at State University. We hit it off right away although he had this scruffy looking goatee. We were both in very good physical shape. I was the thinnest I’d ever been and he was quite handsome beneath the scraggly facial hair. He had a strong work ethic and a deep spirituality that was important to me. I found so much to admire in him but falling in love took a long time for me while I was still pretty hung up on Mark. We went steady throughout our senior year and I gave up a lot of my party time to be with him. I loved to dance and he was not a dancer. In lieu of dancing, I was satisfied with parking.
College became problematic. Allen was so serious about me that he didn’t want to be at the Naval Academy for four years. He was relieved when he got the word that he was an alternate. We planned all summer to go to State together. By this time we were both deeply in love. This was the summer of love, Woodstock, Hippies, Vietnam, civil rights protests, anti-war demonstrations, riots, and curfews. We both worked all summer for additional college money but saw each other every spare moment.
Then came Labor Day and our parking took a turn for the serious when we got carried away in the back seat of an old black Chevy. I managed to get through one week of classes before I was sure I was pregnant. There were no EPT tests back then. You waited for a rabbit to die and there were no PETA protests on their behalf. Adoption or marriage was the only viable option. There was no legal abortion and it really never entered our minds. In our world, it simply didn’t exist. Since we were in love, marriage was the default solution although he never actually proposed to me. I wasn’t as upset as you might expect. I was sure I could be a mother. I knew enough about taking care of babies from years of babysitting. I was not afraid of keeping house either. I was skilled in both sewing and cooking, and could wash and iron as well as my mom. But I knew nothing about being a wife. Allen was a hard worker with ambition and I knew he would be a good provider. We both thought it would be ok.
We married quickly; a scant month after I turned 18. Allen had been 18 for half a year by then. Ironically, he needed his parents’ permission to marry and I did not. I sewed all the dresses, and our wedding was fantastic. To this day it is still the best wedding I have ever attended and when I looked at the wedding photos, which were taken mostly by my father, I could see the love Allen had in his eyes. It was the last time I would see it. I’ll never know exactly what happened but after our wedding night, he lost interest in me physically. Maybe it was because now I was going to be a mother, maybe because we had to live with his parents. Who knows? All I knew was that I was 18 and my young handsome husband did not want to make love to me. Maybe he made some kind of vow to God like, “Ok, I’ll marry her, but don’t ever make me want to touch her again.” As I gained weight, I felt more and more unattractive.
We had a daughter who became the light of our lives but Allen kept inviting Mark to the house at night to watch TV with him. I thought it was my fault because I had not lost all the weight I gained during pregnancy. I always thought it was my fault that he didn’t want me and preferred Mark’s company to mine. I was just sort of there, often wearing a nightgown. Allen never told me to change or put on a robe because he wasn’t paying attention to me and he never thought twice about just going up to bed and leaving us alone. By then I was so used to being dismissed, I never thought it mattered either.
It all started out as just friendly teasing. Mark and I had three years of practice already. Most people would have assumed that we didn’t even like each other because of the merciless way we treated one another. One night Mark mentioned that if he were Allen, he would not leave us alone together. My comeback was pretty bold now that I think about it, something about “all talk and no action.” When Mark left that night I was definitely nervous, but I’m sure I didn’t understand why. I really was that naïve and inexperienced and now my whole body felt fluttery, not just my stomach.
I had spent the first two years of my marriage trying to seduce my own husband. During the first six months we would play a strip rummy card game in bed. Now that sounds like it would be a good thing but I’m sure no other newlywed couples were actually playing the game right down to the last hand. It was fun but there was nothing sexual about it. I think it was his way of postponing sex which was a shame because the times we did have sex, it was pretty great. I thought that after the baby things might improve, but I had been reduced to begging my husband for intimate contact. One morning after yet another unsuccessful session of pleading, I made a call to Mark. I was trembling and so unsure of what I was doing, but I was lonelier than I was unsure.
He came into the house and upstairs to the spare room where I told him I would be. I can still picture the western style shirt with the pearl snap buttons and the pair of jeans. This was before jeans became a national uniform. I was already in the twin bed which I’d slept in as a child and he walked in cautiously. It would have been difficult to tell which of us was more nervous. He gently sat down on the edge of the bed. We had never even kissed before and I think you could hear our hearts pounding aloud. He leaned down, kissed me and I melted into his arms. He tasted like cherry Life Savers…
He told me that if Allen ever found out he would leave town. He kissed me so deeply that I felt like I was floating above the bed watching. I was losing touch with reality. I had the attention of the one person I had always adored, and I had his complete attention. It was exquisitely scary, and the holding and kissing is what I remember. If we did more, it wasn’t much. Hours after he had gone, I was at work, still feeling the pressure of his mouth on mine, still tasting of cherry and smelling of English Leather. My second shift factory job was such that I could joke around with the other girls, but I was quiet that night and my thoughts kept drifting off to a pale blue plaid shirt and wondered if anyone could tell.
My life was shattered when Allen got a job out of state. Without any discussion I had to quit a job I was enjoying, quit a class I was taking, leave my family, my theatre group, and Mark. I cried all the way to my new home, but once there I tried to look on the bright side. Perhaps with only me for company, I would finally get my husband’s affection and attention. Then Allen took a second job and I was almost always alone with my little girl as my main company at night. One day I got a call from Mark. We missed each other as friends who were used to talking to each other as much as anything else. I went home for a friend’s wedding and was able to meet with him. Trips back allowed me to see him once in a while. Somehow being able to see Mark made it easier for me to be patient and kind to Allen and we were doing better than ever but still not much in the physical sense.
We were four years into our marriage now and Allen started snoring which pushed me onto the living room sofa. Eventually I got so lonesome that I told Allen that I was going back home. Allen got a transfer and we were back where we belonged although things would get very strange once we were back.
I realize now when I look back at this time that I was probably clinically depressed. Allen was coming home only on weekends until the transfer came through. During the week I would get up in the morning and get my daughter ready for school, but the minute she was on the bus, I was back in bed until the bus brought her back. Mark would visit once in a while when she was in school. On one occasion we took a very soapy, very steamy shower together. It was the first time I’d ever done that. The depression seemed to make everything seem as in a daze and we moved together slowly in a wet embrace.
Another memory is of a day when I wasn’t able to speak although I tried. I think I was trying to tell him but everything was in slow motion; every part of me, every part of him. It was like he was slowly moving around the pieces of a puzzle, seeing what would fit. I felt like I had no control, no way to stop. I think it was all just so intense I was in ecstasy. I didn’t realize it till years later, but it was the most erotic experience I’d had at that point in my life. I know it scared me but I didn’t know why. Mark and I decided not to see each other again.
Then Allen agreed to try to have another baby and for a time I thought we were on the right track. I got pregnant right away and again Allen lost interest in me. During the next year and a half I suppressed my feelings about Mark. I decided to try to go back to school and one of the things we had to do in a class was stream of consciousness writing. Each day we would write but one day as I was going from the word ‘friend’ to ‘love,’ I seemed to zone out. What seemed like minutes later I found myself looking down at a page filled with Mark’s name. I didn’t remember doing it, but there it was, over and over, dozens of times, filling up the entire page. I just stared at it in amazement. I ran to a pay phone the minute class ended and broke the silence between us. We made the most out of the bits and pieces of time we could steal but we had to settle for necking in a car like we were still in high school.
One day he didn’t show up. Someone suspected he was seeing someone and he was in a state of panic. I found that out three days later. He said we couldn’t see each other for awhile. I was crying very hard when Allen came home and I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life by telling him why I was crying. I wish I had been more sophisticated and less emotional. All I could think of was that my little universe was caving in. Mark and I met for a very tearful goodbye. That was the end and it was as if someone came along and cut a hole in my heart. The hole was there for a long, long time.
After that I pretty much just shut down emotionally. I didn’t do anyone any favors trying to hold the marriage together with smoke and mirrors, but I thought I was doing the right thing for my children. Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda…You can drive yourself crazy with hindsight. I did the best I could at the time and you can’t beat yourself up about something forever.
One day you are 30 and then in what seems like a wrinkle in time you find yourself turning 50 and just wandering through the house with someone who barely knows you exist. You annoy him, he annoys you. What’s the point? It wasn’t a marriage; it was two people with lives going in opposite directions. He gained weight, I finally lost weight. He traveled a lot with friends, I spent whatever time I could working on my degree while I taught full time and took improv workshops.
Then it’s November of 2000 and I don’t know why I was the only one blubbering like a baby at the courthouse. There were lots of other soon to be divorced couples and no one else seemed to be as upset. I sat next to my soon to be ex husband in this cavernous room and tears were just welling up in my eyes.
Allen and I had remained cordial throughout the divorce. He did all the work and things were amicable. All I had to do is show up and sign papers. We met outside the court room and he proceeded to tell me his latest story. This was just after Halloween and he had apparently gone to a costume party dressed as a nun complete with fake boobs. He won first place for best male, best female, and “best pair!” Allen was always telling stories about his experiences on the road although I suspect there are waitresses from coast to coast that have horror stories to tell of him as well.
Like I’ve said before, Allen’s a great guy. Everyone that meets him loves him. Hell, I loved him. He was like a brother to me. Oh, yeah. That was the main problem. And you thought Austin Powers lost his mojo. I don’t think he ever had one. From the moment he said “I do”, he didn’t and now I’ve got a case of arrested development that would make Michael Jackson cringe.
As nice as he is, there are some things I won’t miss about him. I won’t miss his hair. Normally, I like long hair on a guy, but it looks as though he let a committee of chimpanzees do Origami with his pony tail.
I won’t miss the way he dresses. I have nothing against biker clothing but his shirt ends above his stomach, his crotch hangs down way below his, well, let’s just say his clothes look like they were custom tailored for Quasimodo. And what is it about bikers that they wear every single piece of jewelry they own at the same time? His thing is dangly earrings. I like earrings on a guy. I think they’re sexy. But how many guys do you know keep their entire earring collection in Zip Loc bags? To keep in the freshness? They’re all made out of animal parts. Shark’s teeth, alligator tails, rattles and heads. He’s even got a special little baggie that’s labeled like some whacked out country western song. Willy Nelson could really do something with a porcupine paw, a skunk jaw, a raccoon penis, and a muskrat claw. I swear; I did not make that up!
Oh, and there’s only one thing that could top off this outfit, he wears these big ass Italian Bull horns. I was married to a dude with horns. He looked like Fred Flintstone going to the Water Buffalo Lodge! I hated those damn horns. They totally blocked my view and I’d cringe every time he moved his head. We’d go to events and I’d have to endure what seemed like hours of people wanting to have their picture taken with him. It was like being with Mount Rushmore. “Oh. please monsieur, my girlfriend she would like zee peecture taken.” Not to mention everyone thinking they were so clever. Like the Japanese guy who said, “Oh, you very lucky. He must be horny guy!” No. No he’s not...
But he looks the part of the typical hard core biker. So one day we’re riding down the road with Clapton blaring from the CD player when we pull up close to a group of Hell’s Angels. We’ve got Clapton and we’re cool, right? Just when we get right up next to them, the CD changes and what do the guys with skulls on their vests hear coming from a big old hog with a guy that they will obviously remember? “If I were a rich man, Ya ba dibby dibby dibby dibby dum ... Thank God he didn’t have in Chorus Line!
Lots of things will be different now that I’m getting divorced. I’ll have to eat all my meals alone. I’ll have to go to the movies alone. I’ll have to sleep alone. Wait a minute, that’s what it was like being married. Never mind.
The day of the final divorce hearing I had been on my own for at least six months, but for some reason there was this huge lump in my throat that was stifling my voice. I cried because I couldn’t make it work; I failed. Two days later would have been our 33rd wedding anniversary; and my one year anniversary of doing stand up.
7/23/2006 12:39 pm
It takes two to make a marriage work hun. You did what you could and you need to be able to give yourself credit for that. How you stood it that long is beyond me, but now is the time for you to find happiness. Good luck to you hun. Sending you a big hug.|