The Wooden Indian and the Squirrel Who Chews Her
January 11, 2001
Of course we were miserable together: Dave needs me to tell him what to do, and I’ve been so lost myself that I haven’t given him a command in a very long time. We’ve been like a snake and an iguana in an aquarium, sidling past each other silently. I put down the apartment listings, poured a Screwdriver of inverse proportions, and wrote a firm list, one through six, of the way things were going to be. When Dave got home that night, I presented him with my list. His body and neck and face were stiff. Had he made some sort of resolve of his own?
“You read it to me,” he said.
“Number one is . . . ” I pinched my thigh for courage. “Well, you know how I like to organize secret plans. You have this endless supply of denial that lets me involve you in trickery over and over, but these last few months, you’ve been so engrossed with the basement products . . . I have a lot of attention to give. Wolf’s gone all the time, at school or with his friends. And now he’s telling me that he’s a big boy no more tickling, no more surprises. And you won’t let me have an affair. All my friends are onto me, it’s almost impossible to pull pranks on them. So I propose we have a baby.”
He said, “Okay.”
“Okay? But you hate kids! You always said no kids.”
“Well don’t say it just to keep me. Do you mean it in your heart, that you could have a kid and love it?”
He nodded and poked me in the vagina. I continued: “Number two says we’ll get your stinky pee-dog, and I’ll take care of it the fourteen hours a day you’re gone. I just hope it doesn’t lick me. Quit touching me! This is a business transaction.”
“Leese, even when we fight all the time, I’m happy. That’s what I wanted to tell you, if it wasn’t too late: I’m happy with you. Now suck my cock.”
“Don’t swear!” I told him.
He pushed me into the bedroom, onto the bed. I said, “You’re happy? Really?”
“I like you, Leese.”
“But I’m a monster!”
“You’re a good monster. You make me do things I’m scared of the prostitute, having my own kid . . . I accept three through six on your list, whatever they are. I like what you do to my life.”
I was happy. Embarrassed at how happy I was. I didn’t want anything but to lay inside him liking me.
For ten days, I thought I was getting a divorce. Divorce felt so full of promise. Sloughing off half of my very life, and what would replace it? I wouldn’t have a job (I didn’t want to write any more sad diary entries), we’d lose the house. The prospect made me giddy.
Giddy and mean. Dave hates my capacity for cruelty yet he can’t stop being amazed by it. She can do without me, he thinks, and his penis rises. He sees me as a wooden Indian in a cigar shop, eight feet tall and hard-faced. In those ten divorce days, I stood at the top of the stairs with him at the bottom and called him a coward. I threw glasses of water. (I threw one and it wasn’t enough, so I went to the sink to get some more.) He looked at me like I was something foreign incomprehensible, terrible, majestic. Of course I was just scared, but I didn’t tell him that.
I was so lonely when I was little. Our pets kept dying from starvation; I never knew where I’d be living the next month, or with whom, or what my mother would be like for years she was on the steroid Prednisone, which turns people a bit irrational and hateful. To make myself safe, I learned to manipulate words and crowds, which is impressive in a good-looking teen. But then I got older and everything quieted down; when I’ve done my writing for the day, and the others are asleep, ants are in my fingers they still need to shape something or someone, just to keep the universe from cracking. There’s some kind of dramatic thing in my blood, like I’m about to crash but never do. I tried to kill myself (knife to the heart) when I was eight, not to be dead but just to stop the rush or the ants, whatever it was. Sitting still inside this marriage, I feel like I’ll die. But it’s good to ask more of ourselves than we’re capable of sometimes. Every time we change, we escape becoming mere ghosts of what we’ve been. Patience is a pristine snow-field and I’m afraid if I step into it I’ll fall under and drown. The fact that Dave lives out there, that he’s undramatic and always wants to keep me, even when I’m bad, I find bizarre and intriguing. After all this time, he is as incomprehensible to me as I am to him.
After our no-divorce celebration sex in which we rolled over about a hundred times and made a hundred promises, Dave tried to use my fingers to scratch his arm. He scratches like a gorilla all night long with bloody stubs; he leads an indecent life, eating his own nails, cuticles, and finally the actual flesh surrounding the nailbeds. Bloody stubs don’t work very well on itches. So he wanted my hand instead. I yanked it away.
“I thought you said you were going to be nice!” he complained.
“Nice doesn’t mean being a victim of your unnatural desires.” It just means I let you be a victim of mine, I added silently, inside my bad, bad head.
But he likes me anyway. It seems I can’t have faith in staying together, but I can have faith in his faith. I need to send him a Thank You card for that.
Lisa Carver and Nerve.com, Inc.