Thursday, June 25, 2009


I realize that the last time I ran posts about having “Second Thoughts,” I was quoting advice from [not around any more, and what does that mean?] about the reality of gay sex, and how the [male] human body is not in fact built for either of the classic items at the top of the menu.

Something about a gag reflex at one end [click here] and involuntary clenching of muscles at the other [click here]… you know what I mean.

[In actual fact, the first is only a problem when one of us gets carried away, and the second, I am constantly assured, takes years to overcome—another cheerful note from my “little Goat music.” I’m not entirely sure I look forward to life without a functioning escape hatch, but at the rate I’m going I’ll only have to worry about it for a few years before I die, at which point lots of things don’t work. And to be frank, nothing has really functioned at 100% since I turned 40…]

This time, however, my ruminations are on a plane more metaphysical than merely physical: I have [no surprise here] been thinking about the wedding and its fall-out.

There was only one thing that made the wedding a sad experience for me, and that was Isis’ inability to treat me like a human being. Now, I know I am a rather impatient person, and that I was ready for everything to be just fine between us a year after I left home. I know that was premature. I almost knew it at the time… But not even being able to say “hello” after three years seems a little much; she avoided me so assiduously all afternoon that I didn’t even try to say goodbye. My little attempt at congratulating her on a wonderful event produced only the well-known facial paralysis and the shortest possible reply.

Well, much as she may not have wanted me or my family there, she rose above all that and invited us anyway. Gold Star Number One.

And she, who had so carefully kept my family at bay for three years had to see all of us not only back at the house after three years of exile, but cheerfully reunited with the surviving members of her family; the Happy Event ensouled what might have been only chatter, and the good cheer was palpable. It’s true that everyone was on their good behavior, on better than their good behavior:

I just found out that Big Brother had sat down with the weirder of Isis' Three Sisters, who would usually [in Lewis Carroll's immortal words] “try the patience of an oyster,” and not only managed not to lash out at her, but was actually nice to her. Gold Star Number Two and wonder of wonders!

Aside from the beaming happiness of the newlywed couple, and its reflection on the faces of everyone else, but especially Son B’s two beaming siblings, and the presence of all Isis’ family after years of internal strife, the fact that the two families sat down in happily unarranged confusion and just had a good time together in the mingled seating was the thing that moved me most. It bowled me over, actually. What a happy event, and what a happy outcome!

So, I’m not complaining. I got to talk to Son B’s godmother, who has always taken Isis’ part like the mother tigress she otherwise does not in any way resemble, and she seemed genuinely glad to see me. I got to talk to Isis’ eldest sister, and she seemed either glad to see me or just very good at maintaining a professional exterior. If that’s what it was, I took it as friendliness, which I am quite unable to do with Isis’ professional exterior, which is all I get to see. [Now, I’m not stupid. I know that she is using her shell to protect herself from feelings that are still too close to the surface to tolerate; I saw that all too clearly when I met her at her office in town.] I got to talk to most of my nephews and nieces, including the ones that are supposedly no longer mine.

I guess what moved me so much was that we all got back together, not as though nothing had happened, but as though we still belonged together. Poor Isis. It must have been hard to sit and watch: despite all her best efforts to retroactively deny twenty-five years of belonging together, those years rose right over those efforts and put everything in a very different perspective. No one asked for forgiveness, no one granted it. But there was a clear understanding in the air that twenty-five years is too solid a foundation to yield to even the most determined efforts. None of it would have been possible, I think, had I showed up with the Goat on my arm. I understood the fact that he was not invited, even if he did not; Isis’ ability to give had limits, and opening her gates to the enemy as she did by inviting us all to the wedding probably pushed her as close to them as she could bear.

I said as much to Son B’s godmother, who is one of my favorite people in the world and someone I had been shy of contacting—after all, she had spent plenty of time taking me to task over my shortcomings as a husband long before things finally came apart. She could obviously see how happy I was that the event should have come off at all, let alone so well, and how hurt I was that Isis felt the need to continue stonewalling me [now there’s an irony of language for you]. With the remarkable gentleness that marks her, she said that things would have to get better now: surely this was the hardest event for Isis.

I should have nodded and smiled and called it a day; instead I demurred and admitted that the Goat might come along for the second wedding day at the bride’s home next year. You could almost hear the thought arriving in her optimistic nature like the stink-bomb it was. Oh well. Telling the truth has gotten me into plenty of trouble, but nothing has ever gotten me into so much trouble as lying. So, I just put it out there. To her credit, she was still friendly when we said goodbye.

On the other hand, after my attempt to make sure that Isis and I weren't talking to each other for the first time on the wedding day, and the subsequent awkward--not to say "dreadful"--meeting in her office, Isis never spoke to me at the wedding at all, except once in answer to a direct question and under duress.

You know, if I had been clever enough to consider the high probability that she would not have budged much since Son B's college graduation two years earlier [when I first got the full Mount Rushmore treatment], I could have saved both of us a great deal of pain. But that's me all over:

always trying to do the right thing and winding up with my foot in my mouth or flat on my ass, over and over again. It makes you think.

You know, sometimes things do just go on getting better.
Sometimes things turn out to have been darkest just before the dawn.

If I could just learn how to be patient, my life would be easy.
Easier, anyway.

Hang in there, guys.
I’m doing the best I can.


  1. I am glad the wedding went (generally) well. I am sad for the hard treatment you got. I know it has been tough for my ex. I have moved towards something new. She has merely been left behind. It has been painful for her, more than me.

    Blessedly, we get along well and still have a lot of active parenting to do.

  2. I hope for your sake that things do in fact improve between you and your ex. I know how much that would mean to you.