Day 26 goes on ... and on ... and on ...
The old goat has been on my case again ... says I am leading a silly flibberty jibbet kind of life ... flitting off to England on a whim ... attending a ridiculous luncheon ... doing everything possible to avoid doing some real work ... read work that is important to him. I must say, though, that today's excursion to the luncheon for retirees was not worth going to ... he was right about that one. Too many people crowded into a room with horrible acoustics. I couldn't hear what anyone said ... and when I managed to hear a bit, it was trivial small talk or puffing up themselves. Two people who said they'd really like to see me were unwilling to consider coming even halfway. Both thought I should phone them and meet them in Ottawa. Wakefield was just too far away. So ... do they think I have wings ... that I just fly to Ottawa and don't have to come home to the lake? And then there were the people who spoke. One wanted to collect money for daycare centres in remote settlements in Guatemala. The other told us about the legion medal he won last year ... the one that celebrated his standing for 6 hours a day every day for a week at a shopping centre. Neither speech was short and sweet.
I am beginning to think that what happens to all of us as we age is that we become focused on one or two pet concerns and we think everyone should be just as interested as we are. For some it was their grandchildren. For others their health issues. For others their travel experiences. And I am just as bad ... I talked about Pat's cancer and my daughter's bad health year that seems to just keep going on and on ...and people listened as politely to me as I listened to them. And likely just as wearily.
At least they listened. Something Grandpa seems incapable of doing. I've tried to explain about Pat but Grandpa can't understand old age. He just doesn't get it. Pointe finale.
Once again that strange mix of concern and callousness. He's much more concerned about my relationship with Mark ... and right now Mark is simply someone on the sidelines of life.
Maybe that's what I have to do ... sort out real life from the fluff that floats beside it. Retirees' luncheons have now bee relegated to the second category, along with friends who don't meet me halfway.
I've been trying to reach Nolan all day but I guess he is at the hospital with Pat. I will call David before I go to the dentist. Maybe he will know something.
"You should be calling the big marshmallow," said Grandpa. I looked around but couldn't find him.
"Why?" I called.
" Don't shout. I'm right here.." he said coming out of the closet. "Because you need someone to have fun with ... a man ... someone to tickle your fancy ... and some other things too," he said with a grin.
"Even if he doesn't have time to give me a reasonable amount of time?" I asked.
"Yeah. Even then. After all, how much time do you have to devote to him ... or to any man? Seems to me he's perfect for someone like you. You would rather write than talk; rather live alone than be a wife; and you don't seem to be oversexed to me."
"Well really ... isn't once a month just about right?"
I thought about what he'd said often in the next few days. But it wasn't quite that simple. I didn't want someone like Bruce, someone who hung on me like an albatross. But I needed more that Mark was willing or able to give. The simple truth was that Mark needed to sort out his life with his wife. He needed to either commit to it or get a divorce. Then there would be a clear playing field for us to determine where we were headed. Grandpa was right about one thing though. I could accommodate quite happily a man who had a demanding job and could only come to Ottawa a few days a month.
What I couldn't do was accommodate an extra woman. It didn't matter that they were living apart and not having sex with one another. She was still making demands that required him to spend large quantities of time and energy; time and energy we needed if we were to build a relationship with one another. And when she wasn't making that kind of demand, she was making him waste hours and hours feeling guilty.
How come I never did that to a man? I keep running into women who get their own way precisely because they are so good at guilting a man into doing things ... and the men I was less demanding of are now with women who have fine tuned that ability ... have got it down to a science.
Years and years ago I met a woman who manipulated men very effectively. I watched as she twisted them around her little finger. And I thought at the time that she had absolutely no respect for men. She treated them like large retarded children in suits. I thought my honesty showed a basic respect. I am now beginning to think she understood far more than I did about the way a man's mind works. They want to believe they are the ones making the decisions, so you have to play that "poor little me" game ... you know ... the one that makes you appear to be an idiot totally dependent on a man. Needy. It's really all a matter of role playing. If you are smart you write the script, act the part, get your way, and the man has no idea he's been had.
I think I always had too much self respect to pretend to be that needy ... and I couldn't imagine that a man I loved could possibly be that stupid or blind.
"Well you were wrong, weren't you?"
"Do you think so?"
"Do you have someone paying the bills and helping you with all the things that are tough on your own?"
"No ... but I also don't have someone demanding that I lead my life for him. When I was in England I read an interview in the Saturday Guardian in which Mavis Gallant talked about why she was unmarried. She said she hated being half a person attached to another half person; that she couldn't write when she lived with a man , and that she was bored and boring when in a relationship. I understood exactly what she meant."
"Well then, the large marshmallow is likely just right for you. No socks or dirty underwear to wash, no meals to cook three times a day ..." He stood back and perched one finger on his pursed lips. "But you want him at your beck and call. That's it, isn't it? You don't want to have to come whenever a man snaps his fingers, but you are not as willing to give him the same kind of freedom you want for yourself."
My god, I thought. Maybe he's right.