A Short Story
I knew he wasn’t listening to me. His eyes were darting a look at everyone in the restaurant but me.
I cleared my throat, trying to bring him back to my eyes, or mouth, or maybe even my cleavage. No response, still checking everyone and everything, even staring for an uncomfortable moment at the food served to the couple sitting at the table next to us.
God God, I thought. And I married this man, willingly!
He is 60 years old, and looks every year of it. Completely grey, somewhat balding, good wrinkles scattered about his face but still the ice blue eyes that I couldn’t let go of some 40 years ago.
He isn’t a good man. He isn’t a bad man. He is something worse. He is an indifferent kind of cad, and purposely so.
When I was 20, I thought his nonchalant manner quite charming. At 55, his detached persona is now as appealing as the double vodka martini I ordered, just to see if he was paying attention. I hate alcohol in all forms and always have. When I ordered the cocktail, he just smiled and said, “ah, that’s nice.”
There are benefits of living with the detached. One can do about anything, without much in the way of repercussions.
Go from redhead to hair jet black, no problem. Spend a small fortune on a trip to France with my sister, ‘have a good time, dear’. Lay like a beached whale in bed while he’s on top of me, he couldn’t care less.
I suppose many marriages are like this, in one form or another. Marriages where the rut of the everyday has taken root, and upending it would be far too costly. Once you get into your 50’s and beyond, dismantling what has been built, whether the foundation is soddy or firm, isn’t worth it.
Aging brings many blows and few benefits.
Insecurity is the one most feared, and so, we both agree, sotte voce, to stay with the plan of ‘us’ that was never discussed but always quietly agreed upon.
My red hair now has strands of whiteness scattered about in an unflattering way. My hands that once played the harp, have those unappealing age spots freckled about them. Never having children, I don’t suffer from the lower stomach pouch, but even if I had one, it wouldn’t matter.
I’ve never been one interested in politics or the uncomfortable realities of the everyday. I suppose, that, like my husband, I’ve learned of the value of indifference, of being detached. But as I enter the latter third or less of my life, I now take a more interested look about me.
Medicines of the era that are as indifferent to finding the causes of what ails so many gives me mental anguish. It never use to.
Poison foods, chemicals, the lies of everyone causes my head to ache.
I look at the skies more frequently these days, and see streams of chemicals being sprayed upon us all that the detached think are clouds and wonder, have I become a lunatic – or do I see what the indifferent and detached refuse to see?
I take a look at my husband again. Cell phone in his hands, texting back to a work associate as deeply imbedded in the hive of insanity as he is…at 8:00 pm this Wednesday night.
My madness of indifference has reached its zenith. And so, I take take his cell phone from his hands and put it in my purse. I take a hand of his and hold onto it, and ask – no, I don’t ask, I implore, how much more indifference can we afford before it becomes the only thing our being understands? And what of the eternal awaits us from our detachment?
Tonight’s musical offering: