I got a response to a blog the other day from someone called Revinax wishing me dead or -more accurately- wishing me a "harsh, brutish and short life."
Because I have an otherwise useless Ph.D. in English Literature, I immediately recognized this as a misquotation of Thomas Hobbes.
I didn't think much about it until bedtime. When my eyes closed, the day's events played over in the usual series of emotionally charged still-shots. I noted consciously for the first time that Revinax's bitchiness' suggested someone nursing deep hurt.
Well, it occurred to me that the blogger's name resembled revenge or vengeance and might be read a smashed-up acronym meaning 'Revenge of an Ex'. But it's been nearly 30 years since I've dated anyone, so this seems a bit puzzling.
It's true, I didn't leave things very well with the women I dated when I was young. No one looking at me now would believe that I was once a good-looking guy who didn't have to try too hard to meet girls. In my fit twenties, the aggressive ones often sought me out. Of course, some of the most aggressive women are also the craziest. But that was okay when I was twenty, 'cause I was quite crazy too.
One or two of these crazy girls became quite spiteful when -- resistant to control freaks -- I moved out of their lives. In the 70s, I was superficial and callow enough to do this repetitively without too much unhappiness on my part. Before my second marriage, I had been in love once, but didn't even know it at the time. Isn't that strange? I was also an alcoholic, but I didn't learn that until my late 30s.
But back to Revinax... After some reflection, I imagined there were three likely candidates for this bitter blogger. There was my ex-wife, of course, the woman who taught me the word Martinet could apply to women. The first Mrs. Slade came from a weirdly matriarchal family, and was justifiably annoyed when my ambivalence towards her continued after she maneuvered me into marriage. It must have hurt, and it meant I was a spineless jerk, true, but my feelings for her were as confused as Hugh Grant's feelings for Duckface who he leaves at the alter in<em> 4 Weddings And A Funeral ..
Then, there was a girl I dated after high school who accused me of rape when I categorically refused to marry her. Scary. Finally, there was a senator's daughter who wanted to overcome the bitter unhappiness of her mother's death during childhood by planning the smallest detail of our perfect lives together without ever consulting me.
Well, my ex-wife extracted a fairly complete revenge by covering all the debts of an alluring but extremely over-extended bff who was tasked with reeling me in and dumping me in a socially humiliating way. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Together they successfully executed what Lady Gaga has since described as a 'Bad Romance', and I was genuinely hurt which satisfied the ex's enormous blood lust.
Years later, when I learned how much money she had actually paid to have this last word, I realized she was even more nuts than the rest of her self-destructive clan. Nonetheless, she had her satisfaction and I was free to go. Whew!
The attempt at matrimonial blackmail occurred 40 years ago. It was born of desperation and an Irish temper. Since I've never met anyone sane who can nurse a grudge for more than a few decades, I have to discount this woman as Revinax now also. As for the senator's daughter, friends say she's wealthy, happily-married, fulfilled in her career and also considerably skinnier. I'm glad. Moreover, she has a Ph.D in English Literature, so she'd know better than to misquote Hobbes.
Have I missed anyone? What about the girl I was in love with who dumped me before my first marriage? She was a tall, willowy Clare Daines / Gweneth Paltrow type, who met me in Ottawa hotel rooms that she paid for on a waitress's salary. She only wanted me for who I was and what I did with her, but -- at 24 -- I didn't have the sense to see how lucky and special her delicious, young physical brand of love made me. Duh.
By now, she'll have a house full of children, a fat, contented husband and a life full of friends and memories. Of the four of them, she was the only one who knew how to love, and I'd like to apologize to her now. I am sorry, Joan I****, for being such a young, selfish idiot. Truly, I did not deserve you.
But by now, Revinax, she won't even remember my name, and whoever you are, that's as nasty as gets.
Fortunately now that I'm nearing 60, I'm blessed again by love and by three beautiful children. On Sunday, we'll all celebrate Mother's Day in style.
Life, as they say, is beautiful. If you open your eyes and your heart, Revinax, you might see revenge as a booby prize that losers pursue because the prospect of growing and changing with life frightens them. They're stuck in the mud, and they want others to be frightened and stuck too. It's a kind of emotional terrorism, and like Obama says: 'we will not be intimidated'.
And now, my deepest thanks to my mom -Betty- for this wonderful life. Please let me know if 91 is even better than 90. Love.