Home » A Wasted Life » Going Through The Motions

Going Through The Motions

Sometime after we moved to O******, J*** sold his old blue truck and was driving his Porsche (until he pulled out in front of a plumbing truck.)  That old blue truck held a lot of memories.  I drove it when we were in D*****.  It was a three on the column and the gear shift was a fork.  When I stopped for a red light, the gears would stick and I would have to pop the hood, get out and jiggle them.  I didn’t mind other than I hoped the people behind me didn’t get too mad because I was holding up traffic.  I used to hide Christmas presents in the back of it.  It was replaced with a yellow truck that J***s’ daddy gave him.
J*** eventually started driving the van and I drove the yellow truck.  I didn’t realize that it had worn out brakes until I almost slid into the back of somebody.  I hated driving it and we eventually sold it.
J*** had always told me that I looked like a truck drivers’ wife.  I don’t believe any other man I knew would have described me that way but I wasn’t married to any of the other men I knew.  It hurt my feelings every time he said it.  Ultimately, there would be several women in J***s’ life that would fit that description far better than I did.
Before he wrecked his car, we took the van almost everywhere we went.  One day we were going somewhere and he decided we would take his car.  When I was getting in, I found a gold earring.  I asked him what it was and he said “just get in the car and shut the fucking door.”  Trusting him the way I did, I just let it go.
We were muddling through our lives as if nothing had happened, although I was starting to resist and resent the requirements that I had always lived with.
The only toothpaste I was allowed to buy was Crest and the only soap I was allowed to buy was Ivory.  That’s because it was what R*** had decided everybody should use.  It was years before J*** realized that he was literally drying up and switched to another soap.
I used to fix Sunday dinner and I loved making fried chicken.  J*** didn’t like it because he said it was too greasy.  He preferred baked chicken anyway because it was what his mama fixed, so I stopped frying it.  He also liked cubed steak, which she had always made for him.  I hated it but I would fix it for him when he asked.  I had learned to make macaroni and cheese and would become somewhat famous for it.  I didn’t make it the same way R*** did but J*** got used to it and would now and then tell me he liked mine the best, probably to humor me.
I loved brown gravy but all J*** wanted was white gravy because that’s what he had grown up eating.  I would make it for him and I spent years eating gravy that I didn’t like.
I finally got to the place where I refused to make that horrible slaw so if he wanted it, he had to make it himself….and he did.
There were times (and they started becoming more and more frequent) when J*** was reading a book and drinking beer or sitting in the bathroom and I would call him to dinner.  He would say “okay, I’ll be there in a minute.”  That minute would sometimes become an hour.  There were also times when he was sitting there with his beer and after I had been calling him for that hour, I would finally say “are you going to eat dinner or are you going to drink it?”  That would always cause a fight.
J*** was never one to help around the house.  If we were having company, it was up to me to get everything ready.  He never swept or mopped or did anything.  After a meal, he would just get up and leave the table.  I always thought that it was a result of how he had been raised…..until we were at his brothers’ house.  We ate and when we were through, his brother started gathering up the dishes, scraping them and putting them in the dishwasher.  After that, he started sweeping.  WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?
Were they raised by different mamas or did my sister-in-law make it clear to J**** from the very beginning that he was actually part of the marriage and not a wonder of the world?  Or more likely, J**** regarded J*** as a wife and not as a business partner.
At some point, B***** discovered the world of soccer.  It would be a life altering discovery for her as well as for us.  Not to be outdone by her younger sister, K**** joined in and next came N**** and J*****.  It was almost all-consuming and became a normal way of life.  There were practices during the week and games every weekend.  They were all naturals and were a great source of enjoyment for us.  Every holiday involved a tournament which meant traveling to a distant city.  This went on for years.  They played both high school ball and club ball and we had also discovered indoor soccer.
I made all of my dresses for the games and wore hats, shoes and jewelry to match.  I was one of a kind.
My hair was long and I was tan and thin.  I turned almost every mans’ head but I never seemed to turn J***s’.
I was getting notes and phone numbers from the daddies of the girls who played with my daughters.  I would tell J*** but he never said a word.  I don’t think he would have reacted if I had told him that one of them had put their hands on me.
Once we had been at the indoor soccer center all day and J*** had been drinking since we got there.  He was sitting right beside me, talking to somebody else and a young man who we had met there, came over and sat down on the other side of me.  He said he had been thinking and was ready to leave his wife, if there was a chance with me.  J*** was sitting right there and never heard a word.  He finally noticed that the man was sitting there, shook his hand and said hello.  I wondered if J*** would have noticed if the man had thrown me on the table and had his way with me.  I don’t even remember what else the man had to say.  I was just sitting there thinking……does J*** really not hear what he’s saying?
I think men noticed that J*** virtually ignored me and that’s why I got attention from them.  I didn’t want their attention.  I wanted J***s’.
It would have taken a natural disaster to get J*** away from anywhere that involved sitting and talking and drinking beer.  He never seemed to care that I was absolutely miserable and wanted to go home.  When I finally whined loud and long enough to get him to leave, the confrontation over the car keys began.  He always thought he was able to drive and I always thought he wasn’t.  That particular day, there was no way I was going to let him drive home and told him.  He cursed at me but I stood my ground and told him that neither I nor my children were getting in the car.  He threw the keys at me and went to the passenger side.  One block away, there was a DUI checkpoint.  When the officer came over to the car, he asked me if I had been drinking.  I told him no, and he looked at J***.  He could tell he was hammered and could smell the beer.  He told me to be careful going home.
I asked J*** the next day if he could imagine what would have happened if he had been driving.  From that day on, I will say that J*** was a lot better about letting me drive after he had been drinking but it became a double-edged sword.  Now, there was no need for a turn off switch.  He started drinking more and more.
I had made a rule years ago that J*** wasn’t to touch me when he had been drinking.  I coudn’t stand the way he smelled and the only time he became somewhat amorous was when he was drunk.  I thought that maybe he would eventually choose me over the beer but he never did.  Even with that, I still suffered.  He would come to bed and it didn’t matter that he had brushed his teeth, his breath still smelled like beer.  If I could stay in the bed all night, I would wake up with a hangover from smelling his breath all night.   Most of the time, I had to leave and sleep on the sofa.  He would snore and jerk and twitch and it didn’t matter how many times I shook him, he just kept on.
It seemed that drinking beer was the main thing he wanted to do.
We had begun to settle into a comfortable, mundane existence and  I was slowly disappearing.

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