Return to most recent Dr. Malamud entries
Not too many days ago, I was in the midst of a personal crisis of seemingly unbearable trauma. While it is true, that I allowed my far too emotional makeup to seize total control of my crushed soul, regardless, for me, I was facing the gravest crisis in my five decades of life. As anyone who has read my writings on a regular basis (always a superb idea) you are aware that I am an evangelical Christian. Granted, one who does very little evangelizing, but an evangelical Christian just the same. During the depths of deep, throbbing, emotional and virtual physical pain, Mr.Malamud II (who when depressed is sometimes overcome with truck-loads of self-pity, self-importance and extreme selfishness) was honestly considering ending it all. No, not auditioning for an episode of 'Fear Factor' but actually committing suicide. For those not familiar with Christian dogma, there exists a single sin that even God cannot forgive, ie., commit that particular unspecified transgression and you will be guaranteed to endure eternity with Beezulbub roasting your body parts over a blood-fueled white-hot flame that burns but does not consume. Some theologian's postulate that THE SIN is denying Jesus once you have been baptized using His name.
While yet other's understand that THE SIN, the sin that will lock anyone behind the ten thousand meter tall liver-gray gates of Abaddon for infinity, is the sin of ending your own life. For when we take our own life, we preempt God's desire that He and He alone chose the day, the time, and the means of our death. Being genetically depressed progeny of 50% German and 50% Finnish lineage, and even knowing that Satan has drawn a rose-red bullseye on the foreheads of us sad, tragic, and too often self-centered souls, rather than trusting the promises of "Joy in the Morning" from the Lord Himself, I allowed myself to listen to and believe the whispered lies that flowed from the blazing red lips of the Great Deceiver. Lies that told me my earthly pain would ... never ... end. I am convinced that just for a moment, God, loosened his grip on this wretched soul and allowed me to slip into the one thousand mile diameter, charcoal gray swirling water spout whose bottom is Hell itself. What I felt while spinning like a 238 pound doomed kite caught in an autumn afternoon tailspin, was total, absolute and unequivocal separation from God, my soul mate and my children. I frantically stretched my trembling arms out like a child reaching for the cookie jar on the top shelf, however, my fingers brushed nothing but horrible darkness, silence, desolation and emptiness. I was absolutely alone and it was a feeling I would not wish on Osama bin Laden even if my entire family had died in the Twin Tower's tragedy. It is impossible to relate to my reader's the feeling of the meat grinder Satan was cramming my crushed soul through and the horror as I watched as the curlicue, hamburger brown strings of my spirit as they were sucked into the massive maw of the evil funnel. While at the same time, my body physically thrashed about on on my Sealy Posturepedic mattress flinging hot tears the size of tea bags across our master bedroom. Seconds later, the Lord again tightened His grip and gently pulled me back to His bosom, back into His incredible love and completeness. And though there were still many sobbing sessions facing me in the days and nights ahead of me, the image of ending my own life is not an image I will ever again entertain.
Noted from my chair at Starbucks: Second wife? No, same age, just lots of makeup. Smiling way too much. But, she doesn't look that much older. It's funny watching how women act in public - knowing which ones get intimate on a regular basis. Watching couples, knowing which are married and which are only dating. "Starbucks, where you can park your lux-mobile right out in front where people can see it." The way women walk, so fluid, so relaxed . . . some of them. It's so easy to spot the angry wives! Why couldn't I? She's got to stay nice and slim while he can blort up to John Candy size. It's like a date for me to come and sit by myself at Starbucks in the evenings. How very strange. Because he's let himself go so far, get so large, she looks more like a daughter than his wife. Someday I could be sitting here with people watching me. Am I a sociologist? Flowing from the overhead speakers, is the same music I heard in the 60s as I polished the Plymouth Fury to oblivion in the early, early, mornings of my teen years. Is she angry or just OTR? Don't know. I'm a Coffee-Bum. Begging for coffee they are going to throw out anyway. It's midnight in Texas. Every woman is pretty when she smiles - maybe that's why I make them smile? "Corral Cool" developed the misting system for Arizona milk cows, now it's used to cool the cows who moved here from back East. I have to be able to get a sense of the conversation - not just the words - the sentences, but what are they saying at those other tables? The men (husbands) talk and the women (wives) listen endlessly. Young lovers - Old lovers. The wife obviously loves the husband and the husband loves himself more than her. "Me - me - me." Just like "me"! Men talk about "things" - women about feelings. That makes us butt heads - each is talking about something that doesn't interest the other.
Memorial Day at Starbucks: Born in Britain, Bob Hope turns 100 years of age this Thursday. He claims that he left England at age four when he discovered he couldn't be king. If there is any human being to emulate, it would be this great man. Dolores, his wife, has been with him almost sixty-nine years. Sadly, Lord Hope is reduced to a shell in a wheel chair being pushed around from bedroom to veranda. One of my recently surfaced "great fears" is to be alone in my old age . . . Even though it was over 100F degrees today, it's comfortable outside at 8PM with all but one circular green table-top taken, while not a single wooden table inside the air-cooled coffee bar is occupied. Moments before, without hesitation, I had pulled the mighty silver Sonata into an empty parking space directly in front of Starbucks, next to forest-green Range Rover's, purple Porsche's, black-topped Series 3 BMW convertibles and a single, oh so sensible and safe New York white Volvo station wagon. Tonight, after churning and sweating thirty five minutes on the stationary bike at the nearby and nearly empty LA Fitness, I'm feeling so mellow, that I'm having a hard time getting melancholy enough to compose this paragraph. At the office I noticed, in an attempt to salve my crushed spirit, The Shaking Alcoholic Wrinkle on Prozac had offered up her most recent issue of Oprah magazine with it's latest advice on how men need to relate to women. It sat staring at me from the top of the television, film and physical fitness dominated stack of publications. I cautiously flipped it's pages but was afraid to read for fear I'd start weeping. I'm startled back to Starbucks when the screech of the TCBY employee dragging inside the orange, yellow and blue Playskool® table set out to attract children to their yogurt bar, splits the conversations. A tiny teen girl slides by on her way for cold caffeine. Her tight boxer-style shorts pulled down around her hips exposing her teen, tanned and stretch-markless midriff flesh. Shortly before closing, I haltingly saunter inside the coffeetirium to beg for a free Venti®-sized refill. I mention I am a destitute writer and the young lady behind the chest-high counter lets slip a pitcher of liquid Half & Half loudly painting the floor with a thick splash of dairy-white. Back outside, staring at the neon colors of the worse-than-TV-Dinner Garcia's Mexican Food® franchise restaurant, my vision slips out of focus, but a blink makes everything clear again. Too clear, but I refuse to be depressed. A married couple leaves. She, about thirty pounds overweight, but still attractive, in some sort of jumpsuit, he, proud of the fifty year old gym-pumped-up biceps wearing a sleeveless muscle shirt, not evidencing quite enough tautness to justify his paired-display. Unaware of this author's iguana-type ability to search in two different directions at once, nearby patrons rise to leave. They glance down at my spherical green desk silently squinting to read what I'm writing while keeping their conversation going. "Is it about us? Is it about me?", they wonder as they nonchalantly glance over my shoulder and then step off into the balmy Phoenix darkness.
"Brace yourself like a man;
I didn't expect to, but I wept again this afternoon. What is that? Tear-sodden day number one hundred and something? Could someone actually be in so much love with only one woman, even after a quarter of a century? Or is this unceasing sadness a flaw in my personality? As I wipe the drop of Starbucks brew off the tip of my nose I ponder whether I am normal or not. Well, of course I'm not anything near normal. Never was and probably never will be confined within the strictures of 'normality.' But, as they say, "It's not easy being green." Or not being normal either. When things are going good, you are on top of the world. When things are going bad it gets really nasty. Having absolutely no desire in my heart or my head to discover how every C&W, Rock & Roll and Jazz "You-Broke-My-Heart" tune was penned, I learned by having my heart and soul scraped over a shoe-box-sized cheese grater. Over the past four months, I've scribbled waves of lyrics into the sky that were traced on the clouds of my tears. I heard today that fear cannot exist where there is hope. However, even when hope does push the fear out of my soul, the hot tears still stream down my cheeks simply because I miss her so much. It's a humid night outside my Starbucks. So wet is the Arizona evening air that the misters are turned off. They would do no good. While the faraway and fetching Mrs. Malamud bathes in 90% humidity, I 'suffer' in the 20% or so humidity of a Scottsdale evening. I guess things aren't all that bad.
I didn't expect to, but I wept again this Saturday afternoon. Deja Vu, eh? Hell, I couldn't even wait until I got home from work. I openly wept inside the mighty Peugeot as it knifed through the humid, hundred degree plus Arizona atmosphere while racing towards my residence from my temporary assignment in the parched McDowell Mountains. A temporary assignment that rocketed my usual eight hour workload by 82%. And that was 37% more results than they normally process. But, far be it from me to accuse my fellow employees of being a bunch of jack-offs. Jack-offs! I was so distressed, because right now, my life is basically a pile of dung. Thank God I've found a couple of compassionate ladies to instruct me on how to properly interact with the faraway Mrs. Malamud. Of course, our separation, both physical and emotional (on her part) is the kindling for virtually all of my grief. Once home, I fervently and passionately prayed and then slept for four hours, awakening only long enough to get caught up on my chores. And then, in preparation for a hellish Sunday (what a paradox) at my temporary assignment, I once again crawled onto the massive Malamud marriage mattress and quickly fell asleep in anticipation of awakening at 5:45AM the next morning.
It's late Sunday afternoon and my back porch hub-cap-sized thermometer has been pointing to the 100F degree mark since I stumbled in at 2:10PM. Hoping for an electronic morsel from the distant Mrs. Malamud, I scan my email for the tenth time today. Nothing. I trek to Dillard's® for a pair of discounted Rebock's® and find they are out of my common size. I carefully steer the silver Sonata through the maze of white stripes and vast asphalt stretches that is PV Mall and over to the T.J.Maxx® discount store. I discover a really soft shirt for $10 my boy may enjoy for his seventeenth birthday this June. I journey to the nearby Kroger's® to purchase frozen chicken, pre-made hamburger patties, a huge 7-bone roast and all-fabric bleach. I leave without the bleach. Dodging a huge white Suburban shod with massive shining wheels whose cost alone would make several months of payments on my Peugeot, I soon pull into my driveway. Bag-laden, I bravely step out into the June 1st heat. I slip the heavy roast into its Schillings®seasoning bag, lay it in the prescribed enamel-coated cooking pan and push it into the 350 degree man-made hell of my weary oven. I program The Pampered Chef® digital timer to two hours, clip it to the collar of my t-shirt, pour a glass of Turning Leaf® 2001 Merlot and drop down to watch 'The Perfect Storm' starring my look-alike George Clooney. Why Merlot? Because the last night, a Wednesday in late April, when the evenings were still mild, the Mrs. and I went out to the within walking distance Outback Restaurant®. She ordered a bottle of Merlot. First time in 26 years. My sipping a goblet of this warm dark maroon beverage brings back just a taste of that bittersweet night. From the television, I listen to a character tell his fiancé that sleeping with her was ". . . warm and sweet. Just sleeping with you." And I remember back to the last night I slept with my own wife in April. Just slept. I remember when at her apartment in February I sat on the window ledge of her bedroom marvelling at how beautiful she was as she slept. Something I never even noticed in the previous quarter century. My mind turns back to the movie and I grin as the captain of the Andrea Gail says, with a shark's smile as he explains, "I'm doin' what I was made to do." And I think of how I am doing nothing that God made me to do. I think of all the hours and hours I spend memorizing pages and pages of script so I can step on stage and do what I was made to do. But be paid nothing. I take a half-step over to the never-used bar to check the caller-id and see that while I was at work, the Mrs. phoned and chatted with my youngest boy. I sigh. I slip into bed for a short nap before leaving for the gym that closes early on Sunday evenings.
I savor the Saturday afternoon and evening prior to my one day off per week. Trying to find a movie I liked, I thumbed through my Dish Satellite on-screen guide. "Airport 77" was on AMC but interrupted by commercials. After one too many goblets of Pinot Grigio, I decided to drive the mile to Kroger's and pick up a pre-made shrimp cocktail and the same movie on DVD across the street at Blockbuster. I grabbed the last shrimp cocktail arrangement in the 60,000 square foot store. Twenty or so dead and de-veined shrimp circling a small plastic cup filled with tangy red sauce. However, it was sans an SKU sticker, and it took them 15 minutes to price it at $6.99 which is what the label on the top read anyway. I bought an eight pound bag of ice for the cocktail to sit on in my car while I was inside the video store, my next stop. The check-lane read, "Express: 10 to 15 Items." Truth in advertising, it should have read, "Express: 10 to 15 minutes." Next I drove over to Blockbuster to return the rental DVD that my teen son had checked out the evening prior. I put the shades up in my windshield and wondered if they and the bag of ice would keep my seafood from spoiling in the broiling 104F Scottsdale summer sun.
Tuesday 9PM, 90 plus degrees. A June evening in Phoenix. "Food", a major source of joy in life. We spend so much of our money on fast food, eating out, thinking about eating out, planning when we are to eat out and so much of our money paying the credit card bills. It's no wonder so many of us are the size of "Channel 5 Wrestler's", ie., fat, really fat. I don't find the majority of the ladies my age very attractive. Monday night, against the facts, I found myself missing Golf-the-dog.
He used to curl at the foot of the massive high-rise Malamud mattress, my sole bedroom partner since October of 2002. Back when the Missus was still occupying the bed, Golf spent every night trying to push her out onto the floor. An impossible task with his mere twenty pounds of heft. The buxom blonde's cellphone bleeps and she steps away from the table leaving her two older friends to their own Mocha Malt Frappuccinno's® while she explains, ". . . having a coffee at Starbucks . . ." Shortly she steps back to the table, the huge smile on her face reflecting her loving conversation. Sigh. From the offices of two different physician's I had an extended cell-chat with the lovely and distant MS Malamud the other day. It's odd how a woman's language, tone and perspective changes when she emotionally un-couples herself from her husband. Not that she was rude or foul-mouthed. Not at all. Although no mention was made about our moribund marriage, I rang off encouraged and delighted. My spirits soared as I scheduled my next weekly wart removal. It's like my counselor, in a moment of weariness, finally admitted, "Hammurabi, you are madly in love with her!" The following day at work was a pleasant one and once home, in the 107F degree heat, using my WhiteTrash® brand lawn mower, I shaved the immense Malamud front lawn while singing my favorite Negro spirituals over the roar of the wheeled gasoline powered cutting machine.
Once inside, I asked for "Airport 77".
"Airport 77?" the longtime Blockbuster employee repeated.
Then I realized she wasn't even born in 1977.
She typed, " A I R P O R T 7 7 " into the computer and squinted at the blue screen.
"We don't have it," she answered.
I then asked for another favorite of mine, "Thursday." A movie that is about a guy having the single worst day in his life. (As contrasted to the worst four months of his life.) The last time I checked, the DVD had been rented out sixty days prior and never returned.
"We have it in VHS only. It's in Drama," she cheerfully announced as she stepped from behind the counter to fetch it for me.
I stopped her with, "Ok. If it is in Drama, I can find it."
The empty box was there, but no VHS tape. It had been stolen once again. I vowed to purchase it at Buy-dot-Com.
I grabbed "The Ratpack", a recent TV movie of Frank Sinatra & the boys, and drug myself to the checkout lane. The DVD I brought to turn in was missing one of its silvery discs. The same girl let me check out anyway with a promise to return the missing DVD. Once home, I discovered the movie behind the "Ratpack" display box was not "The Ratpack" movie but some murder mystery. I collapsed on the couch to finish watching "Airport 77" on AMC. I set my shrimp cocktail mini-platter on the low wooden table in front of me. I pried the plastic lid off. I discovered the shrimp were frozen and inedible. I returned the dish to the refrigerator to thaw. I pulled a previously fried chicken thigh out of the refrigerator and nuked it and gnawed on it as I watched the impossible ending of "Airport 77." I wished Mrs. Malamud were here so I could barbecue something for her and share a cool glass of wine with her and sit on the couch close to her. I explored the huge hole she has left in my life. I check my e-mail. Nothing from her. I silently sigh and remember summers past when I simply ignored her presence between meals. Memories of long ago June weekends when I took her for granted crawled across my eyelids. I inhale deeply and then slowly empty my lungs. I want to send her an e-mail telling her how much I miss her and how much I love her. I don't. My counselor has assured me again and again it would only harm the fragile situation. Instead I pound out an e-mail to the same overworked counselor. I step away from the computer and travel down the long hallway to watch the 1975 movie, "Jaws" which Mrs. Malamud and I saw at the theater while we were still dating. My heart throbs, I miss her even more. I check my e-mail again. Only an offer to make my penis larger stares at me. I delete it and I trudge to my bed and collapse. I pray to God. I instantly fall asleep. I awake at 8:20PM and consider going to Starbucks. I decide it's just too hot. I go to Border's instead where I can sit inside. I find and read pages from a book of poems about friends. Long dead writer Ogden Nash makes me laugh. He made me laugh at Palo Verde Grade School over a quarter of a century ago too. I look for the "End Times" novels my wife loves to read. I find none. I pick up a slim-line Bible. At $25, it's too expensive. I turn around and step over to the books on divorce. I refuse to consider it. I search through the journals, thinking I would use them rather than Starbucks napkins. They are all too expensive. I buy a magazine featuring the "Best Merlots of 2003" and scoot between the theft detectors hoping they don't go off. I straggle out to the mighty Peugeot and marvel at how empty and meaningless my life is without my marriage partner. Once home, I check my cell phone for "missed calls." None. I log on to my e-mail in the hope of a possible late night note from HER. Instead an e-mail promising me bigger balls dangles on the screen. I delete it and collapse on my bed.
Sunday night and I sit in front of my computer as I type this raw. I finished at the gym before 8PM with Starbucks still being open an hour longer. I walked to my car and marveled at the amount of sunlight and the heat. 100 degrees. I went home and fried up some chicken for a salad to consume this evening and to then to eat the remaining pieces at my horrible job during the week. I went to church this morning hoping to sing some familiar songs. There was only one. This was the first service since February that I did not weep uncontrollably during the service. I watched the lady who helped in an offstage capacity in a church play earlier in the year. I've got a crush on her and she's beautiful and my age. Luckily for me, she doesn't know I exist. I watch her as she walks from the choir loft to sit next to her husband. I can tell there are serious problems in the marriage. I realize that she's very, very much like Mrs. Malamud and that is why I am so strongly drawn to her. That also vividly explains, at age 50 anyway, why it is best to stay with what you've already got. That sounds cold, but it only makes sense. Because I would, by my nature, go out and get hooked up with someone virtually identical to what I have (actually don't have) now. That's the way human beings are. Of course I'm attempting to stay with Mrs. Malamud because I do love her so deeply and share so damn many memories with her. So many close moments. So much laughter. And, in sadly, so sadly, only in the last few months, I've come to respect her so very much for all she's accomplished. However, presently, she doesn't love me or respect me. And I can't blame her. I got home from church and slept all day. Sleeping is a sign of depression. But, how could I be depressed, believing, as I do today, that the Missus is closer to reuniting than ever?
I did it. I slept until 9PM. I missed both the gym and Starbucks tonight.
I should be happy that I got to talk to Mrs. Malamud three brief times today on the cell phone. I took my latest photo of "this week's flower arrangement" and made it the background for our home computer monitor. It looks really nice.
Of course, my teenager will replace it with an exploding brain or something.
I'm listening to "Delilah" on KESZ 99.9 FM, the DJ-lady who mentions God often
and takes love-song dedications. Sadly, I think she's a single mom herself.
This afternoon the depression I've been wrestling with since mid-February almost had me pinned to the mat again. But I quickly slipped out of its dark grip. Since Monday, feeling halfway stable, emotionally, I now have a measure of how severe my depression was. It was profound. I'm fairly pleased with myself that I was able to weather it. Without drinking myself under the table.
Or signing up for the plethora of prescription psychotropics Dr. Feelgood offered.
I could have used drugs, legal or illegal and alcohol. I also did not miss a single day of work - as a matter of fact I worked more hours - even though it was really tough. And being on-the-clock did nothing to take my mind off of the missing Mrs. Malamud for more than moments. I'm still not happy that God put me through this. I still can not honestly thank God for this trial. I know if I hang in there, at some day in the future, I will thank God. But not now. I just thank Him for not giving me more than I could handle. I thank Him for listening to my hours and hours of questioning prayers. No one died, no one is dying, no one is threatened with death. But, to my soul, the level of emotion is just as strong as if someone died or is dying .... I thank Him that I am facing only this and not real physical trauma, or job loss or Third World privations. I keep hearing His earth-trembling response to Job's questions so many centuries ago:
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
Where were you when I laid the
earth's foundations?" Job 38:3,4
I have no more questions of God. I know He loves me. Why, that's another question no man can answer.
I carefully maneuvered past the serious auto accident shielded by police cars and the flashing red roofs of the emergency vehicles. The collision was at the intersection where the traffic signal was finally going to be installed. Too late for those injured individuals. My counselor called my cell phone while I was on the Stair Climber at LaLa Fitness and did not leave a voice mail. It's odd, because as I walked out to my car in the gym parking lot, I thought that with the way I'm feeling now, she's almost superfluous. Of course, if Missus Malamud should turn to me the cold shoulder once more, I'd be dropped to my knees and phoning Covie five times a day tearfully searching for answers she can't possibly possess. With a slight breeze unhindered by the artificial misters, it is a pleasant atmosphere at my Starbucks tonight. Emotionally and physically I am feeling better than I probably have ever in this Year of Our Lord 2003. And I'm luxuriating in my pleasant emotional sauna. I can almost smell the tart eucalyptus aroma invading my nostrils. And I am so thankful to be able to do that. Observing the many young ladies at the gym tonight, I marveled at their smooth, soft and flawless skin. It's such a shame that due to another young lady's actions, that they too will age, wrinkle and sun-spot. Why don't people put their cellphones on vibrate? I was listening to a radio program this afternoon and discovered that the number one problem men have with women is that females won't come out and say what they want. It seems so simple. I listen as the Scottsdale Chic young lady tells her chocolate colored cappuccino consuming male companion the tale of her wealthy girl friend marrying a Saudi, converting to Islam and setting up her household in the Persian Gulf. How very sad. To so many people religion is just a change of clothes, a dialect, an 'also ran' in their busy and endless lives. I'm reminded of my pastor friend telling me of the time he visited the death bed of a non-believer and asked him, in his soft and velvet-smooth Oklahoma drawl, "Did you honestly think you were never going to die?" I felt my leg vibrating and I reached into my pocket to retrieve my Verizon cell phone. It was Covie, my counselor. I forgot to mention our finances were ravaged. I mentioned that it was against verifiable facts that I felt so good because I simply believed that Mrs. Malamud and I are closer than ever to getting back together. And together, I believe we can weather any storm. And that "together we can weather" feeling is one of the best and strongest feelings any spouse can emote. The Scottsdale Spoiled teens leave their TCBY cups on the Starbucks table and scuff away complaining about insect bites and $25 cigar smoke.June 2003
9:30. A lonely Friday PM at Starbucks again. Outdoors it's pleasant, but no lovers to eavesdrop on. (I pause while I'm typing this to pour myself a goblet of Geyser Peak 2001 Chardonnay and to rub the belly of the eighty-five pound English Bulldog that guards our kitchen.) The slim, silicone-stacked, and golden-haired, fortyish lady clad in skin-tight multi-hundred dollar denims and a bright white low cut muscle shirt wrapped around her eraser-tipped dual bounty as tight as an Ace Bandage, is approached by a young drunk. He is draped in a untucked at the waist, flowing, silk, black and white print, tropical motif shirt, fresh from the Paul Flemming inspired upscale pickup bar disguised as a Mexican food restaurant. He is also completely ignored as the door to the coffee cafe clicks closed behind the Nordstrom's salesgirl dream. I think to myself, "Lady, if you are going to dress as if you do 'house-calls' you will be propositioned like that." I'm listening to Al Green on the outdoor speakers this 80 degree evening. I hear the Reverend Green performed at the Celebrity Theater last night. (The theater built over the forest of trees my mother and I used to picnic between in the 1950s.) I understand he was flinging his love sweat as far as the third row.
That's something us, scratch that, That's something you non-performer's maybe don't fully realize. We artists give everything we've got when we're on stage - and we love to do it too. I remember during one performance of a Tennessee Williams play, I shouted my so very well crafted lines out of sequence. But I said them with such passion, such belief, that they were accepted as how someone in real life, in a real moment of living, might say them. Damn! That recollection makes me want to get back on the stage. As I continue to shed my blubber and firm up, I happily notice the ladies I encounter during my horrible work day, are more and more willing to smile at my usually inane banter. The slim, over six foot tall female Barista (is that redundant, with the "a" indicating female en Español?) ventures outside to wipe down the verde colored tables. I ask her to wipe me. Wipe my table that is. She smiles and her face is transformed. It is amazing to me, someone who has been contemplating exactly why a certain particular female countenance is considered beautiful (Nicole Kidman, yes. Sandra Bullock, no.) Someone as I, who sees thousands of female faces a week, am daily amazed, how a simple smile turns a plain face into a beautiful one. I grimace as the shaven-head overweight male smoker packaged in a green t-shirt drops his cigarette wrapper to the floor landing almost on top of his new black and white Nike's probably purchased at the huge Dillard's shoe sale. I amble inside the empty coffeeterium and armed with the argument that they will soon be throwing it down the sink anyway, I coax a steaming brown refill into my blue Starbucks personal cup. Outside again, I'm observing an attractive, forty year old lady twirl her hair as she listens to her not so comely female companion converse. I comprehend, as most males never would (or could) how she can 'be herself' at this moment. I'm drawn back to the subtle but dramatic changes in the demeanor and verbalizations of the lovely Mrs. Malamud during our last April 2003 face-to-face. She could finally "be herself" (as she had earlier explained in an electronicfying Valentine's Day e-mail) and utter what she thought or what she felt without the fear of upsetting her "too fragile" and "too emotional" soon-to-be-ex-mate of the the last quarter century. From the TCBY table, the yellow-haired mother ascends from her chair and trailed by her pair of early-teen daughters, resembling a graceful covey of sleek white feathered waterfowl, as one, they slide onto the ivory colored leather seats of their 5-Series BMW. I fold my brown Starbucks napkin and carefully packing it into the shirt pocket of my Russian manufactured blue and yellow plaid blouse, I myself arise to saunter over to the nearby Blockbuster Video. I want to see if the classic old movie, "The VIP's", I read about in this month's issue of Vanity Fair, is in their inventory. It isn't. The girl tells me to check their website for a Valley Blockbuster that may have it. "But, be sure to ask if it is in stock," she warns. I slump into the cloth seat of the mighty silver Peugeot and drive the two hundred yards across the acres of parking lot to the local Albertson's. I slip my debit card into the Wells Fargo ATM. My balance displays on the screen as a negative $410 with $20 available. I cancel the transaction and drive home.
Talked with Mrs. Malamud today via her new Verizon flip-phone. She suggested a new wine, Meridian. I drove to Albertson's. I searched the wine aisle and laughed as I read aloud the 10 by 15 inch placards with the correct pronunciation spelled out on them. I finally found a bottle of the fabled fruit of the vine. Then I piloted the mighty silver Peugeot over to Starbucks to observe, to listen, to write. To sweat. It's amazing how a ball cap or especially a wide brimmed hat can change your appearance. The impression you make on people. On strangers. On people who don't know you. Appearances. I study the slim guy and girl who rode here on their skateboards. They look to be in their late teens - too old to be on boards. I assume the bigger board is his. Guys being guys, that is. I imagine them to be the children of tourists. Why else would he have a video camera to his face? Two younger-looking teens wander up to their table, grab the boards, whisper words of thanks, slam them down on the concrete and push their way down the patio. You never know. Appearances, eh? A Chevrolet Trailblazer, with a pair of young girls fresh from the pick-up bar, slam their white SUV into another SUV invisibly parked behind them. A crowd gathers as quickly as if the President of the United States had been shot. We are that anxious for something - anything to come into our boring lives? The casually dressed lady leaps to her feet, alligator skin bound Franklin Planner in her perfectly manicured hand. She's ready to record the license plate number of the offending vehicle should it drive off. I'm eyeing a chair and table combination that is closer to the misters. A cooler location. Suddenly the main character from the Dilbert comic strip sits in the chair. Soon, a shaved-bald, goateed creature with a the oh-so-popular 'tribe' tattoo cut into his leg just below his knee, sits opposite Dilbert. How stylish! Rather than sporting the tattoo around his bicep or around his ankle, he chose to have his body permanently scarred right below his knee joint. These guys have got to be gay. Who else would wear, as the Dilbert creature has, a leather bracelet above each ankle? The alligator killing busy-body with the planner appears to have finally tracked down the owner of the parked SUV. She slips her glasses on to read what she has written on her pages. How sad. She's the same type of person who ruins so many home owner associations. A single table clears up and it's under the misters. It's the same table I earlier relocated from. Should I admit my mistake and move back? The decision is made for me as two members of the four member The Freak Family flops on the pair of empty green webbed chairs. The father, six foot six inches bordering on 350 pounds, wearing a tropical print XXXL shirt that compliments his Birkenstock's. (Wait a second. I wear Birkenstock's.) The mother, looking much like a 21st Century Janis Joplin. The two kids are pretty much normal. The pre-teen girl is still waiting for her mail-order chin to arrive. The wind picks up and cools my own fat-ass off. I relax. The busy-body is coordinating conversation about the accident. I notice her obviously expensive matched jacket, blouse and pants are covering a body carrying about thirty five pounds more than it was designed for. If she'd spend a portion of her clothes allowance on a personal trainer and a diet and lose those pounds, she'd be downright beautiful. Not as beautiful as my far away spouse, but close. She wanders off, leaving her husband alone with the other couple. The Freak Family's ten year old is attempting to shinny up a gray I-Beam roof support. A young lady, who I recognize graduated from my son's private Christian school, swings open the door to Starbucks. She comes out and sits as far away from me as possible with male companions who would not pass the school dress code. It's near closing hour and I make the trek inside the coffee bar, this time not as a paying customer, but as a supplicant. A supplicant back to the altar of Starbucks. I am rewarded and return outside as the door is locked. The cooling mister's are turned off and the humid upper 80 degree evening squats on the patrons remaining outside.
As I walk into the surprisingly cool darkness of the computer room, the huge red flower I placed as the background for my computer screen seems to grow and leap out at me as if in three dimensions. I marvel at the simple beauty God has graced our lives with. Today it was over 110F and the heat pump that refrigerates the computer room instead, you guessed it, insisted on pumping out heat this afternoon. 90F inside. I got up from my afternoon nap in time to pilot the mighty Peugeot over to the nearly deserted Lala Fitness to do my leg workout. I was wearing an old, old pair of aqua and black checked cotton swim trunks and my tapered green Wall Drug tee-shirt that I'd found I could once again squeeze into. My trunks were out of style because they didn't droop to my knees. Or below. I caught many of the men and teens looking at my 26" diameter quadriceps that usually remained hidden behind my longer shorts. I think, "Genetics guys. And, bigger than Arnold's, guys. Bird-legged little people!" No decent looking women within ten years of my age, so I was spared the comparison game I play. Comparing the women at the 'Sport Club' against the missing Mrs. Malamud. The score so far: Mrs. Malamud 15, other women, 0. Two hours later, home again, I showered, shaved and slipped on my one pair of Nautica denims that fit me. Fit me except for having to curl a four inch cuff on each of the pant legs. Given to me by my oldest brother 15 years ago, I once again put on the very first Polo brand short sleeve shirt I ever owned. Before I knew how expensive the shirts were. But I've always enjoyed its softness. Since Starbucks was empty Friday night, I decided I'd stay inside this Saturday evening at the nearby Border's book store. I had my Border's travel mug filled with coffee so awful, that if I was at home, I'd feed it to my In-Sinkerator, and grabbed the Variety magazine and a couple of web/html publications. All were lacking and so was the scenery in the coffee bar. Unlike most of the customer's, I placed my magazines back in the racks. Being I had finished reading the wife's recommended book, "The Begginning of Sorrows", I thought I'd purchase a replacement to read while laying on the massive, half vacant, Malamud mattress. I'm usually picking out books for my now twenty three year old daughter, a voracious reader possessing an immense IQ, so, out of habit, I'm looking for paperbacks at least an inch and one-half thick. At least as thick as a cereal box. And with great artwork on the cover. The Mystery section yields nothing, so I make my way over to the Science Fiction aisles. Science Fiction holds a special place in my life, my heart, my mind, my past. Because as a young person, I used to consume science fiction literature the way, as a gluttonous adult, I would later consume Oreo's. Science fiction books, penned by the pioneers, Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke would draw me into the shining depths of the universe and out of my loveless and so very sad home on Belleview Street. (In one night, before age twelve, I read George Orwell's classic, 1984. I had nightmares for weeks and deja vu when I read in the Wall Street Journal Online, what our government has on the drawing boards.) I found a neo-classic that I should read,
Neuromancer, but settle instead on an action-mystery-adventure title with 659 pages: Eternity's End. As I'm typing these words, I discover I've emptied my goblet of Smoking Loon Merlot 2001 and trudge off to the kitchen. There, sounding like a couple of hockey players battling over a puck, our ninety pound English Bulldog drags his long claws across the wood floor, to wait, face folds pressed against the Arcadia door glass, expecting to be let out so he can bark at the shadows and the stars. Instead, seeking variety, I pour myself a tall shot of Jose Cuervo Especial into the salt shaker sized sample Sunburst Resort tequila glass my wife brought home from work in that long ago year of 2001. Back at the keyboard, I savor our last long distance phone conversation about exactly how to steam a fresh artichoke. I know, being exhausted from a twelve hour work day, she is surely home and asleep as I type this. I feel my eyelids drooping below my knees as I spell check and then upload these words to the internet.
Worn out from the gym. I'm at my Starbucks, outside and not sweating. Not hot. Why? because my tee shirt is drenched in perspiration. It's odd, as soon as one table-mate gets up the other reaches for his or her cell phone. Almost as if they are afraid, for even a nanosecond to be alone with their own thoughts. But we know this is actually the truth or else, at the times when one should be concentrating on the inner woman or inner man, such as during lifting weights or jogging, instead everyone is looking like "My Favorite Martian" with antennas bristling from their craniums. How rude is it to chat on your cell phone while someone is sitting at your table being ignored? Adults do this. Listening to Dean Martin on the sound system tonight. The greats are dropping like F-16's and being replaced by twits covered in tribe tattoos who insist we applaud their every bowel movement, but yet are extremely stressed when "the fans" take note of them when they deign to venture out into the public. Many months ago, I invited the vivacious Mrs. Malamud to phone me after work, anytime, to "de-stress." She replied, "... and you're not stressful ..." It took me so long to understand what she meant. And that was, even though she is the one wanting to end our relationship, talking with me is stressful to her (not because I ever say anything about the situation, the relationship, the emotions, my personal trauma) because she is drawn back to me every time she speaks with me. Drawn back to me while she's attempting to push herself away. I feel a little better knowing that ... although she is doing a damned good job lately of pushing me away. Simply by not phoning me. Monday the house Dr. and Mrs. Malamud have lived in longer than any other place, in either of our lives goes, on sale. We built it in 1979 and it really is too big for the two of us ... the one of us. Well, anyway, it will be 'one' as soon as the boy goes off to college. It's odd. Having been in the health insurance business, I look at all these great looking ladies, knowing that many of them are medical wrecks. The realtor says our house, our home, will sell within 180 days. The address we lived at for over 8,395 days will belong to someone else in than 3% of that time. How do I feel? Blank. I may have been wiped out by the months of endless, crushing, emotions. Maybe I'm emotioned out. As people enter the Starbucks the refrigerated air wafts out like the smell of bread fresh out of the oven and the contrast reminds me of how really damned hot it is out here.
It was reported as being 111oF degrees today. Before I left for Starbucks, a glance at the incredibly accurate Malamud thermometer reported a less than 100oF reading. At 9PM. Does that sound odd to you? This summer we will probably endure weeks where the mercury rarely drops below 95oF, even by 4AM in the morning. All that as a preface to explain all the empty green chairs surrounding me this evening. Although the misters do provide shimmering waves of coolness this is not enough relief for any passers-by. I see the doctor brother of my doctor, doctoring his coffee. He limps outside and points to his new German SUV, saying, "It finally came in," to a friend, while he ignores me for the countless time. No big deal. He's Jewish and they have their, usually sad, odd little snooty cliques. Another doctor who is certainly quite wealthy and also quite unhappy. My own sadness has finally dissipated, and only now do I realize how deep - how severe my depression was. I should have been under the care of a psychiatrist. If my strong Christian faith hadn't exploded out of me yearning for God, and He reaching for me, I could have been in serious mental and possible physical danger. I want to write down, to record my tactics to avoid depression. But I am too terrified, yes terrified to stir the still smoldering ashes. I watch the unescorted girl walk towards the pick-up Mexican food bar following a couple and wondering if she's going there with the hopes of meeting a guy or just tagging along with her paired-off girlfriend. The doctor continues to stand and talk to the lady/client/friend who originally called out to him. They probably attend the the same temple. I watch the stylish ladies stroll by in their stylishly stained or bleached or whatever peeling. Some of the patterns look like they've just finished peeing in their $200 Levi's. I wonder if they know that?
Click HERE to continue reading Dr. Malamud's
diary in chronological order