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It's been almost four months since the fair Mrs. Malamud electronically rejected me. On Valentine's Day no less. The other day I received a missive from her that indicated to me her position has not changed. I had been laboring under the hoped for assumption that she had reconsidered. I had begun to put my life back together, because without her, it ain't much and then it all started to come crashing down on me again. My heart began to feel dead. To feel as if it were too tightly wrapped with duct tape. And then when it did beat, it beat with a loud thump, thump, thump. While four months ago I would have broken into wild sobbing, now I've gained some control over my emotions. And that was the one thing that started my writing these pages. To help other people to maybe gain a little control over their emotions. I've been told by educated people that different people respond to the same stresses differently.
Border's. It's so damn hot outside I'm at Border's Espresso Cafe tonight. Inside. 9:30PM and the official temperature is 106F. Our low last night was 93F and our high today was 116F. Both were records. It was an incredible 123F in Arizona's Bullhead City. I received a pair of abrupt, almost rude, emails from the Mrs. Malamud Sunday. They put me - rather I put me - down in the dumps over their single sentence responses. She phoned my cell at work Monday and wasn't the least bit hostile, so spineless wimp that I sometimes am, I immediately felt better. Pulling the strings I think is the term. I'm still not pulling my own strings. After close to five months, my emotions are finally . . . finally, stabilizing. Actually, if I recall correctly, my emotions settled down at around the four month mark. That's about the time I stopped violently weeping for five to twenty-five minutes. Every. Single. Afternoon. I'm still very interested in discovering why my reaction was so deep, of such duration and so very visible and incapacitating. All of a sudden I'm staring at women blessed from the womb with large, full breasts. Almost as if I'm an infant needing the comfort that a big-nippled breast full of milk would provide. Comfort and sustenance. As I pulled away from work this broiling afternoon, wishing the Mighty Peugeot's air conditioning blew as hard and as cold as our 1956 Packard's had, I was listening to a radio program, whose subject is keeping marriages together, and, I caught a lady caller stating, ". . . 25 years. You've spent most of your life with that person." The lovely missing Missus Malamud and I have been married for 26 years. I feel my life would no longer END if we were to divorce. Even though, I hear all the time from "the divorced" that, ". . . my second spouse was the best thing to . . . blah, blah, blah." I still do not desire a divorce. Divorce doesn't end the pain. Divorce won't end the pain for either of us. Although if served with papers and lacking what I call a "God-Sighting" to direct me otherwise, I would not contest. You laugh. You chortle. You knowingly sigh, "A God-Sighting? Right." I believe fervent prayer is answered by God. Not always the gift wrapped and obvious solution we think we need, but but solution an answer none the less. Over the past few months the Malamud family has seen over $15,000 literally fall from the sky. From totally unexpected sources. Like? Like the IRS. The IRS has done nothing but take hundreds of thousands of dollars from us over the past twenty years. $186,000 in 1989 alone. More than six times what I will gross in 2003. It's so nice in Cafe Espresso. Feels like it's around 76 or 78, while outside, where I'm headed, it's still over 105F. There is a metaphor somewhere in that.
I was entertaining myself and chuckling out loud this early morning, while at the same moment I was walking from my French car to the twin automatic opening front doors of Albertson's. I was there to bag some yummy Kipper Snacks and dark green broccoli crowns to quickly munch later in the day at work. I thought how the Mrs. Malamud was (and still is) so quick to laugh at my sharp wit. And then, almost as quickly, I was struck by the realization that the presence of laughter is not the same thing as being happy. And while my constant antics always generated laughter from my spouse, they apparently did not create happiness. Too bad. So sad.
I know someone has gone through exactly what I am going through.
At work I'm in the middle of a run of four, fourteen hour days, one of which is my single one day off per every six. I had ten, eleven years to find decent employment and I'm laboring at a job reserved for the retarded, the ancient and the down and outs. No wonder the Mrs.Malamud is so very much pissed off. Perhaps terminally pissed off as far as this relationship goes. That's one of the many, many things she's more than paid the price to be supremely disgusted about. That being the fact, I must still be very careful not to attack me, because those are battles once engaged that I always lose. And the victory brings another sobbing session. The hard won battlefield medals of sorrow, dejection, despair and inaction are soundly pounded into my heart with dull pointed, two inch long roofing nails. My soul is doubled over in pain. Lately, I have become instantly aware of my dad's voice as he begins to whip my spirit with a barrage of accusations that would cripple even the Biblical Job. At several months into this separation, my emotions are still so tender that I can not bear to ponder, more than a little, my life post-Missus Malamud. At age one-half-century, I have scant desire to be with anyone but her. My soulmate. "You're just comfortable with me" she wistfully whispers. Yeah. And what exactly is wrong with that? It's the ignoring her needs that severely damaged our relationship and not the "being comfortable" part. Of course, many of my unspoken needs also went unsatisfied (and no, they did not involve abnormal or demeaning behaviour on the marriage mattress - come to think of it, is there anything considered abnormal anymore?) We were scared of each other. Scared to talk truthfully. Now, she is no longer scared. And it has scared the hell out of me. Time's starting to drag here in my tenth hour at work. It never does that at the gym, or Starbuck's or Border's. But yet time drags whenever I'm watching TV. Because in front of the TV, we spent so many hours, dodging the needles while peeling the leaves off of huge, steaming, artichokes dripping in butter and eating them. Or, sharing a bag of microwave popcorn dripping in butter. Or consuming Jethro-sized bowls of Schwan's ice cream, dripping in butter. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention. I watch people tearing out of here to go home and get ready to go out to dinner or to the ball game or just to be with their huggable better half. When I get home at 8:30PM tonight there will be, most likely no one there. Got to stop now, my heart is sinking while at the same time tears are welling up in my eyes.
Virtually every morning after I step down from the half-empty Malamud mattress and stumble into the master bath I turn on the FM radio and I hear Phil Collins eloquently pleading the words of the theme song to the movie Against All Odds:
"So take a look at me now
Oh there's just an empty space
And there's nothing left here to remind me
Just the memory of your face
So take a look at me now
'Cause there's just an empty space
And you coming back to me is against all odds
And that's what I've got to face."
(written by Phil Collins)
||My fondness for the movie is owed mainly to it's so sad, unresolved ending. And now I have a so sad, unresolved ending in my own life.
At work today time is crawling. It feels like it should be noon and it's only edged up to about ten o'clock. Four more hours until I am relieved. "Relieved," I type that word with more meaning than this web page can possibly transmit. Feeling a little melancholy today. You know you're feeling 'melancholy' way to often if you can even spell the word. Part of it could be due to the tall shot of tequila followed by the goblet of Merlot poured from the nine dollar bottle I purchased last night. Unlike my uninterrupted attempts from 1965 until 1989 I no longer have the option of drinking my problems away. 'Self medicating' is the "PC" term. "Drunk, selfish, bastard" is the old-fashioned, unfiltered actual description of how I used to live my life. Nowadays I'm forced with ignoring my challenges or, heaven forbid, occasionally working towards some sort of resolution. At my post, I recently finished plowing through four, fourteen hour back to back workdays and it just about killed me. Get up at 4AM, get to work at 5:45AM, get off at 8PM and at 9PM topple onto the wonderful massive Malamud mattress without even pulling the covers back. That's not much of a life. But it will more than double the piddly amount in this Friday's direct deposited paycheck. I mention my spate of fourteen hour workdays only because these are the hours the Missus has been enduring since November of two thousand and two. It's no wonder she sometimes vents a fierce anger against me. An anger that melts my soul like the faces of the Nazi soldier's in the first Indiana Jones movie. Missus M. enjoys what she's doing and is advancing herself to a much more prestigious and far better paying position. While Dr. Malamud is simply treading water. Passing time. Wasting my talents, my education, my wisdom. Scratch the "wisdom" part. I couldn't be very wise continuing to do what I do. For one-tenth of what I'm worth. Of course I face one-tenth the workload and one-tenth the responsibility too. I have an astute acquaintance who has postulated that remain where I'm at only because I am incapable of wading through the corporate bullshit, while at the same time keeping my mouth shut about the horrible smell. He's right about me not being able to keep my trap closed. If I see insanity, injustice, or favoritism, it is very hard for me not to bring it to everyone's attention. Even at the risk of losing my job. I was actually able to venture out yesterday afternoon and rent the latest Clint Eastwood, Malpaso produced DVD. It was a fairly good although very unlikely murder mystery. Being an actor, I couldn't help but sit up straight and point my finger at the monitor when I stopped believing certain actors in certain scenes. But I guess I should get used to it in my new, officially sanctioned, although unpaid position, as an drama critique here in The #$%!@#!! Valley of the Sun. (I love this titanic town but sometimes the equally titanic heat gets to me.) Had another acquaintance tell me I should write a book of my adventures. I had chatted with him about my friend, Crazy Paul, who scaled the fence to get into the San Diego Zoo and stole a baby alligator. Later that same year, Crazy Paul, had ATF agents show up at his house to relieve him of a partial case of dynamite he had found in the desert. It was a partial case because he had been blowing things up in the desert. And then there was my other buddy who kidnapped his endowed and beautiful yet, underaged girlfriend from Victoria, Texas. And then transported her to 1970s Phoenix and found her work as a topless dancer. Or what about the time I was pulled over on my way to high school by two police officers, who approached my 1964 Plymouth Fury, hands on their holsters, because they thought I had just held up the Circle K? I mean, doesn't everyone have this kind of stuff in their lives? July 2003
Early Friday afternoon I rented the movie "Adaptation".
Earlier this century, in my continued effort to learn more about this mysterious bloom, I had purchased and attempted to read "The Orchid Thief". The very book the movie is taken from. The trade paperback was absolutely informative, entertaining and also a well-written easy to read effort, but for some reason I was unable to complete it. And now, as I gaze at a single shelf in my vast library, I am reminded that I was also unable to make it through "Zen and the Art of Screenwriting." (Not to be confused with "Zen in the Art of Archery" which, even though not even one hundred pages, required more than a year to reach the final page. Such is the practice of Zen, is it not?) How odd that these two titles, laid sideways across twenty or more properly vertical reference volumes, are paired together. Understand that the movie "Adaptation" is about a screenwriter transfiguring the book, "The Orchid Thief", into the necessary format for display on the big screen. Or in my own case, the small, circular DVD. As I watched the first twenty minutes of Adaptation, since in real life, unlike fellow actor Nicholas Cage, I am also a writer and I felt the fire burning. I paused the DVD and trotted off to add to these pages. Alas, the web page editing program wouldn't open up. All I can surmise is that it's too full of ... my writing. As I was watching the movie I realized, one more time, that my future lies in writing. Writing for fame and profit. But, for some unknown reason I'm unwilling to take a serious move in that direction. Some counselors have pondered I have an immense fear, possibly of rejection. Only one problem with that. I'm an actor and for every part I won, I've been rejected for ten times as many. The Missus has been phoning more and more often. This may be due to the 'space' I've been giving her. For a man, especially a doctor, it is almost impossible to believe that by leaving something alone, it can somehow get 'fixed.' I left our marriage alone for decades. It did not get fixed. It fell apart. And now I'm being told to just leave the Missus alone. As if the one thousand one hundred nineteen point four miles doesn't give her enough space?
Inside at Starbucks. It is 8PM and still 100F outside. The good looking redhead in the tight white blouse waves her girlfriend inside the 74F coffee shop. Funny, I thought the maroon-tressed lass was gazing at me. Hope springs eternal. Or is it, as Mrs. Malamud states, simply EGO? Face it, without what we have identified as ego, for all its faults, it is the spark of human existence. I remember the philosopher who first exposed to me the idea that when a person dies - the universe dies. That is, for him or her - the dead one - the universe might as well have been sucked into a singularity. Gone. Vanished. Thanks to the magic of reflectivity, I can keep an eye on my redhead ... only to see if she changes her mind. Even though now her grubby looking, hairy-faced, stick-legged spouse is seated across from her. Vanity. All is vanity. These chairs, these Starbucks 'inside' chairs, must have been chosen because they are so uncomfortable. So the coffee shop's guests wouldn't stay seated too long or get too comfortable and possibly deprive someone of vital Starbuck's liquids. The word 'divorce' drifts over from a different table. How casually they toss the word around. So many fat people. I wonder how many of them even realize just how profoundly their heaviness affects them? Their attitude. Their everyday health. Their sleep. Pushed outside by closing time, I'm sitting in the oppressive heat and humidity of an early Scottsdale evening still simmering from fourteen hours of 90 degree plus sun. I attempt to scoot my table beneath the ghostly waterfalls of the cooling misters. MM (Mrs. Malamud) phoned me today.
"I've been a bad girl," she began in a giddy tone.
Without another word said, I queried, "Ok. What did you buy?"
"A new car. Well, it's a 2000," she elaborated.
She read the list of accessories and options off of the window sticker to me. " . . . leather, power windows that roll up ... "
"Is it a V8 or a six cylinder?" I asked.
"I don't know, let's see, um, a '4-liter in-line six, 195 horsepower, 230 foot- pounds of torque'."
"What color is it?"
"That's a good color for Texas," I answered while sporting un-seeable grin.
Then she went through the litany of all the ailments her former SUV was suffering from after its journey of more than 120,000 miles. She needn't done that. There is nothing more horrifying than a distant husband imagining his wife's car breaking down at midnight on some side street. After chatting like a couple jazzed-up teenagers for so long we ran out of trivial things to jabber about, she rang off. The misters stop. I'm instantly basting in my own sweat, thankful that I just began using Mitchum antiperspirant. "So Effective You Could Skip A Day" the label states. Pushed into the mighty Peugeot for the short jaunt home, I listen to 'Delila' on the FM radio. Home again, I find it dark with only Shadster, the English Bulldog, there to greet me. Rather, ignore me. MM has every intention of completing her minimum two-year term in Texas. Not coming back soon. No matter what the outcome. Not coming back until after November of 2005. And then 'back' could be La Jolla or even the island of Anguilla. I've emotionally recovered enough to be able to sit still and watch DVD movies once more. I'm searching out all the old ones that have been remastered and reformatted for the 21st Century's shiny CD-sized platters. I relished in a 1959 Hitchcock classic this afternoon. It came complete with a biography of the movie-making process by it's lovely - in 1959 - leading lady. Tonight I located the 1962 007 classic 'Dr. No.' It was the first Bond movie made, and coincidentally enough, the first Bond movie I ever saw. Go figure. And that was in the days the only way you could see a movie was inside a theater. A theater cooled with that new fangled refrigeration. Had to lie about my age to get into the elegant Fox in downtown Phoenix. I think I'll pour a very tall shot of Jose Cuervo Especial tequila, slip in my rented James Bond flick, gulp a little buzz and enjoy another too brief journey into my past.
I step out of my bedroom and I am assaulted by the pungent cloud of cologne my in-the-middle-of-a-divorce son splashed on prior to leaving on a date. I restart the 1962 "Dr. No" DVD. Honey Rider and James Bond are enjoying coffee together in Dr. No's sumptuous underwater apartment. The clinking of the china cups and saucers and the sound of the spoon hitting the insides of the dishware brings back a spate of memories. Memories of wealth and the days when the good Doctor and the lovely Missus traveled the country staying at fine hotels in California, Colorado and on our favorite and tourist free Caribbean island. I'm suddenly drawn to watching old movies. I feel the snore of my huge bulldog vibrating through the foot he's crushing with his nearly one hundred pounds of weight. I wonder why I'm re-viewing movies 20, 30 or 40 years old. I'm fatigued by the non-stop special effects that dominate today's movies. I'm tired of becoming so intimate with the lives of today's Hollywood stars that I'm familiar with the exact weight of the lint removed daily from their belly buttons. We need more 'Johnny Depp's'. I love the glamour of the older movies. I finished the "Dr. No" film, and I'm now watching "10", the 1979 Dudley Moore movie that introduced the beautiful, mega-airhead, Bo Derek. Both John Derek, her husband, and Dudley Moore, her co-star have since become deceased. This is odd, I just finished a movie that introduced Ursala Andress, John Derek's first wife. "10" is so old that Dudley's beautiful, pale yellow convertible Corniche has an eight-track cassette stereo in the dash. The movie is so dated that they display actual phone numbers, not the obviously phony "555" prefixed numbers they use today. I slip my foot out from under man's best friend, who is licking his massive paw with a tongue the size of a fly-swatter to wander into the kitchen. I see that I'm finally making a dent in the 1.75 liter bottle of tequila I purchased at Sam's Club earlier in the week. That's probably not something I should be proud of. Buying tequila at Sam's Club, that is.
Tonight I sit alone on the huge L-shaped Malamud-family royal green and maroon fabric covered modular couch. My teenage wunderkid is asleep and I am watching a recently produced quirky black and white DVD titled "Following." Surprisingly, it is very, very good. However I'm in a huge depression, because the second contract for the sale of our house is falling apart. I did do some work around the place, so I don't feel as bad as I could. Understand that doing something, anything, helps to instantly dilute the dark clouds of depression. Like pouring a thin stream of cold white cream into the spoon powered whirlpool of a steaming cup of black coffee slowly turns in tan. That and the three large shots of tequila probably deadened the pain. Of course, I am a large man and three thimble-fulls of alcohol hably affeck mOi et alL - Sea? I can hardly wait to be making more money than I can spend once again. I've just got to run across the right circumstances. I've made a mantra of praying to God about a decent job. I used to include salary amounts - can you imagine that? Telling the Creator of the universe's the dollar amount your new job should pay? But having become a much more mature supplicant (nothing like twelve weeks of face-down-on-the-dirty-carpet-praying to mature and humble a once haughty fellow) now I simply pray that I will discover the work that He has been molding me for. I hope it isn't pumping out J-Johns or something like that. I happen across all these total asshole, jerks at Starbuck's and I know they're pulling down hundreds of thousands of dollars and I know that I can do that too. Without assuming the aura of an asshole-jerk. I won't be making a huge amount of money, but it will be enough. And, after these years of relative poverty, I have developed a new respect for money earned. You've heard the old joke about Porsche driver's being such jerks? (What's the difference between a porcupine and a Porsche? A Porsche has the pricks on the inside.) My experience has shown that late model Corvette driver's are just as big as jerks. But they all pale to the messed up bastards behind the wheel of most Lexus SC430's. Bastard's. Sad bastard's. But still bastard's. Since it barely knicked 100 degrees today, this evening would have been an excellent night to sit in my green mesh chair outside at Starbuck's. Instead, I'm spending it at home. I feel really badly for the lovely Missus as she was planning for some much needed major surgery she's put off for years and the house sale falling through will upset her schedule. It may also mean the difference from me moving into a horrible rental apartment and a townhouse I could, by year 2033, actually own 100% of. But, in all cases, her surgery has priority. If I was any kind of a man, I'd jet to Europe and sell a kidney to a rich American in need. How do you think Amway co-founder Rich DeVos obtained his replacement thumper? You realize he most likely paid a family big bucks for it, don't you? Of course, I couldn't sell my heart on the continent, because, I kind of enjoy my existence. In my own sick, miserable, little way. I've been invited by a couple of married millionaire women (and their spouses) to enjoy a 'movie and a dinner' at the place of the same name this Saturday. They want me to get out. I tell them I'm depressed. I tell them I'm in the middle of a marital separation and they still insist I come. And it's not for anything other than that they are being nice people. I cannot believe how nice so many people have been to me. It makes me feel like my life might be worth digging through to the six foot deep end just to see how many more really nice people I can meet. A German resident who speaks to me every six months or so, stopped her snow white SUV and powered down her heavily tinted driver's side window. Then, after closely studying the standing and smiling Dr. Hammurabi Malamud stationed in the driveway, like only a German-National can, nonetheless commented in her heavily accented English, "Your smile is so small. What do you have, a broken heart?" It shows? It shows.
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