Thursday, January 24, 2013

Once Upon A Time Wife


From Beatrix & Rex

1. Beverly Hills

I'm accused. They say all this is ego mania and self pity. Don't I have something better to do?

My answer: Isn't there something of the world here in the stories? Isn't it funny to see the ways people act when they are trying hard to get what they want and they know what they want, though not whether or not it's good?

Fate in the form of the Wilshire Bus had been dropping me three times a week, when I visited the chiropractor, right in front of the office building in Beverly Hills where Doctor Love, the new man in my wife's life, had his office.

She'd told me about him. He was a real doctor selling "new age" spiritual medicine. She didn't like it, but his company, personal company she meant, was as she put it financially rewarding. And any man with money was to her automatically attractive. So she said, anyway, however difficult it might be to convince herself in actual cases. She'd told me about that too.

Finally I decided I would go up to the office and see what I could see. The wife's Facebook page said the doctor was her employer. She'd been out of contact with me at this point for about 3 or 4 months. Why not leave a message for her there?

Now possibly all this is ego mania and self-pity. We have a runaway wife who's run away, she says, for the sake of acquiring more money. We have a doctor selling spiritual medicine and paying the runaway wife in more ways than one. We have the penniless husband about to walk into the lion's den of modern American life of anything and everything for money and nothing and never otherwise. It ought to be funny.

The office is on the second floor. The building has no attendant in the lobby, the elevator takes me right up. Inside the office, behind a long reception counter, is an expressionless young woman. The office is silent, and empty other than the two of us. I say I want to leave a message for Beatrix, write down on a small yellow pad my name and email. She asks who I am. I answer, yes, that is the question. I am supposed to be Beatrix's husband, but last time I heard from her she said she had divorced me or annulled the marriage without my knowledge or participation. I thought she ought to explain. That was all, and I left.

Of course no contact was re-established. After the bus had dropped me a few more times in front of Dr. Love's building I got up the nerve to visit once again. This time they were prepared.

The receptionist was a different young woman, equally blank faced and immobile, who when she heard my errand and took from me the new slip of paper with my name and address, said she'd been instructed that if I returned she was to call her supervisor. I said it wasn't necessary because I was going, just wanted to drop off the message. She said, wait, the supervisor wanted to see me. I waited.

The supervisor was a tall, grim middle aged woman with very short grey hair. She made me a speech: she can't have me coming there disruption their business. I said, no problem, just came to drop off the message. I'm no different than the mail man. No, she said, we don't want you here, you are forbidden to come here. Fine with me, I said. I was on my way out when your receptionist stopped me. You kept me here so you could tell me to go. The experience is not such that I am anxious to repeat it.

Meanwhile the door to the treatment rooms had been opened and one of the doctors, not Dr. Love - his real name is Dr. Lobe - is standing half hidden by the door holding his phone up recording the conversation.

Remember that these are the rooms of a spiritually inclined medical practice. The office manager, a later check of the web site reveals, is a "Doctor of Divinity". Some formidable god she must serve!

I made my exit with as much dignity as possible. I do leave behind me, however, my opinion that they are rude, unkind people. The office manager said that I seemed to be saying that they were the ones doing something wrong. Actually, I said, yes, they were. Words which met total incomprehension.

So what does this story mean? More self pity and ego mania? Or was it, as it seemed to me, an adventure, albeit comic adventure? The incident had immediate result. The wife's brother wrote to me on Skype, wanting to talk. To be, as it turned out, reassured that I wasn't dangerously crazy. Nobody understands anything.

2. Tel Aviv, Israel. Two Years Later

- I was a paramedic with the Israeli Army stationed in Nablus. I saw a lot.
- For example?
- Palestinians like to fire off rifles at their weddings.
- I've read about it. They seem to believe the bullets go up and up without stop.
- But the bullets come down.
- And they like to aim their rifles directly up? Imagining themselves growing taller along the bullet's path?
- Imagining themselves closer to god.
- And the bullets come down on them.
- Yes.
- You saw that?
- I saw the wounds. I had to treat them.
- Do you know what this reminds me of?
- What?
- A journalist in L.A. sent me an email a few days ago. She was writing a book on women who use men for profit and leave only destruction behind. She'd heard about my wife and me. It was a big story, and she wanted to feature it. We exchanged more emails:
- Will you consent to be interviewed?
- Yes.
- Are you still married?
- I'm not a lawyer, but probably we are.
- Will you testify in court? Sign the affidavit copied below on the email?
- Why this legal interest? What happened to the "big story" you're working on? I should have asked before: what led you to me?
- I know a girl from Church who knows the doctor your wife married. The doctor is suing her for divorce, and she wants money.
- I see. So she really married the doctor?
- You two should work together, not be enemies.
- I tried to warn him she had a husband.
- This woman has to be stopped.

- Is this true? Your wife married again without being divorced?
- And after I told her future husband she already was married. I don't know what the doctor expects to gain by hiring a journalist to gather information, if that's what's going on. If she knew the marriage wasn't valid, so did he. If afterwards they lived together like a married couple, in California the same division of property rules apply as to divorce. It's like he went into the marriage for the pure joy of the celebration.
- Like shooting bullets in the air.

3. Tel Aviv, Israel. The Same Day

- What made you think she's a detective?
- Her language. She talks about the case, not the story. She calls my wife "that woman", as in "that women has to be stopped". She asks me to send her my marriage documents she can pass on to authorities so my wife, that woman, will be stopped. 
- She's confrontational. You saw her videos.
- She's been working on "the case" three weeks, she says. Why doesn't she ask me anything except whether I am legally married?
- She told you. She wants to write a story that makes people laugh. She already knows enough about you to make people laugh, you the ridiculous second or third husband in a series. And she's a young woman. She's keeping distance to save you the trouble of making unwanted advances.
- You're probably right. She's recently married.
- To her you are a comic figure whose advances have to be blocked.
- Like my wife has to be stopped. Why do I feel offended?
- You think everyone should like you.
- They should.
- Are you going to continue answering the reporter's questions? Now that you know she is real?
- Or a real journalist working part time as a detective. Where's my interest here?
- Publicity. You are a failure at getting everyone to like you. Maybe she'll succeed.
- With my story.
- In the story she's writing you're one husband out of many.
- So where's my interest?
- What did you expect when you first heard someone was writing about your wife?
- The reporter wrote me that she knew where my wife was. I thought she might put me back in touch with her.
- Ridiculous man.

4. Beverly Hills, The Next Week

Back home only one day I get an email from Doctor Love. He'd like to divorce his wife (guess who?) and would like my help. Would I talk with his lawyers in Century City? Sure. I duly visit lawyers. Two of them usher me into the conference room where we wait to get a third lawyer in San Francisco on the phone, an expert in bigamy. I say:
- I take it this meeting is about your client wanting to divorce his wife and get out of paying compensation by claiming his wife committed bigamy?
- That's correct.
- Shouldn't he first be compensating me, taking care of his own bigamy, knowingly marrying a woman he had been informed in writing by me was married to me?
- Are you asking for money?
- Is this meeting about anything else?
- We'll let you know.
That was the last I heard from Dr. Love or his lawyers. Was the doctor still around Beverly Hills? I found a new address for his practice in Beverly Hills. The lobby directory had his name, but when I stepped through open office door I discovered the building manager had moved in. The doctor had decamped years ago leaving all his furniture. He was still being billed.

5. Beverly Hills, Six Months Later

There she is, maybe, my once upon a time wife. Once in time and wife don't combine, not even in fairy tale because once and wife is like asking what's outside the universe and what happened before time began. A wife is an everything and standing outside everything where are you?

You are in your thinking and thinking is invisible. Thinking is not anywhere, not even in the universe which is everywhere, so when I saw my wife, 2 years of not seeing her, this my wife who was my universe I am nowhere, I stand in no time at the before the beginning of time and look on from nowhere as she waits on the opposite side of the street for the light to change, to cross the street with the dog maybe I saw last as a little puppy. And I let her go.

There goes my wife, I say. I am back in the world of time and space, knowing better now when it's too late than to ask what's at the end of the universe and the beginning of time.