"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Friday, March 15, 2024

Put The Toilet Seat Down! - A Pound Of Flesh And Men's Retributive Thing With Jennifer From Accounting

Annika and Brad had been married a long time - so long in fact that they could anticipate each other's moves and rejoinders, block assays, divert feints, and do the balletic dance of a well-choreographed couple.  They not only finished each other's sentences but found themselves capitulating or overpowering without words.  What was the point of retort when the outcome was predetermined?

Theirs was not a bad marriage exactly, for neither Shakespeare, nor St. Paul, nor Petrarch who, in his last poems to his beloved Laura had misgivings, nor even Albee whose George and Martha, eviscerated and flayed to the bone but found something salvageable condemned the institution outright.  It had staying power, and while modern secularism, feminism, nihilism, and just plain do-something-about-it boredom were taking their toll, it was still around.


Not just around but alive and well with ice sculptures, dance music, crinoline, corsages, and church blessings.  The naysayers, the cynics and the misanthropes were missing something.  Marriage is a sacrament, a bond made in heaven and codified and recorded in the hall of records. 

So how was it that marriage could be such a penance? An out-of-date stage show? A social convention, procreative insurance, anchor for dubious sexuality?

'Please put the seat down', shouted Annie, a deja-vu-all-over-again moment, a meme, a vaudevillian theme, an old, tired joke.  Was there nothing new under the sun?  

'Stop it!', Brad said to himself, feeling dragged in spite of himself into the most absurd sexual quid pro quo of all time.  Did Josephine ever say this to Napoleon? Or Ann Boleyn to Henry VIII? No, but here we were all the same. 

'You know your pee puddles', reminded Annika, attempting to defuse the issue, 'and sprays and...'; but the damage had been done.  Entering into the predictable, tacky world of side-order innuendo, she got herself in only deeper.  Now both of them were trapped in the most irritatingly predictable afternoon soap opera.  The toilet seat?? Hadn't they both something better to do?

As intelligent as they both were - Yale, Harvard Law, Vassar and clerkships - they found themselves both on the very scummy rim of the tub without recourse or the ability to stop the bullshit.  Trapped in a marriage which they both now regretted. 


'I'll show her', thought Brad; and in what was the most bourgeois and transparent move possible, invited Jennifer from Accounting to lunch. 

A tricky deft affair it had to be, for like most men with Toilet Seat Syndrome, he did not want to jeopardize his love for his wife, as ironic and feeble as that might sound.  'Working late', 'unexpected business trip' were not enough cover for a wife who had to suspect something or else she would not be a partner at Klein Fabrikant & Cohen; but what more was there?  A sick aunt in Bayonne? A failing brother-in-law? Nothing plausible, nothing embroidered and filigreed enough to fool; so like most men in a May-December dalliance he simply said 'Fuck it' and took a cab to Mt. Pleasant. 

Annika was no slouch herself when it came to evasive sexuality.  She had had her affairs at Vassar and well beyond - the Conte de Villiers-Rochefoucauld was the brightest feather in her cap, and the sharpest arrow in her quiver if so pushed to honesty by her husband; and yet she hoped it would not come to that, although God knew, she still had plenty left in store despite advancing sags and wrinkles. 

The frigid air of the newly contentious marriage was chilling, and the warm bed of William from Torts was enticing.  Women, she knew, were not so adept as men as casting a line and reeling in a fish, but in the case of William little bait was needed.  He had been looking at her 'that way' for months; but given his timid forays and adolescent back-seat innuendoes, she quickly lost interest.  Oh, to be a man, she mused.  One look, get it up, and get into bed.  End of story; while women had to deal with consequences, the nature of true desire, compatibility, opportunity, and reward. 

The hunt for lovers dissipated the bitchy toilet seat pas de deux of the marriage.  She held off on hairs-in-the-sink, you-never-talk-to-me sallies and he kept his irritations to himself (her goddamned niggardliness, goddam it!) while he cooled off; and the status quo returned.  Neither knew about the other's dalliances, for sunken costs were increasingly the name of the game.  Too much invested to give it all up, and for what? Nada.  So they buried their umbrage, forgot about toilet seats, Jennifer and William, banked until later, until needed. 

But age and longevity took over and took its toll.  The point of no return had been reached, no going back, no cinq-a-septs 'working late' dalliances, no extra-curricular paramours. What you see is what you get, and both of them simply put up with the niggardly questions about money, the hair in the sink, the unexplained silences and the bloody indifference. 

'Marriage is the crucible of maturity' wrote Edward Albee. Without being walled in, Huis Clos, No Exit, one can never grow up.  Dealing with it was part of the adult deal. 

Enough said.  As much as they tried to be civil and above all avoid pettiness, it was beyond them.  No two people could possibly live together in close quarters for so long without some measure of intemperate bitchiness; so they accepted it as par for the course.  One's final thoughts would not be about who did what to whom but where one was going; and that, mon ami, was that. 

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