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True Soap

The Role of Support

page two

Unknown to me at the time, the symbiosis next engulfed another couple, whom you have met. The wife became Christina's daily listener. Is it not natural that another, a third marriage began to suffer? I heard from the husband that Christina, on a daily basis, has his wife's ear, that nightly he has the days [twisted] account, that such is ruining his life, and that his relationship is now under great pressure. There is no doubt that the main contagion is Christina, and that whatever normal problems this third couple might have otherwise sorted out are now magnified out of proportion. If it worsens, no doubt there will be other eager "supporters" behind Christina. After all, reciprocal altruism defines this suburban club. Never mind that the fellow is one of the nicest people one could meet: The "supporters," if things worsen, might find it necessary for him to become more sharply defined. A metamorphosis is required. And one need not wonder how a once-liked person can become an "ogre." A new script is circulated. By gossip and innuendo a new persona is created. Ogre. This happened to me. I cannot move through Andover without encountering the very unfriendly stares of women, even in the schools. Christina has blackened my name wherever she could find an ear, and this I deeply resent, for I am not the person she characterizes me to be. Hers is a faulted perspective, a complete misapprehension. I am only guilty of not having made her rich.

What a very foul game this vicious gossiping, this "supporting" has got to. The canker that began with Carla became a contagion to Christina, who herself has now brought an utter pestilence to another marriage. Eight children are involved. Eight little people whose lives are churned, their daddies' good names put to slander. Have these "supporters" heard an opinion from the assaulted husband? No, that's not how this suburban game is played. A single mendacious perspective, driven by collective transactions, suffices. If the situation is not mended, and if Christina continues her pestilential intrusion, what will happen? Telephones ring. Supporters. Where is there an end of it?

T.S. Eliot said "...time present and time past are both contained in time future, and time future contained in time past." Simultaneity of future and memory, what we call the present. By juxtaposition, observe:

1. Christina swinging at Sean with a chain in Central Station when he was five years old. The look on his face. The shock of it happening. Mommy.

2. "My mother broke a hairbrush across my face when I was little..." and several moments later "I probably deserved it." -Christina in an admission to Elena D., social worker. Your hairbrush broke across her face when she was a little girl. What force of hand?

3. "I said he could slap me" -Christina. Christina bent her head down to Sean, offering her face, and said "Sean, I'm sorry. You can slap me back." This followed a particularly severe battering that Sean suffered at nine years old, slaps across the face [all this admitted to Elena D.], hiding, quivering under my computer desk where I found him when I came home. I asked Christina why she did this and she said "It made him [Sean] better."

4. Working at my computer on the third floor last summer I was suddenly aware of Sean running up the stairs and a short while after you pumping up the stairs with a hairbrush in your hand and stopping short when you saw me, quickly retreating.

Juxtapositions. A tale to tell. If all time is eternally present, is all time unredeemable?

Ask Joan about the fist fight she suffered at Christina's hands in our living room some years ago, or about the time Christina ran her out of town to the train station, screaming at her, no matter that our children or Joan's friend were there. Or the time when Joan was almost pushed out of the car in Somerville. Who was it that said "She's not herself without a morning and evening shout"?

The utter heartbreak of so many scenes... Winnie saying "just stop it Mommy, can't you just stop it?" Pam holding her head [you said this didn't happen Betty]. Sean on the stairs with blood and scratches on his neck. Harry's small hands shaking after witnessing a morning's roar. And Winnie saying she "won't speak to Ms. Bertram because Mommy doesn't want us to get her in trouble..." There are years and years of such stories. Some written down, as were your unbelievably cruel misapprehensions voiced on our back patio.

And all these years, wondering, what really happened to Christina's grandmother, the one she looked so much alike? Footfalls echo in the memory. Multiple authors of a single act.

What do you think of when your brush your hair?


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Copyright © 1999,
All rights reserved.

The names of all places and participants in this true drama have been changed. Resemblance to any person, living or dead, is unintentional.


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