419.The Thaw

Image result for girl in flip flops in public street in winter

It’s 60 degrees Fahrenheit in Central PA on Jan. 13, Friday by the way. A January thaw is in the air. I’ve seen these before. A brief glimpse of spring that is so contrary to what has been and what I know from 35 years of Franklin County experience is bound to come. And then the hammer of Thor comes down on all the villagers– freezing rain mixed with wet snow and howling wind hounds from weather hell. It will bring facial penance for weather fools who smile in ignorance today. Yesterday folks were tromping about in flip flops, frivolously tempting fate to deliver frostbitten toes tomorrow. They want what they want and naively tip toe through the plastic  tulips pretending that it is spring. It’s not. This is a weather bubble about to burst. Put on your woolies and long underwear before it’s too late.

Denying meteorological history dooms one to repeat it. I blogged on False Springs and Genocide a couple of years ago, post 209, as a matter of fact. I referred to the horrible spring snow storm of 1888 that killed 200 New Yorkers by quick freezing them, like free range chickens at Perdue Farms. C’mon! You can’t believe pajama bottoms and sandals are proper winter apparel!  Demonstrate you are smarter than a chicken. You are just asking for a beating in a tank top in January. Winter weather is like an abusive boyfriend; he’s going to hit you again. This pause with flowers and sweetness is the false pat down of you guard. “I’ve changed. Really. This time it’s forever. I’ll never hit you again”, whispers the lying south wind.  Tomorrow brother Boreas will blow the frozen bloody skin from your frigid bones.

Denying interpersonal violence dooms one to repeat it too. Just because a guy smiles and says he is sorry does not outweigh his history of misogyny. Making excuses does not make it better or go away. Years ago I met a woman who had driven through the night from a Midwestern city to escape her cretin husband. Her eyes were glazed as if she had taken narcotics. She spoke of a horrible man who isolated her and endlessly accused her of infidelities with male coworkers.

“But I know he loves me. It’s my fault, really.”

“How is that??

“I make him mad. That’s why he punches holes in the walls and throw things.”

“And you are responsible for this how?”

“My husband told me he wouldn’t do this stuff if I just listened to him and didn’t make him mad. I apologize and fix the walls.”

“Do you ever blame others for your actions?”

“No. I don’t have that kind of temper. Keith does.But it’s because he loves me so much.”

“Uh, did he have a temper before he met you?”

“I guess so. He was dishonorably discharged from the Army for fighting and getting drunk.”

“I see. So his temper preceded him knowing you. Is that right?”

“Right. I met him about a year later.”

“I’m having trouble equating having a temper with loving someone.”

“Keith says that he loves me so much that he gets jealous if another man shows any interest in me. That’s why he picks out my clothes and does not let me dress slutty. He cares so much. He knows how men think about young women. So he checks my phone and anything on the computer.”

“I’ll bet he does. Does he isolate you also? Keep you from having friends?”

“How’d you know?  He pointed out my friends’ flaws, you know, so he tried to protect me from their drama. Plus he can’t stand to be away from me. He’s really romantic.”

“Yeah, I’d call it controlling and insecure.”

“No, it’s not like that, is it?”

“Let’s see… you work, he stays home and plays poker on the internet.”

“That’s his job.”

“How’s it going?”

“Sometimes he wins, but usually he loses. And that…”

“Makes him mad?”

“Well, no one enjoys losing. He works so hard. Sometimes I’ll bring him a sandwich so he doesn’t have to stop a hand. Sometimes he wants sex during a good hand. He says it brings him luck. He has stayed up all night before playing his poker job.”

“Meanwhile you go to your medical job at the hospital for ten hour shifts.”

“Yep, I pay all the bills and Keith takes care of the house and the dogs.”

“Nice arrangement for Keith.”

“He likes it except when I don’t answer his phone calls when I’m at work. He’s so protective.”

“How about possessive?”

“I guess so. He puts me on a pedestal.”

“Let me guess: he idolized you at first and found all your eccentricities cute and adorable.”

“Yep. It was such a rush to find my soul mate.”

“Then over time he began to correct you to keep you perfect.”

“Something like that. You know, I did need to lose some weight, and he said a boob job would be nice for my self esteem. I, I, I felt a lot better after doing that.”

“What did he correct next?”

“It’s silly, really. How I chewed my food. How I spoke at times.How sloppy I was with housekeeping.”

“Anyone else ever point out these flaws in your behavior?”

“No. But I’m not allowed to have company until the apartment is spotless.”

“And you’ve never gotten it spotless, have you?”

“Not yet, and I know that makes him madder than a hornet.”

“Meanwhile you have never asked him to change, right?”

“No, he’s perfect the way he is….”

“Even when he threw his coffee cup at your face?”

“I made him mad. It was my fault.”

“And you ducked or else you’d need stitches in your face.”

“I know he loves me.”

“Uhhh, I’ve not heard love in any of these examples, Cheri. Abuse, control, blame, yes. Love, no.”

“He tells me he loves me.”

“After he beats you?”

“Yes. I mean, no. Other times too.”

“Cheri, you’ve been programmed to serve him like a robot.”

“Well, it’s my choice. And I’m going back. He has called me 34 times since I left and it’s going to be different this time. He promises.”

“And the Statue of Liberty is made of green Jell-o. I promise… on a pedestal.”


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