Brenda and I are standing on the edge of the dance floor, close to the band. Our friends are gathered in a knot around a table, off to the side of the bar. They’re the senior citizen contingent in The Rec Room, this group of 55 – 70-year-olds eating the cake Ellen brought to celebrate her husband Gary’s birthday. They want to chat with each other, rehash the old days and catch up on the new. We’re all here because Gary
loves music, especially the blues, and a good local blues band is playing.
But Brenda and I want to dance. We always want to dance. I’m thinking opportunities tonight are bleak. None of our old codger friends want to do anything more active than move their mouths to talk and lift their plastic cups to their lips to drink beer.
Everyone else in the place looks to be well under 30. They’re playing drinking games that involve flipping empty plastic cups or passing full ones boy to girl, girl to boy, without using any hands.
So here we stand, nodding our heads and shaking our hips to the rhythms of these young musicians. I can’t read Brenda’s mind, but I’m guessing she expects some young blade to ask her to dance. After all, she’s light-bulb-bright charismatic, confidant and has a history of affairs with younger men. Guess that makes her a cougar.
How I hate that word. Makes her sound like a predator. She’s not. She’s attractive, successful and fun.
Brenda and me, just hanging out around the dance floor.
Alan kept this CD in his car. When we drove long distances, he’d slip it in the player. We’d sing along, loudly and off key, glorying in the passionate imagery of the lyrics and the pain and purity of Sinead O’Connor’s voice. We’d sing happily, united in our love of the song. Her pain wasn’t ours and would never touch us. Or so we thought.
Until the day arrived when we sat together in the office of a marriage counselor. The
day when I knew our marriage was beyond repair. The day when he was still in denial.
We were living apart, hadn’t seen each other for a week. I turned to him and said,
“This is the last day of our acquaintance. I’ll meet you later in somebody’s office.”
That was it. We met later in somebody’s office to finalize the details, but those two
sentences marked the death of our marriage.
I never imagined until that afternoon how perfectly Sinead O’Connor expressed the end of my love, or what solace I would get from blasting out those lyrics in the home where I now live alone.