love and care

love and care


episode five: through the wardrobe

July 12, 2018

in which an ‘outing’ leads to an unlikely bond between adversaries and the reservations of well-intentioned parties rattle my confidence…
My sister is cleaning my parents’ bungalow with my ex-wife as enforcer. I can hear their exclamations and appeals to God from the other end of the bungalow. I’m in the kitchen clearing cupboards as they shout out their first finds, making me squirm for my father, for myself and for all men, especially those who should be resting in peace…No doubt their faces are appropriately creased in disgust, just as I imagine, and I can sense also a certain triumphalism at having caught the man—forgive me—so completely with his pants down.
Porn.
Nothing kinky or perverse, just stuff like Sex for the Over Forties, which happens to be a VHS video, a few magazines and a penis pump.
I can’t see how my father could have watched the video as he’d never mastered the TV remote, let alone the VHS recorder, despite the Post-it notes I plastered over the console. As for the penis pump, he may have had more success there, but being unfamiliar with its precise purpose I’m relieved I didn’t have to write a Post-it for that too.
But it’s too easy and too ugly. A veil should be drawn. Death should confer the right to a modicum of dignity. I have to do something. So I walk to the bedroom to find sister and ex-wife exactly as I’d pictured them and with more toxic material in hand. Armed with black plastic bags and marigolds, their fingers and thumbs pinch the corners of H&E magazine or Big Titty Girls, mined from the drawers and cupboards of my father’s bedroom.
“Please,” I say, “don’t do this. I’m much more concerned about the kitchen cupboards. There’s stuff there from pre-history.”
Neither seems chastened by my appeal.
“It’s got to be done,” says my ex.
“I know. Just without the fanfare.”
I sound self-righteous. A little defensive. I can see both my sister and my ex-wife wondering why I’m taking the moral high ground in defence of a man who was for so long a bitter adversary.
They’ve no doubt gleaned that I’m not simply protecting my father’s reputation. So let me immediately acknowledge my own gross treble standard in castigating the marigold-wearers and outing my Dad in such spectacular fashion and fessing up to nothing myself. I’m committing a crime I loathe in writers. Not just their insatiable cannibalism with life as lived, that’s to be expected—and as you can see, I am guilty of the offence in spades—but the tendency to absolve themselves by implication, claiming observer status, passing judgement and leaving their own lives thoroughly unexamined.
Let’s put that right now, right now, if you see what I mean… It’s coming up for two years since I made love, (I can’t say ‘had sex’…I don’t think you can have sex alone, or even, given I find the phrase ugly, with a partner…three plus, fine…),  with anyone other than myself—if you leave aside a brief rekindling of passion with my ex-girlfriend, she who’s son I displaced—when she came to visit me in France, an event I may have cause to recount later. I’ve been desperately missing contact with another human being, and uncomfortable as it is to hear from a middle-aged man, bluntly and honestly, I’m missing sex, with or without love.
And whilst many people would abhor porn as part of the process, if you are alone, most of us would acknowledge that solo sex, with or without the sin of porn, is a sensible release, not a dark perversion. We may not want to talk about it, or think of a close relative in the act, but the backing up of vital fluids is never to be advised.


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