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/Whois - Chapter 4 - Computers Are a Fad
"Bah!" said the marine, "computers are a fad. Mark my words, Jerry...they'll never amount to anything!"
"I'll drink to that!" my husband said loudly and toasted his buddy.
At the risk of sounding anti-patriotic, I couldn't imagine the fate of my country in the hands of two bigger fools.
It was always the same. Perhaps the participants were different...but I could've written the script by heart. I'd be introduced to the friend as the computer addicted wife. This would be followed by a few rounds of how his wife, the social cripple, was gracing them with her presence tonight when she'd rather be hanging out with her imaginary friends. And just to top it off, there would be the not so subtle commiseration with my noble husband's plight and incredible patience with my behavior.
My husband couldn't resist the opportunity to humiliate me. The drunker he became, the more obnoxious the comments and insults. I had learned to just keep my mouth shut...do my penance and escape when an opportunity presented itself.
Jerry was a creature of habit. When we'd first met, this is what had attracted me to him. Having recently experienced a very traumatic end to a relationship, I had convinced myself that I wanted somebody that was predictable, stable...no surprises. It wasn't truly his fault that I'd gotten my wish, was it?
Looking around the bar, I realized that we'd met here...dated here...and yes folks, you guessed it...we were married in the gazebo outside of here. Whenever Jerry suggested a night out, this was where he wanted to start and finish. Usually, we sat at the bar with two of our friends, Andrea and Dwayne. To be more accurate, I should say...Jerry's friend Dwayne and his wife, Andrea.
Jerry would huddle over the bar, knocking back rounds of seven and seven's with a shot of McGillicuddy's as a chaser, discussing automobiles with Dwayne. It was expected that "the girls" would be giddy with delight to have the opportunity to do whatever it is that women do while the men were discussing important things.
Sober, Andrea was tolerable. After a few drinks though, she had this rather nasty habit of spitting when she talked. The fact that every sentence began with the world "I" didn't help either.
Did I mention that I don't drink?
It's not because I'm a reformed alcoholic or that I have the disposition of a prohibitionist...I just never could get past the taste of it. There were times when I employed the Nyquil method of getting drunk...holding my nose, drinking a shot in one painful gulp, making a face that never failed to get a laugh from friends, before finally shuddering in distaste...but I can count those times on one hand. Lucky for me, this bar had invested recently in an espresso machine.
Eventually, they would also invest in trivia machines and install them conveniently at the bar. While Jerry and Dwayne talked shop, Andrea was forced to find another victim...and I was free for as long as I could make a roll of quarters last.
As I've said, Jerry was a creature of habit. Often after a night out, he would sleep until past noon and then sluggishly move to the couch. He had a rather unique talent. No matter what time of day or night it happened to be, Jerry could find pick up the remote, flick on the television and find a Clint Eastwood film. That he'd seen it a million times, was unimportant...this was Clint Eastwood. I'd often use this opportunity to quietly disappear into the computer room...not always successfully. "What? You don't want to watch TV with me?" he'd yell from the living room in his trademark contemptuous tone. Once, I'd thrown some sarcasm back at him, "Call me if it's different from the other 999 thousand times you've watched it!" But only once...
No...Jerry wasn't a wife beater. Although, sometimes I think it would have made it easier if he had been. If he'd raised a hand to me, I would have knocked him on his ass and been done with it. Jerry was more into emotional torture, slowly eroding my self-confidence and contributing to my low sense of self-worth.
As luck would have it, I was married to the only man in the world that hated sex. Of course, at the time, I didn't think that was possible...so therefore our lack of intimacy had to be my fault too. I was the most undesirable creature on the planet. Hell, I was downright repugnant. I was regaled with tales of his previous conquests as a younger man...but put off if I said anything other than good night when we went to bed. When he bragged to his friends about our sexual exploits, I believed he was doing so to spare my feelings.
In all honesty, I had every right to do what I did. I was dying. I just hadn't realized it yet. Given enough time, the person that I was would disappear completely from the face of this earth as if she'd never existed. When a rope is tossed out to save you, it's highly unlikely you are going to be concerned about what's on the other end at that particular moment. You grab it and try to save yourself. The rest...you can deal with later.
I'm not saying I made the best choices...and if after all is said and done, the knowledge of what I did fills you with loathing, it's still a choice I can live with.