Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's all in the telling

I attended an open house this weekend, getting there the last half hour. No one was left but the host and hostess and a man introduced to me as their good friend.

We all sat down to chat and nibble a bit, and the host asked the other man about his wife. He had noticed she was wearing a leg brace. The man gave us a great deal of personal detail about his wife, who has suffered a disability since childhood. He said she has taken a doctor's statement many years ago to mean she should not exercise at all. The man said he had talked to her current doctor and asked him to prescribe physical therapy, which the doctor did, and his wife has carried through. (His smile said, ha!the poor dear doesn't realize she has been actually exercising.) So she exercised dutifully as the therapist instructed and had been getting around much better when she fell and cracked her kneecap. The recovery has been difficult and the joint has had to be immobilized. Healing has been slow. And, of course, there's her weight, he smiled conspiratorily at his host.

"She hasn't figured out yet that there's any connection between her weight and what she puts in her mouth--nachos, desserts, quesadillas..." he trailed off and the two men laughed companionably. I noticed the hostess didn't laugh, and neither did I.

I could not think of anything tactful to say, so I simply asked, "And so and so is your wife?" and stared at him unsmiling. He answered yes and looked at me in puzzlement, finally letting his eyes wander around the room. My host looked down. There was a silent pause and then conversation resumed on a different topic.

I know there are a lot of men and women who tell their spouses' personal business to all and sundry, often spinning it so the speaker comes out the better by comparison. Magnaminous, even. It is not very loving. I would not blame this man's wife for taking comfort in food to fill an empty place she has in her life. I have never seen her, so I don't know if she is huge, or just heavy enough to interfere with her ability to get around better. I don't know her strengths, but I know a lot of her weaknesses,if he spoke at all truthfully. What this man told a complete stranger is that his wife is a fat twit, and he has to guide and direct her. He does seem fond of her, in his way. Also scornful. And I haven't given a tenth of the personal details he told about her. It wasn't his to tell.

And he doesn't get it.


J.R.Shirley said...

Sad. A lot of us are idiots in our own way, I suppose. It reminds me of my martial arts practice. You concentrate on one or a couple of things, and begin to do those really well, and then remember something else you've forgotten to work on...

night lightning woman said...

Balance. I really believe life is all about balance. Like trying to balance on a balance board, only in your whole life. I was thinking of you when I wrote this, in fact. This isn't an imbalance I believe you would ever make, from your writing. We all do stuff that really tires our loved ones from time to time. But we love 'em, so we keep on. Come to think of it, maybe this guy's wife does precisely that. If so, I'm impressed. I'd slug him most probably.

J.R.Shirley said...

I keep being reminded about the balance thing after I've gone to one extreme or another...I do believe, to make any good relationship work, you have to care not only for the person, but for the relationship, as well.