Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Book of Mathew

part I (i wrote this a few months ago, but felt the tone a little false - i think it's because i wasn't there for a lot of what i'm trying to describe. tonight i tried to write some more, part 2):

I once quipped to a loyal reader that I had once been "engaged to crazy." This prompted a demand for explanation. Of course I said it somewhat tongue in cheek, but there is no doubt that the man I almost married had some pretty serious emotional problems. I loved him anyway, and to an extent that almost scares me. I haven't quite felt the same about anyone since, though I've no doubt the capacity is there. The next time will, ultimately, be better. It has to be.

Mathew was the baby of three boys, each born in the 50s, sons of a Jewish stockbroker who had served in the Italian Alpini during WWII as part of the 10th Mt. Division. Similarly, his ethnically Irish mother was an ace skier, Olympic grade, in fact, and the couple trained hopefuls for competition. Mother was afflicted in the manner so common to her people, a dreadful alcoholic, whom the boys were terrified to waken in the early morning when she would invariably be nursing a hangover, if she was even up, which was never. Their father was out the front door before daybreak, as he had to reach his downtown office before the New York Stock Exchange opened, so the boys were left to fend for themselves on the schoolday mornings.

For some period of time, they lived in Lake Tahoe, presumably for the access to the slopes of Squaw Valley. The family dog was a highly intelligent Weimeraner named Maggie, who often played nanny to young Mathew. In summertime, he was left out in the yard with the dog, often without so much as a diaper. He claims that at three he was often left on the lake shore to play with Maggie, who would drag him up the beach by his wrist or shirt sleeve each time he too nearly approached the water's edge. At night, he nursed the tips of her silvery ears as he fell into sleep.

part 2 (after repeat urging from Huck. it's full of impossibly long sentences to dizzy you):

One could write an entire novel about his life - How his two elder brothers left him for dead (they were sure he was) under a rhododendron bush on the Reed College campus when he was maybe eight, after clocking him in the head with a baseball, and how he "magically" appeared back at the house in time to sit at the dinner table, utterly concussed, but said nothing until his mother asked him what the matter was, and he said he didn't feel so good, so she sent him off to bed. to sleep. Which is the last thing you let someone with a head injury do, as I understand it.

How he went to work in the summer on a ranch in Montana when he was fifteen, and was a gymnast and an ace fly fisherman, and had a pet pig who would come sit beside him on the dock and to whom he would throw the fingerlings he caught, for a little piggy snack. How back in Portland he was an honor roll student, and yet still the high school drug dealer. How the film studies teacher would lend him and his buddy her car to go pick up reels for class at the PNW Film and Video Center, across town, and totally believed them when they said it had to take two hours (if you knew Portland, you'd know why that's entirely ludicrous), when of course they were making a trip to the big dealer's house. And how once he left a pound of pot under his chair in algebra class, and had to march back in there in the middle of the next period to retrieve it. This was, of course, the later part of the first half of the 70s. How his best friend's beautiful mother tried to seduce him as a sophomore and nearly or did succeed, I forget which, and how riddled with shame he was when he saw Jack again, but it wasn't the first time she'd done a thing like that.

How he was in the merchant marines, and helped deliver goods to 'eskimo' villages so they wouldn't starve to death in the winter, and yet the (and I have no idea how to spell this, though I tried to look it up) athura baskan people would shoot at them, and how the girls in the villages would beg them to take them aboard and far far away. Anywhere but here. How he almost died on one of those Alaskan boats, as it was sinking and the power died, so the sump pump wasn't working, so he went below to fix the power as the water was rising up to his chest, and just in the nick of time, because that's how those sorts of stories always go... And the mad crewman who jumped onto the back of a grizzly bear as they trolled up some river. While in Alaska he also worked as a lumberjack, and told me how they ate salmon fat to stay warm, how you could literally feel the heat moving out of your stomach and through your body. And how on the very coldest nights of the very coldest days you could hear the sound of a far distant neighbor turning the key in his front door, because when it gets that cold, the world is very quiet and sound travels very far. Then there are the Pedro stories, his beloved lab who once dragged the hind leg of a moose all the way back to the home he kept with his first wife, Marga, and how Mathew was rather concerned about just which hunters the fool dog might have stolen that haunch from. Or the fish bin in town, where all the refused parts rotted, and the dog's great penchant for taking an occasional roll in all that stench, because anyone who has ever loved a dog knows about their love of stink. And the time he and a neighbor were digging a trench and found an enormous cache of butter in the back yard that had well preserved because the ground was so cool, even in summer, and how clearly the neighbor's dog had been storing it there, at which time they realized that's why the sweet creamy stuff had always seemed to be disappearing. And how it's a very smart animal indeed that saves fat. And how the cat he and Marga kept littered, and Pedro groomed and loved them, and was often seen walking about with his drooly jowls and lips delicately draped around the sodden kitten, whose little head was all that peeked out of it's canine transport and protector. And how carefully he would spit out the matted little beast when chided. But it never stopped him from doing it all over again. And how someone once broke into Mat's truck and Pedro must have been rather friendly about it, because they not only took the stereo, but also the jacket the dog was sleeping on. And how he also built log homes with his friend and partner Marcus, the German, and they would later (after Marga broke his heart and made him jealous and crazy enough to become violent and nearly kill himself, because she fell for his very short best friend whom he thereafter referred to as "the troll"), take their business to his homeland and into France, and there he stayed in a haunted inn, and there was a vampire lady they worked for, who lived back in the woods, who they never saw during the day, and Mat was sure she was about three-hundred years old.

And the return to Portland, where he slept around a lot and drank alot, and left a tavern so blind once that he drove his big truck up and over a Porsche, but went on without a care. And after his second marriage failed, the one where he married that artistic society girl who pretended to be sick with rheumatoid arthritis to the point that she had to stay home from work, and all the while she was really meeting her lover in the afternoon. And finally she just left. And after that he fell apart again, and hung out with Garrett, who had left Wesleyan short of graduating and become a founding member of Dinosaur, Jr back in Boston, instead. The two routinely went to "chick night" at a Portland music club to which you got in free on one weekday if you were female or just dressed like one. An icy evening after, they came home so sauced that Mathew tripped on his skirt hem and passed out on the frozen stairs where he fell. Garrett got him safely back into the house, then proceeded to give his unconscious friend a smiley face tattoo on his leg. Once, they were thrown out of the Halloween party at a local bowling alley, because the manager didn't like it when Garrett, dressed as Baby Jane Hudson, dumped Mathew, as sister Blanche, out of the prop wheelchair and onto the carpet. When he wasn't working too hard or partying too hard, he was tearing up his body and the soccer field. I don't know if there is a part of his person he has not broken, cut or otherwise damaged. He had the great respect of his multinational teammates, one of whom was known as "Victor the Peruvian Daddy," and who offered to assasinate Mathew's second wife upon hearing of her infidelity. For free. Mathew quickly relieved Victor of any such notion or responsibility. Somehow, he was perversely touched by the perverse gesture.

So, it goes on and on. There are so many more stories, and I haven't even gotten to us or much of the "crazy" I saw, which is hardly the most interesting part, and so I won't for tonight.


Huckleberry said...

So basically he was an uninteresting layabout?

I kid.


steve said...

He sounds like he shoulda been somewhere on that show "Northern exposure" . A chef i worked for used to tell me that before i ever saw the show, and agter I saw it I could think of no finer compliment. Cheers!

kissyface said...

Huck - that's right, typical gemini, paralyzed, flat, bo-ring.

steve - indeed. i loved that show, too.

Mother of Invention said...

it's hard to know whether to believe what people lke this tell you..I have (had!) a friend that told me weird stuff that I don't really believe. He said he is bi-polar and I believe it! Then, he said he wasn't, just a quirky personality. How bi-polar to deny being bi-polar!
You are lucky not to have ended up with him Some people like this can be very charming because they are so lively and colourful, but hell to live with.

kissyface said...

Dear Mother -

He had his moments of self-delusion, to be certain, but I don't believe any of those stories are false. He was not a liar, nor was he diagnosed as bi-polar. He was massively depressive, however. Anyway, I have known others with that ailment who did tell fantastic stories, that were clearly grandiose and false. It's possible Mat duped me, but I doubt it, my radar's fairly keen, and if I don't get it at first, it all surfaces eventually.

But you are correct, it's better I'm without him now, sad as it was to leave.