Didn’t They Cancel “Jerry Springer”?

My dog wanted to go on a much longer walk this morning. The weather’s cold again. Not Connecticut cold, but cold for Florida. I’m so not happy with the way this year’s winter is going, and it’s not even winter yet! Plus, I went out last night, so I got in late.

I, very grudgingly, got up to take the big guy for his morning walk. We took the short route. He did his business. And as we’re getting to my place, the smart aleck grabbed the leash up in his mouth and slowly trotted past my driveway, pretending he didn’t know it was home. When I called out to him, he just turned and looked back at me with that look in his eyes. Really?

“Yeah, really.”

It’s been an uneventful week. Went out a couple of times. Talked with some friends. My friend taught me how to play poker. (My fav is “Follow the Queen,” though, he called it something else!) I made a chocolate hazelnut pudding that never quite set. The usual.

Thursday, I was talking with my friend, Lynn. She was my neighbor up in Jersey. We used to have a regular night that we’d get together to have drinks, play cards, and talk about life. We’d lost touch but reconnected when I went up there for the wedding in October.

This is how she started the conversation: “If you think you have problems, listen to this.”

Lynn has a niece who got mixed up in the wrong crowd and was making some bad decisions. The girl is twenty-four. Lynn’s sister sent her daughter to stay with another sister and her husband out in Washington State. The theory being that removing her from the environment would help her clean up her act. Yeah, didn’t work.

Lynn’s sister, the one who took her niece in, came home one day to find her drunk niece in bed with her fifty-year-old husband.

Let’s say it together: “Eewww.”

“I didn’t think Jerry Springer was still on.” I said.

So, now the niece is back home, the husband’s moved on to yet another young girl, and the wife’s sticking it out.

Okay.

1) What is it with men and the much younger woman? It’s uncomplicated, sure, but what on earth is the appeal past a week in the sack? Is it worth throwing your life away to bed a child who, I assure you, will not help you find your dentures when you’re toothless and erectile defunctive in ten years?; and

2) What could a young woman possibly find appealing in a man twice her age? Especially, when she’s going to have to search the couch cushions for dentures for her impotent and incontinent daddy-substitute in ten years.

Honestly, unless there’s a staggering balance in the bank account, children involved, besides the child the man’s sleeping with, I mean, and a mutual agreement to live-and-let-live, what’s the point?

I don’t have as much problem with the wife sticking it out. That may read a little crazy, I know, but this woman has twenty years invested. Who am I to judge what a woman does to hold her life and family together? We all make compromises.

I think the husband is a complete creep, and, were I to find myself in the same situation, I’d like to say his stuff would be out on the lawn right next to where his cheating butt landed. I can’t know, though, what I’d do in that situation. (Thank God!) I would like to think I’d save myself from that kind of pain, but in some situations, I think people just decide that the sweet is worth the sour.

It got me thinking, though, about the kind of drama we allow in our lives. When do you decide enough’s enough? How much space has to be left in that corner you’ve backed yourself into to still wiggle your way loose? And, worse, do we somehow bring it on ourselves? Is there some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy to the things that happen in our lives?

Not that I believe this woman consciously knew her husband would cheat on her, anymore than I believe that any of those women we read were killed their husbands understood the irony as they stood by his side promising “til death do us part,” but do we think we deserve the bad things more than we deserve the good?

And I find myself asking once again: How much of our own destiny do we control? How much is decided for us by chance or coincidence or just by the people we let into our lives?

There’s this old Twilight Zone episode, called “Spur of the Moment,” that I remember seeing when I was a kid. This wealthy young woman is out riding on her father’s property on the eve of her wedding to an investment banker. While she’s out riding, an older woman, who is also on horseback, begins to chase her. The young girl finally makes it back home safely, having eluded the crazy woman. That evening, she runs off to elope with a man she loves.

Years have passed. The man she married has bankrupted her. The woman, now forty-three, is a bitter alcoholic. (As opposed to those happy-go-lucky alcoholics, right?) Her father had wanted her to marry this man who loved her and would have taken care of her, and she’s made this choice as a child that changed the course of her life. She goes out for a ride one morning comes across the younger version of herself, out for a ride on the morning of the eve of her wedding, and she begins her pursuit.

That’s how the episode ends: The older woman trying to catch her younger self to warn her not to make the wrong decision.

Maybe I should pay better attention when someone takes control of the leash and tries to lead me somewhere I don’t want to go.

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