In 1968 Caroline met Mike, who she married the following year, but the years leading up to their marriage and child were quite an adventure and perhaps one of the most eventful periods of her life. Combining her skills as an English teacher with her theatrical ones she created this humorous recount of her first loves, job and opportunity of achieving her dream of being an actress- and how they all tied into each other. She found a way to express her untold feelings and experience to Mike in the form of this amusing and light-hearted story.
June 20, 1976
Open letter to the man I live with: Hi there!
“Oh my God.” I bear you moan, “Another damn fool note.” “But hang in there, I’ve got something to say” I say.
Now if the shower steam has dissipated your wine fumes and if our daughter isn’t destroying the bedroom – it’s entirely too quiet in there – I would like to jot down a few thoughts. Agreed, thinking is not something in which I excel, but let me try.
The Looks. In particular, your Looks.
Not your physical appearance, nothing can help there, but those puzzled, questioning glances you shoot me whenever we’re mixing socially. Although the word, “socially” is too sophisticated for our mutual friends, you know what I mean.
This will be what I tried to explain last Easter when I cornered you in the kitchen and after I bleated and blathered ten minutes, you handed me two aspirins and went to bed. And remember Christmas, when I had you in a hammar-lock under the tree and you thought I wanted to screw?
Hence, back to, “The looks.” Obviously our three year marriage still needs some work in the area of oral communications. Since we excel in the non-verbal, there’s got to be hope for the other! I like to beat that, “mumble…never understood the real me” bar syndrome.
Are you still with me? Then get a pipe and a warm beer and read on. I’ll keep Winnie occupied in the playroom. Remember last week when I cried because Winnie had torn all my summer-stock pictures off the wall? You said good, the tape was yellowing anyway. And while I sorrowfully re-moved the remnants, enshrining them on the top shelf of the closet, you lectured on the newest developments in the Eastern Chardonnay wines??
For an entire week I glumped over those pictures, they weren’t just an era in my life, they were me. Every time I tried to talk about them, you handed me a glass of wine and lectured on it’s body, bouquet, fruitiness, or the lack of same.
The removal of those pictures was like a physical amputation. All I needed was a brief verbal recovery period. I’m being discrete in saying that we have a bit to learn about the other. Carry on, I’d like to introduce you to me. At least to one facet. In the mail with my divorce decree came my acceptance for that same summer stock. The concise description of my dramatic scholarship far over shadowed the legal terms of divorce. I was flying so high that I hardly noticed the sudden chilly
withdrawal of my fellow teachers. Their reaction wasn’t surprising. Remember Julie? She had been in maternity clothes for four months, finally announcing that she was taking a year’s leave in June and the faculty hot line sizzled with the question as to whether or not she was pregnant!
My parents were thrilled. Their Catholicism quaked with embarrassment in saying that their daughter was a, “divorced woman” and now they could counter with the announcement that she was a Success! After all, said my mother, one who is creative and talented certainly can’t be called Normal.
At that time my teaching position had a title: Director of Speech and Drama. I enjoyed the added “class” but would have preferred a larger paycheck. My students were beautiful. I could have lectured on the sex life of Venetian blinds and they would have responded with the same wide-eyed fascination. From then on I was a somebody. Whenever I headed for cafeteria lunch there would be a small contingent, jostling, nudging each other, trying to physically brush me as though I were something contagious and a particle of star dust might land on them. It went straight to my head and I reveled in it. My senior Thespians were ecstatic and presented the graduation, “Senior Skits” with such dramatic excellence that I knew my rumor had paid off.
Unashamedly I admit to having hinted about a talent scout being in the area. You can understand that I wanted to finish with a flair. I was very emotional the last day of school. Both the seniors and I were wandering the halls eyeing the cafeteria,
auditorium and the classrooms for the Last Time. Summer stock would only be a stepping stone to Broadway and the Big Time. I had ten days between the close of school and theater “check-in” on Cape Cod. Do you remember meeting Dorothy at the faculty party last Christmas? I coerced her into going with me and flying home from Boston. She was forty eight at the time and one of the best sports I’ve ever known. George was crazy about her. I’ll get to him in a minute. Dorothy had that happy faculty of laughing frequently and never bruising the air with empty chatter. She was a beautiful person to be with, and there was never a question of saying or doing the right thing. One of the few times I saw her frown was at a waitress giving us a snow job.
And then there was George. I believe I mentioned him during our per-nuptial discussion of past loves, but just in passing. He only played a minor lead in my life that summer but was the major reason I was on the Cape. The previous summer, just after I had separated, I landed both a waitress job in Falmouth and George. He was in the same situation as I, but perhaps his being 42 kept him a little more together. He thoroughly convinced me that I was not over-the-hill at 28 and that I was quite attractive bait for other fish, namely himself. He was the only lover I ever had until I met you.
Dorothy and I arranged our travel time so that we could lunch with George the second day. The Red Lion in Lee, Massachusetts will never be the same. Due to my eager anticipation, we arrived 45 minutes early and had just started our drinks when George arrived at the dining room door. Gabby he hollered and with arms outstretched raced across the room to hug Dorothy. Dorothy he yelled and swung me in the air, then feinting heart strain from the effort, had the maitre’d assist him to his chair. I’ve forgotten what, or even if, we ate but remember using all my tissues to wipe my running mascara. Afterward we sat in the lounge and plotted our agenda for the week. George was busy now but would meet us in Chatham the following weekend. Dorothy and I planned to spend several days in Boston and then to Provincetown, arriving in Chatham on Friday.
You’re probably beginning to wonder what the hell is the point of all this. There is one and I’ll get to it. By now your hangover should be fully dissipated so go open that ’67 Cabernet you were saving for my birthday. That’s how important this is to me.
To be continued…