Since my husband left me back in June, I’ve been struck with an overwhelming desire to clean out the garage, attic, and closets – sorting through the acquired belongings and memories of more than 26-years, many that haven’t seen the light of day in decades. I put all of my husband’s possessions aside for him to store or discard as he chooses and I’ve thrown away or donated dozens of bags and boxes that I just can’t justify holding onto anymore. It’s been a bittersweet process – when I look through my wedding keepsakes or find old cards and letters from my husband professing his never-ending love and devotion for me, I feel pain deeper than any butcher knife to the chest. Seeing pictures of happier times, when our children were young, simultaneously brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.
You may ask – why do this now? Why put yourself through this? I really can’t answer that, although I’m sure it is an attempt to regain some control in my life. I had no choice or say so about the end of my marriage, but I can certainly make the decision about what belongings stay or go. And, as much as I hate to admit it, there may also be aspects of desperation, hope, and vindictiveness involved. When I give my husband his belongings to sort through and the old love letters to read, I wonder what he will think and feel. There is a pathetically desperate part of me that hopes he will be reminded of what once was, that he will see that he is throwing away a history and will suddenly realize that he still loves me as he did then. Another part of me hopes that he will read his promises in those cards and letters and comprehend that this is just one more broken covenant in a long line of shattered pledges – that he will understand what a selfish, cowardly asshole he is being. I don’t suppose either of those things will happen – it’s more likely that he merely glanced at those cards and letters and immediately deposited them in the trash – and in the end, as much as it might pain me, it really makes no difference.
As I was going through these boxes from the various corners of my house, I kept finding old VCR tapes – my first marriage to The Loser, the game show I was on, my children’s band performances, first haircuts, first steps. It occurred to me that my children might enjoy having these memories for the future, but obviously, VCR tapes are a thing of the past. I decided to transfer the videos to DVD, so I hooked up an old VCR machine to a newer DVD recorder and started the process.
The first tape to be transferred was the one of my marriage to The Loser and my 20-year-old son joined me to enjoy the show. This wedding took place in the Dream House, which has since been sold and destroyed – so we were both nostalgic as we saw the house again. Plus, the 80’s big hair and the ruffled blue tuxedos were a hoot. The quality of the tape was poor – everything was dark and shadowed and there was a persistent black spot in the middle of every shot, but we patiently watched the pre-wedding makeup and hairstyling sessions, the seating of the guests, my mother issuing instructions to the members of the wedding party, and the bridesmaids lining up at the top of the second floor landing.
The Dream House had a large, well-lit foyer, and a curving staircase with wrought iron railings led from the front door, to the landing, to an open hallway that led to the bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor. The plan was for the bridesmaids to proceed me down the staircase and then into the living room (which was just to the right of the front doors) – where I would marry my one true love *cough, cough* in front of a roaring fire. As we watched the video, I was pretty excited when the processional started, as the foyer was so bright that it was the first time you could clearly see everyone – including their hair, attire, and, in my case, stylish hat and veil. I had been telling my son how progressive my wedding had been for the time (and the predominately Mormon culture) – my bridesmaids all wore pants suits (more like jumpers, really) with a long, iridescent and gauzy overtop. My wedding dress was a three-piece satin suit with a camisole top, snug jacket, and a wrap-around skirt with a scandalously high slit. It was the first and only time in my life that I actually looked chic in a hat. The thing you COULDN’T tell by looking was that every member of my wedding party was pregnant – my sister, my two best friends (twins), AND me!
We watched as the twins made their way across the landing and I could see my sister about to make her move. I nudged my son to make sure he was paying attention – because soon I would be emerging into the light, in all of my resplendent glory – and then the picture wavered, static filled the screen – and the next thing I saw was Phil Donahue, with a microphone in his hand, speaking earnestly to an audience member. We both just stared for a moment until we realized that somewhere, somehow, someone had RECORDED OVER MY WEDDING VIDEO!
Phil Donahue returned to the stage and began to speak to an older woman – one of his guests, “So, sex is better now that you are in your 50’s?” She responded enthusiastically, “Oh, yes – better than it has ever been before! And for some reason, the younger men just can’t get enough of me!” My son and I started roaring with laughter – someone had recorded over my wedding video with a Phil Donahue show – about menopausal SEX?
I began to fast forward through the show to see if there was anything left of my wedding video on the other side – the characters moving in fast motion, but still clearly visible. There was a refined looking black woman in traditional African attire with the caption, “Martha – still has great sex at age 71”. Then, a graph titled “Sexual Potency” that compared the sex drive of men and women over time. We soon began to add our own audio, “Yes, Phil – there is something about hot flashes that just makes me…well, HOT!” “Old lady sex means you don’t have to worry about having kids – but won’t keep you from embarrassing the kids you already have!”
The wedding video eventually started up again – somewhere in the middle of picture-taking after the ceremony. Another half hour of a disembodied, high-pitched male voice saying things like, “Look into her eyes! Now look at the garter!” My son quickly lost interest and left the room.
Don’t tell him, but I may go back and watch that Phil Donahue episode on regular speed – because if I’m lucky, I’ll be getting some old lady sex somewhere down the line! Anyone have any ideas on how to make that happen?