The Only Son (Duplicity)

He was born a blonde haired, baby blue eyed boy, whose eyes always looked like they were perpetually squinting at the sun.

The Only Son, raised with three older sisters by a former Army Man and his long suffering, compliant, sighing wife.

His was a house, it wasn’t a home. The difference being that a home is filled with framed photographs arranged just so on the fireplace mantel, or on the bookshelves, the television stand, the credenza, or buffet table. Perhaps even hung along the hallway leading to the bathroom or bedrooms, or if a two story home, arranged artfully along the staircase wall, telling a story of how the family grew, starting from the top of the staircase to the bottom, a veritable timeline.

A home was filled with these family photos as well as magnets on the refrigerator holding up various school projects, like a sunflower made with a paper plate painted brown on the inside, yellow petals formed by construction paper cut with the shaky, tenuous hand of a five-year-old.

A home would have candles, throw pillows with cliches stitched onto them like “live, love, laugh” or “Beach ——>” with an arrow pointing in one direction.

*
The Only Son laid his puffy cheek to rest on a pillow devoid of the fresh breeze Downy scent he was so fond of, thinking of the home he wished he could live and be loved in, by parents who showed affection to him as well as to each other, who would gather around the table “like in the movies,” and chat, chide, and cajole one another at dinner time. “Pass the potatoes please,” he mumbled to himself as he drifted off to sleep, talking to himself to shut out the sounds of his parents raised voices down the hall.

*
He was fat.

He KIND OF hid it well, because he was tall, but if it weren’t for the extra inches, he’d be downright chubby, like Humpty Dumpty, shaped like an egg. All he wanted was to be handsome, have a best friend, and make his father proud. Didn’t necessarily have to be in that particular order, but that’s what he aspired to, what he wanted, at 19, to achieve.

With no particular ambition or desire, he decided to join the Army. Like Father, like Son. There, the degradations he suffered didn’t affect him, for they were far less than any humiliations or embarrassments he suffered from his own father. He excelled and was transformed, a male Pygmalion, My Fair Man, he went from Humpty Dumpty to the Hulk, growing to a statuesque 6’5″ and 255 pounds. His chest rose out from his chest like a stack of bricks arranged in a diagonal, his torso an inverted triangle, small waist, swollen biceps shaped like baby cantaloupes. He was the quintessential male specimen, like if John Cena and The Rock had a baby.

But BEFORE this transformation he met a girl online, and drove across three state lines “just for a kiss,” that of course became more, and nine months later a child was born. He was thrilled at the prospect, posing for pregnancy pictures with the woman he now called his wife, on his knees before her burgeoning belly, supplicant, a black and white photo, both of their gazes directly into the camera. He was happy and so was she, their world a bit like the ones on television, they had a home together, with pictures on the wall and the sonogram held up on their refrigerator by a magnet.

Of course, he had to do something to sustain his wife, their life together and that of their daughter, so he followed in the footsteps of his father, and so began the metamorphosis, the change from boy to a semblance of a man.

Left alone with a crying, petulant newborn, wifey got frustrated and angry, having lost all sense of herself after giving birth, which is really easy to do anyway when you’ve no idea who you were in the first place. And so it begins, the end of the life with the Only Son, pictures once proudly displayed now put face down or taken off the wall.

*
Once trust has been broken, it is almost impossible to gain it back. It’s like building a sandcastle too close to the sea. Once the waves have come and pretty much destroyed the beautiful castle you created, no amount of quick thinking or adding more sand will make it right again. And even if you do manage to get it upright again, you know that inevitably the waves will come and tear it down, or someone will crush it either by accident or design, and what was once there will cease to exist except in your memory.

It’s a terrible thing to have trust betrayed. It’s like a little death, you grieve, you get angry, you get stoic and brave, aloof, then sad, mad, it keeps repeating, on an endless loop, just like the waves in the sea.

It can change a person, make them more guarded, or just the opposite, make them more frivolous, an “f” that attitude. For the Only Son, he became someone new, no love, no white picket fence, no happily ever after. His intentions now, especially with his “new” body and aesthetic, was to get as much attention as he possibly could, be it good or bad, from men or women. He just wanted to FEEL something, and the constant adulation was like a salve to an allergic skin reaction, providing respite and relief, and most importantly, RELEASE.

*
It’s really so sad though, to meet someone who looks a certain way and you, being a human being, you make assumptions about them. And some are good, even complimentary, while others are bad, but you just project onto people what you think or believe, usually based on your past personal experiences or what you’ve heard about or seen.

The worst is when you like a person LESS after getting to know them, instead of liking them MORE. Also worse is when someone ACTS a certain way, for example acting like they want to be in a relationship but claiming they’re just not capable because they won’t be in town very long so it’s unfair to get involved. Or saying they are always the side piece, they just want to be the main piece. Or claiming that they will adhere to your request and be faithful, be true. That when they didn’t answer your call or respond to your text for days that it was not because the phone died, the phone got lost, they fell asleep, or they passed out. No. NONE of these things are true.

What is true is that this person, and I can’t say this “Man” because a real man wouldn’t do these things. This “Person” is oozing his own betrayal from his past into you, and me, and everyone around him. It spews forth like a pimple that’s ready to be popped, gushing out and getting all over everything. It’s gross and unsightly and yet you keep fucking with it, even though you fucking know that messing with it is only going to make it worse! Just leave. it. alone.

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