Farewell My Concubine
You don't bring me flowers
You don't sing me love songs
You hardly talk to me anymore
--You Don't Bring Me Flowers, Neil Diamond
Life is too short to have sorrow
You may be here today and gone tomorrow
You might as well get what you want
So go on and live, baby, go on and live
--Tell It Like It Is, Aaron Neville
While cleaning out an old pocketbook today I came across a pocketknife, a gift from a man yours truly once dated. A military man we will call Scout, to protect the name of the guilty.
It is a nice pocketknife, mind you--looks a little like a mini dive knife. I once felt very cool slitting open a box of detergent with it at a laundromat in front of a woman who faintly resembled Little Richard. Looking up to see if she approved, I was met with a steely stare that said "O.k., but you might need a bigger one when the chips are down."
But back to the man. A birthday gift was a .22 pistol. With it, we would target shoot, as was his pleasure. In addition, there were occasionally nighttime drills with an unloaded gun on the bedside table. Mini lessons like, "lining one's sights," done in 10-minute bites, that sort of thing. On reflection, I think it was foreplay of a sort.
However, when I requested the things women tend to like, like sweet and kind words, he would say, "That is too much like work. I take care of you, don't I." I am not complaining, you see. He did take care of some material needs. But the human aspect went missing. We palled around, doing things that usually revolved around his areas of expertise, but stepping into areas where he had met with failure (relationships) was taboo. There was physical intimacy, but there could be no dialog.
Like I say, I am not complaining. It is reassuring to know one can protect oneself in the mean streets. I take the good from everything. We are not turning this into a Miss Lonely Hearts, because that is not the gig at all. But I am curious about something, and Ranger has respectfully bowed out of the dialog.
Among our rarefied reading audience, does anyone have views on this sort of individual, and is the mindset exclusive to military sorts? I've not met it elsewhere. Someone who pulls in his perimeter, but likes to keep friendlies on a tether, nonetheless. Like guard dogs of sorts. It felt like belonging to an imperial palace, but being an employee on the grounds. Like being a concubine, which eventually drifted into friendly but chaste relations. Maybe that is it; he preferred concubines.
I have never had a relationship like that one. Most develop to the uttermost point, whatever that may be, and then for whatever reasons, drift apart. In this one, the mission to intimacy was aborted shy of contact. Physical consummation, yes, but intimacy, no. Clearly my mission, not his.
Regarding the song title, it is not that he ever did. And it might have continued at that level forever and ever.
Labels: military way of relationship