The old lady didn’t want any of her boys to get married. This is pretty strange if you stop to think about it. Especially since, as I believe I have documented, she pretty much hated men down to her and their very core. But living in the semi-delusional world that she regularly inhabited, I don’t think she was able to distinguish us, her sons, as men, from her father, as a man. He, as I have said, was a pretty wretched guy who abandoned my my mother and her family.
My spot analysis then: we are dealing with abandonment issues. For her boys to get married would mean they had abandoned her, and that meant moreover, at another level, that she had lost control over them. It’s all symbolic sex/gender stuff and runs, in my estimation, deep down into the old unconscious. That’s how she kept the old man around, not by her inherent attactive or lovable qualities, whatever those might have been, but by stark manipulation. And, of course, being able to manipulate a man in that way pretty her much put her in the driver’s seat of her odd universe.
When I let it be known that I was planning to get married—this is some time in the early 80’s and I was almost 39 years old—the old lady and the old man decided to pay me a pre-marriage visit. I tried my best to dissuade them, but one of my brothers too live in the area and so they pretended that they mostly wanted to visit him.
I was then treated to the spectacle of my mother sitting at the kitchen table in the wretched apartment I and my wife-to-be were living at the time and going on for a good twenty minutes about how awful marriage was; how if she had it all over to do again, she would not do it; how it only lead to heart ache and misery; how you never knew what you were getting into; and how she had been led into it only by her innocence and the fact that my father had deceived her into thinking that he was a gentleman.
And all this was delivered with vehemance with my father—the man she had been married to since 1943–sitting right at her elbow. Whatever effects her description of marriage as a regular shop of horror might have upon him apparently did not concern her. He for his part sat perfectly still and absolutely mute. He uttered not a word. And after a while—thank the Lord–they left.
I walked them out to the street and as I turned to return to the house, I saw the old lady fumbling to open the passanger door and the old man rearing back to throw his keys and key chain with considerable force directly at her head. He missed however and the keys went over to the other side of the street. She, without a word, retrieved them, unlocked her door and off they went—into whatever hell it was they lived in.
Who knows what he felt? Who knows what she felt? I don’t know and in some ways I am glad I don’t. Although in some ways, sadly, I do.