Mary and I, as I have said, were both auburn hair (though hers was nicer than mine) and, as I haven’t previously said, we both wore granny glasses and smoked. And though I didn’t know it when I first met her she had grown up not more than a mile or so from the Tingle house in Casa De Oro too. So she knew about things like the Hire’s Barrel, but she had gone to Catholic school.
But she wasn’t Catholic anymore having gone, as she said, a bit sex crazy when she got out of there and went to college. Then she had married and had two kids and then got a divorce. One night she asked me, did I think it was right for a husband to wake his wife at two and the morning and scream at her because there was some tomato paste on the kitchen wall and make her go and clean it up at two in the morning. I said, no, because that didn’t sound right to me. And she said it had gotten to the point where she just couldn’t stand it and felt like she was suffocating and didn’t exist anymore. So she had left him.
She didn’t live far away over in Lemon Grove most famous to my mind for having a huge old yellow chicken wire and plaster of Paris Lemon stuck right next to the railroad tracks so when you drove by it you knew you were in Lemon Grove. I would come over pretty late usually and we would drink beer and wine and hang out a bit. I got along ok with the kids because I usually do get along ok with kids and dogs and animals generally. They were still young and went to bed pretty early and then Mary and me we would retire to the bedroom.
Coming from a Catholic family, she had plenty of brothers and sisters, and her favorite Sister had married a Mexican American who worked at the place for the Sons and Daughters of Migrant Workers. That’s how Mary had got the job there, and he was a good guy and looked out for everybody he was related to. So Mary had her own family and then this large Mexican American family. And what with birthdays and barbeques something was always going on that involved eating and drinking.
These were a really friendly people or let’s say they hugged a lot. Maybe it was a cultural thing, but I had never hugged people so much in my whole life. I sort of liked it, and my theory is that the Mexican people introduced the white people to hugging and that’s where all the one hug a day thing came from.
I don’t know if Mary thought our relationship had legs or not. We didn’t really talk about that. There are lots of things I will never know because I didn’t ask. And I do regret that. But since I am generally honest, I had made sure she was clear about what I was up to up front. I was going off somewhere to graduate school. So not to make too fine a point, but the relationship had a sort of time-line attached to it, at least to my mind. In fact, even in spite of my overwhelming desire to get laid and be normal again, I don’t believe any of that would have happened had I not known there was a time line.
Because if she had her fears of being suffocated, I had mine of being swallowed up.
(I wrote a song about one incident we had.)