I decided to leave my wife at a bar called the Cajun something-or-other on Bourbon Street. With fiddle and accordion music filling the room, along with what seemed to be French lyrics—”mes pieds dans mes souliers”?—I was detached enough from the whole proceeding to note the time (8.39 p.m.), take a triumphant sip of beer, and tell her I wanted a divorce.
She couldn’t hear me over the din of music and conversation, which was perhaps the best thing, as it was our honeymoon.
“I can’t hear you!” she shouted at the floor while her ear pressed near my mouth awaiting the fatal repetition.
“I want a,” I said, just leaving it there, waiting for her to make the decision or at least the inference.
“Want a … what do you want, Bill?” she shouted back.
“Let’s go,” I said—just that. Nothing about divorce, nothing about the, well, epiphany.
Here it is: the lead singer was pounding out the vocals, and stretching that poor accordion to its physical limits at the same time. The rest of the band was supporting him, all seemingly in their zone, the fiddle player with his eyes closed and staring blindly heavenward at nothing. I thought, Exactly, and right then the goal scored by the woman soccer player on TV just seemed to confirm it all.
That’s it. Exactly.
A song with no meaning and a goal scored for no other purpose than to add to the tally of goals already scored. That was the way, and not this IT job where I cracked six figures last year and could afford to plant quite a rock on that finger of hers and still maximize my 401(k) contributions.
“Let’s just go,” I repeated.
Back in the hotel room, she didn’t want me eating the potato chips from the convenience bar.
“They cost like five times what you’d pay in a corner store,” she protested.
“But you pay for the convenience,” I told her. “Hence the name.”
I ended up relegated to the airplane nuts she had salvaged from the flight. I counted them sullenly in my sweaty palm. Twelve. Twelve nuts, but they’re free.
In the morning I couldn’t bear her pleading again that we get up before the maid came to clean our room. She didn’t want us to have to shoo her away, saying we weren’t up yet, while, as Greta put it, “she and the whole staff would know what we were up to”.
I left her a note (“Gone for nuts!”) and sneaked out while she still snored softly. Breakfast was a shot of Jim Beam and a beer chaser. I got a little happy, a little drunk, a little sad.
I thought about my optometrist. I’d had my eyes tested before coming here, and there in her darkened office, an equipment leviathan in one corner and a computer in another — she flashed meaningless words at me, ever diminishing in size. When it came time for the close examining of my eye parts, she shone the light directly at me and drew her head near, her hair brushing against my forehead.
“Look into my light,” she said. And then the other eye: “Look into my light.”
And I did. I did whatever she told me to.