The Wrong Man

Manny Balestrero is your American everyman. Who better to play him in the 1956 Hitchcock film “The Wrong Man” than the laid back Henry Fonda.

(Spoiler Alert: if you are interested in seeing the film, read this after you do.)

But for me, Fonda is more easygoing in this flick than I could take. As Manny, he just takes and takes as he is railroaded by  some dipsy female clerks at an insurance company and the police for a crime he didn’t commit.

Manny is like a lot of us. He is trying to make ends meet and do his best to be a good husband and father to his two boys.

As his wife says, every time they seem to get ahead something happens. In the opening to “The Wrong Man”, the setback is that she has to have her wisdom teeth removed.

As they discuss what to do,  Manny remembers that his wife has a ldife insurance policy they can draw funds on. So he heads off to the office to check into taking out some money.

When he enters, one of the clerks becomes extremely nervous, thinking he is the man who had robbed her earlier. As she serves Manny, she runs back to her female colleagues in a distraught state and  “confirms” with them that he is indeed the robber.

Manny goes home but is confronted at his front door by some plainsclothes police officers. They insist that he come with them to their precinct, not even letting him talk to his wife before sticking him in their vehicle or explaining to him what he was being detained for.

Before going to the police station, they even make him parade into  diner and liquor store to see if the victims of other robberies in those places can recognize him.

At this point, I became extremely frustrated. By this time I would have “lawyered up””, as they say in all the modern police shows on TV. Perhaps Manny was worried about the expense. He just calmly does what he is told.

Without offering representation or a phone call, the cops use some suspect techniques at the precinct to  nail their man. Finally, Manny is booked, arraigned locked up. As he enters his cell, he is obviously traumatized.

Things seem to turn around for him when he gets out on bail and a friend gets him some legal help. Though not a criminal attorney, Manny’s lawyer is sincere and competent and gives good advice.

One of the best things he tells Manny is to start to defend himself by gathering evidence on his own behalf. He sends him and his wife off to get information that will give him an alibi.

So at about the halfway point in the film, I began to have hope for Manny. He has a lawyer and he is not just taking abuse from people with their own misguided agendas.

But when their attempts at garnering evidence fail, Manny’s wife starts to lose it. She first freaks out, even suggesting that her husband committed the crime, and then withdraws so badly that she has to be institutionalized.

At this point, the pain in my chest returned. I could relate to Manny’s predicament.

I too have been wrongly accused by a wife who suggested I did something quite heinous, a complete untruth. This suggestion led me to leave her and prevents me from even considering any kind of reconciliation.

The difference between Manny’s wife and mine is that she does not admit she has a problem. Manny’s spouse told him that she needed to be put away.

I was all ready to let “The Wrong Man” help me throw my own pity party. But then Manny’s mother makes a suggestion: why don’t you pray?

Manny, like many good American male, blows off a suggestion from his mother. But then he sees a portrait of Jesus and quite mumbles out a prayer.

It is after this that the worm turns for Manny. He eventually is exonerated, and even though it takes a couple more years, his wife is let loose from the psychiatric ward completely healed.

A classic flick that could have very well sent me into a tailspin of my own depression actually provided me with some positive spiritual teaching.

They don’t make ’em like the used to.

 

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What dreams may come!

HAMLET: To be, or not to be–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep–
No more–and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep–
To sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come-William Shakespeare

We sat in the corner of a stadium watching a sporting event. We began to cuddle and then I grabbed her in my arms and we kissed.

“I have made plans for you to come over on October 29,” she said.

Then I woke up. I had been dreaming over a girl I was entranced with 20 years ago. A student of mine, she was also the rave of the entire men’s baseball team according to a university VP.

The girl reeked pheromones and caused me no end of grief since I was married. She also was married.

I eventually dumped my friendship with her and her husband because it was affecting my marriage. It left me with a large amount of guilt.

Older and wiser, I now realize that the woman herself had something to do with my “problem” with her. She must have relished all the attention from the drooling males around and subtly encouraged it. I now feel sorry for her husband because he was a good guy.

I tried to find her on the Internet but was unsuccessful. Isn’t it interesting I can remember HER name, but not her husband’s.

I have no idea why I dreamt of this girl last night. And why we were together in a stadium. Maybe my mind was putting together two of my great interests: women and sports.

A quick review of Google and “dreaming about an old crush” basically tells me my dream means I have unfulfilled longing in real life. True dat.

Given my life circumstances, I have been smart enough these days to move on from relationships like the one I had with this girl 20 years ago. I admit to having dallied with a married woman at work (as noted in these posts), but have since backed off of seeing her. I think with her I am capable of just being friends.

It is another story with another crush mentioned here: a woman half my age. She is unmarried and I seriously believe something could happen with her. But since I am still legally married I feel it is wrong to pursue her.

Although she may have had some interest at one time, I am pretty sure it is one sided now. After I ran into her recently, I unfriended her on social media. It was the only place I ever had any real contact with her anyway.

This recent conversation told me some things. For example, it made me realize she has a strong awareness of my age. Her comment about me perhaps seeking “early retirement” hurt. I have been living in another dream world with her, one in which our 30 year age difference wasn’t an issue.

Ultimately, I think my dream showed me how lonely I am. But I don’t have an answer as to what to do about it yet.

I do believe I want a divorce, but I have not gotten there at this point. As far as having another wife, I can’t see it. With a chronic disease that, left untreated, would kill me and my general poverty, I have (as one friend put it) nothing to offer a woman.

This leaves God. He’s all I have at this point.

Life coach Brendon Burchard says that we need to overcome our demons to be successful. One of these demons is doubt. The cure is faith, says Burchard. Faith that we will figure things out.

I might add to that prescription the need to include faith in God to help me do that.

 

A dim view of gender relations from a dimwit in the field

For the record, I am not a misogynist.

But I am a student of the human condition, and  today I am flustered by the state of relations between men and women. I’m not even thinking that much of the cause of the collapse of male/female connections, although when I do  I tend to blame RADICAL feminism. I stress the term “radical” inasmuch as I do consider myself a feminist (some of the women I know would be laughing at those last words). I have daughters, and I am very much in favor of them achieving great things in this world.

I suppose what got me thinking of the gender gap is the media I have exposed myself to today. In one interview on cable news I watched as the female host sarcastically said to her older male guest that she would let him go now so he could deal with his anger issues.

I thought this to be very unfair of her because they had been discussing politics, always a topic where the participants bring heat. She had in the guise of using a conditional clause strongly inferred that the politician they were discussing was a sexual predator.

The guest took issue with this in strong terms, and told the host that she was obsessed with sex on her program instead of the political issues. The male in this boxing match was an experienced pol, the woman a media darling (although to be fair she had been a lawyer at one point).

To me, if women want true equality they need to stop accusing men of anger issues when the latter disagree with them on a topic and express their objections in passionate terms. There is a double standard at work when women are allowed to be strongly emotional on a topic (e.g, angry) and the man is labeled a hothead by her when he comments with feeling.

After watching this interview  I went to a special showing of the 1980 film “The Shining’, mainly because it is one of Jack Nicholson’s most famous roles and I had never seen the film. I am  big fan! Big fan.

I also have gotten a bit interested in the horror genre, a real break from my former evangelical past which frowned on such flicks. I find a lot of these films to have quite good stories with relevant themes and good acting. Personally, I also think some of them are humorous.

“The Shining” was not funny by any means, even though Nicholson twisted his face into his landmark expressions. I was not laughing at his portrayal of a workaholic husband who cared more for his writing than his wife and kid. It hit too close to home.

While he is writing his wife interrupts him just to say hello and see how he is doing, he berates her for doing so in a profanity laced tirade. Even though she tries to convince him that their son needs serious medical attention, ole Jack refuses to leave the remote hotel they are staying in for the winter to see to the boys health.

Of course, in addition to being your normal male boor, he also goes berserk and tries to kill them. That’s taking misandry a bit too far if you ask me. I don’t know how other men felt watching “The Shining”, but I wanted to put a bag over my head right then and there in the theater. Of course, it’s just fiction, right girls.

My concerns about the shape of relations between men and women is not just sculpted by the mindless drivel I allowed into my brain today. it is also influenced by academic studies and my own personal experience.

The latter is not objective of course, and to be honest I am a failure when it comes to dealing with the ladies. But I don’t think  I am the only one.

 

 

Floating

When it comes to women, I feel like a ship adrift at sea.

That should not be a surprise to me as this is how I feel about my life in general. I am unemployed, have no one I hang with and don’t have any real purpose.

I’m working on the last one, and I am giving myself a good amount of time to think about it-perhaps even up to a year. In the meantime, the loneliness is palpable.

“Get a cat,” you say. I’m working on that too. I am watching a neighbor’s two feline’s while they are out of town. I mainly agreed to do it out of being neighborly, but I also am trying to see if my current attitude and lifestyle would fit with adopting a kitty of my own.

I guess I’m that lonely.

In the last few years I have had an interest in two women. The interest in one of them who I have called my “crush” is well documented in these pages. That this has been going on for years without resolution is pathetic.

But now I really believe I have given up on both of them.

One is married, though I am pretty sure unhappily. I thought because of this I might have a chance, but  I saw a picture of her this summer with her husband and I woke up.

“What the hell am I doing?” I said to myself.

Perhaps she isn’t happy still, but I have no business getting my heart all wrapped up with a woman who has a man already. What a disaster that would be!

So I have pulled away. There really has been nothing to move from since I no longer work with this person and we only really talked on social media anyway. Once I stopped communicating, so did she.

Saying adios to the second woman has been more difficult. This girl is half my age and single, and at one time seemed to have an interest in me.

In thinking about her yesterday, I decided to cut my only contact with her-social media. (Do I observe a pattern here?).

I seem to run into this lady more often than I would expect. It’s only occasional, but when we do see each other we exchange pleasantries and she usually gives me a little conversation before she moves on.

But, I realized a while back that I had missed my chance with her. Sometimes there is a spark, and if isn’t fanned into a flame it burns out.

I have not pursued this crush because I am still married, and because of my faith I have had  trouble divorcing. I should, since I have only talked with my wife once in the last few years.

So I think this  young lady has figured it out one way or the other. She has either talked to mutual acquaintances about me, or our “relationship” died on the vine. But she knows either I am married, or that our relationship is like a floating piece of ice, or perhaps even one of these people has besmirched my reputation to her. I can only speculate.

Although she is cordial in person (I saw her the other day), she doesn’t communicate with me at all on social media anymore. So yesterday I just cut her off from my site.

In some ways this event was a catharsis for me. I had finally done something final about her. We’ll see how long it lasts. I imagine at this stage it will end things.

But as I think about the future, one of the things I have thought about is establishing a relationship with a woman. I have even pondered trying to work on my marriage. That idea makes me tired even thinking about it. We’ll see. I think, and I believe rightly so, that it is over. Even if it isn’t, I just have no real desire or energy to make it work.

So on I float, year after year. I am hoping my year deadline gives me a kick in the butt to get off of it and do something with the rest of my life.

 

 

Loser

I’m a loser. That’s all I can conclude when I review my relationships with women.

I married over three decades ago. Somehow I managed to convince a woman to become wed to me. It was like a cat marrying a dog. We have been estranged for years.

While I do believe we loved each other (and perhaps always will), we were like oil and water. Our romance started through correspondence after a brief meeting, and we kind of reversed the natural course of events. We got to know each other on the inside before we did on the outside.

The fact is, our personalities did not mesh.  We began fighting during our courtship and that carried on into our marriage. But the personality differences were only part of what killed our marriage.

Another thing that led to our demise was my wandering eye. Oh hell, I am not an adulterer and would have never gone out on my wife. But I did like to look at other women. Not to make excuses, but I don’t think I am alone among my male comrades in that regard.

My wife couldn’t handle that. Even when I wasn’t looking at other girls she thought I was. Neither one of had the maturity to deal with my problem.

The adult thing to do would have been for us to have a serious discussion on my “eye problem” and why it was happening. But she was too insecure and I was too much of an adolescent.

In retrospect, this problem probably was the leak in the dam that started the flood that swept away our marriage.  My eyes were not the only factor in our separation, but they were an initial contributor.  Trust began to crumble.

In the 1958 film “Some Came Running”, Frank Sinatra plays a soldier who is very talented in writing, but also has a penchant for fast women and counting cards. Sinatra’s character falls in love with a literature professor who admires his writing. However, her attraction to him hits a brick wall when she observes his character. The woman, who was a lady, couldn’t get past the skillful writer’s lack of mores and the company he kept.

This I feel was the problem with our marriage from my wife’s perspective. She admired me and loved me, but from her point of view I was a scoundrel.  I wasn’t really, and to be fair to myself, she had her own issues that helped to kill our bond.  But I digress.

In recent years I have found myself attracted to two or three women. They have even shown a little interest, but just as with the writer in “Some Came Running”, these ladies came to a point where they stopped the music. I have been evaluating why.

There are a lot of reasons why I am not appealing to women. I don’t think I am a bad looking guy. But I am aging. And I have a potentially fatal disease. I am poor. I think I am a little boring, too, and my women interests are outgoing, busy, fun loving and younger girls.  Perhaps the clincher, though, is that I am still married.

God hates divorce and I keep asking myself,”Why would I want to do something God hates?” The women are asking themselves,”What am I doing, considering getting involved with a man with a marriage certificate and one who isn’t worth that trouble at that?”

So here I stand, all alone. My guess is that I will stay this way the rest of the cruise. I have no one to blame but myself. “Loser!”

 

 

 

The Last Time I Voiced a Complaint

I’m a big fan of Turner Classic Movies and when a flick falls into my wheelhouse I try to make a point of watching it. Such was the case recently with “The Last Time  I Saw Paris”, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Van Johnson.  I have to admit that one reason I tuned in was because at 22 Taylor was very easy on the eyes.  But the main plot concerned a failed writer, which somewhat defines yours truly, so that was my main purpose.

It didn’t hurt that “The Last Time  I Saw Paris” was the film version of a novel by my favorite author, F. Scott Fitgerald, who in his lifetime also saw himself as something of a failure.

Johnson and Turner fall in love right at the end of World War II in Paris. He is a journalist and she is a bon vivant, taking after her scheming, broke father who never quite recovered from fighting in the First World War. Before marriage and during its early stages Taylor keeps up her profligate ways. Johnson on the other hand is  serious and something of a stuffed shirt. Then they have a child and some Texas oil fields owned by the father which have been the family joke because they were barren begin to gusher. As a result, Taylor and Johnson reverse roles.

Taylor begins to be more serious. She pursues her husband and takes care of their daughter conscientiously. However, Johnson becomes a lush. He just can’t seem to deal with the constant reject letters from publishers. This wasn’t how he planned for his life to go. Johnson expected to be a noted novelist As a result, he rejects Taylor (how nutty can you be), spends a lot of time with divorcee Eva Gabor (nice, but not Lizzie) , and spends a lot of time partying and becoming inebriated.

For me, the plot of “The Last Time I Saw Paris” hinges on an entreaty Taylor makes to her husband. She pleads with him to get his priorities straight. In essence, she tells him that he is a great writer and that he shouldn’t listen to the losers who are rejecting his novels. Instead, he ought to keep writing and be grateful for their new riches and family.

 

SPOILER ALERT

But Johnson keeps drinking and sinking into despair. Unfortunately, Taylor dies and Johnson’s behavior  is indirectly one of the causes.. When she comes looking for him (he’s not around much), Johnson fails to respond to her knocks at the door because he is in a drunken stupor. She has to go across Paris to her parents in a storm since she can’t gain entry to the home.  Consequently, Taylor catches pneumonia and expires.

The movie ends well, as movies did  in those days. Johnson is redeemed. But the main focus for me with  “The Last Time I Saw Paris” is to learn from the wisdom of Taylor’s character and the poor choices made by Johnson.

The aspiring writer let the naysayers get to him and ruin his life. Things didn’t have to go the way they did for him. Taylor was right. Johnson needed to get his self worth from some place besides the people who were rejecting him.

I had some angry feelings myself when I had to face a big rejection recently after I interviewed for a high paying job. I was well qualified and had to overcome  a bunch of obstacles to even get to the meeting.  Yet, the man  I interviewed with was an ass.

This  CEO was very unprofessional. He greeted me with what he probably thought was a “funny”, telling the receptionist that he didn’t know who I was. His prospect (me) was much better dressed than he was, though I needed a haircut. (This man is bald and he was wearing a golf shirt. My, my, times have changed in corporations.)

My potential new boss obviously hadn’t prepared for the interview because he had my stuff spread out in front of him on the receptionist desk. “I’m looking at your stuff here,” he said. In addition, the man kept messing with his cell phone during the interview. I knew during the interview that I was being played.

Getting to this meeting cost this unemployed dude a good amount of time and money. I probably shouldn’t have done it, but I interspersed comments at how much effort I made to come to them, noting that “I want you to know that when I want something  I really go after it”, or words to that effect.

I was hoping I did not get  the job. I could not see working for this charlatan.

In fact, I mentally wanted to write the human resources guy that set this up and say,”Thank you for interviewing with me. However, I have several strong candidates for employment that are a better fit. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.” In other words, I wanted to send them a rejection letter before they dropped theirs on me. I didn’t, but the next day I got theirs. It was a big relief, but I was still pissed.

When I complained about my interview to some friends, they didn’t really want to hear my “negativity.”  Unlike Taylor though, they offered no positive wisdom to me other than one fellow who complained about my constant complaining.

What “The Last Time I Saw Paris” taught me is that the assholes will always be with you. (Apologies to Jesus for twisting his comment about the poor.)  They are part of this fallen, wicked world. So in one respect, my friends are right. Complaining about them is just a lose-lose proposition.

What is more productive is to do something about my own life and perhaps seek change in important areas along the way, at least as much change as possible in this wrecked planet.

One example of someone who has learned this lesson the current mayor of my town. He has done wonders in a city that should be much worse off than it is. There is a reason why he runs unopposed every election.

After high school he got a job in a city department, but he was unhappy with some things. He asked his father for advice and his reply was,”You have two choices. You can get involved in politics and seek change. Or you can go back to work, and keep your head down and your mouth shut and just take it.”

Van Johnson’s character in “The Last Time in Paris” illustrates that there are other options to deal with how we are treated in this world besides immersion in things like addictive substances  and irresponsible behavior.

Yeah, as one of our current presidential candidates likes to say, the system is rigged. But just complaining about it will only fill the empty air and drive those around you crazy.

So I think for me it’s better to seek positive change and live a worthwhile life instead of “whining”. I can still give a prudent acknowledgement that there are problems, but I might keep my sanity and friendships if I focus less on them and more on the solutions that can be implemented in this lifetime..

 

 

 

 

 

Assholes

“You ever hear of the saying ‘you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole; you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole’.“-Deputy US Marshal Raylen Givens in the TV series”Justified”

I’ve lost two of my closest friends in the last month. Maybe I should start taking my meds again.

I got off them when my insurance from a former employer ended. I now have Medicaid and could order them again, but I decided I wanted to give it a try without them. The results have been mixed.

On the one hand, not being on these antidepressants have helped me to feel real emotions. With them, I tend to be a little numb. Furthermore, as one of my former friends told me, without them I was more the “real me.”

“I like you like this,” he said. “You have more of an edge.”

This fellow may have changed since the  dust up we had a couple of weeks ago. This man, a close pal, is a world traveler. I told him “hey, ‘mi casa su casa'” in case he wanted a place to lay his head for a while.

He took me up on the offer and has been with me for most of the last 5 months.

His stay ended over a silly tiff. My buddy had said to me on a walk “what’s wrong with you” after he lost me on the trek. Yet, I felt his remark was unjustified since he had told me to go on ahead after he decided to stop off at a convenience store. .

I lost my temper at that remark. As I wrote him later in an Email, there are a lot of things wrong with me, but even my estranged wife had never asked that question. I felt offended, especially given the circumstances. I suppose his statement just added fuel to the fire already damaging my self respect.

“One of the things wrong with me is that I have been sleeping on a cot for the last 8 months. I want my bed back,” I wrote. I told him to get a bed for himself or sleep on the cot. Instead, he left right after he got my Email.

The second close buddy with whom I have become estranged told me this weekend that he couldn’t stand to be around me. “All you do is complain,” he said.

Unlike the aforementioned pal, this man was hosting me for the weekend. We had had one other big argument in the past while I was there that resulted in me storming out in a huff. He had called me a name and basically came at me in a threatening manner. But we had since made up.

In fact, I had spent a weekend with him in the spring that went rather well.

This time, after my friend complained about my complaining, I suggested he take me home. (I don’t drive.) But after that I said, “I have grown since the last tiff we had”. I asked him to explain himself  after we finished the  movie we were watching. So he did.

I apologized for my complaining and asked his forgiveness. He inferred that he would rather see changed behavior and then continued complaining about me. As he talked his face was scrunched up in a scowl.

Now both of us are Christians. I have been to Bible college and he considers himself a theologian. I told him,”What you are doing is not biblical. I asked your forgiveness and you are just repeating the same accusations.”  My friend told me he was doing that because he didn’t think I got it. (Sigh.)

Even so, the night ended satisfactorily and I even attended church the next day with my friend. But I decided that I needed to leave for both of our sakes. We were getting on each other’s nerves.

After reflecting on his complaint about my complaining, I determined that what he had said did not quite hold water. I had really not had much discussion with my buddy since I arrived last weekend. The only real complaining I had done was to tell him I had just interviewed with a couple of assholes. But hey, he had asked how it went,so I honestly told him.

I also explained the circumstances surrounding the departure of my other friend as noted above without trying to be demeaning. I wanted him to know because he had met this man and I felt he should know why he wasn’t around anymore.

The episode reminded me of the time my father  told me that I have never held a steady job my whole life. He said this to me at my party celebrating my graduation from grad school. I reminded Dad that I had worked 11 years for the same company before going to grad school and been steadily promoted.

What I learned from the discussion with my father was that the opinions of my own parents about me may not necessarily be the truth. Last weekend I decided that this is true of statements made by close friends, also.

As I said, I hardly had spent any time with my friend from last weekend. So how could he label me as a constant complainer? In fact, last weekend was only the third time I had seen the man in 18 months.

Further, he had said I never complimented his kids. Well, the truth was his son had picked me up from the interview I had been on and we had had  a good discussion and I was positive toward his son’s choices.( He is indeed a good young man.) I told my friend about this discussion in the midst of our discussion about my complaining nature.

It could be that my host was mad about my comments to a journalism student I met when we visited his son at his university that day. The fellow had asked my opinion on the field (I have a journalism undergrad) and I told him the newspaper field was dying. My friend took issue with me on the spot and told the student he had friends in journalism and not to listen to me. I gathered he took my answer as a complaint instead of an opinion.

I have since analyzed the two times I have argued with my friend in the last 18 months. The common denominator with him: he was drinking. This buddy of mine does not hold his liquor well. The common denominator with me: I have little patience and a lot of pride.

Now I have to say that there are grains of truth in my friends’ complaints about me. I am a contrarian. But so is he. In fact, so is the fellow who packed up and left my home this month.

What appears to be close to the truth is that all three of us are assholes. I don’t much like either man right now, and I think the feeling is reciprocated. In fact, I don’t even like myself these days and it probably shows.

But you know what? That’s ok. I got this idea yesterday that some people are going to like me and some aren’t. And I may not like them. If that’s the case, then why be friends?

I also got this thought, which I believe is from the Lord, that it is time to make new friends. I really don’t have any locally. So after I got home yesterday I shut down my Facebook account. I intend to concentrate on people in my town, not people from far away.

I also quit Facebook because I think it is time I spent about a year in self reflection about my life. I know I need to improve as a person. If other people are involved in that, I prefer they be folks who are themselves not negative. These two guys who accuse me of being such are themselves in need of repair in that area.

In any case, I am not sure getting a new drug prescription is the answer. I just need better friends, more patience and a better relationship with the Lord.  When it comes to friends it is time to reshuffle the deck, and I am happy about that prospect.