General Script posted April 7, 2020


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Should have taken your word for it

Told You So

by Elizabeth Emerald


ACT ONE

LENNY:

It's my own fault, of course. She gave me fair -- more than fair -- warning from the start.

"I don't want children," she said, "never have. Don't expect me to change my mind."

I did, of course. Meaning both I did want children, and I did expect her to change her mind.

It is patently obvious that any couple should start married life on the same page as regards whether to have children. Karen and I weren't even on the same book. There's wiggle room when husband wants two and wife wants four -- but you can't split the difference in a case such as ours and compromise on half a kid!

I blame myself, as I say. Karen was unequivocal from the get go, and 43 years on she hasn't wavered. Of course, it's moot at this point -- has been moot for the last twenty-plenty. I'll be 70 in August, and Karen turns 68 in March.

Why, you ask, did I marry Karen to begin with? To that I say: Good question, meaning both on point and damned if I know!

The only answer I can muster -- insipid as it surely sounds -- is that I was "in love." Note the truncation: I've chopped off "with her."

This hack job is in retrospect only, of course. Naturally, when wedding bells were pending and whilst they were pealing, I had sworn on our stack of cake tiers that I was in love with Karen. And after so saying, had vowed vociferously that I would love her forevermore.

And so I have, in deed. Meaning, literally, the two words: in deed, "deed" meaning "action."

In deed, yes. In thought? Not so much. I don't "not love" Karen, exactly, but I don't actively "love" her either. Kind of like saying a woman is "not unattractive" when she isn't attractive but you don't want to go as far as calling her an out-and-out dog. Especially when the lady in question is a 200-pound drag queen who can punch your lights out.

Perhaps I'd be in this Do-I-Still-Love-Her? Limbo regardless. Meaning, Karen's refusal to have kids notwithstanding, 43 years in wedded lock-down takes its toll, payable, day-by-day, in heart-throbs.

Meantime, the beat goes on, albeit ever more faintly. Every time a friend had a child -- at my age, now, make that grandchild -- Cupid's arrow would pierce, and not in a good way.

Karen, it is clear, has no regrets. Not even a pang over what-might-have-been; not one whit of wish-we'd-had-a-child-of-our-own. Karen knows her own mind, knew it 43 years ago, and likely knew it years before even then.

We lead a full life, we do, trite as that sounds. Traveled the world in our day, we did, no kids to tether us and drain our for-fun funds. These years our vacations are closer to home: day trips, mainly; a couple of nights here and there at a B&B; two weeks every summer in a cabin on the Cape. So life is good, really. I can't complain -- so I say, as I do so!

Seriously, we have our health, and our wealth -- such as it is. We've been spared untold heartbreak, such as so many of our friends have had over their kids: dead, dysfunctional, drunk, drugged out. You name it, they've had it -- and we haven't, Karen and I.

Not that kind of heartbreak, we haven't. Karen had a minor heart attack last fall, a bit of a scare, but she's fine now. Me, I get a pang, here and there, upper chest area, nothing I can't live with. Doctor says it's heartburn, tells me to take Prilosec, pop a couple of Tums for the discomfort.

I don't bother. As I say: that kind of pain isn't so hard to live with.


ACT TWO

KAREN

It's his own fault, of course. I gave him fair -- more than fair -- warning from the start.

"I don't want children," I said, "never have. Don't expect me to change my mind."

He did, of course. Meaning both he did want children, and he did expect me to change my mind.

It's my fault, too, of course. I should have simply walked away, way back then, 43 years ago. Broken the engagement. Hell, I never should have accepted the ring to begin with.

Yes, I should have done Lenny the favor of setting him free. He'd have soon enough found a woman who wanted children, and he'd doubtless have had several grandkids -- perhaps even great-grandkids -- by now.

After all, Lenny told me from the get-go that he wanted children; there was no reason I should have expected him to change his mind.

Indeed, I didn't expect him to change his mind. Which makes my having married him, in full acknowledgement of that fact, utterly unconscionable.

Whatever was I thinking? I ask this literally, not rhetorically.

This is what I was thinking: Here's Lenny begging me to marry him, insisting he loves me, will always love me; am I strong enough to turn him down for his own good; no, quite frankly, I'm not; I'm not strong at all; if I don't marry Lenny who will take care of me; this may be my one-and-only chance to not be alone the rest of my life, and I don't want to be alone the rest of my life; my God, I'm terrified of growing old, alone, getting sick, alone, dying alone, and living alone meantime dreading all the above.

So I married him.

That was 43 years ago. Certainly, I've had no regrets on my own behalf. Indeed -- literally "in deed" -- Lenny has been a loyal and dutiful husband. He has never once expressed recriminations, nor even muttered a veiled remark, nor shown a shred of resentment regarding my not having kids. As I say: on my own behalf I've had absolutely no regrets whatsoever.

On Lenny's behalf, I have -- have had for 43 years -- regrets a-plenty. I curse myself for my pathetic weakness, my contemptible neediness, which spawned such desperation that I committed the supremely selfish act of entering into unholy matrimony. Compounding the crime: I steadfastly refused thereafter to expiate my sin by capitulating to motherhood.

My sentence: 43 years -- and counting -- of unadulterated guilt. Such is my cross to bear for not having borne Lenny children.

My barrenness -- my willful barrenness -- is Lenny's cross to bear.

He carries it well. Yes, he carries it very well. Very well, in "deed."




Thanks to Highfive for Artwork: Family Portrait

This was inspired by insider knowledge of the dynamics of such a marriage, though, happily, I wasn't one of the unfortunates inside it. My ex-husband and I both wanted children; I wouldn't have married him otherwise. If only there had been such a deal-breaker: I'd have been spared much marital grief!

Stage directions are not needed; scenery, props, and costuming are not specified because these monologues are meant to be recited from a bare stage. I like to keep production costs down!
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Highfive at FanArtReview.com

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