The Green-eyed monster



December 24, 2010

            I remember passing through her mother’s house fairly often with Peggy.

            Her mother lived in an apartment building on Ray Street across from a school, not far from where the family grew up on Lanza.

 Peggy stopped there often to borrow or to touch base. She used her mother’s phone for nearly all of her business, and generally, when she called me it was from her mother’s house. I don’t think she had a phone in her apartment.

            During these visits, we frequently encountered her mother’s cat, which I think she called “Arp.”

            She claimed to hate it.

            “It’s the ugliest cat on earth,” she said. “Don’t you think so?”

            I remember looking at the cat, a calico with confused markings particularly on the face.

            “I don’t think it’s ugly.”

            “Look at that face! You can’t tell me that she isn’t the ugliest cat on earth.”

            Whether or not, Peggy was serious, I was never able to determine. But if the cat sensed any of her hostility, she didn’t show it, coming out to greet us whenever we came in.



April 29. 1987

            Life is getting more complicated.

            Not only did an old girlfriend show up at my apartment Monday morning, someone I recently saw before Peggy came in the afternoon, and just after she left, my uncle’s social worker called to tell me he is going to be released from the hospital, and that I have to make sure his apartment (my old apartment next door) is ready to receive him, then I went out to see Peggy dance at the local bar.

            Time and money have become huge issues in my life, especially since Peggy demands significant amounts of both of me.

            I keep trying to put myself on some kind of schedule. But it never works. Something always messes it up. I can’t even get myself into work on time, wishing I could lay beside Peggy the rest of my life.

            There seems to be something haunting in that, less manipulation than mutual hunger held back.

            Last week’s issues still linger between us. And while she has toned down some of her statements, the allusions are still the same. I still don’t know whether she means them or is simply defending herself against the threat of love.

            She is perfectly serious about my feeding her, and mistaking the meaning of my objection in my letter, seems to think I object to feeding her when I don’t.

            It is of no use trying to explain, and it becomes clearer minute by minute that there can never be anything long-lasting between us, both because she would find a way to sabotage it, and because she is blind to important subtleties. This last may well be intentional.

            Space for myself in my own life seems to be shrinking rapidly, and without any real progress towards contentment. I am simply worrying over different issues now and find myself trying to balance all those other things with the need to be creative.



May 1, 1987


            Peggy set the clocks back – I suppose to get me off to work on time, she feeling guilty about my being late for a solid week straight – a gift that I did not expect and a hopeful sign in the midst of a thousand mixed signals, come or go, stay or run, yes or no.
            She says one thing but her actions say something entirely different, and yet she still seems caught up on me.

            She claims she’s more afraid of me now than ever, partly because of what my hands can do. She claims my touch has found a way into her heart and she’s not comfortable with it.

            “You can turn me on whether I want it or not,” she told me the other day in bed, “and that scares me. I like to think I’m in some sort of control.”

            It seems everything is about control.

            Over the last few weeks, I have watched her attempt to seize it in dozens of ways, just managing to save myself at the last minute.

            But from what?

            There is a part of me that wants to let go, that wants to fling myself into her chaotic world. I have been in control for so long that I long for change, to let someone else like her run my life for a while.

            Peggy claims I have “bedroom eyes,” something I suspect she’s made up, and says this is the first time in her life she’s spent so much time at home with anyone, enjoying the simple company of a single man.

            Could she be mellowing?

            Not enough to keep her from making statements similar to those that prompted my note, adding only more confusion to an already confusing situation.

            She is always provocative, always teasing, and perhaps one more sign of her panic at possible helplessness. She is falling in love with me and doesn’t know how to deal with it.

            She says she almost lost me, as if the note was my declaration of independence. Then she says she is surprised to be lying here like this with me, that she really was through with me after I gave her that note, and she seems as confused about how she’s handled the affair as I am.

            She is puzzled about how her mother smiles at me, and how she finds hints of her own affection for me all around the apartment.

            The question is: where does it go from here? What is the next step that needs to be taken?

            The closer we get the more chances there are of hurting each other and the greater the chance that one of us will do something wrong – such as my note, or her using another man to create a wedge of space between us.

            Money is another problem. I don’t have much and won’t have much for a while as I try to straighten up my act as far as dress and living arrangements. She is richer than I am, but amazingly cheap, caught up on the idea that any man who loves her must pay for the privilege of being around her.


May 2, 1987

            She cried last night in a different voice, one that no longer begged for me not to beat her, but begged me to keep her from being beaten.

            This is a significant change, suggesting something about what changes may be going on inside her, and how much more part of her life I have become

            It scares me a little.

            But she must be scared a lot more about it than I am, feeling much more vulnerable because of it.

            Over the last few days she has spoken to me about it, and how it frightened her to know that I could turn her own sexually at will. (How much of this is BS, I don’t know)

            Although not explicitly mentioned, we are talking about the issue of pushing buttons.

            Here is this woman who in the past has been largely wild, doing what she wants when she wants if just for the thrill of it, only to suddenly soften and grow vulnerable – if not yet totally for me, then for Robert, who preceded me and misused her.

            Strangely, I understand some of the reasons for his violence, even if I disapprove of it. The threat a woman like this poses on a man’s ego is significant. You just don’t know what she is going to do or say next. Unfortunately, neither probably knows what we have until it vanishes, and we don’t seem aware of what kind of control we really have until it is gone.

            I don’t know if there is any real reason for me to feel threatened by all of this, or if she really will take off with the next man that comes along if she has an inkling.

            This, of course, makes us cling all the more, and by clinging, we push her closer to the edge, forcing her to seek breathing room.

            I want to think Peggy has made a choice with me, that she really wants to be with me even when she says differently.

            Who really knows what is going on in her head?

            Not me.


May 3. 1987

            I haven’t changed at all.

            Everything I’ve written about not being jealous in these journals is bullshit.

            Okay, so my jealousy is inspired by Peggy, but it is the same green-eyed beast that plagued me when I was a kid, and now I’m once more filled with rage.

            I hate the idea of being only one of any number of eligible males in Peggy’s life, one of that gang of boys she picked out to be close to her.

            Tom, of course, has always been an issue with me, something about his telling me early on that he is dangerous, and I’m supposed to figure out what exactly he means by dangerous.

            Now I know. He is competition for who will be close to Peggy.

            And I hate the idea.

            Tom is one hell of a nice guy, and someone who has a better grip of what Peggy is about and how to handle her than I do, and he will likely retain a place in her life long after I have faded from it.

            I’m not sure if he is or isn’t her lover.

            I suppose he is, since he knows where she lives and has done the whole routine with her, meeting her parents, attending her parties. He shows up often at where she dances. And I have seen them kiss. I have heard her use the word “love” with him.

            He is a man of mystery, marvelous in every way, quiet and lovable, and Peggy treats him pretty much the way she treats me – even to the point of once having thrown a drink in his face.

            The first time I met him, she was sitting with him at My Way, and I felt the strong connection and wondered if he was her pimp.

            This sounds ridiculous even to me – but he is one of the unexplained mysteries in Peggy’s life, and I can’t help wondering why she is with me instead of him. Or does she treat every man she meets this way, a kind of test of fire we must undergo in order to be worthy of her trust – tossing us away when none of us can possibly measure up?

            Last night, I got even more uncomfortable about Tom than usual, and I suppose Tom sensed it because after I left he asked Peggy if he was in the way. He saw how much I liked her.

            When I was there I watched him as he watched Peggy dance, he was clearly attracted, but did not seem in love with her. If that makes any sense?

            What became very clear to me then is what Peggy has been telling me over and over for days, that if any man expects to survive Peggy as a lover and friend, he must accept the face that he will always be “one of the boys.” Even if she never goes off with someone, the possibility is always there, like a dark cloud. It will be in the side glances she gives men she is attracted to and it will be a serious threat if she gets angry at me or gets too drunk.

            Jealousy in this matter is simply a waste of time. It won’t change her one bit only make me more miserable. I either accept the relationship as she gives it to me or I get out. Expressing my feelings in this matter can only cause us both hurt, and may cause me to lose whatever it is we already have.

            She is largely insensitive to these feelings away, and she seems to like the idea of having two men competing for her attention. In fact, she looked positively thrilled by the act last night.

            It certainly sent me to new heights of panic and jealousy, even to the point of sneaking back up her stairs after I left to make sure Tom wasn’t there instead of me.

            A foolish, childish act, but typically male.




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