Ever heard the expression “He’s got class” or “He’s a gentleman”? What do they mean? Do they mean he has more money than you? Do they mean he has better manners (social skills) than you?
I was married to a man who claimed he had “class”. His father was a lawyer and he was a business owner. He was excellent at flattery and I could not believe how easily people, especially women, were disarmed by it. He told jokes that he laughed at harder than anyone else. Our house was “open house” every night of the week. Liquor flowed like water and food was always plentiful. The house was packed with freeloaders who would eat, drink and talk crap for hours without ever having spent a cent. I know they laughed behind his back. To them he was a putz ever needy of an approving audience.
They should have been married to him. Oh joy.
When the door closed and we were alone, a different animal emerged. He became sullen and bullish. We never had sex unless he wanted it – never mind my needs. He took ten second showers followed by splashes of cologne so you could smell him coming and going. He never, ever lifted the toilet seat to pee. I can’t tell you how many times I sat on a wet seat. I usually took care to wipe it clean before sitting down but there were times, I’d forget.
Still, he thought of himself as classy and a gentleman. I guess he figured he had more money than you and that’s all it that mattered.
On one of my travels in the ’60’s, I had occasion to spend a night at a motel in Montego Bay. It was a well appointed room although rather like any Holiday Inn anywhere in North America. Instead of glass window panes, they had wooden louvres. There were two beds, separated by a night table – a bathroom and clothes closet. I chose the bed by the window. Having driven for hours over Mount Diablo, I was exhausted and fell into a deep sleep.
I’m guessing it was around 3 AM, when low murmurings awoke me. You know the kind – like when a group of people are gathered and are speaking quietly to each other. (That type of murmur used to put me to sleep when I was a child.) As I was lying on my right side facing the louvres, I saw the grey night sky peering through the openings between the wooden slats. The murmuring continued. I rolled on my back and half sat up.
I saw four men standing in a circle, talking, smiling and softly chuckling, much like you’d see at a cocktail party. They were illuminated as if the overhead light by the door were on. One of the men was blond, one was Spanish looking, one was brown-skinned and one was quite tall and thin and of very dark complexion. The Spanish looking gent turned his eyes to me, smiled and said, “Look, she’s awake”. The others turned and looked my way. I got out of bed and walked towards them, in my mind ready to tell them to get the hell out, when that same man asked, “Tell me, Miss Ornig, do you believe in ghosts?”
“Of course not. Idiot”, I thought to myself – and then I looked at each of them, one by one, as they smiled back at me. It occurred to me, “What if they are? Could it be?”. Utter terror suddenly washed over me. An icy chill ran through me. I felt a sudden cramp in my gut so sharp, I let out a groan. I doubled over and, as I was about to collapse on the floor, the thin man grabbed my right upper arm to keep me from keeling over.
I was awkened by the sound of low murmurings and as I opened my eyes slightly, I saw the gray night sky peering between the slats of the louvres. I decided not to roll on my back. I closed my eyes again.
I woke a third time. I saw the gray night sky peering between the slats of the louvres. This time it was quiet. No murmurs. I rolled on my back and the room was dark and empty. I fell back asleep.
The next day I lunched on lobster salad at a nearby hotel and relayed my experience to another lunch guest, a local gent. I described each man as I had remembered him from the night before. The gentleman smiled sadly and said he knew them. The blond one had been his friend.
The four had been liquor salesmen working for J. Wray and Nephew. Whenever they called on the hotels in Montego Bay, they stayed at that motel. One night, two years prior, they were hacked to death by a crazed mob of Rastafarians. They had set the gas station across the street on fire and, when the men came out of their rooms to see what the commotion was about, they attacked them with machetes and killed them all.
He was glad to hear that, in my vision, they appeared happy.
The palm trees swayed to a gentle noon-day breeze. My blood ran cold. I feared the night.
I was so proud of myself. I actually lost all my baby weight in the hospital and came home slim. I was weak, though. The stitches hurt and I had lower back pain. But the suitcase was packed and husband was there to pick us up and take us home.
As soon as we got home, husband snapped. He started to scream, threw the suitcase down, the baby started to cry and so did I. I was confused. I thought this ought to be a happy moment. Instead, I was made to feel guilty for having our son. It didn’t make any sense. He behaved so strangely, as though he resented this other little person coming into his life.
In the middle of the tirade, friend Margaret walked in and comforted me. She claimed her husband behaved in the same exact way. She helped me to set up the change table. She helped me with the formula. I don’t know what I would have done without her, at that time. Read more…
It was getting close to Christmas, my family was coming to stay with us for a couple of weeks. I was pregnant out to there but the baby just didn’t want to come out just yet. Every day, I’d walk and walk, climb hills and generally do everything I could think of to make it happen. Finally, my doctor admitted me to hospital and proceeded with the saline drip to induce labour.
I checked into hospital on the Sunday night. Monday morning, I got the usual shave and enema as such were the indignities we had to endure at that time. At 9AM the drip began. It was a bit of a pain because I had to get up and take that whole tree with me whenever I went to the bathroom. Just the same, I managed.
All day long there were a string of visitors. One of the girls decided to put makeup on me because she felt it was proper to greet the new baby looking one’s best. Read more…
Well, I should hope so.
When I was a young girl in Austria, I couldn’t wait to start school. I so wanted to learn. Before I came of age, I used to look in the school windows, wishing I could be in class with the other children. When the day actually came, I headed out alone. My mother and step-father, unbeknownst to me, followed me, hiding behind trees and bushes. I had to cross a busy street. For months, we’d practiced crossing streets. Looking left and right etc.
One of the best times at school was spent in gymnastics. We had so much fun, what with the horse and all. Then came the front rolls. Oh it was so much fun. Read more…