Wednesday, August 13, 2014

***A Tale Of Two Women- The Saga Of Sam Lowell


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

As she sat across the high-back cafĂ© table at Rummy Jack’s up in Old Hampstead (that’s in New Hampshire not far from where she lived) Melinda Loring, without rancor (or maybe better with controlled rancor, yes, that would be a better way to put the matter) and without malice softly, as was her manner, told Sam Lowell that he had “two women now, whether he liked it or not, whether he recognized the situation or not.” And that short precise statement set the tone for that afternoon, and for the slippery slope downward that brought their affair to an end so that at last notice they had not spoken to each other, had not e-mailed each other in months. But we had better step back in this Melinda-Sam saga before we go forward where those words of Melinda will get more play than one Samuel Lowell, North Adamsville High School Class of 1964 could have imagined when he decided that he wanted in on his class’s 50th anniversary reunion celebration. 

Naturally one does not wind up at Rummy Jack’s having a late lunch with one woman (of that “spoken” two but more on number two later), one old classmate too boot, without some pre-history since this pair had not known each other back in high school (although he had given her many furtive glances in the corridors back then, had made something of a science out of those glance, she just ignored him, was clueless about who he was back then. That however never stopped those furtive glances of his then or later, no way). They had only recently connected via the class website established by the class reunion committee (of which Sam had become a part before he “met” Melinda). That class website “meeting” turned into a frantic furious exchange of e-mails when they found that while had not known each other back then they shared many academic, social, political, literary and personal connections.  (Wondering aloud in those frantic e-mails, he had made her laugh with their urgency and once when he said that he hoped they would not run out of cyberspace, why the hell they had not met back then). The frantic e-mails led to frantic cellphone calls (she liked his voice, liked his soft-spoken-ness, he liked her fresh spirit, her organized sense of things) which naturally led to that first date where she called him (prematurely, very prematurely, as it turned out) her “forever” man and he, a little slower on the uptake was smitten with her after the second date. Well first date, second date, forever man, smitten all added up to going under the satin sheets together. All along those fierce devoted weeks (it seemed impossible that they could move so quickly, especially with her since she was organized one of the two). Then the other shoe fell.

See Sam was smitten, but he was also conflicted, was not sure where he wanted the relationship to go. Was not sure he and Melinda had staying power, Hell, was not sure about how he felt about Laura. Laura? Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you the name of the second woman before. Sam had had a long- time relationship with Laura, a companion whom Melinda was aware of and who Sam said to her had become, after having been lovers for a number of years, something like roommates. See they shared a house together down in Whelan (in Massachusetts which is where he lived and which was one of the points of contention between Sam ad Melinda since she wanted him to come up and live with her). Well that explanation is what he gave Melinda to believe but as the Sam-Melinda relationship developed he had confront the fact that he had stronger feelings for Laura than he let on to Melinda.

It does not take a great literary mind, a great knowledge of human psychology, or even a treasure trove of common sense, to know that nothing but trouble was brewing, brewing up a storm that would not subside until there was not common language that Sam and Melinda could speak to each other. Naturally Melinda a woman who had been twice divorced, twice divorced under trying circumstances where she had to initiate the proceedings and wanted only one “forever” man and her to be his forever woman. She had made it clear from the beginning that she was a “one man woman” and that she wanted no fling and no affair but the real deal with all the bells and whistles or nothing (although not married, not that institution which she had had enough of, thank you).

She worked her understanding of their relationship under that strategic imperative all through their few months together, pressing Sam as often as she could about when he was going to leave Laura (at one point suggesting that he just move out of Whelan and get a place of his own if he was not ready to live with her). See she had her plans for Sam and they did not include any kind of three-some (truthfully Sam did not want that either) or some such “modern” arrangement. Sam hemmed and hawed but as he got more interested in Melinda, got a better sense that she would be good for him,  got more committed to leaving Laura since they had hit a  very serious dry patch in their relationship and he said he was just waiting for an excuse to move on he would have recurring second thoughts. Melinda meanwhile was getting more and more anxious about putting a life for of them together (they after all were not sixteen, although they both laughed that in some ways they were acting like that) and time was an enemy. And that urgency on Melinda’s part brought them to Rummy Jacks’ after they had exchanged a couple of acrimonious e-mails and decided they needed to meet face to face to hash things out, or split if that was in the cards. And hence Melinda’s opening statement.   

Sam, when he thought about, thought about it constantly for a while, had never been sure about the what or why of Melinda’s breaking off the affair shortly after that lunch (and after another series of acrimonious e-mails and cellphone calls). Was not sure at all on that subject beyond the tense arguments at the end and one ill-advised e-mail where he proposed that they become “friends” for a while. That bothered him considerable over the next few months while he absent-mindedly speculated that she might had decided to go back with man who she had dropped when she took up with Sam, might have had enough of the drama (as had he), or maybe just got her own version of wet feet but in any case she would at some point not answer his calls, answer his e-mails.

Melinda kept putting him off for a couple of weeks, told Sam  they should be apart that long to see if she felt the same after that time and if so would close the whole thing off. But this is what really had (has) Sam more confused than anything because he had actually told Laura he was leaving her for Melinda during this period when Melinda was in the process of dumping him. Fortunately, or so he thought so later, he had hedged his bets with Laura and made that leaving of their joint household conditional on what Melinda’s final decision was to be.

Naturally Laura was not thrilled with Sam behavior. Hell, she was as angry as he had ever seen her since all along he had downplayed his affair with Melinda declaring one night when she confronted him that they were “just friends”).  Almost hit him on another night when Sam burst out during one conversation that he had “two women” and unfortunately said it with a certain dramatic flair saying in such a way like “what is a guy to do with such good luck.” She would bring that remark up constantly to him when after Melinda’s decision became final and Sam in a desperate effort to salvage his long-time relationship with Laura and not face the old world alone begged her forgiveness they decided that they would stay together. She would bring the remark up to friends to embarrass him, to make him seem the fool having “left” Laura for, ah, a “never” woman. Made it plain that he only had only had one woman now. Or else.

But see that is where Laura was wrong, where the ghost of Melinda really had the last laugh. After Melinda dumped him he kept constantly thinking about her, tried to unsuccessfully contact her a couple of times before letting the efforts fade out. Still on many lonesome nights when he would be sitting with Laura talking over dinner he would be thinking of Melinda, thinking about how their thing had really been written in the stars after all and that he had made a mistake in not trying desperately to keep her when he had the chance. Would find himself thinking about Melinda in lots of situations and at strange times. Would get kind of swoony, would make up ways in his head about fantasy reconciliations. Yeah, so in the dark of night, some sweaty summer night when he could not sleep Sam knew, knew deep down that he still had “two women,” Melinda still had her hooks in him, and he was still missing his Linny.   



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