Monday, February 01, 2010

My Husband's New Girlfriend

Christopher has a new love. She's gray-and-black tiger-striped with four little white sock feet. Of all the feral cats, she is the most aggressive, curious, and willing to come inside and be tamed. He has been courting her for weeks with greenies and canned smoked oysters, so that she now consents to live under our roof--in the garage still, but she has ventured upstairs and started exploring the kitchen, living room and dining room.

She even rubs against his leg and purrs, although when I come into the room she runs away. This despite the fact that he took her to the vet, (which she's already forgiven and forgotten in her tiny pea-sized cat brain) while I have never done anything bad to her. Not that I'm jealous. Not at all.

Her name, I regret to report, seems to be shaping up to be Trixie, who was a character on The Honeymooners and is also the name of one of the nicer whores on the HBO show Deadwood.

I was voting for Maggie, as in Elizabeth Taylor's character in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, but I was voted down. She was Mollie for a day or two, which I also liked, but which Big Daddy also ultimately vetoed. I also thought Eartha would be good (Eartha Kitt? Get it?) but no dice. And my original name for her, "Jane Austen" was nixed on the grounds that she doesn't look like Jane Austen. Well who does?

Now he's trying to get around my objections to Trixie ("It just doesn't have any gravitas." "Well, what do you expect? She's a feral cat!") by saying that the name just "came to him from afar" which I think is Christopher's best bullshit approximation of New Age speak and which I am not buying.

But I think she will ultimately end up being Trixie, because despite the fact that I bought and hauled forty pounds of cat food back from the store the other day, and despite my best efforts to curry favor by also offering greenies and clucking my tongue, the truth is, he is the cat man and all the kitties know it. He speaks their language, understands their mysterious and nefarious thoughts and is generally the go-to guy in the leg-rubbing and purring departments. I'm the red-headed stepmother. Ah well...

A few nights ago I saw It's Complicated with a couple of girlfriends. This movie establishes once and for all that Meryl Streep looks good in Eileen Fisher clothing.

What struck all three of us was the unrelenting gigglieness of Streep's character and the way she never really stood up to Alec Baldwin's assholic ex-husband. She would say "No," and then he would override her boundaries and she would roll over. Again and again and again.

It was distressing to watch that, but more distressing to address the deeper issue of how many times have I done that in my own life? For many years I felt that sex with a certain kind of man was Kryptonite for me. It drained me of my power and depleted my wisdom and independence. By the time I was in my mid-forties i was exhausted and ill from affairs gone wrong. I decided I needed to become celibate for a year or two in order to regain my own sense of boundaries and dignity and begin to make better choices.

It was a good choice for me. I regained my health and began to feel whole again, and ultimately met Christopher. But each woman is different in what she needs when. The Streep character in It's Complicated has been celibate for so long she's drying up, and now she just needs to go over to the wild side in order to balance out her psyche and re-open to her own sexuality. At least that's the assertion the movie makes. Her life is perfect but lonely, she needs to rough it up a little, or--and this is where I have a problem--just step aside and allow Alec Baldwin to bulldoze in and rough it up for her.

I know it's a fluffy "fun" movie, I know this may be putting too much analysis on what is basically meant to be cotton candy, but what if she re-connected with her sexuality by buying herself a dildo, learning to ride horses, going on a wilderness adventure, or initiating her own affair, say with someone much younger?

On the other hand, many of us--and I include myself in this category--do exactly what her character does in the movie--we allow some high-testosterone man to have his way with us for awhile. We enjoy some aspects of the sex, we enjoy feeling giddy and carefree and young and desired, and in exchange we betray our own values, and end up with our head in the toilet the next day, either literally or figuratively, trying to puke the experience out.

As a writer I was missing the scenes in the movie that weren't there. I would have liked to have seen a more substantive session between Streep and her shrink. I would have also loved a scene between Streep's ex-wife character and the younger current wife character (I think it was Amanda Peet) in which they discovered some common ground.

It's great that this movie showed an older woman looking and feeling wonderful without plastic surgery. It's great that it depicted the after-effects of divorce--that it takes years and years to recover equilibrium and that the effects on children are also long-lasting. The beautiful relationships among and between the young adult siblings were also a joy to watch. And of course, the Eileen Fisher. Can't beat that with a stick.


Andrea said...

Maybe sometimes us women have a harder time roughing things up. I wonder... is it some old-fashioned woman thing, to want to let go, to have someone else be the crazy one, the decisive one? Is it an excuse, an alter-ego?

Alison said...

Yeah, I think it's real. I've been that woman. I just think maybe we're better off if we learn some alternate ways to do it. Maybe getting some guy to do it for us is easier but more costly in the end...

Anonymous said...

"She is the most aggressive, curious, and willing to come inside and be tamed" - for a minute I thought you were discribing yourself?

And Alis-on and Trixie? Your man has quite a sense of humor!

Your huge lurking fan,

David Shearer said...

Trixie may be a "purrfect" name for such a cat. I don't know if you have studied the Deadwood character by the same name, but Trixie was definitely feral, and a true survivor. Heck, she was the "head whore" at the Gem Saloon! She had to be tough to survive working for Al Swearingen. But she also retained enough of her heart to eventually set up housekeeping with Sol Starr.

About winning Trixie over, if you're not a "cat person," it may take some time. Maybe a lot of time. I've been in the company of cats since I was adopted at 9 months of age. I can count myself among those fortunate ones who don't have to work too hard for a cat's respect. But even I can encounter one that plays hard to get for a little while if they are wild.

Really Alison, you can count yourself fortunate to have a male partner who can relate to cats. That bespeaks of a wise and loving soul. Good luck with the naming; I vote for "Trixie." It's got character!