Some people hide their true natures from others as a way of sneaking their faults under the radar until it's too late. They go out on dates and order mineral water, instead of their usual six or eight cocktails. They turn down reefer at parties, when they usually smoke a gram every couple of days. Ladies, be careful. That ardent lover that you're considering marrying may turn out to be a selfish and lazy lover after the honeymoon. Look for the signs, ask around. I don't know how you discover the truth. I ain't no Dick Tracy. But try.
Some men, like me, are the opposite. In fact, I tend to broadcast my true nature, my likes and dislikes, very early in any budding relationship, whether potentially a friendship or a love interest. I have abandonment issues, and one way of avoiding abandonment is to clear the air right away so that there are no surprises. If there's something about me that you don't like, I won't be keeping it a secret. Better that you know these things right away. The sooner you skate, the better it will be for both of us. I'm not here to waste anybody's time.
I kept no secrets from the woman who became my first wife, that's for sure. She married me anyway. Much to her eventual chagrin. If you have any questions about our divorce, don't ask me. I never understood why she loved me, and I have certainly never understood exactly why she kicked me out. But honestly, can't we agree on this? It would have been better if she had stopped returning my calls after the first few months. Better than kicking me out after we had raised two children together, and we were both already on Medicare.
Surely, she saw the signs. I was totally indifferent to making a living. In fact, my favorite form of employment was unemployment. I was a bundle of nerves, a hive of anxiety, and deeply angry and depressed. I drank alcohol every day, and I preferred to sleep very late. Along with my friends, I bought my share of everything that we could get our hands on. My friends and I enjoyed it all together, on a very regular basis. I hated school, although I was a voracious reader of unassigned materials. I hated conformity, authority, work, society, my parents, politics, and myself.
Even my positives were annoying. I was a serious, motivated movie fan when we began to date. No, I was a serous fan of cinema, that's it! Cinema! World cinema! I'm still a fan, but for about ten years there I was crazy on the subject. I went to see films two or three times every week, either alone or with a friend. The Italian Neo-Realists; the French New Wave; silent films; Bergman; Fellini; screwball comedies; and, perhaps especially, Japanese movies. Art houses, museums, re-run theaters, the tiny Japanese-only theater west of Broadway in the high-40s, wherever the good stuff was being shown cheap. I guess I did begin by taking my then girlfriend to sure things, like “Blazing Saddles,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” or maybe Marx Brothers' movies. Who doesn't love the Marx Brothers? But I went too far very quickly.
We went to see a triple feature one time. Was it at the old New Yorker theater uptown? Yes, it was. The first movie was “Un Chien Andalou,” by Luis Bunuel, credited, I believe, to Bunuel and Salvatore Dali. That film was, let's say, experimental. Surrealism on the movie screen. I was spellbound, so I didn't notice that she was less than thrilled.
The next feature was, “The Night of the Living Dead,” the original, about a year after its first release. Again, I was fascinated. Not just to be watching the movie, but to consider how one very talented man could have put that movie together for almost no money, obviously having to spoon-feed all of the (probably) amateur actors all of their lines and stage direction. It was a real triumph of the will. The will of one man, “I'm going to make a feature film, damn it!” My future wife was unimpressed. No, that's not true. She totally hated it.
Bear in mind that the theater was crowded with very respectful cinephiles. It was the times.
The third movie was Ingmar Bergman's, “Hour of the Wolf,” which, to be fair, can seem a bit obscure to the uninitiated. Again, I was too wrapped up in the movie to notice that my girlfriend was grinding her teeth, sitting there like an unexploded bomb, with her arms tightly folded and her chin making a mark on her pretty breastbone.
“That's the last time I let you pick the movie!”
If you had asked me, at the time, to make a list of everything that I loved about her, I could have filled pages. If you had asked her to do the same thing about me, she might have sat there for five or ten minutes with a furrowed brow, chewing on the pencil. The nicest thing that she ever said to me was, “at least you're not boring.”
In light of subsequent events, she might have added, “. . . yet.”