Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Turn Around: Kenny Rogers And The First Edition: "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town"

She looks in the mirror, tousling her hair a little it, just to make sure it doesn't look too much like a helmet. She still does her hair, unlike those hippie girls; she's not one of them. She wears short skirts, sure, but everyone does by now; but she goes out wearing stockings and heels, not bare-legged with sandals. She is looking for a man - who he is, she's not sure yet, she'll know him when she sees him. She dresses this way once a week, doing her nails and powdering her face more regularly - he knows mainly by her hairdo where she is going. She has heard his protests before, is inured to them - but what is she supposed to do? Where is she supposed to go?

Her lipstick and nails match; her stockings are straight; she has chosen her necklace to go with her dress, and thence her earrings to go with all of that. She is young and needs attention - the kind of attention that he can't, or won't, give her any more. If only he understood. For him it's that he thinks she wants sex, but sex is only really part of it. There is so much that leads up to it, so much flirting and small talk and just the good feeling of being with someone who is paying attention to you. Doesn't he notice these romances don't really go anywhere? It's not like she has a lover, another man, in particular. And it's not like she does this every Saturday night, either, though lately...it's been that way.

It's familiar, this feeling. She feels as if she is two places at once. She knows she should be with him, that he really doesn't have long, and then she can do as she pleases. Perhaps she should stay home with him; she sees a vet on crutches going down the main road and has to stop and pause, because he's not alone - his woman's with him, and there they are, talking away, going to a movie or restaurant maybe. Sigh. It's his legs that make him want to stay home she thinks, and he can't really go anywhere in his wheelchair.

She pauses again and continues on, refusing to go back. She will sleep on it and resolve herself, give herself up for now, and quit acting like he doesn't exist. Like the war existed just to ruin their relationship, which was a good one. She will try to have a good time, though tonight her heart is in her mouth; that song is on the jukebox, the meanest one in town, but she will withstand its sting one more time, daring fate to give her a better man. If he turns up tonight, then that's that...if not, I'll live with him until he's gone. She is not one for giving up, but she cannot live without romance. Without that zing in the air, that fun. He's got to understand that, right?

He sits and waits. He's murderous; he's resigned - if she dies, then that will be on his conscience too. Doesn't she know he still loves her, still needs her around? Maybe tonight she'll change her mind, come back at a reasonable time, and not late and drunk. As long as she comes back early, he can stand it, just. One day he'll be dead and she'll be sorry, she's got to understand that. She is his soul; his living link to the rest of the world. Sure she can have fun, but he needs her far more than she can comprehend. Maybe tonight he'll tell her nicely, not get angry. Can he do that? He's tried before...he'll have to try again. There is nothing else he can do, and silently suffering is not for him. Neither is breaking up, there's no point.

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How hopeless they both are; how he said vs. she said are their views; how has this war and decade changed them both. The old world is slipping away, the madness of war has come into their own home. Both armed for battle, one way or another. She is silent, determined; he sounds older than his years, weary, vaguely threatening and scary. This is the anger of the decade bubbling up, a deathly decade that has to end. Maybe he will live longer than they said; maybe she will be faithful. Both will grow either tired of the same routine, or become like stone, unable to move, to grow, to evolve. Perhaps one day she will push him down the street, they will go out and begin to be a couple again. But that's for the spring, when it's warm enough and the flowers are out, the ones he once planted for her.

3 comments:

mintness said...

I threw your keys in the water, I looked back,
They'd frozen halfway down in the ice.
They froze up so quickly, the keys and their owners,
Even after the anger, it all turned silent, and
The everyday turned solitary,
So we came to February.

First we forgot where we'd planted those bulbs last year,
Then we forgot that we'd planted at all,
Then we forgot what plants are altogether,
and I blamed you for my freezing and forgetting and
The nights were long and cold and scary,
Can we live through February?

You know I think Christmas was a long red glare,
Shot up like a warning; we gave presents without cards,
And then the snow,
And then the snow came, we were always out shoveling,
And we'd drop to sleep exhausted,
Then we'd wake up, and its snowing.

And February was so long that it lasted into March
And found us walking a path alone together.
You stopped and pointed and you said, "That's a crocus,"
And I said, "What's a crocus?" and you said, "It's a flower,"
I tried to remember, but I said, "What's a flower?"
You said, "I still love you."

The leaves were turning as we drove to the hardware store,
My new lover made me keys to the house,
And when we got home, we just started chopping wood,
Because you never know how next year will be,
And we'll gather all our arms can carry,
I have lost to February.

Lena said...

Thanks for these lyrics - I didn't know them before but now I've got to track down the song - very much what I was thinking of, though I didn't know about it...

mintness said...

:) Dar can be very direct, almost to the point of bluntness - but there are times when that approach feels like the only right way.