Saturday, September 1, 2012

"He wanted to say 'vulva' but that wasn't it..."

Harold, nearly 70 years old, is very tired and discouraged.  He had reached a point where he was too tired, bored and numb to think.  When he did try, he found he had difficulty in getting a word he wanted to come to mind.  He hadn't seen his wife for a long time.  When he had begun this odd walk, they had been carrying many layers of obsolete marital junk, tension, and animosity between them.  But in the last few days, the refreshment of a very tough undertaking had begun to show both the man and the woman how much they cared for each other.  How much they treasured each other.  

We know as listeners or readers that both partners are pining for each other's presence and approval.  But each thinks they are even more estranged now because of things each perceives as "errors" or "mistakes".  Harold is walking along on his interminable hike and has almost reached the point of being delerious from fatigue and stress.  He is feeling sorry for himself, totally alone and abandoned and unloved.  He thinks to himself, "Life has no meaning without..." The next words are the title of this post: "he wanted to say 'vulva' but that wasn't it."  

The author, Rachel Joyce, is a young married woman with several children who really is an arresting writer.  I'm not sure what the heck made her come up with that line but as a male, I think it is brilliant.  I wouldn't be surprised if the male reliance on both the image and presence of the female genitalia is somewhat opaque to many women.  But in this male's experience, finishing his thought with that V word is not such a bad idea.  

Friendship, love, support and admiration between males is an everyday fact, whether hetero or homo.  But for many adult males, especially younger ones, life can and does feel deprived of meaning without the company of women.  As I have mentioned before, the military historian John Keegan wrote in "The Face of Battle", that generals since ancient times have wanted women well away from the battlefield.  They found that sometimes a glance at a woman would persuade the troops to drop their weapons and turn to peaceful domesticity to be with her or someone like her.  If you haven't seen the movie Joyeux Noel, you can see a beautiful and moving example there.

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