Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this as my new bosses sometimes read my blog, but I do suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is a terrible affliction in which sometimes I do get terrible diarrhea that I cannot control. It is so bad, in fact, that not too long ago I couldn’t make it to the men’s room as I rushed through my favorite grocery store. I promised you, my readers, that I would be as honest about my life so, if somebody suffers from similar problems, they wouldn’t feel so alone. I literally released my bowels, against my will, into my own pants. In the men’s room, I cleaned up as best I could, but I ended up rushing out of the men’s room smelling like a septic tank and drove home sitting in my own cold diarrhea. It took an enormous toll on my ego, and I’m still not completely recovered.
So, when I do work, I try to make something healthy, a more normal meal than I often make for myself, with actual vegetables and nutritious ingredients. The hopes, of course, is to curb my bowels between bathroom breaks, and so far it seems to be working well.
Seafood us usually a good choice on working days, as long as it’s not in a cream bases like Alfredo. Tonight, as I write this, my seafood meal of choice is garlic buttered scallops. I’ll throw in some spinach, served over noodles, and it should be delicious and nutritious. But it also has me thinking about my ex-wife.
See, she loved my buttered scallops. Her (first) ex-husband took the boys for a long weekend every other week, and it was not uncommon that I would take over the cooking duties to make something special to spoil her. Believe it or not, I’m actually a pretty good cook. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as I’m pushing sixty and have been alone most of my life. When you’ve lived alone as long as I have, you either learn how to cook, or you die.
There were a few of my dishes that my ex-wife absolutely loved. My buttered scallops was one of them, as was my steak sandwich. We bought a quarter of a cow, and had some flank steak packages, a very tough cut of meat, so I would slice it thin, and cook it with onions, green peppers, mushrooms, spices and Swiss cheese, served on a bun in a recipe inspired by the steak sandwiches you can get from street vendors in New York City.
As I’m preparing to make these scallops, I can’t help but wonder if she ever thinks about these little “perks” of our marriage, and if she ever misses them. I would write love letters to her, by hand in calligraphy at a rate of about three every two weeks. As rare as it is to find anybody who still hand-writes letters, it’s pretty much a sure bet that she’s never found another man who does this for her. I can’t help but wonder if she kept those letters, or if she ever reads them, and what she thinks about them today. I wonder if she’s ever found a man willing to cook for her, help with the laundry, or do other of those little things around the house.
Tonight, at a reasonable dinner time, I’ll be enjoying garlic buttered scallops. I find it difficult to cook for just one, so no doubt there will be enough left for a second meal as well, a serving that originally would have gone to her. Instead, it’ll be wrapped in cellophane and stored overnight in the refrigerator. It won’t be as good tomorrow, but again, it’ll make me think of her.
Sometimes, a friend will ask me if I still love my wife. I honestly don’t know how to respond to this. I can tell you that I love who she was, and I’ll always miss her, but the reality is that with her drinking problem, the woman I divorced was not the same woman that I married. I do miss the woman I married, but do not know the woman I divorced. So, do I love her? I guess a part of me always will, and it will always hurt, like a hole burned into my soul. But I’m not sure that I feel like I’m a divorcee so much as I am a widower. The sweet woman I married was murdered by the alcoholic I divorced. Maybe, someday, that sweet woman will return if she can ever get herself clean again, but I do have my doubts.