A day dedicated to relationships gives us cause to reflect (whether we want to or not). Today is a day we reflect on past relationships, evaluate current relationships, and ponder the viability of future relationships. Today is also a day bound up with wishes.
We can’t help but wish for a thing or two on a day like today (we may not want to admit it, but we do). We may wish that a past relationship went in a different direction or maybe could be erased from history. Maybe we wish a current relationship could be something different (today is an awful day to be “just friends” with somebody). Finally, we may wish we could shake that Magic 8 Ball and see what our current relationship status will be with that special someone.
Valentine’s may be a day of chocolates, roses, and fancy dinners but it is also a day of wishes. Wishes are not bad things, but like most things they can be dangerous. Work toward fulfilling your wishes, but don’t let those wishes become your master.
What is your relationship success rate? If you’ve experienced the end of a relationship (one that wasn’t ended by you), then Suicide Blonde and The End of the Affair may cover some familiar ground. If you’ve never been in a relationship that ended poorly, then these books can give you insight into the lives of the rest of us. The narrators of these books offer views of the end of their relationships (don’t consider that a spoiler if you haven’t paid attention to the titles of the books).
These books, written 40 years apart, address desire, jealousy, love, and how all three overlap in a relationship. From the first to the last sentences (the first and last sentences of both books are quite memorable) we are privy to the relationship woes of Jesse from Suicide Blonde and Bendrix from The End of the Affair. Darcy Steinke and Graham Greene draw us in with believable characters we may not like at times but can definitely empathize with.
Not every relationship has a happy ending. Suicide Blonde and The End of the Affair are stories of two not so happy endings. Steinke and Greene show us some relationships are tragic, but tragedy is part of life, as are relationships.
1. “My Good Gal”–Old Crow Medicine Show
2. “Delia’s Gone”–Johnny Cash
3. “Murder My Baby”–Cedell Davis
4. “Killing Him”–Amy LaVere
5. “Hey Joe”–Jimi Hendrix
6. “Sweet Blood Call” Louisiana Red
7. “Love & Mumbly Peg”–Samuel James
8. “Blood on the Bible”–Fat Man Squeeze
9. “’97 Bonnie & Clyde”–Tori Amos
10. “Pretty Little One” Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell
February has arrived with its vast array of candies, roses, teddy bears, and other romantic gestures in various shades of pink. Whether you are in a relationship, seeking a relationship, or are advocate of the anti-relationship you can’t approach this month without a plan. Now is the time to prepare yourself for Cupid’s arrival.
You may believe in love or you may not, but February is dedicated to love and relationships. What better way to address all those physical manifestations of love crowding the shelves of the local big box than by making something of your own? You can call it a shrine or an altar. You may decide to carry a talisman or a charm. You may make it as an offering for love or as a plea to keep love at bay. The important thing is that you are prepared.
February, the month of love, is here. Are you prepared to welcome Cupid’s arrow (or maybe you’re planning on shooting the sum bitch first)? Remember, this is a leap year so you have an extra day to wonder and worry about relationships.
January is about to make its last call. How about one more round before they close up the first month of 2020? I hope that you got off to a solid start this year. I mentioned setting realistic goals earlier this month. I’m moving toward mine, how about you?
I discussed the importance of place and having a point to your drinking this month. I stopped off at one of my favorite diners tonight, and I picked up a six pack of Abita at the corner package store. A good meal and a few Louisiana beers always go well with a Walker Percy novel. I hope you have a “clean, well-lighted place” of your own to frequent this year. If you decide to have one more round or two this month I hope you do it with point and purpose in mind. Place, point, and purpose can all help you achieve your goals.
Well, it’s last call for me (I just popped the top of my last Abita). If you are out there with a glass or bottle of your own, cheers. Keep moving toward your goals and don’t be too critical of yourself if you stumble from time to time.
What’s your favorite place to hang out? Is it a café, a coffee shop, or a corner bar? Regardless of your libation of choice it is important to have a place that you feel comfortable spending time at. Ernest Hemingway’s short story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” stresses the importance of having a place to spend your personal time.
“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” is a study of the three stages of life through an existential lens. You’ll get no argument or questions from me regarding that analysis of the story. But Hemingway also presents the reader with an explicit message regarding the importance of having a place one can feel comfortable spending time at that is not his home. One of the characters, an older waiter says, “…there may be someone who needs the café.” This comment follows an exchange between two waiters who agree that drinking a bottle of alcohol at home is not the same as drinking at a café. There is some special quality the cafe can offer that home cannot. The story ends with the older waiter heading home after failing to find a place that that meets his requirements of clean and pleasant.
Hemingway’s story shows us the importance of these special places in our lives (mine is a local bar). The implication is that sometimes a home away from home, a special place or hang out, is necessary for any number of personal reasons. We may outgrow security blankets but we still look for comfort, and that comfort can come in finding a special place to hang out, to call our own (even if we share it with others).
“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” is an existential study of growing old if you use Hemingway’s iceberg theory. Sometimes you just need forget about what’s under the water and look at the iceberg itself and see what is explicitly conveyed in a story. Whether it is a café, a coffee shop, or a corner bar there is something comforting about having your own place to hang out. When you are drinking that next cup of coffee or pint of stout think about Hemingway’s idea of the importance of a clean and pleasant place.
“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” from The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway