How is that when you lose someone you loved, whether it be through death or the break-up of a relationship, you always glorify the past? I suppose that’s a good thing when it comes to death – it’s the mind’s auto-mechanism of softening the pain. After all, when someone you loved has moved on to the Land of No Return, then it’s obvious that you want to remember the best about them, rather than dwelling on that thing you wish you’d never said, or flinching under the posthumous pain of something harsh they’d said. Far better to filter out all those less savoury bits, and only concentrate on the big, the good and the beautiful. Right?
Okay, so that applies to death. But what about when the guilty party is still alive and kicking? Why is that whenever you try to convince yourself that the break-up was for the best, and everyone else is likewise trying to convince you of the very same thing, all you can do is remember the dizzying highlights of the absconded person? You know, all those things you so loved about him. Yes, I’m afraid Errant Hubby is back. Not in my life, just in my blog. The Absent Philosopher strikes again! Yep, he’s back in my thoughts, back from the greener grass of the other side.
Ah, the memory of his rugged face, when his sexy blue eyes penetrated mine in a way that made me long for more than mere eye penetration! The thrill from his wicked sense of humour, which really was wicked at times. The sharpness of his irony, the cunning aim of his barbed comments, the scary knowledge of literature and politics and current affairs and history and philosophy – a knowledge that made me quake in inferiority whenever in his presence. How is it that all these sexy things – at least sexy way back then, in the heady days of early love – have suddenly become desirable all over again, when I thought that desire had emigrated to another planet? How is it that the acute memory of all that passion and intimidation – the very same things that later on became downright exhausting – now makes me want to bargain with the Deaf and Blind Watchmaker to let me have my arrogant darling back? Even though I don’t want him back. Life with him was way too exhausting! Too negative. Too everything, except happy in recent years. So why does Life play cruel tricks on the mind, redirecting all thoughts down a mistaken road that should have remained buried in the past, rather than resurrected as an erroneous memory of the past, only to cause yet more pain?
So let’s have a detour into that specious past. That tense which has now become hallowed by name. Not that the Past Tense exists, according to Errant Hubby, who way back then, in the mists of our time, was just Loverboy. And also first-rate director of an English language school, having decided to put all his philosophy skills into the esoteric beauty of the English language, and duly impart his divine knowledge on anyone who came within half a metre of his divine presence.
‘What d’you mean, future tense?’ I remember him once challenging some poor unsuspecting teacher from a rival language school, late one winter’s night in a smoky, candlelit tavern of long ago.
‘Well, you know,” Mr Unsuspecting replied a tad nervously. “As in the ‘will’ tense.’
Loverboy’s moustache twitched. A dreaded Zen moment ignited his scary blue eyes.
‘Will tense? Did I hear you say will tense?’
‘Well, you know – ’
‘You mean as in: “Give me a ring when you will get back home?” ’
‘So tell me,’ Loverboy duelled on. “How many tenses are there in the English language? Mmm?’
Mr Unsuspecting took a deep breath. So did everyone else, me included. ‘Well …’ The condemned teacher blinked at his breath-bated audience. ‘Er … there’s the present simple, the present continuous, the present perfect, er …’
Loverboy made a big show of ticking off all the tenses on his bony fingers while he listened in mock rapture.
‘Er … the past simple, past continuous, past perfect … and … the future tense. Seven altogether.’
‘Sure you haven’t forgotten any?’
‘No … I don’t think so.’ Panic seeped from the pores of the poor guy’s face.
Loverboy started rolling a cigarette. Very slowly. He glanced at one of the teachers from his own language school, sitting on his left.
‘How many tenses?’
‘Two,’ his loyal employee happily stated.
Loverboy nodded. His Irish moustached twitched in triumph. Then he turned back to Mr Unsuspecting. ‘Where did you say you got your degree from? Wasn’t it the Pedagogical Institute of Standards in Semantics – better known as the PISS?’
Ah, memories! The cruel mechanisms of the mind! That very conversation, now recalled so fondly, made me quake in my high-heeled boots at the time, for fear of a fight breaking out and my lover being assassinated on the spot. So why does its memory now re-ignite embers of foolish longing, resurrected desire? There should be an eleventh commandment that shouts out: Thou shalt not remember the past erroneously!
Anyway, that was then. In the beginning. When there was light.
Now there is darkness. Apart from the gleaming green grass of yesteryear, which still grows and grows and grows. It’s about time I got a bloody lawnmower.