It wasn’t to be admitted. Spreading from one admission to the next, slowly, slowly, it became apparent. It wasn’t a new thing. Nothing’s ever really new. This, though, was older, but not. All media stood back and watched but by the watching they were of the wrong time to understand or to have it. It, it, it. Would that it were so formless, unnameable. Simple malaise. A natural sense of loss. Well, perhaps. A sense of loss nonetheless. A sense of helplessness, of having been sold out, of not having ever been told the rules of engagement. Of there not being rules.
Anthony was loved. Adored. Loved and adored without knowing it. Actually, that’s not really true. It is conceivable that he did know. It is conceivable and more than likely that he was wilfully ignorant. On some base level he understood. On a dozen other levels he knew. Always chose to ignore it though. Typical, really, of the antipathy, of the malaise, of the certain knowledge that honour is obsolete. To acknowledge such a situation would implicitly require action. Action was too much the verb. A process that would require thought. One that might involve pain. One that would involve emotions. All of these to be avoided, always.
He was back at home. Living there in the interchange between lives. Home was probably the worst place he could be. There’s nothing quite like the love and care of parents. There’s nothing quite like their thousand stresses and unfulfilled dreams. There’s nothing to equal being the child when you’re past it but they’ve yet to notice. And they never really notice. Somehow, to them, you’re always fresh and new, small and feeble. You never quite grow up or, perhaps, they never quite grow up. Children stagnate their parents. Both parties know it. Neither admits it. And the atmosphere is always that little bit fraught. One can never love one’s parents enough; do enough for one’s parents, give enough to them. It’s the unforgivable debt. And then there are mothers. Twice as bad alone as with fathers. Worse if they’ve breastfed or conceived unplanned or given up anything. They never quite forgive. And if they were young, pretty, successful and feel they’ve lost those things to the children or the child or just to the evil of time, things become complex. The clichés were rife, the generation gap expanding exponentially as technology alienated children from parents and the loss of ideology, the baby-boomer’s gift, moved back with the boy. An atheist with no ideology, no great adherence to a philosophy - no idea of philosophy, really, the focus too narrow in education, be great at this one thing in contempt of all others, no belief in love or life, no poetry. Chemical addictions and chemical knowledge. The cold clinicality of the laboratory. A youth spent in latex. A youth of handwashing for hygiene, followed by latex, followed by handwashing. Inescapable latex, for work, for leisure and pleasure. Sex that was always wrapped and uptight. Would always be wrapped and uptight for the fear. Heaven forbid needing chemicals to relieve any but a psychological itch. Other, of course, than a purely pleasurable one. A mind-fucking one. A mind-fucking one in a world where it seemed that minds were the only thing getting a really good fuck anymore. And then a life all wrapped up. Unshared, for that was no longer the fashion. Not to say, of course, that there were no lovers, affairs, marriages, or relationships. There were, of course, relationships for those times between self-obsession and drug induced narcissism. A world of onanistic lovers. Naturally. A continual latex barrier. And plastic clothes that chafe and scrape and hold obscure shape and melt under the iron or in any terror attack.
So Anthony, plastic wrapped, head and belly full of chemical compounds and chemical reactions, at home with the mother and the father. A position almost unique enough to matter. And the mother and the father with their home reinvaded, the plastic hastily reapplied to the furniture, and all signs of fun and personality once more shelved for the prodigal. As if, in his absence, they’d developed some after so many years. It was a pity he’d had to go home. He was at a time in his life where he most needed love. Love with limited conditions, should such a thing exist. He needed mother-love where there could be none and no way to access any after falling into the parental lap. Love needs some distance. After a certain stage love requires neither the presence nor the thought of nappies. Hence distance. And lovers over parents. The possibility of love without mutual hygiene. Love without crap. Unfortunately, mother-love is the love of a mother with a very good nanny. Much like the love of a mistress over that of a wife. Not the little lord’s privilege.
Home and wrapped tight. Home and uptight. How could they love and not notice. How could they love and not comment. Did they love at all or was this where he’d learnt the wasteland of care. Imagine a family where the members cared - passionlessly. How could it be. How would it be. Not a family full of love, passion, jealousy and gossip. A family without the bitchiness but with undertones. Nasty ones. A family where everyone is ‘nice’ to each other. A house where all is done in an orderly fashion. A house where the children’s arguments don’t crack their parents’ reserve. There was nothing to crack that reserve, it was all care and ‘I care’ without ever the addition of a you. It was so far from love and any kind of emotional turmoil. So far from anything that was dirty. And life, oh life is inherently dirty.
She always said she’d fallen in love with him and what a shock it had been. It wasn’t though, not really. She was human, animalistic, monkey and she wanted to corrupt the clean little god in his clinical little world. She wanted to bring him the chaos of her world. The dirt, the emotional confusion, the admissions of hopelessness and loss, the passionate response to all those things that made her so helpless. She wanted to know he bled; that he was human. She wanted to smell him, sexy and masculine, under soap and baby blue pyjamas. And he always smelled so good. And she wanted to see if he’d taste as young and vulnerable and boyish as he smelled. All she managed was to bring dirt and muss and fuss into his domain for the smallest of times. To leave corrupting words and thoughts lurking in his mind. To bring sex, alcohol, and herself together in his mind. And confuse him like nothing else. All the things he didn’t want, or claimed not to, made him call her all drunken and confused and still unable to ask for sex. Giving hints that both were too clever not to notice. Date rape? Long island ice tea? And he’s saying that he’s drunk enough to fuck. He’s saying that he’s drunk enough to fuck her. She’s too clever not to understand what that means. There was never another chance; that was it. He was so afraid of being hurt that he always offered a chance, never more than one. He was so afraid that she never knew about her chances till she’d blown them and he could gloat that all had worked out as he’d thought. He never wanted it to work. He lied about the chance. He’d loaded, always, in the favour of fear.
After the last time it became apparent that his intention was never to see her again. He’d talk, a little, to appease his conscience. His plan was to leave town without ever seeing her again. Ever. Such a long time. That was the kind of thing she thought about. That ever was a big word, a lot of meaning. That forever was a possibility. It was the kind of thing that scared her. And she was torn. He told her where he was going, he somehow found it necessary. Not ‘I’ll be elsewhere next year, living elsewhere’, not ‘I’ve got a job out of town, shan’t be back for fuck knows how long’. He had to say it, name the place, ensure she knew. Why though? So she could follow him. So she knew. So she’d think about it late at night all alone and alone in her bed. So he’d know she was thinking about it. He couldn’t love her, possibly couldn’t love. He didn’t want her but he needed for her to still want him. To know where he was. To know he was out of reach in every possible way.
Ego. Always ego. If it’s horrorshow to have someone in love with you, someone you don’t want, what is it to lead them on for the sake of ego? Human. Of course human. Cruel and nasty and inhumane. Nasty. Nasty is how he described her acts. Nasty is how he described her thoughts, her words. Nasty. Another of those common overused meaningless words. Another that should be culled left on the shelf for a century or two before resuscitation - if it’s needed so badly in the lexicon. She was nasty and dirty because of what he thought she’d done, because of some of the things she had done. She felt dirty too - when he mentioned it. And he would mention it. Repeatedly. Evidently not one to let sleeping bitches lie. At three in the morning, drunk, he’d mention her behaviour. The next day he’d be too embarrassed to talk about it, to admit to it. She’d call him a typical boy. Never to his face. Oh how they hate that - boy. They always think they’re men. Men because they’ve had sex, however bad, however infrequently. Men because they thought they were all grown up. Well, pretty much anyway. Mostly, it seemed doubtful that they ever really grew up. Women have been accused of hiding in marriage and never growing up, never taking responsibility for themselves. Must be men who do the accusing because they never seem to notice how they don’t have to look after themselves, not really. They can hide behind wives. Allow decisions to be made for them and then bitch about it later. Allow their wives to take over all manner of communication. Men don’t do that. Or, maybe, men do and boys don’t. Boys/men have their wives take over their families. It becomes her responsibility to care about family things like birthdays and Christmases. Sending cards and the photographs of holidays and babies. Making sure child and parent meet or even talk occasionally. Not often. It doesn’t need to be often. Enough to appease the mother-in-law, that’s all. That’s what we’ve been taught, en masse, the gentle art of ingratiation. How to manipulate other women. Ever so much more important than men. Men are still fooled and horrified by tears. They still cringe at menstruation, unless they’ve too many sisters or have had daughters by the handful. And virgins are always horrified by tampons. Virginity. Now there’s an opening. Several of her friends had wondered, loudly, if his problem could be that he was a virgin. Perhaps just frigid. Is anyone really frigid these days? It’s such an old-fashioned term. Such a strange thing to be when sex is everywhere. Though, from another angle, perhaps it’s the new sex. Frigidity, sexual unresponsiveness - based in fear. Fear of doing it Marilyn, fear of disease, fear of laughter.
Lord Anthony was frigid. According to the OED and his least favourite amateur analyst, anyway. In personality if not in sexuality. Though probably in sexuality as well. He might well have been a virgin because of it. The cleanliness thing, the non-touching, the general lack of an affectionate nature. The Chernobyl walls around his core persona. The chameleon effect, such a markedly different person in company of the boys as to when her companion alone. So different around other men. Other boys. And more so around women. Probably a woman’s man rather than a man’s. He seemed to find men too be more exhausting, more of an effort. It’s always interesting how such things work.