by Lyle Lofgren
September 12, 1992

Liz was in the shopping mall when she ran into C, an acquaintance who's about 40 years old. C,the Ancient Mariner in disguise, took 2 hours to tell Liz of her parents' marital problems. It seems that, even though all the family members attend church regularly, C's father is chummy with a prostitute named Dee, hereafter called "D." C's mother, M, was out shopping and called home to talk to C's father, F. When F answered the phone, M, on an impulse, didn't say anything.

"D? Is that you, D? I've been looking all over for you," said F, much to M's consternation.

So M knew that F was involved in a relationship with D, but she didn't know who D was, so she confided in C. C hired a private eye, who got right on the case, giving C her money's worth of P.I. lingo by reporting that D has "a rap sheet as long as your arm." (I didn't think that line had been used since they buried Bogart.) The P.I. reported that the arrests were for common prostitution. Liz opined that M should be worried about AIDS, but C said not to worry, because M and F have not coupled in years. But if M isn't interested in F sexually, she's now interested in F's sexuality. C and M follow him around, note what video tapes he rents, then go to the store and rent the same ones. This typically involves watching X-rated videos of females masturbating. C and M don't find the videos as interesting as F does, but then they probably don't find D as fascinating, either.

This would be just another TDF (Tawdry Dysfunctional Family) story, except for the part where C and M want to know all the details. That makes it worth exploring: F chases after D while C and M can't avert their gaze.

What I find interesting about this story from a literary viewpoint is the large number of perversions in a small story:

--Sexual perversion, religious style: sexless marriage.
--Sexual perversion, commercial style: prostitution.
--Communication perversion, electronic style: calling, but not speaking on the phone.
--Communication perversion, commercial style: hiring the private investigator.
--Sexual perversion, commercial style: F rents X-rated videos.
--Sexual perversion, religious style: C and M rent the same videos as F.

As the hawkers of magic potato peelers enthuse at the state fair, "Wait! There's More!" Before the episodes described above, C was concerned about her daughter, H, who, though in her 20s, behaves like a 12-year old. H has a boy friend, and C reported that they are "sexually active" (oh, to be 20 and active again). H won't listen to C's advice about relationships, so she asked F to talk to his granddaughter about how women should expect to be treated by men. F didn't say anything to H on the subject, thus avoiding a potential perversion:

--Sexual perversion, gender style: having a male try to talk sexual sense to a female.

But later, in a role reversal, H confronted F with all the details of his transgressions and asked, "Grandpa, why did you do it?" F wanted to know how H knew. "Because I saw the rap sheet and the videos," said H. F said he had only bailed D out of jail as a favor to a friend.

The only trouble is, he used a home improvement loan to get the bail money. That's a clear one:
--Financial perversion, microeconomic style: diversion of a home improvement loan.

F had inherited $30,000, but now it's all gone, along with the home improvement loan. M also has $30,000 that she has painfully saved over the years. She has been to lawyers who tell her that, under Minnesota's no-fault divorce procedures, F will get half that money. M is furious about this, and is trying to find a way to get a divorce and still keep all the money. She's so furious and bent on revenge that C is afraid that M will get a gun and carry out a Texas Divorce. Our final perversion is certainly the worst:

--Sexual/financial/homicidal perversion, wronged spouse style: revenge.

Just like Aesop, I arrived at a moral for this story: all our wounds are self-inflicted.