Thursday, June 9, 2016

Poe Poe Pitiful Me

One of the most revered forms of American literature is the horror story. Several of my European friends are confused by the appeal of Ambrose Bierce, or HP Lovecraft, or the amazing EA Poe. I don’t know if Poe is my favorite, but each of his stories resonates with a terror I have built from unremembered incidents mortared with free-floating anxiety.

Last night I went to a lovely interpretation of several of Poe’s stories presented by a local theater production group called Meat & Potato Theater. The production was called “con·temp·POE·rar·y” and included songs composed from the plot of some of his stories as well as a puppet interpretation of the pit and pendulum. It was innovative and interesting.

The biggest reason I went was that Beatrice had broken the ghosting and asked me to go. I went knowing it was an emotional ambush. She had sent me a couple hate-filled emails that mentioned a dozen convoluted insults she had received over the course of our years-long relationship that had come to an abrupt confusing halt that-wasn't-really-an-end-or-something over the course of two face-to-face meetings spaced over two weeks. The final “fight-or-meeting” involved us declaring our love for each other while crying and feeling like crap. That’s not even a fight; is it?

In Poe’s “A Cask of Amontillado” the protagonist lures an unsuspecting victim who was guilty of some insult into a dark and malodorous trap by offering him something that he would be irresistibly drawn to taste. In Poe’s story the lure is a cask of sherry. The lure of the possibility of some emotional connection to Beatrice would prove irresistible to me, but any one of you, my readers, would know that as well as Beatrice and her conspirators; I am an easy mark when tempted by love.  

“This is a very good joke, indeed. Many times will we laugh about it” EA Poe (cask of Amontillado)

Whatever our last icky interaction was the follow up was week-after-week of ghosting followed -just yesterday- by a couple emails dripping with hate, but including a strange invitation to rebuild something from the starting point of “friends” at the end. I, of course, jumped on this apparent invitation as if I could not help myself. I could watch myself putting out vulnerable feelers, and getting partial assurances in return. Beatrice suggested this play as a place to meet. There was a little too much serendipity in the choice. She was an event organizer for a “Queer Friends” (QF) meetup group event to see the play, and I had a ticket from an aborted date that ended weeks before it had taken place. I had applied to be in QF quite a while earlier, and the organizer had sat on my application till shortly before this event. QF is a small 600 person Salt Lake City social meetup group for people in or connected to the LGBTQ spectrum, and is the dating group for the inner circle of event organizers, like Beatrice.

In Poe’s story “The Pit and The Pendulum” the protagonist explores a strange pitch-black cell by feel. He attempts to discern the dimensions of the cell in the absence of any visual information. He creates a reference point, and uses familiar methods of determining distance. Instead of fully realizing the nature of his pitch-black surroundings these familiar groundings only reveal the horror of a slime covered dungeon room with a deep pit in the center populated by huge rats. The clever and familiar methods only help to underscore the depth of the terror.

“Listen! Listen, and I will tell you how it happened. You will see, you will hear how healthy my mind is” EA Poe (The Tell-Tale Heart)

I only asked Beatrice to be gentle with my feelings. I did not want to be the third wheel in some PDA festooned date she was having with someone else. She acknowledged the request, but didn't specifically agree to it; I was specific though: “I will not go if this is a date night with you and someone else”.

In The Murders of the Roux Morgue Poe creates a protagonist whose reasoned investigation reveals more horrific and bizarre information as it progresses towards its fantastical final discovery. The lack of information provides clues to the investigator as often as the presence of bizarre evidence. Even as the case inexorably turns somewhat bizarre it does not give away the final bizarre twist.

Beatrice stopped communicating with me before the play. She knew the window it would take for me to get from work to the play would probably be 3 hours since I would need to change. During this window the woman I thought she might be on a date with RSVP’ed for the play; I knew this because the commute went early and I had a bit of time to log on to see if Beatrice had warned me of an impending date. She had not warned me; nothing from Beatrice.

“His results, brought about by the very soul and essence of method, have, in truth, the whole air of intuition.” EA Poe (Murders at the roux morgue)

I knew the play was going to be an emotional ambush. The cruelty and vindictiveness needed for that sort of low-blow attack was mirrored in the hateful speech of the emails. One of the features of the emails was a switch in tone like Beatrice was trying to put in more barbed phraseology suggested by others. She accused me of contradictory offenses, and suggested that some behaviors were the normal actions that illuminated the degree of abnormal activity for one offense just before using them as indicators of mental insufficiency in another.

If she wanted an ambush so bad I would give her a victim. It was just an evening. If she needed emotional blood I would bleed for her; silent and stoic. My vanpool riders were amazed that I would go with what I suspected was going to happen. I felt embolden. I was looking and feeling strong. I had a few notches I could be taken down.

I had the Barista at Starbucks take my photo so I could have proof that I was smiling as I prepared to go to the ambush

I arrived at the theater right on time. For a second I felt dread as I approached the large glass windows fronting the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center building.

“There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart—an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime.” EA Poe (Fall of the house of Usher)

I got a nod of recognition when I sat down on the far right hand side of the row of QF. There were two people sitting between myself and Beatrice. The woman I recognized as her probable date sat on the other side of her. I said hello to the woman who I had met at a previous event sitting next to Beatrice on my side, but she was strangely dismissive of my hello. Beatrice and her date barely acknowledged me. When the play began Beatrice and her date began stroking each other’s thighs, and holding hands when that got too hot.

At the intermission the two women on either side of Beatrice went to the bathroom, and Beatrice feigned a distanced hello to see if the PDA was working. I tried to provide a heartbroken smile to justify her subterfuge that got me there for the hurt.

The second act began with the woman sitting next to Beatrice on my side snuggling into her so aggressively that it had the lesbian couple sitting behind them sniggering in slight disapproval. I was in awe at just how terrific this ambush was. I was ambushed by a threesome of over-the-top PDA. Right now they are assuredly having much more fun exploring the possibilities of that affection than I am writing this post.

I thanked them as I left, and walked with a strange energy to my step back to my car.

“And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired.” EA Poe (The Masque of the red death)


Anonymous said...

Wow that's harsh. I guess I was wrong about you two getting back togather.

- Jim C.

adult onset atheist said...


You were not alone in that assessment. About a dozen folks I know in a corporeal reality than blog comments insisted that getting back together was the case. However, these assessments were based solely on the strength of my emotions, and were not consistent with what I knew of the reality. They were all said with a desire for optimism to take a little hurt with it, and in the end did not really add much hurt back because of their wildly incorrect predictions.

In short I appreciate it when people think nice things about me. Even if they are delusional like you Jim.



Anonymous said...

What the hell are you doing Steve! This is bullcrap! You deserve to treat yourself better than this! The world is full of stupid little cumstains of human waste can’t think of any better future for themselves than to be older versions of the bullies they wanted to be in high school, but there is only one Sparker. How could you let yourself go knowing that it was this kind of evil immature ambush! These kind of mean twats will not even admit that they did anything wrong. They will be all “we were just doing our own thing” and bullcrap their thing is hurting people and trying to feel important because they can. Read what Mark wrote on the FaceBook page. “Feelings Matter”. Your feelings are very special and they matter a whole lot. They matter to me, and I never want to hear that you are disrespecting their health like this again. You loved me once and it was wonderful. You were also pretty good in bed but that was a long time ago. How could you take the sisters and brothers of your wonderful love and knowingly let them get hurt them so bad! I want to come over to your house and kick your ass!

adult onset atheist said...

The coolest thing about your comment is that I’m not sure who you are; some mystery lover out of my distant past rising up to protect my self esteem. I am flattered and touched and… just… thank you!

However, my fist thoughts on reading your comment were: “you want to come over to MT house and kick my ass? I’m in pretty good shape these days… so BRING IT!”. My second thoughts involved how lovely it would be to create a fresh data set to compare how good bedding me would be with your memories of the past.

So, if you are going to observe immature behavior you could probably see a lot of it in me.

The parallels you allude to between Beatrice and her conspirators and high school mentality histrionics really struck me. AYD just graduated from High School a few days ago and so I have this fresh parent’s-eye view of high school social cliqueing. Interestingly the high school interactions also have a lot in common with personality cults. I think the lack of prioritization of individual personal identity for acceptance and status in the group might be a factor in this interaction. Beatrice leveraged her access to my trust and interest to create a display of her devotion to the queen bee in a situation where it would have significant emotional impact on the audience. Only in the maturity impaired would trust be worth the cost of a few hours spectacle.

I really do prefer it if people do not post my name in the comments. If you want to tell me who you are please PM me in FaceBook or something. I am dying to know who you are, and at the same time I am really enjoying not knowing.

Thanks! A lot!