When unconditional love fades, it doesn’t melt away like the Wicked Witch after she is splashed with a bucket of water. It happens slower, in a more painful way. Like the drip drip drip of Chinese water torture.
I was in the laundromat. It was Saturday night. It was quiet except for the sound of the the dryers. There was one other customer. He was about 60. Joe introduced himself. He said he played the mandolin, and gave me his card. He lived in some trailer park.
“You mind if I change the channel?” he asked.
I shrugged. In the right corner of the laundromat was a small TV that was playing the Dodger game. The Dodgers were losing. Joe turned the channel to one of those “America’s Funniest Home Video” rip-offs. I hate these shows. I don’t find kids falling into mud or dogs biting their own tails funny. Ever. And I consider myself to have a sense of humor. Since when is pain, shown out of context, funny?
On the TV, a ram was butting his head into a children’s swing set. The bench swung in an arc and then hit the ram back in the head. The ram showed no fear. He pushed to the other side of the swing set, and then rammed his way from the opposite side. He banged his head a second time. He was relentless. He attacked the swing set over and over again, each time with the same result. I know rams do this naturally, but I was worrying about the animal’s health. Was he damaging his brain? Was he trying to forget about something? About someone? Was he in and out of love?
The onscreen audience was laughing and cheering. Joe was cracking up.
“Are you watching this? Man oh man, this is hilarious!”
I went to fold my laundry. This stubborn ram doing stupid things to himself was not funny, even if he was deceiving himself into thinking he was being productive. He was in pain. Emotional pain.