August 05, 2009

Let the chase begin

“So Who Owns Chrysler Now?” Time Magazine in January asked. Fiat owns Chrysler—or at least 35 percent of it when that article was published— with an option to raise its share to 55 percent.

Detroit rethinks. The merger of Chrysler and Fiat occurs in June, the bridal month.

Mary rethinks: An Italian owns the Plymouth?

In the Grimm Brothers’ story, “The Wedding and the Fox,” the brothers include two stories to tell the tale. This choice may have been the brothers’ academic-like reporting of the tales they “collected,” but I am struck by the choice of two endings, as if both were possible, as if we had a choice. In the first, old Mr. Fox with nine tails plays dead because he believed that his wife was not faithful to him and wished to put her to the test. In the second story, the old fox is dead.

D. and I would have been married twenty-five years September 2009. “Which would you rather have?” I once asked D. “A Plymouth or an armchair, a comfortable, elegant armchair.” “That depends,” D. said, “on whether I needed to go to the grocery story or I was having the groceries brought in.” I don’t know if he knows that I used to think of him as a Plymouth: reliable, steady, made in America. I used to think of myself as the armchair.

During the time of separation I have had to think of D. as two stories: dead to me or playing dead.

You may think me a fool. Maimonides says, Fools die for want of heart.

In the first Grimm story, many suitors come but Mrs. Fox will only entertain the fox who had nine tails like old Mr. Fox. But just as the wedding was going to be solemnized, old Mr. Fox stirred under the bench, and cudgeled all the rabble, and drove them and Mrs. Fox out of the house.

But I think she has been true to him. What could old Mr. Fox have been thinking?

Shortly before my stay in Missouri was to end, a Pit Bull attacked me. The guy across the street owned the dog but was house-bound due to his house arrest and the ankle bracelet that kept him there when the dog charged me as I got out of my 1998 used Ford Contour to enter the pit where I lived. A storm door saved me when I managed to get it between me and my attacker. Inside I stood shaking, once I’d gotten my front door closed, and I thought: still alive after all these years and despite these facts: No separation agreement, not even close, still in love with the man who wrecked my life and no path to remaking it before me. But alive.

All this makes me think of the Dodge Charger R/T 440 Magnum, maybe the muscle car of my time, meaning movie-time, meaning Bullitt: Steve McQueen is detective Frank Bullitt, in case you don’t remember. Bullitt in that dark green Ford GT Mustang 390 Fastback plays a tough cop in the car chase of all car chases. McQueen chases over the streets of San Francisco and the outlying highway the black Dodge Charger.

The Dodge Charger is D.’s dream car. I was in New York this past week, had lunch with my son Ben and learned he’d bought a Dodge Charger R/T 440 Magnum. It’s in Australia.

My son does not approve of the door I have opened to D. He thinks of D. as a Pit Bull. He thinks of my metaphorical storm door as inappropriately opened and my separation agreement as the assurance that I will be safe. After the Pit Bull attacked—many of these dogs in Oz so my son knows them well—“Anyone could outrun you,” Ben said. “That dog can outrun anyone.” Ben suggested first that I move (with twenty-two days left on my lease?) and then that I park the car as near the storm door as I could.

I have parked my metaphorical car as near the storm door as I can. Perhaps D. is playing dead. Perhaps once the chase had begun—as indeed it has—he will pursue the way McQueen relentlessly pursues the truth in Bullitt because ultimately McQueen’s chase is not for the Charger but for the real story: He makes sure that the dead Ross, whom he’s been protecting, is thought to be alive: in a sense playing dead when he in fact is dead? so that Frank can get to the story in spite of Senator Chalmers, so that he can pursue the other story.

What do I know?

Nothing is what it seems. The Spy Museum in DC puts this line on signs in the Metro.

In a slim little book entitled The Middle Passage the Jungian analyst James Hollis advises: “What is not conscious from our past will infiltrate our present and determine our future. The degree to which we felt nurtured directly affects our ability to nurture others. The degree to which we feel empowered directly affects our ability to lead our own lives. The degree to which we can risk relationship ….” depends.

D., when I met him, seduced me with a 1980 Fiat Spider 2000, otherwise known between us as “The Little Jewel.” While I stood in the cold, waiting for the bus that would take me to the Metro that would take me to the job where I had met D., he would sometimes drive by and swoop me up: me in my overstuffed quilted red coat, my three bags—briefcase, purse and gym bag—and give me a ride to the Metro. He went out of his way to do this, knew when I would be standing there, knew how cold it was with two kids in elementary school and barely enough child support and salary to support them.

And so I married him: the first ending of my story.

Perhaps the Grimm Brothers’ second story’s ending of “The Wedding of Mrs. Fox” might as easily be the ending of the first story: and there was much rejoicing and dancing; and if they have not left off still, they are still dancing.

Behind Chrysler is Fiat: Detroit rethinks.

Mary rethinks: Perhaps the Plymouth is a Fiat.


  1. This post is one of my favorites. It is also funny because of the old cliche about men who identify themselves with their cars or the cars of their dreams. But are women furniture? I would like to identify myself with one of those nice 18th-century hall chairs, but the problem is when you start thinking of all those buttocks pressed against you. Never mind, Mary moves the story beyond that point, forward to Detroit and backward to the stories of our childhood.

  2. Wow, bilbao, what a great reader you are. Grateful to have you reading.

  3. Quick muse: Does d need to go to the grocery store? Or is he ordering his groceries in?

  4. But here, I think Mary is the car. She has parked her car as near the storm door as possible, she has parked the car. I think the metaphor of the chair and the car may be in the process of being upended...

  5. Discovereuse, If I am a car, have you considered what kind of car I might be? I am thinking about this question and would like your comment on it.

  6. Definitely NOT a Ford Contour (which is what I've driven for the past several years, so I am certain of that). Let me think about it and come back with some suggestions (I am not by a long stretch well-versed in cars, but I'll do my best).

  7. I'm only 32, but after reading Mary's blog, I feel like all the serious living is thirty years hence. These posts are exciting, and I wish I had them printed and bound so I could offer them as gifts to everyone worth liking.

    --Kyle Minor

  8. My best thought so far: Mary is an elegant, beautifully outfitted dining car on a very special train. A train of the sort found in good novels, but I can't seem to think of the right novel. It seems to my vague memory that there was a train in one of the later Oz books, but I think Mary's train manages to escape Oz...
    Still musing, -Discovereuse

  9. No, a dining car doesn't have enough autonomous mobility to be the answer. But it's got to be something really wonderful on the inside--outside to, but differently wonderful on the outside. And with a surprise in its history.

  10. Discovereuse, Food for thought, indeed.

    New post, I hope, by end of week. You give me courage.

    Kyle Minor gives me hope.

    Bilbao reads with her heart and mind.

    I do wonder when I write, Does it matter if anyone is reading? And indeed you teach me that it does matter.

    Thank you, Mary

  11. Well I'll join in the what kind of car is Mary game, and suggest it is the 1971 Datsun 240Z I owned for 11 and a half years. It was classy, beautifully designed, a pleasure to be with. During my early days with it I would go out in the evening on occasion just to drive the windy country roads around New Paltz, NY, where I was teaching psychology in my other life.
    But what strikes me more in this blog are Mary's thoughts on escaping the fangs of the pit bull-"still in love with the man who wrecked my life." It seems so often we end up prisoners of our emotions and attachments and what adds so much to our lives (so maybe prisoner is the wrong word).
    In any case I find that comment very touching.

  12. Harvey Black, You won't believe this, but in 1971 I owned an orange Datsun, not a 240z, but rather a station wagon: my son was born in 1970 and my daughter was soon on the way so my tiny powder blue Volkswagen with the sun roof, my first car, had to go. I have a feeling something about this will go somewhere in this book. Thanks for helping me remember! --Mary

  13. When I first read this, I decided you were the Orient Express (how funny that discovereuse thought of a train as well). I know you to be elegant and graceful, full of different lives, always on the path to something less ordinary. Then I am reminded that all metaphors fail eventually and that you can't possibly be a train and d. is no car. A person does not live on train tracks and a new engine and paint job doesn't always make things better.

    I love your Steve McQueen reference. There were so many rumors that he wore lifts to make him taller -- the leading man, a man's man, feeling inadequate. Things are never as they seem. After Sharon Tate's death, he took to carrying a handgun with him - secretly putting him at a distance without anyone's knowledge. Perhaps D. is our anti-hero.


  14. Carrie, dear reader,

    Quoting you here: "Perhaps D. is our anti-hero."

    What, dear reader, are the probabilities, considering what has happened?


  15. Probability? Who knows. What I do know is that I can't recall an entry without D. If not, maybe I've read too slowly or been too moved by the D. posts that I've forgotten the others.

    What I do know is that D. is in each piece I can recall -- this project, to me, is D. and Mary. You, Mary, living in spite of D. (I don't know when/if I should lowercase him). D. showing up in memory. He is in you. Every man you are with is contrasted against D. Reasonable, I think, given your history spans longer than my life. The striking thing is that through all of the humiliation shines love. Through your perspective, there are terrible betrayals and losses -- both physical and emotional. The house which you loved so much and the life on which you built everything around. But it is from your perspective makes me root for him. There is a longing that begs me to sympathize with him. Maybe I want D. to be the anti-hero over the tragic hero.

  16. Carrie,

    Your comment moved me to tears. My journey continues. Thank you for understanding the difficulties, the complexities, how hard love can be: how loss informs. I don't know what is next, but this blog has a life of its own that I follow as I write it.



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