She sat there in the hospital bed, crying and despondent, six months pregnant, recovering from surgery. According to the x-rays, the lower part of Ann’s right leg now looked like a shelf at a hardware store; all the screws and plates needed to repair a spiral fracture. Chuck works so hard. he’s tried everything and his family is so rotten to me. and it got worse from there. My job, as a friend of the family and all around ˜good guy’ (note the sarcasm) was to cheer her up and the only way to do that, sadly, was to do a fair amount of lying. She is and always has been an honorable wife and committed mother, and her husband, now working on job #6 in seven years, was no where around. He wasn’t around two days earlier when she went in for surgery when she called asking me if I could find him. They had no health insurance, he kept getting fired from job after job and his family hated her because she didn’t belong to their little corner of Christianity; they were German and Lutheran, she was native American and Church of Christ. She was from the South; he was born and raised in Wisconsin. They had two little girls at home and a friend was watching them while Chuck, the husband was. somewhere. What had started out as a kind gesture on my part was now starting to turn into torture.
It was a Friday night in September, 2004 and she sat there in bed, crying and despondent, six months pregnant, recovering from surgery. I had gone to church with these folks for years and Ann had always been very kind to me. She was something of a kindred spirit being an Evangelical Southerner in the heart of the Midwest. As the years had gone by, my opinion of this young mother had done nothing but go up. My opinion of her husband, the quintessential redneck for Jerkwater, USA, had done nothing but go down.
In Chuck’s case here was a guy who was working on job #6 in seven years, ignored Ann’s advice at one job, wouldn’t leave the girls alone and gets fired, ignores my advice at another job and gets fired, ignored my advice again on an investment and gets creamed, gets in trouble at a restaurant with one of the waitresses (I had lunch with Chuck one day at this restaurant and one of his employees, a cute red head, came up and berated him on ˜why are you telling people I look fat with my clothes off.’) It certainly made her angry and after she was done publicly raking him over the coals, he sheepishly asked I guess you guys will be testifying at my divorce? My friend told him not to worry about a divorce, but to worry about getting fired. And in a few weeks Chuck got canned. again.
In addition, this wonderful husband, fully supported by a loving wife, allowed his wacko, myopic, ethnocentric, cultish family to insult, demean and ignore Ann. Repeatedly. And I saw it when she came home from the hospital. Those wonderful pseudo-Christian people couldn’t have cared less about her surgery and the help a six month’s pregnant woman with two toddler age children would need to recover. And where’s Chuck? Was he a ˜man?’ Did he defend his wife and say ˜go away until you people can show some proper respect?’ Not likely. he didn’t respect her, why should they?
Over the last few years he referred to Ann in the company of others as ˜fat,’ a ˜bitch’ and bragged about her ˜nude pics’ on the internet. I don’t care what the ˜context’ was, you don’t say that stuff to your wife, especially when she is announcing she is pregnant or especially on their wedding anniversary, which Chuck did. Yeah, guess your fat rump will get fatter. You guys want to see pictures of her fat rump? They’re on the internet he said smugly. When I found the pictures in question (yes. you would be curious too) I was furious. It had to do with her giving birth to their second child and I can think of few women who would want to be photographed or video taped doing that. Ann allowed the photographs for her midwife’s website and I doubt she would want her friends to see them. Or for her loving husband broadcasting that info. Then to add insult literally to injury the old boy starts hassling her about her weight while she’s pregnant and wearing a cast. ˜Honey, you need to lose some weight before spring.’ And Saint Ann’s response: ˜He was just encouraging me.’ Yeah, right. Ann didn’t have a malicious bone in her body and could never believe anyone else does, especially her husband. She really thought Chuck was trying to be ˜helpful.’ In life, there are lots of egocentric people to avoid. Sadly, she married one.
Giving your pregnant, temporarily crippled wife a hard time about her weight is not encouragement, that’s cruel; cruel bordering on sadistic. It is a ˜sugar coated dagger.’ Manipulators have many tools at their disposal. Sometimes they tear at someone else’s self esteem in a jokingly/humorous form, pick at some insecurity they have, beat them down, keep them down and then they’re easy to control that way. Ann is a very devout Christian; she would submit to her husband because she believes it is her duty. And whether she was submissive or not, no one deserves that type of psychological subversion. And in the hospital I saw the end result of Chuck and his family’s handiwork.
However, the icing on the cake was the day after Thanksgiving. I was at their house with my kids babysitting their girls so Chuck could take his wife out shopping. It doesn’t sound like much but it was a great source of relief when the poor woman could get out the house for a while. Upon their return, Ann attempted to work her way up a set of wet concrete steps on crutches. But was Chuck standing by his wife, helping her and his unborn son up the stairs? No. he decided something in the garage was more important and when she fell no one was there to catch her. She could’ve re-injured the leg or lost the baby and I figured he would never make that mistake again. Once again, I overrated Chuck. He tried to give an ˜encore performance’ by taking her to a birthday party for friend’s baby, and of course he opened no doors, offered no help, found no chairs for her to sit in. He took the girls out to their van and sat in there while she maneuvered her way out and climbed back in. I left early as the entire scene was infuriating. When they left, a friend let me know Chuck ˜parked his butt in the van’ and let her way out by herself.
To sum it up, he conned her into marrying him, dragged her up to Wisconsin, lied to keep her up here, lost 5 jobs in five years (two of them apparently because of poor conduct towards women), let his family treat her like crap, HE treated her like crap and she was eventually crushed. And because of who she is, she would never blame any of it on him. Her husband in her eyes could do no wrong. And if he did wrong or made a mistake she would still support him to the hilt. Truly a wife of noble character. For me, a divorced man with four children and a narcissistic witch for an ex-wife, it was crushing and painful to watch.
Six years had passed since my divorce. Six years of court dates, bad dates, missed dates, ˜stood up’ dates, and psychotic, man-hating ˜I’m ok-you better be perfect’ dates. I went home and went to bed every night alone. I went to movies. alone. I went to the hospital one night unbearably ill. alone. I threw birthday parties for my kids. alone. And I spent every Christmas Eve wrapping presents for my children alone. And this bastard was married to the best woman I had ever known and he treated her like an unwanted, obsolete piece of property. It is tempting to say he treated her like a ˜two bit whore’ but that wouldn’t be true. Prostitutes are generally treated better than Ann.
She had done her best to deal with the situation at hand, keeping a strong, noble attitude that all would be well; that God was in control. Ann was kind, non-judgmental, gracious. Friendly and willing to offer food or help to those who were in need and yes, there really are people like that in the world today. Women like her are rare. In post-sexual revolution, post-feminism America, they’re damn near extinct. She was one of them. And now pregnant, disabled for a time, her face now covered in acne from the hormonal changes, and I this man who swore never to get married again came to a terrible realization: I wanted her. Horribly, I wanted her as my wife.
But now that I knew this, now I realized that for months and maybe years I had slowly allowed this friendship to become something far more, now what? The most challenging part of this equation: it wasn’t sexual, it was purely logical and that is far worse than being ˜infatuated’ with someone. Far worse than a ˜crush.’ I was old enough and experienced enough to know something else for certain: She was the best. She was the best in character and intellect and in time she would heal from her injuries, so looks were not an issue. She was the best I had ever known and I wanted her as my wife more than anything I had ever known. Anything. This is called Coveting. It is the Tenth Commandment which says not to covet your neighbor’s wife, among other things. And coveting, the unfulfilled want and desire for something that is morally unattainable, can eventually destroy your character.