by Shlomoh Sherman
Stan is newly out of his marriage and wishes to start dating. He's been out of the singles scene for over 2 decades and isn't quite sure how to go about it. But it's the early 1990s and his friends tell him that the latest and best way to meet a woman is to advertise in the personals. Stan has also just come out of the Jewish Orthodox community and has seen people divorce; but he has seen them remarry within a very short time. He doesn't realize that the reason for this is that Orthodox Judaism puts a very high value on marriage and subtlety ostracizes singles. He therefore assumes that this is the way of the world; that people who divorce immediately look for a new marriage partner. You see, Stan's marriage sucked but he has always believed that the institution of holy matrimony is just that, sacred and desirable.
Stan places a personal ad in a local New York magazine, looking for a new romantic partner. He carefully and explicitly states in the as that he is looking for a monogamous committed relationship, probably leading to marriage. He gets a response from 250 women.
One of those who responds is Ann. Stan really finds himself more attracted to Ann than to the other 249 applicants. They begin to date. Ann is actually an inappropriate match for Stan simply because she is out of his league socio-economically - but Stan disregards the disparity in their assets because he finds himself falling in love with Ann, and finally, after about 2 months, they sleep with each other.
Ann makes the declaration that when she sleeps with a man, that arrangement has to be a one to one sexual pact and there can be no other sexual partners involved. Well isn't that what Stan asked for in his personal ad, a monogamous relationship, a committed relationship, leading perhaps to marriage? And didn't Ann read that ad as CAREFULLY as Stan was careful and explicit in his choice of words regarding whom he is seeking?
HE thought so - but sadly he soon finds out that Ann was in fact NOT careful in reading his ad, or if she did read it carefully, she gave no real thought or interest to what Stan wanted, but was only interested in what she could get out of the relationship with him, - namely sex and a Saturday night date. But wait, details will follow.
Shortly after their sexual relationship began, Stan began to make plans for the coming holiday season. It was not fall. The summer was over, a summer during which Ann lavished praise on Stan regarding his looks and sexual abilities. Stan thinks this means she must love him as he loves her. He is soon disabused of this fairytale.
Firstly he asks her one October day about what plans they can make for Thanksgiving. That's when he first finds out that he has been duped. Ann tells him in no uncertain terms that he is not welcome to be with her for Thanksgiving because she only spends Thanksgiving with her family. Besides, her daughters, whom he met during the summer and whom she encouraged not to like him, will be there, and the fact is, for no good reason, they don't like him - BUT - and this is where he should have left - but love is funny about keeping people in place when they should really split - she will not defend him to them. So Thanksgiving is out. He must spend this holiday without the woman with whom he has fallen in love. And she sheds no tears about it. Soon after this, in November, Ann reveals to Stan that she dated another man behind his back and tried to have sex with this man but he was unable to stand up to the test. Telling Stan this serves no purpose except to hurt him more - which Ann seems intent on doing. Hurting Stan soon becomes her favorite sport. But really, is she that much to blame? After all, he could have told her to be gone but he didn't - because he still sees potential in this relationship and he believes that if he tries hard enough, she will love him as he loves her. But she soon reveals to him her personal philosophy regarding romantic relationships, - namely, a woman should always be with a man who loves her more than she loves him, and she makes no bones about it. Speaking of bones, what about her attempt to be sexual with another man whose boner could not make it? After all, wasn't she the one who made the monogamy pact? Yes, but so what, she says. I didn't even think about it when I wanted to go to bed with him.
Nice! Really nice!
Stan overlooks her disloyalty to him and asks about plans for New Years Eve. You guessed it. She won't commit. Oh New Years! I may be out of town, visiting friends in Vermont, she tells him. Well how long does he have to wait to find out if they have date for New years? She doesn't know and doesn't care. He tells her he must have an answer by October 31.
Well Halloween comes and goes and no answer. On the morning of November 1, after having slept with him the previous night, she tells him she won't discuss New Years. He begins to weep. She doesn't care about his tears. She tells him that as far as she is concerned, their relationship is not intimate! They have dinner on Saturday night, go to a movie, and have sex, AND THAT'S IT FOR HER! Beautiful, Really beautiful!
She goes home to her Victorian house in the suburbs. He
goes home to his walk up flat on the
His message on her answering machine states that he will neither speak to her nor see her till after January 1 of the following year. At that time she may call him to see if he is still interested in knowing her but she must not contact him till after New Years Day.
Within an hour she leaves a message on HIS answering machine. She is crying and contrite and says that she will date him on New Years Eve after all. But one can hear that she is also angry that he forced her to this. Nevertheless, he calls her and says that he looks forward to being with her on New Years Eve. Now will she also reconsider Thanksgiving?
She says no. Her daughters don't like him and she will not defend him to them. Stan bears the anger of humiliation about Thanksgiving but says nothing. He will see her New Years Eve.
Ann's daughters once asked her why she is involved with Stan. She replies that Stan loves her in a way in which no other man has ever loved her. What she doesn't say is that she is involved with him because she loves HIM in a way she has never loved any other man. Why should she? She doesn't love him as much as he loves her. She has said so several times.
By Christmas time, he has found another woman whom he dates without Ann's knowledge.
And he beds her - also without Ann's knowledge. He is almost gleeful about that. But he still loves Ann and he is also now very angry with her for her contemptuous treatment of him. This will set the tone for the rest of their relationship.
YOU ARE TOO JEWISH
Aside from other problems existing in the relationship, there is an ongoing problem with Ann's attitude to Jewishness. Although she is Jewish by birth, she is woefully ignorant about what being Jewish is all about. She confuses Jewishness with Judaism and because she has a visceral antipathy to Judaism, she attaches that antipathy to Jewishness as well. As a matter of fact, when Stan asked her what her daughters thought of him on their first meeting with him earlier that summer, her reply was that they thought he was "too Jewish". Bullshit. That wasn't it at all. It's that SHE thinks he is too Jewish. Stan is of the first generation children of Eastern European Jewish immigrants and was raised in an ethnic Jewish neighborhood in which Yiddish was spoken by all the adults and taught to the children; in which going to synagogue on High Holidays and celebrating PURIM and PASSOVER were an essential part of childhood joy. Added to that, Stan decided to become a religious Jew in his early 30s and remained Orthodox until a month before he met Ann, some 22 years. Of course there are vestiges of "Jewish joy" within him. He may be an APIKORES but he is still a Jew, and enjoys Jewish holidays, an occasional SHABBAT dinner or lunch, and KIBBUTSING in Yiddish. He may also use and occasional Hebrew religious phrase when being jovial. All of these things are anathema to Ann. And she vocalizes her displeasure when Stan mentions them. Unfortunately, at the beginning, Stan did not tell her that he doesn't appreciate her antipathy to Jewishness because it is, in reality, an antipathy to a very vital and essential part of his being. Too bad, and he pays for it for as long as he is with her.
THE FIRST GOODBYE
In January of the following year he asks Ann if she is still seeing the gentleman who could not perform. She says yes; they have dinner every week. Stan is angry again. He says that he considers their relationship to be a committed one on one relationship. Ann says she does not. Good, he says, then let me tell you something. During Christmas I met and fucked another woman. Ann begins to cry and he feels sorry that she made him tell her but so what? Now she knows. She knows what to expect. He may act docile in front of her but she will pay the price for deceiving him about her intentions in the relationship.
He loves her but if she hurts him from now on, she can expect to be hurt back. She tells him that she will discontinue seeing the other man but she cries about it. He has no pity for her tears.
Over the course of the spring and the summer, Stan continues to ask Ann if she considers herself in a monogamous committed relationship with him and she continues to say no. During that summer, Stan meets a woman who resides in Louisiana. He tells Ann that he needs to go down south to visit a friend for a week. He goes down to Louisiana and spends the week with the other woman. Because he doesn't call Ann, she suspects what he has done. When he comes back to New York, she confronts him about this and he confesses. When she becomes angry with him, he asks whether they are in a monogamous committed relationship and will she defend him to her daughters? No on both counts. OK.
During the fall of that year, Stan has sex with 2 other women but keeps quiet about it. In late October he asks Ann about Thanksgiving and she says that since her daughters don't like him - for no good reason - he cannot be with her for Thanksgiving. Stan shouts, But we have been together for a year and a half now! So what, she says, No Thanksgiving. Stan now knows that he will soon end his relationship with this deceiving woman. He plans to drop the bomb right after New Years Eve. On their New Years Eve date, she tells him that she loves him. He smiles. He says to her, Yes, I know you love me and I know you love me 364 days a year. You don't love me on Thanksgiving. She becomes angry and says, You are never going to forget about that, are you? He says, I am never going to let YOU forget about it. They go to his place and have sex. New Years Day they wake up and have breakfast. She tells him she must go home and see her daughters but will be back later that day. Whoa! He says to her, No you won't. We had a date for New Years Eve. I never said anything about the rest of the weekend. I made plans. When will I see you then, she asks. You'll see me when you see me, he replies. She cries. She knows what he means. She goes home and Stan goes out on a date with another woman and that night he gets laid.
Within 2 months, he has another girl friend, Jessie, and refuses to see Ann anymore.
Seven months pass. In September, the month of the Jewish High Holidays, Ann sends Stan a letter asking him how he is and would he like to have dinner with her. Of course it will not be ROSH HASHANNAH dinner. Is there irony in that she chose this month to embroil him once again in her games? Stan still loves her and is no longer angry with her. He has forgotten who she is and how rotten she can be to a man, even one she CLAIMS to love.
They have a secret dinner together even though both of them are now involved with some significant other. Why?, he will ask himself for the rest of his life. Why start something when it is already over? Who knows? Stan can't blame Ann for this. She is manipulative but after all, he is the one who accepted her dinner invitation. After dinner he walks her to her car and she kisses him passionately. He returns the kiss and several weeks later they have dinner again. This time Stan asks her about the possibility of resuming a relationship. He is ready to leave his current girlfriend but Ann is not willing to leave her current boyfriend. So why all this teasing on her part? She can't help it. That's who she is. By the way, the irony is that she is a professional therapist dealing with couples' relationships!!!!! Physician heal thyself!!!! Stan may not know better but Ann should. She should not be toying with a man's emotions. But that's who she is. Stan is dense. He doesn't get it. He thinks she really cares about him. She really just wants to feel power by seeing how far she can manipulate and confuse the man who had the sense to leave her in the first place but not the sense to try to get involved with her again. What does he think will happen this time if they get together? People don't change unless they really want to and Ann doesn't want to change. She still thinks it's perfectly to structure a romantic relationship wherein a man loves her more than she loves him. Stan is frustrated by her manipulation and tells her he sees no reason to see her again for dinner or any other thing.
HELLO AGAIN AND AGAIN
A year goes by and Stan has ended his relationship with Jessie. He now just wants to date women. He has given up the idea that he will find someone to marry. It is April of 1996 and on the eve of his birthday Ann calls him and offers to take him to dinner. She tells him that she has broken up with her boyfriend and wants to resume a "friendship" with him. He tells her that as far as he is concerned, this "friendship" will include sex else he is not interested. He also tells her that he will also see other women and be sexual with them. She reluctantly agrees.
Stan and Ann date almost every Saturday night except when he is seeing another woman. Ann has to swallow his time schedule. He tells her he will see her when he is not "otherwise occupied". She says nothing and allows him his way. Stan sees and has sex with several different women that year and enjoys himself but; he finds that sexual promiscuity is unsatisfying. He again yearns to find someone to marry, or at least with whom to be in a committed monogamous relationship. But in this he again fails. Poor him. Poor him. Pour him another.
But at least his integrity regarding his Jewishness is still intact. He can be as Jewish as much or as little as he pleases without answering to anyone, including Ann.
Another year goes by and Stan continues to see several women, and when he feels like it, he sees Ann. Summer is over and Memorial Day is coming up. Stan calls Ann and asks if he can spend his holiday weekend with Ann. She says no, he canít. She will be with her daughters. So what?, he asks angrily; You know how important holidays are to me. Ann is unmoved. She is always unmoved by him when it suits her to be. She has no RACHMONES [compassion] for him.
It's so unfair. Stan's daughter, a religious Jew, also does not like Ann because of her disdain for Judaism but Stan always defends Ann when his daughter expresses her opinions. But not Ann!
Oh no! And she is a professional therapist!!!! Physician heal thyself!!!!
Stan hangs up the phone and almost immediately it rings. He picks it up. It is Suzie, one of his lovers from St Louis. She tells him that she would love to come to New York and spend the Memorial Day weekend with him. He is happy and when Ann calls him later that night to see how he is dealing with her rejection of him on a holiday weekend, he tells her gleefully that he will be spending the weekend with Suzie. He can hear Ann's resentment of that but what can she say? She asked for it.
Suzie comes and spends the weekend with Stan. While she is there Stan asks her if she would also like to spend Christmas week with him, including New Years. Yes, she would like that, she says. Cool! It's not until a month later that Stan tells Ann that he won't be with her this Christmas or New Years; he is spending those holidays with Suzie who was nice enough to keep him company on Memorial Day weekend. Ann is downhearted and disappointed - but what can she do? She bought it by her unwillingness to fulfill Stan's Memorial Day weekend request. By now, Ann knows there are consequences for at least SOME of her actions when Stan gets angry enough - but that knowledge does not change her future behavior. Of course, when Stan gets really angry and does something to make Ann sad or mad, she is always surprised that he somehow finds the balls to express his displeasure with her.
But she is a professional therapist and should know better! People have limits on the amount of crap they are going to take, even Stan does.
END OF YEAR
Stan spends Christmas week with Suzie and during that week he does not speak to Ann or answer her emails. On the third day of the new year Ann calls Stan and asks to come to his apartment to discuss something with him.
Ann tells Stan that she did not like being out of communication with him for over a week. She says that she wants people to understand that she is "the most important woman in his life." He thinks: My God! She wants to get serious with me! He says to her that she will be the ONLY woman in his life because he is tired of running around with different woman and still wants to settle down; this was his original goal when they met. He wants to get married. Ann balks. She is not sure that marriage is in any plan for her future. Maybe they can live together some day but she sees no reason for them to get married. Stan is quiet. Then he declares to her that he wants to create am amazing relationship with her, a new beginning. This relationship will not be based on what he likes or dislikes. It will be based on how he can make her happy. If she wants to do something that doesn't particularly turn him on, it's ok. He will do it if it gives her pleasure.
Several months later it occurs to him that Ann has not made any similar kind of declaration to him. He will find out, to his chagrin that she has not really changed.
Her relationship with him is and will be based on what SHE likes with no thought to his feelings. She still will not defend him when he is unfairly disrespected by her daughters. She still will expect him to love her more than she loves him. And sex with her will be a nightmare.
She is a professional therapist dealing with couples' relationships! Physician heal thyself!
IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED, DON'T TRY AGAIN - BUT HE DOES
[A Prisoner in Two Jails]
Stan and Ann begin an exclusive relationship for the second time. This time Ann acknowledges that it is an exclusive monogamous one. Stan is relieved - but his relief will not last long.
After a while Ann states that she would like to sell her house in the suburbs and buy an apartment in Manhattan where they both can live. However she finds that she cannot emotionally make that move and she asks Stan to move to her suburban house for a few years and then she will eventually move back to Manhattan with him. He agrees without hesitation. After all, he loves Ann and wants to make her happy.
After Stan moves in with Ann and becomes a suburbanite, problems begin. Ann buys a summer home in Bay Island. She tells Stan that they will spend every weekend at that summer home for five months each year. She does not ask him if that is alright with him. She simply makes a declaration to that effect. During the first year at Bay Island Stan seems to be ok but after that he realizes that he doesnít want to go there every single weekend. He wants to stay at home and see friends or spend time in Manhattan doing weekend activities. He asks Ann to stay home once in a while on weekends. She becomes angry and says she has not wish to stay home - she bought a summer home to use in the summer. Stan is unhappy because she doesn't care how he feels. Ann tells him that he is her partner and therefore has a duty to be with her where ever she wants to be. He doesn't make the same demand on her. He goes along. Their friends know his unhappiness with the weekly trips to Bay Island and they begin to jokingly call him the Prisoner of Bay Island.
Stan is an actor and stand up comic and sometimes he has to attend auditions or do films on the weekends. Ann tells him that he cannot be in show business on weekends for 5 months out of the year. Stan becomes angry because he realizes that Ann is again being insensitive to what HE wants and needs to do. They argue about it for several weeks until Ann reluctantly says he can do what he needs to do on the weekend so long as he gets paid for it. Stan protests that sometimes he does work for free because it gives him exposure for other paid work. Stan knows best what he wants and needs to do.
Ann doesn't care what he knows; she cares about having him accompanying her to Bay Island because "he is her partner". When they are on Bay Island Ann pays very little attention to him. She makes herself busy visiting friends or spending time with her children or playing tennis or going out running. On weekend mornings Stan asks her to remain in bed with him to spend some quality time. She is not interested in doing that and is disdainful of his requests, as usual. Once in a while they have limited sex - when there is no scheduled tennis game.
Sex between them is the absolute WORST that Stan has EVER experienced. She is absolutely the WORST sex partner he has ever had. As in every other activity, Ann has to be in control. Stan can't be spontaneous because he might touch her on parts of her body that make her feel like "spiders crawling all over her". Stan asks Ann why she cannot just have sex without using a safety net. Ann gets angry. Sex happens less and less, and when it does, it's awful. Stan winds up suggesting they go to a sex therapist or couples therapist. Ann gets angry when he mentions that.
As the years pass, Ann becomes less and less generous emotionally. She continuously buys him clothing which he tells her he does not wish her to do. She ignores him because the truth is she is buying him clothes that she wants him to wear so SHE won't be embarrassed in front of her friends. Stan does not care about that. His older clothing are alright as far as he is concerned. What concerns Stan does not however concern Ann.
She has to be in control.
Stan soon realizes that Ann's promise to move to Manhattan will never happen. She has no desire to leave the suburbs. He can forget about it.
SHE THINKS HER SHIT DOESN'T STINK
Ann gets angry anytime Stan expresses any autonomy. After all, if she does not call the shots, how can he be loving her more than she loves him?
She tells him what to eat and what not to eat. No carbs. She gets angry if he eats carbs but he is so unhappy that sugar is the one thing that gives him comfort.
She tells him how he can talk and what not to say. No swearing. But even when he uses euphemisms, she does not allow him. Their friends marvel. How can euphemisms be bad?
Well, according to Ann, they are just as bad as the words they cover up.
Several times when Stan curses, Ann physically attacks him, slapping and kicking him.
But she is a professional therapist and should know better! Physician heal thyself!
Stan has difficulty hearing her sometimes when she speaks softly. When he asks her to repeat herself, she angrily says he is not listening to her. She also makes fun of him about that. Ann is constantly angry because Stan just doesn't want to be her "boy".
When Ann gets into the back of someone's car, she won't move over to let Stan in behind her. She tells him, I don't move over for anyone. She makes him walk around the car and get in the other side. There are other similar ways in which she shows him that he is nothing more than a convenient escort for her when they go out.
Ann tells him that he cannot use the bathroom off the master bedroom because his dung has a strong foul smell. Doesn't hers? Doesn't everyone's? Ann is adamant. Don't use MY bathroom.
YOU ARE TOO JEWISH - AGAIN
Ann has never given up her antipathy to Jewish custom. Stan cannot play his Yiddish song tapes in her presence. He cannot use Yiddish phrases in her presence. She wishes to avoid Jewish holidays. One ROSH HASHANNAH, on Bay Island, she wants to go to a public restaurant to have seafood. Stan is angry and tells her it's ROSH HASHANNAH eve and she should have planned some holiday meal. She gets angry and tells him that she can't read his mind and didn't know he expected a holiday meal. He says he didn't. He only expected some acknowledgment that it is a Jewish holiday. She says that she is not interested in Jewish holidays or ANY holidays as a matter of fact. In fact, she says she would work on YOM KIPPUR, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, if her patients would have sessions. Apparently they are more sensitive to Jewish holidays than she is.
Physician heal thyself!
Every Passover, Stan has to fight with her about a SEDER. He likes to have a traditional type SEDER and she wants to know why he is even interested in Passover since he is no longer religious. He attempts to explain to her why even nonreligious Jews want to acknowledge Passover as the birthday of the Jewish People. Ann is unmoved.
Stan offers to attend SEDERs with Orthodox friends so she doesn't have to be involved with the holiday. Ann gets angry, as expected. She doesn't want him to do anything without her on Passover but she also doesn't want to simply let him be himself and have a SEDER that he can enjoy. She is probably worried about her daughters again and how they will react to his type of SEDER. Once again, he is the second class citizen in the relationship.
THE LAST GOODBYE
Another year begins. Stan has been living with Ann for 7 years, a lucky number for him.
Spring comes and Bay Island is waiting. Stan experiences feelings of deep anger and depression. Ann wants him to take anti-depressants but a psychiatrist friend of hers tells her that Stan doesn't need anti-depressants. He is sad rather than clinically depressed. She is deflated.
Additionally, at the start of the year Ann has announced to Stan that she was thinking of selling her house and moving to Connecticut. Stan resents the idea that she is not consulting with him about the move rather than making it a unilateral decision. When he tells her that he has no intention of moving to Connecticut, Ann cuts him off by saying that they will discuss it "some other time." Stan understands that that is her way of telling him she is not interested in his input about her desire to leave New York and move to Connecticut. Stan understands that she is not interested in anything he has to say regarding their future.
One weekend in spring Stan and Ann along with 2 other couples decide to go to a movie that Stan and the other couples have been waiting to see. At the last minute Ann tells Stan that she doesnít want to go. She would rather work. He implores her to come with him and the other couples but she flatly refuses. She doesn't care about his feelings, as usual. She just doesn't want to go. Period. Even if it bothers Stan.
One of their friends remarks to Stan, Why does Ann always have to win? My God! She even tells you what to eat. And where to shit, Stan adds.
In a relationship, when one of the partners always insists on having her way and cares very little about the wishes and feelings of the significant other, there is a cumulative buildup of resentment and loss of affections. Then, the dominating partner is always shocked when the affections of the significant other turn to a new love.
When Stan first met Hope on an Internet Jewish discussion group, there was more an attraction of minds than of hearts. Stan loved that Hope was strongly into her Jewish identity. And the nature of the attraction quickly changed as they both held daily phone conversations that went on for hours. They discovered that they had so much in common and so closely identified with each other, that they eventually fell in love.
After a month it was difficult for Stan to conceal the fact that he was completely drawn to Hope and that they planned to meet and eventually live together. Ann discovered their relationship on Memorial Day weekend, a significant time in that Memorial Day marks the official start of summer on Bay Island where Ann had refused to let Stan come when he needed to be with her. Stan also had been bitter about having to spend another summer every weekend at a place where he wished to be perhaps once a month, if at all.
Ann confronted Stan about his correspondence with Hope but Stan did not wish to discuss it with Ann. Several weeks later, after Stan had left to attend an acting class, Ann went to his computer and opened up his email folder and read his correspondence with Hope. Ann felt no pangs of conscience about invading Stan's private email just as she felt no pangs of conscience about slapping and kicking him, or about any other abusive or unkind behavior she has perpetrated against him. Why should she have? She had always felt ENTITLED to be his owner. As long as he behaved like the good little dog, she felt safe.
Once someone asked Ann if Stan knew how to be in a relationship. Ann replied that he did. What she meant was that Stan knew how to always say yes. When she confronted Stan about Hope and ordered him to stop communicating with Hope, he said no! Ann ordered Stan to leave her house immediately. It was night and he asked to be given a few weeks to find a place to live but Ann told him to get out that very minute. In effect, she was evicting him illegally without due process. Stan packed his bags and began to leave. Ann cried and asked him what she had done to deserve abandonment. Stan told her that she had abandoned him a long time ago. It was not what you did, he said, but what you wouldn't do.
Stan finally left Ann but Ann continued to treat him in a nasty manner, denying him the right to come to get all of his things when it was convenient to him, thereby causing him great difficulty. She even sent him a bill for repairs that she needed made to the house, saying that he had "ruined her floors."
Ann had told Stan that they could remain friends; that they were not enemies. But Ann acted like an enemy to Stan, and thereby became one.
Her Shit Don't Stink
(© Ken Turetzky 1999)
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