the bitterness, resentment and passive-aggression are coming from… inside the house!

For all the advances we women have made in the last hundred years, it strikes me as ironic how little control we have over our lives. Though we’ve got a ways to go yet,  I’m nevertheless appreciative of the options I have that generations before me fought for. However, no suffrage or women’s liberation movement, no matter how ambitious, can give us authority over who we fall in love with, and that’s my life’s great tragedy. 

I can’t say I wasn’t warned; as a little girl I sat on my bed, engrossed in Victorian tales of damsels who had fallen for vampires or werewolves. I pitied these girls, feeling that they had fallen into these frustrating relationships because their stations in life offered them so few avenues for more functional love.

Imagine, then, my surprise (and pain) when, after a lifetime governed by prudent decisions and sober logic, I, against my better judgment, fell hopelessly in love with Ralph Johansen, a caring, generous partner who just happened to be a zombie.

It was Ralph’s mystique that drew me in initially. I had just finished an  exhausting relationship with an overly emotional classmate, so having a man in my life whose vocabulary was limited largely to grunting was just what the doctor ordered. My desire to learn more about Ralph, his background, his interests, his dreams, became ever more insatiable the less he offered me.

As I got to know him, however, I discovered something heartbreaking and precious hiding behind that emotional wall he projected toward the world: real pain. We were walking in the park one quiet evening when his arm snapped off at the elbow while we were holding hands. At that moment, Ralph released a haunting moan that came from deep inside him, and I knew at that moment, that I was seeing his very soul. I couldn’t turn away, even though I knew that ours was an impossible love, and that to comsummate it would mean the loneliest kind of death for me.

Not that he didn’t try, of course. My fondest memories of Ralph are of being in the considerable grip of his one remaining hand, while he playfully tried to nibble on my ear. That day he said something that no other man had told me up to that point, they all having obsessed over my taut, youthful body. With sex removed as a possibility, Ralph told me he wanted me for my brains, and I felt appreciated for the very first time with a man.

Ultimately, our love was doomed by outsiders who couldn’t understand Ralph for what he was. The ridicule and isolation were overpowering. A group of hipsters parading downtown dressed as zombies made Ralph question his existence. Thinking he had finally found a place in this world, he joined them, until a Tisch undergrad in Sally Jessy Raphael glasses rolled her eyes and whispered to her friend, “check out Mayor McTryingtoohard”.  

Dejected, he turned to me and his tear-filled eyes were clear in a way I had never seen before. His humanity had reached the surface once again, but I knew it would be brief, as his zombie self would soon wrest control back from the person he once was. He said to me in a soft, contemplative voice, “if they’ve found a way to make being undead ironic, fuck it.” And with that, he blew his head off with a shotgun, spraying gray blood everywhere.

I still think about Ralph every day. And while he is irreplacable in my heart, I can’t say with certainty that there will never be another like him. Last week, when I was bringing flowers to Ralph’s grave, I felt a tug at my ankle. I looked down to see the cutest little green hand poking out of the ground, clawing desperately at my leg. Tell me honestly: how do you like the sound of “Mrs. Phineas Xavier McGillicuddy”?


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July 2009
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