Describing his courtroom ordeals and conferences with the law Matt always permitted me to cultivate an image of his X-wife as the possessor of a cruel intelligence… a spider at the center of a web of policemen, child support truancy officers, AFDC and family counselling, women’s center or crisis line struts in the tenuous but solid framework of a trap. Sorting out the players in the puzzle beside being tedious was a touch beyond me and this probably as a result of getting my information secondhand from a fellow who could not honestly be said to have sorted it out himself. I never did get straight whether he left her or the other way around or even what kind of conflicts could occur between them; but this is nothing new now that I recall Tom has an X-wife too and he’s very subdued when you could imagine that he was dashing once. Tom reads Epictetus these days and pays on time, gets the kid on random weekends by court order in the plan for the bureaucratization of all social relations, and I’ve seen her, cute one next to loving dad. Matt is broke and glad they can’t squeeze an empty shell, to the extent that I sometimes wonder if his habit of neglecting to bathe isn’t part of a conscious program, but when I saw his boy who must be four now and doesn’t talk very much my opinions changed little.

Only a little though, since we don’t have much room for your Christian liberal brand of pity which has all manner of unsavory precursors. There are essays about the feminization of poverty that amount to about as much as any caucus polemic ever did, but I’ve spent hours encoding the Question in a vain attempt to like INTUIT the nature of this virus. From one angle I look at the number of widows through history as a percentage of population, and wars take up the slack I guess when we ask ourselves have there ever been sizeable numbers of mom, singular. I recall the objection to Spock which runs: your error is to pretend you’re going to be able to sculpt these cussed blanks in the first place. Let them alone and give them a few items they ask for and you’ll be doing more than what has kept the species alive so far. Then I dismiss it with a nod to the perspective faction which asks whether things look thick or not when you’re in the middle of them.

Dave and Ken and I had to use plan B for drinking which was to stop by Donna’s, one we had rejected park for Law and Cold reasons.

“She has MTV,” they pointed out, and so we showed up each carrying a fifth of Beam and a six of beer. Knock, knock.

“This is Donna, Mark’s X-wife,” Ken introduced.

“Look at me I have curlers in my hair!” she announced. I saw an immensely fat woman. In a spare set of rooms, the reconstituted-generic domicile which always looks upscale when fresh. On the inside of the bathroom door was a schedule for daily updating with a box for each possible time when the boy had gone potty, along with some sheet on which I caught the word reinforcement.

Later, Ken hit my arm. “Look, the Pretenders,” he said.

“There is a resemblance isn’t there.”

“Not here,” he told me with an obscene grin.

“Motherfucker,” I said.

I recall that we went out later and got two more fifths and shouted about jobs on the way home.

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