Ruth (an apology)

Ruth (an apology)

Ruth (an apology)

A Pride Month Poem by Bob Laine

 

I'm gonna make you my title

it's the least I can do

 

Ruth is your name

my mothers’ too 

who was named for the biblical Ruth

who was known for her selflessness 

giving up her comforts to accompany her mother-in-law to an alien land

 

that is certainly an apt description of my mother

who gave up her comforts 

to accompany her children 

through the alien land 

of living with my father 

though I am sure my sister would disagree

"exactly what did she give up," 

I can hear her saying

"nothing was stopping her from taking us kids and leaving," 

I can hear her arguing

 

I don't know you well enough anymore 

to know if you ever became a biblical Ruth

but the signs were certainly there

 

the biblical Ruth tells her mother-in-law

"for where you go 

I will go

and where you lodge  

I will lodge 

your people shall be my people 

and your god my god

where you die I will die

and there I will be buried"

 

which 

in so many words 

is exactly what

you told me 

at the end our first date

 

at that point I think most boys would have:

one

been overjoyed at the depth and certainty of your devotion 

or two

run for the hills feeling immediately smothered 

and tethered by your too soon too intense love

 

but I wasn't like most boys 

I was scared 

but I stayed

and for that 

I'm sorry

 

I was a sophomore in high school

you were a senior 

though I can't recall 

us ever seeing each other at school

you most likely saw me in the musicals

that your sister Vicky sang in 

and that I mercifully just spoke in

I didn't even realize Vicky had a sister 

until you introduced yourself as such

 

I had just finished performing 

Dr Suess's Bartholomew and the Ooblek

for the Junior Achievement talent show

which only seemed to confuse people 

who wondered 

some out loud 

if storytelling was really a talent 

you were not confused

you introduced yourself and

told me it had been one of your favorite stories as a child 

then you asked me out

I was so surprised I accepted without thinking

a naive Bartholomew diving into the Ooblek

 

if I had thought about it

I may have remembered

that ever since fourth grade

I had noticed that I enjoyed touching boys

a lot more than I enjoyed touching girls

if I had thought about it

I may have recalled

that I had fought against these feelings

with a series of hand-holding girlfriends in elementary school

and sloppy make out sessions in junior high

if I had thought about it

I may have realized

that none of that had worked

and entering into a new relationship

to continue my delusion in high school

probably wouldn’t work either

 

it didn’t

and you got caught in the middle

I’m sorry

 

on our second date

we went to the movies to see Flash Gordon

and you gave me a hand job

it was during the scene

where Prince Barin and Flash Gordon take turns

sticking their hands into a hollow stump

with a giant wood beast inside

I remember thinking how handsome

Timothy Dalton who played Prince Barin 

looked in his revealing green tights 

it also crossed my mind while your hand was down my pants

that the first time I would have to have real sex with you

would probably be as frightening to me

as sticking my hand into a hollow stump

with a giant wood beast inside

 

hand jobs seemed a lot safer

and for sixteen months 

that would be as far as we would go

 

during those sixteen months you would

do your best to live up to your biblical namesake

giving yourself over completely

you taught me to drive your stick shift car

and then insisted I always drive whenever we were together

you gave up your interests and adopted mine

Pink Floyd’s The Wall replaced

Billy Joel’s Glass Houses in your cassette deck

and within a few months you were a

pot smoking agnostic with a yen

for acting and public speaking

despite a lack of talent for either

 

you even wrote a play

Fun At The Movies

your setting was movie night at Junior Achievement

your characters were all our friends

who you paired off in unbelievable romantic combinations

your plot involved each freaky couple sneaking away

to have crazy mad sex throughout the movie

when the lights come on after the movie is done

you and I are the only couple remaining

that is when Sue 

the Junior Achievement Director

announces that the movie was a test

and you and I

as the only ones not to have sex

have won a trip to the Bahamas

courtesy of Ronald Reagan

 

I am pretty sure your play 

was your not-too-subtle way of telling me

that we should have sex

either that or you wanted me to take you

to the Bahamas

 

but I was always bad at taking hints

as well as at making excuses

eventually I ran out if them

and we made the monster with two backs

for the first and only time

on a Sunday afternoon in your bedroom 

with my handicapped brother in the next room

 

bringing my brother along had been one of 

my primary ways to avoid sex 

but you weren't buying it anymore

you sat Shawn in front of your brother's Atari 2600

inserted a Pitfall cartridge and put a joystick in his hand

moments later in your bedroom

you took my joystick out of my hand

and inserted it into your pitfall 

 

and well

let’s just say

I was much better at video games

 

our last four months together 

we were a long distance couple

you had put off college for a year while I was a junior

and now that I was a senior

you were attending Ferris State

our physical separation made our actual separation

so much easier 

at least for me

and I hope in a way

for you too

 

the biblical Ruth

having sacrificed for her mother-in-law

goes on to find a rich fulfilling life in the alien land

becoming a much stronger person perhaps

then if she had stayed in her homeland

 

Ruth

my mother

was not as fortunate

at 71 she still remains adrift

her world as alien to her now 

as it was back then

still tethered to a marriage 

that died forty years ago

her sacrifice for her children

proving to be less out of selflessness 

I believe now

and more out of a lack of self worth

they can be so easily confused

I am sure my sister could have told me that

if I had bothered to listen

 

now at 48

and worrying about becoming my mother

I find myself increasingly 

turning to the past 

making amends for bad choices

and searching for absolution

which made me think of you

Ruth

and what an asshole I was

all those years ago

 

you ended your play

with a monologue

where your character tells my character

how much she appreciates him

how he has been there for her in the hard times

and how she wishes she had met him sooner

the last line of your play is a plea

"just tell me everything will be the same"

 

my character never answers you in the play

and although I clearly was not honest 

when we were together

I won’t lie to you now

only the dead stay the same

and that’s not a bad thing


to oba

to oba

Is this Love?

Is this Love?