That’s What I Want

Dearest Rachel –

You used to tell me that one of the things that appealed to you about me was the fact that I resembled your dad in a number of different ways. I mean, not so much in looks or in age (thank heaven for that!), but in a playful sense of humor and an occasional contemplative side. Mostly, the sense of humor – although I’m not sure if that’s just what happens to us guys over time; they call them ‘dad jokes’ for a reason, I suppose…

There was one other way in which I began to resemble your father, and it was perhaps a little less endearing. More frustrating than outright annoying, I imagine, but still…

I remember you expressing some frustration about trying to figure out what to get your dad for Christmas; in fact, both you and your mom would be stymied in trying to determine what he might need or want. Asking him was of no help; he would just say, “oh, as long as I have my health, I’ve got everything I need.” And as a result, he would generally wind up with socks and underwear – which he seemed perfectly fine with.

Over the last ten years, as my relationship with my boss Mohinder began to decay, I started to become like that as well. Not that I only wanted my health; honestly, I rarely gave that a second thought. But what I wanted wasn’t something you or anyone else could provide at the time: my freedom. All you could do was smile sadly along with me (because you’d heard many – not all – of the stories), hand over my package of socks and underwear, and lay a hand on my shoulder and say, “Someday…”

Lo and behold, someday actually came. It even seemed like a relief to you, as Jo in her decline could be… difficult, although in that second childhood, she also seemed strangely happier than when she was perfectly lucid. But her passing seemed to take a weight off your shoulders… and in turn, off of mine.

But it didn’t take away the difficulty in figuring out what to get me for Christmas – apart from certain activities that I’ll not elaborate on here – you remember, and that is more than sufficient for the moment. Once freed from having to deal with life at the office, and being able to ‘work’ (I use that term amazingly loosely) at an office space in my folks’ place – in part to keep tabs on my own mom and dad, in part to occasionally be able to focus on actual work from time to time – I felt like I had just about everything I could need. What else was there for me to ask for at this point? We were even able to travel at the drop of the hat – and did so with the Sea Bronies in December 2019, among other journeys. Life was good.

All I could ask for was for you to be with me… and we both thought that had long since been buttoned down. That’s what this song is about, and it’s why it hurts so much to listen to.

Granted, this song is a bit obscure; it’s not as if I’m subjected to it constantly in the malls like another one I’ll mention on Friday (because it seems that everybody hates it by now except me, since I don’t recall listening to it in the first place). In fact, I was momentarily unsure if I would be able to find it out here. Sometimes, I have so little faith – this is the internet! Everything is already out here! Who needs the Library of Congress when everything – and I do mean everything – has been pinned up somewhere here in cyberspace, complete with a short biography of the singer (Nancy Sue Wilson – I never knew that until today). It’s certainly not one that is part of the Christmas repertoire, and I doubt you’d remember hearing it, but it’s one that my folks would play from their collection when I was growing up. I was probably only dimly aware of the lyrics then, but now, upon reflection, they cut, and cut deeply.

I suppose my only consolation in listening to this is, since it’s being sung by a woman, if I think of it as being from you. I want to believe that I made sure you had this much, at Christmas and all throughout the year. I loved you, darling, and I have no doubt you knew that – and I think everyone around us knew it as well. For the time that we had, I was so, so lucky, and I hope you were aware of that.

But now, for me to wish for that from someone else… I won’t say I’m entitled to this kind of love, but I think I’m allowed to wish for it. It just seems so far away, and it hurts to acknowledge that.

Which is worse, honey, to always want something intangible and impossible, or to have a ridiculous list of things you want?

It looks like Eartha is out-Material Girling Madonna with this song – and who the heck tries to seduce Santa Claus, anyway? – but hear me out. I’m about to give an alternate interpretation of this song that I think makes sense.

Sure, there are plenty of girlfriends and wives who look at their boyfriends and husbands as ATMs – think of the opening of the Jetsons, where his wife Jane yoinks George’s wallet from him before hopping a separate shuttle to the shopping mall. That’s what this looks like here, only instead of money (although there is that, when she talks about checks), she’s asking for specific things. It almost seems like an afterthought at the end, but I submit that the last thing she asks for might very well be the thing that she was wanting in the first place, and asking for these ridiculous items beforehand makes the ring she truly wants seem so much more reasonable for her boyfriend/Santa to get her. If I’m right about this, Ms. Kitt’s chanteuse is quite the shrewd little kitty.

It would be nice to have somebody who wanted a ring from me. But for now, that’s probably as impossible request as my health or my freedom (although somebody might point out that I got more of the last that I would have ever asked for), so it’s back to muddling through for now.

Still, if you’d be willing, honey, wish me luck. I think I’m going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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