Rendered Fat Content


Attributed to Suzanne Valadon: The Circus (1889)

" … our relationship utterly depends upon us making the most generous possible interpretations …"

The Muse and I acknowledged last week that twenty-five years had passed since we met. Anyone might presume, then, that we're a compatible pair, and I suppose we are compatible, but only up to a point. In many ways, we have always been Incompatible. Our stars were never in complete alignment. We each contribute a fair measure of frustration to the relationship. We each have our ways of accomplishing things. Attempts to partner don't always fall apart, but they also don't always work. I've learned to not take these failings very seriously, for that's the point where Incompatibility begins to matter, where it starts breaking down a relationship, tearing asunder. North of serious, things work. South of there, they absolutely don't, and couldn't.

Both The Muse and I were married before, her once and me, twice.
Divorce seems the very soul of Incompatibility, though it's interesting to me to remember just how compatible my ex-wives and I were. We once chose each other as the absolutely most compatible companion. Of course the very notion that we were absolutely compatible could have become reason for a creeping suspicion that we weren't. Again, not taken too seriously, these concerns could be quickly allayed. They became more serious over time. Our Incompatibilities grew and festered and seemed to diminish us, each and together, and over time became unbearable, resulting in irreconcilable differences. The differences should have been given. Their irreconcilable nature might have been optional had we both managed to exercise more strategic indifference.

Last night while canning jelly, The Muse asked if I could help her. I set to helping as if I were canning jelly, which upset the rhythm she'd adopted as the means for completing the job. Hardly helping and increasingly aware, I asked her twice how I might be of assistance. She finally conceded that she might have been much better served if she had not sought my help. We seem to ineptly read each other's mind. I seem to be able to find ways of annoying her without hardly trying, and she, me, of course, in return. We encounter a fair number of shocking discoveries together, small trespasses which, if taken too awfully seriously, might well produce terrible consequences. We mostly keep our distance, our daily efforts naturally leading us toward different corners. We usually encounter each other over dinner.

I believe that the dating apps completely miss the point, which might be to not identify points of perfect compatibility, which seems a fool's mission. Apparent compatibility easily falls apart and with only the tiniest provocation, leaving obvious Incompatibility in its wake. How much Incompatibility can one relationship take? Hard to say, but I'd guess a lot, but only because it must. Happily Ever After always was hyperbole. Happily Enough might serve as its functional replacement, Happily Enough with ample strategic indifference. I'm better when the small insults stream down my back as if it was carpeted with duck feathers. I understand that she was not supposed to understand, and that I, in turn, must by necessity remain my own special—I like to think endearing—brand of clueless. I offer to help and manage mostly to mess up the flow. I try hard to know and end up showing how little I understand again.

These small insults amount to almost nothing, adding little more than some rough texture and bitter flavor to any savory or sweet relationship. They amount to nothing but also to everything somehow. The purpose of faults might be to teach us how to see right through them, to acknowledge their presence but to greet them with loving indifference, to become masterful at not taking them too awfully god-damned seriously. God-damned serious can only be the death of us. We could chuckle at our foibles, lest they become defining and tragic. We managed to get that jelly canned without either of us losing a limb and without inducing anything like an argument. I'm certain that The Muse perceived just how inept her so-called help mate was. We kept light hearts, understanding that our relationship utterly depends upon us making the most generous possible interpretations and strategic indifference, us being fundamentally Incompatible and all, just like everyone else.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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