Guest Post: “The Mother as Mistress” by Jim Caron

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There is something between a son and his mother that I cannot explain. Some sort of bond that relates to all women, the way men thrive on acceptance from that special female, whether it’s mother or mate. That is the essence of a man, acceptance whether through love or status, it is his most valuable currency in life, rich or poor.
However, there are those men who never leave the scope of the womb, the childhood home, their mother’s sphere. Some men to the point you sense something bizarre, perhaps a bit twisted and fodder for the likes of a Psycho movie or an incest fest.
I see it in that long time schoolmate, Jeff. Through the years, Jeff never moved beyond his mother’s house. You may know the type, never married, still at Mom’s and past 40, never in the company of a woman or significant other male partner. This particular schoolmate lived across the street from my parent’s house. Same age as myself, we attended the same Junior High and High School. I suspect it was his way of acquiring property by simply out living his parents, as opposed to the careers we were steered towards in every class we took together.
He lives there still, alone as far as I can see after driving through the neighborhood recently. Watering the lawn, he stood in the front yard as I went by, smiled and waved as I am wondering what his secret life might be like, what weird twisted kind of sex life he may have. Perhaps one of those guys has sex with pool toys, or maybe cold liver from the meat counter, these choices running through my mind as I’m rounding the corner, I won’t be stopping for a chat.
Howard. His mother dies and he becomes obsessed with psychics in an attempt to relieve something within himself he never vested in, and instead, relied on his mother to provide. He never married, kept to himself, women found him creepy, he was. I still can’t figure the man out. He was the anal sort that would paint outlines of his tools on a peg board in the garage. You would go into the kitchen and open the “junk” drawer and everything in it was carefully arranged. There were also a lot of guns, he liked guns. His mother’s inheritance bought a number of weapons and a truck load of ammo which he and I indulged at the Huntington Beach shooting range on a daily basis.
I became an excellent shot, could hit my mark with most types of pistols shooting with either hand. As with any mistress, first or second string, the newness of Howard’s guns wore off and he realized this new mistress did not provide the warmth and acceptance he received from his mother. Howard was always a geek, the boy all the others teased and made fun of, his mother was able to fix that for him. Despite being the ultimate nerd, Howard constantly proved himself as a talented musician when we were in drum corps, but never gained social acceptance in any circles. Whether in the corps or later on, when he left the army and became that lone hippie geek with the bell on his pants that would wander into my night club, staying all night, barely saying a word. During none of this time did Howard bond with a woman, he was the weird loner who never had a girlfriend, always close to mother, an only child.
A man obsessed with his dead mother, what sort of twisted mistress she must be. His father, was still alive, a cranky old coot that his mother divorced after a public scandal at the Garden Grove City Hall. The head of the recreation department and his secretary caught in a love nest, in the 1960’s it was a death knell, Howard was only 9. The father had a more traditional approach to the mistress concept, Howard bonding with his mother rather than venturing out to seek acceptance from a mate. Howard held his mother in saintly regard, she never remarried or bonded again as far I knew of, so Howard saw her as some sort of “Virgin Mother” and never forgave his father whom he neglected for the rest of the man’s life.
Howard became more sullen and reclusive as he got older, going to the psychic more often and becoming more depressed over the loss of his mother. He did not seek to re-invent himself or look for a new horizon, he chose to whither and so he did. He also began to get pervie, following around girls from my band trying to look up dresses, leering and such that we had to exclude him from events with the band. He began bragging about buying crack whores on Harbor Boulevard. We cringed with disgust, it seemed to empower him as he spoke, watching for our reactions.
Howard then began collecting and keeping high powered weapons, assault rifles, lots of ammo. I remember taking one look at his newest acquisition and deciding to never return to his house again. Why take any chances?
I could look at my own mother and say with assurance she had a power over me I still cannot explain. Not in a sense of love, but of commitment to family, ideals, rules. When it came to these things, for her it was business. I realized only after she died, how much she controlled my young life, her mental power and influence over me. She was more of a specter in life than death, constantly watching and evaluating, wielding nothing other than the wrath of her disapproval. That alone was enough to shake me to the core, far beyond any physical threat or beating my father ever offered. I cannot explain why or recall when she programmed me that way, it was some kind of voodoo, black magic or witchcraft that could subdue me in an instant and far beyond the sting of any corporal consequences.
However, I knew no matter how much trouble I might find myself in, she would come get me, put me back together after accident or idiocy. It seemed to me the essence of the mother son relationship, a relationship I really did not understand until after she died: she owned me, but I needed her too. It was the perspective of death and distance that allowed me to see the relationship for what it was. She was the lawyer that stood between me and the court of life. I could not stay out of trouble, she was the only one could or would fix things and always was. You can’t have that with a wife and keep her respect, maybe her love and sympathy, but not her respect.
That is a vital point for me. I believe this is what men find as the wedge that eventually divides them from their commitment to a wife. Her instincts will see you as weak and your instincts tell you she will, she can say what she wants, but her female senses will change her opinion of you. Let her deny it, but believe it. I think men can be weak with a mistress, cry on their shoulder and get their little boy stuff over, that stuff most guys will cycle through from time to time if they have a cry baby relationship with a woman. If you want respect as a man and a strong image around the house, you have to have good publicity, no scandals or losses that bring you home tawdry and in tears. No matter how she may coddle and cuddle, say she loves and supports you, deep down you are no longer the man she was originally attracted to. Admit it girls, admit it guys, I think we’ve all had an episode here and there to demonstrate the truth of Motherly or Mistress acceptance as opposed to a wife’s long term, true respect. It’s just how a man has to play it, if he is too weak to cultivate his mate, their situation, the currency of their relationship, he will face the same losses or success any man might find in business. You get what you pay for and invest in.
I would conclude by asking again, what power is it in a son that a mother holds? It is certain to be a testament to those things that bond us beyond what we can see. I know it’s true. Men dying on the battlefield call for their mother, it is a universal thing at those moments. What home is it in a mother that men find? Acceptance beyond your weakest moments, forgiveness for failures, those things you can’t take back or fix. Being given another chance, a place to hide, regroup to fight again. Seems these are the same things a man might seek in a mistress, but never in a wife. She would judge him as a weak partner and it will eventually manifest in her feelings towards him. Women can get very cynical about a mate over the years and I believe this is where most husband complaints find their origination, moments of failure and weakness. It’s Darwinian in some strange way, I prefer to believe and follow these concepts rather than depend on the superficial words of those trying to be polite or are unaware of the forces that drive their thoughts and words.

Guest Post by L.C. Miller: “Mistress to the Show”

The concept of “Mistress” is interesting to me because even though I’m a faithfully married woman, I am one. It’s not that my relationship with my husband is unsatisfying. It’s not that we’ve lost interest in each other or that the intimacy between us has tarnished over the last 16 years. I haven’t even fallen into the arms of another as a means of escape to a place where I feel desirable, sexy… wanted.

Nevertheless, when I chose to be with my husband, I don’t think I fully realized that I wouldn’t just be taking on the role of partner, wife, mother, or caretaker, but the primary role I would play when I said ‘I do’ was that of mistress.

Everybody knows the famous expression, ‘the show must go on’. No matter what happens, the show will take priority. The people need their entertainment. You will find even movie theaters are open 365 days a year. I am mistress to the show.

Before I met Mike, I too worked in entertainment. I played keyboards in a band but I was no musician. I sang backup but I was no singer. I pushed paper at various record labels and management companies, which is how I met my husband when he was carrying on his love affair with the show. A road guy for the likes of Metallica and Queensryche, he was a metal head now in charge of the latest and greatest grunge band my company discovered during the high surf of the Seattle sound. And even though they couldn’t survive the first tour of the show, Mike and I bonded by speaking over the telephone every day while he was on the road. We laughed and joked and I enjoyed flirting with him during innocent business conversations; and he was drawn to me the same way a man who’s spoken for is lured by the mere dulcet tones of a woman’s voice. He enjoyed escaping into something new but he was obviously in a committed relationship with the show.

Years later, after wanting more from my personal connection with her, I thought perhaps if I moved from Los Angeles to New York, we could take it to the next level and get closer than we ever had. My friend Andrea was relating a funny story how our friend Mike had gotten off the rock tour and was now the sound designer for this show all about tango now on Broadway. I couldn’t help but laugh, imagining him being in such a long committed relationship with a long haired, head banging wife to something much more seductive, classic, lusty. Boy, did his relationship with the show change! I decided to call him and ask if it was okay to stay with him while I tried to relocate, setting up interviews to continue pushing paper for ‘my girl’. Unfortunately, I was just pursuing the same bitch on a different coast.

Mike was all alone in New York, only having to deal with his wife three hours a day, with matinees Wednesday afternoons and weekends. I was attracted to him, but I tried to tell myself he was already committed. He invited me to meet his wife, and something totally unexpected happened. I fell in love with her too.

I no longer cared about my own wife. All she ever did was cross T’s and dot I’s in the name of pop music. She wasn’t very interesting. But this lady my husband was with; she was a knock out. I could see during the show that Mike acted just like a complacent husband with her. I gasped at her every touch, her dress and her shoes as she ran them up and down the back of that handsome dancer’s leg, beckoning me to watch, to follow. I was mesmerized by the show and so was every other ticket holder. But Mike was already more than comfortable with her because when two ladies came up after the curtain dropped and commented how one dancer whipped her hair around so much, his response was, “That’s so you won’t notice how fat she is.”

I didn’t care. It was love at first sight.

I started sleeping with Mike and going to the show every night. Just to watch. He would ask me, “Don’t you ever get tired of seeing this over and over again?” And my answer was always, “Hell no!”

I think this is when Mike fell in love with me; because I loved the show… maybe more than he did… and it seemed my passion for her renewed his interest in their marriage. He took it as a sign that I could handle his commitment and be okay waiting in the side wings until their time together was over. Clearly I was very happy being the voyeur to their romance and I did love every minute of it.

We were married right after the show left Broadway and started a world tour. We spent more than a year in this blissful triangle, experiencing the world, life and love together. And like any mistress, I relished our private time and began to resent the demands of his wife more and more. Here he seemed interested in me and bored with her, but he’d never leave her. He looked at me with love and desire and her with disinterest. Sometimes I thought, “She could do better. She should be with someone who’s really in love with her.” But she doesn’t want anyone else either.

While we were on tour, my mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer and needed me to come back to Southern California to take care of her. I wanted my husband to come with me, but I had to accept he was already married and no matter what happened, the curtain would always rise and fall on his first wife first.

I buried my mother alone, without either love by my side. I was able to share my grief with my husband over the telephone during a layover at Heathrow Airport on his way from Portugal to South Korea. He was very sorry but he and his wife couldn’t chat. After all, she must go on, right?

Two years later, my husband’s marriage would change and for a while they would stay together at the House of Blues in Anaheim so I could be near family to have Mike’s baby. I still wore a ring on my finger, but while I went back to work in a law office, my husband split his time trading child care responsibilities with me and then would run off to be with her all night, having fun, dancing to Etta James and bringing me home bootleg recordings of their torrid evening together.

For years we still went wherever Mike’s first wife took us, but we finally settled down in Seattle to raise our child all together; Mike, me, our son and the show. Again, Mike and I became lovers who passed in the night. I would fall asleep and he would wake me. He would do and say all the right things, sending me back to a blissful sleep, only to wake again to an empty bed. Was it all a dream? Whatever it was, I knew what he was doing. He was dressing her up in something new. My husband was off creating his love into something special for all to see, leaving me to raise our boy on my own.

She beckoned. She demanded. She must go on.

I would start to hate her and tell Mike I’ve had enough. I wanted to threaten him by demanding he choose between us, but I was too afraid of his choice. And at my breaking point, he would bring me to see her in her new outfit, dressed up in Hairspray, Young Frankenstein, Shrek, Memphis, Aladdin… the list goes on. Every time I’d show up resentful, the show would seductively lift her curtain, share her magic and leave me swooning. Can you deny a relationship that has thousands of people moved to a standing ovation night after night? How can I not stand and clap too? I love her every time and it makes me look at Mike and admire his commitment. Sure he looks tired and maybe he might look bored, but the love he has for what he does shows in every performance. I can’t break them up.

I surrender.

I know my husband loves me and our son, but he is still fully committed to his first wife. She puts a roof over our heads. She makes our son and I laugh, cry and experience wonder while Mike merely looks like a dutiful husband, holding his wife’s purse and twisting her knobs in the back of the room, so everyone can hear how beautiful or funny or sad she is. Whether she’s Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon or the Phantom of the Opera, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter what she puts on, there I am, fully in love with her from the twenty second row.

As long as I’m married, I’m mistress to the show.