My song today is appropriately one by Patsy Cline who tragically died fifty-eight years ago today. ‘I Fall to Pieces’ was first recorded sixty years ago in 1961. Today's song was the first Number 1 in the country charts by Patsy Cline. Patsy Cline is regarded by many as being one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. She was one of the first American country music artists to successfully cross over into pop music. Born in September 1932, she was killed in a plane crash on March 5th, 1963 (fifty-eight years ago today). Rest in peace, Patsy.
It would be nice when a loving or physical relationship ends between a couple if they could remain friends instead of automatically becoming distant. I realise that such is not easy, or indeed possible, or even desirable with some relationships, especially married couples who separate and divorce because of one person’s infidelity, cruelty, or other inappropriate behaviour.
During my romantic years, whenever I ended my courtship with a young woman before we got too emotionally attached, it was never done with rancour, and we usually ended up remaining good friends. In case some of you are thinking that I was a bit of a player, that isn’t strictly true, as I always remained up-front about my intentions never to enter into a serious relationship until my late twenties. I always wanted to travel and knew that I would have the financial means to do so at the age of 21 years, so I was always honest with my dates at the start of any relationship that our dating was strictly for fun, dancing, romancing, and not marriage.
Because of the nature of the relationships that I shared with most dates, when it ended and we each started dating other people, we nearly always remained friends. In short, I might have started off some of my dating relationships because they were good dancers, or good lookers, or good fun to be with, or even what is known today as having a ‘friend with benefits’. Whatever the motive, there was always a level of mutual respect between us, so that when we ended, we invariably remained on friendly terms.
Early on in my life as a young boy, following my discharge from the hospital, I was sent to a Convalescent Home in Arthington, Wharfedale to recuperate before returning home. Such recuperation from hospital settings frequently occurred during the 1940s and 1950s when the hospital patient came from a large family and poorer household. Instead of being discharged back home, we would be sent to some Convalescent Home to rest properly and to be fed with good nutritious food, as both rest and nutrition were not readily available in larger and poorer households.
While at the Convalescent Home (which was a smashing holiday experience for me), I was to meet a man whose name escapes me now, but whose wise counsel I never forgot. This man believed in ‘destiny’. He firmly held the view that all relationships are meant to be. He believed that whether we meet any new person for a moment in time, or longer, on one occasion or many times, we meet each one of them for a purpose. He told me that every human contact or relationship is a valuable source of learning. He said it was an experience which most of us engage in and leave without taking anything positive from the encounter. I was advised that were I wise, I would accept that every person we meet has something valuable to teach us. We can learn from what they do or fail to do, or indeed, how they do whatever they do, and how they make us feel, therefore! The man told me that both the ‘presence’ and ‘absence’ of a person’s qualities inform the astute observer.
His system was easy to understand. Every person he met would teach him one significant thing. It mattered not if he met them for a minute or knew them for many years, or indeed, even over a lifetime. From brief contacts, he would remember what single detail most impressed him favourably or unfavourably about their encounter. What was it about the other person that either pleased or irritated him? From every contact, friendships, and more substantial relationships, he would imagine himself as being a famous cartoonist who would emphasise one characteristic of the person being studied which summed them up better than any other detail of their personality (not too dissimilar from the process used by the ‘Spitting Image’ cartoonist and puppet maker).
It could be the way they shook hands or the fact they always smiled upon meeting you, or they may have been the kindest or most insensitive types of people. It might even be a piece of their behaviour that made you feel uncomfortable in their presence, like not turning the television off when a visitor called to their house. It mattered not whether the most prominent and memorable characteristic was good or bad, he would adopt the good into his own behaviour pattern and ensured that he discarded the bad if ever he behaved that way! His conclusion was that by taking one thing from every person he ever knew, he would improve his character as he included and excluded such traits from his own behaviour and lifestyle.
I was aged 9 at the time of this valuable lesson in life, and I have used the system ever since. I never leave any contact/relationship without taking something positive from it; even if it is to exclude from my own future behaviour pattern, a negative trait that had been a constant characteristic of the other person. For instance, turning off the television instantly upon receiving a home visitor, even if the two-hour film is a mere five minutes from ending! Another example would include remembering to send every family member I have from my wife, my siblings to the last nephew and niece a birthday card every year of their life. Having six siblings, all of whom have three children of their own, who have also parented children makes this annual practice of mine both expensive and time-consuming. However, the very least one can do for our own kin is not to forget the celebration of their life on this earth.
During all my romantic teens into adulthood, I applied the system revealed to me by my convalescent contact, and it invariably worked. At the conclusion of some dating relationship with one of my girlfriends, I was able to achieve a platonic relationship with most of them.
After I grew older and had been married, however, even though I was able to learn from both the good and the bad behaviour of my ex-wife insomuch as I might include and exclude some of her traits in my own behaviour pattern, I could not adopt a platonic relationship with her. I ask you, how is it possible to be totally comfortable looking into the eyes of someone with whom you had shared a bed, a bathroom, a toilet, and a toothbrush without displaying a certain amount of ill-ease?
Once a couple have shared intimate moments of passion, especially in states of undress, and in all other manner of situations that might make a blue comedian blush with shame, there is no future pretence possible that a platonic relationship is ever on the cards, should they break up. There are simply some memories that can never be erased, and the only thing which is mentally reproduced upon seeing the person again is one of extreme unease. Any streetwise man or woman who witnesses their partner talking privately to an old fame of theirs will naturally feel uneasy at best and a bit jealous at worse. Let’s face it, folks, however uncomfortable it is to consider, on July 20, 1969, when Aldrin planted his marker on the body of the moon surface (nineteen minutes after Neil Armstrong) that however good ‘making it’ felt for him, he would always know that another man had planted his flag there before him! I imagine any new lover could feel the same about an ex-lover of their current partner.
There have been many attractive people of the opposite sex with whom I have been capable of being with socially, privately, and where we are able to talk freely about everything and anything without the hindrance of a ‘second agenda’ in the background. It is possible, but rare for two people to be more than friends and less than lovers. That is true platonic love, but since my teenage years, I have experienced it only twice.
Platonic relationships can often exist easier between two people of the same sex, such as Holmes and Watson or Thelma and Louise. It is only when you place Holmes with Thelma that the platonic bears closer examination to discover its presence or absence in the relationship.
One of the good things about nature is what old age and the onset of conditions of illness can do for a once passionate loving couple who now prefer a good sleep with their heads buried in their pillow rather than playing tents beneath the bed cover! Nature works in strange and mysterious ways within a marriage. As we grow older, we also grow more infirm and less inclined to swing on chandeliers. Whereas your wife (when first married) might have repeatedly begged you to make the earth move for her again and again, after thirty, forty and fifty years of wedlock, she will be happy if you move yourself off the sofa and take out the rubbish to the garbage bin occasionally.
Love and peace