Fifty-Two Year Old: Drenka Balich

 

Either forswear fucking others or the affair was over.

This was the ultimatum, the maddeningly improbable, wholly unforeseen ultimatum, that the mistress of fifty-two delivered in tears to her lover of sixty-four on the anniversary of an attachment that had persisted with an amazing licentiousness – and that, no less amazingly, had stayed their secret – for thirteen years. But now with hormonal infusions ebbing, with the prostrate enlarging, with probably no more than another few years of semi-dependable potency still his – with perhaps not that much more life remaining – here at the approach of the end of everything, he was being charged, on pain of losing her, to turn himself inside out.

She was Drenka Balich, the innkeeper’s popular partner in business and marriage, esteemed for the attention she showered on all her guests, for her warmhearted, mothering tenderness not only with visiting children and the old folks but with the local girls who cleaned the rooms and served the meals, and he was Mickey Sabbath, a short heavyset, whitebearded man with unnerving green eyes and painfully arthritic fingers who, had he said yes to Jim Henson some thirty-odd years earlier, before Sesame Street started up, when Henson had taken him to lunch on the Upper East Side and asked him to join his clique of four or five people, could have been inside Big Bird all these years.

Philip Roth, Sabbath’s Theatre

Published in: 52 Years Old | on October 25th, 2011 | No Comments »

Five Year Old – Alexander Portnoy

She was so deeply imbedded in my consciousness that for the first year of school I seem to have believed that each of my teachers was my mother in disguise. As soon as the last bell had sounded, I would rush off for home, wondering as I ran if I could possibly make it to our apartment before she had succeeded in transforming herself. Invariably she was already in the kitchen by the time I arrived, and setting out my milk and cookies. Instead of causing me to give up my delusions, however, the feat merely intensified my respect for her powers. And then it was always a relief not to have been caught her between incarnations anyway – even if I never stopped trying; I knew that my father and sister were innocent of my mother’s real nature, and the burden of betrayal that I imagined would fall to me if I ever came upon her unawares was more than I wanted to bear at the age of five. I think I even feared that I might have to be done away with were I to catch sight of her flying in from school through the bedroom window, or making herself emerge, limb by limb, out of an invisible state and into her apron.

Philip Roth, Portnoy’s Complaint

Published in: 5 Years Old | on October 10th, 2009 | No Comments »