The old man spent a hell of a lot of time sitting alone at a table in Filmore’s, drinking domestic beer and watching foreign women take off their clothes for a couple of dollars. It wasn’t because he enjoyed it or anything, but he just didn’t have anything else to do. It wasn’t always like this, but his life changed about fifteen years ago and he just didn’t seem to give a shit about anything, anymore. He had a wife and a bunch of kids and he was as happy as he supposed he could be, until she decided that she didn’t want to be there anymore. She started going out with friends and hanging out at the bars, and met some guy who he was sure she was falling for. She denied it, even though she decided that they should separate. He had no intention of letting her go, I mean the idea of being on his own, of being alone scared the shit out of him, so he lied and schemed to keep her. He thought he had succeeded, but she found out that he had lied and said she felt betrayed. It all changed that day, and while she didn’t leave, he wished she had, I mean sometimes he thought it would have been easier if she had just packed up her shit and fucked off. She said that she still loved him, but she was no longer in love with him. They stopped having sex as often, and then it just sort of stopped completely. They rarely touched, and it was slowly killing him. She didn’t seem to care, and if he ever spoke to her about it, she reminded him of exactly how badly he had hurt her. So, he just gave up. He came home and kept to himself. They spoke if and when she wanted to talk. They shared absolutely nothing. He continued to pretended that everything was fine, I mean he had been lying to everyone he knew for years that the marriage was idyllic, but it wasn’t even bearable. And then one day, although he never really understood it, he came to realize that he hated her. He loved her to death, but he hated her just as passionately. So, to avoid saying or doing something he thought he may regret later, he started hanging out at the nudie bar, drinking more than he was accustomed to and watching the strippers do what they do. He didn’t like it very much, but he really didn’t have anything else to do with his time. He had no friends and to be honest, he didn’t particularly like people anyway. What he needed was to be loved, but he couldn’t seem to get that anywhere anyway. If he could, he was pretty sure that he just would have left her. He knew that he just didn’t have the time, money, or energy to start dating again in the hopes of finding someone to share whatever time he had left. He thought that was just fucking stupid, I mean he was old already and there were health issues. He would have liked to have been able to reconnect with someone from his past, someone he knew who was also just looking for someone to love.
He could never understand what the hell she was so fucking angry about, and why she couldn’t understand that he did what he did because he loved her.. He couldn’t understand why she wasn’t able to forgive him after all of those years. He was sure that something was wrong with her, I mean he had considered on more than one occasion that she was out of her fucking mind. She had to be, or perhaps she was simply a bitch. Either way, she had driven him to hate her in a way he never thought he could. After fifteen years of slowly and painfully removing him from her life she wouldn’t consider, not even for a moment that he was a victim as well. It wasn’t just her though, I mean most of the time he hated himself as well, and he suspected that was why he had been drinking and hanging out at Filmore’s. He had always taken care of her though, through miscarriages, cancer scares, near death experiences and emotional turmoil, but he just couldn’t do it anymore, I mean he just didn’t think he cared enough.
He would sit at the bar until he was pretty sure that she would have gone off to bed, I mean he just didn’t have any interest in speaking to her anymore. Sometimes he’d sit there until closing time, and then drag his ass out of the bar, wondering if there was some way he could avoid going home. Most nights he slept on the couch, passing out in front of the television, without a clue of what was on. It was just background noise, something to listen to that didn’t piss him off. There were times when she spoke that he found himself wishing that she would just shut the fuck up. I mean he had even grown to hate the sound of her voice, but he had nowhere else to go. He was trapped and he hated that feeling. With nothing to lose he began escaping into fantasy, vacillating between here and there as he tried to create some kind of life for himself that would give him exactly what he needed. It made him feel less alone and he didn’t seem to care as much that she had nothing to say to him. I suppose she didn’t seem to matter as much to him, I mean he just didn’t seem to care about her as much as he used to think he needed to.
And in one of those fantasy moments, when the thoughts of her had vanished like snow in the spring thaw, he found himself smiling back at the stripper who had always welcomed him with a smile and slipped a five dollar bill into her g-string. It was all quite exciting, I mean there had been no one other than his wife for thirty-five years and he was pretty sure that everything was about to change. In that moment, as she took his hand while walked up the stairs to her flat above the LCBO, he felt that his life had come full circle and that everything was right with the universe once again. He had no reason to say anything to his wife really, I mean he didn’t think he owed her anything. And every night you could find him sitting alone at a table in Filmore’s drinking domestic beer, and watching one particular foreign woman take her clothes off for a few dollars.