Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Beauty and the Beast

The water was warm and soothing. We stepped off the last boulder and discovered a sandy bottom. As we moved to an unoccupied area on the opposite side of the spring I took note of the others in the water. The youngest was about ten and the oldest was in their eighth decade. A baby was asleep in a carrier beside the spring. There were some individuals sitting alone reading while others clustered in groups of two or three and talked softly. Everyone was in a state of serenity and, if they moved, moved slowly and quietly.

The boulders, flowers and trees around the hot spring added to the feeling of calmness. In the distance the mountains had begun showing the first signs of color that barely hinted at snows to come. The breeze was still warm and the clouds floated across the sky.

After a while we decided to move to a smaller pool that was unoccupied. We settled in and continued talking about things that where unimportant, forgettable and pleasant. The sound of the water cascading over the stone spoke of peace and beauty.

We heard him before we saw him. He was loud and his tone had a coarse edge. We glanced over and shared the same thought – “Please don’t come over here”. Our silent prayers went unanswered and he invaded our pool and the serenity fled. We introduced ourselves and he immediately dashed hopes of restoring that fragile atmosphere of peace. “Where’s my wife? What’s taking her so long? She’s ashamed of her body!” He was nude and I was offended.

The hot spring is clothing optional. About half the visitors were clothed and half were not. I was offended not by his nudity but by his derogatory tone and comments about his wife. I knew Julie and I were ready to move to another pool and avoid him but curiosity prevailed and I continued to make conversation in a quiet way. I asked him about remote hot springs he had visited in hopes of learning about another jewel hidden in the mountains. With great skill and finesse he managed to put a negative facet to all of his responses. “Where is she?” he growled. I wanted to leave but curiosity prevailed again.

I was curious about his wife. Who could live with him? How did she cope with his coarse side? Could she calm him and turn his abrasive nature into something more gentle?

Finally, when I began to lose hope, she appeared. Rather than tender or happy words of greeting he assaulted her with the words “Your suit is see-through”. She was wearing a one-piece white suit that was opaque.

With a soft voice and an equally soft demeanor she replied “Is it?” and didn’t show signs of frustration. She reacted as if she had heard a breeze blowing through the tops of the trees.

We spent a few moments more in the pool and the interaction between the two continued in the same beauty and beast fashion. He was crude, insensitive and unloving but she responded with grace and a soft voice.

As we said our goodbyes and moved back to the larger pool, I wondered about her? Given anger, she responded with calmness; given harshness, she returned serenity. Surely, in the dark of the night as she lies beside him and listens to the sounds of his breathing as he sleeps, she must long for tenderness, caring and words of love. How does she manage to keep her demeanor? In some way she draws from a well of strength that eludes me.

I'm grateful for her example. It inspired me. In an ironic way, I'm gradeful for meeting him. He inspired me also. He led me to reaffirm my determination always to treat Julie with respect, tenderness and love.


Blogger Whitesnake said...

That was a beautiful piece Paul.

Funny, I would have done the same as you, stuck around just for a nosey.

I learnt a vauluable lesson from my marriage break up.

Don't get angry, accept that your partner doesn't love you anymore for what ever reason, be thankful that you once had something special with that partner.

I have moved on and talk to my ex in a polite and kind manner, she on the other hand has a lot of anger still left, most of it would be that what she had done to me had made me a better person not a bitter one.

By the way.......write more often, I have an addiction to what you have to say and your not keeping up with your end....:-)

10/10/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

It would be interesting to know what prompted her soft words and response. What was going through her mind? What redeeming virtue does she see in him that is obscured to the rest of the world? Will he open his mouth once too often and then sleep too deeply that night?

To be with someone you love, treasure and respect - makes life truly sweet, my friend. You and your lady are lucky people.

10/10/2006 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

This is probably one of the most interesting pieces I've read in quite awhile. Thanks for sharing.

10/10/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger MojoMan said...

There are plenty of obnoxious men out there that have beautiful women falling all over them. It's pretty well known that women are often attracted to the agressive bad boy. We sensitive types like to think women like courtesy and gentleness, but...I wonder.

10/11/2006 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Upon a quickscan, I read your title incorrectly. I had thought that I had seen an "r" in the last word. Considering the situation, maybe that would have worked too.

10/11/2006 11:13:00 AM  

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