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July is the worst month for relationships. It beats April in cruelty and it has it all over December when people get holiday jitters. I've had friends break up in July over everything from the full moon (is it full yet?) to confessions of infidelity that happened 10 years before. Now why would anyone throw his or her spouse out of the house for not agreeing on the shape of the moon? The moon is subjective, which is what the problem is. People are subjective, so you can't take them seriously. Usually, you can laugh it off. But not in July: July is so damn serious that people weep over a remark overheard in a grocery store. Confessing infidelity, on the other hand, is a serious matter, and people don't usually go there unless it's July. Confessions like that are hard on both males and females, but it knocks guys over harder. Guys don't ever confess stuff like that unless they are in love and want to leave, and then they take years to come up with it. If it's only a matter of getting lucky, they'll never say a word about it. The male of the species is programmed for the occasional conquest and unless it's love, they usually follow Ted Berrigan's dictum, "Keep old hat in secret closet!" Discretion is always the better part of valor unless you want to see yourself flying out the back door with only the signed baseball and, if you're lucky, one uncanceled credit card. With women it's different: if you catch them, then the cards are all yours. You can be angry, sullen, moody and, finally, magnanimous. You'll come out better the less real fuss you make, and she'll love you better for being wise and forgiving. Except in July. In July you go ballistic, you throw fits, you move out, things go from worse to worser, and you can end up breaking up over some silly peccadillo. Take my word for it, boys and girls: be careful about it in July, even though I know, from historical accounts, that it's the hardest month not to lose your head and your body to new thrills. The absolute bottom of July madness, however, is a woman's confession to her husband that she not only has peccadilloed, but that she intends to do it for a while longer because it feels too good to stop. Then there is trouble. July turns into a demon with a tongue of fire and all hell breaks loose. The biggest mistake a gal can make, unless she means to break up, is to bring up the truth and fill the atmosphere with love vibes that don't belong to the co-owner of the house. I have no advice for that, except the one by Frank Sinatra who, after years of woman trouble, said: "If you love them, let them go." He didn't mean that, literally, he meant "leave them alone and go about your business." If you're strong enough to do that and say, "I hear you honey, just don't mention it again," there are two choices: she'll break it up and worship you, or she'll despise you and leave you. Jealousy has two faces: the first one is violent, the second one contemptuous. If you're violent, especially in July, things will be awful, but they might lead to an increase in desire that leads to mean and wonderful sex. Babies are sometimes born from such a fury. If you're cool, things can be just as awful because nobody likes to be ignored, especially when it comes to something as momentous as being kissed in all the taboo places. The best and worst thing a guy can say to a mate is, "I hope you used protection," and the best and worst thing a gal can say to her man is, "I guess you'll be getting it somewhere else from now on." Usually, if this sort of thing happens in April, people make up. In July, it's hell. Best thing is to sleep the whole month. In August you'll think about work and money again.

Andrei Codrescu's latest book is New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writing From the City (Algonquin Books).

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