The Dance of Dick and Jane - Part One
By Maggie Barton-McRae
Dick and Jane met at a dance. They had not previously met but something caught Dick's attention. Dick asked Jane to dance - she agreed, and off they went to the dance floor. It was magic. They not only danced in sync, they felt that they instinctively knew each other. They seemed to connect on some sort of deep emotional level. Within a few months of dating, they felt that they were in love.
Jane was 30 - divorced with two children. Between her child support and her job she was able to meet her mortgage and maintain her car payments. Jane was the youngest of 4 children. Her father had worked for the Long Island Railroad as a conductor while she as growing up. Her mother had been busy tending to the house and children. Jane remembered looking forward to her father coming home. He would give her a piggyback ride and sometimes a candy bar. Jane also remembers her parents arguing. This had made her brother and sisters feel anxious. They, in turn, would fight amongst themselves. Jane's mother seemed to be unhappy alot. She remembers seeing her with red and swollen eyes.
About the time when Jane started school she remembers her father not paying her the attention that she had previously gotten. Her older sisters and brother were getting punished by him more and more. She remembers her father acting "funny" at this time - he was coming home from work later and later. She remembers him talking and not making any sense, and swaying when he walked. He would shout at her and she would cry. Her mother was also agitated and seemed to be angry at her and her brother and sisters. Jane started to withdraw. She stayed in her room and played more and more with her dolls. She would play pretend. She would pretend that she would be rescued by a wonderful prince just like Cinderella had been. She would then become a beautiful princess. At night, Jane would go to bed and dream of this.
Jane's parents got divorced when she as twelve. Her mother told her and her siblings that their father had a drinking problem and this was why they were no longer going to live with him. Jane was relieved but also sad. She still remembered the times when her father used to pay attention to her. Jane's father initially came to visit on the weekends to visit. This did not last long, and they saw him less and less. Jane would cry at night because her friends had fathers and now she didn't. Jane managed to keep herself "afloat" by fantasizing that her prince would soon rescue her and make her life happy again. Jane's mother was now working and her older sister had become the substitute mother.
Jane's prince did arrive on the scene when she was seventeen - his name was John. John was eighteen, and had worked in his father's garage since he was sixteen. He liked impressing girls with his Thunderbird. This would get him dates. His father used to push him around. John was tough though - he would never let his father know that it hurt. John met Jane when she was walking home from school. He asked her if she wanted a lift. Jane was thrilled that such a good looking guy with such a great car would be interested in her. Jane had been used to the "spotty-faced" boys paying attention to her. Jane had been struggling with her weight since she was thirteen and was about twenty pounds overweight. She had not been able to lose any more of the weight. Jane realized that the thin girls got the good-looking guys, but she felt that there was nothing that she could do about that. Jane's mother had recently got re-married, and she hated her stepfather - he was this creepy looking guy who used to try and throw his weight around. Her plan, at that time, was to finish school and go to college away from home and away from him. She didn't talk much to her mother either - she hated her for marrying such a creep.
John was on a roll with girls. Between his Thunderbird and working out, he was in demand. It didn't matter that he wasn't doing well in school - he planned to work for his father anyway. John thought that Jane was cute, in a weird sought of way. She wasn't quite up to par with the other girls that he had dated, but she seemed to like him in the way that the other girls didn't. He started to go out with her, but also continued to see other girls. Jane didn't seem to mind. She seemed so happy to have his attention and never asked for much.
Jane and John were married when Jane was nineteen. She had worked after school at a secretarial job. Her plans to go to college had been overridden by the idea of her meeting her prince charming. She had been eager to get married and was looking forward to having a child that she could love. Everything was sort of okay for awhile - they had a child the following year and Jane threw herself into taking care of her son. John started to feel Jane's attention waning - John resented this. Jane was also feeling the pinch at this time. Her dream man was acting disgruntled and spending less time with her. She compensated for this by throwing herself into raising her son. John was spending more and more time with "the guys" - she didn't know what to do. She was financially dependent on him. A few years passed and Jane had another child - she as happy again. John started to pay a little more attention to his family. John was staying home more, which Jane liked; however, he was getting "bombed" quite frequently. Jane didn't mind his drinking, she was glad to have him home. She was more interested in him being home than in being with him. What Jane didn't want to look at though was John's attitude change when he drank. He was becoming increasingly more angry.
One day Jane's friend came over. John had been drinking and he was angry at the intrusion. Jane tried to hide this from her friend - it was too late though. Her friend saw the anger before she made an excuse to leave. Her friend approached Jane about the incident. Jane didn't like this - she felt that she had to be loyal to John. She started to avoid her friend - unfortunately, John's anger escalated. Jane didn't know what to do. The kids were beginning to have difficulty at school. The final straw came when Jane came home to John hitting their oldest child. Jane knew that she had to do something. John's behavior was now out of control. Jane decided to find work. John would never know. She would work, save her money, and then seek legal advice. Several months went by and Jane had saved a few thousand dollars. She consulted an attorney, and divorce proceedings began. Later that year, Jane got her divorce. John had apparently been seeing someone so he didn't give Jane too much of a hassle after his initial anger. Jane left her marriage vowing never to marry someone like John again.
Jane planned to have some fun now that her marriage was over. She was now working full-time and her neighbor was watching the boys after school. Unfortunately for Jane her idea of fun did not materialize. Juggling work, money and the boys took a great deal of her time. John also had stopped coming around to visit them. Jane began fantasizing being rescued. Someone to help with the boys, to be a father to them and a husband to her. Wouldn't it be great not to have to work so hard? Jane vowed that this was to be her goal. She would go out with "the girls" to dances and clubs in the hope that she would meet "Mr. Right". So every time she got ready to go out, she would look into the mirror and pay special attention to her makeup with the hope that "Mr. Right" might be there tonight. Every time she would come home with a girlfriend she would feel let down and would be down for the next day. Jane, however, quickly recovered from her down. She would just think about going out the next time and this would make her hopeful again. So this was how Jane came to meet Dick. She was out with the girls with her hopes and dreams, and here was Dick waiting to meet those dreams. Or rather, that was how Jane perceived him.
Part two will be in next month's issue.
Maggie Barton is in private practice, her phone number is 828-452-4029.