Published in Overland Issue 203 Winter 2011 Main Posts Daylight Susan Bennett Drunk, you say? I’m sober enough to iron your fucking shirts, shithead. What? What’s that you say? You want to take me to the recycling bin to count the empties? Yeah? Well how about I take you to the fucking ironing basket to count your shirts? I notice you can add up the empty wine bottles but not the empty detergent bottles, dickhead. What? What are you, a breathalyser? Drunk, my arse! Oh I’ll take twelve steps all right – all to the fridge. Oopsie! My mistake – ’twas only fi-ve! Now there was an inspired bit of housekeeping. Not a category you’ll see in the Good Housekeeping Annual Awards anytime soon though – Best Fridge Placement heh heh heh ha ha ha. Come to momma, baby. Mm. Aaaaaah. Good stuff! Just the way I like it – wet. Oh crap! As long as you can walk to the fridge without falling over, that means you’re sober. Everyone knows that. Oh really? You reckon? Nasty when I’m drunk, am I? Well then what’s your excuse? ’Cause you’re a bastard when you’re sober and that’s all the fucking time. I’d rather be me drunk than you sober any day of the week. Drinking myself to death, am I? Well if I do, I’m coming back to haunt you. Oh, yes, I’m coming back to haunt you, all right. You’ll know it’s me when you hear this in the middle of the night: Fill the fucking salt shaker, dickhead. Belligerent? Belligerent? Me? Not. At. All. Why, in truth, Edward, to the contrary, I am in fact about to congratulate you on ar-tick-you-lating a word of three – no! count ’em – four syllables! Whoo hoo! Edward said a big word! Edward said a big word! Spell it. Go onnnnnnnn, Edward, I dare you. Go onnnnnnnn, spell it, Edward, spell it. Spell bee-lig-u-rent, Edward, go onnnnnnnnn. Go onnnnnnnn. Spell the big word with FOUR syllables, Edward. Heh heh heh. What? Proves your point? I’m not a belligerent, I’m an optimist. Case in point: gotta be lunchtime somewhere! Yeah, right. You know, that’s the difference between you and me, Eddie: you think in terms of the glass being half empty or half full – me, I only see the vodka. Oh do knock up, Edward. Everyone knows as long as you can walk to the fridge in a straight line, that means you’re sober. Come to mama, baby. Come to Bella. Aaaaaaah. That’s the ticket. And let me tell you something, sweetheart. Thinking me belligerent makes you irascible. Go an’ chew on that one, dickhead. Better drunk than mean, Edward. Better drunk than mean. There’s only one person in this house with a drinking problem, sweetheart, and let me tell you ’tain’t me. I know where my mouth is, don’t you worry about that. To be perfectly honest, your habitual sobriety is becoming a problem. When was the last time you drank a cup of kindness? Dinner … what are you talking about … dinner? What dinner? I did not promise to cook you dinner. Oh you’re just bullshitting me ’cause you think I can’t remember. I remember everything. I remember your promises, Edward. You remember what you promised me on our honeymoon? Just one moment of pain, then only pleasure, you said. But first, just a little burn, a little sting, then only pleasure forever. But it worked the other way ’round, didn’t it? Only a moment’s pleasure, then burning forever. Yeah, I’m bringing that up again. Yeah, I’m still smarting over that. But, that’s love, isn’t it? One glorious sunny Friday afternoon you’re shopping for towels in Myer with your whole life ahead of you, next thing you know, you’re in a very dark place with a vacuum cleaner as your evil overlord. One tiny little yes and before you know it, the life’s been sucked right out of you. Making dust, gathering dust, dusting dust, becoming dust – the human condition. One minute you’re going to live forever, the next, you realise it only feels like forever because you’re forever doing the bloody housework. One day you’re living for your lover, just to inhale the scent of him, sweating over whether he’ll still love you when you’re thirty, the next … well. Forty-one makes sense of thirty soon enough, doesn’t it? But a heartbeat ago … just a heartbeat ago … you lived for the sound of your man’s voice; the next thing you know there’s some creep on the other side of your bed who reckons any song that can’t be whistled is pretentious. He thanks you for sex. One day you realise the veil becomes a shroud. The next day you’re out looking for a place to rent, standing outside some tiny South Yarra flat, thinking, Well, size isn’t everything and he does take the rubbish bins out after all. What? Nasty? Oh, Edward, please. Look down and smell the roses, lover. You may well have your problems, little man, but an outsized wang is not among them. And not only is it, er, modest, it is in point of fact, Edward, a wang that actually shrinks from intimacy. In fact, Edward, if it retracted any more, the damned thing would be a vagina. Ah, but you’d never cope with that, would you, Edward? Not penetration. Oh no, not for you. You’d never cope with someone sinking their fangs into your neck, sucking the life out of you, would you Edward? What? Oh. You’d prefer not to talk to me when I’ve been drinking? Well therein lies the rub, dickhead; you’d prefer not to talk to me when I’m sober, that’s why I drink. Come to mama, baby. Ahhh. Oh for Christ’s sake, Edward, give it up. Everyone knows as long as you can still open the fridge door, that means you’re sober. Where was I? Ah, the human condition – dust, dusting, dusted. No, Edward. You gave me everything you ever wanted. Things you thought I wouldn’t love you without. Truth is, I couldn’t love you with them. Diamonds can’t smile back at you, baby. I didn’t want diamonds. I didn’t need diamonds ’cause you were my diamond, baby. But then … … the accoutrements of love, the detritus of failure … they’re one and the same, hey? The things that are supposed to make you happy, they’re the things that make you miserable. You know why? ’Cause the things that make you happy cost me too bloody much. The things that make your house a home, Edward, make my home a prison. Love isn’t supposed to be a job description, baby. Twenty years … twenty years of marriage, hungering for a meal that never came. Better death by drink than death by deprivation, I tell you. To hope is to hunger, and one can only be hungry so long before the appetite fails. You try being the heroine in a story where the hero doesn’t think you’re worth saving, your worth measured by how much of your life you’ll sacrifice to the service of others, your love, the measure of your heart, taken by the food you put on the table. You try being congratulated on your cleanliness, like a whore. See if you don’t turn to drink, Edward. You say I cry because I drink. I tell you, I drink to cry. Rambling? Yeah. Well. I’m a long story, baby. How does it happen, Edward? Tell me. Where did it all go wrong? No, listen. Seriously, my love, seriously … if we knew then what we know now … what would we do differently, hey? Those words … those words … how many of those words would have been held back? How many of those missiles would have dissolved in our mouths before they dissolved us? How much of ourselves would we have given up, just to hold onto the other, my love? In the raw of the night, I think about these things, Edward. You didn’t know that, did you? You don’t know that I’m afraid of the dark, do you? I swear to you, love, never have I drank a single drop more than I needed, not a single drop. Sobriety is not a cure, Edward. No cure at all. I tell you, there’s a life out there waiting for me. Edward? Answer me please, Edward? You know, I forget. Did I do this to you or did you do this to me? Okay. Okay, then. I’ll tell you something, and it’s the God’s honest truth – just as surely as you’re tied to that chair – with all my might I wish you dead, then the moment you cough, I worry you might have a cold. Oh yeah? YEAH? You know the problem with knights in shining armour, Edward? They come on high fucking horses. You don’t want me to drink? Then maybe you should stop filling my glass. Ask me why I drink, I’ll tell you it’s because you don’t give me a reason not to, but you don’t ask, just like you don’t wonder what your toothbrush gets up to at night. There’s a reason the toilet’s so sparkly, Edward. I’ll tell you why I drink so much: ’CAUSE OTHERWISE I’D STILL BE FUCKING SOBER. I loved you so much it hurt, but then you hurt me because I loved you. Oh yes you did. It’s just that the sort of beatings you give don’t leave bruises. You’re a lolly jar filled with sugar-coated hostilities, baby. There’s a life out there waiting for me, Edward, and I’m going out to find it. Hey, lover, tell you what – how’s about when I go, I leave the iron behind, just as a joke? Oh that’s a bit rich coming from Mister I don’t know if I’m gay or not. Let me tell you something, sweetheart – closeted husbands make for open-bar wives. What? You didn’t think I noticed you eyeing off Frankenstein? You been looking to bolt his nuts, no doubt about it. You think I didn’t notice? You’re right, absolutely right. We never should have married. You and I have only one thing in common: we’ve both been making a fool out of me for years. There’s a life out there waiting for me, and just as surely as you’re tied to that chair, I’m going to find it. Right again. I am rambling. Enough talk. Time for action. Yes, Edward, at last. For the love of Christ, man, for the last time, I did not promise to cook you dinner … Steak? … Steak? Oh, darlin’, you thought I promised you steak? No, lover, I didn’t say steak. I said stake. Susan Bennett Susan Bennett has authored The Cook's Toolkit by Clever Pumpkin and Grace, a novel inspired by a daydream featuring The Sopranos women whacking their men (and why not)). She cites Lisa Simpson as her greatest influence. Her blogspot is Fudging the Menu More by Susan Bennett Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 11 November 202211 November 2022 Main Posts On the last day of Subscriberthon, our amazing online editor gives you one last (very good) reason to subscribe Editorial team What's in store for the last day of Subscriberthon? 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