The following is an excerpt from Corrections to My Memoirs by Michael Kun, published by MacAdam/Cage.
The Handwriting Patient
Please excuse the impersonal nature of this note.
I do not normally type notes to my friends and family. As you should know, I normally write them by hand, in script—a practice many people (women mostly) find to be charming and old-fashioned, like wearing a hat or eating Fig Newton cookies.
Unfortunately, over the years, I have received several complaints about the quality of my penmanship. It is quite poor, I must admit—the result of a callus that has formed near the fingernail of my right-hand middle finger, the consequence of forty-plus years of holding pens (and pencils) improperly. The callus is the size of a lentil.
Given the sober nature of this missive, which you will shortly understand, there should be no room for confusion. You should not be left to wonder, “Does that say ‘glove’ or ‘above’?” were I to use one word or the other. "Does that say ‘my enormous collection of pornography’ or ‘my porous recollection of podiatry’?"
So, please imagine that this typed note is, in fact, handwritten especially for you. In handwriting that is crisp and legible and as pleasing to the eye as a waterfall or a bird building a nest.
By now, you may have heard that Samantha and I have chosen to terminate our engagement and cancel the wedding that was to be held two Saturdays from today. (I am not including today, which is a Saturday, nor should you, in making—or rather, canceling—any travel plans.)
If you’ve already heard about our decision, you have probably heard it from Delores Greenburg, Samantha’s mother. And if you have heard it, directly or indirectly, from Delores Greenburg, then it is possible, if not altogether likely, that you have received information that is not true or only partially true. I hope you will keep this in mind when you hear allegations that I am a "cad" or a "felon." Or that I am "a cad and a felon who tried to seduce Samantha’s maid of honor." I hope you will recognize the critical difference between being “arrested” and being “convicted” of an offense. I hope you will search for the truth when you hear that I have "a serious drinking problem," or if you are told about my "enormous collection of pornography," or that I "invited Samantha’s sister to join me naked in the hot tub.” I hope you will give some thought to the meaning of the word "enormous." I hope you will do some research into what a "hot tub" is.
The truth of the matter is that Samantha is a lovely girl, as sweet as pudding, but we simply are not meant for each other. It would be ungentlemanly of me to state that the decision to end our engagement was anything but “mutual,” but, at the same time, I believe it is also entirely reasonable of me to explain to you, my dear friend or family member, why you will not be traveling to Westchester in two weeks. (Unless, of course, you have an unrelated event in Westchester, or have been invited by Samantha’s family to attend the “Samantha Almost Made a Huge Mistake” hoopla that they are throwing at the reception hall, since they’d already paid for the band, food, alcohol, and so forth.)
It was only recently that I learned that Samantha has what doctors might call a “violent, hair-trigger temper.” I realized this when she stood as close to me as you are to this sheet of paper, her face as red as an apple, her eyes enormous, her sharp teeth like those of some beast, and screamed, “Is it true? Is it true that you invited Debra to meet you at the Sheraton at lunchtime last Tuesday? Debra, my maid of honor?”
I had not known before that moment that my fiancée, the woman I was to spend the rest of my life with, had such a short fuse. I certainly wouldn’t have asked her to marry me had I known. I certainly wouldn’t have invited her to move into my home (or, more accurately, I would not have moved into her home). The girl I’d fallen in love with was as calm and clement as a summer day. I did not recognize the girl who was standing in front of me baring her beastly teeth. She was like the "evil twin" who frequently appears in television soap operas, the one who looks exactly like the heroine but, in fact, is infused with the unsavory qualities you would normally find in a high-priced corporate lawyer.
I’m afraid that I also discovered that Samantha has difficulty resolving problems. As any marriage expert will tell you, the ability to resolve conflicts and “move on” is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship between a man and a woman. But, as I learned in the nick of time, Samantha is incapable of dropping an issue. After I told her, unequivocally, that I had not invited her maid of honor to meet me at the Sheraton last Tuesday, she would not let the issue go. Instead, she felt the need to pull a piece of paper out of her purse and read it aloud.
"Debra," she read, "I’m not a married man yet. There’s no denying the chemistry we have. I know you felt it, too, when we all had dinner at Chili’s. Meet me at the Sheraton next Tuesday at noon. Bring something sheer and sexy!" As I said, she simply could not let the issue go. Her forgetfulness was another problem. I don’t know how many times we’d spoken about my poor penmanship, about the callus on my middle finger, yet she acted as if she knew nothing about it. I had to take the note from her and show her that it said "Thursday," not "Tuesday." I had to show her that it said "cheap," not "sheer."
"See," I said. "I can barely write." I held my hand up in front of my face so she could not avoid looking at the callus. "See. See."
My problem with my penmanship, the callus on my hand, meant nothing to her. Nothing. It was at that moment that I realized, if I ever had to get medical treatment for my problem, surgery to reduce or remove the callus, for instance, I would not be able to count on her for support. I would be on my own. I would have to face it by myself. The pain. The embarrassment. The countless hours of rehabilitation. The struggle to feel like a "whole man" again. That is not what I was looking for in a wife. You know that, my dear friend or family member. You know.
So, Samantha and I have made the mutual decision to move on.
For the next several weeks, I will be renting a room at the YMCA on 86th Street.
Or the one on 56th Street.
What does that say? Did I write an "8"or a "5"? I think it’s an "8." Yes, it’s an "8." At least I think it is.
See what I must face alone?
Maybe I could stay on your couch instead.
—Excerpt from Corrections to My Memoirs by Michael Kun. "The Handwriting Patient" originally published in Indy Men's Magazine. Copyright © 2007. Permission granted by MacAdam/Cage Publishing.