Holly and I are marking Hate Week by taking a look into the future and observing what married life between a Vol and a Dawg would be like, and not much about it was pretty (not that anything involving Tennessee orange ever is). The first chapter in that sordid tale is up over at Holly's joint, and I now bring you the second chapter, a wrenching tale of what happens when secret passions boil over and love is stretched to the brink . . . as "Scenes from a Marriage" continues.
September, 2012. A brand-new-masquerading-as-old townhouse somewhere in the greater Atlantaland area. A dozen or so people are packed into the living room, most of them wearing outfits incorporating red and black in some fashion, including DOUG, the man of the house, and a couple of his young nieces and nephews. The large flat-panel TV on one wall shows Georgia and Alabama locked in mortal combat on CBS, and the whole room is riveted — all except for DOUG's wife, HOLLY, who conspicuously wears a lighter, almost burnt-orange-ish shade of red and looks visibly uncomfortable around all these other people.
VERNE LUNDQUIST (ON TV)
It’s third down and seven, Georgia clinging to a one-point lead.
The Dawgs line up in the shotgun, Alabama showing blitz,
now one defender drops back . . . ball is snapped, Murray looking. Looking . . .
Come on, you can’t hold on to it forever . . .
Murray rolls right, chased by Hickenbottom, he just slips away —
(rage boiling over into an inexplicable Brooklyn accent)
JESUS DONKEY-PUNCHING CHRIST, MURRAY,
GET RIDDA THE FUCKIN’ BAWWLLLL!
Murray launches it and — CAUGHT by Bailey at the 20! He’s at the 15! The 10 — TOUCHdown, GEORgia!
The room goes crazy — again, except for HOLLY, who winces at the noisy celebration.
MURRAY, YOU MAGNIFICENT
SON OF A BITCH, YOU'RE
GETTIN' MY FIRSTBORN! . . .
As Lundquist’s partner narrates the replay and the Dawgs kick the extra point, the UGA fans in the room drunkenly bellow out “Mean Machine.” At its conclusion, HOLLY, now looking as if she is nursing two simultaneous migraines, gets up and slinks over toward the kitchen.
Anybody need anything? Drinks, snacks . . . ?
Naw, baby, we're good. We're awesome!
DOUG high-fives one of his college buddies, and the rest of the crowd is still talking excitedly about the touchdown pass as HOLLY smiles demurely to herself and silently moves off toward the basement steps.
Thirty minutes later, the game well in hand, DOUG turns his attention away from the football game (and his case of Stella) for the first time.
Mark, did you see where your Aunt Holly went?
She said she was going to get some snacks.
Yeah, but that was like half an hour and three beers ago. I wonder where she went.
DOUG heads into the kitchen, which is empty. He calls up the stairs, but gets no response. Quietly, he goes down the stairs to the basement, where voices can be heard behind the closed door to HOLLY’s home office.
Yeah . . . oh, yeah, that’s right, you got him . . . get him good! Get that sucker! Yeah! . . .
Holly? . . .
DOUG opens the door to find HOLLY, Natural Light in hand, watching Tennessee pound a poor defenseless Sun Belt squad on TV. HOLLY’s head whirls around: She knows she’s been caught. DOUG can only stare, aghast.
The hell are you doing?
OK, this isn’t what it looks like —
It looks like a fucking Raycom game! Did you TiVo this? —
No, I — I mean, yeah, it was on earlier, but I was just recording it for a friend.
Tennessee versus Louisiana-Lafayette? For fuck's sake,
Holly, there’s a top-10 SEC matchup on CBS upstairs
and you’re watching this? Uggh! . . .
Oh, getting a weak stomach, are you? How do you think I feel,
having to hear you and your drunk-ass friends bark in my face
for the four thousandth goddamn time?
Oh, uh-uh, don't make me the bad guy here. We just went up by eleven
on the number-seven team in the country. There wasn’t even a line
on this game!
So what? Maybe I don’t care about lines or rankings or
conference-title implications or any of that stuff, OK?
Maybe I just want to watch the Vols play because
it makes me feel good. Is that so wrong?
Right, well, while you’re ‘feeling good,’ I’ve got a house full
of friends upstairs wondering why the hell my own wife can’t
be bothered to sit within ten feet of me —
Oh, please, most of them have hated me since our rehearsal dinner.
Like any of them give a rat’s ass about me —
Oh, yeah, what happens if one of them wandered down here
and walked in on you watching this? You think they’d
give a rat’s ass then?
You know what? I don’t care. (beat) You hear me? I don’t care!
I’m happy God made me a Vol! In fact, I’ve got half a mind to
march upstairs and tell it to the whole world!
You. Wouldn't. Dare —
Unbeknownst to the quarreling couple, young MARK has wandered downstairs and is witnessing the whole argument.
What did God make you, Aunt Holly?
Oh, jeez. Nothing, buddy. God didn’t make Aunt Holly anything.
Just, uh, go run upstairs and get your mom a drink —
But she's already had, like, six . . .
Then go get someone ELSE a drink! JUST GO!
Terrified, MARK races upstairs.
You see? You see what you’ve done? Now my own nephew is
probably going to blab to everybody about what his aunt likes to do
in the basement when there’s nobody around.
Yeah, blame this all on me. It’s all my fault. Because I’m different,
because I wanted to have something that was just for me,
I’m some kind of ‘monster’ now. Great. Pass that lesson along
to your nieces and nephews. Or our kids, if we ever have any.
DOUG is visibly affected for the first time. His face softens as he looks into his wife's eyes.
Come on. You knew I was . . . ‘different’ when you married me.
(beat) Didn’t you?
I . . . I guess I did. And I guess I just thought I could live with it. I mean, there was even a part of it that turned me on, it was just so . . . dirty and wrong somehow. But now . . . jeez, Holly, we're not in our 20s anymore. And I mean, there is a top-ten game going on upstairs, Georgia-Alabama, Verne and Gary calling the action, Holly, Uncle Verne, and you’re sitting down here watching . . . this?
I am who God made me, Doug. I just can’t help it if I don’t like Georgia,
or if I’d just as soon see the stadium implode and take everybody with it
when the Tide and the Bulldogs are playing. Can’t you understand?
The Vols are my team. I’m just like you, except I wear different colors.
Long pause as DOUG tries to process all this.
OK. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I blew up at you. I just — I wasn’t prepared
for all this. Not on a day like today.
But do you still love me?
Baby, you know I do.
OK. Good. (pause) Because I, uh, I have a confession to make:
The last couple Saturdays, when I told you I had to put in some
extra time on the Lippman project, I was actually down at the
Volunteer Club get-together at Jocks ’n’ Jills on 10th Avenue . . .
(weak attempt at a smile)
That’s — that’s OK. Baby, that’s fine. I’m not mad.
You said you needed something ‘just for you,’ and that’s — OK.
Oh, I’m so relieved to hear you say that. Because I’ve been talking to
a few of the girls I've met over there and I’d love to bring them over
for the Ole Miss game next week — they’d really like to meet you.
Aw, jeez, Holly — I mean, I know your heart's in the right place, I do,
but . . . I just can’t deal with that yet. If you want to go to your
Volunteer Club meetings, that’s fine, I can’t stop you, but . . .
I just don’t think I can handle having them in my house yet.
(disappointed, but resigned)
No. It’s OK. I understand. We’ll . . . just have to take some time,
I guess. (pause) The only thing I care about is . . .
will you still have me in your house?
Baby, of course I will. Now just come on upstairs with me, OK?
I want you to be social.
Sure. Sure. No problem.
HOLLY starts to follow her husband up the stairs, but she takes one last longing look back at the television to see . . .
DAVE ROWE (ON TV)
Touchdown, Volunteers! Fifty-five yards to Wheeler in the end zone!
Woohoo! Rocky Top, bitch! Just broke fifty points!
(under his breath)