Back home dudes shame him with handstands on the way down to chaturanga. On the beach he’s the only one jumping up to complete the vinyasas.
So he becomes that guy, rising unbidden from bridge into full wheel and doing a sweet, solitary shoulder stand before savasana.
After class he presents, sweaty and sandy, for an attaboy.
But teacher Whipple congratulates himself. “Dude you’re here without your wife? I’m super impressed! I converted you to yoga!”
Denied his dose of praise, McCormick smiles and nods and walks into the waves, which are cool and soothing, just like the day before.
At beach yoga McCormick checked the other towels. Sunburned ankles, vanilla thighs, sandy glutes. But no buzzing and slapping. The carrion call was for him.
Probably because of the knee he skinned falling of his scooter last week. (Oh, Mikey, remember how you reviled grownups on scooters?)
New flesh came off like pudding skin in the hot-tub. Left a puffy yellow glob. The flies thought he was dead already.
Ten hours later, while June naps, he runs Makena Road. Left his glasses in the room. Can’t read the heart monitor. But he feels fast and hot, even this close to sunset.
After the morning race for chairs, from which Julie emerges with four under an umbrella, away from the smell of the grill, McCormick remembers rising early in Laguna Beach to claim the curtained couch by that pool. Because his sister-in-law needed privacy and the softest seat.
He’s glad Julie, helping June into a shimmering mermaid suit she bought her on the way to breakfast, doesn’t hear the women in the row ahead describing elaborate exploratory, the chance of biopsy.
Why do they sit together, leisure and mutation? And, as June asks often, what do you look like when you’re dead?
“Julie, Jesus! Go!”
“He sees us, Michael. Stop barking.”
“When I fear for our lives, I bark.”
Oh my word, this is the fourth time today. I don’t even know before I say it that I am going to say:
“That’s enough! Next time decide not to argue before we get in the car!”
Mommy says, “If your father could calm down…”
Daddy says, “Sorry, June Bug. We’ll do better.”
I guess better means not talking for like ten or twelve minutes and then asking each other how much it costs to buy the houses we just keep driving past.
(McCormick has discovered that Sal Bergen referred him to his ex-wife for marriage counseling…)
Because he hasn’t yet agreed to lie on the couch three times a week, McCormick can study his analyst’s face.
Setting aside Sal’s Parkinson’s, he sees guilt in the tremorous lip.
“You didn’t think I would find out. You thought the two of you could have a little rehearsal of your conflict through me and Gwen. Do you do this to other patients? You’re sick, Sal.”
McCormick watches Bergen blink and purse. So sweet, for once, to be angry as he fucking wants with no fear of smack down or freeze out.
And now leaving Gwen won’t be his fault.
(He’s recalling therapeutic passages that led to the moment at hand...)
Elaine Southard was recommended to McCormick and Gwen (his partner of twenty years) by Sal Bergen, McCormick’s analyst.
Sal and McCormick’s signal exchange had been punctuated by Bergen gasping, dropping his shaved head into his hands, and saying “The self-deception is just breathtaking.”
That inextinguishable memory lit up when Southard, describing her own divorce, said “marriage can be an arena of sublime self-delusion.”
At his next session with Sal, whom he loved, McCormick said, “You sent me to your ex-wife for marriage counseling.”
Sal flinched, and the sadness in his eyes was something they could not help each other process.
When McCormick, during guided meditation, hears “Direct gentle attention to any areas of discomfort,” he opens his eyes to sneak a peek.
Bruce Blend is a cool looking cat. Tweed jacket over jeans that aren’t skinny or, on the other hand, just a pair of denim slacks. Sharp-edged goatee that says, this face belongs to a dude whose shit is together.
Blend is the best looking shrink he’s seen, excepting Elaine Southard, whose jeans were tight. Whose brown boots gleamed.
Once McCormick told Dr. Southard that human love should include adoration. And she said, “Maybe you just want a puppy.”