Thursday, January 10, 1963
“Your period started on Sunday, you say?”
“Yes…” Elizabeth said, “well, the cramps.”
“How long do your periods usually last?”
“Six, seven days.”
Writing, ripping it from the pad, he handed her the prescription. “Take one immediately, then follow the instructions.”
Sincerely spoken, “Thank you, Doctor.”
“These won’t take affect immediately, so use your regular precautions for the next three weeks.”
The first birth control pill: Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill (COCP), Enovid, was introduced to America in 1960.
Des Plaines, Illinois
February 17, 1963, 10:45 p.m.
“Marcie, come on, baby!”
“I don’t feel like it!”
Not wanting to argue, speaking softly, “But you don’t ever feel like it.”
“Mitchell, I don’t feel well!”
Knowing he was treading on thin ice. “Marsha, you don’t ever feel well!”
Turning away, there was no response.
“You know how long it’s been since we’ve made love?”
“Marsha,” trying to make a joke of it, “we, haven’t made love since last year.”
Turning back, rising onto her elbows, “Mitchell, I told you, I don’t feel well!”
“Yeah,” said tiredly, “I know, Marsha.”
“Tell you what!” Said angrily, “I give you ‘permission’!”
“You give me permission? What do you give me permission for?”
“You want to get fucked?” her voice rising.
“Marcie, the kids!”
Lowering her tone slightly. “You want to get fucked? Okay, you’re a guy and I understand.” Her eyes narrowed, “So, it’s okay!” Sitting up now, her body turned to him. “You want to get fucked, so I give you permission!” her voice rising again, “Go fuck your girlfriend!”
“My girlfriend? I don’t have a girlfriend! What are you talking about?”
“That girl… The one with the big ass… The one we had Christmas dinner with.”
“’Christmas dinner with?… Elizabeth?”
“Yeah, that’s her! She likes you…”
Wondering where she was pulling this from. “Marsha, that was…?” Thinking, “That was five years ago! Why would you even think…”
“Listen,” she said angrily, “go…” lowering her voice, “fuck Elizabeth!” Laying down again, she turned her back to him. “Go fuck anyone you want, just leave me alone!”
Angry now, “You really don’t care?” Grabbing her shoulders, turning Marsha in his direction, “You really don’t care?”
“Right!” Her eyes narrow, her words barely above an angry whisper, “I really don’t care. Go fuck Elizabeth! Go fuck anyone!” Twisting out of his grasp, “Only, God damn-it, leave me alone!”
“Yeah, I’ll leave you alone alright!” Rotating from his left to his right side, turning the knob on the light, Mitchell lay in the dark staring at nothing. Thinking: So why the hell not? She told me to! She doesn’t give a damn if I do! So why the hell not!
Between the days and nights of anger and tiredness, stomach aches, headaches, cramps and remaining in the bathroom until he was asleep and even then, if he was able to remain awake, “Not tonight, Mitchie. I just don’t feel like it,” or, “Not tonight, Mitchie. I don’t feel well.”
Thinking of the two times she’d left him for unfathomable reasons. She didn’t give a damn how I felt! Thinking of the time she had packed up, taken his son and unconscionably walked out. So why the hell not! he thought with resolve. She told me to! She doesn’t give a damn if I do, so, what the hell, I might as well…
Yet it took another week of anger and on and off silence between the husband and wife.
Another week of wondering if, in fact, the signals Elizabeth sent were the signals Mitchell thought he received.
Another week of dreaming of becoming close… of fantasizing of becoming very close to this beautiful young woman that Mitchell Lipensky loved that he was rather sure loved him in return.
Another week of fearing what would eventually happen if, in fact, he and Elizabeth did become “involved.”
After another week of continual internal turmoil and mental debate.
February 26, 1963
Trying, giving it one more try…
“You guys done eating?”
“Me, too, Daddy.”
“Okay.” Wiping Samuel’s hands and face, lifting him from the infant seat, “Come on, let’s go watch Lucy.”
“Daddy,” giggling, “Lucy’s not on now.”
“I know that, Ellie… So let’s go see what is on.”
Laying the baby in the playpen, turning the television on, “How’s this? You guys like ‘Laugh In’?” Turning the television a bit louder than necessary, so they wouldn’t hear.
“Okay. I’m going to help mommy.”
“Marcie,” helping clear the table, having a sensation of déjà vu.
“Marcie,” having the sensation of living this moment before… Of living this moment many times before. “Don’t you think this has gone on long enough?” Putting his arms about her waist, “Come on, baby. Let’s kiss and make up.”
Turning from the sink, facing him. “Why, Mitchell?” Twisting out of his arms. “Getting tired of jerking off?”
Surprised that she would accuse him of this—although she wasn’t too far from wrong—“Marcie, no!” Smiling, “I’m not tired of jerking off.” Trying to disarm her, “No,” chuckling, “I don’t mean that either!”
Dumping garbage in the lined can beneath the sink, “Mitchell, leave me alone!”
Desperately wanting to end this! “Marcie, please! Enough already!” Desperately wanting a reason not to pursue an affair with Elizabeth! “Come on, baby.” Attempting to hold her again, she angrily squirmed out of reach, “Marcie, we didn’t even have an argument! Why won’t you just let it end?”
Her anger… Marsha’s irrational anger coupled with weariness brought on by low blood sugar, along with continuing postpartum mood swings, vaginal and hemorrhoidal discomfort and constipation—to say nothing of monumental stubbornness.
“Why won’t you just let it end?”
“Why?” Said in a high pitched, singsong voice, “‘But you don’t ever feel like it.’” Sarcastically quoting Mitchell’s words, said in the same cynical singsong voice, “‘Marsha, you don’t ever feel well!’”
Thinking, remembering, “Okay, yeah, I did say that, but that was a week ago, so why can’t you just let it go?”
“And a week ago you remember I told you to leave me alone!”
Not wanting to! Actually afraid to. Possibly looking for confirmation. Saying it anyway, “And you also told me I should find someone else to,” whispering, “fuck!”
“Yes” she said smiling a mirthless smile, “I did!”
How does a person have any idea that one might have a heretofore unknown medical syndrome such as postpartum depression, or—when that syndrome departs—how does he or she know it was replaced with another heretofore unknown syndrome: depression.
Marsha’s depression now at play
Marsha’s diabetes at play.
Truly exhausted, truly depressed and truly not feeling well…
Unaware, “And you really mean it, huh? You really want me to?”
Really not thinking he would. “Yes, I really meant it!” Really thinking he didn’t have the nerve. “Yes, I really want you to!” Leaning into him, her face inches from his, “Yessss!” she hissed. If a snake could speak, “So long as it’s not me, yessss! I give you permission! Yessss , go to your fat ass girlfriend!”
“I told you, I don’t have a girlfriend!”
“Then go! Find someone! Go find anyone! I give you permission!”
Below, in the family room, glancing over their shoulders, Michael and Ellie covered their ears.
His mind made up, sadly said, “Okay, Marsha.” Mitchell left the kitchen.
February 27, 1963, 9:45 a.m.
After a restless night, his resolve crumbling, hoping she’d checked in already, “Donna,” his stomach quaking, “good morning! It’s Mitch Lipensky.”
His heart in his throat, “Has Elizabeth called in yet?”
“No. She usually checks in about ten, ten-thirty.”
“Could you tell her, please, that I think one of her customers is opening an office on my side of the street and that I’d like to talk to her about it.”
“Tell her I’m going to have lunch at Harding’s,” doing his best to sound nonchalant, “and that if she wants to talk to me about the customer and has no other plans for lunch to meet me there at, oh, twelve, twelve-thirty.”
“Sure, Mitch. Anything else?”
“No… Yeah. Any calls for me?”
Glancing at the “Lipensky” slot. “No, nothing, Mitch.”