Interview with Paul and John from Journal According to John by Sheryl A. Keen
My name is Paul. I do not work for the Toronto Sun or The Star. I am not a journalist at all. My field is finance. However, I will be conducting an interview (more like a conversation) with John who has been my friend from childhood.
Since his divorce, John has been acting strangely and I find it even more peculiar that he has decided to take up this journal writing. I wanted to talk to him man to man and I wanted it to be in a place that is testosterone driven so that he can remember who he is. We are on the soccer pitch; a game is in progress in the background.
Paul: So John are you still going to follow your cousin’s advice and start keeping a journal? (Shouts of goal could be heard in the background)
John: I am not jumping up and down about the idea but I don’t see how it could hurt. I have questions that I need answers to. So yes I will be writing down my thoughts.
Paul: That’s not manly. You have changed. What’s with all the introspection?
John: In case you have not noticed, my marriage is over. That kind of thing will make you go inside yourself and think about things.
Paul: We all know that your wife is gone but that’s just it, there is no going back. Can’t you move on like other men?
John: What other men? I don’t know what other men do to move on. Because they are out here running around (John waved his hand toward the players) on soccer pitches or drinking in bars don’t mean that they are not hurting.
Paul: I blame Maya for this. She has put feminine thoughts into your head and convinced you that you need to be emotional. She probably keeps a journal so she wants you to keep one too. You are not her girlfriend. You are her male cousin. (Paul punched John in his shoulder to make his point)I am not into the psycho babble but why don’t you just see a therapist?
John: That hurt by the way. (He rubbed his shoulders)I am a therapist. I don’t want to go sit in front of another one and play head games.
Paul: Tony Soprano did it. (He made a make belief gun with his index and middle fingers pointing)If a mob boss can do that, why can’t you?
John: Tony was not a therapist. It’s different when you are a therapist who has to see a therapist. I would feel incompetent giving counseling while seeking it. (The referee’s whistle pierced the air) It’s not easy to tell people to clean up their lives when mine is a royal mess. Plus word gets around and I don’t want to be the topic of any coffee break discussion. I can heal myself.
Paul: Well just do it already. I told you what a real man would do to move on remember?
John: Only vaguely.
Paul: The cure for the departure of one woman is the arrival of another. You get that?
John: As I told you before, I have tried to see other women and it doesn’t work. You don’t mend a broken bridge with cement, you look at the foundation.
Paul: This is what I am talking about, all this sudden philosophical thinking and paradigm shifts. (He threw his hands up in frustration)What did I tell you about thinking outside the box?
John: How could I forget those wise words? You said to think outside the box means that I’ll find myself in another box. Now that’s philosophical. (He wagged a finger at Paul)
Paul: I wasn’t trying to be but I remember much simpler times. Men are not complicated creatures. We don’t need to journal anything. Do you remember when you were just like the rest of us? Closed down, buttoned up and you kept your feelings to yourself?
John: It’s that same buttoned up business that got me in the mess that I am in. That is why Debbie left, I am too closed down. She said that I compartmentalized my life and only allowed her into some parts. Do you know how inadequate I feel about my wife leaving me because I couldn’t communicate with her?
Paul: We aren’t known as great communicators. What does you mother think of all this?
John: What does she have to do with anything? (John stood up and started playing “keeping up” with a ball that he had)
Paul: What do mothers have to do with anything? They are usually the ones who know us best and have advice for us. Your mother isn’t only hot for an older woman but she doesn’t mince words.
John: Well (John caught the ball in mid air and turned to look at Paul) sometimes I wish that she would mince them or just keep her mouth locked. It would have made my life a whole lot easier and perhaps I would have been a different person today. You’ve always had a thing for my so called hot mother. Well you should know that all that glitters isn’t gold!
Paul: Damn where did all that come from? I have no idea what you are talking about. Why are you so caustic?
John: There is a hell of a lot that you don’t know about my mother, my wife and my life. Do you think that bar fight that I got into a couple weeks ago where my face was busted up was introspection? I still have the scars. (He pointed to his face but knew he was talking about much more than the physical)Firstly, it was stupidity but more importantly it was my need to vent about this shell of a thing that I’ve called my life. Any woman that I was married to would have left me because I was already broken.
Paul: You know what; I came here today to have a discussion with you about this journaling business. But it’s clear to me that there is much more to this than what meets the eye. If the journal helps you, run with it. Just don’t take it out in public. Maybe you could write a novel with the entries, tentative title, “Journal According to John.”
John: We’ll see. At the very least I might make some discoveries about myself.
Paul: Ok, let’s play ball.