I Married Joan (of Arc), or
My First Former Ex-Wife was
an AngryTeenage Butch Lesbian
March 8, 2000
"When We Get Married"
The 1910 Fruitgum Company
be flowers baby, for you and me
just wait and
see, and everyone is gonna come
and there be
sunshine baby, in every room
when we get married
When we get
married (When we get married)
When we get
married (When we get married)
When we get
married (When we get married)
When we get
be church bells ringing everywhere
and this I swear
it's gonna be for you and me
and in the chapel
baby you wear my ring
when we get married
I know there'll
be some happy tears that day
when we are
standing side by side
and when your
daddy gives his little girl away
your mamma gonna
break right down and cry
"Cruise control has saved my butt a number of times," says J. as we
the NYS Thruway at 74.3 mph. J. and J., like Starsky and Hutch or Butch
and the Sundance Kid.
"On these Saab turbos it's pretty accurate. I can count on the controller
keeping me just under the speed at which the State Patrol
will bust me for speeding. 75's the maximum, you know. Well actually,
I did get
stopped last week, but that trooper was a newbie. Must have been her
on the job. Nailed me for going 74. I tried reasoning with her.
'Actually officer, I was just a little distracted. My cell phone rang,
CD player started skipping, and the air-conditioner got stuck, all
at the same
time. I was just trying to bring some order to the chaos and didn't
that my speed had crept up. You understand don't you?'
'Sure, just let me see your driver's license, please.'
'Gee officer, look at my dashboard display, it's all in Swedish. See,
right here it says GEVAARKIJK! INSTRUMENTENBORD MISLUKKELING!'
'Your driver's license, now.'
"Geez J., Did you really think she'd go for that?" I ask him.
"You never know." he replies. "Anyhow she wasn't buying anything, and
me out a ticket there on the spot."
"Did you pay her right away? I usually do. Give 'em my credit card and
up to be done with it all."
"Actually, they don't do that anymore, and besides I didn't have my
I didn't even have my wallet, driver's license and all. I'd been out
to a party
late the night before. I was driving back from Croton-on-Hudson, and
at the time
I thought I'd lost my wallet. I was pretty wasted the night before
when I packed.
You should never pack right after you've been up all night drinking.
So I tried
explaining to her that I'd been robbed of my wallet, on top of everything
"What'd she say to that?" I ask him.
"Ah, she didn't buy that one either. Luckily, I had my passport in my
for some reason, so I showed her that and it did the trick."
"Geez, that was a close one," I say.
"Yea, well, my friend Felix was telling me the other day how he'd been
limits of the EZ-Pass system. You know how you drive up to the tollgate,
the controller on your windshield and you keep on going, right? Well,
he decided to
find out how fast he could keep going until it wouldn't work. He kept
a little notebook
on the dash and would record each session. 5, 8, 12, 15, 18, 22, 25...
I think he got
up to 35 miles per hour, and still not getting a red-warning light.
He decided he'd
got the whole thing figured out. Then he got his bill from EZ-Pass
on his credit
card statement. $650.00 for the month! He couldn't believe it. Turns
out they fined
him for exceeding the 5 MPH limit for EZ-Pass for everyone of those
tests. They had
him, dead to rights. I mean, what was he going to say?"
"Right," I tell him, "though if you think about it, they probably got
mechanism for determining your travel from start to finish each time
you use the
EZ-Pass. Take this trip for instance. We clock in at the Albany booth,
hit 74.8 MPH
all the way to Cortland and then we exit, and clock out. The EZ-Pass
does a quick
calculation on the distance divided by the time elapsed. Bingo! They
"Damn, Jan, you're right," he says. "Makes you think you should stop
along the way
for a coffee, a pee, and a walk around, just so the trip will take
you the proper
65 MPH amount of time. I don't know, I couldn't do it that way," he
have to drive right up to the last point, fast as I could. Then I'd
get out, and
walk around to kill time. Otherwise, it just doesn't make sense to
"So, what happened in Pureto Rico?" he asks.
"Didn't you get my e-mails?"
"Nope. None that I know of," he says.
"Damn. Stu must not have forwarded everything for me after all," I tell
"I was in a kind of e-mail limbo down there because my ISP, Sprynet,
doesn't have off-shore
access points anymore since they got bought from Compuserve,
who sold them to
AOL, who sold them to Mindspring,
who just got bought by Earthlink.
Used to be I could
use all the Compuserve access numbers. They've got local access all
over the world. Now,
when I'm out of the country, I have to fall back on my actual Compuserve
is the one Lydia uses all the time for her e-mail. That way I get the
easy access, but
I have to mail via the Compuserve account, so my address is email@example.com,
and most people don't know the mail's coming from me, and often just
toss it aside.
Also, it takes forever to hand enter all my e-mail addresses from Sprynet
Compuserve one at a time, so I've avoided doing that. This time I sent
a note to
Stu along with my Sprynet mail-list as a text file and asked him to
forward my notes
to him, which looked like notes from Lydia, to my Sprynet list; if
it wasn't too much
"Well, I didn't get anything," says J.
"I guess it was too much trouble?" I reply.
"Things in Puerto Rico were good this time," I tell him. "Except at
the end, when it
looked like we might not get home; though of course, that's hardly
the worst thing
that could happend to us."
"What happended?" he asks.
"One night, just before we were leaving, I was watching local tv by
at night, the news, in spanish, of course. I didn't understand alot
of it, but it's
interesting. Pinochet flying back to Chile. Mexican insurgents. Troubles
and Argentina. Suddenly there's a report from the San Juan Airport
and I see Tower
Airlines jets in the background.
'That's interesting,' I think. 'We're flying Tower day next Monday.'
So I watch more closely and try to interpret what's going on. I see
a huge mob of
angry looking people around the Tower Airline counter. They're jumping
shouting. I hear the word bankrupt. Then I catch part of a conversation
passenger tells the reporter that Tower Air is asking everyone to chip
on the spot to pay for gas for that flight back to NYC.
'This looks serious,' I think.
Finally, they show the crowd again. Everyone's facing the camera and
unison, 'We just want to go home! We just want to go home! We just
want to go home!'
I decide right then to call our travel agent. Next day, when I hear
back from her,
she confirms that Tower Air is in Chapter 11, and they've reduced their
one each day to one per week, and the next one is tomorrow, Saturday.
I tell everyone
about this. Lydia says, 'Great! Let's go the following Saturday!'
'Good idea,' I tell her, 'but I think we better get out of here. No
telling what might
be going on a week from now.'
And, that was it. We caught our flight and got back without incident,
three days early."
"Well," he says, "it's a good thing you got out of there when you did!
So, what else
did you do while you were there?"
"Not much, actually. Swim, sit in the sun, drink, eat, then more of
the same. I did
read alot though. I brought a number of books I had picked up at the
Strand in NYC,
from their Advanced Uncorrected Reader's Proof collection. You know,
the one's they
sell for 97 cents apiece. I brought 'The Crab Nebula' by Eric
Chevillard, a young
French author, his first novel translated into English. 'In the
Hold', by a 30-year
old Yugoslavian, his first novel which recounts the trials of he and
his new wife
as they struggle to hold things together as the war threatens to engulf
them as it
has already done to many of their friends. I read 'The Bridegroom
was a Dog' by
Yoko Tawada, a new Asian writer, which tells the story of a teacher
who tells her
students a story about a dog and a little princess, who is promised
to the dog in
marriage as a reward for licking her bottom clean.
I also read 'Confessions of a Raving Un-Confined Nut' by Paul
of 'The Realist' which was the original underground newsletter,
started in the
early 1960's. I remember reading it while I was going to the American
Art, in Chicago. In the book he recounts his adventures with the newsletter,
paling around with Lenny Bruce, alienating Norman Mailer, founding
Yippie party with Abbie Hoffman and taking LSD with Groucho Marx.
He also worked as editor of Hustler magazine just after Larry Flynt
and then found religion with Ruth Carter-Stapleton, Jimmy Carter's
the one who tried to bring a feminist perspective to the magazine through
the use of
self-parody, sort of like his friend Dick Gregory used to do on stage.
The other book I brought was 'Assuming the Position, a Memoir of
by Rick Whitaker, a young american novelist who also reviews for the
Times Book Review.
This book tells the story of his first years in
fresh off the bus from Ohio and how he managed to make his way by selling
himself to other men. I'd planned to read this one while we
were staying at the guest house in Ocean Park, in San Juan. The idea
was that Lydia
would be staying with our friends who live next door, visiting their
and were renting a room for three nights in the guest house which we've
gone to for
drinks and food whenever we visit our friends in Ocean Park. It's a
gay and lesbian
resort, very nice and quite friendly. Plus, it's interesting to have
many eyes on
you while you walk around. That happens for both of us. Unfortunately,
Air bit the dust, those plans went along with them."
"Hey, there's Nedrow," says J, "we're getting closer to Cortland."
"You ever use Napster?" he asks.
"Napster. The web software utility that lets you do a wide-ranging search
files on the internet."
"Never heard of it," I say.
"Well, it's the range on campus right now. As administrator for student
affairs I'm swamped with debate about this one. Our I.T. people were
about missing bandwidth, slow server response and other such issues.
decided to put a halt to providing services for Napster, as a trial.
What happens is,
you want a particular song. You download a copy of Napster to your
subscribe to the Napster protocol. Then you enter your search request,
"Oh, nevermind... anyhow, you submit your song request and Napster goes
out on the net
and searches all the users of Napster to see who's got a copy, including
workstations, even including your own. That's one of the ideas. You
sign up as a user
and you also sign up as a provider. What's your's is mine and what's
mine is yours."
"I don't know if I'd want all those college kids hunting for files on
"Me either. But what happened was, they stopped Napster running on our
the college for a few days and found that available bandwidth jumped
by 60%! All that
resource was being used by students uploading and downloading songs
to the internet,
24 hours a day, seven days a week. So now what? Do we become censors
of the students'
behavior. Outlaw such uses of computer resources? I don't quite
know what to think
on this one, but I can say it works great! I used it the other day
to hunt up some
Root Boy Slim and his Sex Change Band. Got over 150 hits, right away.
everything I didn't already have in my collection and wrote it out
to a CD.
"Say," he continues, "do you ever see your ex-wife, or have anything
to do with her?"
"Well, it's been over ten years since I saw her last, and that was a
to arrange a pickup of my son from her house in the midwest, back when
he was a teenager."
"You know," he says, "it's been nearly thirty years since I've seen
my first ex-wife.
I wonder if she'll even recognize me? Man, it seems like a long time
ago. She's certainly
gone through a lot of changes since then, but even then, she was interested
in Joan of
Arc. I mean she read everything she could find about her, she talked
about her all the
time. Even then, she had that kind of mystical, saintly air about her.
Now, here we
are, on a pilgrimage to see her on stage performing her one-woman,
two act play about
Joan, 'The Second Coming of Joan of Arc', written by Carolyn
Gage, starring Carolyn
Gage. You read all the stuff on her website, (www.javanet.com/~cgage),
"Of course, how could I not?" I reply. "I remember the parts about
'Joan of Arc':
"Gives a voice to a character conspicuously missing from heteropatriarchal
theatre: the angry young teenage butch lesbian," I say, reading
notes on my lap.
"This Joan is a far cry from the eroticized and idealized Joan.
is a teenager, runaway from an alcoholic home and an incestuous
a girl with severe eating disorders and a lesbian."
"Well," he says, I guess that's not too awful far off from some of the
things I heard
about when we were together. I don't know, though. I'm not sure what
to expect now."
"There's Homer!" I say. "Cortland's the next exit."
"Kinda like what Jeffrey Toobin said this week in the New Yorker
in his article
about the Dialo trial in Albany: 'A train trip from Manhattan to Albany
one of the greatest anticlimaxes in American travel -- a hundred and
up the magnificent, ice-clogged Hudson River to a dreary state capital
the charm of Brasilia with the panache of Bayonne, New Jersey.' And
now, here we
are: a car trip from Albany to Cortland, a hundred and sixty miles
Mohawk River to a dreary college town that combines the charm of Glens
the panache of Saratoga Springs in August."
"...My misguided crusade is all of our misguided crusades. My enemies
are your enemies.
My mistakes are your mistakes. The voices I hear are your voices! And
the voices you
hear are my voices!"
Carolyn Gage, as Joan of Arc, is imploring us to pay strict attention
to what she says.
She's dressed in army fatigues and paces the floor like a drill-sargent.
Barking at us.
Demanding, gaunt, lithe, boney, taut, lean, mean, searing, she points
(well, more at J. than at me, I hope.) and declaims "It's time we started
truth about our own lives. These myths are killing us!"
'This oughta be interesting,' I think.
"My father says:" 'Jean, a rich young man will come and marry you and
go and live with him and he will help your poor old father take care
sheep,'" she says.
"My father had a dream about me," she continues, "...that I was headed
for a life of
prostitution. Fascinating interpretation for a man to have about his
don't you think? It might have put his mind to ease to know that my
military calling was
based not on an attraction to men, but on a desire to kill them..."
"...So, how do you torture a woman? ...You can pry her body away from
her mind, or you
can pry her mind away from her body. Either way, it works out the same
way. You stop
the woman. She can think but not act, or she can act but not think..."
"Let me tell you about men," she continues, "they can't stand to lose
face. It's difficult
for us women to understand how very, very important this is to men,
because we have
never been allowed to have enough face to lose... It would be almost
funny how childish
men are, except that these children are running the world - and they
have almost ruined it..."
"Do you remember when Dorothy exposed the Wizard of Oz, and you heard
a booming voice say,
'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!'? Well, let me tell
you, when we women
begin to expose the actions of men, we hear this sacred voice urging
us to protect and
forgive... I'm here to tell you something about that voice. That voice
... is not the
voice of god; it's the voice of the men behind the curtain! The only
reason it sounds
like god is because they have been amplifying themselves for two thousand
years and using
a lot of special effects!"
The audience roars their approval. I look over at J. He's rapt.
"...the governments, the armies, the churches, the corporations, the
illegitimate. We will not convert them. They will martyr us. We must
fight for our
own causes, women's causes. We must clothe ourselves in self-respect,
with our finely-tempered rage, and obey only those voices that we women
"And now they're having a second trail to 'rehabilitate' me... and the
myth of a
feminine, simple-minded peasant girl had begun to replace the memory
cross-dressing butch with the smart mouth... and now, twenty years
is no 'Saint Joan of Arc', with her legacy of glorious martyrdom. There's
Jeanne Rommee, who made the terrible, terrible mistake of trying to
find a substitute
in the world of men for the love she had experienced in the arms of
The house lights go up and the crowd is on their feet, stamping, whistling,
their approval. Carolyn Gage, nee Joan of Arc, has made a major impression
audience here in Cortland, tonight.
"Well," says J., "we better go upstairs to the reception and have our
"Uh, OK, by me," I reply.
Upstairs, in the lobby of Old Main, the campus building where tonight's
was held, tables are set up and loaded with cookies, doughnuts, brownies
other chocolate based snacks ("A dyke's favorite food group!" the emcee
had told us
earlier). There are also two huge bowls of Kool-Ade. Remembering Paul
Groucho Marx, I decide to stick with ice-water. Carolyn Gage is on
the far side
of the room, behind another table, signing copies of her book of plays,
Coming of Joan of Arc, and other plays by Carolyn Gage'.
I hear her asking each
person, as she signs their book, "Did you cry?" Everyone of them answers
"Yes." I'm hoping she doesn't ask me that when I finally meet her.
I'm trying to take my cues from J., but he's eating brownies, drinking
and making small talk with some of the faculty members of Cortland.
Finally, the line of people waiting to meet Carolyn thins to the last
two. I tell
J. that it's time.
We get in line, me in front of J. The last person leaves, autographed
book in hand.
"Hi! Carolyn!" I say, "Jan Galligan, pleased to met you. I'm a friend
"Who?" she retorts.
"J!" I say again. Turning and pointing him out to her.
He steps forward.
"Hi Carolyn," he says quietly. "It's nice to see you again."
See stares at him for a moment.
Her eyes light up. "J!!!" she screams. "Oh my god! J! How are you? Come
Let me hold you!"
She jumps off her chair and wraps herself around him. Her eyes are filled
tears. They embrace for a long while. She turns to the other women
and says, with great pride and warmth, "This is J. He was my first
I haven't seen him in almost thirty years. Oh god, J.," she says, "It's
good to see you again and have you back as a part of my life."
I did manage to buy a copy of Carolyn's book and I did get her to autograph
for me. Actually, at my request, she autographed it to my daughter,
It says: "FOR LYDIA. IN ANGER, IN HOPE. CAROLYN GAGE".
While searching the web today for some background information, I got
with finding the lyrics to the theme song from the TV show, 'I Married
Finally, in frustration after a long period of fruitless searches on
and Ask Jeeves, I downloaded Napster.
Five minutes later, I had a copy of the
song sitting on my hard drive. If you want one for yourself, get a
Napster and you can make a copy from my machine. Here's the lyrics:
I Married Joan
by Richard Mack
I married Joan
What a girl, what a whirl, what a life.
Oh I married Joan
What a mind, love is blind what a wife.
Giddy and gay, all day she keeps my heart laughin'
Never know where her brain has flown.
Each to his own
Can't deny that's why, I married Joan.
Today's issue of the New York Times
has a cover story on Napster:
"Potent Software Escalates Music Industry's Jitters"
by Amy Harmon
The New York Times
After describing the workings of the Napster which was created last
year by 19-year
old college dropout, Shawn Fanning, nick-named Napster in junior high
because of his hair, and who as a computer science student at Northeastern
University at Boston conceived of Napster as a way to get his roommate
complaining about how hard it is to find specific music cuts on the
article goes on to quote one happy user, Rachel Poy, 18, a freshman
She used Napster to download James Brown's "Play That Funky Music,
White Boy", and
said, "If I was to go out and buy a CD every single time I wanted to
something, I would go completely broke."
Finally, Jeff, a 43-year old Napser user from Fort Lauderdale, FL, asked
his first name be used because he knew that, say, listening to the
Santana single "Smooth", on MP3
instead of paying $5 for it might be illegal.
"But how illegal is it, really?" wondered Jeff. "Is it illegal if you
go three miles
over the speed limit? We used to have a road here and the speed limit
was 55, and
that was crazy. There was never any traffic, and everybody went 70,
they just changed the speed limit. So yeah, you're breaking the law,
big a law is it?"
Part Two: THE CODA