Friday, March 24, 2006

Miss Otis Regrets

There is a great Cole Porter song called Miss Otis Regrets (She’s Unable to Lunch Today) that tells the tale of a woman who is done wrong by her man, shoots him and then is lynched. Her final words are: Miss Otis regrets, she’s unable to lunch today. I’ll paste the complete lyrics at the end of this post. Yes, it’s a terrible story, but a great song.

Whenever I hear it, I’m reminded of the many times my mind has gone off in a direction completely alien to the situation at hand. It must be a human coping mechanism to latch onto irrelevant details when our world is falling apart. A prime example is when the man I had dated for awhile told me he hated me. It would not have been such a devastating experience if we hadn’t at one point in time discussed getting married. We had been broken up for a couple of weeks, and I stopped spending every waking moment with him. He compensated by turning into a raving lunatic. Since we lived two apartments down from each other and his roommates and my roommates were friends, completely avoiding him was out of the question. One morning, after my roommates had left for class, he stopped by. I, very foolishly, let him in. He told me he needed to talk to me, and I VERY foolishly sat down and let him speak:

Mr. Ex: I hate you.

Did he just tell me he hated me?

Mr. Ex: You have ruined my life forever. I can never be with another woman ever again because you have destroyed me. . . . (this is where I stopped being able to actually hear him)

This hurts. Really, my heart physically hurts. Am I having an aneurism? Is this what it feels like to be shot. I can’t breathe. Really, I can’t breathe. I’m going to drop dead right here and now, because he has shot me, and I can’t breathe. My eyes hurt. Am I going to cry? I can’t cry. NO I really can’t cry, because I can’t breathe. Why can’t I breathe? Why do I hurt so badly? Surely, I’m bleeding somewhere. The carpet is beige. My blood is going to stain the carpet, and my roommates won’t get their deposit back and it will be all my fault. Why can’t I breathe? Inhale…exhale. There, I CAN breathe. My chest hurts and my eyes are burning, but I can BREATHE.

Mr. Ex: …. So, what do you have to say?

Me: Get out.

Mr. Ex: What?

Me: Get out now!

Mr. Ex: What?

Me: You will leave NOW!

He left the apartment, but followed me all the way to class. All the while he kept talking to me, and I refused to look at him, and I didn’t cry. I stepped inside my Historiography class, where Mr. Ex. couldn't follow me, walked to my seat at the front of the class and collapsed. I cried there at my desk for a solid 40 minutes. The one and only time the professor ever let us out early was that class day. As soon as I pulled myself together enough to stop sobbing, he dismissed us and I fled without looking at another soul.

To this day, I can’t understand how I just sat there and let Mr. Ex. spew his hate all over me while I worried about whether I could breathe and if I was ruining rental carpet. The human mind is a strange, strange place.

M.W.

Miss Otis Regrets (She’s Unable to Lunch Today) by Cole Porter

Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today, madam,
Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.
She is sorry to be delayed,
but last evening down in Lover's Lane she strayed, madam,
Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.

When she woke up and found that her dream of love was gone, madam,
She ran to the man who had led her so far astray,
And from under her velvet gown,
She drew a gun and shot her lover down, madam,
Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.

When the mob came and got her and dragged her from the jail, madam,
They strung her upon the old willow across the way,
And the moment before she died,
She lifted up her lovely head and cried, madam......
Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.

Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.

4 comments:

Tree said...

It really is amazing what we put up with as young women unsure of our own minds, isn't it?

However, it sounds like you left a bad situation with your self esteem intact. Good for you.

Teresa

Keith said...

He was strange anyway.

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