The Future, II: Reading Valerie Trueblood’s “Suitors”

Last night, having dinner on Sixth Street with her cousins, self discovered that the wife of her Manong Monching was in the iconic Peque Gallaga movie, Oro Plata Mata.  Manong Monching’s wife has a few seconds in the party scene, filmed in the Gaston House in Manapla.

Self nearly faints.  Vicky is so pretty.  She has short hair, like a boy’s, and very fair skin.  She has two gorgeous daughters.

Self thinks about all the books she lugged to Bacolod in her suitcase and girds her loins.  She will make one last attempt to recover her equanimity and read.

This morning, she’s reading a wonderful Valerie Trueblood story, “Suitors,” which is in the collection Marry or BurnThe daughter in the story, Meg, reminds self so much of the placid daughter in J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace.  But, in contrast with the Coetzee novel, this Valerie Trublood story is about love.  Love which flowers unexpectedly in the hearts of the most ordinary, plain-looking people.

Meg has acquired two suitors through a dating service.  She chooses Kevin.  The “Lali” in the excerpt below is the manager of the dating service Meg used. “Sam” is the narrator’s husband, and Meg’s father.


One day Kevin was standing in front of his high school juniors happily scanning “The Wanderer” when his aorta burst.

In Marfan’s syndrome the aorta can be as weak and decayed as a strand of old kelp, and no one will suspect it.

After he died Meg stopped going to work.  She locked the door on the apartment where they had lived, without even cleaning it, let alone subletting it while there was no salary to pay for it, and came home.  It may sound as though we were the kind of parents who secretly wanted their daughter back, but in this period we came close to telling Meg she might be happier staying with Lali, who had invited her.  Because there was nothing we could do but get up and go through the day with her, while hopelessly trapped in the parental obligation of rescue, with Sam already wandering the house new to his retirement and susceptible to despair.  She had not come home to be with us, though, so much as to be as she had been before, thereby repudiating, even obliterating, the happiness of two years.  Finding this impossible, she mourned with a silent concentration.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

2 responses to “The Future, II: Reading Valerie Trueblood’s “Suitors””

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