The Old Boy Story

by Aria Riding

Once upon a time, a man is kidnapped and imprisoned for about seventeen years without knowing his crime or his accuser.  When he is released, he meets a young woman and they fall in love.  When they are about to marry, they discover they are father and daughter.  Of course this is unsupportable and they feel very bad and separate, although they feel a great pain, because their love is a true love.  In time the man meets another woman and they fall in love.  As it happens, she too is his daughter.  She feels heartbroken and he feels heartbroken and confused.  They separate.  They divorce.  He meets another woman. They make love.  They fall in love.  She is also his daughter.  This happens two or three more times.

Finally, the man swears he is unlucky in love and that he will never marry.  The woman sitting across from him on their date says, I wanted to say exactly the same thing.  In this moment, their eyes meet and they fall into deep deep love.  They marry and after a little bit discover they are brother and sister.  They separate, and like all the other women before her, she never tells him about the pregnancy.  In fits of ecstasy and despair the man marries and separates from three more women, all of them undiscovered sisters.

The hapless guy gives up on love; he thinks, I will never be able to meet a woman.  And from time to time, he mopes, Who is it that imprisoned me and condemned me to this crazy fate?  My crime must have been really terrible and my punishment, to be related to and forbidden from love, it must be justified.

The man decides to go into seclusion and enters a monastery.  All of the monks are very quiet and kind, and he thinks, A little bit sad, he thinks, With guilty consciences like me.  They rarely speak and their nods and acknowledgments are infrequent, and if their eyes meet, there’s usually a little flash of knowing, a little flutter, a little color in the cheeks.  The head monk is very warm and kind.  His gestures are more effusive and bourgeois than the man would have expected from a monk.  This elderstatesman starts to invite the man into his chambers for tea and philosophical conversation and they play board games which seem kind of symbolic.  One thing leads to another.  The man is resistant at first but he rationalizes to himself, This man is much older than me, he cannot be my daughter or my sister, and as I’m condemned to never meet a woman, maybe I can accept at least the touch of this old man.  It takes time, but attachments form (in May).  After a few years the man is finally able to admit he loves the old man as they lie in a soft, sunlit embrace.  The old man says, Of course, it’s only natural for a son to love his father.

The man cries out, Father, I’ve been so unlucky in love!  He extrapolates: I was imprisoned for something like seventeen years, and since I was released, I have only unwittingly loved my own daughters and sisters, and now, my own father.  And to make matters worse, I don’t know my crime or my mysterious accuser, but I must have been the worst kind of person to be punished this way.  The father is taken aback, Son, you’re taking it all the wrong way.  Please stop torturing yourself and feeling so bad, you didn’t do anything wrong.  It was I who imprisoned you.  You are a good boy, just like all of your brothers.  The old man gestures broadly towards the grounds beyond the window, indicating all of the other monks going about their daily chores and meditations which usually lost focus, unraveled and reassembled into contemplative orgies.  You see, we are a very loving family, and what I did, I did out of love for you, because I loved you so much I wanted to keep you for myself.

Then the man saw that every trial in his life had had to unfold exactly as it did, love upon laboriously planned and awkwardly unseemly love, so that he could now naturally, and of his own accord, fall into the loving arms of his father.  And he did.  And there they stayed, father and son lovingly making love … until some young man that the man did not yet realize was his own son showed up at the monastery and the embrace of the two monks slackened as their hips both swiveled towards their new great love.

Aria Riding, 1977, is an artist and performer; the body of her work is about intimacy, mutations of love and intimacy, holding intimate time and space, limits of the mind and body, and the poetry that comes from exposing or being exposed by these limits.   She likes doing music and dance training with special abilities people.  Her writing, painting and sculpture collections are entitled the Book of Total Darkness and Grinder Family Archives.  Her performance work incorporates butoh dance, theater, installation, literature, and altered states like Hysteria, prisons, obsessive compulsive disorders, bloodletting, love.  She has co-directed the performance group, Danse Perdue since 2002, and the Teatro de la Psychomachia (a theater, art and workshop studio located in Seattle, U.S.A.), since 2010. Since 2005, she has performed, exhibited, and taught in different places in the United States, and, always by the grace of Flavia Ghisalberti, in different parts of Europe and Russia.  She can’t update her website from her fainting couch, but can look her up at facebook.com/lostdance.