-“Doctor…Finally I made up my mind…I’m divorcing my husband!”

This seemingly rather anodyne statement from a determined woman that was fed up with her marital status should be considered in its tragic context. Susan X. is a gorgeous young secretary—married to a supposedly nice guy and with a cute two-year-old boy—that has fallen madly in love with her boss. The only caveat is that he happens to be her husband’s older brother.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the warships of seafaring nations like England, France and Spain carried cannons as their primary offensive weapons that were mounted on rollers to avoid structural damage in the recoil of firing. Victor Hugo in his novel “Ninety Three”, published in 1874, described the mayhem provoked by a cannon after it got accidentally loose from its ties:

“The cannonade, hurled forward by the pitching, pushed into this knot of men and crushed four at the first blow…The enormous cannon was left alone. She was given up to herself. She was her own mistress, and mistress of the vessel. She could do what she willed with both.”

The writer’s use of the feminine is provocatively insinuating and informative per se as the word cannon has the masculine genre in the French language. The desire to break free of her marital bondage could devastate the lives of many innocent members of Susan’s family; however that decision did not come as a surprise to me as women in general want to “own” all aspects of their lives, no matter how illicit or weird they are, by making them public.

As a friend of the family, I tried to put a word of wisdom in her demeanour.

-“Listen, I understand your desire to come clean but you should tread very carefully…You have a small child that can’t understand this situation yet.”

-“Mmm,” she said, “you think so? Well, perhaps I should wait a little more.”

With my carefully worded advice, I could tie up that “loose cannon” again.

Unfortunately I knew that it was only a small reprieve of a coming débâcle.

For all his wealthy, glamorous life, I wouldn’t want to be in her boss’ shoes.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.




4 thoughts on “The loose cannon on deck

  1. Women you say want to “own” all aspects of their lives. Like what? What do we want to control?

    Now, about her decision that would devastate so many members of her family and your attempt to talk some sense into her. I just didn’t get the part about her boss, because it would change the whole thing if he shared her passion/love. Did he? If not, yes, that was irrational on her part.

    What if she was in love and realized she had been with the wrong man all along? Or that’s way too irrational and amoral for you? Why do we like reading Flaubert and Tolstoy but show no understanding when something similar happens in real life? Does that make us hypocrites, dottore?

    Someone who has little or no self control when say in love can’t really think logically, and their grasp on reality is very feeble. They are even egoistical in such situations, putting themselves and their needs before others’. So, are they a walking disaster waiting to happen or just human (desperately craving love)?

    1. Good morning and thanks for this excellent commentary car amica. Please be advised that I do not make any moral judgement with my patients’ lives, I just try to avoid disasters. Do you think that provoking a total family upheaval, with a little innocent child standing in the middle, would have been a sane way to find a solution? Please!

      1. Do you think that little innocent children would be truly happy when they start to realize there’s no connection whatsoever between their parents, let along a kiss or a nice word? A happy family indeed.

      2. Your point is well taken but his child was only two at that time, if I can remember well. Waiting a few more months wouldn’t have made a difference. I will spare you the rest of the conclusion of that tragic tale because “all hell did break loose” in that family.

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