The Demon’s Wife Learns Positivity


Dear “Doctor” Bram:

Anyhow, it seems that I’m married to this old dead guy. My dad was in the bathroom re-grouting some tiles when a man appeared at his side. I was just in the living room by the front door, and I didn’t hear or see him come in. Weird. The man was dressed in furs, including a fur hat and was wearing goth leather gloves. You know those TV ads for fur warehouses in which all the guys look like Burton Cummings? Well that’s how this guy looked, except he was also wearing a ton of pasty white make-up.

Like I said, Goth. The guy put a box and a sheaf of papers on the side of the tub.  Dad opened the box, which contained lots of little gold bars. The guy signalled that dad should read the papers. After a while dad came through to the living room, where I was doing my toenails. Dad said that things were pretty rough, with Mom’s passing and business being pretty thin at the painting supplies store, and what-not.

Minheer Vanderhausen of Rotterdam, the guy in the bathroom, had offered a LOT of money in return for “my hand in marriage.” Dad told me that if I accepted the offer, his business would be fine.  Old Wall-Eyed Zeke could keep on living above the store and wouldn’t have to go live in a box by the highway. Wall-Eyed Zeke has a plate in his head from the war.

“You wouldn’t want to push old Wall-Eyed Zeke out into the cold, would you, Rose.”

So, I’m like, “Sure. Whatever.” I sign one of the papers with this quill pen and seem to pass out. When I come to, I’m in this really weird Vincent Price apartment and the guy from the bathroom is doing it to me. Ew! Anyhow, there seemed to be no way out of the apartment, and the guy from the bathroom kept coming every day at the same time.

At first I played it all cool and sarcastic; I said things like “Want to borrow my moisturizer?” and “Breathe much?” to him. But, he never showed that he was bothered. He’d just appear in my bed at the same time every night. He didn’t say anything, ever. The only noise he ever made was when he, you know, like, finished, and then he sounded like a dry toilet backing up. After a while, I realized that this bowl of sh** is my life now and forever.

Upon this realization my soul shifts… despite the finery that adorns my body and the luxurious appointments of the vast set of rooms that house me, despite the delicacies that materialize upon my dining table every night, despite the spectral consort of viols that serenades me with sprightly gaillards  and stately sarabandes, despite all of these things I am a prisoner in the crepuscular gloom of a sealed crypt, and the sole purpose of my new life is to slake the demonic thirst of my gaoler, a revenant from centuries past.

In my desperation, my wits threaten to depart me. Were I to take my own life I would forever bar myself from re-uniting with He who Made All and would instead suffer the eternal torment of Satan’s fire. Yet, how can the agony of that conflagration be worse than the torments of the subterranean hell in which I now find myself? Should I pierce my breast with the glittering knife that sits before me? I seek your wisdom. Please aid me in my soul’s final few moments of clarity.

The dead and the living can never be one.
The dead and the living can never be one.

I must end this entreaty in haste, for his Time approaches.


Dear Rosie:

Ahh, the May-December romance! A mature man provides security and the gift of his wisdom to a young woman who, in return, offers him comfort and support in his golden years. Win-win, I say, so your problem can’t be the mere result of the difference in your ages.

It’s time to get down to brass tacks Rosie. As a “licensed” healthcare “professional,” I can safely say that you have a fear of commitment. That’s understandable. Girls your age are often in the process of discovering themselves, and the loss of a parent compounds the problem. Given that you can trust neither yourself nor those you depended on, you’re going to be wary as you approach relationships with others.

Well boo-hoo for you, it’s time for a reality check. You’re already sixteen, Rosie, and you’re not getting any younger. How many kicks at the can do you have left? Fewer than you think, I bet. As I say in my book, The Joy of Settling, if there is a Mr. Right for you, he’s sitting on a golden mountain somewhere chowing down on In-the-Sky pie. This is the real world.

Is Vandy perfect? Of course not! As an older gentleman, he is probably more set in his ways and less adventurous than you would like. But, Rosie, Vandy is more than good enough. He will support you and will obviously remain faithful – and despite his age, he has retained his manly vigour. You must seize this opportunity. You must do your bit to ensure that you and Vandy have a long and loving relationship. Fortunately, that’s where I can help.

First, the 800 pound gorilla in the room is the fact that your husband is dead. Furthermore, he’s been dead for centuries, so this death thing probably isn’t just a phase he’s going through. What we have here is a glass half-full, glass half-empty situation. Glass half-empty: he’s dead. Glass half-full: because he’s dead, he will never leave you, and you will never have to cope with losing him.

Coping with loss is heart-wrenchingly difficult. People can eventually cope, especially once they realize that, it was time for their loved one to depart—which is why I give (i.e., sell) children who have recently lost a parent a DVD of Night of the Living Dead. You, Rosie, will never have to go through this grieving process. Vandy is there to stay. Take comfort in that.

Think of your relationship with Vandy as a bank-account. With every positive interaction, you make a deposit into the account. When he compliments you, or when you perform a small “just because” favour for him, your relationship bank account grows a little bit. When he criticizes you, or you behave inconsiderately, you’re withdrawing relationship dollars from the account. Bear in mind though that, if a compliment deposits a dollar into your account, a criticism deducts five dollars. We call negative comments like these “zingers.” It is very important to minimize zingers. That doesn’t mean you can’t discuss problems. You just have to bring positivity and sensitivity to the table.

Here’s a hypothetical situation. Beatrix is married to Imhotep, who is dead. Although she is satisfied with many aspects of their loving relationship, Beatrix finds Imhotep’s breath and body odor to be somewhat off-putting. Now, Beatrix could say “You reek of the charnel house and my body recoils in horror from your very presence.” Zinger! Why don’t you just take five relationship dollars and burn them in an ashtray, Bea? On the other hand Beatrix could try to approach the problem in a positive and co-operative manner. She could put out some mints and then say to Imhotep “My, don’t those tic-tacs look yummy!” Problem solved with no zingers, and check out that extra dollar in the love-fund.

Two other factors are essential to a secure and committed relationship, Rosie. First, the best relationships are those that embiggen the lives of everyone involved. You probably don’t have much to do around the crypt other than cower and panic, and Vandy seems to be a stay-at-necropolis sort of guy too. Why not get the crypt hooked up to the Internet? You could each find out about what you may have missed: for you, maybe the recent events in North Africa; for Vandy, the industrial revolution, and the discovery of electricity. Also, why not widen your social circle just a bit. I understand that your father is a widower. You have my deepest condolences, but (glass half-full!) why doesn’t Vandy invite your mom over for dinner?

Finally, the best relationships are those that foster the best communication. For instance, Vandy appears in your bed every evening, physically violates you and then disappears. You may infer that he is a demon rapist. But don’t let yourself fall into the toxic thought process of mind-reading. Maybe there’s another explanation for his behaviour. For instance, he’s an old-fashioned gent and may be acting in the only way he knows how. It’s up to you to take some control and let your voice be heard! Tell Vandy in a loving and positive way (remember the tic-tacs) that you have physical needs too.

You can work together towards a life in the bedroom that deeply satisfies you both. Sky rockets in flight, afternoon delight! You must literally give Vandy a voice too. At the moment he doesn’t speak. Don’t assume that he wants to be mute. Work with him. Be patient. Just imagine that wonderful point in the future when he hovers over your body and rasps in his adorably cracked and grating voice “You are mine… Forever.” At that point, you will realize what it is to be secure, what it is to be part of a team. I can just see the look in your eyes.

Mazel Tov!

“Dr.” Bram

Scholarly note: The situation in this piece is based on Le Fanu’s “Schalken the Painter”

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Ask The Love Doctor

Doctor Bram Hesselius

“Doctor” Bram Hesselius, known worldwide as the “Love Doctor,” is a counsellor, lecturer and the author of Imitation of Love: the Joy of Settling. He lives on Vancouver Island with his screaming harpy of a wife, “Dr.” Somerdawn Goldstein-Hesselius. This is not sexist. She really is a screaming harpy. You know, like the mythical creature. "Dr" Bram was created by Dr. Carl Matheson, head of the department of philosophy at the University of Manitoba.