Sunday 25 Sep 2016

The Egyptian
AJ Robinson

No, this isn't a reference to a person, although I did know an Egyptian family as a kid, but that's another story. No, there is a movie by that name. I'm not sure when it came out, I think it was in the 1950s, when those kinds of epic, historic dramas were all the rage.

In the first part of the story, a young doctor named Sinuhe makes friends with a young soldier named Horemheb. When they save the life of the Pharaoh, they get a reward. Horemheb suggests they celebrate by going to a party at the home of Nefer.

Now, at that age, I didn't understand what her, ah, job. She was a "temptress." Over the course of the evening, Sinuhe spends most of his time gazing at Nefer; it was clear (even to me) that he was in love with her. For her part, she merely sat there, a knowing little smirk on her face, and teased him. She warned him that, like a cat torturing a mouse. she tended to play with men.

He didn't listen.

He proclaimed his love for her, and wanted them to be together. She promised him perfect love, but only if he gave her something he loved above all else - the necklace that the pharaoh had given him! He resisted; to give up such a gift was punishable by death. Yet, she persisted, and he finally relented. Then he wanted them to be together.

She resisted; she wanted still more, all that he had. Now, he was a poor doctor; all he had was his home and his instruments. Still, that was fine by her; she wanted them. He gave them to her.

At this point, I was confused; being a young boy, I thought, why was he doing all of this. She's a stupid girl. Yeah, I was still at that age that I saw girls that way.

Meanwhile, the Pharaoh's wife was growing concerned for Sinuhe, and wanted Horemheb to save the poor man from himself. He suggested killing Nefer or banishing her to another land. The queen said no - kill her, and Sinuhe would pine for her for the rest of his life; banish her, and he'd follow her into exile. She gave Horemheb a bauble of hers and suggested he use it to trap Nefer; let Sinuhe catch the two of them together. He did. They were doing all that icky kissing stuff, so I had to avert my eyes, but the plan backfired; Sinuhe blamed Horemheb, and their friendship ended.

At this point, Nefer wanted the home of Sinuhe's parents! Like a dope, he signed it over to her. At that point, she had all that he could possibly give her, and he wanted her love.

She threw him out of her house. He filled with rage. He tried to kill her, but her servants saved her.

I had to wonder, why had she done that to him, and yet. yuck, kissed Horemheb in exchange for a simple piece of jewelry? It took a while, but I finally figured it out. She did it to him because he let her do it to him! That first night, at the party, she'd been all smug and sure of what she could manipulate him into doing by that "lean and hungry look" in his eyes.

Ever since then I've taken two lessons to heart. One: if a person or people know that you "hunger" for them in some way, they have power over you; and two: in many situations, no one can do anything to you unless you let them.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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