The Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song

Pandora is playing “(Hey, Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” sung by BJ Thomas.

It is a hot summer day and we are having a drink in a little bar out in the middle of nowhere in Upstate New York. We were supposed to be on our way to a big family weekend campout at my brother’s place, which was out in the middle of nowhere, but we got lost and couldn’t find Nowhere so we stopped at the bar.

And sitting at the bar, “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” came on the juke box. John and I, without comment, saluted each other with our beers, grinned, and began to sing along. John and I were not so much lovers as survivors.

He and his second wife had left California—she was pregnant—and moved back east to live with her parents in a ritzy little community on a nearby lake. He opened an employment agency and was working hard to make it a success. Then she miscarried the baby and blamed him.

One night he came home from the agency, they all had supper, and then she said she was going out to the movies. Shortly thereafter, two deputy sheriffs showed up at the door. They served him with divorce papers and escorted him off the property with little more than the clothes on his back.

The love of my life was a Marine Corps fighter pilot. On Thanksgiving Day I mailed him a letter saying that I would be joining him on base as soon as I could make arrangements. On Saturday his plane crashed, his parachute didn’t open and he died. After the funeral, my letter was returned unclaimed. He died without knowing.

And so, in a cool, dark bar in Upstate New York, John and I sang the Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song. We knew all the words.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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