“The Fourth State of Matter” by JoAnn Beard


“The face of love.”

So love is someone who is completely and utterly dependent upon you? Someone whose wet blankets you change several times daily and expects a reward for wetting them. Someone who needs you to carry her up the stairs. Someone who wakes you three times during the night to use the bathroom. Someone who never leaves, who you won’t let leave, and always loves you.

JoAnn’s almost ex-husband doesn’t seem much unlike the collie in this essay. He persistently calls JoAnn, expecting her to reaffirm his decision to leave her, to tell him where something is, or how to perform some task. The difference between the husband and the collie? The collie still loves JoAnn and will never leave her. Which is probably why JoAnn hesitates to put the collie to sleep. Besides the fact that she loves the collie and will miss the dog when she is gone, blah blah blah love-your-pet-cakes.

But JoAnn also has a crush on….her boss. I can’t remember his name. And ultimately he is a distant figure, not really needing JoAnn for anything. They work together, but he is not totally dependent upon her. JoAnn’s friend, whom she seems to love in a platonic way, is also more self-sufficient than JoAnn. So perhaps her husband conditioned her to think of the dog’s dependency upon her as love (in fact, I believe Beard mentions that her husband called the dog’s look “the face of love”) because it mimics his dependency on her.

All that stuff about the office shooting….yeah, I’m not certain what to do with that. Or “the fourth state of matter” thing.


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