Thursday, September 30, 2010

My My My: Spiders and Flies

One great thing about having four Pretend Husbands is you get to adore them for vast, varied reasons. Both Ed Head and Hank Fitz, for example, are maniac readers with whom I spend decades lauding, exchanging, and speaking of books. I need this discourse the way lungs need air.

It’s because I have Ed Head and Hank Fitz that I don’t need to mind that my other two husbands do not read at all. Actually, it’s only Boo who does not read at all. Mack the Cowboy reads when he has to for matters of business, but never sits down to read just for pleasure. This is partly because Mack never sits down, and partly because his work ethic is so huge and eclipsing it doesn’t really allow time for pleasure, but mostly it’s due to this one frightening fact:

Nobody read to him when he was a child.

The first time he told me this, I refused to believe him, which is odd because I never doubt tales of early (or late, or any) atrocity, and not being read to before you are able to read for yourself strikes me as truly atrocious. But it was as if he had told me that no one who’d witnessed his childhood—be it older sibling, parent, or aunt-- had thought to introduce him to chocolate. It was not my experience, I could not take it in.

My mother, who’s been gone from this earth five years today, read aloud to me all of the time and this, I am sure, turned me into a reader. That she might have done so to give me something to do later on while she was busy ignoring me makes no real difference. The point is she did give me something to do, something that saves my life every day.

When Mack finally convinced me he was telling the truth, my heart sank with sorrow and then promptly soared with the self-serving joy of this revelation:

Mack (in this sphere at least) was a virgin. 

And I (in this sphere at least and only in contrast to Mack) was Mick Jagger. 

“Can I read you a story?” I asked him, arranging two pillows behind his sweet head.

“Story?” he mumbled. “What kind of story?”

Reader (dear reader!), did I take my Madeline down from the shelf? Show him the colored drawings of Paris while reading him the same precious lines my very own mother had once read to me?

Little Madeline sat in bed
cried and cried; her eyes were red. 

No, I arranged two pillows behind my own head and said:

My my my, like the spider to the fly!

But of course I did not say those words either. What I did was turn on the reading lamp next to my bed and open up my latest New Yorker.

“Not that damned New Yorker,” he groaned.

“Shh,” I said. “Lie back and relax."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Living Well Is the Best Revenge But What If You Are Not Living?

Do I lust for revenge on the home-owning blonde who tried to run me down with her Panzer whilst screaming at me for having no life?

As a raging bull of long standing--god, yes!

However, as a trembling coward of just as long standing—one who rolls herself up like a potato bug at the slightest hint of adversity--perhaps not so much.

The problem is that now that I’m off most of my meds, I careen like a pinball between these two rather polarized animal states. The raging bull who can’t wait to run out and slash the blonde’s tires evaporates, a mere six seconds later, into the potato bug who can’t wait to pretend that karma, given adequate time, will restore moral balance by slashing them for me.

The problem with the karma solution is that I’d have to smoke enough pot to turn my mind into that of a hippie’s, and I can’t even think about pot—or of hippies--without drifting—nay, hurtling—directly into insanity’s stratosphere.

Alternatively, the problem with the slashing solution is that the blonde might just retaliate by slashing my tires or, depending on how many meds she herself has stopped taking, running her Panzer over Boo Radley, who, despite being Boo Radley, does venture outdoors now and then to exult in its nature and chase the odd squirrel.

The only problem that really matters, of course, is that Panzers do not even have tires.  I, or karma, would have to slash its fat treads.

As much as I believe that living well is still the best possible form of revenge, the fact (or rumor) that I’m not living at all pretty much makes that impossible. No, any pro-active revenge on my part has to be both quick and direct. And, of course, completely upsetting. Egregiously upsetting. Indelibly upsetting. Which leaves me with two obvious options:

Nominate her for
What Not To Wear so that Stacy London can ruin her life not just in public but in perpetuity. 


Get Sandra Lee to take a hiatus from her Semi-Homemade Cooking Show to cater a dinner party on her behalf.  Lee, who, like London, has clearly not eaten anything ever, will serve plastic lemons painted with grill marks and explain to all present what it means to be Semi-Insane. This explanation will begin with the cognitive triumph of semi meaning 70% and end with a table scape so . . . so . . . so . . . oh my god, I can’t even think of an adequate adjective---anyway, so Whatever It Is that would reduce Albert Speer’s Hitler’s Berlin to so much craft store pipe cleaning whimsy.  

Trust me: I wish I had more, but the heat wave we're having has just poached my brain.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How I Got Ambushed in a Heinous Class War

When it comes to class war, the death of civility, and hot severed heads, last Sunday took the proverbial cake.

I was carrying said head in a brown paper bag (okay, it was a chicken from the Roli Roti truck, but its heat and heft made it feel like a head) when I was nearly run down by a black Panzer tank.The tank was honking directly at me and when I turned from my mailbox to see who it was, I was scorched by the eyes of the world’s maddest blonde. But I mean really, this woman was Mad Hatter mad, Mad Hatter Tea Party mad, nearly frothing.

“You are such the B word!” she hollered at me, and I do not think she meant Ballerina.

“You are the most inconsiderate person I’ve ever met!” she continued, her rage just unfurling.  A statement which struck me as odd since I’d never met her. I’d seen her and run, but that’s different. I pretty much do that with all of my neighbors.

“You always park in front of my house and when my grown-up children want to come over they can’t because you have taken their space!”

Not to be too insanely defensive, but let me just say that in the seven years that I have lived in this upscale neighborhood, I have learned never to park in the same spot twice for fear that someone will decide that my car has been rudely abandoned and have it towed to the netherworld.  Let me also say that there is always but always plenty of parking available here.  Oodles. Acres. Vast empty plains.

“That’s the difference between being a Homeowner and being a Renter,” she went on, like Dr. Laura spewing the R word.

“I should call the police on you right now!” she said next. But, since I know for a fact that parking one’s not-that-attractive fourteen year old car on a public street whose garages and driveways otherwise glow with shiny new Panzers might be unaesthetic but not—so far anyway—strictly illegal, I spoke.

“Go ahead,” I told her, pointing my bag toward my in-law apartment. “I live right down there.”

“Oh, I know where you live all right,” she intoned, and she intoned it so bitterly it made me think she might very well be happy to kill me.  Or, being a homeowner, to hire some, you know, renter to do it. And with this I thought she must surely have finished with me. But she hadn’t.

“The problem with you is, you have no life!” was her crazed coup de grace, and my immediate thought was: Oh My God, how can she tell?

I was dressed in active wear, for crissake! I had just actively hunted down my own dinner, its lovely provencal fragrance filling my lifeless nose as she spoke!

And then I was outraged myself: Wait a minute, I thought.  I have no life? Excuse me, lady, but I have four husbands! 

And I have a date with one of them now!

Which, thank god, I did. My plan, before driving my horrible car to my local Farmer’s Market to pick up the lovely provencal head, had been to stick said head into my fridge before driving up to the city to enjoy a chatty lunch with Mister Ed (just a coincidence) Head. A man who, despite owning a home of his own, has never once tried to mow down a renter.

And it was while I was recounting this all to Ed Head, over Ativan (mine) and green curry pot stickers (ours), that I came to see every obvious thing: 

That the rich really do hate the poor (and/or those whom they just perceive to be poor), especially if their cars or mere bodies dare to blight their own gilded landscapes. Moreover, that the way that blonde made me feel for an hour (okay, a week) is the way every immigrant and/or person who dares to harbor an iota of pigment is made to feel every hideous day. And that this situation just gets worse by the minute.

And also, of course, that the Panzer lady might very well have just gone off her meds.

But hey, so have I.  And boy do I miss them.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dr. Mars and The Impoopible Dream

Okay, so things have been a little bit iffy since I went off two of my three antidepressants, but honestly, I just had to do it. Not to be a scatological bore, but do you know that children’s book “Everyone Poops”? Well, everyone doesn’t. If you take medication whose side effects make pooping impoopible (or even improbable), you know what I mean.  I can’t believe I’m even discussing this.

“Let’s think of this as a scientific experiment,” I told Dr. Mars, who kindly agreed to wean me slowly off one medication, and then, even more slowly, the other. “I mean, who knows? Maybe I’ll go off them and realize I did not even need them. “

Dr. Mars gave me a look.

“Then again,” I said hastily, “if I get into trouble I can always go back to taking them, right?”

His look altered slightly.

“And maybe get a colostomy bag?”

I am always trying to get him to laugh (i.e., to prove that he loves me) but he is way too professional to ever succumb. Which is probably just as well because as soon as the drugs were fully out of my system, I pooped like a mad man and then promptly went mental. I don’t know how else to describe it (going mental, I mean) except to say that I got up one morning and, triggered by nothing, panicked and wept and then wept and panicked and found myself asking Boo Radley (my cat and fourth Pretend Husband) in all earnest despair, what he thought I should do. (“What’ll I do, Boo? What’ll I do?”) And, since Boo didn’t answer, I called Dr. Mars, who did know what to do, which was to take a small dose of one of my two missing meds and see if it helped. Which it did, except I also stopped pooping again. So I went off the med yet one more time and told Dr. Mars I was just going to have to learn some very tenacious Mood Management Skills.

As I tell all my pretend husbands (except for the cowboy with whom one really should not discuss psychopharmacology), going off meds is like going home again.

I lived in Depressionville from age 13 to 42, and for the next 18 years, got to live somewhere else. And while parts of Depressionville still look and feel exactly the same, those 18 years also make it feel different.

The biggest difference, of course, is that I spent those years finally getting some sleep. And—PRAISE GOD AND EVERY ONE OF HER KIND SPLENDID MINIONS—I am still able to sleep because my third antidepressant--the one that reintroduced me to the glories of slumber—doesn’t make pooping impoopible. I will take it for life, and afterward too.

Ergo, no matter how lethal depression feels now, I know, as I never did before, that I’ll get the daily reprieve known as unconsciousness. Nightmares be damned, at least it’s unconsciousness.

What did Bette Davis say at the end of that hideously addictive movie “Now, Voyager”? 

Oh yeah: “Don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.”

Who knew the stars would be sleeping and pooping?

But I mean, really, I'm asking: Who knew?