Day 41: Dancing around it

Readers, this one, I tell you, is a cracker. It’s got existential angst; it’s got domestic farce; it’s got inebriation and its sorry consequences: what more could you wish for? Not much, I can tell you! As Horace Walpole wrote to a friend, “if I make you laugh, for I cannot flatter myself that I shall make you cry, I shall be content.” [1]

I think this is a good place to start: what awakens me this morning is a shapeless, ill-formed thought. At first the thought strikes me as a whimsical fancy, or perhaps a half-remembered scene from a bad sitcom, but, slowly and insistently, and despite my inward groans and pleas for it not to, it shape-shifts into a real memory, albeit a blurry one. The memory is that last night I sent a LOT of emails, but I have no recollection of to whom they were sent or what they said. The second after I realize that this thought is, in fact, a memory from my own life I grab my phone. The first message I see in my inbox is from one of my lavishly compensated mental health professionals. It reads:

Too late now, but never mix Ativan with alcohol! 
They have additive sedative effects. 

At this juncture, I feel that I need to assure you, dear, kindly readers, that you should not be worried that I am about to recklessly launch into a tale of some epic bender, a tale that would unnerve my colleagues and cast serious doubt on my good judgment. No, no, no: this is not that kind of story at all. Promise.

No, really the comedy here inheres simply in the thoughts that rapidly flitted through my mind upon reading this message. They were as follows:

  1. Huh, I guess I emailed my therapist last night.
  2. WHY IS IT TOO LATE NOW? Does the “too late” refer simply to the act of combining Ativan (aka Lorazepam) with alcohol, i.e. does she just mean it is too late to not combine them because I already did? OR (much worse) does the “too late” refer to some other behavior precipitated by said combination that I disclosed in my message to her, a behavior that it is now “too late” to undo?
  3. Really? An exclamation point? When you’re hungover an exclamation point is the typographical equivalent of a piercing car alarm.

I desperately scroll down the message to see what I wrote to her, terrified I will discover something like this:

Told joke at husband’s work party that did 
not go over well. Dimly recall telling CEO 
he was humorless wanker. How did this happen????

or

Got very sleepy at bar and accused bartender 
of spiking my drink. He got really stroppy with me
and asked me if I had taken any medication
that shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol. I said, duh, 
if I had done I would know that, wouldn’t I? 
What a wanker, right???

or

Hit old man driving back from party. Body in trunk. 
How did this happen????

But, guess what, readers?

My message to her didn’t say ANY of those things or make any other lurid confessions! All my message to her said was “I’m more drunk than I’ve been for years … I feel bad.” In contra-distinction to the shrillness of the exclamation point in my therapist’s email to me, never before has a period given me such comfort as the one that nestled at the end of the words “I feel bad.” I mean, without the period, it might have been, you know, “I feel bad about the old man … etc. etc.”

After confirming that all the emails sent late last night were, in my opinion, fairly innocuous (and I issue a blanket apology here to any readers who were also email recipients and feel that they were heinously violated), I feel already that I have conquered the day. If I can just safely deliver the flopsy-duckits to their respective educational establishments, then I can spend the rest of the day in my pajamas nursing my hangover and exploring my existential angst and call the day a raging success.

As the door slams upon the elder (who walks to school himself) leaving the house, I feel that I am so close to being on the sofa. But then, two minutes later, the doorbell rings; the elder is back, sobbing and doubled over. His stomach hurts, he says; there’s no way he can even walk to school. It is swiftly ascertained that this stomachache is caused by the anxiety of having to have shots when he goes for his annual doctor’s appointment later today. I coax and reassure and cuddle; but, he insists, he just can’t walk to school. Time is ticking on … it is now a full fifteen minutes past the beginning of the school day.

“Perhaps ….” he ventures, hesitantly …. “perhaps if you were to drive me to school I could manage?”

I look at him. “Oh fine.” I say.

What follows is not anything extraordinary; it’s just the regular quotidian farce of getting two children out of the house, a farce I’m not used to experiencing on a daily basis now that the elder walks himself to school.

I am not showered or dressed; my teeth are not brushed; my hair is wild. But, although usually I would at least put a bra on under the T-shirt I slept in, for the sake of common decency, I reason that if I’m driving, common decency isn’t really a concern (so this is why people like to drive!). The elder is already dressed and ready and—what luck!—so is the younger! All she needs are socks and shoes. Done. She insists, perversely, that she put the left shoe on the right foot, and vice versa but, whatever. We’re ready. Until:

“I need to change my underwear,” announces the younger.

“Why?” I ask, redundantly.

Of course, we have to take off the shoes and the jeans in order to take off the pee-sodden underpants. And as I am taking a clean pair of underpants out of her drawer, she catches sight of a single rainbow-striped sock. “Oh!” she exclaims. “I want to change into rainbow-striped socks!” I am agreeable, but of course, the other rainbow striped-sock is nowhere to be found.

“Never mind!” I say brightly, in the vain hope that the younger will see it the same way and say, “let’s just stick with the white ones, then!”

Instead, she pouts. “Well if I can’t have rainbow socks, then I have to have rainbow pants!” she declares.

I pull out a pair of pink and white striped pants. “Here you go.” I say. “Pink and white stripes are not the same as a rainbow,” she points out, reasonably enough. “Yeah, but you don’t have any rainbow-striped pants,” I point out, also reasonably enough.

“But I need to be a rainbow girl,” she insists.

How we figure out how to achieve this goal to her satisfaction is not important, but eventually she ends up in a completely different set of clothes from what she started out in: instead of jeans and a T-shirt she is now wearing a pair of colorful stripy tights with a too-small colorful stripy dress on top.

We finally leave, the elder is dropped off and we park near the younger’s preschool.

“Here we are, rainbow girl!” I say as I undo her seat-belt.

She frowns. “I’m not a rainbow girl,” she says. “I’m just a human who is wearing colored clothes.”

“Oh. OK.” I say.

I realize that I forgot that I do actually have to walk into the school and so it might have been a nice gesture to have, you know, gotten dressed. It’s a Jewish preschool and for some reason today the Rabbi is standing at the entrance greeting all the parents and kids as they come in. I suddenly feel acutely conscious that I am wearing my pajamas. He kindly focuses his attention on the younger flopsy-duckit. “Can I tell you that I really LOVE what you’re wearing?” he says. She beams at him. He nods at me and I nod back. He does not tell me that he really LOVES what I’m wearing.

The flopsy-duckits safely delivered to their respective educational establishments, finally, now, I am where I belong, on the sofa. I am now ready to contemplate the existential “hole” that the other lavishly-compensated mental-health professional that I see regularly tells me is at the center of my being [2]. I’ve been avoiding contemplating this hole for some time, and, honestly, I’m not sure I can face it today so I can’t really tell you what it’s like: whether it’s more of a donut hole or a bagel hole; whether it’s a wormhole or just, you know, an ordinary sort of black hole. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I leave you with a picture, not of a hole, but of a name, the younger flopsy-duckit’s name, written by herself this morning. She was very proud of it, and rightly so:

Ada

What I love is the way the two As look like dancers boogieing around the D, which looks like, I dunno, a slug? A turd? A tuber of some kind? Or perhaps it is a hole and the As are dancing around it, which I think is what I’m doing too … I’m dancing around it … biding my time … not quite ready to peer into the darkness just yet.

Notes

[1] From a letter to Monsieur Elie de Beaumont, March 18, 1765.

[2] No, I do not believe he took the metaphor of the “hole” from this blog, although it is an interesting coincidence.

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