They Will Lean That Way Forever

This morning, my horoscope, which usually stops inches short of Run screaming, Ta! Flee! Flee! said something unusual. I don’t recall the exact words. Sort of The relationship will develop but not the way you think. I thought, ‘Huh. Perhaps Cablevision will declare glasnost.’ Every morning I walk to work, an older man with a beatific smile jogs past me at a good clip. This morning, he grabbed my hand and asked with a heavy accent, “We run?”

I thought he meant around the puddle in front of me, so I said, “Sure,” and started running. We ran across the Albany Street Bridge, through traffic and past the vile candy-scented construction latrine. My bookbag flapped heavily across my back. The temperature was already above 70. I was not sorry to jog past the portapotty. He had a solid grip on my wrist that didn’t feel threatening. I laughed because the sun was shining, because running feels so good, because it was utterly thrilling to let the antic unfold.

Tata: Why are we running?
Man: I don’t speak English.

I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Under the Route 18 overpass, he let go of my arm and we walked through a narrow space between traffic and a concrete barrier.

Tata: What is your language?
Man: I am from Russia. Everyone in America should study Russian. I tell everyone in Russia they should study English. What do you think of my English?
Tata: Sounds pretty good to me! I study Italian.

I stretched the truth. So sue me.

Man: At the university?
Tata: Years ago. I see you every day. Where are you –

A backhoe whirled out of a sidestreet about ten feet away. He grabbed my arm again and we ran up Albany Street. I was overjoyed. My heart raced. We stopped when he felt we are safely out of the construction zone. By then, his voice was positively operatic.

Tata: Where are you going?
Man: I lead minyon at synagogue. You know what is synagogue?
Tata: I do! And that’s a beautiful one. I have to go in the other direction.
Man: What is your name?
Tata: I’m Ta.
Man: My name is the same as the first craftsman of the United States.
Tata: Your name is Paul Revere?

He did the thing that will make me cheery all day.

Man: Arnold, like Schwarzenegger!

He flexed a bicep. He took my hand and kissed it. He turned left and ran to prayers.

I turned right and skipped across four lanes of traffic because I could.

Time Stands Still For Those Who Know

This story starts with a fire at Sharkey’s apartment complex on Tuesday afternoon and ends here, in this newly tidy corner of my BandAid Pink bathroom. Isn’t the tile ghastly? It is! However it looks on your monitor, it’s ten times worse in real life, where I gaze upon with my real eyes. Ew!

Sharkey: The apartment two doors down and up a floor caught fire yesterday.
Tata: Get out! What happened?
Sharkey: Well, the management turned off the gas so nothing else would blow up. Can I use your shower?
Tata: Of course, dahhhhlink. But…um…
Sharkey: Yes?
Tata: It’s strictly BYO Rubber Duckie.

About forty-five minutes later, Sharkey opens the bathroom door as the kittens, parked at threshold and mad with curiosity, do a double-take. They see me on the couch, so who’s that guy? They’re not the only ones with questions.

Sharkey: Woman! What the hell’s going on in your shower? Do you use all those things?
Tata: Damn right, I do. I’m middle-aged. I schedule Daily Slathering Time, without which I’d look like Tut’s mother.
Sharkey: Mercy!
Tata: If they don’t turn the gas back on tomorrow, pick up my keys at the store and shower again.
Sharkey: Danke schon.

Thursday, I was helping a customer at the family store when Sharkey appeared, borrowed my keys and went off to ablut. He returned just before closing time, smelling better, though Sharkey always smells pretty good. We have this in common: smelling good is our hobby and we take every opportunity to practice it. It’s practically a public service.

Sharkey: I knocked over all the bottles when I scared the cats.
Tata: That mental image has too many verbs.
Sharkey: Consider setting up a Hydration Buffet in your living room.
Tata: Know how folks hollow out Bibles to hide guns? My Bibles hide firming lotion.

Friday, Siobhan, whose father has been in the local ICU since Tuesday and whose sister is getting married in three weeks, emailed plaintively.

Siobhan: Help!
Tata: What’s in it for me?
Siobhan: I need help with an errand.

Previously on Poor Impulse Control, Siobhan almost died in February and since then can only walk a little way before things get dicey. I checked the tags in my underwear and remembered Siobhan carried that person through years of depression.

Tata: Reporting for duty! Where are we going?
Siobhan: Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Tata: Awesome. I have coupons and need stuff from there!
Siobhan: I’ll pick you up at 7:30, you selfish bitch.
Tata: Can’t wait, sweetie!

We go the supersecret back way and Siobhan parks close to the store.

Tata: How big do you want these storage boxes?
Siobhan: Ten of the biggest they have.
Tata: Show me how big.

Siobhan looks at me through her eyebrows. Then holds her hands almost as far apart as they go.

Tata: What shape? Square?
Siobhan: Oblong.
Tata: Rectangular?
Siobhan: Here’s a whole lot of cash. Get out of my truck.
Tata: If you leave without me I’m keeping the money.

I got a cart and marched merrily through the store’s narrow aisles to the back, where America stops to talk on its cell phone. Hyperventilating, I found a very young store employee and asked the $64,000 question: Got plastic stuff coffins? He led me to a display, where we found a number of giant plastic whatsises insufficient for Siobhan’s needs. Making do, we stacked two large thingamabobs in my cart, and he dragged eight flatter ones to – he said – Register 5. I thanked him and dashed off to find a Euro Style Shower Caddy with at least four more attractive descriptors. Then I doubled back for square glass canisters and found my youthful employee friend, who pointed me to a set that wouldn’t actually solve my problems but would be a good start on solving a few of them. I was quite happy and, after a few accident-enhanced attempts to navigate the tiny aisles, promised to injure myself less on the way out.

In fact, I was overjoyed. I despise shopping but love to leave a store with a project in mind, and it was at the peak of my I Know What To Do! Happiness that I discovered a man on a 12′ ladder and burst out laughing. The man on the ground directing him saw my face and immediately forgot about the man on the ladder. I hope nothing terrible happened to that fellow. The man formerly directing traffic 12′ up – or as Siobhan later read off his nametag “Paul” – directed me to Register 5 and led the way. My eight storage containers rested atop a 3′ x 4′ x 3′ laundry dolly and we dragged them to a register with a teenaged cashier. I liked this boy immediately. He was a little odd looking but cheerful. By now, everyone within the blast zone of my laughter and two-cart container parade was smiling.

Tata: This and these are for my girlfriend. She’s waiting in the car and cursing my ancestors. These and this are for me. I have coupons. Isn’t this exciting?
Harry: So…separate orders?
Tata: You’re adorable! Thank you so!

At this moment, I could swear “Paul” turned on his heel jealously, but said, “Don’t leave. I’ll be right back to help you take all this to your car.” I stared after him briefly but smiled at Harry and gave him my undivided attention. Perhaps I was the first person all day to look him in the eye and listen to every word, but absent-minded customers plainly missed out. With a wicked gleam in his eye, he grabbed his price gun and twisted himself over and under a counter and a display. I never took my eyes off him and don’t know how his bones didn’t shatter. I handed him Siobhan’s vast cash stores, and we moved on to my pile of problem-solving purchases. By now, even the other customers inconvenienced by the size of my stuff watched with amusement, especially when, not seeing “Paul”, I pushed two carts from Harry’s register without any of my own bags. As a traveling attractive nuisance, I could have waved debutante-style and thanked my director to amuse everyone within earshot. Harry chased me the ten feet, calling the name he’d read off my credit card. Several cashiers between us said, “I’ll help!” “Can I help with that?” before “Paul” reappeared and took the laundry cart behind me. By now, I was saying, “Just a person…just a person, leaving…” as I pushed the cart out the door and turned around to see “Paul” staring as he asked in slow motion, “Where’s your car?” I turned back to my cart, sailing off through mall traffic into the parking lot. I skipped off after it and caught it halfway to Siobhan’s truck. Somehow, the laughing and chasing didn’t catch her eye. Five feet from the rear bumper, I yodeled, “Siobhan, sweetie, would you please open the door?” The tone, an octive above my usual, alerted her to the presence of a stranger.

Siobhan: Hello…”Paul.”
Tata: Thank you so much for helping us!
“Paul”: There’s no room in your truck for the containers.
Siobhan: I was taking a call and expected the shopping to take longer.
Tata: Stand back, “Paul”. We’re professionals.

Siobhan grabbed a messy pile of shipping boxes from the back of her truck and tossed it on the ground. She and “Paul” negotiated the stacking of empty plastic hoositses in the back while I stuffed my bags into the passenger seat legroom because I easily fold in thirds. “Paul” took the laundry cart and headed back to the store. We smiled and waved as he walked the forty feet to the sliding door. I grabbed the pile of cardboard off the ground and a knife and we resorted to the PeeWee Herman voices.

Tata: Hey, Boxy! What would you like to do today?
Siobhan: (Tearing tape and folding) I’d like to lie down!

This morning, I assembled the shower caddy in only one Jonathan Richman Album Time Unit and thought of Georg as I used all my wits and freakish upper body strength to install it. Georg can do absolutely anything. I’ve seen that, and the travails of the week may have been just a bit too much. So when I found myself stymied by the geometry of getting a lengthy pressure rod past a dangling disco ball and a bank of cat boxes, I asked “What would Georg do?”

I hope Georg might do this, though I’m sure she would have replaced that tile.

Friday Music Blogging: We’ll Fall

This week, being female in the Blogosphere was hazardous to your sanity. That savage beating of dissenters at Pandagon over engagement rings spilled over the edge and dripped predictably onto I Blame the Patriarchy and – less predictably – Sadly, No! There were other residual brawls, all with the same problem: no one listened to anyone else. Nothing was learned. Not a single “Eureka!” in all that stinky mess.


Just…listen, and let this settle in:

A thousand years ago, when I was a young woman getting engaged, I too had political problems with the engagement ring and “bride price” baggage. An older woman who came from an agricultural society told me in her culture, like it or not, the husband’s ability to save up for an engagement ring was linked to the future security of the family. The ring was the family’s emergency investment. A wife was the guardian of the family’s security and kept it where she could see it at all times. When something catastrophic happened, off came the ring, and the family would survive.

So you can see the practical partnership, if you wish, or you can see the corrupting materialism the Furs reviled – until they adopted it themselves.

The Bus In Seconds Flat

Knowing as you do my naive charm and microscopic attention span, you’ll be shocked to learn that today I will attend a twenty-year service luncheon. Yes, I’ve worked for the unnamed university for almost twenty-one years now and no one tripped me as I strolled past the industrial lawn mowers. It’s kind of a miracle. Anyway, I’m not the luncheon type. What possessed me to RSVP in the affirmative? I don’t know but if I have to contain my exuberance and zip my lips through canned speeches someone had better serve beef. You know, for the symbolism.

Over the weekend, I was in the drugstore, staring at aisle after aisle of wine bottles because I wanted to make chicken livers and rapidly losing the will to live. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young man moving deliberately, and I sensed he was about to do something interesting. I watched him pick two items. I grabbed a bottle of red – forgivable mistake – and followed him to the checkout. As soon as he’d paid and the door swung shut behind him, I blurted to no one and everyone, “That guy bought a SuperSoaker and a bottle of wine. That’s a Saturday night, baby!”

For chicken livers, I’ll stick to a woodsy chardonnay next time.

As you may recall, about a year ago, I gave up home use of paper products with the exception of recycled toilet paper. This has been overall a good thing for me. I no longer have that distressing paper towel reflex reach. When I make a mess, I have to think about how I’m going to pick that up. Larry, the little black cat formerly bent on stealing your soul, seldom made messes until the last days of his life, so my house was clean and quiet. Thus, it went on until the arrival of Topaz and Drusy, my adorable, fur-covered mess-making machines.

Yes, I can clean almost as fast as they wreck my place. If I didn’t adore them, I might be resentful. Picture this: you and I, we’re talking, perhaps having a civilized glass of something fizzy. My apartment is tranquil, I look fairly well put together, all is right with the world and you blink. I’m still talking, but now the furniture’s upside down, something’s on fire, my hair stands on end and we’re both covered with soot. I have kittens. Twice recently, I wondered if I’d given up paper towels in haste. The first: Topaz, who has a very sore tummy sometimes, walked over to me and yakked at my feet on the living room rug. I…got a sponge. The second was a carefully planned campaign of kitty terror initiated the moment my wuzzah wuzzah wuzzah moo moo moo little darlings arrived and found I only offered one litterbox. Until I bought a second enclosed litterbox and placed it next to the first in the bathroom, I found a neat pile of kitten poop in the bathroom every day. As protests go, it was more sanitary than one march on Washington I attended in the eighties. Cleaning up those tidy piles of kitten poop, I wished for paper towels a few times. Yes, indeed. Thank Vishnu I finally wised up and gave the kittens anything they wanted.

Johnny and his Hot Veterinarian Wife are in town to visit the parents. This summer, it will be thirty years since I saw him painting something and fell madly in teenage love, though we became fast friends. His first wife hated me, which meant we couldn’t speak for a few painful years. I haven’t met this woman, but she has to like me. She just has to. It would be unbearable to lose him again. I’m thinking of bringing to his parents’ house a platter of ham, chicken, cheese and shrimp. You know, for the symbolism.

If You Can’t Dance Too

There is a certain species of man who approaches women he desires with what might at first be considered attentive criticism. Because I have been a performer and a public person, this man has approached me many times, in many forms. Once, the women’s clinic in defense of which I’d devoted two years and over 100 Saturdays was firebombed. I was asked to give a speech at a ceremony, and I did. A man sidled up to me and said, confidentially, “I saw your hands shake.” It was not lost on me that he chose a moment of incalculable loss and terror to mention my insecurity as if only he understood me, in a way that might make it worse. This man insults for attention. He will observe your accomplishment and curl his lip. Most recently, a man interested in dating asked about PIC’s stats, and when I told him between 450-750 unique visitors drop in daily, he said, “I don’t read personal blogs. How many people did you have to blow for that?”

Hilarious. Women can only get ahead on their knees. I’ve never heard that one before. This man will be the first to cry foul if you suggest he’s a misogynist. His manner is mild, his eyes are bright and they follow but make no mistake. There is a certain man who thinks women should be quiet, and if he has anything to say about it, no one will hear a word you say – especially not him.

There is a certain man who thinks women do not rock. On Friday night, I went to a basement show at the bar in which I spent a good chunk of the last twenty years. Some nights, I was the only woman in the joint. On Friday, I arrived to find a Jimi Hendrix cover band on stage and cranking. There is a certain man who wants to see a faithful recreation of something long past. Usually, he is in his mid-forties to mid-fifties, hasn’t cut his hair in three years and believes women should never touch guitars. Few of this species of man were in the basement Friday night, but musicians in the audience burst into applause after every blistering solo. The band was tight and deadly serious, though I laughed behind my hand at the oddness of the singer’s Castillian accent – not that he wasn’t good. His tone and inflection were perfect. But so?

The third band was RayC/DC, which was composed of bored members of True Love and the Groucho Marxists playing out just for fun. Their covers were perfect and when Chris threw his guitar on the ground and sprinted for the men’s room I almost fell off my barstool. It was a riot and I do not regret losing beauty sleep.

In between, a Runaways cover band called The Stay-At-Homes tore up the stage. It was an excellent spoof, complete with in-character bitchy bickering and upstaging, of a – pardon me – seminal corporate girl band by skilled actors and musicians, and I laughed from the moment they tuned up until they said goodnight. You should see this band because these women can really play and everyone loves a too-short Catholic school girl skirt. For about half their set, the intense guitarist with the Castillian accent stood next to me, facing away. Every few minutes, he muttered, “Tsk!” because these girls should leave playing out to the Real Men. I’ve seen the hostility so many times I laughed at him, which of course he didn’t hear. I’m a woman, after all, and I should be at home, waiting for someone.

There is a certain man who does not love women. I get frustrated with the demand for credentials from younger femininsts who seem to think I should fight every fight. I get confused when presented with a new front to fight on twice a week – or worse, a new assault on the same old affronts. If you think you can bargain with the anti-choice movement you haven’t paid attention for the last thirty years; equivocation has always failed. Stop it. Without ifs or maybes, your medical procedures are between you and your doctor – forgive me – period, without intervention from anyone else. (And it has not escaped my notice that every time I hear Concerned Women For America speak, the representative is a man.) My feminism will not be yours because my life experience has been different from yours. The compromises I’ve made to survive have been my own. I’m not going to apologize nor will I engage a young woman in conversation about the purity of my politics or hers. We make mistakes. At some point, we come up against a situation where we have to do something we don’t like to pay the rent. We all do. A certain man is waiting for us.

I am not the enemy. We do have one.

Thanks to Mr. DBK for help lining up those pronouns.

Update: See comments here for the circular firing squad shit that simply must stop but won’t.

But Then You Make Me Crawl

Long-legged, fearless Drusy has a crush on me. It’s sweet. It’s beyond sweet. I couldn’t love her more. Often, when I’m reclining on the couch, working on PIC or the second job, twiggy Drusy prances half-way up my leg before I notice and scoop her up into my arms. Though about seven months old and rangy, in my lap Drusy is just a baby, her face pressed against mine, her paw touching my cheek. She withdraws the paw. She places it against my nose, gazing into my eyes. Drusy nestles into my breast and leans this way, turns over and leans that until she finds a cozy spot. Her eyelids droop. She kisses me often and falls asleep in my arms, as babies will. When she does, with her paws around my neck or touching my face, I try not to think of poop I just scooped with pawprints in it.

You Could Move On This Moment

Part One

Part Two
The Blogosphere’s gone twitchy with this whole who-said/who-didn’t-say thing. It’s spattering everywhere, and it’s going to be a long time before people forgive one another for what they’re saying, if they do. I would have been happy if that woman in Tennessee had simply amended her post and said, “Oops. Sorry. Didn’t realize these words could be viewed that way.” That’s it, done. It’s too late now, and former allies aren’t going to trust one another anymore.

Now might be a good time for everyone to go out for flan and calm down. Go ahead! Don’t worry, I’ll be here when you get back. Go on, take your keys and go have some yummy custardy goodness. Mmmm. I’ll wait.

…tap tap tap…

…feelings…nothing more than feelings….trying to forget my…

Hey! Feeling better? That’s great. I’d like to try something and I hope you’re up for an experiment. Without some shitty team-building retreat that eats your weekend and destroys your personal boundaries, let’s try to trust one another. I’ll go first.

In 1995, an associate professor at the unnamed university where I work asked me to read his book, which I did. It was an arid treatment of Soviet history in Eastern Europe and I struggled to push a bookmark through it until one night I sat up in bed, howling. Morgan thought I was having a seizure because we had a loft bed and it was just fractions of seconds before this moment came to its comedic conclusion: I smacked my head on the ceiling. This did not stop me from reading a passage out loud about The Great Soviet Encyclopedia‘s framing of history. Morgan agreed the words written in anger were accidentally hilarious. The following year of my life was devoted to a giant collaborative art piece called Redshow / Mytholodeon Black Wheel. It almost killed me, but it was good work, totally worth every bit of me – and all of Morgan – I subsequently lost. In writing PIC, I think of bits and pieces of Redshow I’d like to reference but that’d get us nowhere – until now. The people who collaborated on this tiny section have given me permission to print this and Siobhan made a beautiful page. I’m going to trust you now. This tiny section is about history and boredom, and our refusal to bear witness to the things for which we are responsible.

Trials of the Century.

In the stage version, I played FP, and I will never forget the abject despair I felt on my hands and knees, shouting people…people…people…PEOPLE! because that character’s assessment of the situation was beneath notice. If you’re a straight, white male, you should try this sometime: pick any opinion you hold, picture yourself on your hands and knees, and imagine yourself surrounded by people who refuse to hear what you say. That’ll wreck your whole day. Some people are forced into coping mechanisms like Stockholm Syndrome or like battered women come to see themselves as being to blame. Some people remain more emotionally intact, and they fight back. Apprehending this is the beginning of empathy. First, imagine yourself in a situation. Then, imagine people who are not you in that situation. The outcomes won’t be the same. After the pictures of Abu Gharaib were discovered, the most pronounced differences I heard in converation were between people who could imagine captivity and imprisonment and people bone-solid-certain that brutal indignity could not be visited upon them. In all likelihood, the people in those photos probably felt pretty secure right up until they found themselves there. And this opens up a whole new view to what people are, inside.

It couldn’t be simpler, and it couldn’t be more complex. Ah, fuck. It’s human.

It’s worth noting that Mr. Krancberg was an elegant gentleman who had suffered greatly under Soviet occupation. He read an early version of the Redshow script. “It would take,” he said, shaking with rage, “a real writer to do what you’ve undertaken.” He never spoke to me again. I didn’t take it personally and I didn’t blame him. By way of contrast, I recenlty wrote three pieces that felt and continue to feel like solid, beautiful writing for someone who sniffed disdainfully and turned up his nose, as if I’d painted a tryptich and we should argue about brushstrokes. To come to a point – finally – though as an artist I am not my work and my work is not me, when you as a reader reject my work on a personal basis you reject me. That’s just the way it is. This is the paradox of the Blogosphere. Readers, writers and commenters don’t just reject one another’s theses, they grab knives and reach for jugulars, after which a simple edit job doesn’t cut it. What’s happening out there is really personal. And there’s one more thing, also from Redshow: “Feelings are facts, man.”

It doesn’t take a genius to see where we’re headed, or that even the magic words “I’m sorry” uttered by hundreds of people at once will leave hundreds of people watching each for signs of remorse and recidivism. So, I’ve trusted you with a bit of my work. You can trust me, too, you know. I won’t always be right, but we can always get flan.

The Man Inside the Child

Part One
A certain amount of odd communication is fairly standard.

Sharkey: Our friend Ray’s cover band is playing at the bar tonight and you should leave your house. He is the only straight man who ever wrote a song about me.
Tata: Hilarious. What time?
Sharkey: I’ll find out.
Tata: Huh. I’ll probably go. What’s the name of the band?
Sharkey: RayC/DC.
Tata: This has potential, and by potential I mean I’d be disappointed if we didn’t spit beer a few times.


Daria: Tyler and I are starting NutriSystem and there’s just one thing. I’ve looked all through the information and I don’t see –
Tata: A wine list?

Pretty much anywhere, you can see low-level clashes of language use and expectation. This morning, I got an email ad from my favorite online lingerie store – free shipping! – but the subject line made me flinch – Last chance to order for Father’s Day. Some women are wives; presumably this ad was meant for them and not for incest enthusiasts. But I digress.

There’s an old couples counseling game that involves Spouse 1 making a point and Spouse 2 repeating that point back without acting on homicidal urges. Secretaries do something similar when they take phone numbers and repeat them back to confirm that, yes, what was said was heard because often, let’s face it, what was said wasn’t heard at all. You can observe this phenomenon in your own environment.

You: If you finish your homework, you can join the Foreign Legion before dinner.
Your Kid: MOM! Dad said we’re going out for flan!
Your Wife: You’re right, I should take bossanova lessons…

My life moves at a more leisurely pace than most people’s so I can ignore other people for a good long time before anyone notices.

Person: Didn’t you say you’d meet me at such-and-such place?
Tata: I didn’t. You said I would. I thought your imaginary friend would wear a cute imaginary ensemble and arrive ten minutes late. The real Me would’ve been a third wheel.

Listening is one thing but hearing and understanding are quite another when we can’t agree on what words mean. A month ago, I had a bizarre conversation I didn’t understand until last Tuesday. Yes, I’m a slow learner. Shut up. To sum up: I asked what my friend was doing over and over for several weeks. My friend repeated three magical words, “You’re not listening.” Of course, I was listening. I was listening to every word and understanding less and less as time passed. On Tuesday, I realized the magic words “You’re not listening” actually meant “You’re not obeying me.” Well, I could draw you a diagram of how this communication went awry, but I’d have to start before the beginning, at the unspoken expectation that people know what we want and are simply denying it to us, and it would still end with my blurting, “What the fuck is going on here?” because obedience is not on the list of things friends should expect.

Balancing this brain-rattling confusion is an almost equal confidence in my evidently singular ability to look shit up. It’s not that hard, really. If I don’t know what something means, I open a dictionary. It’s my favorite book and has better character development than the Bible. But even this skill won’t help you understand what’s being said in a time when writers of whatever skill level grind an axe. Perversion of simple word meanings has become a hallmark of our sad age; a shining example: Steve Gilliard was not a bigot, no matter who says so, how often or how loudly. (I won’t link to the accusing douchebag – I trust the meaning of that word is clear. You can Google, if you must.) Let’s open our dictionary, shall we?

Main Entry: bigĀ·ot
Pronunciation: ‘bi-g&t
Function: noun
Etymology: French, hypocrite, bigot
: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

The devoted to his…opinions aspect of the definition, if it described Steve, is not enough to paint him with this brush. No. It doesn’t work that way. Use of the word includes hatred and intolerance and the racial or ethnic group connotation is not optional. It is intrinsic to the meaning of the word bigot. We can’t from here jete blithely to He couldn’t tolerate my opinion, therefore he was a bigot. I’m sorry, son. Language may be a virus, but few of us are Typhoid Mary. Neither is Jesus’ General a misogynist, and throwing that idea around in a snit is a shitty thing to do and a sign that someone hasn’t opened a dictionary recently.

Could I be a better listener? Certainly. Could I speak more clearly? Not without sodium pentathol, no. I speak and write to be understood – not in code or riddles. It is exhausting to try and quitting is unthinkable. You see my failures to communicate every day.

Part Two

Alive, I Feel the Love

I was circling the drain – again – when the phone rang.

Auntie InExcelsisDeo: What the hell are you doing?
Tata: Your x-ray vision is singeing my eyebrows. What’s going on here?
Auntie: As you know, I read your blog. What are you doing?
Tata: On the advice of my attorney, I’d like to ask: Um, huh?
Auntie: Are you depressed?
Tata: Now that you mention it, I am feeling a quart low…
Auntie: Eating a lot of sugar? Are you taking vitamins?
Tata: Almost no sugar. I’ve skipped the vitamins recently.
Auntie: I’ve been taking sublingual B-12. It helps my energy level. And you should be taking it too.
Tata: I used to get B-12 shots every week and – Oh. My. God. I’m an idiot!
Auntie: Duh!

Auntie made a shopping list and issued an order: I was going to take care of myself or else! Nobody has a spare hand and everyone gets nervous when someone says the D Word, so I went to the store and bought Calcium/Magnesium, CoQ-10 and B-12. A few days later, which is to say this morning, the sun came out. A choir sang.

Tata: Hey, my manicure is great. My hair looks awesome. I am a hot babe! Look at my fabulous apartment! Wuzzah wuzzah wuzzah my little kittens! My friends are sooooo interesting! My toenails are electric blue! My job is better than sliced bread! What nice email people send! Carrot juice is the most luscious thing in history! Thank you, Thighmaster…

In all humility, I almost envy me.