During the course of purging an old, defunct blog I ran across the forgotten story below and I just felt as though it ought to be preserved. Here.

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Originally Posted: May 22, 2007
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a young woman comes into my office today to exact a simple transaction – changing the billing date of her insurance. easy enough. she has with her a young boy, her son. i ask how old, she tells me he’s almost two. a toddler. while i’m busy at my computer the boy is busy tearing apart my toy corner. i keep a basket of toys and books in a corner of my small office for the purpose of entertaining bored children.

this little one, for whatever reason, was in a heightened fussy, altogether über disagreeable mood… and he wanted popcorn. we’ve been peddling flavored popcorn in my office – an effort for charity – and there were a few bags sitting on my desk, soliciting donation. the third or fourth time this kid reached for a bag, after being told not to, his mother slapped his hand.

when she did so he turned to her, with tears in eyes, and said “fug you!”

i thought i’d misheard it. i thought that with the way MY head works, of course that’s what i’m going to hear. this toddler didn’t just say ‘fug you’ to his mom. that doesn’t happen. that doesn’t happen until they’re at LEAST three years old, surely.

so i was certain i’d misheard the little guy, that is until his mother reacted by yelling, “don’t you swear at me!!!”
to which the sobbing baby boy chanted, “fug you, fug you, fug you, fug you, fug you, fug you, fug you”…..more times than I can recall.

his mother then exhaled heavily in disgust and declared, “i wish i could just give you away!”

i had to get up and leave.

i made some mumbled excuse about being right back and i left. i went up to the front desk where my co-workers were gathered and shot them a wide-eyed look that was universally understood to mean I had a nut job of epic proportions in my office. i took a deep breath, mustered up a plastic smile (not one of my best either), returned to my office and concluded my business with this woman. QUICKLY.

they were no sooner in the place than they were out of it. but during that short horrid little episode, before i took leave of it, i saw that little boy’s whole future – or entire lack thereof.

my god.
but more to the point, what the fug?

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In 1990 I could never have imagined where I’d eventually end up in 1995. And in 1995 I couldn’t have foreseen where I would soon enough land in 2000. And in 2000 I would have laughed in your (or even slapped you in the) face if you told me what my fate would be by 2005.

And in 2005, if you told me that by 2010 I’d be living in a semi-remote desert, with a second child, remarried to the love of my life, and – despite the many trials, headaches and heartaches in the game of life – happy, finally happy,….I would’ve sighed heavily and replied, “Not possible. But you know what, it sounds nice.”

I always meant to relate this tale while it was fresh in mind, because I started and abruptly quit therapy in the spring (the impetus to this neglected blog) and now I have to sift through the hazy brain bits and pieces.

I remember a car.

Oh yes. The therapist said, “We’re in a car, you’re driving, we’re going on a trip. Where are we going?” She had me stand, with my back to her, and my hands out as though I were gripping a steering wheel. And already I was thinking, “Who’s the crazy lady here? Because I’m pretty sure it’s not me.”

But I promised my husband I’d give this therapy thing a shot, mostly because I felt guilty. I’d spent the later portion of 2009 in a depressed, semi-postpartum, Fatty McFatterson funk and I’d taken up smoking again. And I felt very guilty about all of it because I didn’t have anything reasonable to be depressed about. Which I hear is how clinical depression generally is. Which, also, just made MY depression seem very common, blasé, and pointless – and that was even MORE depressing!

So I went to see a therapist, who told me to get in the “car”, and said we were going on a “trip”, and asked me “where to”. I told her I couldn’t just pick up and go on a trip, I have kids. She laughed, like I was missing the point (or screwing up the exercise, or both) and basically told me that all practical worries were taken care of, where were we going?

“Um….Seattle?”, I said.

And I’m thinking, Oh my God, this is so stupid, am I supposed to say Cancun? Am I supposed to reveal my deepest, darkest longings by naming my destination here, does this have to be SO obvious….and so weird…..oy vey….

Then she proceeds to ask how we’re going to get there, and I remind her of the make believe car. She laughs again (because I’m so silly) and tells me that is not what she means – do we have maps, GPS?

“GPS?” I say. I half-heartedly mention that I sort of know the way home.

She asks what we’ll do while we’re there. Again, I can’t help but supply logical answers, wondering if she’s looking for fairy tales, and I tell her, “Visiting family and friends, I guess?”

She asks me how long we’re staying, and I’m thinking, Oh sweet Jesus, this better be going somewhere worth my Goddamned while, because if it’s not….if this is truly as lame as it seems….

I reply, “2 weeks?” You know, a regular vacation period? I can’t help but answer her questions with the tone of a replied question because, I couldn’t shake the “Are you joking me with this?” from my thoughts, much less my voice.

Alas she allows me to drop my arms, face her and take my seat once more, all in preparation for the big reveal, which was….

“That’s what therapy is like. We’re getting in a car together, and you’re telling me where we’re going, how we’re going to get there, what we’re going to do when we get there, and how long we’re staying.”

Oh. Okay. Was that supposed to blow my mind?

Because I could have walked out right then. I could have said, “Oh, yeah. Wow. Well, unfortunately that’s not at ALL what I need right now. But I’m sure your Cracker Jack Box Degree and your personal brand of Therapy for Dummies works for some people, and I really wish you all the best with that.”

But I didn’t walk out. I’d never been to a therapist before and I wondered if maybe I was judging her too harshly. Dismissing a possible path to, that eagerly sought buzzword, a “breakthrough”. I relayed the events to my husband and he encouraged me to give it another go.

So, a week or two later, back I went. I blathered on about things that upset me, things I noticed I get hung up on, things in my past, and all the while I really just felt no connection to this woman. I didn’t feel that she truly understood a word I was saying. She laughed at my jokes, but did not at all seem to register my pain or resonate with my concerns. But the simple act of unburdening myself, with the prospect of maybe one day doing so wholly and unreservedly, was almost enough to get me back into that office for a third visit. Almost.

Until, that is, at the end of our session, when she pulled out my manila folder, looked at some notes scribbled in the back of it, looked between me and that folder, and recited, “So, we’re still in a car, going to Seattle, to see family and friends, and we’re going to stay 2 weeks. Bet you thought I forgot about you, huh?”

And I never went back.
But I’m keeping the blog.

One of the many annoyances that accumulate after living in a small town for several years, say four years, is that it’s enough time to have met people you don’t like and then run into them again. And again and again.

Who wants to see the same assholes all the time? New assholes, please.

Night before last I stepped out with some lady friends and inadvertently ended up in the sort of bar where baby daddies are made and venereal diseases are invented. In other words, classy joint.

The moment we walked in there were male eyes roaming up and down our bodies without the slightest discretion. My friend said, “Oh God, make eye contact with NO ONE!” Because we were a group of married ladies, see, out and about in this sorry little town on a Thursday, of all nights, to partake of mediocre drinks and awful music. And this was the only place, within 75 miles of desert, where anyone was dancing.

There came a point where I couldn’t fake my enthusiasm for booty jams any longer. I took leave of my ladies on the dance floor and leaned against a wall with my drink, observing them. Two point five seconds later I had company. A late twenties, saggy pants, baseball cap guy sidles up to me and asks what I’m drinking.

Here we go…

Me: “Rum.”

Saggy Pants: “Let me buy you another.”

Me: “No, thank you. I’m married.”

Saggy Pants: “Nuh-uh! Where’s the ring?”

(Really?) With an eyebrow cocked I flash my left hand.

Saggy Pants: “Well, I bet I can make you cheat on your husband.”

He says this with such nonchalance. Such confidence. As if it’s NOT a whore-ifically uncouth thing to say. As if this has worked with other married women. And I wonder, for a moment, if it actually has.

In any case, he flips his baseball cap up and to the side, lifts his chin and says “See, I look good, huh?”

Without pause I say, “You look like the next motherf*cker on Cheaters.”

He dies. Doubles over laughing. He raises his hand to give me that bro-shake. The one that starts out as I high-five and ends in something like a handshake. I think he says “good one” and “you’re funny” and he tells me to have a good night.

I say, “Good luck out there.”

Saggy Pants winks and says, “I don’t need luck.”

I smile and tell him, “I think you do.”

Best ending to awkward/douchey pick-up attempt EVER.

So I was pretty sure this able-bodied, well-groomed, distinguished looking elderly gentlemen was following me in the grocery store today.

I’d seen him seconds before, outside the building, watching me approach. He was on his cell phone at the time and I noticed him because, as his eyes followed me across the parking lot and into the store, he started talking urgently, his body language all types of agitated.

I saw him again in the dairy section. Again, I felt his eyes on me and thought, “Do I know him?” Saw him again in the yogurt aisle and thought, “Is he following me?” Saw him again over in the produce department, his eyes still on me, stern-faced, and at this point it was feeling creepy. However, I told myself I was overreacting. This old man, who keeps staring at me with extremely unkind eyes, merely came into the store for all the exact same items that I had. Happens all the time.

Finally, I’m in the self checkout line and over my left shoulder, maybe a foot from my ear this man asks “So how’d the vote go today?” I turn towards him and he looks down at my shirt, back up at my eyes and squints at me in contempt.

The shirt…..of COURSE, it was the shirt!

For my birthday last June my husband bought me a funny, cute little t-shirt. It displays the face of President Obama wearing a black fedora, chain necklaces, and beneath that image, in the style of the RUN DMC logo it says “I RUN DC”. It’s funny. It’s funny, it’s comfortable, it’s an awesome booby shirt….and that’s all. People my age don’t always “get” the shirt so I’m not surprised that someone over 60 (or even over 50) would be befuddled as well. But, though I don’t wear it to death, when I do put on this particular shirt I never, for one minute, think I’m making a political statement. If anything I’d think people might be offended by the fact that it defaces the face of the president.

But there I was, with this random stranger, in a quiet, seething, political rage, who stalked me for 20 minutes through a grocery store, while he figured out just what he wanted to say to me, finally accosts me and says “So how’d the vote go today?” Flicking his eyes down to my chest and back up again, so as to make very clear what he means.

But it wasn’t clear. I immediately got that he, like the majority of my fellow Arizonians, didn’t like the president (and that’s putting it so mildly that it’s almost absurd) but…..what vote? Then it dawned on me, he’s talking about healthcare reform. And the irony is, as much of a political news junkie as I’ve become over the last few years….I haven’t been watching the news lately. I’ve been watching Sesame Street instead. I’ve been watching Sesame Street and it’s made me a much happier person!!!

“He’s talking about the healthcare vote” I think, and I answer him aloud, “Oh, um, I don’t know.” And I smile my widest, sunniest, blondest smile. He looks down at my chest again (just in case I didn’t get it before, and he is not checking out my rack – nobody looks at my rack like THAT), looks me in the eye with undisguised disgust and replies “Oh. I thought YOU’D know!”
And with that the old bastard shuffled off.

I don’t care what your political beliefs are. Well, actually, I DO care, but…..I respect you outside of opposing beliefs, shall we say. And to those of you who are my friends and disagree with me, at best you think me well meaning but misguided – as I do you. But at no time do your intense feelings of opposition give you the right to stalk and then ambush a stranger who’s done nothing to you (besides wear a t-shirt bearing a joke that was hopelessly lost on you).

And I would even understand if I’d been wearing a t-shirt that read “Healthcare: Suck On It” or “STFU GOP” or “I think Obama has something you can tea bag!” – something actually, intentionally offensive. But if you are a complete stranger approaching me in a grocery to ask me something, it best be “Are you in this line?” or “Did you drop this?” or “Did you get that hummus in aisle 8?”

Upon telling this tale to my husband, he said “Wow! Well, next time you see a Bush sticker on someone’s car you should just run them off the road, right?” His meaning being….. is that what it’s come to? Is that how we should treat one another now? Americans vs. the REAL Americans?

And I won’t. Won’t run people off the road, won’t comment negatively on friend’s political posts I find maddeningly obtuse, and I won’t waylay a stranger in a grocery store for his or her perceived beliefs.

Because I’m not an asshole.
Yet.

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