46. Oddly and Completely Off

Off. I joined the laptoppers today. Seems my 9 year old desktop was just not cute enough any more. So Sam fixed me up with a clone of something else for $500. I am getting used to the flat feeling of the keyboard and the finger doodle mouse. I am mobile now. I can fit in with the regulars in the coffee shop and act like I know what they know. Till now I hid behind an empty pizza box just trying to camouflage myself. They kept their distance.  Now we’ll see who’s packing the pepperoni! Look out, Jake.

Offer. Wait a second, the cat is meowing at the door.  Her name is Annie, Orphan Annie. She wants to come in so later she can meow to go out. Ten years ago my daughter Grace and I were jogging one summer day when this grey and orange kitten jumped out  of the corn. Grace has a soft heart and began the “Dad, can we keep her?” routine. I said “No”. She began negotiating. “What if Erin (who was in college in Philadelphia at the time) took her to school?”  “Okay, but we are not keeping a cat!”  Surprisingly Erin accepted the proposal and took Annie to college… for two years. Then, when she moved to New York, it was our cat.  I did not follow the logic when years later Erin adopted two kittens. Anyway, we’ve had the cat since then and, wouldn’t you know it, the cat has a weird one way crush on me. She sleeps at the foot of my bed each night and sometimes  tries to curl up in my armpit and face. It’s wrong just on the hygiene level.

Offerest. Our last cat was named Kizzy, and she was a plant peeing tabby cat. I don’t know how it got started, I just know that we covered our inside  plants with plastic cling wrap, and the dang cat would find a way to pee or poop anywhere except her litter box. But Fate smiled on us one day. We were at the vet’s for a guinea pig or a bird or a lizard ailment, and this old lady was sighing next to us in the waiting room. Sighing! Her cat had died. We sympathized and then seized the opportunity to offer her a living cat, one Kizzy the plant peer. She was so pleased to be getting a new, used cat, albeit without a warranty. I drove home as fast as I could, threw the cat in its carrying cage, tossed in its food and litter, and tore off before the old lady changed her sweet little mind. Whew! God I hated that cat.

Offinsomuch. I should probably write something memorable now. Problem is that I just spent a few days at the shore and my brain overheated, melted and drained into the sands of Delaware. All I have in my skull now is the white noise of waves lulling me into a trance of relaxation. I don’t have the energy to fight it. Summer vacation is like a beautiful woman who seduces you. Not that this has ever happened to me, but I can dream. And she encourages languid lounging, deep sighs of satisfaction, and lazy lolling about. She’s a potent opiate on a humid day. A big woman, Queen Latifah’s range. And I can’t move, can’t argue, can’t quit her. I’ve got those Big Woman, Feels Like an Opiate, Humid Day, Summer Vacation, Cat at the door Blues. It feels like I should be on the Gulf Coast of Florida, though, with a gin and tonic, just waiting for the evening thunderstorm to cool the day off.  But storms won’t come; I don’t drink; and it’s just a still summer day with an ocean of unbending corn standing like a billion green soldiers.

No cats, no laptops, no memories of big women and opiates. No. Just let’s call this completely off. As Billie Holiday sighed, “Let’s call the whole thing off.”

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45. In Betweenly

Tweenagers are funny people, part child/part pre-adult. As their brains grow into the abstract world, their bodies fall forward into puberty, and their minds awake to sexuality oozing out from hormonal sap rising in their veins. Tweenagers make great babysitters because they have one foot in soft skinned childhood still and one sort of touching the hard pavement of adult life. I worked with this age group for 23 years as a middle school teacher. They were something to behold, neither child nor adult. Sometimes the smallest, most kidlike seventh grader was the Bryan Wert who asked which I preferred: modern English translations of Chaucer or the Middle English. “Well, Bryan, I prefer the Middle English.”  “Me too”, he confided. And God help the girl who blossomed first and brought on adult attention when she was still playing with Barbies at home.  Bryan could have used a body, and the buxom girl could have used his brains. It rarely works out that someone gets both sides of the entire package at the same time.

It’s a hard transition for kids to go from the safe, motherly world of elementary school to the wilder, less safe world of middle school. The freedoms that come with going into the next phase of life need to be balanced by added responsibility. Most kids failed to get this added responsibility thing. They did not have the hovering elementary Mom-like teacher over them, so they tended to slack. Some kids had whacked out families that tended to explode while their child was in seventh grade. One girl I had in class was a reasonable performer, no trouble kid. One day she did not have her homework, which was unusual. She said, “My dad burned our house down last night. We had no place to go, so we slept in a doorway.” She smelled of kerosene and looked like she had indeed slept in a doorway the previous night. I told her I was sorry and  talked to the counselor about her plight. I think she moved away after a few weeks. Sad case. What a traumatic memory to carry for the rest of her life. I wish that this were the anomaly. It was not.

One day I recall a chilling experience. A former student had killed a local man during a robbery for the grand total of $6.00. I had talked with this boy for many hours over the couple of years he attended our school. Once, I recall, he stayed after school for hours voluntarily because he was sure a couple of boys were going to beat him up when he left. He likely had it coming. He was the kind of kid who talked a big story but failed to deliver the goods. I guess drugs, alcohol, and six more years of life helped him cross over to a guy who could kill a man with a knife for a few dollars. The irony is that this kid was a nice young man. He loved to help with any task you might have. I ran into him in prison many years later. (I was doing prison ministry in case you were wondering.) He was a trustee and functioned very well in the rigid prison system. It was the freedom beyond school and prison that he could not navigate, I suppose. It’s different from Johnny Cash’s  lyric “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.”  Something is lost when you must say, “I knifed a helpless old man in Mont Alto for six bucks…and he died.”

Freedom/responsibility…if you want more of one, then you need more of the other for balance. Occasionally I had the workaholic perfectionist student who was overly responsible and rarely happy. One such girl eventually developed anorexia. No surprise. Before she was diagnosed and went in-patient at an ED clinic, she did not have her homework one day. It was as if time stopped. Every kid in the class gasped, “Jena doesn’t have her homework?” Woulld gravity still work? Did Jesus die for nothing? Had Armageddon begun? I paused and said, “Thank you.”

She looked at me puzzled. “Why are you thanking me?”  I said, “Because we can all feel normal now. Till now we felt like losers.” She smiled with some confusion as if I had welcomed her to the alliance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered water buffalo rodeo riders of America. I think she relaxed after this norming experience and enjoyed being a kid for a while. I hope so.

Then there was Shawnya, who maybe single handedly changed my trajectory from teaching to counseling. One day she stopped by my room and sort of blocked the door. She was and still is very big and black. She said she needed to talk to me. I asked her why since we did not know one another. She replied, “Cuz I think I can trust you.” She then poured out her life’s pains and disappointments, hurts, hopes, dreams, etc. I sat and nodded and empathized and wondered what I should do. Apparently listening was good enough because she came back again and again over the years, eventually stopping by with her children. Just this past Father’s Day she sent me a touching text thanking me for being a father figure to her. I hate to text on my antique phone, but I struggled through a response to her. She means a lot to me also.

As I reflect on this topic, it seems to me that there are tweenagers of all ages– college freshmen, newlyweds, first time moms, prematurely promoted managers, idealistic pastors right out of seminary, and so on. Perhaps, Blogoiter, you are a tweeny bopper at this very moment, between that phase of life you just left but not yet where you hope to arrive. Like my hitchhiker saga…you are on the road and vulnerably  in between.

44. Tattoolessly

Mitch was talking about tattoos at the Coffee Summit today. He got a new one this week on his upper chest below the collarbone. “Risk” is what it says in red ink and a slightly Arabic script. He has a neat pair of them on his right arm also. I didn’t ask to see his fourth one. It’s a theme for him, to live with Risk, you know, on the edge of the knife of life. His cell phone rang. His noon appointment cancelled, which freed up his entire day. Life on the edge, man. Every morning he faces it in the mirror– “k s i R”, which may be an unconscious wish on his part to “kiss her”, but that is mere speculation.

Chuckles was rather subdued, not a lot of commentary from him today. He was sponging the verbage from Lance and me and Mitch, I think. He has no tattoos to date. He asked me what the merits of single life were. I told him he would always know what was for dinner and he could have his bed all to himself always. No schedule, no sharing, no expectations put upon him, no lists to check off. In addition he would not have to ask permission to get a tattoo of a flying monkey across his back or a picture of Sasquatch on his chest. Not sure how meritorious these last two would be.

Lance chimed in to support my wisdom mushrooms (which are grown in pure cow dung).  He noted that his wife keeps him on a short leash at times, asking him at Sunday brunch, “Didn’t you listen to a thing that the pastor said?” Still, being married outweighs being single, most of the time, I think. Let me check with my wife and I’ll get back to you with a final answer, as soon as I get this list checked off. “Let’s see, thaw the chicken, and call for that appointment, and get to the bank for the mortgage book.”

We wandered further into the land of tattoos. Jake got another one. Apparently he is a tattoo beast under those tee shirts he wears. Who knew? My daughter Erin got one in college on her shoulder. It said in very tight black letters “and this too, like a fever, shall pass”. It looked like a bar code she could could scan for Easy Pass on the turnpike. When I saw it, I think I said, “No, it won’t pass. It’s permanent.” Years later, maybe ten, she told me that she wished she hadn’t gotten any tattoo. I felt better about it. Not smug, really. No, she’s a beautiful woman and I think she realized that the bar code added no value to her. And it didn’t work on the Easy Pass scanner either, as we learned one Christmas Eve.

The family was waiting for her to drive back from Philly in her dinged up Acura. It was late and the precipitation was turning slushy. Around 11 p.m. we got a call from a Pa. State Trooper Marlowe. He asked if we owned a 1992 Acura. We confirmed that we did and froze with fear of the next thing Trooper Marlowe might utter. He informed us that the driver of that vehicle had just run the toll booth in Harrisburg and could be fined $200 for such an act. ‘Whew!!! She’s alive anyway, just being Erin,’ we thought. Then the trooper listened as we asked for the steps in compliance with this legal infraction. He paused and said, “Hey, Merry Christmas. Just make sure she pays the toll next time.” Thirty minutes later she arrived and we were that much happier to see our tattooed gypsy daughter. “I didn’t have any money and didn’t know any other way to get home.”  We laughed and hugged her a little tighter than usual.

When my daughter Grace was little, maybe 4 years old, we were sitting next to each other at a table during a street fair downtown. It was hot, must have been July. A carnival looking man sauntered by covered in  tattoos, from his bald head to his sandaled feet. Grace blurted out to me, “Daddy, that man has pictures all over him. OOOhhh!”  Unknown to either of us was the older man directly across the table from us. We were looking past him at the carnival guy. This man said, “I’m sorry, Honey. I wish I’d never gotten these. Don’t you ever get one. You’re too pretty.” This poor old guy had three old green Navy tattoos on his saggy Popeye forearms…USN, a half naked woman, and three initials that I hoped were his wife’s. It was an awkward and tender moment at the same time– pure unblemished innocence meets old wrinkled and weathered remorse.

Ahh, tattoos. Charles Manson’s homemade prison backward swastika may have sealed the deal for me. I’m tattooless and loving it. There is no market for used tattoos. You just leave them behind with every other earthly thing when you die. I think buyer’s remorse would kill me like the old sailor sweating guilt before a pure child. Then again, maybe I’m not willing to take the “k s i R”.

43. Fatherly

Today is a different experience for me. I am typing on my daughter Grace’s laptop in her condo in Atlanta, facing the lush green courtyard of her complex, fountain gurgling below. It’s my first and only visit as she will be moving in a couple of weeks to Tucson, AZ to be with hubby Stu. They are a doozy of a couple who juggle more in a year than I have done in decades. We are going to a Braves game in a couple of hours with complimentary tickets from the law firm where she is interning this summer. Had breakfast at The Silver Skillet, an Altanta favorite apparently. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Even the weather has been solicitous of our approval. My only complaint is this laptop. It jumps all over creation if I breathe wrong. Makes me long for my dinosaur desktop. However, I must endure and endure I shall. I have a mission statement to construct here.

This weekend has been a special Father’s Day experience,especially since Grace is pregnant with the first grandchild, so there is that wonderful potential of the next generation and all the cool things that my friends tell me about being a grandparent. But I have two other wonderful daughters, both of whom called to chat and wish me the best. I am so blessed. I would not change a thing. So don’t go there with the favorite child thing.

Now Erin, my eldest, lives in Brooklyn. She could not make it home due to work obligations. Grace, the middle child, could not make it up, due to lots of stuff to do with selling this condo. And Jess, the baby, lives at home. So when Grace offered me a weekend in Atlanta, I jumped at the chance to drop my routine and go urban. Good choice! It’s as if the universe conspired to make a perfect weekend. Actually it was Grace and my lovely wife who put noggins together to make everything as smooth as calfskin soaked in Greek yogurt. All I had to do was fall forward and away I went. I am good at falling.

I don’t recall feeling so special on Father’s Day before. Perhaps because I have not been alone with one of my daughters for such an extended time. Maybe because it’s so clearly delineated with just the two of us. Maybe it’s because we are in the South and life is calmer and slower and drawled out. “Bless your heart, BabySugarHoneySweety!” I don’t know what it is, but I like it almost as much as the Belgian waffle and cheese grits I had for breakfast. When I ordered a side of cheese grits, even though it was not on the menu, not a moment of awkwardness passed between me and Carol our waitress. There was only a silent knowing that passed between us. Oh the South!

When my girls were little, I called them the apple, the peach, and the pineapple. Jess was the apple, crisp and shiny and delicious. “The apple of your eye?” I was asked once by a friend. “No, just the apple…Because Grace was the peach.”

“Why the peach?” “Because she was so sweet and thin skinned and easily bruised.”

“Okay, and the pineapple daughter?” “Yes, Erin. Prickly and defensive on the outside and a lot of work to get to know her, but what a reward awaits the patient pineapple connoisseur. She is richly delicious and exotic and rare. Got that? I love apples and peaches and pineapples with all their benefits and all their drawbacks. Even all tossed together in a fruit salad.”

“And the mother of the fruits? What would she happen to be?”

“Ahh, Mother Mango. Like the apple, she is pretty. Like a peach easily bruised because of her tenderness. And like the pineapple, a lot of work for a deliciously exotic experience.”

Let me sing some praises here. Jess has the voice and the heart of an angel. Little kids and the elderly seem to see her wings and instantly trust her. She knows God on a first name basis, and I kid just a little that she has a hotline to heaven. I love her to pieces and know that in heaven everyone will want to sit at her lunch table, if there are any in heaven…and then what would be served? Ambrosia, key lime pie, champagne? Maybe a chocolate fountain with finger foods for dippin’. Maybe cheese grits.

And Grace, well her name is misleading. She inherited her mother’s exploding ketchup bottle gene for mishaps and booboos. One morning she turned to kiss her husband goodbye while almost balancing a bowl of cereal in her hand. Of course she poured the milk/cereal mixture onto his clean shirt and tie. Fortunately Stu has inherited sturdy engineer quality patience genes from his mom’s side. Grace is a doer, an organizer, a feeler of the first order and a people pleaser. She looks like me but acts like her mother. She needs your prayers, Bloggeesems.

Erin looks like her mom but acts like me, but don’t tell her that. She is not a people pleaser, which is good when you are in her field, art. She sings, dances, does computer graphic design and knows a lot about a lot. She is introverted and hard to get to know, thus the pineapple comparison. She is a beauty like her mom and looks great in vintage clothes that she fashionizes. There is still a little girl in her who will be a great mom one day, I hope, who will love her child ferociously. Living in New York as a single woman is great preparation for going into a tiger cage with nothing but a purse. She can do it.

I have one other daughter who died at birth in 1984. Her name was/is Lisa Ellen. The crater of her death was filled in by lots of kids over the past 28 years, friends of my daughters, students, exchange students. Our dining table seats six, which always left one empty seat. You can stare at an empty chair all your life or you can fill it with somebody. We chose the latter. Surely she sits at Jess’s lunch table already, waiting for her earthly family to join her.

[Later] [I don’t think I’ve ever felt so fatherly in my life. It’s ironic that this joy sat down upon me in Turner Field while the Orioles defeated the Braves with my daughter next to me. Men and their kids were everywhere and I was one of the blessed. “I’m so glad you came, Daddi-O!”  “Me too.”

 

 

42. Carlessly

Once again a car alarm is blaring in the middle of the day on Main Street. No crime is being deterred. No property protected. Just a bunch of folks trying to get lunch or talk on their cell phones being annoyed by an option that seemed like a good idea on the drawing board but which fails the reality test of human nature. One more car not saved by an alarm. One more pin in our eardrums for no particular reason. Good ideas that don’t work out, that’s what I’m talking about here.

And blinkers, who uses them any more?  Why would you want to let another driver know what you were planning to do? We have evolved past such common technology. We have air bags that are ready to deploy and camera/parking modules that will parallel park for us. GPS units that will read a map better than humans can. We have moved on past the human nature reality test. Why warn you about what’s next when you have what’s next? Nobody seems to want to drive anyway. They’re too busy texting or blathering on a germy phone. And the kids are in the back seat watching a movie for the interminable 11 minute commute to the other side of town. Where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio?  Some place with no cell service, deep undercover in Amish country, or into a fundamentalist desert cult way out in Arizona.

I miss the old, old cars. Like the ’59 Chrsyler Imperial with huge fins and a big wheel bubble trunk that could hold up to 5 mafia hit victims at once. My dad drove one for a few years when gasoline cost about a quarter a gallon. It had push button automatic transmission. Cool. However, one Sunday morning while he putted alongside me and my brother delivering fat Washington Posts to still sleeping customers, he managed to punch the wrong button and hit park while in motion. His coffee lurched forward out of his cup. The stacked newspapers in the back seat slammed forward, and the entire huge spaceship rocked in place after the tires finished a brief chirp on gravel. That was something unimaginable with today’s smart cars and all their snappy technology that overrides human stupidity. Where’s the fun in all that control? Modern stupidity does not compare.

Control is a response to fear. So we must be full of fear these days. Maybe it was just my neighborhood, but there were a lot of fearless goofballs driving back in the day, like Timmy “the druggie” O’Brian who drove a car into the neighbor’s house one night. Life only got worse for him and the neighbor, whose wife liked teenage boys too much.

I remember a sweet summer night hanging in front of my house on Dorset Drive. There were six of us, my neighbor Richard in a foot cast, and Duane Beatty, me, and three others. Around 11 p.m. we decided it would be a grand idea to go to Ocean City, Maryland, a three and a half hour drive almost due East on Route 50.  In five minutes we gathered up what we thought we needed and took off in Duane’s father’s enormous Pontiac something or other. Six teenaged guys in comfort. Off we rode into the night, no seat belts or common sense. As the car cruised across the Eastern Shore of Maryland we jumped a railroad track. The huge thump woke all of us, including Duane who’d fallen asleep. We couldn’t sleep on the beach so we wandered the predawn boardwalk. Richard peeled his cast off in the surf. Not a good idea, but what were you expecting?

There was Bobby Doering’s dad’s Porsche 911T. Bobby would borrow it from his dad while he worked. We’d cruise in style with the Rolling Stones on the stereo… Under My Thumb blasting out of the convertible. We felt rich and reckless. Bobby had a 396 Chevy Chevelle that he put in a ditch, everything except the payment book, that is. What a lot of wreckage! There was Richard’s powder blue 1967 Beetle that we lifted into parking spaces too small to drive into. And his brother Michael’s hippy Rambler wagon, an unlikely pot delivery truck.

How many times did I skip school and drive around in some car all day? Each one was an adventure, maybe none so dramatic as in 8th grade with no licensed driver and Steve Goll pretending to know how to drive. How on earth did that work? We ran into a ditch and a work crew from the local prison pulled us out. No cops. No problem.

Glen Barrett had a red Nova with a hot engine. He fondled every part of that car in worship. He used to like to park on hills and pop the clutch to start it up. One day he did this trick with his door open and caught the fire hydrant which he hadn’t seen. The engine turned over. The door ripped backwards and mocked him. “Fondle me? I don’t think so.” Teenage boys and cars. Never a good mix.

Thinking back to the cars I drove in and the wasted male teenage drivers near the wheels, I’m amazed that I lived to recall it at all. Dune buggies, Jeeps with no doors, hot rods, and hippie vans… all a faint memory of bullets dodged. We could have used some car alarms back then.

41.Voyeuristically

Bloggittens, I am seeing an increase in readers, which is creepy in this world of voyeurism. You can see me, but I can’t see you. I know, you say, “But you chose to dance in the window with your lights on in the belly shirt and hot pants/biker shorts.”  True, but it’s ACTIVE WEAR for late middle agers, and I thought it helped accent my bloggy figure. Still, no matter how you slice the cheese, my untattooed butt is hanging out there for inspection, and I feel so, well, inspected.

I recall walking through the Fan District in Richmond, Virginia, where my wife and I met while in college. We would walk down streets adorned with restored homes, all had front rooms lit like art galleries for an anonymous pedestrian audience to admire. Lovely fall nights and all these living rooms were seemingly staged for our enjoyment. I never knocked on anyone’s door to say  thanks for the free art/ interior design show. Now I think I should go back to Richmond, research the deeds to the late 1970’s and contact each homeowner so that I may thank him or her for the memories. It’s like that, I think.

Anonymous voyeurism is creepy. If the voyeur comes in and introduces him/herself, well that’s creepy too until relationship is established, shifts scheduled, and perks negotiated. For instance:

Party A, the creepy voyeur Ed, will peer into my living room on Monday evenings from 9-10:00 p.m. EST. He will use the lawn chair provided by the homeowner, Party B. Me.  Should Ed need to use the bathroom or kitchen, he will knock on the side door, reserved for friends and family. He will be escorted to either room and allowed up to 10 minutes to do his business. If the living room is not lit, Ed is permitted one reminder phone call. In the summer months, Ed’s voyeur time will be moved back one hour to 10:00 p.m. DST to allow for proper illumination. Should either party move to terminate the relationship, ninety days prior notice is required. This agreement will automatically renew unless notice is given.

With a legal sounding agreement in place, Ed could work his way into a seat at the Thanksgiving meal or eventually participate in our Christmas gift exchange. All that verbage gives a guy a sense of control when actually there is no control, just a slim illusion of control. So, Ed, would you like to meet?

[Excuse me, my hamstrings are spasming. Ahhhh. Stretch and hold. Sitting at a computer monitor for hours contributes to physical devolution.]

Where was I?  Yes, the illusion of control. Voyeurism. Ed. Sitting at computers for hours. And what results? Something like the early days of air travel, I suppose. People start zooming around the planet in hours, only now it’s fractions of seconds. The exotic becomes the familiar. Stuff swirls into fascinating combinations. The world shrinks again as the knowledge base explodes exponentially. And here we are, faceless to faceless. The complete opposite of the foreign exchange students we have housed over the years. They were total strangers who became part of our family for a year at a time. Nina, Yushi, and Kaisa. I’ll have to post on them in the future. Each has a few stories that live on long after they left. Relationships were developed at the dinner table, in the car, in the yard, on trips together. They were on the inside of our living room looking out in bold anti-voyeuristic glares.

Hey, it’s wet out there. The trash truck will be coming soon. No need to hide in the bushes. My wife makes an awesome gluten free chocolate cake, Ed. At Thanksgiving she makes this artichoke and creamed spinach dish that rocks….You’ll love it here.

 

40. Fakely

Bloggards, it’s time for another entry. What neural pathway shall we go down today? Surely one that mixes risk and reward like 2 cycle oil and gasoline. The only problem is that I have no mildly risky stuff to pour into a gallon of rewarding prose, no greenish/blue hue to remind me not to pour it into the snowblower, which may be why the year old blower wouldn’t start this past winter.  I may have to look into this further. Injecting the wrong fuel into the right engine may be like doing the wrong thing for the right reason: nothing good can result from such a flummoxture.

Throughout my days I talk with many burdened clients. Stop! I know already what you are thinking here– “How can one with such a tenuous grasp on reality be of any service to the afflicted?” Well, if you have to wait for the perfect therapist before diving into therapy, you’ll be on the diving board for a long, long time. First, there is no such person. Second, there is no perfect time. Third, I forget what should go here, but I thought it seemed more impressive to have three items in a string. So, I hope we have put that baby to bed. (Bounce, bounce, bounce on that board. Something will come along. Ah, yes. Water in the pool.)

Lately I have been pondering the real pandemic of fakeness among otherwise high functioning and lovely young single ladies. I’m not saying they are fake; they are saying it. Now I believe in the old saying, “Fake it till you make it.”  This adage implies that there is some learning curve involved, some conditioning that takes place until the near approximation becomes the achieved goal. But these young women work hard at showing the world a high gloss nail polish shell while being exhausted and empty inside, feeling like week old tapioca pudding lost in the back of the fridge. What a pressurized contrast! What a stretching of unmatched metaphors, like two socks that have little to do with one another. What a… okay, enough drama already! You get it, right?

That’s when I show them my Taiwanese egg within an egg within an egg. At the core is a solid pink egg which I equate to their true selves. “If you deny it or remove it, then your entire being becomes hollow and fragile.” Some sort of self empathy arises as they connect with the symbolic wooden fetus, their child within. It’s not a verbal connection; maybe preverbal…so it’s inarguable. There is no preverbal counterargument or denial of the fetus, especially for fertile young women. And so the cognitive dissonance rises. The Anxiety Spider climbs up the water spout.

“I don’t want to be fake; I just don’t want to be hurt.”  I get this for the moment. Unfortunately one moment’s fakeness leads to another and another turn in the maze away from the true self. Their sense of direction and purpose and meaning are swallowed up by the busyness of navigating the maze of illusions, mirrors, and false doors. They don’t realize that running a false self sucks the energy out of their true being. They run faster and faster to keep up appearances for fake friends who don’t reciprocate in time or concern or actions or costs. And their hollowness becomes cavernous. The underground river of consciousness has eroded the soft rock of their foundations. Oh what pretty and fragile stilts remain!  So hollow, you can hear an echo when you call…”who are you?” and the echo cries back…”I don’t kn00000oooow.” The little pink wooden fetus floats by on that river hourly, ‘but what would everyone (who doesn’t matter to begin with) think if I stepped into the river and rescued her?’

My question is this: what would you think if you rescued your true self and the fake one washed away? Every once in a while on Antiques Roadshow or Pawn Stars someone brings in an overvalued fake item. As the expert is called in, the owner salivates, secretly adding decimal places to the estimated value. Then the authority pronounces it a fake, a movie prop, a forgery.  Worth little. Game over. I don’t want one of my customers to be one of those customers.

Don’t sell your hair in Vegas. Find your chipped-tooth truth and live a genuine life.