“The Men Just Stare and The Women Cry!”

Life / Sunday, May 27th, 2018

I have been meaning to write something for days, but I just haven’t been able to do so. I am so sick . I will just come right out and admit that I have a wild, wild crush on her, and her blog is brilliant enough to have inspired in me (more than once, actually) one of those I-Shall-Never-Write-Again crises that are the inevitable result of reading the sentences of someone much cleverer than yourself.

So anyway, I have been thinking about fending off misery, something at which I am fairly adept, and thinking, more specifically, about the rather backwards and superstitious way I go about it.

When I was small my family had a set of cheap brightly colored dishes, and I HAD to have the yellow plate, would fight fiercely over it and it’s matching mug with scratchy seams where the pieces of the mold hadn’t fit together properly. These dishes were the flat, bold yellow of the sun in children’s books or on cleaning products, and I scrambled for them every evening not because I was especially fond of the color, but because of…not really a belief, more of a hope, a quick, sweaty prayer, that they would wrap me in cheer.

Now, perhaps this was not so unusual, perhaps there were eight-year-olds across the country, even the world, performing the same earnest spell over supper. But I would imagine that they were eight-year-olds in foster homes, tense, frightened children using dishware as a talisman against a misery that was already present.

Which would have been something else entirely. Because I was not, after all, unhappy—sadness was not a familiar place I longed to escape, but rather somewhere I was determined never to go, but was certain (with a jittery, sick-making anxiety) was nearby. And so I chose the yellow plate, not the blue plate (never the blue plate!) though I liked that color better.

This slightly pitiful and strange preemptive act was one that I would repeat, in varying forms, for years. A belief in my ability to take my life in my hands and mold it into a more pleasing shape has been perhaps my most persistently held. After my first boyfriend told me he didn’t Think Of Me Like That Anymore I sat up writing pages of flippant limericks.

I once attempted, with shampoos ranging in price from 3 to 25 dollars, to Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair. And I have always believed that funk, played loudly as you dress in the morning, is an effective psychotropic medication. During an especially bad period, I forced myself to listen to “Make My Funk the P-funk” each a.m., and when George Clinton said “If you have faults, defects, or shortcomings…whatever part of your body it is, I want you to lay it on your radio,” I would rest my head, and then my heart, briefly against my speakers.

And so I have decided to offer a Funk Prescription, if you will. A prescription for, if not happiness, at least 3-7 minutes of a reasonable facsimile. In college, my friends and I had a radio show called “Get Down On It,” (Slogan: All Funk, All-the-motherfucking-Time). We thought of it as a public service. Try it. You’d be surprised at the difference some Sly and The Family Stone before breakfast can make.

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