Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Right Kind of Crazy

October 5, 2011 – The Right Kind of Crazy

“Do you ever fear that men won’t find you attractive when you’re older?” my friend Sarah asks me when we’re walking down Larco Street headed back to her hotel after our encounter with the bow-tied waiter Angél and my old waiter friend at Café Beirut.
I stop in the middle of the sidewalk. No, I don’t. I’ve never even thought about it. Not until that moment. Not in those words. I’ve thought about getting older. And sure, I’ve been meaning to start using coconut oil on my skin like my dad suggested once. I’ve been meaning to brush my hair more often. Maybe that’ll fight the frizz. Occasionally I look in the mirror and say, “Yep, you’re getting older.” I even once thought I found a white hair. I looked it over and decided it was a sun-bleached strand, twirled it into a circle and threw it in the trash. I don’t know if I’m just lazy, uncaring, or what. Ten years down the road I may wish I’d subscribed to beauty mags and paid attention to the anti-aging tips my dad told me about. For my own sake.
Time will tell. It always does. That’s the worry, right? I digest Sarah’s question and for one nanosecond I have this crushing fear that I’ll be ugly, unloved, forgotten, and, in the end, die alone.

Then I laugh at myself. So what?

“She stood watch at the mirror,
waiting for the defining moment when
she could see past her crooked nose.”
-Susan Mrosek

I love the imagery, but that’s not me. Even though my nose is crooked. I guess I’ve just never been very good a being a girly girl.

“Well,” I start. “I guess I figure that the kind of person I’d want to be with will like me for more than just my looks.”   

“True,” Sarah agrees with me. “I think I’ve gotten a little too much into the NYC way of thinking.”

I let my words out slowly. Choosing them with care. Trying to say exactly what I mean. “I’m not looking for flings. If I’m going to let someone in my life at that kind of relationship level they’re going to have to be just the right brand of crazy. And if I never encounter that, I’d rather be alone. I’m lucky to enjoy my own company.” I grin.

This I do think about frequently—that idea of being the right brand of crazy.

I once told my mom that I was working to be as eccentric as Rex Stout’s great detective Nero Wolfe. My dad on having this comment related to him asked, “Doesn’t she know she already is?”
You have no idea how happy that made me. That should be someone’s first clue. I may look more or less normal, I want to tell some of these flirters, but you’ve really just got no idea.

First off I’m a writer. That’s disastrous enough. I have conversations and friendships with fictional characters. And not just any fictional characters, fictional characters I’ve made up. If that’s not a mild form of schizophrenia I don’t know what is.

I was chatting with my friend Audrey the other night. She lives in Mexico and we were comparing notes on our lives in Latin America. Our conversation swirled around to birthday songs. I hadn’t heard the song that was her favorite.

“I like it,” Audrey types. “Maybe a little cheesy, but I am kind of cheesy so I almost cry every time it is sung at a birthday. haha. It’s like a birthday serenade.”

“You’ll have to sing that one to me,” I type back.

“On your birthday, Amanda.”
“Ha! Perfect! I’ll wait for it.”

“When is your birthday? So I can be prepared.”
“Not until June 20th,” I assure her. “You have over half a year!”

“Darn, well maybe if one of your friends down there has a birthday we can have a Skype party and I’ll sing.”
“Maybe Yamilet’s birthday will be soon. I don’t have any problems singing to fictional characters, do you?” I ask her. Yamilet is a fictional character whose short story I’ve been hashing over I don’t know how long now—days, weeks, months, ad infinitum it seems. The story is almost complete and I’d asked Audrey’s opinion about something related to it earlier in our chat so it was relevant to the conversation.  

“I’m totally okay with it,” Audrey says. “I also have a dog, and since she is a street dog, we can imagine her birthday is on any day of the year. I could sing to her in front of you.”

“That works! That’s less weird than singing to fictional characters,” I say and add a smiley emoticon.

“I was thinking the other was around was less weird,” Audrey counters.
We both laugh.

“Well,” I tell her. “I did have an imaginary husband named Ackley when I was a kid, so the level of weirdness is really hard for me to define at times.”
What happened to that relationship? Did we get divorced? Did Ackley die? Are we separated? Did we stay together for the children? Do I have imaginary children?

I have so many questions.
So am I worried that men won’t find me attractive when I get older? I interrupt my pacing worried imaginary rant with this return to the main subject. No, I reply to myself. I’m not.

Apparently, I’ve got way more to worry about than just growing unattractively old.


  1. So, is Audrey fictional or real? She sounds real. Good writing? Hmm.

  2. Ha! Randy, Audrey is real. At least I'm pretty sure she is.