Yesterday it rained. And rained. And rained.
I worked desultorily. Read an Inspector Wexford mystery that I’m absolutely certain did not exist until I scored it a local library book sale for five cents1 . Tried to watch an adaptation of Anne of Green Gables on Netflix: The Benighted Orphan is one of my favorite literary genres though Anne of Green Gables is not a particularly outstanding example of the genre. But the Netflix adaptation is just awful: I would have been much more entertained watching the annoying actress who played Anne get eaten by slobbering zombies.
I began making concrete arrangements for my upcoming trip.
And I spent waaaay too much time on FB arguing with the members of the Sooper Sekrit Political Group. They’re all guys, and you have to figure that if they’re spending their Saturday nights on FB arguing about idpol, they’re loser guys.
But, of course, here I was on a Saturday night, arguing about idpol on FB.
So, I suppose I’m a loser, too.
L was particularly chatty yesterday.
She wanted to keep tabs on me because she knew I was feeling weird and freakish.
But she also want to gossip about Katy Day whom I know I have written about in this journal before (though I can’t now remember what pseudonym I gave her.)
Katy Day has a severely retarded 26-year-old son who lives at home; a sardonic, right-wing, Trump-voting husband who’s chronically ill and who spends most of the week harvesting the Big Buck$ in New York City, and a 23-year-old daughter, Misty, who looks like a fairy-tale princess.
This week, Katy Day was hit with a perfect storm when the husband contracted some sort of antibiotic-resistant systemic fungal infection and Misty was hospitalized following a suicide attempt.
“She didn’t actually take enough pills to kill herself,” L sniffed.
“You sound like you’re really angry,” I noted mildly.
“Well, I am. Imagine doing something like that when she knew what her mother was going through!”
Personally, my sympathies are all with the daughter. I actually had a dream about Katy Day once in which some floating, omniscient figure explained to me that the son’s retardation was really Munchausen by proxy.
No, I am not saying my dream was true.
What I am saying is that Katy Day is a control freak at an almost pathological level and also kind of a drama queen. And that caring for the son at home allows her unfettered exercise of both those tendencies.
“Oh, of course!” I said to L. “Still. It can’t have been easy for Misty growing up under those circumstances. She would have learned at an early age that the best way to get attention was to be utterly helpless and dependent.”
“She has mental health issues!” snapped L. “And she loves Greggy very, very much. They all do! Greggy is a sweetheart!”
“Well, of course, he is,” I hastened to soothe L. “And, of course, they do.”
Greg does have a very sweet disposition, and Katy Day takes wonderful care of him so that for that first fraction of a second when you see him, what you see is the very handsome, very tall young man he would have been had some mysterious malady not knocked him down in his third year.
What Greg has is not autism.
Neurologists, biological psychiatrists, and other doctors aren’t exactly sure what it is.
Psychiatrists aren’t exactly sure what Misty has either. Some say bipolar disorder; others say borderline personality syndrome.
Personally, I think it’s the family situation. Growing up in the shadow of a severely disabled older brother who got all the mother’s attention, with whom she could never compete. It cracked Misty in some essential sense.
And maybe if she’d had more innate emotional and psychological resilience, it wouldn’t have cracked her. I dunno. Both Benito and Caro Snowdrop have disabled siblings who lived at home while they were growing up. And they’re fine.
Anyway, it was clear I wasn’t going to be able to articulate my own thoughts on the matter in any way that was going to be palatable to L, so I gave up trying.
Instead, I nodded and sighed and shook my head at appropriate intervals in her dramatic narrative: Katy Day, Living Saint.
It’s not like I have any real connection to the Day family. Who cares what I think of their family dynamics?
But I do have a real connection with L, so if something I say upsets her, I’ll think of ways I can stop saying it.
As a parenthetical note: L is the only person I’ll deign to have half-hour conversations with about that weird cup mark that seemed to be burned into the kitchen counter. The many ways I had tried (and failed!) to scrub it off. How she had used Ajax or Bon Ami (she forgot which) and finally gotten rid of it.
I can’t imagine having conversations with anyone else about subjects like this.
But with L, I actually enjoy it.
1 This was probably one of Ruth Rendell’s first published novels. It appeared in 1969. It’s particularly interesting to read it as a footnote in the evolution of her singular signature style. Here, her clever descriptions are a bit too arch and ramble on for way too long, and Wexford’s internal dialogues are neither illuminating nor particularly entertaining to read but pedantic.