“Bipolar Menopause,” Meg Tuite
Lately, I’ve been strapped into this chokehold ride of blunt, cataleptic stalemate, like that time I was stuck inside The Egg, upside down at a carnival, with bloodless knuckles clutching the bar for twenty minutes, gritting my teeth, preparing to wallop the dolt below who operated this rickety cage, if I survived this chess game with death and got out and stood with my goddamned numbed feet on solid ground again.
So I’m listening to this friend of mine go on about her fucked up marriage for an eternity and I can hear the movement of her frantic pulsating voice like some kind of bipolar symphony with her jumping from woodwinds to brass and back again. He was jacking off to porn in the basement three years ago and she caught him. How could he do something so heinous when he knows she’s been through trauma and it all happened in a basement? Were you having any sex with the guy, I made myself ask. Well, no, not for three years, but it was a horrible thing to walk into. And I’m thinking I would have probably hit the porn sites. So I say, aren’t you glad it was a porn site and not a real woman he went out on you with? And then I realize, wait a fucking minute, she’s just had sex with some other guy. She said when she drank too much red wine that this new bronco had done things to her that she never even knew existed. And I had to say well, hell, yes to that. And now, I’m feeling myself rocking back and forth trying to figure out where I’m supposed to go and that’s when the strangulation begins and I feel the heat rising from every internal organ inside me and I think I don’t have time for this shit and people get paid to give out advice and so, I say, give me twenty bucks. That stops her in her tracks. She looks at me like I’m crazy and I hold out my hand. So my anger starts to crescendo and I say what am I? A free goddamn therapist? And she screams and smacks at me, jumps up in horror and runs off to her car and another manic voice is out of my dwindling throng.
Another one keeps calling. I see her face show up on my phone and I’m not answering. I don’t feel like listening to her whining about something that’s happened at work of for that matter anywhere at all. The boyfriend who left her. The bills she can’t pay. The friends who don’t talk to her anymore. And whenever I make the mistake of picking up the phone, if I respond or say something I think I need to say back, she tells me that’s exactly what you should have done. It came to her in a dream last night because she’s psychic and anything that I have figured out in my life, well, she has already seen it in a fucking vision. So once again, I’m sucked into this vortex of foaming, blustering violence and I understand all those poor souls that are fenced behind bars in prisons all over the world, because right now I’d like to take a rake to her and so I decide to rack them up like billiard balls, so I tell her she’s a bloodsucker, someone who comes from a long line of deranged gene pools, and she’s huffing and puffing and cutting in on my words like teeth. She slams down the phone and somehow I’m feeling lighter, less full of bullshit.
Soon the phone doesn’t ring anymore. No more lunches or intense café chats to sit through. I can watch TV and eat popcorn or ice cream or whatever the hell I want. It’s not nearly as lonely as I had imagined.