They should have named me lassitude. Lassy, maybe, for short. I can hear the plants dying in the back yard, still in their precious little boxes ready to let their roots sink down into nice moist soil. I can hear them screaming Linda you bitch get the fuck out here and give us some water. Why are they so profane? Ah, a clue. They are like me. And yet. I cannot move. It’s less like lassitude and more like defiance, or terminal fear, or cruelty, or murder.
I keep thinking of a raucous night in New Haven when our son was in college. He took me to a party. We knocked on the host’s door, and a boy in tights and glittery eye make-up and sparkly necklaces answered it. “A sociology grad student,” explained my son. “They’re all like that.” (The next day we saw the kid in a bookstore with a woman who appeared to be his mother. He was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt and all the sparkle was gone. Just another Yalie with his mom.) I stood in the kitchen most of the night, drinking vodka from the freezer and talking to a ravishing young grad student who said he was planning to become a psychoanalyst. This was right up my alley, plus he was Puerto Rican or something similarly exotic, and dark, and maybe I already said ravishing.
After that we drove, who knows how or who or in what, to an all-night diner where my son’s girlfriend, reaching for something across the table, knocked over the salt shaker. “All the tragedies in my life,” she then observed, “have been because I was too lazy to go around things.” I wasn’t surprised when after graduation she went to Italy to tutor Francis Ford Coppola in philosophy while he was filming one of the Godfather films.
So anyway. Where was I. See? This is what happens; it’s all journey and no arrival. I am letting the plants die. They’re in the dessert, folding up, withering, and I’m sitting here with two dogs, unable or unwilling or both, to move. I’m not only self-centered, lazy, neurotic and maybe narcissistic but I’m also a murderer. But I had so much fun in New Haven that antic, debauched night.
Do these plants stand for something else in my life? Undoubtedly but I don’t care. Are they me? Who cares? WHO CARES? The helicopters are general all over Washington. Some are police, some are fire, some are news, and some are Federal. The important ones are the ones with the slap-slap-slap rotors and the nice fighting khaki color. I used to imagine Cheney in those, going to Bethesda to die. Now it’s do-we-really-have-to-call-him-president going to watch Mar-a-fucking-Lago sink into the ocean. And maybe glance at Barron on his way to the golf course. Wait, you’re that other one, right, kid?
Can I explain to these plants that I’m really killing myself? A part of myself? And if I explained that to them, what would they say? Cut the psychobabble bullshit fatso get us the freaking water.
I will water them, maybe, as soon as the kid-lock-light on the dishwasher goes off. Why is there a kid light anyway? It’s like the fancy Audi across the street, stolen on a quiet Sunday night in our green neighborhood by a guy with a laptop, who simply programmed his way into the car, started it, and watched his goon friend drive it off. Now the owners of the new new Audi have to keep the “key” in a special wi-fi-proof box inside the house. What was wrong with that metal thing that you stuck in a slot on the steering column, turned, stepped lightly on the gas and thereupon started the car engine? Improvements that are ten steps backwards, or 20 steps towards the final abyss. (As opposed to the transient abyss.)
The world makes no sense and that’s why I’m sitting here with two dogs-in-repose letting my plants die. Nope. That’s not it.
I found a list I’d made on the back side of an (unused!) panty-liner, the kind old ladies use to protect the outside world from their laughter, which often ends in pee. The thing was close and I could write on it. A low point, surely. The list was what you’d call optimistic. It included things like “move furniture out of second bedroom; turn into office,” and “organize linen closet,” “find agility training for F.” F would be the young poodle Franklin who, it is agreed, needs more stimulation than he gets from two elderly cripples and a couple of hideously expensive paid walkers whose particular skill is being able to play games on their iPhones while they walk. (That’s not fair….)
For every sentence there is a competing, and countering sentence. Yes I did. No I didn’t. My husband watered the plants. My husband with congestive heart failure, macular degeneration that requires getting poked in the eyeball with a needle, and a job, watered the plants while I ruminated on the front porch.