Friday, May 15, 2015

Unintentionally Slapstick

"Inspiring You to Reinvent Yourself"

Dear Friends,

Years ago, I asked two colleagues to stop talking about their sex lives in front of me: "Don't you understand," I said, in mock exasperation, "I'm unintentionally celibate!" 

They chuckled, left my office, and we went about our week. Except that Sandy giggled every time she saw me, returning repeatedly to the concept of "unintentionally celibate." 

Just as a staff meeting was about to begin, Sandy and I made eye contact across the table; muttering, "unintentionally celibate," she began to laugh again. 

Here's a nice picture of a nice cucumber. No reason. Why?
"Sandy," I said in mock exasperation, "Don't you understand? It wouldn't be funny if it weren't true!"

"Oh!" she responded, thought a minute, nodding her head slowly. 


It was an odd concept. Celibacy, as opposed to “not getting any” or “in a dry spell,” connotes choice, virtue. To be celibate is to be well-behaved, disciplined, pure and strong. In control of one’s destiny. I was unintentionally strong and in control? Yes! I'd much rather have been impulsively screwing up a storm every night and bow-legged with exhaustion every morning. It was my age-right, my birthright. I was racking up virtue points when I should have been racking up notches on a bedpost. It was frustrating. And funny.

I often burst out laughing when I recount my frustrations, and, as I saw clearly this week, so do my friends. I’ve been in NYC, down from Albany for a divorce mediation session that took place on Wednesday. I planned 1.5 days free and close by on either side of the stressful event, in case of debilitating potential Fibro flare-ups. (Thanks to the Have Computer Will Work strategy, I am able to be as productive in borrowed digs as I am at home.)

Making time to connect with friends through the week, I had lunch at a café, dusk beside the Central Park Reservoir and dinner at a corner Italian place. After each get-together, my abs ached and my cells felt over-oxygenated from belly laughter. The stories were the sort that are over-the-top funny because, well, they aren’t really funny at all. Self-deprecating slapstick: Not so-and-so slipped on a banana peel; rather, that’s me slipping on the damned banana peel that I threw down to begin with!  

My friends and I laughed about grunting like old, arthritic men every time we move, the relationships that went insanely south, the most bizarre moments of those relationships, and the grief of lost love and trashed dreams. Conversation sloshed between sharing real pain and giggling over it, being worried and being giddy and strategizing and caricaturizing.

I could barely catch my breath or hold my bladder. At the café, the woman behind us could barely hear herself think. At the reservoir, self-satisfied runners just barely managed to ignore us. No matter – we were thoroughly enjoying the fruits of our failures.

Often, I describe my body with Fibro as a carnival fun house mirror – everything’s warped and unreal. “It would be hysterically funny if it weren’t true,” I say. But enjoying this week so much and remembering back to “unintentionally celibate,” I now see that if it weren’t true, it wouldn’t be funny.

Are you enjoying these posts? Please do share them. It’s fun to see what new countries people are reading me in. I don’t have anyone in Africa or Scandinavia yet. Let’s go, people!

Love, Rhonda

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