Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Self-Inflicted Nonsense

My office mate, Joanie, was waiting for me to arrive. She was pacing and frowning.

JOANIE: Oh, good, you're here!
ALICE: Is something wrong?
JOANIE: No. Yes. Well, perhaps.
ALICE: Well, you've covered all the bases. What is the calamity of the day?
JOANIE; You know that Meatloaf song? The one called Two out of Three Ain't Bad?
ALICE: Of course. What about it?
JOANIE: Well, it was just on and I'm sad. I mean, she wants him, she needs him, but she's never gonna love him? I mean, why the fuck not? That song always distressed me.
ALICE *not knowing what to say*: Well, maybe she changed her mind and Meatloaf never updated the song.
JOANIE *happier*: Yeah, maybe.

The doctor is away for several days attending a conference in Arizona. He telephoned to let me know his number at the hotel. I asked him many truly important questions, such as, what is the name of the hotel? He seemed reluctant to tell me. He pretended he didn't hear me when I persisted in asking him.

DR: Er, it's a Sheraton...
ALICE: *wondering why he hadn't wanted to say*: O.K.
DR: ...Wild Horse Resort.
ALICE: Excuse me?
DR: It's the Sheraton Wild Horse Resort.
ALICE: You're at the Wild Horse? Attending a conference?

Now this doctor is nature, so I just had this image of him sitting primly among a group of drink-crazed physicians who are yahooing and wearing cowboy hats as they try to lasso each other to a post.

DR *primly*: Well, the meetings are serious.
ALICE: I'll bet.
DR: So! Is there anything important you want to tell me about the office?

Yeah, I thought to myself, there is. You should computerize the records, have a smackdown with some of those hostile patients, and make sure we don't have six-year-old boxes of chocolates sitting in the refrigerator. But I didn't say this because, you know. I tried to think of something important and interesting, but there really wasn't anything to tell. Unless he, too, was pissed off by the woman who didn't love Meatloaf.

I felt the same way I used to feel whenever I was forced to go to confession. I always felt I never had done anything that would warrant an absolution from Father Tom. But I didn't want to disappoint, so I would make things up.

ALICE: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been one week since my last confession. These are my sins. Well, let's see. I disobeyed my mother, um, three times; I hit my sister, many, many times. And, of yes, I didn't do my math homework. Once.

Jeez, why didn't I ever think of really, really, BIG sins. Go out in a blaze of...evil.

FATHER TOM: Well, my child, your penance is to say ten Hail Mary's and one Our Father.

Then he absolved me of my terrible, terrible, going-to-hell-surely sins and I went to the altar to fulfill the punishment.

I always felt so much better.

Yeah, I know. I lied. Frequently -- to a priest, no less. I mean THAT would have constituted a big, old black sin right there, not the tiny boring morsels I was offering him.

Why didn't I just tell him? Come clean? Throw myself at his mercy? I mean what was the worse that could have happened? More Hail Mary's? O.k. tons more Hail Mary's. Washing the classroom floors -- for the rest of my life? Ten smacks with a ruler? Uh, yeah. I forgot that one.

Well, I guess that I subscribed to the Oscar Wilde dictum that, "there is no sin except stupidity."