I originally wrote and posted this entry two years ago (almost to the day) on my original blog which has long since been retired. I re-read it on this snowy (sort of) afternoon and felt as though it deserved a new audience. I remember the night you are about to read about clearly. More importantly, even with all that has happened in my life since I first posted this, the sentiment remains the same. (Note: at the time I knew not of George’s desire to be Jessie. I have left her in here as George because, at the time, that is who she was.)
My mother has often told me (usually when I am candidly – or perhaps hysterically – discussing an issue belonging to one or another of the members of my household) that if one were to sit around a table and everyone tossed their “stuff” in the middle, you’d still want your own. While I have always appreciated the sentiment, I recently discovered, quite literally, just how true it is.
(Full disclosure: in the interest of not alienating my friends and relations, I am taking some creative liberties and changing names and extraneous information which, should I reveal, would defeat the purpose of having changed the names in the first place. That said, all “stuff” is real.)
Recently I broke bread with a group of seven kind, well-adjusted, successful adults. Among the guests, who ranged in age from mid 40′s to late 50′s, were a lawyer, three/four business owners and a high-ranking business professional. (And me, but whatever.) As the evening unfolded, and the wine flowed, it was proposed by one person at the table, I’ll call him Edgar, that we go around the table and each lay one of our “issues” (or “stuff”) out on the table for public consumption. Okay, with the intimate crowd (some more so than others) and the Pinot on board… let the games begin.
It’s beginnings were fairly benign. With a fork held so that the tines served as a makeshift microphone, Edgar made a comment about his mother. (Sidebar: why does it always come back to the mother?! Can we not catch a break? Are we not doing the best we can…geez. ) With that, Francois shared a diagnosis one of his children had just received (note: child is doing great) and onto Lillian who shared a different diagnosis for one of her children (again, it’s all under control). Next came Collin who, being a bit more reserved (and a bit less boozed up) commented that one of his kids can be really difficult. Really, really difficult. I came next and likely made some comment about Georgie. Okay, I definitely made a comment about Georgie. (Clearly I am the only one who cannot be granted anonymity here!) Moving on, Petulia, just getting into the rhythm went the kid route, too. (What, it is okay to complain about your mother but not your kid?) The last two participants, Schlomo and Harriet, having no children got caught off guard and passed…this turn, anyway.
Then things got interesting. Here are just a few of the issues people dumped, er, tossed onto the table…
1. Anorexic child
2. Autistic child
3. “I communicate with my father through my cousin”
4. “I have a tattoo that no one know about” (which is when the speaker and one other guest at the table (gasp) revealed their tattoos.)
5. “My orgasms aren’t nearly as good as my partner’s”
6. “When my child was in the hospital (with cancer) I couldn’t stop thinking about the hot nurse”
7. “I lost $250k on a bad business deal”
8. “I always feel like the least attractive person in the room.”
9. “I hate my cat” (okay, that is pretty obviously me, but it took courage to announce that to an animal loving crowd. Baby steps…)
10. “My father loved me but had no expectations of me” and, in the same vein, “the last thing my father said to me before he died was, “make sure you cover the boat”.”
11. “I wish I hadn’t changed my name when I got married. Twenty years ago.” (okay, that’s me, too, what…I’m not entitled to a midlife crisis like everyone else?)
This went on for hours. No one was holding back and no one was judging. It was cathartic, funny, depressing and uplifting all at once. Each announcement was more personal than the one prior. The thirst for more wine was surpassed only by the thirst for sharing/purging one’s stuff. Out of respect for Edgar, Francois, Lillian, Collin, Petulia, Schlomo and Harriet I will refrain from sharing more details (but trust me, some of them were juicy) but will also say this: my mother was right…if one were to sit around a table and everyone threw their “stuff” in the middle, you’d still want your own. I know I (kinda) do (most of the time).
Update: If I were to be a part of this exercise today, my admissions, complaints, concerns, successes and failures would go beyond hating my cat. Of that I am certain.