I am optimistic as I settle in to write. I flip open my computer, but after three sips of tea I realize it’s doomed. Behind me, occupying a circle of soft chairs are a dozen males and females in their 30s and 40s. Their conversation gallops apace. TMI is their destination. As I swallow the fourth hot sip, the details of one woman’s abusive 7-year relationship reaches my reluctant ears and the stench of triumphant psychoanalysis taints my tea.
I am slap bang in the middle of a Woody Allen movie. But I’m Irish. We don’t do this. Don’t do this to me!
Terms and buzzwords are volleyed back and forth: communication breakdown, submissiveness, baggage, youngest sibling complex, therapy…A man describes his last relationship as the most narcissistic he had ever known, but he couldn’t leave it. He’s in the mood to share why.
Oh God. I drop closed the lid of my computer, repack my bag and shift myself and hot beverage to a table up front. His loud voice insists on accompanying me. Determined to trot out conclusions about the woman’s responsibility for her dysfunctional relationship, he says, “Yes, but don’t you find it interesting that you..?”
The others are engaged in drawing their own conclusions. He will not be overlooked. Overheard, yes, but not overlooked. He presses on, repeating himself till the woman, who has moved on to discuss overeating as a means of coping, looks his way. He has everyone’s attention.
“Well, I don’t think it went as deep as that,” she responds uncertainly.
He raises his eyebrows and shrugs as if implying she may not have made as much progress as she thought.
“Stop minimizing,” instructs one lady.
“I do internalize a lot.”
You most certainly do not.
I sit fuming.
This is not eavesdropping. That would require some stealth on my part and therefore give me more satisfaction. No, I’m sitting minding my own business; it’s you that is not minding yours.
In AA rooms, surnames are not supplied. Meetings with therapists are generally one-on-one and confidential. What part of the healing process advises shouting your problems en masse across a crowded downtown cafe over the hiss of the espresso machine?
I come kicking and screaming into your confidence.
Right, that does it. Your dirty laundry is ripe for my picking.
I will steal your innermost heartache, your most pathetic experiences, your lowest low, your bitterest spells of loneliness, your lousiest insecurities. You don’t deserve privacy. Your past salty tears will add the flavor to my fictional characters. Your realness will dress my artifice.
Ha! Read it and weep, people.
My first novel set in the international fashion industry is available. You can buy Silk for the Feed Dogs here.