[My context for this post: If you’re looking for a humorless romp, I’m going to enthusiastically nudge you in the direction of this recent biography of Rosemary Kennedy, which was the most fascinating stone-cold bummer I’ve read in a while.
The log line is, essentially, one of the Kennedy daughters was born with developmental issues that weren’t immediately apparent but became more pronounced as she grew up, making schooling and social integration difficult. The family dealt with this by shunting her off to various boarding schools, convents and summer camps, before the father eventually had her lobotomized without the mother’s knowledge or consent. The procedure, which is GRAPHICALLY and horrifyingly detailed in the book, left her pretty much incapacitated physically and mentally for the rest of her life. 9/10, good beach read! Would soberly recommend.]
With the help of too much time on my hands (and no doubt aided by the miasma of anxiety we all swim around in these days), I’ve recently uncovered a new paranoia.
It is this: That my whole life (but especially in the years since puberty), my family, and on their instructions, the world, has been Rosemary Kennedy-ing me.
This would explain a number of things:
- Why I never understand the subtexts of movies, especially emotionally ambiguous ones. (My friend, Ian, tried so many times to get me to watch “Closer” in college, and then, for his efforts, he gained nothing but inane questions and then bratty antipathy.)
- Why my handwriting is charming, but childlike.
- Why everyone my age seems so much more capable than me at the sundry tasks of adulthood. Do you all separate whites from colors? It doesn’t seem to actually do anything. Also, apparently there are four types of things you’re supposed to wash your face with every day, and none of them is “bar soap.”
- Sometimes I forget to brush my teeth.
- I get migraines.
- I throw temper tantrums, the really unflattering kind where you stamp your foot because the world is so cold and unfeeling to your needs and specialness. This happens particularly in the car during LA traffic, which is a very ill-advised time to stamp your foot.
- I often write out the homonym of a word instead of the word I mean. Like, I do this a lot. I’ll write “are” instead of “our” or “right” instead of “write.” Ian says it’s because I “think like a talker,” but now I know that’s just because he’s a court-appointed friend.
The silver lining of this, and let’s go ahead and see it because I’m stuck in this situation until I become too unruly at a party and they have me lobotomized (in a procedure I SINCERELY HOPE has evolved since 1940):
- My credit card debt will be wiped out by the blind trust they’ve already established in my name (which will ensure permanent care in a specialized home when I’m older and no longer able to blend into society).
- Catsby is a specially trained service pet, not just a cat with severe separation anxiety. (Not to the Lamby Extreme™, there is no drinking of urine, but there are sometimes artfully placed turds to register disdain.)
- Every relationship and friendship I’ve ever had has been arranged or even paid for by my parents (or maybe my brothers — is that why Peter’s so poor?) and so I can never worry about disappointing these people.
- Free housing 4 life! Can I have my rent back, please?
Update: Because fact-checking is important to me (AND YOU), I did my best to nail down why Ian couldn’t get me to appreciate Closer. His response: