May 3, 2021 – Wet Blanket Syndrome

I suffer from a number of maladies, my friends, one of which is ‘wet blanket syndrome’. Do not mistake it for ‘wet bed syndrome’ because although I did suffer from that in the past, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that that is no longer the case. No, I have ‘wet blanket syndrome’, a rather bleak outlook-on-life condition which tends to drive people away. Based on how I’ve felt over the past few days, my blanket isn’t just damp…it’s soaking wet. What’s my deal? Geesh, what isn’t my deal?! I really felt like digging a hole yesterday and crawling into it. My husband was well aware of ‘my mood’ so he hid the shovel as a preventative measure. I wasn’t about to dig the hole with my bare hands so I opted to lay on the couch and feel sorry for myself instead (when I wasn’t obsessively checking my online medical chart for news about the Covid-19 antibody test I took on Friday of last week).

Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been ‘good company’, as of late. I started to turn the corner but then I got a call from the membership lady at the art gallery (who I used to consider a friend) and what little progress I had made was nullified within a matter of seconds. How do I describe her? I think ‘crusty’ is the most fitting adjective to use. When she called, she didn’t start with a friendly greeting or anything remotely close to it, she started out with, “Are you going to come and get your paintings or not? If you’re not, you’re going to need to come up with twenty bucks.” “Why would I pay $20?” I asked, slightly stunned by the coldness of her demand. “I told you I was cancelling my membership,” I reminded her. I then added, “And I received the email that I had until three this afternoon to pick up my paintings. I plan on stopping by within the next two hours.” “Just be sure to get here well before three,” she reminded me. As silly as it sounds, that little ‘exchange’ really set me off.

Have you heard of the proverb, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”? I don’t think anyone ever shared that proverb with her or maybe someone did and she chose to ignore it. She never uses honey, she uses vinegar and salt (lots of salt like I use on my french fries). After I got off the phone with her, I thought of ten different ways she could have better communicated her request. Rather than being downright nasty, she could have simply said, “Hey, just calling to remind you that the art switch-out is today. Do you mind swinging by within the next couple of hours to pick up your paintings? We hope to get out of here prior to three.” I didn’t get that version though, I got the nasty version, which is the usual way she talks to people. Honestly, that’s one of the main reasons I don’t want to be part of the gallery any longer. I don’t respond well to ‘nasty’. And there’s no getting around it because she not only handles all of the memberships, she schedules all of the docents, too.

Before I left the house in order to get the paintings, I mentioned what happened to my husband. I told him about the conversation and how it made me feel crappy and that I had no further desire to be part of the gallery. He comforted me and assured me that once I had retrieved my paintings, I never had to return there again (for any reason). The gallery is less than 10 minutes from my house and when I arrived, I had one goal in mind, to get my paintings and get the hell out of there. As I hurriedly walked around, a couple of people tried to make small talk but I wasn’t in the mood. I think it took less than 5 minutes for me to enter the building, track down my paintings, sign them out, exit the building, and return to my car. I have no intention of ever going back. I’ve heard it ‘from the horse’s mouth’ that the gallery is in trouble financially. They need members and they need money in order to stay afloat. The thing is, you can’t treat people like garbage (or shower them with vinegar and salt) and expect them to stick around. With fish ‘n’ chips? Yes. With people? No.

Needless to say, I felt pretty lousy once I pulled into the carport. I powered off my car, climbed out, and proceeded to remove my paintings. I went into a ‘deep funk’ after that. The last thing I wanted to do was cook dinner. Nonetheless, once I had brought the paintings inside and returned them to the guest bedroom, I went to the kitchen, removed the ground beef from the refrigerator, and got to work making burgers. My husband suggested I just ‘go grab something’ which means ordering take-out but I didn’t want to waste the meat because it had already defrosted and then sat in the refrigerator for several days and I knew that if I didn’t cook it right away, it would go to waste. When I removed the butcher paper and uncovered the long-ago defrosted ground beef, there was no doubt that it needed to be cooked ASAP. I already had made-from-scratch potato salad and some fresh corn on the cob to pair with the burgers, so it didn’t take much effort to get dinner on the table. Fortunately, with enough seasoning, the burgers were palatable.

Over dinner, we talked about our upcoming trip. I told my husband he should just go without me. “You don’t want to bring a wet blanket along,” I informed him, “You should just go and spend that time with your family, and I’ll stay here.” He wasn’t thrilled with the idea. “It’s still several weeks away, you’ll probably feel differently a month from now,” he reassured me. I don’t know. Something drastic is going to have to happen for me to feel differently. The world is looking rather bleak and I’m not sure what it’s going to take to turn it around. Aside from writing, not much else really interests me at the moment. Ok, that’s not entirely true, I’m still on a bender with Safeway Monopoly. I brought another pile of tickets home and delighted in all of the ‘prizes’ I won. I’m not sure what the heck I’m going to do with 6 loaves of french bread and 4 tubs of sour cream, but if you give me long enough, I should be able to think of something.

Hey, I just thought of something! No, it’s totally unrelated to french bread and sour cream. I have been meaning to tell you that I actually got my test results back a few hours ago. When I tell you what the findings were, it may help you understand what I meant when I said earlier that my blanket was soaked. Yep, as expected, no antibodies were detected. Zero. Zip. Nada. ‘Nonreactive’ is the medical term. Until the medical/scientific community finds a way to provide immunity to ‘immunocompromised individuals’, it looks like flying is going to be out of the question, at least as far as I’m concerned. That really bums me out. I had hoped that we could fly to see my husband’s family and our son, but instead it appears the only ‘safe’ option is driving. When I imagine all of those hours either behind the wheel or sitting in the passenger seat, driving on long stretches of blacktop, only to stop long enough to fill up the gas tank or empty my bladder, all I can think is, “Kill me now.”

I’m dreading this trip. And despite the fact that I’ve encouraged my husband to go without me, I know that if he did, I’d lament the decision. More than likely, without his presence, I’d fall into an even greater state of depression and withdraw even further into myself. I’d have the dog to keep me company but she provides little consolation when I ‘go dark’. I am sure the best thing (for all parties concerned) is to just ‘suck it up’ and go, and try to make the best of the situation. My husband mentioned possibly stopping along the way and doing some hiking or exploring Yellowstone National Park. There are amazing photo opportunities in Yellowstone. If I bring my fancy camera, perhaps I can get some nice shots of some of the wildlife and share them with you. We’ve only seen the southernmost part of the park, it’d be nice to explore some other areas as well. Anyway, that’s all of the stuff on my mind at the moment. I’m going to try leaving my wet blanket out in the sun tomorrow and see if that helps dry it out.

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