There are times when I'd really love to curl up in the fetal position and die -- say I drank too much on a Friday night and I woke up the next day not quite sure what I said or did. The pieces sort of fall into place as the day progresses -- each a little more embarrassing than the last -- and at some point it's all I can do not to drown myself in the bathtub.
Oh my God, did I really say that; did I really do that; did I really talk about uncircumcised penises -- I've never actually seen one, but I've heard stories from people who have and I sometimes share them when I'm drunk or sleepy or both.
Did I really do the Risky Business dance in my underwear? Did I really put my legs over my head at the office Christmas party? Did I really ...
I'm sure my parents talked to me about self control -- in fact they sent me to therapists and anger management classes -- but I couldn't tell you what they said. It's a weakness of mine -- keeping my mouth shut.
Therapy: Isn't it obvious?
A person doesn't get like me without spending some hours on a therapist's couch answering random, loaded questions against a backdrop of nature sounds and classical music. I started therapy in seventh grade with the nimrod of all psychotherapists -- Dr. C. He swore a lot in our sessions to build a rapport perhaps -- or maybe he just liked cussing. Whatever the reason, the words sounded ridiculous coming from a ginger neanderthal who always dressed drably in Pendleton-wool sweater vests and tasseled loafers.
I had fun with Dr. C -- and by fun I mean I plotted against him and wasted his time, because I was 12 years old and disrespectful, and because Dr. C used the F-word to earn my respect. I made up all kinds of stories -- how I was addicted to drugs and alcohol and other such horrors. I hadn't touched a cigarette by that point, but I talked like a thug in floral-printed dresses and boat shoes. I'm don't know if Dr. C believed me or not, but he told my mother that I belonged in an institution, and I never saw him after that.
Count to 10
Anger management classes were perhaps the best-worst thing my parents ever did to me. Seeing as one-on-one therapy did nothing to improve my behavior. Mom and Dad signed me up for an anger management group. I'm not sure whether they looked up "anger management" in the Yellow Pages or if someone gave them a recommendation.
I didn't fit in there. Everyone -- including the instructor with a DUI -- was there by court order. There was the girl who tried to kill her brother by strangulation, the boy who stabbed a kid at school, the boy who sent his mother to the hospital, and on, and on, and on. I was an angel among my anger-management peers. The instructor sent everyone out to the balcony to smoke cigarettes until our parents came to fetch us an hour later.
No wonder I have issues
I might have made an excellent nun or philanthropist had my parents found a more appropriate anger management class. We focused a lot more time on learning not to kill our family members than we focused on controlling our mouths. And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have killed anybody -- that's no thanks to therapy. Murder has never been on my list of things to accomplish before I die.
And then there were children
Where I used to shrug, "It's just a life-long case verbal diarrhea," I cringe, because it turns out -- much like cancer and heart disease are genetic -- parents pass down their bad habits to their children. Take my youngest daughter, Ashlyn, for example. Not only does she bash her face on the floor to get her way; she's also developed a rather mature vocabulary. That's right, My 2-year-old threw down the STFU at bedtime last week.
I could take the high road, accept responsibility for my bad choices and promise to never swear or behave inappropriately for the rest of my life. But what fun would that be? I'm passing the buck to my aunt for introducing the whole headbanging business to our family tree and for teaching me to cuss like a sailor. No one drops an f-bomb more eloquently than my aunt -- Richard Pryor's delivery is pathetic in comparison. She said f*ck, but it sounded like Ave Maria.
I learned it from watching her (period)
Maybe it's OK that Ashlyn picked up a few of my nastier qualities -- she snagged a much smarter brain than I did. With any luck she'll save the language for her manifesto, and I won't get any calls from teachers and angry parents.