Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Captivated

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
 
She answered the door with a smile sloppily outlined in red lipstick.  “Hi, Welcome.” She said in an upbeat, slurry tone.  “Did you know my brother is dying?  Oh yea, his cancer has just gotten worse and worse.”  What the fuck was this lady talking about?  I barely knew her, and I certainly had no idea she even had a brother, nor did I really care.  After she walked me arm and arm into her huge kitchen, I made eye contact with another mom and exchanged an unspoken look of  "WTF is going on?"  She never again mentioned her dying brother, but moved on to other random topics like her getting in trouble for looking at her husband’s private files in the basement and creating a rhyming game with a circle of moms to try and remember our names.  It never worked, and honestly, I don’t know how the rest of us kept a straight face.  She was the kind of person, though, that you could laugh at and they would never know.

I only know her because our daughters play sports together.  I remember the first time I saw her.  We were at a softball game and I could hear her from the other teams’ bleachers.  She spoke a little louder than most, but it’s also that I am an involuntary eavesdropper.  It’s sometimes the only thing that makes my life worth living, making up stories about other people’s lives and adding them to my petri dish of hate for humanity.  So, I was listening to her and she was embarrassing.  I mean, her family had to be so embarrassed.  She could barely speak actual words and when she did it was inappropriate and sounded like she never developed mentally past Kindergarten.  She had a plastic, lidded cup in her hand that she drank from through a straw.  What was in there anyway?  And why was I kinda jealous of her lack of self-judgment?

Here’s what I found out that day at the soccer team party in the richest, most gated, part of Seattle: her husband (who oddly never seemed at all bothered by her lack of awareness or intelligence, and in fact, acted like she was totally normal!!!) was a psychiatrist.  He must keep her medicated, I thought.  But why?  Was this just another intriguing short story I would never sit down to write, or could it really be the sick and twisted, amazing truth?  How could I have done anything else but launch a full-blown investigation?

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