It’s all just a pain in the butt!

Laura - Will the '70s last forever?

Laura – Will the ’70s last forever?

Yesterday on Facebook I wrote,

Walking for an hour up and back in a swimming pool by oneself might seem excruciatingly boring. It’s not. Today only two other people were exercising, so each of us was in his own little world. And I fell into meditating on the reality that I just don’t “get it.” Anything. I have incipient senility to blame these days, but it was ever thus. I never did get it. I’m clueless. But my glutes sure are getting strong.

Yes, dear reader, I write on Facebook. I read my Newsfeed and look at and comment on my friends’ postings. I find it both great entertainment and a sure-fire way to keep at least superficial awareness of their lives.  As I do here, I tend to be more “confessional” than I should. But I took the age of Oprah more to heart than most people did, I guess. Besides, I am a frustrated and unsuccessful writer, so spilling my guts in public seems to be pretty natural for me.

Here’s one of the things I don’t “get.”

I don’t understand—and this is as factual a statement of my perception of the world as I can muster—how all of you concentrate on the details of living in society. How on earth do you actually remember to pay the rent on the first of the month? I know people who have never once in their lives paid a late fee—on anything! If there’s a late fee to be paid, I’ve paid it.

You’d think, wouldn’t you, all you people who understand and live within the “rules of the road” of our social contract (don’t get me wrong—I do obey the rules of the asphalt road except for speed limits), I’d have enough desire for self-preservation and comfort that I’d remember after about 50 years that the rent is always due on the first of the month. It never changes. I think our entire economy is based on this massive exchange of monies on the first of every month. It’s the American way (and I suppose it’s the Finnish and the Palestinian and the Chinese way). It never changes. For you that might be true. About every other month it never occurs to me either that it’s the first of the month or that my rent is due.

Read Dostoyevsky. The Idiot. Then we’ll have a conversation about this. I don’t know if all my life I’ve used my seizure disorder as an excuse for simple inattention to details, or if my inability to pay attention to details is one of the presentations of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. I’m pretty sure Dr. Agostini would say the latter. I know Dr. Schomer did. Gave me the first respite from self-flagellation about it I ever had, and that was not until I was 38 years old.

I live, for the most part, in this fuzzy world between awareness and not awareness, memory and not memory. For years when I was at home alone and bored, I watched reruns of “That ‘70s Show.” Someone was telling me about the new Netflix program “Orange Is the New Black.” He mentioned that Laura Prepon is one of the stars. I had no clue who she is.

Tut, tut, you will say. Lots of people could say the same thing. How many TV shows do you watch every day and can’t say the name of one of the actors? How often have you missed the rent on the first of the month? When was the last time you missed an appointment with your tax accountant, your psychiatrist, and your dentist—in the same week? After making post it notes and sticking them on your computer? These, of course, are the most obvious, the least important (except, perhaps for the tax accountant), the most trivial, the most universal kinds of forgetting. I’m not going to go into the important ways my mind does not connect—Oprah hasn’t got all of me yet.

Is confession good for Oprah?

Is confession good for Oprah?

I don’t—as, I am told, most people do not in theirs—live in my body. I don’t pay much attention to it or anything else until I have a pain. Pain gets my attention when paying the rent or Laura Prepon’s name can’t. And I’ve had a constant pain in my butt (actually, my hip) for six months. Next Wednesday I’m finally going to have arthroscopic surgery to fix it (now that the pain has become tolerable, that is, gone for hours at a time). I’ve been walking with a cane for four months.

I’ve noticed three kinds of reaction from other people when I refer to the pain (in any way). There are those who are concerned, who would (and often do) step forward when I need help to do something that I know is going to cause more pain than I can cope with. There are those who express concern but don’t think about how they might help—or even understand that help is possible. And there are those who wish I’d just take my pain and go away.

The pain in my butt is not important in the big scheme of things. And I know I’m a wuss (what’s going to happen if in my dotage I get a real pain?). Perhaps I use it as an excuse the way I perhaps use the misfirings in my brain to make excuses for not filing income tax on time simply because I don’t want to be bothered. I don’t know.

But I do know this. The pain in my butt raises interesting philosophical questions. Who’s living in reality? Me with my awareness of the pain in my butt but my inability to remember the first of the month? Or people who rush to connect with someone who has a pain in his butt? Or people who don’t? Or all of us. Or none of us?

What kind of wuss will I be on crutches?