I’m one of those jerks who talks about death. Writes about death. I never, never, never, talk about death. That would be wrong. I just sit in the lunch room and stew over my mess of nerves, and my regular compulsion to cry and I think to myself, “I want to talk about death with someone. I should have a frank discussion about the mind-numbing feeling of grief that disengages me from the most basic of humans facts…like that one time I forgot I was in the bathroom…on the toilet…doing my business…started crying…and completely forgot why I was there.” I want to tell someone at work this, but then I’d be the guy who may not have remembered he was in the bathroom. Side note: I always remember when I’m in the bathroom at work. It’s a great place to hide and get away from people. I have admitted that to people at work. I have almost no shame.
But I am ashamed of my grief. I sat through lunch today, and all I wanted to do was tell everyone how suddenly miserable I was after a random song popped up on my playlist that she loved. It was Jimmy Eat World. My sister was always a little bit stuck in her high school music preferences. I’m sometimes shocked she liked any new music. She literally picked five bands in 2002 and never looked back. Never looked forward either. Just stayed perfectly, musically preserved in amber. I always tried to get her to listen to new music. But she just made faces and asked if had heard Jimmy Eat World’s new album. I always thought I had. I was usually about three albums behind. I wasn’t ashamed of my general ignorance of her musical tastes. But I am ashamed of my grief.
I sat in the lunch room surrounded by teachers (I’m a teacher myself), and we were having a miserable conversation. We normally have a good conversation, but today was just kind of miserable. It’s that conversation you’re embarrassed to be a part of because the one guy leading it is just really passionate about something embarrassing in an embarrassing way. I get it. I’m passionate about young adult literature (because it’s AMAZING–read John Green, The Fault in Our Stars, and tell me I’m wrong), and I like to think I’m not embarrassing about it because I mainly have conversations about young adult literature with young adults. I find this perfectly reasonable. However, there’s always that guy who has his two talking points, and they’re not interesting to anyone but people who like to shoot things (normally, that would be me) or appreciate the third retelling of how he met his wife.
There we were, listening about the cupcake incident that led to their eventual nuptials, uncomfortable that we had all heard the story but too embarrassed to admit it. We had all crossed a bridge, and we’d crossed it together. We were to blame and we knew it. I wanted to get up and say, “I’m feeling terrible, and I was driven to mental instability by a song. A song. Three minutes and thirty-nine seconds of pure pop fun, and I thought to myself: well all I want to do is cry.” I was in the middle of a class, and I tried to do the best to make realistic nose-blow-y sounds while trying to secretly dab at tears. I don’t know why I bother. All the student know. I’m sure they make fun of me. I don’t think children are terrible. I just know what i would have done when I was in ninth grade and anything happened to/with/near anyone. I was a sarcastic son of a bitch.
It was a conversation from hell. Not only were we all trapped listening to this story. We could only feed into it. We were trapped in the monster’s cave, and we were offering ourselves to the beast! Clearly four highly educated professionals should have known better, should have been able to navigate away from it, should have been able to muster a conversation shift, should have added a clever way to exit, should have offered nothign but awkward silence as the cupcake story came to a crescendo and someone dropped the cupcake, or bumped someone and it fell…I’m not sure. I’ve only heard it four times, and it’s all ready too much for one mind to manage.
All I wanted to do was cry. I had to leave. I just left. I’m cupcake-wife-shooter-guy’s boss. He can do nothing to me or say anything about me that will ruin any social capital I have in the building. I was also feeling miserable. I went into my classroom–which I share with cupcake-wife-shooter-guy–and locked the door. Cupcake-wife-shooter-guy left his keys on his desk, and soon returned, knocking on the door. I needed some alone time. I went to the bathroom.