The couple of days before my next session are rugged. There’s an increasingly loud buzz of anger lurking about in my subconscious. One morning, I completely lose my temper and yell at the kids to get moving before I shove their ass out the door. My oldest daughter, eleven, yells back and tells me to quit cursing. I tell her to shut the hell up about it.
She runs to her bedroom and slams the door. I go to her door and kick it viciously. But thankfully, I manage to regain control and retreat to the foyer. My son cowers there as he waits for the school bus. Noticing the fear in his eyes, I snap right out of my mad, and hasten over to reassure him. Once that’s done, I go back to my eldest and apologize to her, explaining that I don’t know what came over me. She relaxes a bit, but I know she’s wondering what’s wrong with her mother.
This is the first time I've ever lost my temper with so little provocation. What really shocks me though, and it’s a point I will emphasize to Pen, is the feeling I had when I nearly kicked my daughter’s door in. Basically it was, I could kill you this instant and not feel one iota of regret. That heavy duty reality shakes me up badly. So, after the kids leave for school, I go into my bedroom and ponder this new development.
My eye catches sight of the new tape recorder lying next to my journal on the desk. I pick it up, and examine it closely. Then I smile. Feelings of anger and guilt miraculously disappear. In fact, I pretty much feel a big fat nothing now. A baby could cry and I wouldn’t pay one bit of attention to it. Well, I might get a little irritated, and drop a blanket over its whiny face. To muffle the sound, of course.
I unwrap a blank cassette, load it into the little black box, and start to record. “Testing, testing, 1,2,3, testing.” Playing it back, I cringe. Is my voice really that screechy high? I rewind the tape and start recording. On a lark, I practice my swearing. Naughty me! I usually have a quite a sanitary mouth, unless I’m out of orbit angry. When I play the tape back, I double over with hysterics. God, I sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks drunk on their ass.
Eventually, I stop clowning around, and stare thoughtfully at the devilish device. Hmmm, maybe in the future, it’d be easier just to record my thoughts rather than write them down in a journal. I decide I like that idea a lot, and depress the record button for the third time.
“Captain’s log, star date June 1996. These are the Tapes of the FruitCake Enterprise. My name is ET, and I have absolutely no idea what to say next." I stop the recording, then, "Oh wait, yes I do.” I head for my bedside recliner carrying the little hand size recorder. With all the majesty of the Queen of England, I ease myself onto my royal throne, gracefully lean back, and cross my legs, finger style. Lastly, I primp the bangs out of my eyes and paste a phony smile on my face. Trip the record button again, and off I go. This time, I speak with studied formality. “Tell me Liz, what’s been happening this week?”
I hop out of the recliner, sit primly on the end of the bed and lower my voice five notches. “Oh, not much, Pen. But paint me a briar patch here, would ya? It’s been a few weeks. Shouldn’t we have a diagnosis by now?”
I hastily switch to the recliner, wiggle into therapist pose this time, and purse my lips. “Not quite yet, Liz. But we’re getting there.”
I fly to the bed. My rubber lips flex muscle downward. “That bad, huh?”
Back to the recliner. This time I smooth out my hair, and stick my nose in the air. “There are some rather interesting aspects to your case, Liz. That makes it more difficult to assess where we are at this point.”
I’m getting wayyy breathless as I hit the bed again. This time, I revert back to my southern roots. “But Pen, why don’t you just have little ol’ me take one of those itty bitty tests psychiatrists pass out like prescriptions. Or even bettah, hon, bring on those verah interestin’ inkblot cards. I do declare, Pen, I used to drive mah psychiatrist at the Children’s Home simply crazy with mah interpretations of them. I guess it’s because all I evah saw was well, you know, stuff of which I cain not speak. It got so bad mah—” Oops. Stop the recording, Liz.
I’d forgotten about the psychiatrist from the Children's Home, Dr. Waddlebutt. Odd that. In height, he could have been the twin brother of the giant in Jack in the Beanstalk; in looks, he resembled one of those god-awful looking cysts that come with a full compliment of teeth and black coarse hair. Grossed me out totally. He seemed nice, though, if a bit prissy.
Part of Dr. Waddlebutt’s job was to administer annual psychological testing on all the foster children: written, inkblot, IQ, you name it. Those tests sunk my boat. My caseworker took an active dislike to me following the first go round of tests. I guess she thought all kids should see Jesus on the inkblots, and score 140 on the IQ. I saw blood-soaked, mutilated butterflies, and scored between 95 and 70 on the IQ; the higher score occurring at the age of five, the lower score occurring as soon as I became smart enough to dick around on them.
At some point, my caseworker, who I fondly named, Mrs. Stick Upherass, told me I was a very “disturbed” child and borderline “retarded”, so God would have to take care of me because I’d never be able to take care of myself.
Maybe she had good reason to think I was “disturbed.” Kids in the early sixties weren’t saturated with bloody violence. Comic books were pretty tame. So Dr. Waddlebutt’s two-cent analysis, combined with my poor test results, might’ve shocked Mrs. Stick Upherass right out of her chastity belt. If she wore one. I, personally, think she did. Most church-going, God-fearing women did back then.
“Lizzie, remember when you said the S E X word. She nearly shit twenty bricks! Then, after she snorted all the coke outta her nose like some mad bull, she said, “ET, you will not ever say that word out loud again, or I will march you into the bathroom and wash your mouth out with soap. Do you understand me?” And you said, “But Miz U’ass, I am six. I had my birday las’ week.”