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“There was nothing in sight but woods, and Billy began to be worried. Which way was the road? When he looked for the sun to find what direction he should go, he saw that the sky had become very dark and stormy. It looked very strange, and he was a little frightened. They must get home before the storm.” C.W. Anderson, from Blaze Finds the Trail


She works the “I’m crazy” angle. She’s been working it for years. You should know. You’re her friend.

How do you deal with her when she gets like that? Just go over and hold her hand. Talk to her. Don’t run away. Don’t get mad. Don’t tell yourself lies of any kind. Just talk to her. (Good listeners don’t come along every day.)

Try this: “What is it that you would like to tell me?”
“I’m sad,” she might say.

(That’s it? That’s what turns her into a monster? Yup.)

You say, “Don’t be sad.” (Wrong! But you say it anyway.)
“Stop being sad,” you say.

“I can’t,” she says. “I like routine. I like the sad routine.”

“You’re not sad! You don’t act sad. If anything, you act mad. Really mad.”
“Only to hide the sadness.”

“Okay fine, you’re sad. Why so sad?”
“Because I feel empty.”

“And what’s making you feel empty?”
“It’s the fullness. The abundance. Snack packaging. American Girl Dolls. Junk mail.”

“So where would you be happier?” (You are raising your voice. Watch that.) “East Germany in the seventies? You think that was fun?”

“I don’t know,” she says. “Maybe an island? Somewhere warm and laid-back?”

“A Caribbean island? Have you talked to people who live down there? They’re bitter as shit.”

(She starts to cry. You suck at this.)

“I don’t have a place,” she tells you. “There is no better place. That’s why I’m sad. Stop yelling at me!”

Now you feel pretty lousy yourself. You tell her to go live on a Hollywood set. Preferably for a sitcom. You say, “Go live in a spec home. Spec homes are always clean. Go live in a tent. A tent in a parking lot. A tent on the balcony of a high-rise. Go live in your mother’s garage!”

(Wow. Some friend.)


film clip is from Starship Troopers, 1997, directed by Paul Verhoeven
song is “Your Ghost,” by Kristen Hersh, from Hips and Makers