Columns

2006.02.01 Mental afflictions, addictions

on . Posted in Midnight Musings

By COLLEEN LEDDY

It ain’t easy being Colleen.

If only I had changed my last name to my husband’s I could say, like Kermit the Frog, it ain’t easy being Green.

But you get the idea. You know you are about to hear the foibles and follies of being me.

Actually, it’s not so much foibles and follies as the permanent state of being mentally deranged.

All because of an expression I heard recently, I know not where, I am questioning my sanity.

“What, are you mental?”

Did you used to say that? My dim memory recalls frequent use of that expression during high school days. But I’ve realized that my 30th high school reunion is this year, so maybe I am off by a few years. Maybe it’s an expression from a movie that transported me back to my high school days in New York.

“What, are you mental?” is a great expression, although you risk being politically incorrect and socially insensitive. But, said with a New York accent, it just makes me feel at home again.

I call my Greek friend Kay to see if she remembers using that expression back when we were in high school.

“Where did it come from?” I ask.

“It comes from the Greek,” is her immediate response. “Everything comes from the Greek.”

“It came from Brooklyn,” says her boyfriend, Jerry. Guess where Jerry grew up?

“Who remembers expressions like that from high school?” Kay asks. She thinks I’m nuts for asking.

“I remember things like falling on my face when I jumped the hurdles in track,” she says, “and how you wouldn’t stop screaming when we were donating blood in the gym.”

They are no help, but Kay does think the expression has been around for a while, so I think maybe I am not so crazy, after all.

Except that I am rethinking my brother Kevin’s comments about addictive personality disorder which he says is common with children of alcoholics. I never gave it much thought beyond my inability to stop eating chocolate. But now that I’ve given sudoku a try, I’m convinced I’m a goner in the addiction department.

When I first heard about that puzzle craze, I thought, “What a waste of time!” Why would anyone want to figure out which number goes where in a box of nine squares within a grid of nine squares so all the numbers from one to nine are used only once within each box and all the numbers are used only once in all the columns and rows of the grid?

Crossword puzzles at least involve the use of a dictionary and learning new words or expressions. Sudoku just seemed like a mind-numbing waste of time. Bob Dister was explaining it one day and I just gave him what-for about it. And then later I thought, how can I judge something that I haven’t even tried? So I tried it and man, once you start, there’s no stopping. David walks into the kitchen saying, “One, six, nine...” trying to distract me as I struggle away filling in those squares, dishes undone, dinner unmade.

I have to completely ban myself from the activity. It doesn’t work to set the timer for 30 minutes of sudoku and then start dinner. No, I have to refrain from opening the newspaper to the puzzle page in the first place. Otherwise, there will be no dinner.

However, for voodoo purposes there will be dinner. Monday night, I made oven fried potatoes and chicken fried rice.  Part of the reason I made them was for Rozee who returned safely from Rome, but for complicated reasons left for Traverse City and wouldn’t be home for dinner. My wacko voodoo calls for me to do things that don’t make sense to anybody but me. Making those potato nuggets of joy and chicken fried rice that Rozee wasn’t going to enjoy is just part of my perverse arsenal of bringing-’em-home-alive tricks.

The potatoes, delectable little buggers coated in olive oil, sprinkled with salt, cracked pepper and granulated garlic and baked at 450 degrees for 45 or so minutes were especially delicious.

“These potatoes are really good,” I say to David.

“Yeah, don’t OD on them,” he says.

“OD?” I ask.

“Overdose,” he explains.

“I know what ‘OD’ means,” I say. “Why would you say that?”

“I don’t know...” He’s sounding sorry he said it.

“Are you trying to tell me something?”

OK, now add paranoia to my list of mental afflictions.

– February 1, 2006

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