Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cat Lady

I just learned the meaning recently of a term called "compulsive disclosure". I think the term needs no explanation and I realize that I sometimes am quite guility of this. I run at the mouth, reveal too much too quickly, scare people off. Of course, as with so many things, once I was able to put a name to this way of communicating, I have become hyper-aware of other people around me doing it too.

Tonight I was on line in Rite Aid buying --er--lady products, and there was a woman in front of me who just broke my fucking heart. She had milky blue, runny eyes. She was wearing a very worn and seemingly hand-crocheted brown hat and was clutching a religious calendar. "I'm just standing in line to ask them to scan it, and if it's a good price, I'll buy it. I love these."
She flipped over the calendar to gesture to all the serene and spiritual photos on the back of the calendar.
I nodded. "Mmmm, pretty, " I said.
"Well, it's better than looking at a calendar of a cat, if I want to look at a cat I'll just look at my own cat. And I don't like doing that, because she just bit me so hard on the foot it's still swollen, let me tell you," Cat Lady said, wiping her nose.
"Oh, that's terrible. I'm so sorry," Suddenly was feeling a little trapped, awkward, why wasn't the line moving?
"Oh, that's nothing. She bites me and scratches me every day. I have so many scars from the last few years."
"No. Wow."
"Yeah, she has diabetes (pronounced diabeetis), and I have to give her insulin shots every day. Twice a day. They cost $17 a shot, let me tell you. They have to air drop the medicine. That and the needles, $30 a month for those. And some people have people in their house to help with things like that, but not me. I have to give her the shots myself. And she attacks me. She's a bad girl."
I nodded, cocked head sympathetically. So hot in here. Unwrapped my scarf.
"That and the Hills Science Diet food, $200 a case every two weeks! But it's worth it. Do you know no cats had diabetes years ago? Now they all get it. It's because of the food. Let me tell you."
"Sure, that makes sense. All that...salt? in the food?"
"And the trips to the vet. I have to take her once a month. I have spent so much money on this cat. She has ruined me on cats. There's always one that ruins them for you."

The line finally opened up, and Cat Lady got her calendar scanned. I think she bought it. I am not sure b/c I got called to a different register and jetted out of there as soon as I paid for my tampons.

I felt kind of guilty...I always feel guilty when a profoundly lonely person catches my ear and I can't seem to get out of my own personal mental shit enough to just really be there for them. I know I don't need to feel guilty about this. But I find myself in this situation often enough that it makes me feel like I wish I could do something more than I do. I wish I could understand how people get like this. How do they become so alone that an interaction with a sweating, PMS'ing mom in a Rite Aid line becomes your only sounding board, your only source of communication? Nobody should ever be that alone.

1 comment:

6mohonk said...

the cat lady is the personification of most basest fear...of being alone...and yet there is a certain contentment in having one's own(lonely)world.