Today I had the pleasure of talking to my mother on the phone when we were both feeling rather depressed. You’ve never heard so glum a conversation as the one between my mother and myself when we’re both blue. It went something like this:
Mom: How was your first day back at school? Did you get the Jane Austen class?
Me: It was vile.
Mom: Oh, I thought it might be.
Me: And no, I didn’t get Jane. I’ve given up hope.
Mom: Sometimes that’s the best attitude. It’s just like the fish in the tank.
Mom: You know—fish in the tank. When you first put fish into a tank they swim around frantically trying to escape. They slam their heads into the glass over and over and over until finally they lose all will to live, and then they don’t even bother anymore. Then, once their spirits have been sufficiently crushed, even if they are put back into open water, they still don’t try to swim for freedom.
Me: That’s exactly the point I’ve gotten to. I mean, what can I expect, really? I have long since given up hope of actually enjoying myself at that miserable place.
Mom: I know what you mean. You can ram your head into a glass wall only so many times before it finally becomes prudent to quit. Today I told all of my coworkers, point-blank, that I hate my job.
Me: Really? What did they say?
Mom: They just looked at me.
Me: Huh. Just like the fish, Mom… Well, if it makes you feel any better, I have a pap smear appointment on Friday.
Mom: That does make me feel better. Misery loves company.
Me: Yeah, I know—I only told you because you sound so glum and I thought you could use a nice bit of bad news.
Mom: Thanks. It helped. And you know, your exam is going to be especially bad because it’s a Friday and they’ll be ready to go home.
Mom: They’ll probably rush through it. I bet it will hurt a lot.
Mom: Yeah—a lot.
Me: Well, I have to go read five dry novels before I go to bed, so I’d better hang up now.
Me: I would tell you that I hope you cheer up but I know that would be futile. Instead, I’ll just tell you that I hope you maintain, and that your misery doesn’t get any worse.
Mom: Thank you—you couldn’t have worded a better sentiment for me tonight.
Me: It’s just a gift I have.
I love my mother. She and I are so completely different, but so very much alike.
I suppose that in a few days—maybe a week—I’ll find the will to live again, and to be cheerful about it all. But just now, just for a while, I want to relish the misery of a good gloom.
Not a very big gloom, mind you.
But big enough.