“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So begins inimitable author Charles Dickens’ famed two-volume historical fiction “A Tale of Two Cities”. For this issue of “Confessions…” I could be unashamedly bastardizing the revered Mr. Dickens by entitling it: “A Tale of Two Valet Boys”. Indeed, VB feels like 2 trapped in the body of 1… occasionally.
While enjoying a Sunday walk-about with my friends Terry and Scott, Terry Lee said to me, “I read a very disappointing Valet Boy today.” Scott’s eyes grew to size of dinner plates. Terry Lee suggested that he did not care for it because it was of a more personal nature and a mere frothy thing of little substance and on the whole uninspired.
He was speaking of last week’s blog-post. Frankly, I had to agree with him.
Ever the pragmatist, Terry Lee continued, “Of course, you could say that you write Valet Boy for yourself and not your readers, in which case you are wholly justified in whatever you do.” (That may not be exactly what he said, but I’m pretty sure the subtext is accurate)
By way of explanation I volunteered the following, “I’m sorry. But it was either that or nothing at all.” Scott felt badly for me having to so bluntly hear the truth. But, you know it’s rather like ripping off a band-aid or getting dumped by a lover – always best to make it fast and clean. Oh, it stings to be sure, but there’s much less of that bothersome emotional angst and ultimately one is grateful for the speedy delivery of the truth regardless of the initial smarting.
If you are unfamiliar with the Origins of Valet Boy, I suggest you check out the brief “About” section of this Blog.
I had reintroduced Valet Boy to the public in April of this year primarily as a way to add some creativity to my world. Something that had been woefully lacking. At that time I had no big projects underway, no acting, directing or writing work on the horizon, no lover to add spice to the monotonous days and nights. The only occasional creative respite came in touring with the play “Piece Work” but that was only a few shows a month. In short, there was a creativity void. A void that seemingly only a Reborn Valet Boy could fill.
Once I got underway with VB, I discovered it to be a lot of fun. I didn’t really care about being King of the World of Blogging – I mean I don’t have any products to sell, any wisdom to impart or anything of real importance to say – as most Bloggers do (or at least think they do). For all intents and purposes my life is, as far as public consumption might be concerned, excruciatingly dull. There literally was no good reason for me to believe that anyone would find Valet Boy worth reading – after all, it had been almost 10 years since VB was hatched…born of angst, misery, rejection and poverty. And let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy reading about that?
Apparently, however, there are a few folks out there who, for their own demented reasoning, find wading through Valet Boy’s pool of personal, familial and emotional schmutz worth the occasional indulgence. You see that’s where the little bit of success bred a host of conflicts.
I wasn’t just writing for ME any more. Now there were OTHERS. Now Valet Boy had to be interesting, entertaining and original. And the ever mounting pressure got to me!
Valet Boy began to lose his way.
He was lost…adrift upon storm-tossed seas.
VB had reached the point of such hum-drum banality that no one in their right mind would be interested in reading about the day-to-day prosaic idiocy his dull existence had become of late. This realization sent Valet Boy spiraling into a deep funk. VB needed to clear his muddled brain. Best to defy Thomas Wolfe and go home again. VB would head south to Monkeytown.
Pulling into my Mom’s driveway, I saw her emerge from her little patio home all smiles. Thrilled to have her lil’ Valet Boy back home. I was perfectly and fully prepared to see Dear Mater further shriveled and shrunken, one foot struggling before the other as she haltingly limped along like some bedraggled crone out of Shakespeare.
What I was not prepared for, however, with this nearly 90-year-old woman, was the fact that she somehow appeared younger. Her white thinning hair had been stylishly trimmed, she’d dropped about 10 lbs, her eyes were alert and her stance firm as she waved gleefully and threw her arms around me with a geriatric bear-hug.
Normally I do not dare approach the city limits of my dreaded childhood environs until we are much closer to Thanksgiving or Christmas. But, this year my cousin Mark was getting married to beautiful Tamara from Seattle and I wanted to be on hand for that. Ergo my more premature arrival.
So, Valet Boy has returned yet again to the scene of his adolescent crimes and with a month to spare before we’re into the thick of the holidays.
What the heck should I do now? I can always catch up on my reading.
Among other things, reading a good book can help ease anxiety, depression and boredom. And you can believe Valet Boy when he says that at any given moment he is battling all three of these Turkey States of Mind.
It is estimated that 1 in 4 Americans suffer from some form of depression. That translates to roughly 60 million monthly prescriptions for everything from Ativan to Xanax.
During earlier centuries these mental maladies were given a host of names such as; bad humors, melancholia and the vapours.
A popular cure in days of old was Trepanation, the practice of drilling an opening into the skull to release one’s clinical demons. The evil spirits could be everything from migraines to schizophrenia and there is ample evidence that Neolithic Man employed this medical practice as well. This is where the phrase “Hole in his head” comes from and on the surface we have to admit in certain situations it sounds like a damn good idea!
Before the advent of mass-produced (and mass availability of ) anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and anti-everything drugs, Self-Medicating was the theme of the day. We scrounged whatever mental health support we could from back alley drug dealers, liquor stores or cold & flu meds pilfered from mom and dad’s bathroom medicine cabinet. Valet Boy availed himself of these cures again and again in various combinations and strengths. But what else were we to do? Science seemed to be dragging its damned feet on the issue so we were left to learn the ups, downs, ins and outs, pros and cons of emotion numbing self-medicating on our own… sometimes with dangerous and tragic results.
Those of us who survived the 60’s and 70’s generally became quite good at managing the complexities of balancing our lives and our daily “vitamin” intake. Some of us even survived the 80’s continuing along this “homeopathic” medicine path. Often we survived in spite of the damage we caused our psyches, our bodies, our friends and family.
I don’t really know if depression is hereditary, but it seems to me that several members of my family – on both sides of the tree – have suffered and continue to suffer from its effects. Although Valet Boy has turned his back on the questionable benefits of self- medication, he still has to wage a daily battle against the “blues”.
The point of VB’s rambling here is merely to illustrate that he, along with a few million of his closest friends, often suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (aptly called SAD). It seems to roll around just in time for Thanksgiving and may linger through New Years, occasionally refusing to depart until after Ground Hog Day.
Science has told us this is due to the diminishing amounts of sunlight in our daily lives throughout the winter months. This maybe true for some people. However, it is not true for Valet Boy. I am not going to bore you with a history of the why’s and wherefore’s of self diagnoses, you’ve got other things on your mind this time of year. And most of us who deal with this annual affliction would rather not be blamed for a massive infection of the general populace. ( We’ll politely suffer in silence thank you. ) And for those who doubt depression can be transmissible, I steer you to the old saying: “Misery loves company”.
My research has indicated that my particular situation is just that – a situation. It’s called situational depression and may or may not be terminal.
On the one hand it would seem that all we need do is shift the situation and the depression is alleviated. But, if the situation appears unchangeable then one can easily spiral downward into a deeper psychic drain hole sparking the basic cause for increased suicides during the holiday season. This may also be a reason why so many of the elderly commit suicide. Let’s face it, that situation is not going to change…I mean they aren’t going to wake up one day 30 years younger, dancing the night away and sharing their phone numbers enmasse with half-naked hotties at a Rave.
And SAD just doesn’t have the ummph that Fibromyalgia enjoys. But to be fair, for decades Fibromyalgia sufferers were told it was “all in their heads”. Hmmm. That might’ve been a good reason to employ Ye Olde Practice of Trepanation.
And that brings us back to the beginning of his week’s “Tale of Two Valet Boys” and the walk-about with Terry Lee and Scott. The question now for Valet Boy is how to return to the place that helped spark those previously irreverent and delightful “Confessions…” posts?
While the mental health vacation from writing the post did help replenish some of the reserves, the underlying cause of the problem remains.
How does Valet Boy make a dull existence interesting?
Well, I guess I’ll find out. And if you are still with me, then perhaps we’ll figure this thing out together.
And that brings me to another point. If you are SAD, bummed or otherwise emotionally disenfranchised this holiday season, don’t forget that FRIENDS are a wonderfully inexpensive treatment for melancholia. If not for Valet Boy’s Friends – both the bi and quadruped varieties – Heaven only knows what dumpster I’d be swimming in. Indeed, VB is especially grateful to Aunt Bea, Stinky Boy and Mr. Leatherwing & Ms. SubRosa for their friendship and their “above and beyond” support over the past couple of rather rocky years.
Meanwhile, since we are in the midst of the holidays and VB is back in the familial bosom, I’ll be driving Dear Mother down to visit her sister’s and that in itself may provide some fodder for this perpetually peckish Blog.
And since I never got around to my Best & Worst Thanksgivings, I guess VB will have to toss that into the blog-salad next time.
Until then, Thanks for Reading.