"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

“I Am Not A Nice Person”–The Epiphany Of Bonnie Birdlow

Bonnie Birdlow felt sexless and frustrated. Her third relationship of the year had ended, she had quit her job, she was living in a fixer-upper in a marginal part of town, and she had what her psychiatrist called ‘Undirected anxiety’.  She had no idea where that term had come from since her hostility was very precisely aimed at emotionally feeble and insecure men, her mother, her airy-fairy colleagues, and just about everyone on K Street.  

At first she laid her misery to bad luck.  How could she have known that Beau #1 was married if he didn’t tell her?  It took a scene out of Blue Jasmine to wise her up.  There they were, arm in arm on K Street, when The Wife shows up after working late at the office, confronts Beau #1, spits in his face, and disappears into the crowd; but of course he went back to her, offered the usual, pitiful, and hackneyed apologies to both her and Bonnie.  He, like most men protecting the male prerogative, spent an exaggerated amount of time being nice, offered to help folding the sheets, and bought tickets to the Bolshoi; but when an appropriate period of repentance had passed, and he was once again in his wife’s good graces, he stepped out again. 

Six months after their affair had ended, Bonnie saw him with a girl she recognized from Brenda’s Kitchen, a community service organization on Logan Circle.  “It figures”, she said to herself. “Two bleeding hearts spilling blood together”.   She might initially have been angry at herself for being blindsided by Beau #1; but when she saw the little prick out with a no-neck social worker, she was out for vendetta and male blood.

She had gotten over the worst of her bilious feelings by the time she met Beau #2 who was as honest as the day is long.  Tediously so, thought Bonnie who, like most young women, was attracted to bad boys.  Clemson Pardee was modestly good-looking, moderately intelligent, and financially well-off without une grosse fortune derriere. He was average in every way, kind and considerate with feminist sympathies, and a good listener.  In other words, he was a thumping bore.  His lovemaking was respectful and considerate, but every time he asked her if he was pleasing her, she wanted to throttle him.  “What’s wrong?”, he asked.  “Nothing, you cunt!”, she yelled, threw the covers off the bed, got dressed, slammed the door, and left. 

Beau #3 could have worked.  He had an edge that Bonnie liked, although the fact that it sharpened or dulled depending on his medications was somewhat off-putting. He had just sold his small start-up to Facebook, so he had money to burn.  They took trips to Cancun, St. Bart’s and Gstaad and were the envy of all her friends

But when Mark Zuckerberg’s lawyers discovered a smoke-and-mirrors scheme worthy of Enron, Beau #3 disappeared, surfaced in Fort Lamy and was under a court injunction to return.  Apparently he had offered Chadian officials a king’s ransom to let him stay until the storm in the US blew over, and they took him up on it.

As far as her professional life was concerned., Bonnie had experience in software design; and X-Cellent Industries was one of the leading firms developing a more intelligent interface between products and users.  While she found the idea interesting and liked being on the cutting edge of the IT avant-garde, she quickly became bored with intelligent refrigerators and stoves.  “Who the fuck cares?”, she muttered at her end of Bar Barcelona after another day parsing ‘eye reach’, stochastic choice, and finger distribution and how they could be applied to temperature and flame controls. “I mean, really.  Who gives a flying fuck?”.

Finally, Bonnie was having a bad time with her mother.  The two women had been having at each other since as a two-year old Bonnie had squatted down in the middle of the kitchen floor, pissed, looked up at her mother, and defiantly yelled, “No!”.  She had long forgotten what it was exactly that she was objecting to, but the hostility only got worse.  They fought about school, boyfriends, her ‘provocative’ dress, ‘bodily mutilation’ (nose rings), and insouciance.  Now her mother hectored her about her incompetent choice of men, the promising employment she so recklessly gave up, and her non-existent social life.

Of course Bonnie could have ignored her mother, screened her phone calls, and deleted her emails; but she was caught in the familiar Freudian trap of Delayed Development Syndrome.  As much as she resented her mother, hated her in fact for her intrusiveness and incessant hectoring, she had to engage her in battle.  The two were so equally matched in intelligence and wit; and so skilled at the hurtful thrust, that the bout always ended in a draw.  No matter how she tried, she could never dump her mother over the bridge.

Although Bonnie said she was unhappy, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled, she was not.  Although she never admitted it, she liked her adventures with sketchy men, fights with her mother, and affecting a scratchy, annoying arrogance with her colleagues.  One morning she looked in the mirror and said, “I am not a very nice person.”  She brushed her teeth, rinsed her mouth, replaced the toothbrush, looked back at herself in the mirror and said, “So fuck you.”

Epiphany, self-actualization, or simply waking up and flying straight – whatever the process of shucking all infantile prescriptions was – she was all for it. Not many people could look themselves in the mirror and admit that they were far from the norm and liked it out there.  “Vixen, succubus, harpy”, she yelled. “Harridan, witch, shrew….”

She was elated. She had just raided her her top drawer and dumped all her dolls, princess dresses, tinsel crowns, and prom cards into the trash and taken them personally to the dump.

The new, liberated, take-no-prisoners Bonnie had no money to pay the psychiatrist now that she had quit her job and left the reservation, but in her new incarnation had no longer had any use for him.  “What a jerk”, she said.  “Coddled and misaligned.  The most arrogant little prick I have ever met.”

She had no money for much else either; but for the time being didn’t care. “A mental colon purge”, she thought. “A cleansing of the stables.  ‘Down to the marrow’, said George to Martha.”

It is no surprise that no one knows where Bonnie Birdlow now is.  She disappeared from K Street, Facebook, and Fort Totten without a trace.  No surprise because few people can strip down like she did, realize that she was anti-social, unaccommodating, and mean, and end up with a well-paying job and a happy family.

A lot is made these days of individualism; but all reflections on enterprise, personal relationships with Jesus Christ, conservative sanctuaries in the Idaho panhandle, and outrageous viral advocacy mean nothing compared with someone like Bonnie Birdlow who chucked every convention and connection in one fell swoop.  She was exactly as she saw herself in the mirror – a misanthropic, selfish, and totally arrogant cunt.


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