Tuesday, 23 September 2008

"Wake Me Up, When September Ends."

This is the story of how, last Friday at approximately 5.10pm, I tore somebody a new arsehole.


I live in a small community. Five days before my baby was born, my husband gets diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. I KNOW that is big news. I KNOW it stopped people in their tracks. I'm only just now starting to come to terms with it all myself. The trauma was fucking despicable. For those last pregnant five days, I felt OBSCENE. I wanted to hide. The news of Mr TC was starting to trickle out, and people would eye my big bulging belly, with the most horrible look on their faces. It felt like pity .... I HATE being pitied. I am nobodys victim. From the beginning, I have fielded all the questions that people would never ask Mr TC to his face. He can't believe how accosted I can get just out buying a carton of milk. It started to piss me off immediately, and I would put on a bright smile and say he was doing ok. The most annoying question, which I got a LOT, and still do ..... "Is he going to be ok?"

Ummm, let me just consult the magic crystal ball I have handy in my pocket. Let's see ...... oh, would you look at that. No. No he's NOT going to be ok. Thanks for asking!

I feel like I am already pitied in my life anyway. At parties, especially big family functions ... the fact that I don't drink is so incredulous to some people. People cock their heads to one side, and say .."Ummmmmm .... lemonade?" One of my aunties actually turned to my sister, during the bridal waltz at my wedding, and said. "Oh, so she can never drink again?" Like it was some sorrowful thing. Fuck - I am more free than most people I know. I have a peace in my life that that particular auntie can only dream of.

Anyway, so the Topcat family got dealt a most serious and heavy blow, back in May. Some people were respectful, gave me space, and didn't grill me like a fucking cheese sandwich. I had to go to a concert at Tigers school, when Monkey was 12 days old. I had him in the sling, my c-section scar was killing me, but I had to go. Because Tiger needed at least one fucking parent functioning. One husband there ended up chasing me out of the school after the concert, so insistent. How's Mr TC? What kind of cancer? Will he be ok? I told him I had to go. I am so rude to him now, whenever I see him. SO rude. How would he like, if HE was sick and some fuckwit chased his wife out of school?

That's what a lot of people seem to be missing ... empathy. And tact. And appropriateness. One woman I know saw me driving around the car park, and motioned for me to wind down my window. I did. She's like, "OH MY GOOOOOD I HEARD ABOUT MR TC! IS HE GOING TO BE OOOOOKKKKKK????" I had Tiger in the car with me. Do people think that he has no ears? How does he feel, when the clueless masses have their inappropriate outpourings in front of him? I asked him.

"Oh, I don't care mum. I know dad's going to be ok. They are just silly."

I have been open with Tiger from the start. Daddy has yucky lumps in his tummy, and needs yucky chemo to kill all the lumps. He asked me where the lumps came from, I said I didn't know. Then we were watching a show about a little girl with cancer (because cancer is EVERYWHERE, you know) ... and Tiger said: "Cancer. Is that what dad has?" And I said yes, in a very calm way. But inside, I was like "HOLY FUCK YOUR DAD HAS CANCER OH MY GOD THAT IS SO FREAKY."

It feels like people want to know "the latest gossip" when they ask me. In such a matter-of-fact way. They don't stop to think that just MAYBE, maybe just getting out of bed has been hard, let alone walking down the street with a small baby, fielding questions from idiots. I pretend I am on my phone a lot, once it actually rang when I was pretending, nearly burst my fucking ear drum.

Once I was in the grocery shop with Tiger and Monkey, I said hello to a woman that I vaguely know. She nodded back, and then, five minutes later, came RUNNING up to me. "Oh, it's YOU! I heard about Mr TC! Is he going to be ok?" I stood there, gobsmacked by her fucking rudeness, looked at Tiger, and said "Well, of course daddy is going to be ok, isn't he?" Then looked pointedly at her. She still didn't get it, and was asking me more questions. People have their own pre-conceived ideas about cancer, and base a lot of their reactions on their own experiences. I can totally understand it freaks people out ... but, I'm always left standing there, trying to convince them to be positive, that we really think there is every chance Mr TC will beat this. The look in their eyes tells me they are thinking the worst.

I am done.

Lately, I've felt really anxious when I am out in public, scouting around, seeing if anyone's about to pounce. Anxious as fuck. Not all people are like that, of course. NONE of you internets are like that. Part of me thinks, thank GOD I had to do IVF, because I started this blog and ended up getting cancer support. And love. And empathy. You have helped me to not hate the complete human race, forevermore. How I love you all. How I feel thrilled with every single fucking comment. Even if it's just about the funny box of pink nappies. I blog a lot, I blog to get it out. To pass the time. We are all doing time in Chez Topcat. We are merely existing between chemotherapy sessions. It is awful. You have helped me, which in turn has helped my family. It's people like yourselves, who I don't mind talking about Mr TC with at all. Some women at Tigers school are so awesome .... they never ask me about Mr TC. I'm the one who brings it up, which is a refreshing change. Two of them even bought me a massage voucher, which was so lovely. I've had it for months, and finally booked it for last Friday at 5pm. Dinner was made, I reminded Mr TC 10 zillion times that I needed him home by 4.30. The house was clean, Monkey was fed. Finally, I arrived at the masseuse's house. Her name is Sandi, and Mr TC built her and her husbands house. So we know them. They are nice people.

I walked up, and she was just finishing off someone else. So I waited outside, enjoying the spring air. The other lady left, and Sandi came out. With that slapped-arse face look I know so well ....

Sandi: "How's Mr TC?"

Me: "Oh, he's really good!" (He wasn't, he was really sick that day.)

Sandi: "Is he? How many more chemos?"

Me: "Umm, two."

Sandi: "Well, I have been looking non-hodgkins info on the internet."

(A personal favourite .... when people give me their expert opinion after their 5 minute googling session. SO thoughtful of them.)

Me: Silent, starting to think, shut up now please.

Sandi: Head cocked, in a very "Do you want some lemonade" way .. "So, what kind of tumours were they?"

Me: "Aggressive."

Sandi: Winces "Ohhhhh, dear."

Me: "Actually, the aggressive kind are more responsive to the chemo than the slow-growing."

Sandi: Talking very slowly, as if to a child. "Well, Topcat, not necessarily. Some aggressive ones can actually be exacerbated by chemotherapy."

(Yes, she really did say that and no, I can't believe it either.)

I start to walk backwards, and said "Sandi, I really don't want to talk about this anymore." I felt anxious and angry and upset. She ignores me, and keeps on talking.

Now, you know how I talk a lot about how I was treated so terribly when I was a kid, how I had no voice, and could never speak up for myself? Yeah. So, I do not have that problem as an adult. As Sandi found out.

I start crying, she come close to me, all with the pity. Puppy dog eyes, yes dear, I know it must be so hard, lucky you have me to tell you how bad your husbands prognosis REALLY is. She went to hug me, I pulled away, and with a very tight, strangled voice said ...

"For fucks sake. All I wanted was a fucking massage!"

She was shocked. Probably hasn't heard the f-bomb in ten years, she is so straight. She is a nice person, but unfortunately has taken top honour in the "What NOT to say to the spouse of someone with cancer" game that I play every single day.

"Seriously! I am SO SICK of questions like this! How the fuck am I supposed to know if he is going to be ok! I DON'T FUCKING KNOW SANDI. He might die! He might go into remission! Everywhere I fucking go, it's all people want to talk about and I am SO. Fucking. Sick of it!"

She started apologising.

"Look, I know you didn't mean to upset me, but I just don't want to talk about Mr TC! If you want to know how he is, YOU call him and ask him yourself! I came here to feel better, not bloody worse! I don't want to know what you fucking googled! I just want to get through this time with some bloody dignity and respect."

At that, she started saying how much better I would feel after a massage. I told her I was in no mood for a massage, I was all churned up, and just needed a big cry. She was so freaking condescending without realising it, and told me she can "work really well with people who wanted a big cry." Ummm - she made me cry! Dipshit alert! Like, she could work her magic on the poor upset wife. What a hero.

I said no, I don't want a massage anymore, I'll ring and re-book it. She felt bad, so I told her that it's ok, I was just having a bad day.

I got in my car and started driving off. She came running out, calling my name. I looked around, saw I hadn't forgot anything, and thought fuck you. I just reversed up her drive, tears falling, wheels spinning, ignoring the fuck out of her.

I drove off, and came home. Had a nice shower, and ended up taking Tiger to see Wall-E. It's my brothers favourite movie too.

She rang and left the world's most annoying message the next day. "Oh, Topcat. Whatever it is I said that offended you I apologise."

In that moment, I thought, I am NEVER getting a massage off you, you dumb idiot. Mr TC was all "Call her back hon! She'd feel so bad!" He went and got me the phone. I said "Mate! You are NOT the boss of me! How about how I feel! I am not calling her ... and I am NEVER getting a massage from her again!"

I will see her again, and I will explain to her - nicely, why her words affected me so. The most annoying thing is the fact that my back kills! I need a fucking massage!

Ok, during the time it took to write this post .... Mr TC came in with the mail. Stacie from Heeere Storkey Storkey posted me a t-shirt. But, not just ANY t-shirt. Can you believe what I just opened?

The timing of that is proof that God has a sense of humour. Thank you, Stacie. From the depths of my jaded little heart. I'm going to wear it .. A LOT. When people ask me dumb questions (and they will) I shall point to it. Oh yes. Yes I truly, really will. LOVE IT.



Stacie said...


Tee said...

I know I'm supposed to be in this euphoric love and peace higher energy place at the moment? BUT SOMEBODY GET THOSE FUCKING GIMPS AWAY FROM MY SISTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bleu said...

I think I have a great idea for you. You should get some printable business cards if you don't have them already. Then print on them "The only thing you should ask is how I am and if I need anything!" Or some such thing and every damn time some twit says some shitty thing hand them one, seriously just hand it over and walk away.

Does anyone just say hi and maybe a is there anything you need and that is it??????????

GRRRR I am so angry for you.

Big big hug and an arm to punch right here hun.

Olga said...

I am shocked at how insensitive some people are - like they are rubber-necking (do you use that word in Oz?) your life. You do what you have to do to protect your heart, your sanity and your family. And if that means someone's "delicate" ears get exposed to the f-word a few times, then so be it. You rock Topcat, hang in there. And BTW, I LOVE that Greenday song :)

Rachel Inbar said...

People can be really, really stupid and insensitive. The shirt is perfect. I'd have, "I really mean it" printed on the back...

Vee said...

Gosh, Stupid bloody people! They have no freakin' idea.

I just get the "be positive" spiel which pisses me off in the same way. What happened to empathy ?

I love the T-Shirt, it's perfect.

Geohde said...

Fuck, TC.

SOmetimes living in a small community really blows. People do tend to be all in each other's business.

And the goddamn gossip.

I did it for a short time and it drove me insane- and my husband didn't have the big C.

Love the t-shirt.


OHN said...

It is so ironic that people that think they are "helping" are actually making your blood pressure spike. There is a fine line between caring and being nosy and sadly most people cross that line without a thought.

MrsSpock said...

Holy fuck. Some people really have their heads up their asses. She deserved the reaming she got.

LOVE the T-shirt. How fitting.

Wordgirl said...

It is amazing how fucking dumb people can be.

Honestly. And for a MASSEUSE???? She's supposed to be a place of refuge. Oh I don't like her one little bit.

In my perfect world you could drive your car straight to my house and Tiger and W could get into boy things and Mr TC and G would go to the garage and G would show him the latest thing he rigged up in his truck during an all -Sunday project...

I truly admire your ability to tell people when they've been assholes -- I'm just sorry you have to.


Love to you my dear Topcat, Lots and lots of love,


annacyclopedia said...

Bloody hell! I literally cannot believe how some people can be so stupid. They must have no insight into themselves - how else can they be so utterly clueless? And for her to leave that message - she doesn't even know what she did!

You are right to never get a massage from her - how could you possibly ever trust her to take care of you in any way when she clearly lacks that part of her brain?

Fucking people pushing their own agendas. So sorry you had to deal with that when you were so looking forward to getting some time where you were number one.

Love to you, dear TC.

battynurse said...

People can be so fucking stupid in their "need" to get the latest gossip. I'm sorry you had to deal with all of that and all that continues to go on on a regular basis. I like Bleu's idea. I also really like the t-shirt.

Marie said...

I am a lurker but feel the need to tell you "GOOD FOR YOU FOR SPEAKING UP". I love the shirt and I hope you wear it a ton. Your boys are adorable and I think you are doing an AMAZING job.

I look forward to reading more. Your words are your pain but as soon as you post I feel that they are inspiration to others.

Beautiful Mess said...

I got this same kind of stuff when my mom passed? I HATE the question "are you OK?" Well WFT do YOU think? "Of course I'm NOT OK, my mother just died!" I would always turn around the conversation and make the other person feel uncomfortable. I'm mean like that. I like Blue's idea of the business cards! Feel free to kick anyone who does that again, and if you get in trouble for it, just send em my way ;o)

Sugar and Ice said...

Oh my gosh...every bit of that sucks...except the t-shirt..now that's funny.

PaleMother said...

"Oh, Topcat. Whatever it is I said that offended you I apologise."

(silently) GAH

(frantically waving hand in the air)

OOOO ... ooo!! ... me! Pick ME!!! ME, me!!! CAN I PLEASE be the one to explain to her the *whatever* part?

Her behavior was *horrible*, but this last bit ... *Whatever* it is I said!!?!! Like her offense was some minor, subjective, dog-whistle obscure thing that exists only in *your* peculiar and over-sensitive mind?!

AHHHAAAHHHRRRRRGGGG! (That was the sound of me growing viking horns and ripping out my axe ... good thing for her there's an ocean between us).

(evil grin) You don't, by any chance, happen to have this doddering broad's email address do you? We could fill her box with ... enlightenment.

Bless Mr. TC ... don't you hate it when less vengeful people worry about the feelings of/defending the people who MAKE you VENGEFUL? My mother pulls that S*** on me all the time. It's like walking up to someone and punching them on a bruise. How does she think I got this way? Oh no, seriously, Mom, you're *right* ... technically, muggers and rapists have feelings, too. Thanks for reminding me ... because I'm so selfish that way.

I LOVE blue's card idea ... It could work nicely. Add the footnote "Printed by TC's internet posse ... who will *peel* you like a *grape* if you add *one* ounce of stress to this woman's waking hours today."

You know, this is fantasy, but ... ideally you should not have to defend yourself from these dolts ... we should be able to do this for you. We should follow you around in shifts (silently, so you don't have to spend any uneccessary energy minding us) like paid professional body guards ... and when someone attempts to pump you, we could pull them aside and explain it to them nicely ... Tony Soprano style.

I know I've said stupid things to people in my life, but now the last few years have really taught me in painful detail that discretion really is the better part of valor. You should put that on the card, too.


PS. I'd sooner strangle myself than let that woman give me a massage. She needs to refund your friend's money, because they didn't pay her to make you *more* miserable.

Pixxiee said...

Uh huh. Oh yeah. And don't you love the ones who say "oh how is so and so doing? my brother in law/best friend's nephew/father's friend's wife had that kind too, and he only lasted three months!" Fuckers.

It feels like people are gawping at a car crash, kinda hoping to see blood and guts. And then when they do see the blood and bits of body, they feel important, like they can say to their friends "oh yeah, I was there". It's such a human thing. And not a nice thing at all.

Dang. I wish you had a friend you could unload on in real life. Ya know. A neighbour or something. But those kinds of friends take a long time to build up, to trust. I'm glad you have us internets. And I'm glad you have your sisters.

Oh and Tiger rocks. I love him.


Gemini Girl said...

I am so lucky I dont know or care to know, my neighbors.

I hate people being too into my business. I can only imagine what you're going through (as my husband is from a community just like yours and when i am there the pple seem to know or want to know everything about me- and also feel free to put me down on my weight gain).

I am truly happy you told her off- as I believe it will make you feel so much better next time pple ask you. You needed to do that. When you told her how you felt, it was as if you told EVERYONE how you feel. And that's something that you needed to do.


Wish I lived by you, u could have come by my apartment and we would cry together.

Vacant Uterus said...

Oh Topcat, this post made me just cry for you. From anger, from sympathy from sheer frustration and sadness. Does no one ever offer to just cook you a meal?! Or watch the kids for a few hours so you can blog or take a walk or shop or just stare at a wall if you want to? I wish I could box up some of that and send it your way. "Is he going to be okay?" WHO ASKS THAT?!

Just...yeah. I'm sending you hugs and love and wishing there was more I could do for you from this distance.

Love the shirt, wear it often!

Vacant Uterus said...

Oh Topcat, this post made me just cry for you. From anger, from sympathy from sheer frustration and sadness. Does no one ever offer to just cook you a meal?! Or watch the kids for a few hours so you can blog or take a walk or shop or just stare at a wall if you want to? I wish I could box up some of that and send it your way. "Is he going to be okay?" WHO ASKS THAT?!

Just...yeah. I'm sending you hugs and love and wishing there was more I could do for you from this distance.

Love the shirt, wear it often!

Evil Stepmonster said...

I watched Ice Age 2 with my Tiger on the weekend, at one point Ray Romano's character (Manny the Mammoth) is apologising to Queen Latifa's Mammoth, naturally everyone's lives depend on her accepting the apology.
"I'm sorry if what I said offended you"
"That it offended her! That it offended her!" everyone else screams.

Don't ever ring that woman back TC, you should not have to explain yourself to a fuckwit like her, and she doesn't deserve to be let off the hook. I hope she's smart enough to be stewing in her own stupidity. Honestly, I can't believe the shit you have to deal with.

Love the shirt! Wear it proud, wear it often!

anna said...

The t-shirt is absolutely perfect. Some people seriously need lessons on how to interact with other people, I swear!
And your comment about forgetting to make friends is wrong- you've got friends from around the world connecting with you daily. You are raw in front of us, and we just love you more for it!

Anonymous said...

It sounds as if she has kind of trivialised the situation. I wouldn't waste my time with her. If she didn't get it when you were talking to her, she won't get it ever. Good on you for ripping her a new one. Love the shirt!!!!!

tobacco brunette said...

I thought those massage-y types were supposed to be all grounded and know how to deal with people and stress? That's really one of the most ridiculous stories I've heard. It's not even in the category of "what not to say." It's beyond that realm.

I'm disgusted by her and is she really so stupid that she can't go over the conversation in her head and figure out what may have made you speed away in your car? If not, she's a total asshole and I wouldn't waste my time with her.

Or, you know...you could be bigger than me and explain it and make nice.

Almamay said...

Two things.

1. There is no reason to make this woman feel better about her behaviour. I believe that by doing so it might be called 'emabling'. Anna chose to behave in the way she did and she must now live with the consequences. You aren't punishing her, you are just reacting to her behaviour in a very natural way. Your emotions are as valid as hers.

2. In my previous job I used to licence special treatment therapists. Basically, we do checks on people doing massage, facials, nail etc, anything where the treatment involves touching people to make sure they aren't dodgy. I also licensed door supervisors (bouncers). I've never met an angrier, nastier bunch of women than the special treatment therapists. I am sure there are some kind ones but I can't say I met one nice one in any of the hundreds I've met. The bouncers were angels in comparisson and that isn't a ringing endorsement.

nancy said...

That's pretty fucking apropos.

That's good you got it out. Maybe if you got it out with each person, the whole race of humanity would finally "get it".

Nah. Probably not.

Carrie Ann said...

wow, she is cluelessly inappropriate = stupid. Love the shirt!

meaghan said...

It is shocking, isn't it? When my sister was dying of cancer, someone asked me how things were going and said they could empathize - cause they just lost their cat!!! A professor I asked for an extension on an essay said to me (when I handed it in) oh, you look much calmer than last time. You must have come to terms with this.
Yup. There are all kinds out there. And sadly, they all seem to pop up when you are least armed.
Whether you always feel like it or not, you are an amazing person and amazing monther. And coping unbelieably well considering the deal you have been given recently.

I wish someone - your sisters perhaps? - would tell this woman what a jackass thing she did. A kinder and more sensitive person would have just offered a peaceful place for a short break from everything, would have implicity understood that what they could offer you was a massage. She is clearly an idiot, and your friends should get a refund and get your massage from someone with an ounce of sense.

Pam said...

I think the best thing to do would be to just send her this post. You are an amazingly talented writer and storyteller, you somehow can get your reader to conjure up the emotions you must have been feeling....I think all she needs to do is read this post, and she'll totally get it.

vamplita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vamplita said...

Sheesh. You could've just as easily entitled this entry, "...And That's When I Beat Her to a Bloody Pulp, Your Honor".

With people as vapid and self-involved as ol' Anna running around, it seldom shocks me when folks go absolutely mental and whup the everliving snot outta other folks. I mean, seriously; there are just some things ya don't do...like, ever.


Diana said...

I cannot believe how many stupid people you encounter on a daily basis. You need a shirt that says "Don't talk to me unless you can prove you don't suck!"

I wish you lived nearby, you would have been welcome to my house. I have Hershey kisses on the coffee table. Let me know if you ever want to jump a flight to LA. :)