I happily hold forth on my pet subjects for hours. Wii, coffee, the merits of fall vs. spring, the disastrous effects of broadcast journalism, this city of supposed brotherly love, and the downfall of modern grammar. These all elicit almost immediate and well-worn monologues. But let someone dare ask for further clarification when I beg out of plans for “not feeling well,” and all I hear are the messy mechanical noises of a factory shutting down. Nope. Just don’t feel well.
Not feeling well, of course, is codespeak for feeling more like lying in my bed with a book than facing anything the outside world might have to offer. Even alcohol, even boys. Not feeling well is the same as being “tired.” Or “out of it” or “exhausted.” It means I might well more quickly into tears than conversation. It’s become my neat capsule phrase that really means, I’m not OK. I’m not fit for public consumption right now, because the scab that is my heart seems to have torn open again (or feels as though it might at any moment), and I’m trying to give myself a wide berth in case I turn fully back into that old, simpering wreck.
An ex-boyfriend called me out once, years ago, on disingenuously using the phrase, “I’m fine.” At the time, I felt unlocked. That someone saw through that cheery veneer was a powerful aphrodisiac. I used to take in the chaos around me to unburden the people closest to me, believing I had some preternatural threshold for stress. A boy who stopped to know me well enough to know that that was impossible seemed like a dream.
Eight years later, I’ve evolved into at least saying I’m fine with a voice belying my disdain. Progress, no?
Eight years later, though, and I find myself fantasizing about decking a man who told me I’m not fine. How am I a communications “professional” again? (See entry below re: being more direct. Not bloody likely.)