My birdbrain days are over. It’s a shame because they were a real highlight, but the doctor says that all I have to do is decide whether or not each thought is cuckoo, and then either cast it away or go ahead and believe it. It’s a riot. Like right now, I’m thinking these jeans smell like peppermint patties and that unicorn horn looks like a dick. Are these thoughts cuckoo or normal? I think the first one is pretty okay, but the second one isn’t ‘cuz there aren’t any unicorns here. Not even fake ones.
Sometimes when I pass the Mexican restaurant on my walks, I see the closed umbrellas and I think those umbrellas look like dicks. I’ve even said to my husband, “Don’t those umbrellas look like dicks?” and he grunts and we walk on, but I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated because I didn’t get an answer. That really frustrates me when I need help making a decision about a thought and I don’t get an answer.
I had a job at the Mexican restaurant for a couple days, but got fired ‘cuz a customer asked me if the refried beans were good and I said, “Yes, ma’am, but they look like a Pomeranian had diarrhea, so I’d eat them with my eyes closed if I were you.” It’s difficult, ya know, all these mixed messages? Because I’m supposed to make decisions about my thoughts, but when I tell the honest-to-gawd truth, I get fired. The world doesn’t seem to be running on the same rules Dr. Kipper gave me, so how am I not supposed to get frustrated?
Dr. Kipper says it’s important that I don’t get frustrated so I don’t pick at my skin. He also says that the reason the umbrellas at the Mexican restaurant look like dicks is ‘cuz my husband won’t mount me. I tried telling my husband that my bird-brain days are over—you can ask Dr. Kipper, I said, but I never signed a HIPAA, so Dr. Kipper had to pretend he couldn’t confirm or deny whether I was his patient, so we all just went on pretending. Maybe that’s what we’re all doing anyway. Maybe my birdbrain days aren’t over. Maybe Dr. Kipper is an honest-to-gawd liar; maybe my husband doesn’t love me anymore, and maybe the Mexican restaurant will blow up from a gas leak and it’ll all be like some cuckoo dream.
But now I’m frustrated, so I need to breathe and count down from ten and put my skin someplace where I can’t see it.
I’m trying to work on stuff for my future. My family is embarrassed for me ‘cuz my sister is a famous opera singer and I’m just…here. How my sister became a famous opera singer and I became me, I’ll never understand. I guess I just sorta took one for the team, ya know? Somebody had to get the birdbrains—it might as well be me ‘cuz I’m tough enough to handle them. My sister? My sister would crumble if she had to make a decision about every stinkin’ thought.
My husband is taking me to a new doctor today. Some guy at his work suggested him. I can just imagine what my husband said to his friend. “She’s driving me crazy! I can’t take it anymore!” That’s probably what he said. Anyway, the doc’s name is Dr. Phalen, which sounds like “failin’,” so I’m not so sure about this.
When we get there my husband sits down in the waiting room like he’s a gazillion years old. It makes me kinda sad ‘cuz I know it’s my fault. Sometimes I think about divorcin’ him for his own good, but I can’t make a decision about that thought. There are just too many other thoughts around it, like love and stuff.
Anyway, Dr. Phalen calls me back and asks me to sit down. He’s handsome—much handsomer than Dr. Kipper, and I wonder if he’s got a big dick, then I toss that thought into the cuckoo pile.
“What’s your trouble, young lady?” Dr. Phalen says with a pleasant look on his face.
I sit up straight ‘cuz he called me young lady. My mom would be so proud!
“I’ve got birdbrains,” I say. “And I get frustrated.”
He furrows his brow. “Birdbrains, huh?”
“Yessir,” I say.
“Well, the way I see it, that’s not such a problem,” he says.
“What?” I say. Then I say it again. “WHAT?”
“Birds are very intelligent creatures. Sure, they’re a little flighty, if you’ll excuse the pun, but they’re very intelligent. They play games. They do puzzles. They talk and mimic and sing. They dance. Maybe there’s just something you’re missing. Something creative.”
“Well, my sister got all those genes. She’s a famous opera singer.”
“Really? I’m a huge fan of opera! What’s her name?” he says.
He shakes his head and shrugs. “Never heard of her.”
And then I realize it. I realize what he’s doing. I start laughing. “You never heard of her?”
He smiles and shakes his head again. “Never heard of her.”
I laugh until tears are running down my face, and he’s laughing, and eventually, we settle down.
“Do something you want to do,” he says.
“When I was a kid I wanted to be an actress. I was in all the school plays, but my mom said she couldn’t pay for acting lessons and my sister’s vocal lessons,” I say.
“Take some acting classes, Gertrude. Live your life, young lady,” he says.
When I come out of the office, my husband says, “How’d it go?”
“I’m gonna be an actress,” I say.
“Oh, great,” he sarcastically says.
“You know, I’ve been thinking,” I say as we buckle our seatbelts. “Maybe we should get divorced.”
He’s speechless, but I’m not even frustrated.
Megan D. Henson is the author of What Pain Does (Dos Madres Press, 2018). Her work is forthcoming in Breath & Shadow and Silver Blade. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.