Almost typical exchange I have to endure from time to time:
Well Meaning Person: Oh, Are you on chemo?
Me, Always Shocked by the Amount of Tact Lacking in Ms. Joe Public: Um, No.
This is the part where I should just stop. Just stop and wait for whatever the fuck this person can say now, after opening up this almost literally*
deadly can of worms. But I always continue, with either an explanation of The Truth
, or as for today, just, no, I just keep my hair real short. No muss; No fuss!
Now, let’s discuss. I know you are a Well Meaning Person, but is this really any of your business? Let’s say I am on chemo. Do you think I really might want to discuss my private medical situation with a complete stranger? Maybe I’m having a bad day, and facing death right in the face, because you know, I might be on chemo, do you think I want to discuss it? Maybe I should just burst into tears right on you. And tell you my prognosis is two weeks, if I’m lucky.
Why, why, why, oh Well Meaning Person, would you address what must be such a Sensitive Topic with a Complete Stranger, in a Public Place?
The best part of these impromptu little conversations, is that the Well Meaning Person always feels if not bad, at least awkward, and as for me? Thank you so very much for reminding me of the personal demons I have wrestled since I was a child of eight, or even further back, if you want to go all technical and bring up the teddy bear whose fur I pulled out as a child of two. And thanks for reminding me that I have no hair, and that I wear a bandanna and stand out if not as a freak, than at least as a person who has no hair. Because you know what? I have to face myself each and every day in the mirror.
And you know what else? No freak there. Because I am not my hair. Say it with me now. I. Am. Not. My Hair. I am happy. I am healthy. I am smart and funny and talented and clever. I have a butt-load of friends who respect me, and adore me, and want to be with me, and who miss me when I’m gone, and who are not ashamed of me, and oh, something else? I’m not ashamed of me either.
I grew up believing I was ugly and unlovable. Freak-like, if you will. And I met the best man ever, a true Renaissance Man, who is smart and funny and talented and clever as well, and he loves me for me, because I am not my hair.
* Almost Literally:
Because they brought up Cancer, and because I just might kill them.
Well, that was a rant.
But my favorite typical exchange is this:
Well Meaning Person: Are you on chemo/in recovery?
Me, Always Shocked by the Amount of Tact Lacking in Ms. Joe Public
Why yes. Yes I am. From Heroin.