“man, that chick is twisted*”

Labels. Her family was into labels. As as tween, for example, pasted across her forehead was “wild child not sane.” Typical, they couldn’t commit – not sane was a more acceptable label than insane.

Ask her family, they’d say these weren’t labels – labels went on mason jars. No, these were titles like Miss America, Queen Elizabeth, Honourary Chairperson, Not Right in the Head. Over time, members of the family were assigned new titles. Somehow, the question of her sanity remained.

She looked around the table. A family gathering in honour of youngest’s most recent triumph in her not for/nonprofit world. Tonight, folks were wearing small, tasteful, gilt-edged labels. Only a few words in the titles: Mother: Empathetic Professional; Father: Creative Genius; Oldest: Athletic Quantum Physicist-in-Training; Middle: Psychopathic Historian; Youngest: Not-for/Non-Profit Princess.

She thought, “At least mine isn’t just psychopath!” Which was the wrong term for her distance from sane. Insulting, actually. The kind of thing her therapist would have her explore.

It wasn’t just that her family felt she was insane, but since everyone else was sane, she either was not sane on purpose to be a nuisance/get attention, or some multigenerational throwback. Or, her mother had strayed outside of the perfect marriage with the perfect level of intimacy to sleep with a mad man. And, even in accepting her non-normalcy (by her family’s standards), they didn’t care or couldn’t understand the hows and whys. “If they acknowledge any understanding, you realize,” her therapist said last week, “they might have to admit responsibility for your mental state.”

She sipped her sparkly, bubbly water. Glass stuffed with ice and lime wedges. Watching the people around the table over the rim of her glass. She smiled at the labels guests had applied. Scrawled, carefully printed, calligraphic, witty lettering. “Lusting after youngest mentor.” “Oldest’s lover. She’s bisexual, you know.” “Only 1/2 of couple; drinking to remember.” “God, I hate this family.” “Fawning Employee.” “Mistress of the Month.” “Slimy Literary Agent.”

She took another slight sip. She smiled across the table, nodding towards the bottle. “Not Sane & Proud of It,” smiled back, half-standing to retrieve the bottle, and add a bit of spark and sparkle to his glass. Later, they would sing along loudly to Joni Mitchell’s “Twisted.”

* from the lyrics: Joni Mitchell, “Twisted.”

Written for Just Jot it January, hosted by Laura G. Hill, January 9 “title” and January 10 “sane.”  No SoCS on movie title.

Music: Troubled Child (also about mental health)then Twisted – very tongue in cheek.

Up in a sterilized room
Where they let you be lazy
Knowing your attitude’s all wrong
And you got to change
And that’s not easy
Dragon shining with all values known
Dazzling you-keeping you from your own
Where is the lion in you to defy him
When you’re this weak
And this spacey…
So what are you going to do about it
You can’t live life and you can’t leave it
Advice and religion-you can’t take it
You can’t seem to believe it
The peacock is afraid to parade
You’re under the thumb of the maid
You really can’t give love in this condition
Still you know how you need it
They open and close you
Then they talk like they know you
They don’t know you
They’re friends and they’re foes too
Trouble child
Breaking like the waves at Malibu
So why does it come as such a shock
To know you really have no one
Only a river of changing faces
Looking for an ocean
They trickle through your leaky plans
Another dream over the dam
And you’re lying in some room
Feeling like your right to be human
Is going over too
Well some are going to knock you
And some’ll try to clock you
You know it’s really hard
To talk sense to you
Trouble child
Breaking like the waves at Malibu . . .

Songwriter: Joni Mitchell

LEADS RIGHT INTO “TWISTED”

My analyst told me
That I was right out of my head
The way he described it
He said I’d be better dead than live
I didn’t listen to his jive
I knew all along
That he was all wrong
And I knew that he thought
I was crazy but I’m not
Oh no
My analyst told me
That I was right out of my head
He said I’d need treatment
But I’m not that easily led

He said I was the type
That was most inclined
When out of his sight
To be out of my mind
And he thought I was nuts
No more ifs or ands or buts
They say as a child
I appeared a little bit wild
With all my crazy ideas
But I knew what was happening
I knew I was a genius…
What’s so strange when you know
That you’re a wizard at three
I knew that this was meant to be
Now I heard little children
Were supposed to sleep tight
That’s why I got into the vodka one night
My parents got frantic
Didn’t know what to do
But I saw some crazy scenes
Before I came to
Now do you think I was crazy
I may have been only three
But I was swinging
They all laugh at angry young men

They all laugh at Edison
And also at Einstein
So why should I feel sorry
If they just couldn’t understand
The idiomatic logic
That went on in my head
I had a brain
It was insane
Oh they used to laugh at me
When I refused to ride

On all those double decker buses
All because there was no driver on the top
My analyst told me
That I was right out of my head
But I said dear doctor
I think that it’s you instead
Because I have got a thing
That’s unique and new
To prove it I’ll have
The last laugh on you
‘Cause instead of one head
I got two
And you know two heads are better than one.

Songwriters: Wardell Gray, Annie Ross, Annabelle Short.

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