Frehel Diaries: Bunni's Bluff
Anyone who knows me knows that there is only one time to really panic-when I am quiet. Even if I'm yelling at you, you're better off than when I am seemingly polite, but completely silent. After all, I talk to my cat, my computer, cookbooks, the TV, and the apartment in general, so if I'm not talking to you it means you are ranked even lower than inanimate objects. Luckily, the Sauvage's parents had pretty much ignored me since the first day, and so no one really noticed that I didn't speak during lunch.

The only time the Sauvage's parents noticed me was when the Sauvage began to scratch his arm. His self basting technique had either resulted in an allergic reaction OR a variant of prickly heat. When the Sauvage began to scratch and complain, I shyly smiled because it's FUNNY. (You can see in the photo here the results of his "treatment") If I broiled myself with tanning oil after getting a sun burn, not only would I have laughed at myself I would build entire comedy routine around it a la Patton Oswald. But the Sauvage's mother noticed and pointed out to her husband that I laughed, yet another misstep for little Miss America here. I quickly hid my smile and went back to being invisible.

Afterwards, we head to the beach as usual. Except Nana wanted to go to a different beach. So we drive, me silently sitting shot gun-arms crossed. I just want to walk on the beach slowly and alone like I'm in an 80s power ballad music video. Let my tears roll into the sand as I try to tan, instead of trying to hold myself together in front of this child who I don't really like. Eventually we arrive not to a beach, but a rocky bay. It's a treacherous walk down to the water for me, and when I get to the bottom, Nana has decided she doesn't want to swim here. (You can see the beginning of the path to the "beach" on the right. Notice how you can't even see the water. ) The walk down was treacherous, but the walk up is almost impossible. Because I am now persona non grata, no one bothers to help me as I struggle up against gravity and the elements. Just as well. If they did, in that temper, I might well have pushed them to their deaths.

After I get to the top, I am furious. It's one thing to put up with the tyrannical child of your boyfriend, it's another thing to put up with the tyrannical child of who's who in terminal narcissism. When I get to the top, I get in the car I ask him, basically, "What the fuck?" He says shortly that Nana wants to go somewhere else. I tell him in my broken French that walking up those stairs was painful and difficult especially since I just want to be alone. He tries to yell at me, but even deprived of language a bitch like me knows enough to fight. "You talk to me like a dog," I say" 'Come' "Sit' 'Wait' but I am NOT A DOG." He ends the "conversation" quickly by telling Nana, who has been playing rather than climbing the stairs, to come quickly. When she gets in the car, he snaps at her that she can't complain about the next beach because climbing the rocks here was difficult for me. As if my comfort was even a consideration.

When we get to the next beach, a small sandy strip, there is the usual trek to a far point on the sandy beach. They finally settle themselves-the Sauvage concerning himself with Nana exclusively. After he settles her, I tell him I want to go back to the hotel. It would only be a five minute drive for him, but he looks at me blankly and asks me what I want to do. I tell him the same thing I've been saying this morning I WANT TO BE ALONE. I know enough French, and repeated it enough times to know I am saying it correctly. He could easily offer me a ride to the hotel. It would just be a five minute trip in the car, but he just keeps looking at me blankly. Finally I say I'll walk back, but he tells me to stay. The walk, which I could do, is a daunting task. So I turn my attention to the rest of the beach hoping something in the sunny horizon will rescue me from this nightmare.

Most of the beach goers are families, and so I take my camera out and begin to photograph them. I am fascinated by how families play and communicate with each other, how they relate to their environment. If that sounds cold and distant, it probably is as well as the most likely reason I don't have a family myself. After a while though even my anthropological studies of French beach going families began to bore me. I thought about going in the water, but somehow it didn't appeal to me.

To the right of the beach were some rocks that led to a grassy bluff. I saw some teenagers climbing up. All I wanted was to be away from the Sauvage, even if it meant risking my death on a French beach. So I got up, and without saying a word headed for the rocks.

"Time to show this motherfucker a little bit of the American 'Can-Do' attitude" I thought as I quickly scrambled up the rocks. The climb was actually pretty easy even in sandals. Half way up I turned to look back and saw the Sauvage watching. He didn't wave or show concern, if he was concerned. And me? As I reached the cool and grassy top, I don't bother to look back before vanishing to the other side. I liked it much better there-the cool air and the butterflies, far from the families and the couples.

No one else was there, and so I found a little spot and sit. I looked out at the French Sun and sand and every drop of that French ocean and swor e that by everything I saw, I WOULD GET A BOOK DEAL OUT OF THIS TRIP. Happy ending or not. If I can go to travel to Paris on my own and have insane adventures, than getting a book deal out of it should be simple.

But even looking out at the ocean, I don't believe it. I'll return home enormously depressed because now I've utterly failed romantically on two continents instead of just the one. There will be a dearth of emails/phone messages. I'll desperately try and scrounge up someone to come with me for wings and beer and the usual post break up rant, but everyone will be too busy. And instead of writing, I'll slowly give into a haze of vodka tonics, late nights, tear soaked pillows, and puffy eyed mornings. Because I just don't have the energy to write the Great American Novel. I barely have the energy to promise that I'll write the Great American Novel because I've wasted it all on running after idiot men who give give more consideration to the type of toilet paper they are going to buy than my needs.

I looked out at that sun and the water and remembered that Nietzsche once wrote that Woman was God's Second Mistake. "Clearly," I thought to myself, "France was his first."

Just for the Record: Cancer isn't always fatal
OK here's the story behind this post:

Last night I decided to go out and enjoy a cocktail. I mean it's saturday night and why the hell not? So I am being chatted up by, well, let's be honest an idiot. He was about 6 foot 4 and kicked off our conversation with several short jokes. Brilliant tactic, if what you want to end up with your body parts scattered across NJ in unmarked baggies. To try and get my phone number? Not so much. He was also cock blocking me from the pack of hot cute guys who were drunkenly roving around the bar like puppies. (There was a big college grad group there.)

So, we end up in a conversation about what kind if insanity we have witnessed in bars. And I tell him the story where I saw a guy and girl fighting-and the guy came out with "YOU BROKE UP WITH ME WHEN I HAD CANCER YOU BITCH!"

And his response? "Well, I mean if you have cancer you are going to die. It's a death sentence, so why would you want to put someone through that?"

Um, what?

And see this is why 1. I drink and 2. I should just stop talking to people.

Incidentally this isn't the first time I've heard this. Some of my students at NYU have echoed the exact same sentiment.

So let me make this CRYSTAL CLEAR. Not all cancers are fatal. When initially diagnosed there are a lot of factors to consider including the type of cancer and how early/late it is detected. Furthermore, even with the most dire cases, you never know. For example, I know a guy who was not only diagnosed with terminal cancer, but given at best 6 months to live. That was 6 YEARS ago, and he is still hitting on chicks. I was diagnosed with an aggressive often fatal form of cancer, and, well, I'm still here. (No, I am not blogging from the Great Beyond.) Lucy Grealy, who wrote Autobiography of a Face, was diagnosed with a cancer with a 1% chance of survival. Yet live she did.

So here is it kids- cancer IS NOT always fatal. And even with an outstandingly poor prognosis, some people manage to defy expectation. Now do people still die of cancer? YES, but that doesn't mean all of us do.

This comment from an adult should make you wonder what a child with cancer might be asked by his or her peers. Their classmates are likely to be even less informed, and the parents of their classmates may be filled with misinformation, or even worse, prejudice. While it may seem strange to hate a child who is sick, hate is often caused by fear. Parents filled with a zealous desire to protect their children from unfortunate truths or the disease itself may cause an already sick child even more pain by unconsciously heightening the fear by failing to discuss the illness or some issues surrounding it. This fear driven hate can result in insults, ostracism, and even death threats, like this case of a child with leukemia receiving multiple death threats on her blog. If the child is in a school system like the one I grew up in, he/she may find the school authorities less than willing to help ameliorate the situation by intervening when bullying occurs or by relaxing certain requirements that may be difficult to fulfill (in my case by refusing to change or eliminate the gym requirement while I was in a wheelchair). And this isn't even taking into consideration the toll the actual cancer and the treatment may take on the child itself.

Now this is not to say that childhood cancer will inherently result in a nightmarish social situation. There are, again, multiple factors at play. How are the parents coping with it? How old is the child? What is the attitude of the current school administrators? Are just a few factors that will figure in to how the community reacts. Sometimes a community will really rally and be key in the child's treatment, other times it will be a hindrance.

Whatever the case, cancer is painful and difficult without having to deal with comments from misinformed schmoes. So schmoes take note.


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