Jan 04 2006

Tales From the Infusion Room

Yassooo! I’m back from my first bout with the new chemo, and so far I am not puking, which information you were undoubtedly waiting with bated breath to receive. I know I was!

Chemo patients often bring backup to sit and amuse them through the interminable infusion sessions. I bring my sister, but the young woman in the barcalounger next to me had taken the unusual step of bringing her farrier. I knew he was her farrier because I had been eavesdropping on their conversation for twenty minutes, during which interim I had also ascertained that she runs a boarding stable outside of Austin and is a writer currently at work on a “romantic comedy.” I liked the look of her. She sorta had that English rose/ Texan tomboy thing goin’ on.

The farrier was was a handsome blonde marlboro man who, because he was carrying one of those 47-gallon insulated plastic truck stop soda steins, I at first mistook for a redneck. But one cannot judge a marlboro man by his soda stein. In fact he turned out to be a decent chap, making supportive conversation that was surprisingly erudite and sensitive for a guy who makes a living banging on an anvil. Farriers, I reflected, possibly because of the long, solitary hours spent pondering the great truths in horses’ hooves, often possess an unexpected philosophical bent. I was disappointed when he left, because they seemed to be having the kind of deep, animated discussion about her personal life that would have made excellent entertainment for the next 3 hours.

The Texas tomboy was getting a species of ultra-sadistic chemo where they make you immerse your feet and hands in tubs of ice-water for the duration of the drip. It looks like it sucks.

“That looks like it sucks,” I addressed her brightly. This gambit was not without risk in the infusion room. A lot of the patients, mostly the breast cancer ones, have been brainwashed to manifest a pink teddy-bear attitude, the one where they’re bravely “battling” their disease and can’t resist putting a positive spin on their godawful torture. OK, whatever bangs your box, but I can’t say shit to those Stepford girls who think Jesus never gives’em anything they can’t handle.

I was relieved that my new barca-buddy turned out to be the other kind of cancer patient, the kind who is only too happy to complain that the treatments blow chunks. These people are surprisingly rare, given the enormity (as a public service, I link to a definition of this grossly abused word) of the chunks that cancer treatment actually does blow.

“Oh, it does suck. Shit!” She had slumped a bit following the departure of the marlboro man, but now she perked up like a watered flower. She sloshed her feet in the ice-water expressively and launched without further delay into the gripping tale of the bad breakup and broken heart through the murky depths of which she was currently navigating without a compass. Her boyfriend of a year had apparently taken one look at her once her hair had fallen out and stopped calling her, cold turkey. He didn’t call after chemo. He didn’t call on Christmas. He didn’t call on New Years. He was totally on the lam.

This unexpected display of aversion had wounded her sorely, and the scales had begun to fall from her eyes.

“Of course it wasn’t just the hair,” she admitted. “There was something not right about him all along.” She was, she said, trying to figure out some way to tell him off and take the high road at the same time.

Because I am the world’s foremost authority on other people’s dysfunctional hetero relationships, this struck me as baloney. But one must tread lightly around women who love assholes, for their tormentors have taught them to recoil from truth. Here’s the speech I reluctantly choked back: “You’ve got fucking cancer! You’re automatically on the high road! The fucker ditched you in the middle of a life-threatening trauma! Overnight him a dead rat! And date the hot farrier!”

But she wasn’t ready for patriarchy-blaming, so I put a sock in it. She really just wanted to decant her anguished soul onto a bald and total stranger. Since I was the only other patient in there under 80, that bald stranger was me.

Wrenchingly, she confessed that her recent cancer diagnosis seemed to her like chicken-feed compared to the angst inflicted by the absentee boyfriend. She kept looking at her cell phone to see if he’d sent her a message. The heart bled for her. I’ve seen it a million times. Her future would unfold like an episode of the soap opera playing on our communal TV, with deep delusions and maybe some light stalking. Her yearning, melancholy tone was entirely too bereft of the icy resolve I knew she’d need to fully extricate herself from this bum.

“He never once told me I looked nice, even when I had hair,” she mused. And then, “But maybe he had an accident and has been in the hospital for the past 3 weeks.”

I am a spinster aunt. I could take no more.

“Dump him!” I blurted. “Dump him! For the lovagod, DUMP HIM!”

She regarded me with a wild surmise, then asked, “are you here every Tuesday?”


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  1. MzNicky

    Twisty: God, how I wish you’d been my chemo-buddy when I was being tortured. I’ve probably told you the tale of the Pink Lady for Jesus, who on my first day as a captive in the barcolounger approached me with Bible tracts and a cheery smile. When she laid that “God doesn’t give us more than we can bear” shit on me, I snarled, “So does that mean if I were a weaker person I wouldn’t have cancer?” Thereafter she avoided me.

    So glad the new toxins aren’t making you puke.

  2. Violet Socks

    Yes! You sound like you’re in fine feather so far, Twisty. I hope this new treatment goes better than the last round.

    True story: Once I had a cervical cancer scare — stuff looked bad, anxiously awaited results. Negative! Yay! Once it was all over, asked boyfriend at the time what he would have done if it had turned out I had cancer (wanting, of course, reassurance that he would have stayed by me through it all).

    He thought for a moment and said, “Well, I was worried about it, but I thought maybe I could talk you into letting me do it to you up the ass.”

    True. Fucking. Story.

  3. kactus

    Oh god I hope I never go through a break-up again for the rest of my life. At 46 you’d think I’d be a little wiser, but the pain is just the same as when I was 16–only difference is my reaction to it. When I read that she kept checking her phone in case he called her I felt such a sense of kinship. Oh, and that chemo thing sounds like it sucks, too.

  4. amelia_p

    Glad you’re back! Just wanted to introduce myself – I’m Amelia – my day isn’t complete without a good “twistyism”.

  5. Liz

    These women who love assholes so much should just go back to medical school and become proctologists.

    Now I have to figure out how the hell I’m supposed to get any work done all day since I’m hopelessly braindead in love with two bald cancer patients and a goddamn farrier.

  6. Tom

    “…the world’s foremost authority on other people’s dysfunctional hetero relationships…”

    You’re also the funniest blogger on the web.

  7. Kelley

    What a brilliant story. Brings to mind the stunts my dad used to pull while he was in chemo. The very, young attractive oncology nurses who flitted and cooed over him always asked how he was doing. Well, my poor father had to choke back the words, “I have fucking cancer, ladies, how do you think I’m doing?” Bless the man, he did find a way to deal with it. When these self-same ladies flitted and cooed and asked their silly questions, he began to reply as follows: “It’s a two-knuckle day, ladies.” When asked what he meant, he replied, “I was able to stick my finger up my nose to the second knuckle!” The silly questions soon stopped, although they continued to flit and coo. Bless the man!!!! Next time you see this woman at chemo, encourage her to fedex that dead rat!

  8. AndiF

    Glad to hear that so far, no barf-o-rama. May it continue through countless tacos.

    There may be something about farriers. We met a woman who is a farrier while hiking this summer and she was a really great found hiking companion.

  9. tisha

    And here I am, checking on Twisty whilst constantly checking for an email from an ex who doesn’t love me. Raw, recent withdrawal.

    Bloody fucking hell. I am SO turning gay. Where do I sign up?

  10. Twisty

    Sadly, gay relationships are mostly modeled on the hetero paradigm, and offer no respite from this crap.

  11. Ms Kate

    Twisty, I think you should write an inspirational book, something like Not Going Quietly: A guide to surviving cancer the Twisty Way

    Like the slacker mom book, it would probably be a surprise hit among those not of the pink teddy borg.

  12. sunny in texas

    it took me a long assed time to get over the ex. one of the things that helped me though was when i got run over by a pickup. i was in the hospital for eight days(four of which i can’t remember. i love morphine.) and he visited twice. the drummer of the band i was in was there every day and the nurses started calling him mr. sunny. the bassplayer in the band called a few times and the two of them even had practice over the phone with me listening in.
    the people who care about you and hold your hand in the midst of your troubles are the ones who matter most in your life. it took me a while to realize that, but realize it i did.
    i bet the farrier is there with her again next tuesday.

  13. Steph

    The whole thing sounds like a movie of the week. Nice girl gets dumped by cad and gorgeous stoic farrier sticks by her through it all and she doesn’t realize that he’s in love with her. Except the part where the spinster aunt is training her in advanced patriarchy blaming. That’s what makes it a movie I would actually want to watch.

    And the ice water thing completely messes me up. Chemo really is torture.

  14. emjay

    Damn. I’ve never much cared for riding horses, but you’ve made me wish I had a farrier. Just so I could introduce him as “This is my farrier, Clyde.” I think my farrier would definitely be named Clyde.

    Glad to hear you are well enough to blog, Twisty.

  15. Chris Clarke


    Just when I thought you couldn’t get any more perfecter.

  16. Liza

    And sadly, as you have probably observed in other contexts, women can be just as obnoxious and frustrating as men. That dang patriarchy, we all get trained but good.

    Still, sorry to hear that you’re hurting. Good luck.

  17. tisha

    thank you everyone for your support! sniff! I wish I had a stoic farrier too. dang!

    It must be that damn hormone, oxytocin or whatever you call it, the one the makes us “bond.” Methinks I needs an oxytocin inhibitor. Maybe I’ll just get drunk.

    Twisty, I hope you’re feeling soon, not only for your own sake but for my own selfish reasons. You keep me sane and wise. Thank you!

  18. Nebris

    I’ve been lurking here for months, a 6’5 White Upper Middle Class male. And I adore my Aunt Twisty. I love the ‘overnight him a dead rat’. And I promise not to creepily stalk you any more. =)

    Be well…


  19. Sylvanite

    It’s a shame about that woman’s boyfriend dumping her, but for some reason or other, men are apparently more likely to leave women when they’re ill. I’ve read about it over and over. Not all men, but it’s far more common for men to dump sick women than the other way around. What’s up with that?

  20. Betsy

    I have to hand it to you. It takes real “inner resources” to turn a nasty boring chemo session into a fabulously intriguing stub for a short story. Love it!

  21. tisha

    It’s true – – when my hair fell out due to a (non chemo-related) immune disorder, my boyfriend at that time started the “phone fade.” When I started sporting an expensive, Jessica-Rabbitt-styled real-hair piece, he started sniffing around again. By then I was wise to him, and kicked him to the curb.

  22. Nia

    I wouldn’t say that gay relationships are better because they are modelled on the hetero paradigm, but because there are selfish queer people and selfish straight people. End of it.

    I almost was the first person to reply to this post because the story reminded me of a friend of mine, whose partner of many years dumped when she was diagnosed breast cancer. It wasn’t even about the hair-and-boobs-loss; my friend’s partner simply couldn’t deal with my friend’s fear and tiredness and need of care and very real possibility of dying. Both were lesbians.

  23. Ms Kate

    strike that – a much better title would be Kicking and Screaming: Cancer Survival The Twisty Way

  24. jenofiniquity

    Glad to hear you’re not puking thus far. And you are the funniest writer on the web. And I wish that I had had you around to kick my butt and school me in advanced patriarchy blaming back when I was struggling through my own run-in with an asshole.

  25. RCinProv


    Your report is most welcome. But really, dear, if you want more commenters, you gotta tone down the cleverness. Who else could make make you just went through a hilarious patricarchy-bashing story?!

    I’d say thanks for sharing — but only in the hopes that you’ll slap me silly.

  26. laughingmuse

    Glad the new chemo so far is lacking in suckage!

    And oh my, I think your Tuesday chemo-buddy may be ready, in a short while, for some patriarchy blaming. She senses the wisdom in you, I hope. And SHAZAM! a hot ferrier? How fucking cool is that?

    Hopefully she will get over this boyfriend pronto – perhaps a little Twisty wisdom will nudge her to the path of self-love and wisdom as well.

  27. Tony Patti

    What wit! What style! And how very true.

    Love spurned is an awful thing. The pain is real, the blindness epidemic, and advice fruitless. Yet we know that we are better off rid of assholes.

    I couldn’t have become so entangled with my wife if it weren’t for my discovery that she was compatible with me in a variety of important ways and too nice to a fault. With anyone else, either one of us could be a victim of the selfishness of a cold heart. Together, we find shelter in each other’s natural generosity. As a bonus, I am able to express my love for her far more fully than ever before, since the level of trust between us is at the highest possible peak of human attainment.

    And I love dearly so many women, many of them ex-lovers, who I could never be happy with, that I understand why it took so long to find my wife. I used to think that love is enough. Such romantic foolishness we tell ourselves when we are denied the object of our affection in order to hide from ourselves the selfishness hiding under our apparently victimized skins.

    When I fell in love with you, dearest Twisty, I realized at the same time that we were anything but compatible, but my heart, as it does, ignored these inconvenient facts. My head, thankfully wiser, allowed my heart full reign, knowing, as I do, that I can easily love someone my whole life and be much MUCH better off never having encumbered our emotional ties with the problematic exigencies of any merely physical embarassments.

    However, I will endorse the rhetorical trope of your blog fully by claiming, even if it isn’t really true, that I would so make out with you, knowing you know that making out with me wouldn’t be much of a treat for you, but rather a cause for a vague alarm and uncharitable suspicion!

  28. antelope

    “For their tormentors have taught them to recoil from truth” – never seen anybody put it better. You just made a whole shelf’s worth of self-help books redundant.

    I am totally done with the wondering how or why they do that part, but still working on the why the fuck did I fall for it part.

  29. Jennifer

    I vote for “Fuck The Pink Teddy Bear Attitude: Cancer Survival, The Twisty Way.”

  30. Betsy

    “What’s up with that?” — Can that be a real question in your mind??

  31. CafeSiren

    Please, please, please tell me that his “boyfriend” status expired not long thereafter.

  32. piny

    I concur. Don’t give up on the dead rat, Twisty.

  33. piny

    And wasn’t there that creepy-ass article about men who “leave” their wives–emotionally and sexually, anyway–when they see them give birth?

    I think the difference is that women have been trained to be caretakers. That was what happened to elderly and sick people, before there were hospices and assisted-care facilities: the unmarried daughter would take over, and spend a large part of her life seeing her parents out. Spinster aunts and cousins also came in handy as nannies, either within their families or with other people’s children. It’s still just what women do.

  34. ampyx901

    I am another lurker who has appeared perhaps once or maybe not at all. Male, 6’1″, Democrat, liberal, across the gray divide (i.e. 56), lawyer, active in conservation causes and a local land trust NW of Houston, and a big fan of Austin, TX. Also am a regular reader of BPHD whose links brought me here originally. Glad you are weathering the latest chemo reasonably well, and my continuing best wishes for your blaming endeavors.

  35. piny

    Glad to hear you’re unqueasy at the moment, Twisty. I hope you stay that way.

    And good on you. Dan Savage has this series of columns he runs every once in a while, called, “DTMFA!” or, “Dump The (guess what?) Already!” They’re all the letters he gets from people (mostly women) that read like, “My boyfriend cheated on me with a cocktail waitress after he stood me up at the bus station when I got back from my mother’s funeral that he wouldn’t accompany me to because he said it would bum him out. My question is, he says I’m a lousy lay. How do I make him happier so he doesn’t sleep with other women any more?” I hope this woman kicks this jerk to the curb.

  36. Dr. Virago

    I *heart* you Twisty.

    That is all.

  37. Sylvanite

    Well, no. I’d just like to get some input from men. What’s up with that behavior, guys?

  38. Violet Socks

    it took me a long assed time to get over the ex. one of the things that helped me though was when i got run over by a pickup.

    I just want to say I’m in love with those two sentences.

  39. sunny in texas

    unfortunately, sometimes that’s exactly what it takes.

  40. piny

    How about, “Fuck ’em: Cancer Survival, The Twisty Way.” Or would that be too much?

  41. Jaye

    I loath that “God never gives us more than we can handle,” shit. I suppose that means those 200,000 drowned tsunami victims couldn’t handle it or the backstroke? God, he is a champ, isn’t he? Messing around in our individual lives, giving us shit to amuse himself with.

    Are you holding down your food? I miss Kerby Lane so much.

  42. Rhus

    Brilliant, as always. I’ve read it three times already. Thank you.

    I’m very glad you aren’t puking. Hope it lasts.

  43. miscellanneous

    okay, so, like, do you want us to start a fund to hire people (surreptitiously, of course) with odd/interesting/romantic-sounding careers to appear every Tuesday at the drippy Barcaloungers as long as it takes? You know: barley steeper, ice cream truck driver, zookeeper, barrel-bung-remover and dumper, flavorist, banana grader, rubber ball finisher?

  44. sunny in texas

    I loath that “God never gives us more than we can handle,” shit.

    i’d say amen, but i’m a godless heathen these days.

    i know that i personally had a helluvalot more than i could bear before during and after my dance through divorce. now i always have the desire to strangle someone when they say that.

  45. niblet

    “Date the hot farrier.” This is my motto for 2006. It could be applied to so many situations. What do you have? Can you do better? Perhaps the most wonderful person (or thing) has been there all the time. You are officially my fairy godspinster!

  46. magikmama

    But there also needs to be a taco mention. “Fuck ’em and obtain all tacos: surviving cancer on planet Obstreperon”

  47. platypus

    Twisty, here’s yet another greybearded male lurker fervently wishing you a speedy return to health and a proper taco-rich diet. More than once you have helped me shake off some of the residue of unconscious patriarchy-ingrained male complacency that still clings to me. Plus you make me laugh.

    But today your post made me tear up. I’m old enough to have friends and relations who have survived and recovered from various cancers, and yes, I have lost loved ones to it as well. I spent a lot of time sitting in the infusion room with my mother in law as she slowly lost the battle.

    I have real trouble understanding people who abandon a spouse or lover or a friend who suffers a setback like this. I’ve seen plenty of cases; fifteen years ago my wife was in an accident that left her with physical limitations and some cognitive deficits from a traumatic brain injury, and in the aftermath we’ve come into contact with many other folks with stroke or TBI. About half, I think, have suffered the breakup of their most important and long standing relationships. Men and women both bug out on their (gay or straight) partners, though I suppose the het men are most likely to split.

    I find myself thinking about all the Iraq veterans who are coming home with injuries that a only few years ago would have killed them–abandoned, I fear, not only by their government but also by the people who matter most to them.

    I do hope your new acqaintance dumps the asshole, and that the farrier doesn’t turn out to be her brother or something. And by the way, lots of decent, thoughtful and even erudite men bang on anvils for a living precisely because they are decent and thoughtful, and don’t want to participate in the (patriarchal, corporate) rat race.

    Thanks again for your addictive blog.

  48. Chris Clarke

    We suck.

  49. tigtog

    I so want to see a compare and contrast pic of the hot farrier vs pseudo-Texan GWB, both in their hats of course. Just for real laffs at the Shrub’s piss-poor pretence of genyoowine Marlboro-manning.

  50. silverfish

    Can you get a photo of the hot farrier?

  51. virgotex

    when my then 19 year old niece was going through treatment for malignant melanoma (yes my neice and my partner have both had life threatening cancer in the recent past) a few years back, her uber-mensch Mr. wonderful 20 year old boyfriend stuck by her through thick and thin every miserable and bewildering step of the way. It was of course a transformative (or is that transforming?) experience for both of them – oh god, so very very very young- it was heart breaking to see them struggle. But Russell, god love him, stood there and took care of her when a lot of men twice his age would have have booked. And of course, the second she got well and started feeling better, she dumped HIM. Mostly because she was incredibly confused by a lot things and the whole experience made her feel like she was “married” to him. So they broke up for a year or so, she dated a bunch of creeps and everyone she knew was telling her she would never find anyone else like him. He waited for her. And now they are back together.

  52. curiousgyrl

    following my perusal of this post, I read a blog containing a sterling example of ‘enormity’ use violation. Links removed to protect the guilty.

  53. piny

    Um, I just referred a patriarchy-blower to your blog for a quick intro to blaming. Hopefully, it won’t interfere with your taco proclivities. Don’t be mad, please?

  54. MzNicky

    Holy crap. Tales like this so totally fuck up my long-standing cynical opinion of humankind.

    Thanks a lot.


  55. kactus

    You’re also the funniest blogger on the web.

    Hear hear! I still get the giggles when I think about women’s sense of humor being located in their right boob. Oh lord.

  56. kactus

    I loath that “God never gives us more than we can handle,” shit.

    Me too. I also despise “Christians aren’t perfect–just forgiven.” I say forgive THIS, bitch!

  57. LCGillies

    You may be a man, but you might be a human, also. As a human, you might really love someone, and want to be with them whatever they have to deal with (and obviously that someone could be an of the four or more “sexes”). As a man, you are more likely to be consuming an object, not entirely so ever, but at a deep enough level so that when there is damage to your property you opt to abandon it rather than suffer the damage to your vanity or narcissistic self-regard that remaining with your devalued partner might entail.

  58. LCGillies

    Whatever you may think you are, Auntie Twisty, you’re one hell of a writer. You regularly wield rhetorical tools (yea, ofttimes with wild abandon) that in the hands of a lesser craftswoman would bring it all crashing down. Even chemo and staring death in the navel doesn’t seem to blunt your style. I agree with your dismal attitude about hearty get-welling, but I have to say that, objectively speaking, you demonstrate some kind of triumph of human spirit (albeit, a twisty spirit!).

  59. Ms Kate

    I feel a high and lonesome Country Western song coming on like a mad bull at the Pendlton Roundup!

  60. Violet Socks

    DAMN! I knew I shoulda called dibs! Swear to God, almost asked sunny if I could use those two sentences in poem. Or a song. Or embroidered on a pillow.

  61. kathy a

    twisty, i am SO glad this chemo is not so very sucky, and thanks for the wonderful story.

    my SIL found out she had breast cancer last summer — early stage, did surgery and a couple months of daily radiation. now she is afraid it has returned, with a new lump — waiting on results and consult with doctors. we just found out her damned nutcase of a husband has been hitting and choking her.

    SIL has been so pink-ribbon, and she declined to press charges when the cops showed up the other day. but there is a family-wide patriarchy-blaming uprising right now, covering a good 3 generations. we may send for the farrier, or advanced blaming support, but at the moment the brigade is looking to get her to safety and line up the most butt-kicking lawyer who can be found.

    what is wrong with some people? there must be some special rung of hell for a wife-beater who practices the art on a skinny, scared cancer patient.

  62. manxome

    What a twist-irrific story. My heart grew three sizes today! May the gods of non-pukedom continue to smile upon you.

  63. The Fat Lady Sings

    I am so with you Twisty on the dead rat thing. Only she shouldn’t just mail it to him – she should beat the bastard senseless with it! And you can tell her that from me the next time you see her. There are so many better people out there – hell, fuck the ferrier first, then decide if he’s worth keeping around. Those are my rules, dag-gum it. Anything’s better than some schmuck who takes a powder!

    Glad this group of drugs isn’t as bad as you feared – and its great you have lively people to keep you entertained.

  64. misspinkerton

    oh, thank god for you, twisty. seriously. i don’t have the words to describe it, but you were exactly what that woman needed. or at least what i think i would need if i were her.

    hail twisty! voice of reason! debunker of patriarchal soap-opera delusions!

  65. Twisty

    All well and good, but let’s see if I survive it first!

  66. Twisty

    This comment gets the Uplifting Post Of The Day Award.

  67. sunny in texas

    go for it! just give credit where credit is due is all i ask.


  68. Christopher

    “God never gives us more than we can handle”

    People who commit suicide seem to disagree with this.

  69. Sylvanite

    Like turning in a car for trade rather than fixing it, I suppose. :(

  70. Jane Dark

    Twisty, you are the awesome.

  71. laughingmuse

    I feel terrible at laughing at this.

    So… torn.

    And, in agreement with others, I really dislike that statement – esp. given the often patronizing, hand-patting, now-I’m-done-listening-to-your-big-life-problems kind of way.

    I think if people find strength through faith, it’s because they already have their own faith – not because someone happened to mention in passing something trite and dismissive.


  72. Clare

    There may be a special place in hell for men like that, but I’d like to believe that there can also be a special little place in hell on earth for them as well. Don’t just get a good attorney. Get a good, angry, pissed off woman attorney. As one, I know I would kick ass and then take names on your sister’s behalf and go out of my way to make your brother in law’s life as painful as legally possible. Also, as a man who gets his jolly’s beating on his sick wife, it’ll make his nuts shrink to be taken down and stripped bare (legally and financially) by a female attorney.

  73. Dim Undercellar

    I feel kind of insulted by the fact that Twisty, among the Enlightened Ones, would assume that a farrier would not be an intelligent and/or erudite person just because he has a job that doesn’t require wasting $80k to get a piece of paper saying “Huh-Duh! You is smurt!” (i.e., college).

    I suspect a horse-owning forklift driver would get a similar assumption, but I like to think I’m pretty bright…

  74. Twisty

    Why are you insulted, Dim? I believe I give appropriate props to the world’s farriers when I say that they tend to be philosophers.

  75. Dim Undercellar

    During my crash-course in Patriarchy-Blaming over the past year or so, I’ve made a special study presuppositions. I’ve become particularly sensitive to any phrase that follows the formula “[Person] is pretty [positive attribute] for a [type of person]”, for example, “She’s pretty smart for a blond” or “He’s a surprisingly erudite and philosphical conversationalist for a farrier”.

    Generally, there are two presuppositions involved in such a statement:

    1) [type of person] does not usually have [positive attribute] in any significant quantity, and
    2) [Person] only posseses [positive attribute] in a large quantity when measured relative to others in [type of person].

    So “She’s pretty smart for a blond” means that blonds are not usually smart and she’s only “pretty smart” relative to other blonds (who are, again, not usually smart) rather than the population at large.

    Compare “He’s pretty compasionate” to “He’s pretty compasionate for a pregnancy-mandating woman-hating misogynist” for an extreme version of this.

    By the same token, when you said:

    “In fact he turned out to be a decent chap, making supportive conversation that was surprisingly erudite and sensitive for a guy who makes a living banging on an anvil,”

    I read “Guys who make their living banging on an anvil are not usually capable of erudite and sensitive conversation” and “This guy who makes a living banging on an anvil is only capable of erudite and sensitive conversation relative to other guys who make their living banging on an anvil, who are, as we just mentioned, not known for any significant ability to make erudite and sensitive conversation.”

    I apologise for any inconvenience or hypersensitivity on my part.

  76. Dim Undercellar

    And I also apologise for focusing on manly “socioeconomic discrimination via language” when that’s so not the point of this blog in any way. Now that I think about it, it smacks of “Men have problems too!”, just with more red herring and marginally less whine.

    Sorry. Please disregard.

  77. kactus

    In reconsidering my latest break-up, I remembered something I’d blocked–that she started to detach herself after seeing me die on an emergency room bed and have to get shocked back to life. That was the point, I guess, where she knew she’d have to take care of a increasingly dependent girlfriend and realized she wasn’t up for the job. Oh well, good riddance, and all that.

  78. Jodie

    It’s one of those things people say when they’ve never had to deal with anything really difficult. That “close a door and open a window” thing is stupid, too.

  79. Lotus

    Oh, I sure hope so, too!!!!!!!!!!

  80. CJ

    Heya Twisty!

    I’m back – uterus and cancer free, or at least that’s what the doctors tell me. Glad to hear the new stuff doesn’t have you yarfing up your tacos!


  81. kathy a

    that hell on earth happens to be the one i had in mind.

  82. laughingmuse

    Especially if you’ve ever had to try walking through your normal-sized window.

  83. tigrismus

    I heard you get a toaster if you switch, though.

  84. Ancrene Wiseass

    Dear God.

  85. Ancrene Wiseass

    Amen to that. Even a pissed off posse of right-minded menfolk wouldn’t be enough for that jackass. He needs a pissed off, smart-as-hell, woman with a law degree on his case.

  86. Ancrene Wiseass

    So glad to hear that you’re not puking, and also very glad to hear that you’re spreading the Patriarchy-Blaming word to English Rose/Texas Tomboy types who happen to be the exes of Ginormous Asshats.

  87. tisha

    Hey, we’d ALL totally make out with Twisty, and I’m not even gay. Er, YET. Still thinking about the free toaster that comes with the switch.

  88. tisha

    ooooooooooooo . . . toaster . . . .

  89. sunny in texas

    i think that’s a wee bit of childishness coming out.
    you deserve better than that anyway.

    some of us more mature types who choose to engage in relationships do so knowing full well that diaper changing may be in our future. we hope not, but there it is.
    the only thing in life that is certain is this very moment.

  90. bitchphd

    So glad the new chemo is working, and if you see the tomboyish English Rose again, tell her to date the hot farrier. A man who spends hours probing the inner folds of horse’s hooves at least has a head start on most of ’em.

  91. Kas

    Dammit, *my* farrier is a patronising old creep who calls me “darl” (no, seriously!) and whines endlessly about the jumpiness of a couple of my horses who happen to hate men. Yes, even ponies can blame the patriarchy.

    Hope the non-pukage continues, Twisty.

  92. Ms Kate

    We can always compile your blog … it would still be vastly more honest and helpful for some people than “God loves you with pink ribbons and teddy bears and PMS, er, PMA says you’re sure as hell gonna live ’cause Jesus Saves”.

  93. Ms Kate

    You just want to loaf around and get bread in pairs.

  94. Ms Kate

    I’d be so tempted to call a family gathering, make sure he showed up, then make sure he had himself a mysterious accident involving a swim in the lake or falling through an icy pond. I’d bet nobody would see anything happen, or would know anything about it – if you know what I mean.

  95. jg

    Delurking to thank you for this touching, honest slice of life.

    We should all have old friends in our lives like the farrier — people who embody what friendship and love really are. We should all have old and new friends like Twisty who are empathetic but honest. And we should all be smart enough to recognize both when we see them, hold onto and support them in turn, and dump all the rest without hestitation.

  96. Betsy

    Which is why Miss Manners advises not getting original and creative with messages of condolence or sympathy. Any path that deviates much from the classic “I know I can’t imagine how you must be feeling right now, but you are in my thoughts. Please, let me know if there is anything I can do” is fraught with risk, from the offensive to the ridiculous.

  97. kathy a

    narrowing down the leads on pissed, smart lawyers of the female persuasion, who know the relevant law. my secret posse of lawyers has been busy today, passing info and calling on friends. got names and numbers, and more coming in.

    there has been a family gathering of sorts. my MIL drove 200 miles to yell at the jerk, and take her daughter to the ER since she was still sore [and to make a report]. SIL’s aunt weighed in, and gathered evidence of terminal jerk beliefs. mr. wonderful continues to talk himself into a corner. he seems to be behaving better, for the moment, although he “did nothing wrong.”

    SIL has gathered herself enough to know she needs to get out, needs legal help, and needs to protect her kid. she isn’t out yet, but i think her finger is on the 911 speed-dial, so that’s good.

    all this is much more effective than an icy pond…. mr. wonderful is going to explain himself to a court somewhere, soon, and only then or later will he have the benefit of fully appreciating [a] law, [b] community standards, and [c] how you can’t beat on your wife even if she’s annoying, or else your ass might land in jail. plus [d] this will be expensive. and [e] it’s his fault for being a patriarchial jerk.

    we’re on solid legal ground. but i’ll feel better when SIL is in a safe place, with a lawyer, and a court order, and whatever else it takes.

  98. Chris Clarke

    Many of which will treat one to a subsequent plummet.

  99. Twisty

    Or unpleasant shards, if you forget to open them first.

  100. Laura

    hey twisty people,

    Although this makes me sound like a bitch, my take is this… when life is easy, you stay with people who you actually dont care about that much, but like to fuck, or be with to do fun things, or enjoy the same movies as. when things get shit, you realise that you dont actually like that person all that much, not enough to suffer for them. Men realise this and leave, feel bad for a bit, have a beer, then get on with thier lives with not much come back. Women realise this, stay with the person, feel terrible, or pretend that it is love really, loose all their energy, or they are heartless bitches and have everyone they have ever spoken to shun them and hate them. I think that this is more down to the ways in which we lie to others and ourselves about sex, intimacy and friendship in a patriarchal society and the difference in societal expectations and up bringing between men and women.

    in an aside, twisty this is a great blog. anytime you feel like a stay in England, there is room in my spare room. Chemo sounds like shit, and the coming to terms with mortality thing sucks. good luck with the tacos.

  101. Ms Kate

    Gettin runover by a pickup
    Helped me get over
    gettin runover
    by you

  102. Sylvanite

    You have a point, but frankly, maybe one shouldn’t marry someone who one merely likes to fuck. Men are notorious for leaving when their wives get sick, unfortunately. Newt Gingrich, anyone? At least I think it was Newt who served his wife with divorce papers while she was recovering from cancer treatment in the hospital. I suppose women may also do this, but they don’t seem to do so to spouses as often as men seem to. Maybe these folks need to pay real attention to what those wedding vows say, and not make the decision to marry unless they’re sure they can carry them out.

  103. Laura

    agreed, marriage or a serious relationship is excepted in this. although with marriage there can be more ‘but i have to get married, cos i want the dress / tax benefits / happy grandparents, and this person is the ONE, if i squint a bit and put my head on one side…’

  104. Laura

    I speak out in favour of shallowness… some friends and lovers are great fun on a night out (or in!), and you know not to rely on them, but so what. the mistake is when you think they are real friends, but they aren’t.

    For myself, a small group of people can rely on me for anything, i will drop everything and come running. For everyone else, I am fairweather, in that i will do what i can with the time and emotions i have spare.

  105. mcmc

    I know a couple of women whose husbands I mentally categorize as “first”. I think in their hearts-of-hearts they’re thinking the same thing, from the presentation of the preselected rock on.

  106. ginmar

    Dammit, Twisty, I forgot I was reading about chemo when you got going and then I remembered.

    All that stuff about banging on anvils brings up a phrase a friend of mine used to describe her nefarious intentions toward a hot guy: “I could bang him like a screen door.” Words to live by, indeed. Hell, words to live FOR. Give the girl something to look forward to, you know?

    Get better and keep up the patriarchy blaming.

  107. Craig Ewert

    I was reluctant to pick that nit, but now that the ice is broken…

    I followed your kindly provided link about “enormity” and I find that the disparaged use has a long a healthy pedigree. The fact that you, and curiousgyrl, and I presume William Safire don’t like it leaves me unmoved.

    Contrariwise, “enormity” in the sense of “outrageous and wicked” doesn’t really apply all that well to chemo. Sure it’s horrible, and painful, and expensive, etc. But it’s just a fact of nature. Chemo sucks, but chemo isn’t evil. It’s just the best way we know (so far) to keep the cancer from killing you.

  108. Ken C.

    “A lot of the patients, mostly the breast cancer ones, have been brainwashed to manifest a pink teddy-bear attitude, the one where they’re bravely “battling” their disease and can’t resist putting a positive spin on their godawful torture.”

    From this, I suspect you aren’t a “cancer survivor”, and you’re probably not a “cancer victim”, so I guess that leaves “spinster aunt”.

    As someone who takes time out from chemo to encourage the correct use of “enormity”, you may be interested to learn that while “disinterested” has different meaning than “uninterested”, “disinteresting” means “uninteresting”. It pays to increase your word power!

  109. Twisty

    You are free, Craig Ewart, to misuse words all you want. You can even tell me that chemo isn’t a monstrous outrage. But I will certainly think you an ass for doing so.

  110. Chris Clarke

    the disparaged use has a long a [sic] healthy pedigree

    So does infibulation.

  111. Craig Ewert

    I thought I was an ass for saying so, too. Who am I to quarrel with your evaluation of circumstances way worse than anything I’ve ever had to endure? Then I remembered. If I dismissed your claim (the enormity of chemo) because you are sick, I’d be doing you an unjustice, just as if I dismissed what you say because you are penisless.

    Perhaps I should have kept my big fat yap shut and just enjoy the writing.

    P.S. Chris Clarke, if you are comparing controversial word use to genital mutilation, you commit a category error.

  112. Violet Socks

    I was thinking of a haiku:

    Forgetting him was
    hard – it helped to get run over
    by a pickup truck


    It took so long to get
    over you – then a pickup
    ran me over. It helped.

    Okay, bad haiku.

  113. Chris Clarke

    If he leaves in spring
    forgetting comes with the sight
    of pickup lea-springs

  114. Chris Clarke

    Good thing that’s not what I’m doing.

  115. Chris Clarke

    leaf springs, dammit.

  116. ampubunny

    Get the farrier to make up some special shackles with sharp pokey bits on the skin-sides for that man in the wife-beater!

  117. ampubunny

    Perhaps the farrier could bang out some specially hellish shackles for the man in the wife-beater.

  118. ampubunny

    please excuse repetition – new to blogdom

  119. Violet Socks

    Damn you, Chris Clarke, with your 17 syllables! Damn you, I say!

  120. belledame222

    What they OMFG’d. Please tell me you stuffed the toxic little fuck in a blender and made him into a homoepathic health drink, nevermind the ex factor.

  121. Will

    “Well, I was worried about it, but I thought maybe I could talk you into letting me do it to you up the ass.”

    That has to be one of the funniest things I have ever read. Either he was a total idiot who deserves to be brutally laughed at or he was an outstanding defuser of tension in difficult situations. He must have been either the best boyfriend in the world or the worst. Please update the story.

  122. belledame222

    I once had a yoga teacher of that ilk. One day I mentioned I wouldn’t be doing certain poses because I’d just had surgery to remove a melanoma (along with a good chunk of surrounding flesh). I may have also allowed as to how I was a bit on edge, emotionally, as I was still waiting for the results. Her wisdom: “Well, maybe that’s what your body needs to be doing right now.” Thanks a lot, Sunny Jim. I wonder if you’d be as philosphical about it if what my body needed to do was, say, slap you upside the head.

  123. Nebris

    Men being Dick Driven, a ‘sick female’ is no longer good breeder material, so she’s gotta go. Plain and simply.


  124. piny

    Man, are you gonna feel like an asshole if you ever learn to read.

  125. Violet Socks

    But Will, the update isn’t funny!

    Actually, he wasn’t a bad guy. Well-meaning but singularly clueless. His self-absorption was instinctual, not malicious — kind of like a pre-schooler’s.

  126. will

    Violet socks:

    Thanks. I was curious as to whether he was an idiot or just very good at defusing a situation. For your sake, I was hoping that he was making a funny remark to defuse the situation.

  127. chrissy

    when i had cancer and was scheduled for surgery, i was awiting to hear if i would also need a total radical mastectomy or just a partial. i asked my boyfriend what he thought about it and he said it would be really hard. i felt touched by his honesty and thought he meant becuase everytime he looked at me he would be reminded of my mortality, so i asked him if that is what he meant. he said, “no, you won’t have boobs.’ men can be such self centered pricks. i can’t believe i stayed with him for six more years.

  128. chickenmonkey

    this is one of the best short stories i have ever read. it was so striking to think of the chick being more torn up over some lame assholejerk than over her own chemo, health, situation. alot of us women have been there, and once you get some distance from that, you cannot believe you were ever so brainwashed to think men were that important. i think men are important but they certainly are not the end all be all our society and families would have us believe. i grew up in texas, too. i think so much of this comes from the deep south and the women and men in our own families. give him the biggest porkchop. just wait til daddy gets home. look pretty and skinny and maybe he will ask you to the prom. so lame. i am grateful i don’t exist in this thinking space anymore. part of it has to do with age and maturity, part of it from finding a really nice guy who treats me as the valuable human person that i am, not as a barbie doll accessory. part of it is finding a community of other cool women who realize how retarded the messages they gave us are and how we have eaten such ridiculous messafes. i send you all good twishes, twisty. it is ok to say chemo sux, it does. i think cancer has more to do with painting on a hostess smile and smiling thru the pain, stuffing our feelings than expressing authentically for realers how we really actually feel. so keep expressing yourself. you will be ok. i know, i survived cancer and i am still kicking and screaming and bitching. call a spade a spade. fight. the false positrons with gameshow hostess smiles seem afraid to feel, afraid to be any trouble, esp. the women. i feel sad for them. they are so fing scared. i want them to speak up, go on mountaintops and scream! realize it is unfair. get pissed off. fighting spirit helps way more than stuffing our true feelings and playing along and being “nice.’ there are even studies to back this up. but i know it to be true. roar!

  129. Twisty

    Out fucking rageous! Of course, who among us hasn’t stayed when we should have left, at least once?

  130. Sandi

    In 1992 I took my mother to the outpatient clinic for her chemo every Thursday. We had a real rapport going with all the techs and nurses. We would make a party of the whole thing, as best we could. The treatments were given in separate rooms, but we’d keep our door open so everybody could stop by. We’d bring in photos to share with everyone, and tell some outrageous stories! The bonding helped Mom keep her positive outlook going, and helped me keep it together.
    Mom and I had a fine tradition for after treatment; we’d stop at the Safeway and buy two apple fritters and a six-pack of Bass Ale for the trip home. Aaahhhhh…..

  131. Pony

    Twisty I didn’t know. So sorry. But so grateful you are here.

    (So many others in the thread. I’m surprised but shouldn’t be. So many. I’m still waiting to hear.)

    Regarding why we get hooked on shitheads even though we know they’re shitheads, and why some of us have a shithead habit worse than others:


    Could we get methadone?

  132. Kate

    Ok, here comes my cynicism, bared for all here to see and criticize:

    I was cured of the pinin’ heart disease when on welfare for a three year stint.

    At that time, a couple years out of my marriage, the men I aspired to or dreamt of wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole. “Three kids!” they would exclaim. Of course, it was that I had another man’s kids, not theirs that I think made them head for the hills. Often they would respond as if I were smeared with their father’s semen and had a giant vagina with teeth that snarled at them and threatened to consume them with its womanly breeding powers.

    Of course when a man every now and then came along that was interested, as Twisty so well stated above, I had so internalized the aforementioned male reproach, that I often questioned their motives or mental state and ran from them.

    On the other hand, grey-hairs are nice and I’ve had two very fullfilling relationships with grey-haired men and I would go that way again if the opportunity arose. High rates of testosterone are for hunting, fighting and breeding, which by the way can give you lots of empty sex along with it.

    As for Twisty: I pray for your speedy recovery and encourage you to continue to correct the younguns’ who continue to wilt and wail before the patriarchy. May all us Blamers pass our wisdom to the next generation!

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