I am the Mad Hatter. I am living in an insane world and yet it all makes sense in my tam covered brain. I almost delight in this insanity. Keith is the white rabbit and he was late, late, late – – for a very important date – – and I chased him right down the rabbit hole. Now I can think of 5 impossible things in every waking moment.
My white rabbit and I had already attended our tea party a couple of years ago. It was Brandon’s birthday and we decided to take him and his friends to our local hibachi restaurant – In Japan. The restaurant didn’t have birthday cakes so Keith and I slipped over to Acme to buy a cake and a really big obnoxious helium balloon. We hopped into the van and with the first turn of the key, we both recognized the grinding tired sound of a dying battery. Our window of opportunity was rapidly closing on us to get to the restaurant and hide the cake before Brandon got there. A fellow Acme shopper came out to her car which was parked right across from us. Within seconds of Keith explaining our dilemma to her, she promptly offered her jumper cables, moved her car into position, started us right up and we were off and running. Well, we were off and running after Keith charmed her a little more with his usual wit and gracious thank you’s. Despite the setback, we still managed to beat Brandon and his entourage to the restaurant.
The meal went well. Then the time came for the big cake reveal and we were sitting there waiting and wondering what was taking so long. Brandon was getting restless because he was planning on going to the movies because our local theater let you watch a movie for free on your birthday. Keith kept stalling to keep him in his seat. Finally, a manager came over to our table and announced that they dropped the cake and were in the process of replacing it. Keith still held steadfast to making it a surprise and playing dumb, asked the manager “what cake?” and gave him one of those looks telling him to zip it. It was too late though. Brandon was clued in and the surprise was on us. He sat tight as long as possible but had to leave with the entourage. About 10 minutes later, our waitress Mandy arrived with the replacement cake. She offered to go over to the movie theater to give it to Brandon and apologized for being the responsible party for sending the original cake to the floor. She also apologized for taking so long getting the new cake. Apparently, the cake decorator at Acme wasn’t available so poor Mandy had to write Brandon’s name herself. We wrapped up the cake, paid the tab, and made our way home. As we pulled in the driveway, we were greeted by Brandon (and the entourage). The air conditioner broke at the movie theater so he couldn’t see the movie. He would have to wait till next year to get a free birthday pass to the movies. What to do? Break out the cake and celebrate the many calamities of the evening – wishing Brandon a better birthday next year.
Just last summer, we went to my cousins Luke and Nicole’s baby shower. My uncle asked for volunteers to hold a cloths line and our fearless Keith hopped right out of his seat and had a hold of one end. As he looked down the line, his eyes met Mandy’s – our cake dropping waitress – and the look they gave each other was just shy of a cartoon character’s eyes popping out and jaw hitting the floor. The first thing Keith did was point to the cake sitting on the table next to Mandy and asked the shower guests if they thought it was smart having her that close to it. That’s how we found out that we were family. She recently had a birthday and I couldn’t resist – channeling the twinkle in Keith’s eye, I shot her a message asking if she would like me to bring her a birthday cake while she’s working.
I was Alice then. I marveled at the world, my life, my love, our children – curiouser and curiouser. Now I am the Mad Hatter. I leave keys in the door knobs. I wander around my life untethered and adrift. Days rush by too fast and the months drag on for eternity. I cry watching a comedy and laugh at throats being slit in an action movie. The other day I found a giant severed bird foot lying in the driveway. After checking around for the witch doctor, I scooped it up and tossed it in the trash without another thought, as if it were just an empty drink cup.
I tripped and fell into the side of the house a few weeks back. It left me with a nasty bruise and a swollen knee. Instead of resting the knee, I take two extra strength aspirin and go on a walk. The swelling rises the next day, and I take more aspirin and walk again. The next day, I can hardly stand and I again take aspirin and go walking. By that third day, I knelt down to pick up something off the floor and couldn’t get back up. Meanwhile, I started smoking again, so I’d puff away after the aspirin and before the walk. I promptly got on Chantix so now I don’t smoke but have never ending dreams – most are more sane and grounded than what my awake mind conjures up these days. Mad indeed.
I was a passenger on the back of my friend’s motorcycle. As we rolled down the road going to nowhere special, I could feel Keith in the wind, in the sun, in the sounds of road. In that moment, I was living enough for both of us – he existed in every molecule of me, more than just a part of me – we were one. The next day, I was looking through our wedding album. One page is devoted to fortune cookie fortunes gathered over the years. We used to have this running joke about adding the words “. . . in bed” to the end of your fortune so phrases such as “practice makes perfect” or “Share your happiness with others” or “There is someone owing so many thanks to you” take on a whole new comical meaning. Try it the next time you’re dining over chopsticks. One fortune floated off the page – – it read “the one you love is closer than you think”. Madder still.
Brandon and I struggle to find the peace we need between us. It boiled down to a fight. Brandon railed at me and stormed off. I followed and he started to mumble to me that he was ok, he was ok, he was ok – over and over. I stood there and said “you’re not ok, Brandon. You are not ok. Your father is dead and nothing will be the same. You’re not ok.” It sounded brutal and yet it rang true. As I spoke the words, I could see the looking glass, my own reflection in it. I am not ok. My husband is dead and nothing will be the same. Complete Madness, and yet true to my Mad Hatter nature, I am comfortable with it. I can not change it. I can not stop it. What I can do is invite all of you to a splendid tea party, complete with cake, aspirin, and fortune cookies. I’ll leave the severed jabberwocky bird foot with the witch doctor – maybe – or not – let’s see, shall we?