Stand and Stare
Tuesday, Steve has a hideous day. He had gone to the doctor and been diagnosed with depression. He asked for something to make it stop but, thankfully instead of pills, the doctor prescribed talking it out with a therapist or someone close. His mother, he said, he could talk to her.
Afterwards he went driving in his new car. He pulled over somewhere and sat thinking. When he was ready to go on, the car wouldn’t start. So a call to Webster’s towing service and a ride home with Kevin for him and the car.
And over the road they came, like a pack of angry chickens. Liz, Michelle, Tony, Lloyd and Andrea. Andrea, who had seen him leaving the clinic, was the only one to not want to peck him to death. He focused on his mother, trying to tell her he needed to talk to her. But she and Michelle focussed on telling him what a complete waste of oxygen he was. Lloyd and Tony kept close, waiting for the kill.
We viewers all can see that Michelle hasn’t once wondered what’s wrong with Steve. All she can think is that he’s gone off her, that it’s her fault somehow. How self-centred, we say, that she can’t imagine that something in his head is not about her. But have you not felt the same when someone is distant from you? The thought that something else is going on may occur to you, but mainly you’re going to fret about what you have done, why they are mad at you.
Unlike Michelle, Liz isn’t thinking that she is the reason for his weird mood. Maybe it would slow her down, and give him a chance to tell her what’s wrong, if that thought did cross her mind. She is simply furious with him for letting everyone down, so does the mother thing of ‘a good talking to’. This is for sure a time when the other motherly response, a listening to, is called for.
The best way that stories teach is by showing someone or something from all sides. We see how insensitive or counterproductive words or actions can be because we know what is going on from each character’s perspective. Fictional emotional turmoil allows us to be totally removed from it. We have no horse in the race, so we can watch their jockeying dispassionately.
The poem Steve quoted from, as his justification for doing nothing, is Leisure by W. H. Davies. Steve may as well recite The Cat in the Hat for all the attention anyone is actually paying to him.