08 May 2009

A Thousand-Yard Stare

I sit outside the office of My son's school every week, almost every day I go. I'm always reading. At his prior school, I'd talk to 1-2 of the parents--if they initiated the conversation. Over here, I don't bother. I don't dislike any of them; I don't know any of them. The two are not mutually inclusive.

Most days the conversation is so much white noise as I take in economics, science fiction, history, intrigue or whatever potion I'm pouring into My brain to keep it occupied on something other than Me and My Thoughts. But sometimes what emerges from the office is too sharp to ignore.

A young mother, mid- to late-twenties, petite, not very pretty and tries too hard to overcome that, only to come off as brittle. Her son is in third grade and doing poorly. Grades slipping from B to just above D. She starts out asking quietly what the problem is. I begin to take notice as her voice becomes querulous, ragged and shrewish.

She's blaming the boy for being lazy. She's interrupting the teacher--who may or may not be competent--and berating the boy for not telling her about that day's make-up test. She segues from lashing out at the boy to telling everyone in earshot, in excessive detail (almost three minutes, by My silent count), all her problems: the divorce, her job, her upcoming trip for a Master's program, her crash diet, her divorce lawyer, his divorce lawyer, her boss and his boss... and the boy wandered off, a thousand-yard stare that didn't lose an inch when she practically shrieked at him to get back here.

I had a long list of things I was going to write concerning this incident, small as it is, in the form of a microcosm of "Our Modern Life." By My estimate, some 7-8 paragraphsm maybe a little more. But the closer I came to writing this, the more three thoughts seemed to float above the overs:

---We are not her and never can be.

---One incident does not a trend make.

---Loneliness is seen in a thousand-yard stare.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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