Pandas and the NAMI Gala

John McManamy Health Guide
  • My wife Sophy tells me of the romantic days back when writers road the rails between New York and Hollywood, elegant in their casual tweeds, highball and hand-rolled cigarette at the ready, and penned their screenplays in transit.

    Well here I am, all aboard AMTRAK, somewhere between New Jersey and Washington DC, jeans and food-stained pullover, remains of a rubbery egg on a bagel, tapping out this blog on a bouncing laptop.

    Romantic, isn’t it?

    Tonight we’re steppin’ out. I’ll have on the suit I got married in and my lovely wife will look stunning in her new evening gown. The occasion is a NAMI gala fundraiser. The gala committee list reads like a Washington Who’s Who without the neocons, plus A-list psychiatrists and advocates, and a Hollywood celeb or two. We’re going as guests of HealthCentral, the people who host this blog at BipolarConnect.
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    I pretty much dragged my poor wife kicking and screaming into this. This is a bit out of her comfort zone, and in this post-Lorena Bobbit world husbands exercise their ancient dictatorial prerogative at their own risk.

    But with this illness of ours, sometimes one of us has to be Ivan the Terrible. All it takes is two bad days in a row to lose our sense of self-worth for the next two years. I could see it in Sophy, even if she couldn’t. She was like an animal who needed to crawl into a cave to lick her wounds.

    I know the feeling, and often going into hibernation away from people is the best thing one can do. But not this time. I could sense it, but I couldn’t explain it.

    Right, I thought. We’re going to this function. We’re going to buy a lovely dress and people will see how beautiful you are. Before she knew what was happening, a friend from our support group and I frog-marched her to a formal wear shop and forced her to try on the merchandise.

    Two people complementing her on her appearance was sensory overload for her, and she was still disoriented when we picked up the gown after alterations several days later.

    But I’m a firm believer in the carrot as well as the stick. We’ll get to see the pandas when we’re there, I promised. One of Sophie’s screen names is PandaGirl. She has a panda screensaver, two of her desktop widgets go to panda cams at the zoos in Washington and San Diego, and we have five stuffed pandas on our bed.

    Sophy’s on the train with me now. She’s feeling a bit better about the trip. We’ll have a nap when we get to the hotel, then it’s stepping out time. The next day is the pandas. How it all turns out will determine if I will be sleeping on the couch for the next ten years or not. I’m laying all my money on me sleeping with the pandas – with my lovely wife.

Published On: October 19, 2006