Sunday, March 27, 2011

I make all my best decisions while watching Grease

That’s what my sister said I should name my autobiography after I told her the following story.

I love the movie Grease. I always have. I saw it for the first time with my sister, my cousin, Kelly, and my I-was-too-young-to-know-I-shouldn’t-have-a-crush-on-my-super cute, cool, older cousin, Brad. That they took us to any movie bode well for how much I would love it.

The music was great, as were the performances, and I don’t know a single girl my age who didn’t dream of being black spandex, curly haired Sandy. I’ll admit right now that I dream of it to this day. In my advanced age of 35, I’m sure I could still do the part on Broadway if out of sheer love alone.

Grease came out when I was eight. Three years later, after countless viewings, (and this was before VCR’s, mind you) I saw it once again on television and it changed my life forever.

I tried to kill myself.

I know. It’s crazy. But I remember watching the ending and getting that feeling I have always gotten (and still get) of possibility, joy, and how beautiful friendship is, and I thought, I will never be that happy. So why keep on with it? (It’s worth noting at this point that these thoughts did not occur in a vacuum. I’d been struggling with sadness, depression, and suicidal thoughts for as long as I can remember.) But on this night, while my sister sat on our sofa, (ok, it was really a twin bed with a bolster back—we were poor.) and my mom was with her boyfriend, Allen, I started counting pills.

WARNING: If you are ever going to off yourself, don’t do it with Tylenol. I’ll tell you why later, but in case you abandon this essay before then, just trust me. Tylenol is not the way to go.

I counted out the amount I was sure would do the trick and stood in the kitchen swallowing them, one or two at a time. I went into my bedroom and addressed a note to everyone in my family: every aunt, uncle, cousin, sister, mother, father, brother. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I know that I expressed something I’d been feeling for years: My life was a mistake. God had screwed up by putting me on Earth. I knew that I didn’t belong, that this was not my home. I did not include in the note that for months I’d cried myself to sleep, begging God to kill me, waking up disappointed at another day, solid in my conclusion that God didn’t love me or he would have taken me home. How could anyone who loved me keep me in this hell against my will? There was a time I thought I was an atheist. Now I realize that I did believe in God, I just thought he was a Motherfucker.

So I took matters into my own hands.

I don’t remember exactly how I felt when I went to bed that night, but I think I was scared and relieved. And ready. God, (Motherfucker!) was I ready.

Three hours later I bolted upright in bed, two thoughts shotgunning one after the other:
--I’m still alive (surprise and horror)
--I’m going to throw up. Now.

And for the love of Motherfucker, I did. I spewed bile for three days. I ended up in the hospital—everyone thought I had a bad case of the stomach flu, and I didn’t disabuse them of the notion. (Not until several weeks {months?} later, but that’s another tale.)

Which brings me back to my caution about Tylenol and suicide. Technically, it can be done, but if you are off even a little, your pancreas will make you pay like you cannot believe. You think you wanted to die before…

So while I sometimes agree there might be too much violence on television, I can’t lay the ills of the world there. Aside from Eugene hitting the coach with a pie, and Kenickie blacking out from an accidental blow to the head, there certainly wasn’t anything in Grease that would push the average mind over the edge. Although truth be told, that wasn’t the first time (or last) my non-average mind has led me to places others would prefer not to go.


  1. I'm not sure I'd call that a "best" decision, but thank you for sharing this story! It's interesting how the mind connects things to our memories — a smell, a song, or a movie — then experiencing that trigger, even years later can bring back such powerful memories.

    I'm glad you were able to fight through your depression and feelings of sadness and find some joy in your life : )

  2. Well, "best" is tongue in cheek, for sure. I had been discussing with my sister a few other major life decisions I'd made over the years because of Grease--some of them a little healthier than this one ;)
    As for depression, I continue to struggle today, but I'm more often on the winning side than I used to be.
    Thanks for reading!