"You should call your memoir ‘The Uninvited’," his therapist had said.
That came back to him early Friday morning as he tossed and turned on his bed by the toilet.
Oy, the shame!
He’d signed up August 15 for the August 27 shul banquet. It was now August 21 and he did not know the location for the banquet.
They did not want him! He was sure of it. He felt sick.
He lowered himself — him, the greatest writer of his generation! — to emailing the shul to find out where it would be and now he’d received an email back shocked and appalled that he had not receive that information and promising that it would come quickly.
"Just tell me the damn location!" he thought. "Don’t tell me how shocked and appalled you are. Just tell me where it’s going to be. I feel like I am trying to break into Fort Knox and all I want is go to the banquet on my $180 ticket that I paid for with Paypal. I’m one of you."
He pictured all of his friends one by one saying how shocked and appalled they were that he did not have the location of the banquet and how he’d be receiving that information any moment but that moment would never come and then the banquet would pass him by and the pretty girls would always be out of reach.
He remembered second grade. Gavin Brown’s birthday party. He was not invited. His best friend’s mom had to intervene to secure him admission. And then as he was bicycling along at the party being his usual witty and cutting self — oh, how funny he’d been cracking on others! — his classmates reminded him that he had not been invited, that they were forced by the grown-ups to endure his presence.
Endure his presence. How many thousands of people over the course of his lifetime had felt like they were "enduring" his presence. Oy, why couldn’t he be cool? Why did he have to live in shame? Yet, there was something strangely comforting about it all. He always knew he’d grow up to be a martyr, to live his life on a cross like Jesus H. Christ. He would suffer for the sins of the world because he was an artist and his insights into life were too penetrating for the masses to handle so they’d have to crucify him.
He knew he would never find out where the banquet was and that would be OK because it would mean he could cling to his story of unjust persecution. He could cling to his image of himself as a martyr. He wouldn’t have to let go of his shame and engage people at shul with an open heart. He could just tell himself, "They all hate me!" And then he could despise them and tell himself that he was special. That he was truly God’s suffering servant.
He put on Debbie Friedman’s "In The Beginning" CD three and waited for the paranoia to leach from his system. "Childhood was for fantasies, for nursery ryhmes and toys. The world was much too busy to understand small girls and boys. As I grew up, I came to learn that life was not a game, that heroes were just people that we called another name. And the old shall dream dreams and the youth shall see visions and our hopes shall rise up to the sky. We must live for today, we must live for tomorrow, give us time, give us strength, give us life."
PS. I got the address Friday afternoon, the same time as everyone else who bought a ticket. I’m ready to party!