You can tell more truth in fiction than you can in nonfiction. * disclaimer
In the introductory post to this series, I wrote about two women I met here in Tucson: the beautiful blind optometrist and the doll-faced maniacal masseuse—and of course these are stereotypes, a bit nuanced, but still it’s fiction typecasting. I got trapped between these two stereotypes in my own mind as if they were battling for my future and my soul—to put it dramatically.
I arrived in Tucson full of hope, having just self-published my first novel and anticipating some kind of reward from the universe for putting it out there. The optometrist approached me in a hiking group and we struck up a friendship that I would later understand as me being an extra set of eyes for her. (I didn’t know about her visual impairment at first, and when I learned of her life journey I felt totally amazed.) The masseuse approached me seeking a professional relationship, exchanging therapeutic massage for help with academic writing—except actually she was a sexual masseuse with a plan (conscious or subconscious) to have me write her assignments for her in exchange for sexual favors. The problem with her plan is that I felt enamored with the optometrist, a younger career woman who represented things that had kind of passed me by in life. My new muse for putting my second novel out.
As a guy with an arts degree in writing I always figured my best match would be an independent career woman, but it never worked out and I knew it probably wouldn’t this time either because the optometrist was more than 15 years younger than me. What I didn’t know then is that the masseuse started hating on the optometrist in a ‘means girls’ kind of way, harassing her by attaching a bunch of lies to me, vulgar pornographic tropes that played on ethnicity and eyesight issues. My writing client also started hating on any woman I talked to—as if marking her territory—but to me she was just a writing client. Any time I tried to be a friend she pushed back by scheduling me into her life, keeping me at client distance which quickly became totally fine with me.
I still wonder if the maniacal masseuse consciously knew what she was doing or if it was hidden behind a schism. She had sudden shifts in personality from hyper positive to hateful and judgmental, and then later full on screaming with blame at everyone. She had this view of herself as a healer and independent career woman, and it seemed that any other healer and independent career woman triggered her bigotry. She had started theropizing with me (a term I created to describe people who go into therapy mode with acquaintances) after massage sessions by telling me about her sex life, trying to entrap me. After one lack-of-sex confession (six months without) following a massage session she screamed at me “I need to be f*****d” in a weird maniacal voice while posing in a suggestive way. I almost laughed out loud while stifling a thought: oooh, white privilege entitlement sex and maybe the most unprofessional situation I’ve ever been in. I extricated myself from that weirdness as kindly as I could and decided to drop the ‘massage’ side of our professional exchange deal.
That proved only the tip of the iceberg. The thing about this maniacal masseuse is that her inner dialogue erupted in the hatred she spewed and the stories she made up about others. She misread people, attaching her self hatred to them, especially other ethnicities. I learned it had been going on for years before I arrived in Tucson. Every time an ethnic woman with a good education joined that hiking group, the rumours about their sexual proclivities or cheating would fly, and all the ‘good’ men would just accept it—letting the rumours run rampant—no one seeing the false attachment and racism and sexism because of vague ideas of tribalism and being on the hunt. The kind of bullshit that indoor people attach to activities in the wilderness.
Another woman I met in that group had told me someone was spreading lies and rumours … and she also said she didn’t like driving in Tucson because of weird car crashes that happened to her before I arrived here. The maniacal masseuse had told me that one of her boyfriends was now in jail for being a car thief. It seemed too much of a coincidence—was he really in prison for reckless endangerment? Apparently that is NONE OF MY BUSINESS. Yes, I’m not gonna police dirty Tucson, but when a friend is being harassed, I’m the bad guy for trying to open a dialogue?
Keeping it real is just so hard in Tucson. This place takes the most work of any place I have lived to not get caught up in the sh*t. Is this happening all over America? I strive to always live with some semblance of truth even if I mostly keep it to myself. False narratives eventually break down. The people caught up in them start sounding the “mental illness” mea culpa bell, ignoring the coincidences and suppressing the emotions, turning friends and lovers into therapists, and anyone who points out the truth while someone else is having a mental crises is a mean bully. No one talks about it, and they wait till forgetfulness sets in. After the whole thing settles down, the pattern gets run again. Perpetual mental illness with no end. Nothing ever changes because people are so attached to their rituals.
What’s a writer to do but write about it? I usually try to keep my blogs post to 500 word or less, and when I started this I wondered if I would be able to get to 1500 for three posts. I’ve shot way past that and this has turned into a five blog series with an introduction, three parts, and a epilogue called The Writer’s Denouement.
Disclaimer: A few disclaimers to this post: This is based on actual events but should be considered fiction. Single words in italics are descriptive and not to be confused with medical terminology or diagnosis. I usually don’t use vulgar suggestive language in my writing, but such is describing what happened.
Intro: The Writers New Clothes
Part 1: The Writer’s Mindset
Part 2: The Writer’s Nemesis
Part 3: The Writer’s Journey