Cary Tennis, Re-advised (Part 3 in a continuing series)

Today’s column from Mr. Tennis.

Dear Cary,

One day when I was in third grade, while everyone was studying quietly, I had to go to the bathroom. I was too scared to raise my hand and break the silence and speak. Everyone would know that, right then, I had to go pee. Everyone would look at me. I thought another option was for me to quietly get up and walk across the room to the teacher’s desk and ask her so that no one else could hear, but I was afraid she would get mad at me for getting out of my seat without asking first. So I just sat and held it as long as I could, but my bladder got the better of me. I peed at my desk. Obviously then, everyone really was looking at me and judging me.

A few months ago my boyfriend of two years and I broke up. I missed him terribly at first, but I’ve come to realize that all that time I was with him I was too scared of being myself around him that it could have never worked. Now I feel crazed with all this newfound freedom to be me again. I do things that in the past I would have been too scared or embarrassed to do, like buy pink padded bras cause they make me feel sexy, or drink wine and dance at my cousin’s wedding. Everyone remarks about how much fresher and happier I seem, and I feel that it’s right.

But I am a shy person, so doing new things under my general umbrella of awkwardness at life makes me feel a bit of a spaz. I need to be able to find my center and –

Dear Ally McBeal,

Let me stop you right there, as I already see where this is going.  You have to learn to accept that you and Billy weren’t meant to be together.  Oh sure, it might seem otherwise when you and the dancing baby are dancing crazy little circles of melancholy wackiness around your hope chest – until someone walks in and that record scratch noise lets us know it’s time to laugh – but Billy is daydreaming about Alex Munday and might bleach his hair a ludicrous color any day now.  So strap on your padded bra and get out there in the workforce, girlfriend!  You can be empowered and self-actualizing, but also girly-girl and princess puke!  You can be the madonna and the whore – and the ditzy clutzy blonde and the ball-busting lawyer from hell.  You’re a bitch, you’re a mother; yet you’re also a child, and from what I hear, a lover.  Improbably, you are both a sinner and a saint.  So for fuck’s sake, don’t feel ashamed. 

And thanks for writing.

Part 1 |  Part 2



2 Responses to Cary Tennis, Re-advised (Part 3 in a continuing series)

  1. themcp says:

    You had me at “Dear Ally McBeal.”

    Actually I’m down with any opportunity to beat on Cary Tennis. I tried to like him, because I like Salon and I figured they must know something I don’t.

  2. He kind of drives me crazy. It’s partly the whole “taking ten paragraphs to say something that should take two” thing, and partly his stream-of-bite-sized-sentences writing style, as exemplified by this:

    “This is the scale. This is the landscape. These are the historical and moral parameters in which a creative person confronts his or her fears and decides how to proceed. There is torture and genocide and evil. And there is personal embarrassment and humiliation.

    “This is not saintly. There is practical value in it. Considering the sufferings of others helps us forget our own fears as we go onstage or send out our writing. So we take them lightly. They are of no consequence. So bear these things lightly. Think of the greater world. Think of your ancestors and the generations to follow. Think of your gift.”

    I find myself nodding off halfway through every single column of his. One day I realized I had gotten into the habit of opening them, reading just the letter, and then moving on to something else without seeing a single word he wrote in response. Not my cup of tea, apparently. I approve of stylized writing/rambling as a general rule, but he has gone beyond my limits.

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