Everything is OK. Except If You’re Reading This, I’m Probably Dead

by Marinka on March 10, 2009

I’ve recently met a new friend and we email each other a lot. I love getting her emails, except every few days she drops one of these:

something really shocking happened, but I’ll tell you about it later. Bye!

The fuck?
So I retaliate:

If you continue this leaving-me in-suspense tactic, I may become a Xanax addict to help me deal with the anxiety.

which, between us, would be hard because I’ve never taken a Xanax in my life, but I’m sure I’d be a quick study.

But I also get it. Because when I was ten years old and in summer camp, I would write letters like this to my parents:

Dear Mama and Papa:

Thank you for the sacrifices that you made to send me to Surprise Lake Camp. It is a very surprising place. I have no friends. Everyone thinks that my poison ivy scars are from beatings that I got in Russia. I may have told them that I was beaten by local anti-semites. Sadly, another girl seems to be getting similar “Jewish scars” as she’s recovering from poison ivy. Also, something bad happened to me, but I don’t want to worry you so I will tell you about it later. And now I must end my short and sad letter because I want to cry, I miss you so much. Your daughter, Marinka

I can only imagine the phone conversation that occurred when my Broken English (no relation to Marianne Faithful) parents tried to call the camp.
“The Marinka, is she ok? We are receiving letter of alarm.”
The reason that I can “only imagine” this conversation is that I am sure that it did not take place. And the reason that I am sure of this is because my parents told me. “What is point of the calling?” they asked me. “If you could write a letter, you were ok.” Damn it! Why didn’t I get myself dismembered just to show them?

But my letter of alarm set the tone for all our future communications. Mama will call me and say, “Is everything ok? Yes? Good. Here, too. I was going to make some borscht, should I bring some over?”
And I learned that whenever I call my parents, I have to preface each call with, “Hi, everything is ok, I just wanted to-“. It is so ingrained in me that over the past decade I have actually made the following phone calls to my parents:

“Hi mom, everything is fine, but we lost all our money in the stock market.”

“Hi, everything is ok, but my father-in-law has colon cancer.”

“Good morning, everything is ok, but I have no will to live left.” (Disclaimer: This was during the TV writers’ strike, no need for alarm. Unless they strike again, in which case, send me a poison pill).

So, I sort of wonder what the purpose of “everything is ok” is. And so does Husbandrinka.

“Your parents called to say that everything is ok and that would you call them back, please?” he lets me know when I come home from a night of debauchery.
“Isn’t it reassuring that they tell you that everything is ok?” I ask.
“No,” he tells me. “Why can’t we assume that everything is ok unless we hear otherwise?”
Why? Because you married into a family of Old World lunatics, I want to scream. But instead, I pass out gently into the night.

One year ago ...

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