According to my husband, I drool in the night. I drool excessively, until the saliva dries in white patches in the corners of my mouth, until there are wet spots on our pillows. He tells me while I dress this morning, as he unfolds his khakis. Every night, he reminds me, before shutting the front door. But how then, in the morning, is my face completely dry?
According to my mother, there are two kinds of people in the world: Those who dress up for dinner, and those who do not. When alone, I eat naked at the counter, dressed in nothing but my skin and bones. I shiver over my cheese and crackers.
According to my therapist, I should not be held responsible for the happiness of others. I ask: What about their sadness? She thinks for a moment, clock ticking, fingers drumming. She says: Only if you've caused it.
According to my neighbor, the tree that hangs over my fence and drips leaves on the roof of his car is a California Ash. This is incorrect. It is actually a Desert Ironwood. I still refuse to trim it.
According to my son, his father and I will be sorry we didn't invest in his music. He's sitting down at the kitchen table and I kiss the top of his head. His clothes are burned-smelling, too long in the drier. He tells me he's a grown man. Tell me again, I say, and kiss the top of his head anyway.
According to my dentist, night grinding is easily fixed. A mouth guard might be all I need. He directs me—put your teeth in this mold, bite down, hold it. Excuse me, I say, muffled, mouth full. Will this cause drooling?
According to my colleague, you must be computer literate. I'm missing the technology gene. These Internet sites, he says, they're taking off with our without you. Jump on or be left behind. I tell him I'd better stay here—who else will hold down the fort, while the rest of you are missing, orbiting in cyber space? He shakes his head, clicks open the screen. Good luck, he says.
According to my sister, we should take a vacation. She wants to go to Hawaii or somewhere in the tropics. Or we could be adventurous, she says, go to Europe. Her feet are propped up on my kitchen's window seat, light streaming through her hair. The seat cushion has just been reupholstered. She says, You don't have to be fluent in anything but English. I know, I say, I went to London one summer in college. It felt tropical to me, all that dense and steamy air. The hotel served tea and crumpets each day. Hey, I tell her, let's just buy those.
According to my tennis partner, you must attack the ball. Anticipate, she says, that's the only way. She doesn't realize I anticipate it every time. The problem is I tend to misjudge.
According to my college roommate, I was wild then. It was you, she says, you encouraged us all. We are eating lunch at an outdoor café. How strange, I think, the slant things take in their retelling. I tell her I remember it differently—I was always being convinced of things, going along for the good of the group. My friend laughs. A drunken martyr? Oh please, she says.
According to my daughter, the world puts emphasis on the wrong things. Money, for instance, and appearances—beauty. You do it too, she says, you're mixed up sometimes. I stroke her hair with the back of my hand. I think you're very beautiful, I tell her. See, she says, you're doing it again.
Fine, says my husband. You don't drool all the time. But some nights, you definitely do. You can admit to that, can't you? Admit it. You don't always remember things clearly.