“Am I Normal?” by Joan Mazza

"Am I normal?"
	after Tom Wayman

Yes. Everyone has secrets. Your memories
of blunders and blurts, of telling off coworkers
and ridiculing your children will wake you
chronically at 3 AM, have you dragging by 3 PM.
Eat a cookie. Or eat a dozen. You’ll feel better.

             No. You’re as sick as your secrets. Confess
             before an audience. A large one, as on TV.
             Apologize profusely. Cry in public, if possible.
             Make amends. It’s all your fault. Everything’s
             your fault. Taste the guilt. You create your own reality.

Yes, you’re completely normal and ordinary.
Who doesn’t want to strangle their spouse
or their children occasionally? This is America.
If you’re white, your crimes can be explained.
Buy all the guns you want.

              No. You might want to talk to a professional
              about your thought crimes and revenge fantasies.
              Then there’s your preoccupation with the specific
              traits of those you lust after. Especially if those
              objects of desire are seen as objects. Or if they’re
              more than three years younger.

Oh, yes. You’re normal. We’ve evolved to ensure
the survival of our species, which accounts
for your forty years of sexual dreams and fantasies,
your ache for a mate, for a newer mate, for extra
mates. Double quantities if you’re male.

             No. Your preference for solitude and frugality
             is un-American and unpatriotic. Your job
             is to spend every penny you earn and carry
             enough debt to keep you bent over and working
             forever. Numbness is good.

Yes. Whatever unusual desires and thoughts
you harbor, whatever spells, tics and neologisms
you invent, they’re normal for you. Don’t expect
others to encourage you or even like you. Life
is meaningless. Make the most of it. Have fun.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, and has taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self. Her work has appeared in The Comstock Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The MacGuffin, Prairie Schooner, Slant, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia and writes every day. https://www.facebook.com/joanmazza