Emotions are hard for me to understand. I was encouraged to (not) express them as a child, which means I lived as an oxymoron until I was 15. Then our quiet home became a scene from "The Exorcist." My parents looked at each other and said, "What is it, and how do we get rid of it?" They thought about calling a priest, but my mother is a Baptist.
Facebook has helped me understand emotions because it has those little emoticon buttons. I'm learning to match the faces — or little mutated animal creatures — to what I feel inside. Happy: smiley face. Sad: saddy face. Mad: Baptist face.
I have also watched the movie "French Kiss" many times. It's the show where Meg Ryan explains emotions to Kevin Kline. Kevin Kline is French and likes cheese. Cheese has a way of giving you a constipated face, unless you're Meg Ryan. The "expression" she "emotes" from cheese makes me think she might be a 15-year-old Baptist. For me, "French Kiss" is a documentary outlining the differences between French emotions and real emotions. I was shocked to learn I'm French.
My lack of emotion was a gift while I was a pastor's wife. Yes, Howard is still a pastor, and I'm still his wife, but when I realized PW was only one letter away from POW, I called John McCain for advice and followed his instructions. I ripped off all my skin escaping over the razor wire, while everyone was asleep in church. Pastor's wives are required to have thick skin, but my skin is hanging behind the church on a wire. I have no plans to retrieve it.
I wrote about finding my emotions in my best-selling, unpublished memoir. It reads, "Finding a voice for 50 years of unexpressed fury is like taking a howler monkey to the library." I've processed so many emotions in the last few years, I think I'll change my name to Velveeta — or Sybil. Those closest to me call me Trigger.
All this talk about emotions makes me want to buy a bucket of Botox. Just think how awesome it would be to express raging emotions without any facial expression. If my whole face was injected with the stuff, I could scream and no one would know where it was coming from. Going back to church would be a heck of a lot of fun. Howard could be ready for the big show at the end of his message, when a horrifying sound stops all the traffic moving toward the altar. Everyone looks in the general direction of the demonized congregant but can find no one expressing that kind of torment on his or her face. And, the pastor's wife would appear uncommonly serene during all the mayhem. Everyone would want to know how I have such peace while Linda Blair is in our midst. And because my eyes would never close, and my lips would barely move, I could become a cult leader and everyone would follow me, even if I'm going nowhere (which is where I fear this article is going).
What I'm trying to say is that 60-year-old women are taking over the planet without moving a muscle. The reason for this is the Second World War. American men went off to war and went boom boom in foxholes. Then they came home and went boom boom in the bedroom, which is why those born after the Second World War are called Baby Boomers.
I'm a Baby Boomer, even if my dad never went to war, and I can't imagine him doing anything even close to booming. (He was also a Baptist.) But I have three siblings — or in my case, syblings — and we all look alike, which proves (theoretically) we were conceived in the same foxhole, so to speak.
Our parents watched the "Ed Sullivan Show," and we, the boomers, took our cue from him. He was an immobile man who had no expression and could barely move his lips when saying, "a really big shoo." Our tiny minds got the message; if we wanted to make our parents happy after the war, we would have to stand still and shoot our faces until our mouths barely moved, which is also why we followed Leonard Nimoy around in a space ship, regardless of William Shatner's hairpiece.
And this is why we are the generation who developed Botox and various types of lifts: the face lift, the tummy lift, the breast lift, and the forklift — but the forklift lost momentum when an expressionless Twiggy taught us to put the fork down.
As the Baby Boomers walk toward the setting sun, our retinas are smoking and our skin is a thin membrane, but don't be fooled — we can still boom boom.
Susan Kay lives in Douglas County and has a website at www.anxiety-master.com