Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tangled Fables: The House that Freud Built

Once upon a time there were three roommates. They lived in a damp and cave-like place that was filled with odd bits of furniture and mythical beasts. It was often cramped and chaotic, with dust on the shelves, floors that frequently moved like the deck of a ship at sea and the windows and doors had a habit of relocating unexpectedly. There were brilliant spots of sunlight, though and some pleasant comfy chairs, so they made an uneasy peace with their surroundings.

Ichabod Droolie was immature and whimsical. He wandered about the house, belching and scratching and telling scatological jokes. He shrieked and cackled at his own humor and casually upended trash bins and jewelry boxes and then rolled around in the debris. He was a tiresome roommate, but amusing. He had an odd sweetness about him that made him tolerable at times and was so blessedly naive, that the other two roommates liked to keep him around, in spite of the mess and the appalling behavior.

Egotha was generally easy going, or so she liked to think. She was the middle of this trio and could see things from both sides. She was a little bit messy, herself, but mostly meant well. She just wanted to mind her own business and get along. She liked to laugh, but sometimes would stop short and wonder if it was all right. She craved the sunny spots and soft, comfy chairs, but frequently acquiesced when her other, more vociferous roommates demanded them. She spent a lot of time trying to facilitate disagreements between Ichabod Droolie and her other roommate, who was, oddly enough, also called Egotha.

The other Egotha was ancient, almost primordial, a shriveled old prune and she wasn't much fun. She preferred not to be called Egotha Senior because she was sensitive about such things. "Call me Super Egotha," she insisted. Mostly because she deeply believed in her superiority to these other two slobs with whom she lived. Super Egotha was in a permanent state of aghast. She was fussy and fastidious, overly critical and strict; and although she would never admit it, her roommates thought she was tedious. She spent a lot of time and energy bossing the other two about, demanding they clean up their messes and stop laughing so much. She was a chore, but the other two tolerated her because she did help keep things tidier and they believed that in spite of her methods, she had their best interests at heart.

These three lived in a sort of detente, occupying the same space and trying not to get in each other's ways too much. Every now and then there were golden moments in which they three would catch themselves happily enjoying tea together and laughing like friends. But almost as soon as those moments came, the recognition of them would send them scurrying self-consciously behind their napkins. Except for Ichabod Droolie. He would rip a great billowing fart and laugh until the tears ran down his face, laughing all the harder as the other two gagged and choked on his fumes.

Ichabod's only employment was amusing himself. He played video games, ate cookies and left the crumbs around and even though he was really quite intelligent, he frittered away hours doing things like contemplating light switches and smelling his own armpits. Super Egotha had aspirations so wild they immobilized her. She wanted to save the world, buy them all a Coke and teach them to hold hands and sing. Because she could only fail at the impossible tasks she set for herself, she instead contented herself with endlessly wiping counters, folding clothes and vacuuming the ceiling. All the while, tut-tutting and sighing the deeply passive-aggressive sighs of one who felt so put-upon by her own constructions.

Egotha decided that somebody needed to pay the rent, so she set about to use her skills in a way that both mattered and amused her. She decided she would tell stories about the things that fascinated her and try to see if they fascinated other people. She was unsure about this decision but it had clung to her for so long that she wasn't sure it was wise to ignore it any more. So she set about gathering her tools and making a space in their cramped abode to do this very thing.

She sat down one day in a patch of sunlight and rolled a fresh sheet of paper into her typewriter and started to type. The words danced and splattered onto the page and she was feeling quite satisfied with the clackety ring of the keys and the words. Ichabod wandered in and looked over her shoulder, spilling his beer into her hair as he did so. "Boobies!" he bellowed, "You need to add more boobies! Funny!" Egotha giggled a bit, but shooed him away as he danced and hollered swear words and twisted her train of thought into a bungled heap. Egotha shook her now-sticky hair and began to focus once again. "I will think about funny," she assured Ichabod, "but let me think. Stop shouting in my ear." But alas, as she set to work again, all she could do was hear his ringing shout: "Boobies!" and giggle to herself.

Drawn by the distraction, Super Egotha stormed into the room and clobbered Ichabod with a feather duster, sending him whimpering to his room. She turned her attention to Egotha and started to read over her shoulder. Super Egotha's sighs got louder and louder and were combined with foot tapping and lip smacking until it was deafening. "You're wasting your time," she said. "Just who do you think you are? I just don't see the value in it. Isn't there something more useful you could be doing?" She kept up her nattering until Egotha, deflated and distracted couldn't bear it any more. "This is what I want to do! It isn't entirely useless! I have to at least try!" she shouted. Super Egotha rolled her eyes and huffed around. "Who cares what you want? Why do you inflict yourself on others so?" and then she wandered off to scrub the floor, muttering to herself as she went about starving children and self-indulgence and hand baskets and hell.

Near tears and fed up, Egotha packed away the typewriter for the day and went out for a walk. It was so claustrophobic sometimes, living with these roommates. But she couldn't leave them, not completely. She could only continue to make her peace and try to snatch some moments alone when they were otherwise occupied. Her only hope was to sometimes get in a belching contest with Ichabod and and laugh until it hurt; sometimes help with the cooking and cleaning and the saving of the world so Super Egotha would stop breathing down her neck; and sometimes demand their silence so that she could sit and write their story.


  1. I never believed you when you said you couldn't write fiction.
    I recognize my own roommates in these three .. You know the best part? They follow you when you go on vacation. Always.

    1. It's dreadful, really. They have no concept of personal space.

  2. I sooo wish I had had your version of Freud when I was studying psychology, you made much more sense!!!!

    Loving Ichabod!!

  3. Please submit this for use in a psych 101 text.

  4. Not only are Ichabod and Super Egotha terrible & distracting roommates, sometimes those sneaky sons-of-bitches wait til Egotha's not looking and take over the typewriter entirely.

    Loved this!

  5. Does anyone ever get to the point where the three live in harmony? Is that even possible?


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