Maybe most guys have too much self-respect to admit when they’re going through a rough patch.
But, guys: I’m going through a rough patch.
For the past six months, I’ve been watching “Frasier” (“The Fras,” as I came to know him) on Netflix Instant: 264 episodes. That’s a lot of episodes, a routine-defining amount of episodes.
But I was committed. Mornings, dinner times, before-beds, everything — Fraiser was my one and only.
Last week, though, I found that our relationship was painfully one-sided. There I was, giving my all, remote in hand, ready to soak up episode 265, only to find out The Fras was finished. No more episodes. Over.
Just like that.
Now, there’s a void, a Kelsey Grammer-sized hole where my heart used to be. My days are empty. My nights? Black holes. My before-beds? Ha! I wish I could sleep.
Deep now into the five stages of grief, I’ve been searching for solace. But comfort food isn’t my style. Complaining? Well, that’s definitely my style; but this time, it doesn’t seem to be doing the trick.
So, after marinating in my own misery for a while as per my standard coping pattern, I decided it was time for something drastic.
So I bought a house.
That’s right. Distraction 101: I could teach the class.
After a few house showings, though, and into contracting, I started seeing the similarities between this purchase process and my grief stages.
DENIAL: In this stage, home-buying is actually kind of fun — not at all the downward spiral of roaring anxiety it will become. In this stage, you’re checking out houses, you’re imaging the places you’ll nap in them, where you’ll strategically place your lava lamp and bean bag chair. And you’re imaging all the renovations you’d make (don’t worry: My birthday’s in March, and I know you guys will come through this year — so money’s no object).
ANGER: Ah, the counter-offer.
BARGAINING: It was about 55 pages into paperwork, signing my name onto documents with nonsense words like “doc stamps” and “deed” printed on them, when I thought, “If only I’d bought a dog, instead. Maybe it’s not too late to buy a dog. Dogs have a 0% interest rate. Dogs don’t get termites.”
DEPRESSION: This is the buyer’s-remorse stage, the oh-dear-lord-what-am-I-thinking-I’m-ruining-my-sweet-young-life stage. Totally normal. Feeling hopeless and overwhelmed is what life’s about. Embrace it.
And finally, ACCEPTANCE: This is the stage in which you delude yourself into thinking everything will be OK. You think, “Maybe I can have a dog and a house! It’ll all work out! Better get to the pound! I’ll name it Dogstamp!” This is also the stage where, like a raving lunatic, you can’t stop using exclamation points.
It’s simple: When you’re down, you’ve got to cope, do whatever you need to be OK. I finish a TV series and, instead of dealing, I wheel and deal on the biggest investment a person can make.
Comfort food? Only if the food will cost $100,000, thanks.
The key here is to create a new overwhelming crisis with which to avoid ever actually dealing with your initial problem, and when that one gets old, seek out another. That’s my thesis. (See the registrar to enroll in Distraction 102 this summer.)
It’s true: I could have just started a new series. But could it ever be the same? Fraiser was Fraiser; there won’t be another. He was a part of my routine, a mile-marker, gluing all the messy memory shards and snapshots from the past six months together — a mosaic of disappointment and self-loathing, mostly, in my case. But hey, there was some good in there, too: I remember last fall I put a quarter into a gumball machine and it shot out two balls instead of one. It was glorious.
But now, it’s coping time. Time to pour all that negativity into another distraction — “Cheers,” maybe, or “Everybody Loves Raymond.” I’ll have to make a pro-con list before committing to any one show, of course. This is the next six months of my life we’re talking about, not a decision to be taken lightly.
Until the storm clears, though, I’ll heal, my WWFD (What Would Frasier Do?) bracelet tight around my wrist.
Good day, readers. And good mental health.