The drama queen club. Please come in…

INTRODUCTION

When I moved to this great country I only knew what I had seen in films. And while it is true that cities are rather endless housing estates with a blob of glass skyscrapers in the middle, that schools are all the same and the concept of going for a walk is going to the mall, it’s not exactly like I imagine it.

When I lived in my native Spain, I would never have thought of coming to such a place. But honestly, considering that these people like a “support group” and a “problem” quite a bit, I decided to put my prejudices aside  and enroll the group in my local community center.

Of course, both my boss and my husband insisted upon it.

So, when the first day came, I asked a man with a serious weight problem where it took place and he said in an intelligible accent that it was  the “second door on the right”. Well, actually what I understood was “‘it’s gonna be alright” but of course, between his accent and my lack of comprehension the confusion was more than justified.

Then, I walked down the perfect corridor and came to door number 12. And there it was, the posted that left me frankly surprised:

“The drama queen club.

Please come in. ”

I stared at it, puzzled. What was the meaning of THIS? Drama queen? Who, me? Sure… What kind of sick joke was that? DRAMA QUEEN? ME? A DRA-MA QUEEN…

And I realized I was running around like a loony up and down the corridor and getting more and more hysterical every time I reread the sign. And I was craving a cigarette like mad… (Note: when we moved I swore to my husband that I would quit smoking. And I did. But the truth is that when things get out of hand I become a nicotine addict monster by some sort of grotesque metamorphosis.)

Then I realized what was going on. I was walking in circles. And I was in a very bad mood for no apparent reason. It was all nonsense. Definitely, a drama queen. Resisting my temptation to go out and smoke a cigarette, I grabbed the doorknob, took a deep breath, and muttered “I’m a hysterical drama queen.” and I went in.

The drama queen club. Please come in

Autora: Marta A Dunphy-Moriel                                                 Spanish 
First Meeting.-I think that struck me when I walked in was the cloud of smoke that  hung over the heads of the other “drama queens”. They all had a cigarette in their hands.All of them except for a very thin blond girl in a  blue Tommy tracksuit  who looked at the others with disgust.
The next thing that struck me was the contrast between the image of these people the telly gives you and the real thing.  In the most popular shows, all the women who attend these things are small, slender, multicultural, elegant each in their own way and willing to support each other. In this case, the reality was a bit more of a  Dantesque image of that stereotype than anything else. True, it was multicultural, there were women of every race in the world … but they had all experienced the intoxicating effect of globalisation and they needed to distribute the kilos they had between them, because some of them had too many and others definitely needed more.

Nobody noticed me when I came in and I felt like a five year old girl who has just been dropped off at the nursery.The weren’t even talking to each other! They all smoked in silence.

Then I heard an overly enthusiastic voice behind me:
“Oh! What do we have here? Ladies, we have a new guest in our club. “
When I turned around to see where that shrill cry had come from I couldn’t help smiling for the first time since I had arrived as I had met my first true stereotype since I got here. Stella was short, platinum blond and it it was obvious she loved sunbathing when she was young as much as she now loved going to the gym.
“Honey, what’s your name? And what brings you to our little club?”- She smiled and I could see her teeth where like bright porcelain piano keys.
“I’m Carmen and …”
“Girls … this is Carmen! Say hello to Carmen! “
“Hi, Carmen.” – They murmured in unison.
“Come on, girls, she can’t hear you! Hi Carmen! “
“Hi Carmen!” – They repeated it louder but with the same reluctance.
“Great!” – Stella grabbed my arm and sat me on the empty chair closest to her. – “Well, let’s begin.” She put on her designer glasses that were hanging around her neck. – ” Let’s explain the dynamics of our little club. “
Someone said something at the end of the room and Stella went on louder and rather reproachfully.
“At this club, we offer support to each other. We tell the club our problems … “(” Here we go… problems … these people love a problem “- I thought)” … and we manage to calm each other down and find a solution. “- She flashed the keyboard,” Any questions? “
“Yeah, isn’t smoking banned in public spaces?”
He laughed in a very irritating tone.
“Well yes, but the mayor who is a DE-AR, made an exception because he considers it a necessary means to make these meetings work.”
“What brand do you smoke?” – She asked, picking up a box from behind her where there were packs of several brands.
“Do you have all the brands?”-I asked, quite surprised.
“Sure, dear, these programs are sponsored by tobacco companies.”
And without making a comment about everything that was going through my head on the exploitation of other people’s evils, about selling your soul big companies, etc.. I picked up a packet of “free” cigarettes and I started listening to other people ranting.
I have to admit that when it got to my turn, I did not appreciate having to tell every detail about my life to that bunch of strange hysterical and depressed women.
But Stella insisted upon it. Plus she did it in the most annoying way possible…the enthusiastic and presumably sympathetic way. I ended up telling those embittered women the reason I sitting there.
I think I’ve never missed my friends so much as at that moment. I was even listening to the cliche motivational mottos. My friends would be dieing of laughter…
But a small voice inside me, which refused to shut up, just kept saying  “Yes, but you are also here for a reason.”
So between Stella and voice (of which I would take care later …) I told them the reasons that the two most influential men in my life today had blackmailed me with to talk me into this.
 Except Stella, who still had that toothpaste ad smile, they all looked bored.
“I do not know what to say.”
“Tell us, why are you here?”
“I do not know.”
For the first time I saw a small smile on some of my classmates.’ faces
“None of us knew when we arrived.” Stella smiled “We were all forced to come by our psychiatrists, boyfriends, husbands, friends, employers … who forced you to?”
I laughed. It seemed incredible that this lady, who might have been the wife of a president or the leader of a sect, openly admitted that what she called a club was more of a women dump than anything else.
“My husband … and my boss think I need to learn to control my … emotional impulses.”
“Come on, they said you’re hysterical.”
“More or less.” – Looked at the floor while admitting this ridiculous fact. I watched as the others smiled. You know, that smile you can’t help when you hear that someone else has endured the same thing as you have and they think it is as ridiculous as you do.
“Ladies, please raise your hand if have ever been called a drama queen.” – Stella said, raising her arm enthusiastically. The rest of the women raised their hands, but I must admit that, even if it was silly, I was comforted to see that there were other drama queens round here.
“You see…”-The sunlight reflected off her white teeth. – “There is usually something that triggers this process.”
I smoked my cigarette and, after thinking for a few seconds and staring into space, I said “I think it was the day I found out I’m pregnant.”
They all looked at me with joy and then with horror when they noticed my cigarette.
Suddenly,there was a meaningless uproar.  In a second Stella tore the cigarette out of my hand and hysterically  opened the windows as if they had dropped poison gas bombs in the building. For the first time all night I saw she was struggling to keep smiling, it was obvious that she wanted to slap me for not thinking about the health of my unborn child.
All the others had their cigarettes floating in their coffee cups and they looked at me as if I was murderer, murmuring among themselves with disapproval and hastily collecting his things.
“Well,” – Stella said quickly, trying to control the sharper tone of her voice-“I think we’re finished for this week, ladies. We’ll continue the discussion next week.”
They all left the room muttering. Stella had lost her smile for the first time. She murmured as she closed her expensive bag.
“Great … Of course, I’ll have to explain this change of circumstances to our sponsors  … I hope that nothing happens for a few months …” – she took a deep breath and looked at me, sewing that smile to her face, “Congratulations and welcome to the club, Carmen. “
And with that, she left. There was only one person left in the room.
“Congratulations.” – Rosemary smiled for the first time – “Oh, and thanks.”
She left and I stayed behind in the austere room, which hadn’t been renovated since the eighties. I went over the absurd events of the evening until the janitor told me they were going to turn the lights out.
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