This week, I started a personal essay writing class at UCLA Extension taught by Shawna Kenney. One of the big perks, truly, of my job there is that I get to take a comp class each quarter. As I am working my way into essay writing, my past two classes have focused on memoir and personal essay writing.
One of our first assignments involved submitting an open letter to McSweeny's. I didn't know about this column, one where writers address an "open letter to people or entities not likely to respond."
Because this has already been a bear of a week (despite the inauguration) I found the assignment to be a wonderful place to kvetch and complain and cathart. I truly recommend it.
I wrote two letters, and sent the one to the insurance underwriter to fulfill my assignment. I thought you might be inspired to bitch and post yourselves.
Dear Members of my Gym—
You really don’t know who I am because you never pay attention. No, you, yes you—woman with the headphones on—never bother to look to see who might be in close proximity to you. Why bother? You are in your own little world, bouncing and jiggling away to some music I would never listen to. Except I have to. Yes, I’m in the sauna with you, sitting on the same bench. You are stretching your foot (ugly toenail polish) and I feel as though I have been transported to a concert populated by 14-year-olds. Don’t you realize I’m trying to relax from my long day of student complaints? Can’t you tell that I have needs too? I want silence, the crackle of the hot rocks on the heater, the lull and murmur of voices far, far away.
I’m going to walk up to you and yank those earphones off your little head and pull your slick pod thing off your shirt and through them into the heater. Of course, that will further ruin my time in the sauna. But I don’t care. Do you understand? Do you hear me? No, of course not. Your music is on too loud.
And you, yes you, you grunting hulk of a sweat beast next to me. Get a towel. Put it on your bicycle seat. Wrap another around the handles. One on your head. Lay one on each leg because you aren’t crying me a river, you are sweating me one.
Don’t leave. I have something to say to you as well, Mr. I-Take-Too-Many-Steroids. Drop that 125 pound weight one more flipping time, and I’m going to fling myself toward you, wrap my bones around your shin and ride you like a jockey until you leave the weight room. Do you think we all look at you and think, My god, what a he-man! What a strong, amazing human being set right here for our pleasure.
The answer is no. No one thinks that. We think you look like a triangle, a triangle with a head. Your legs are so skinny, I could use them to roast marshmallows. So put the 125s down and head over to the leg press. You won’t be flipping around a lot of weight because it’s all in your shoulders, so we won’t have to worry about the noise. Don’t come back until you develop some balance.
If I could get rid of the headphones, the sweat flickerers, the noisy weight droppers, I might be able to focus on my own work out. Yes, I am the one staring at you instead of working my lats, but it’s your fault, gym members. Shape up so I can, for god’s sake.
Dear Insurance Underwriter—
Recently, I applied for insurance for my 24-year-old son. This, I thought, would be no problem as he’s been a member of your health maintenance organization since he was a zygote. In fact, it’s likely I got pregnant right there in one of your offices, but I’m not really sure about this. Suffice it to say, he has been carried through, crawled down, and walked your halls for over 24 years.
I had no choice but to apply for this horrible coverage, the kind with a huge deductible and co payment. He was too old to be covered under my account, and you go and deny him for what? Because he: “Sought treatment in a medical professional’s office within the last 12 months.”
Hmmm. Wow. Covered under your plan, he went to a health professional for treatment and now he can’t obtain further coverage? You tell me that you are trying to “maintain your cost-effectiveness.” So going in for a stomach ache isn’t cost effective?
You’re killing me. But maybe you aren't because it would cost you too much to do so.
Yes, I know. Yes, I remember the two years of out-patient rehab he went through. Right. I know that entailed between five and two times-a-week visits, weekly urine and blood tests. Yes, I remember the two nights in the emergency room. I know that story, of how the orderlies and the Walnut Creek cops had to subdue him, strap him to a gurney, wheel him in. I know there were two overnight stays and many injections. But don’t forget you almost put him in a drug coma by shooting him up with too much Haldol. We had to bring him back because he stiffened up and couldn’t stop looking at the ceiling. There should be something for that, some kind of perk or benefit or side-door admittance into the organization. Grandfather him in, for god’s sake.
Right. Yes, I know. You had to test him for AIDS twice. He hadn’t told us about the other drugs at that point, but the point is that he’s not sick now. He’s not a drug addict. Yes, he smokes cigarettes, but he’s only 24! He won’t cost you money now for years and years. If he gets his anarchist wish, the entire society will be destroyed and the only HMO will be some kind of roving tribal band of herbalists.
Listen--He got it all out of his system, and the only thing that happens to him these days is that he eats too many beans at a fiesta and needs a gastroenterologist.
So count this as my appeal letter. Read it carefully. I formally request “reassessment” of his application for health coverage.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org