September 14, 2005
Laurie sees woodchucks. We’ll be motoring along the Thruway and she’ll say, “Look, Kihm, a woodchuck.” I’ll look, and there’s no woodchuck. For years, I have accepted the explanation that Laurie has a keen eye and I am slow-witted. But recently, I’ve begun to think there may be another possibility.
Maybe she’s gaslighting me, as in the 1944 film classic, playing the smooth but sinister Charles Boyer to my overly trusting Ingrid Bergman, trying to persuade me that I am losing my mind. Surely I must see the woodchucks. Any sane person would see the woodchucks. My suspicions escalated this past weekend, someplace east of Batavia, when she said, “Wow, look at that speedboat.” I looked up from the chocolate wrapper I was reading, and there was no speedboat. “Was a woodchuck in the speedboat?” I asked.
Laurie did not consider this worthy of a reply, but I persisted. “If a woodchuck was piloting a speedboat, what kind of helmet would he wear?” More silence. “Would it be a small leather helmet worn with goggles, or one of those big plastic helmets with a visor that covered his whole face?”
“You’re crazy,” she said. There it was, right out in the open. “That’s not an answer,” I said, “That’s only a reply.”
“Okay,” she said, “It would be a small helmet with goggles. And you’re crazy.” I accepted the answer, with the all-important sidebar. She’s gaslighting me.