That’s How Dumb You Are

Yesterday, I did a Dinah Lenney prompt with my Beginning Creative Nonfiction to students, which was basically to write in the second person voice about a decision or choice you had to make. Dinah’s writing spark was from Dinty W. Moore’s Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction.

This is the link to Dinah’s lovely essay “Little Black Dress.”

I decided to write one, too, mainly because I’m so thick into the semester of teaching and juggling everything that it feels like I’ll never write again, and this memory leapt out at me.


You’ve heard of interventions. You know other families have them. But you are not other families, right? How do you even plan one? But it’s gotten bad. You didn’t even know speed was meth. That’s how dumb you are. You google interventionists. It’s overwhelming. You remember your neighbor, now a friend, had a niece who was out of control and a guy from the mountains  east of Los Angeles helped her. What was his name? The guy from the mountains. Think.

The niece had gone off the rails from what you remember and the guy from the mountains worked a miracle. Of course it took eighteen months for her to come around and leave the crazy life of drugs and being a stripper.

Do you even have the storyline right?


It won’t take that long for your son. He is so smart. He has a great heart. He will see reason. He will see all of you gathered and realize the error of his ways and how much his family and friends love him. You will become a family again. You will not cow or bow to this disease.

You’ve got this.

Your father wants to help too. He goes online and finds an interventionist who turns out to be also a scientologist. You don’t know this when you meet at Foxy’s diner in Glendale, California – you, your husband, your mom and dad – to discuss rehab with the interventionist/scientologist and drink iced tea or maybe coffee because it seems like you will never sleep again and why should you?

But then you find out later about the scientologist so you fire him.

Or rather you make your dad fire him because he’s the one who found him.

Your dad says, “I’m on it.” He calls the interventionist/scientologist and says, “Johnny, my man, you were not forthright with us.” No more Johnny.

So you plan for the day of the miracle, which has to happen fast because everyone is coming in from out of town and friends are gathering too. You write a letter pouring out your love for your son – everyone does. Everyone writes letters that you will press into his hands after you read them aloud to him and the words will go into his head and heart and he will hear.

You know this. So you hire the guy from the mountains who is not a scientologist, but a freelance rehab guy with ties to Betty Ford. You know Betty Ford is legit. Your sister pays him $4000 because you don’t have the money to pay him but your sister does and she loves her nephew.

You watch the interventionist take your sister’s credit card and run it through his phone on a nighttime street in LA under a palm tree. You wonder how this is your life? You see that the interventionist is almost seven feet tall. How does a person get so tall?  His hair shines under a streetlight. He drives a white truck. He loves sports and watching the news. He doesn’t read books. He saves people. He loves your dad immediately because your dad is a former coach and still carries his coaching ways with him.

In the morning, the interventionist who loves sports will perform a miracle.

Your son will get into the white truck with interventionist who is not a scientologist and go to rehab in the mountains and get well and this will be a dark blip in the past that you managed to survive as a family. You have practiced for the miracle now. You have all the letters ready. You’ve read them aloud around a table a friend’s house since you can’t be in your own home for obvious reasons.

Parents, grandparents, friends.

Hail hail the gang’s all here.

You will meet again in the morning at the crack of dawn at your own house that doesn’t feel like home anymore and host this kind of macabre surprise party in a room with bad carpeting, dusty bookshelves, and a lumpy sofa.

You will save your son by seven am – maybe seven-thirty.

You will reclaim your life and your beautiful boy’s life.

That’s what you think.

That’s how dumb you are.






8 thoughts on “That’s How Dumb You Are

    1. Thank you dear, Caron – Lucy is working with babies – 11 babies with three other women and they’ve made her the master baby teacher at the Imagination Academy in Chicago. She says she doesn’t have a day where she doesn’t think of Renee. xo


    1. I promise I will – never dreamed I could try it in second person but that opened a floodgate. Thank you for your sweet and kind words. I loved Insurgent Muse, dear Terry. Hugs and love and heaps of gratitude – I’ll try to find the courage.


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