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Sunday 19 August 2018

Suzanne Power: Those mad, maddening beautiful screamers

I call them Screamers.

The ones that dump their stress on you with a tipper truck and then vacate, leaving you in their mire. It's a female trait. Guys tend to be cavernous with these issues. One of my closest friends is a doyenne of drama queens. She's 70 and has barely a blemish on her face. I asked her how she managed it once and she revealed her beauty secret. "I air my problems like public washing in a tenement darling. Out the window and for everybody to see. It makes me lighter and brighter.

"They think I'm in bits but once you air the words the situations don't seem half as bad. If I am too open it's never stopped me being. I don't see why my heartaches should be a secret. If I'm going to be neurotic I might as well make a production of it."

It has something to do with her father's Mediterranean blood, I feel. Mamma Mia. Here she goes again. Nothing is internalised so the arteries don't clog with hidden emotions and despair. Screamers make interesting friends, but your head has to be ready for them.

In theory this is a bad thing. We are all encouraged to be sorted and stable. But where would we be without neurosis? Switzerland. When I discussed this concept with a girlfriend, we agreed that when everything is going well we are bored. We have a shared fantasy about a lovely man who fixes things and books restaurants and cries at rom coms. It would be lovely if we could go out with him, but there are two reasons we can't. We are both married. He does not exist. So we allow ourselves a little daydream about what life would be like with a guy who is uncomplicated and great with womankind. It wouldn't suit us at all.

"I can't live without a crisis," another Screamer friend told me. "I tried to be good for six months. Vegan, celibate, meditating, exercising, feng shui flat, 12-step group for excessive behaviours. I even ironed. I nearly threw myself out the window with boredom."

She ordered a double cappuccino then and told me she really wants, has to, must, give up caffeine. We discussed this heart-racing drama for the next 60 seconds before moving on to our next issue.

I have a touch of Screamer in me. My husband says I never answered the phone when I first started living with him without making a huge exclamation mark verbal response. "I used to think someone was dying, or had lost both their legs." But after a few years he realised there were no fatalities. I got a bit quieter then and he said to me: "Is there something wrong?"

He was worried I was losing the passion I splash around the place. My central core is quiet. I spend hours on my own indulging this. But as soon as I hit public venues out comes my loudspeaker laugh and a string of comments I often don't identify as my own. "But you're not as bad as me," my laundry-through-the-window Screamer said to me today.

"You keep lots of secrets about yourself. True Screamers can't. The world knows how many husbands I've had and what I've done with and to them."

No, none of them are under the patio. But at 70 this woman can still fall in love like it's the first time. I see this as an achievement. She's breaking all the rules; her boundaries are fences long broken. But she's a blaze of glory in a boring world. We need inappropriate, over the top, outrageous responses to make the planet a more exciting place.

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