This phrase is a hypothetical shop name a friend and I came up with many years ago in response to the relentlessly perky names of donut chains. We amused ourselves by expanding on this and deciding what we’d sell there. Fretful Fritters. Bereft Bear Claws. A Crestfallen Cruller, or our more exotic Cream-Filled Cafard. Wash it all down with some Tea of Torment or Espresso of Ennui.
Just a funny game with words, but the name stuck with me and I put it onto my title list. As I contemplate it today, many years and brain chemistry issues later, it’s grown and changed in my imagination. It’s no longer so amusing…and yet, I find myself wishing it were a real place.
In my mind, the door to Donuts of Despair has no chime or bell on it, so we can slip in quietly. It’s a large building…it needs to be, after all, since there are so many of us. Up at the counter, there are menu slips we use to tick boxes indicating what we want, so that we don’t even have to speak if we are feeling low enough to find that difficult.
The employees at Donuts of Despair do not smile in greeting, so as to avoid placing the slightest pressure on us to fake a smile in return. They do not tell us to have a nice day, and they absolutely do not ask us how we’re doing. They do not attempt small talk as they gather our order, nor do they comment on its size or content. In their silence, they radiate acceptance.
We can take our order to several different areas, but they’re all furnished with soft couches for exhausted and strained bodies. Some areas are lit for reading, while others are dim enough for sleep. Two people are curled up napping, their limbic systems finally coaxed into standby mode by the undemanding human presence near them.
Looking around the room, we can see several people crying. One near us rocks quietly back and forth, tears sliding down his face. No one does anything. Why should they? Tears are not anything to fear. He knows that if he needs someone to listen, he can ask. That’s the rule. Until he does, we assume he’s processing emotion that needs to be processed.
In other areas, we find things to do for those who want distraction or tactile sensation. Bookshelves, jigsaw puzzles, art and craft supplies, some games; the contents vary as people bring things in. Several people are coloring in a complex design, a look of absorption on their faces as they share the simplicity of the task.
It’s only a fantasy, I know, but it’s a nice one. Tonight, it pleases me to imagine meeting some of you there. We wouldn’t really need to talk; it would be enough to know that we share experiences that can’t be described in words. We don’t have to do the same things there, either. However, if you would like to join me…I’ll be over by the crayons.