Ever since the kids were little, we used the term “collapsing fit” to mean an emotional meltdown. It doesn’t need much explanation.
Then around 1990, I read about fainting goats and was fascinated by the idea that some animals collapse when frightened. Needless to say, goats that collapse when frightened by an enemy are fairly rare. Makes it hard to get away.
But one time I saw the ability to collapse benefit the human animal. Or maybe not.
It happened that a bunch of us teachers back in my first career, were concerned about an angry, out-of-control sixth-grader, so we called a meeting with his mother. After we laid out the problems as gently as possible, she fainted. After she came to, no one ever said anything to her about her son again. His classmates and teachers went for decades thinking they would read a headline about about some guy going postal and it would turn out to be this kid. I’m happy to say we were wrong. I never did learn the medical reason for his mother’s collapse.
This train of thought is the result of my reading in the science section of yesterday’s NY Times about a rare illness associated with the death of certain brain cells. It’s called cataplexy. And cataplexy is — get this — “a tendency to collapse when swept by strong emotions.”
I should write a poem. “A tendency to collapse when swept by strong emotions.” How great is that?
Or maybe one of you poets reading this blog would follow your personal train of thought, and write a poem related to cataplexy or collapsing. I would love to print one here.