Since the dawn of time Empty Nest Syndrome (ENS) has afflicted women around the world when the last of their younglings finally struck out on their own. Now recognized as a real condition by organizations like the American Psychology Association, symptoms can include feelings of loneliness, depression and grief.
But did you know there is a variant of this condition that has the potential to be even more heartbreaking and devastating? Sadly, as the first person to discover and classify this condition, I’m here to tell you that for me this wasn’t just another scientific discovery. I’m also personally afflicted.
I have dubbed the condition False Empty Nest Syndrome (FENS). Basically this condition is triggered when an expected period of ENS is interrupted, typically by a youngling who either fails to leave the nest as anticipated or returns to the nest unexpectedly after only a short period of time.
Incidentally, and I apologize in advance if this is too much scientific jargon, the term for a youngling that triggers onset of FENS is “gerbil.”
The common characteristics of the genus Modern American Gerbil are:
- Typically a suburban male aged 21 or higher.
- Voracious appetite with a particular fondness for food that belongs to others.
- Usually a high school drop out who, in the intervening years, has invested little to no effort in working towards even a GED. (And also considers the word “college” to be base, vile and profane.)
- Maintains an unusually-enhanced ability to mooch off others.
- Common nutrition sources include beer, cigarettes, energy drinks (like Monster and Red Bull) and illegal drugs.
- Lives in a space (a room, a corner of floor within a room, or even a sofa or comfy chair) that becomes tainted and has a smell similar to the inside of an overly used sweat-sock.
- Can often go undetected for weeks leaving only telltale signs like empty containers of peanut butter and showing up unexpectedly at inopportune moments (like when you are naked).
Some gerbil behaviors can be fascinating. One in particular is deserving of extra examination. I call it The Deuce Run. This behavior usually happens when you haven’t seen the gerbil for a few days. The gerbil will show up, grunt some form of one-word greeting, then secrete itself in the nearest lavatory. At the conclusion of the visit, the gerbil will immediately depart, often completely undetected. In fact, in many cases, the only evidence of a gerbil visit during a deuce run will be the olfactory spore that lingers behind.
Please check back often for continuing coverage of FENS and the mysterious gerbil in this multi-part journal as I press on with my research.