This is a simple column by a complex
“God blessed us all with gifts. Or... did He?”
Ever run across the anomaly or the massive status quo—depending on your PMS? You know what I mean. Aged couple struggles to keep up with mounting bills, having lost their entire retirement savings from decades of working 9-to-5 jobs due to exorbitant health care costs after they both suffered heart attacks and cancer, husband sells sandwiches and coffee to an ailing machinist industry in an ailing truck while wife fights nausea from her collection of pills at the crack of dawn opening up a Hardee’s for the morning, noon and late-night shift, hiding their fear for a 30-something daughter suffering from MS.
Something like that.
There are people, lots and lots of people in this world who will never find the accolade of a Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH), the legendary cultural status of a Tony Geary (Luke, GH), the effervescent, timeless beauty of a Vanessa Marcil (ex-Brenda, GH) and a Natalia Livingston (Emily, GH), the charismatic eternal ingénue brilliance of soap grads Amber Tamblyn (ex-Emily, GH) and Jonathan Jackson (ex-Lucky, GH), the soap-parlayed conglomeration of a Susan Lucci (Erica, AMC), the devoted following of romance novelist and SoapTown USA columnist Queen of Hearts, the cheeky stylings of Eye on Soaps’ JenJen, the comprehensive ability to cut through clichéd soap opera bullshit of GH Online-Soap Central “Two Scoops” commentator Tamilu... the fame, fortune, popularity and good life of celebrated public figures, the bliss, artistic fulfillment, inspirational satisfaction of a passion well done, instead of merely a job.
I have broken many of God’s Ten Commandments. None other more than Covet. The object of my number one sin numbers in the hundreds. Hell, every other person passing me on a busy downtown street earns my instant envy. They’re busy, they’re chatting animatedly with friends, they’re dressed to the hipster nines, they’re doing something a) important, b) fun, c) worthy in their lives, they’re able to walk across 2nd Avenue to pick up an orange marmalade scone and a double-latte, hop a bus up to Capital Hill’s community college to take a few courses, then hop another one to dance the night away or catch some live jazz near the business district, with time leftover for yoga and Pilates.
My yearbooks and resume aren’t exactly empty. But they aren’t exactly full of impressive achievements. Lazy by nature, cartoon-raised, I’d always much prefer watching the world go by (on the small screen, pillow propped behind me, Dunkin’ Donuts in a box before me) in the comfortable safety of my bedroom, in my pink bunny pajamas.
Most of the time, I’ve been forced to do stuff, a high school counselor pressuring me to choose a college major and a career before my junior year’s through, an underclassman thinking she was perfect in every way, especially in the field I eventually chose—journalism, my parents nagging me to death to get off my ass and get some exercise, breaking up with back-to-back fiancés—thus heralding a short-lived but glorious jogging hobby, depression, rejection, alienation, racism.
I’ve even been forced to revise and update my personality, such as it is. Some babies were born with beaming smiles and wide open arms, not me. I scowled and screamed coming out and I’m still coming. It takes an act of God to get me to genuinely smile, a standup act of a Richard Pryor to get me to laugh out loud, and an act of mother nature gone amuck to get me to climb out of my voyeuristic shell and try to convert strangers into friends. To tell you the truth, it’s just too much effort, effort I’d rather spend sleeping in, overeating and watching marathon “$40 a Day” episodes on the Food Network. Time after time, it’s never failed to underwhelm me just how boring, inane, needy and ungrateful most of those strangers can be. I give them a “Hello,” and they want my soul over dinners out every other week for the rest of my life. If I don’t follow up and keep it up, for the rest of my miserable life, I’m promptly forgotten.
It’s not unheard of for me to enjoy a wonderful, intimate evening filled with sharing and caring with acquaintances promising friendship, then, a week, maybe two, later, they pass me by on the street without a backward glance, a pause or a returned “Hello.” (And people wonder why I hate to say “Hello” to people in the first place.) I could pack away a million dollars for every time someone just plain did not notice me and rewarded me for climbing out of my shell by staring past me as if I did not exist. Or the old favorite standby, “Oh, I forgot your name. You are--?” And for what? Small talk about the weather? Empty flattery about hometowns and home cooking just to fill up the dead space of apathy and polite social custom with small talk? If I could orchestrate meaningful discussion and ribald exchanges, then cut an end to the lively scene, curtains drawn, end of episode, next!
Hey, that’s it! Maybe I’m cut out to be a director. But then I’d have to attend film school and hang out with the drama majors, please Lord no, anything but that. People ignoring me with fake accents and bad hats.
Maybe I think too much. My late father used to involve me in all kinds of extra-curricular activities, against my will, of course. Swimming lessons, basketball and softball teams (okay, those I liked), cheerleading. My mother enrolled me in a week-long, self-help course similar to EST with a little more mind control by peer pressure thrown it. Worked for about six months. But I was out $5,000 of my own hard-earned, part-time library student helper money, as well as my high school ring, which I pawned to get an extra hundred for the mind control course, Part II, where I watched the leaders browbeat my best friend and former fiancé for comforting another participant. My mother also used to throw me in groups of other similarly aged girls, from as young as three till I escaped her femi-nazism by marrying. This worked about as well as throwing Hitler into groups of Jews and expecting him to go kosher. Rather, reverse the analogy, and you had the majority of my female encounters in a nutshell. If they weren’t shunning me, ridiculing me, belittling me, or talking shit about me in their little mini-groups (I still suffer from post-traumatic stress whenever I hear women whisper and giggle), they were trying to molest me (don’t ask) or use me as their surrogate reason for living. Didn’t help that I hated shopping, gossiping (soap opera shit don’t count), cosmetics, fashions, and all that other female crap. I didn’t play for my own team, either.
In the end, here I am, a failed reporter, editor, writer, and overall human being, unable to keep a good job for any long period, usually attracting fledgling, desperate companies who’d hire a deadbeat off the street if it could absolve them of pay scale, just knowledgeable about enough to get by but not enough to get the job done (don’t ask me to format columns, tables and multiple-color gifs from zip files), too attached to home, hearth, husband and HBO to wanna stick around anywhere else for long, and that means a 9-to-5 job that pays above the $25,000 per year range.
I can’t even imagine people like the elderly couple mentioned above, who are forced to keep working long after their retirement to keep themselves and their daughter alive, in jobs that aren’t their passions, and clueless as to what their passions even are, besides each other.
Okay, I’m wrong. I do understand the last bit.
If only I could sing in key like Oleta Adams, bake apple pie like Martha Stewart, act effortlessly like Glenn Close, and goddammit, be sociable like everybody else.
Without, y’know, people around...
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