Saturday, October 04, 2003

You have been most self-indulgent. I can't get over it. You have less restraint rather than more as you grow older. Think it over and alter yourself, or we shan't have happy lives. E.M. Forster, Howard's End

My over-developed sense of irony is directly proportional to the violence with which my girlish enthusiasm for the world and its occupants was ripped asunder. I recall the way the little cockles of my heart were warmed when--working at the post office--I would see envelopes addressed in the unsteady hand of the elderly. "Ah, the old dear has written a letter to a friend or relative. How sweet," I thought naively as I double-checked zip codes to hasten the missive on its way, wary of mis-directing this precious cargo. I thought that living through the better part of a century imbued people with a certain graciousness and kindly spirit that made them worthy of respect and admiration. (This quaint worldview was unpolluted by ruminations about Pol Pot dying of old age or countless WW II Nazis living off the fat of the land in Argentina for half a century, going gently into that dark night, but I suppose my mind was on other things). This silly view was held by me well into adulthood, the end of which was hastened by my acquaintance in my late twenties with my husband's vile maternal grandmother. Madeline is 95 pounds of concentrated bile who has survived in the world by shellacking herself in a bullet-proof veneer of insanity, all the while poisoning every relationship she touches. If alien anthropoligists explore our planet in twenty thousand years, they'll find her perfectly encased like a bug in amber, and with their other-worldly tools they can probe the artifact and extract the DNA of pure evil. But that story is for another time. This rant is for Endora.

I have long harbored an intense and growing dislike for Endora, the mother of my dear friend Jane. Jane is a lovely person for whom I have tremendous admiration. If the apple falls near the tree, Jane must have been switched from her true mother at birth, or more likely she was stolen from her family by the reptile Endora. Earlier this year, Jane had a strep infection so severe she was under total sedation in the hospital as the doctors struggled to save her life by stabilizing her failing kidneys and liver. As she was coming out of sedation, all friends and family were encouraged by the doctors to chat about light subjects to her, but they admonished all to not talk about the hospital, her illness or topics which might induce a state of anxiety for the patient. The doctors said she was now conscious, though powerless to respond or speak. Mere moments later, the chaplain of the hospital dropped by the room to offer support and encouragement, and standing by Jane's bed, Endora announced officiously that the doctors said it might take Jane a long time to die from this. (!?) Clearly, the mileage of an octogenarian has not taught Endora graciousness or mellowed her spirit in the least. One day in hospital, Endora blathered on about the Antichrist George W. Bush and how evil the gulf wars were, and then turned around and preached to Jane that the doctors had said that she won't heal quickly until she stops being so negative. I actually believe that Endora is a Munchausen's sufferer because she seemed nearer to soiling herself with glee the grimmer the prognosis for Jane. The more ill her daughter was, the more alive Endora felt. Bitch. Add to that that she is a star-f***er and tripped over everyone in the room to suck up to a visitor who used to be a big gun in the Southland Corporation. I had to endure her recounting several times how this guy has a private jet, etc. I've never seen her be so polite or deferential before or since. Apparently his virtual celebrity and wealth made him worthy of actual courtesy from her, which is more than she seems able to muster for we plebeian folk.

Life offers scant few tasty moments when you see someone get their comeuppance, and it's never when you expect it. You must admit that when you pass a steaming pile of wreckage in the onlooker-slowdown, it would be a little less sad if the car compacted into a cube the size of a dishwasher was the one that took a layer of paint off your car as they passed you several miles back traveling more than 100mph and obviously drunk. Today Endora, giddy with her own inanity, embarrassed herself more completely than I ever could have brewed up in a work of fiction, and I can scarce believe I was there to see it. I ran into her and Jane as I entered a convention center in Dallas for a Gem show to buy supplies. We three began to walk about together, and we rounded a corner and I was somewhat surprised by the scene I took in. The largest booth at this show was quite nice, brilliantly lit, with dozens of photos of Loretta Swit of M.A.S.H. fame, as well as "Loretta Swit" printed in foot-high letters in several places in and on the booth. I thought "wow, Loretta must have made this jewelry, and she's doing great work," and then I realized the lovely and elegant woman behind the counter WAS Loretta Swit. She was signing an autograph for a middle-aged man. I thought that was sweet. We walked up to the nearest case and Endora announced "Look. It's Sally Kellerman." I turned to her and softly said "She is Loretta Swit." Loretta didn't seem happy to see our little party. I'd like to think that in between Endora's ignorant utterance and that universe-altering instant when I disabused her of her stupidity, she was imagining a different ending for the movie of her life. Stuck schlepping about with we common folk, Endora need only acknowlege fellow luminaries to be summoned into that milieu and out of her drab existence. Surely fellow fabulous person Sally Kellerman would have recognized Endora's star quality and yearned for earnest conversation with her. After that, Endora was strangely mute. Silence is golden.