Dear Adam Powers,
I am here at the LaundryBar.
There is a sloppy fat woman on the television wearing a tarp, her embroidered flowers shaking as she wheezes her words. She’s bitching about snotty neighbors. She says, “Ah don’t care if’n ya got one a dem big ole. . .oh. . .uh. . .SOObarus or one-a dem big ole vee-hicles. It don’t make you betta.”
I’m imagining her life outside of being a local TV Star. She’s been a receptionist for twelve years, for a grade-B chiropractor with particle-board office walls. Every morning she arrives at her desk fifteen minutes early with a stale hunk of Entemann’s Raspberry and Cheese Danish and two Strawberry Slim-Fasts. She tucks into the breakfast quietly, free from the din of telephones, the chatter of octogenarian arthritics complaining. They won’t be here for another ten minutes. She straightens the framed piece of cardstock on her desk that announces, “Give Me the Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt!” with a smileyface underneath. It is a treasured gift from her aunt.
She runs her fingers through her teased, hair-sprayed Mall Bangs (circa 1982). She knows her roots are showing, but she can’t get her highlights redone just yet because she’s spending all her money feeding her trifecta of pre-pubescent sticky faced child-obesity-stricken progeny. They will never grow out of it. There they are, smiling up at her through glittery cracked Wal-Mart frames.
There is a menagerie of minature cats. There is a battalion of plastic angels. At home, there is a room devoted to her doll collection, they are lined up on shelves, staring blankly, forming a porcelain alliance, concocting a petticoat coup.
She wipes almost all of the danish away from her non-existent upper lip and unlocks the office door. She greets every patient merrily, with an “Is it Friday Yet?” or an “Are we Having Fun Yet?” When the doctor arrives, windblown and put-upon, she falls apart a little inside, because she’s been in love with him for a decade. He says, on autopilot and without punctuation, “Hello Gloria how are you this morning?” and she replies, “Oh, you know, haven’t had my coffee yet!” She knows she hasn’t had a cup of coffee in years, except for the cup or two of decaf she sneaks when her disgusting, unemployed, NASCAR-loving husband is asleep on the couch. Every time a patient leaves the office, she cries out, “Have a Blessed Day!”
The word blessed, she pronounces with two syllables.
She’s not unhappy, though, because next Tuesday she is to appear on Channel 12 Public Access Television to talk about SUVs that she covets but will never be able to afford.
Adam, do you have any idea how sad this makes me? I don’t know which one I’m more upset about: that I might be right about her, or that I am such a judgmental cunt.
What horrible fate awaits me if I let myself go at 30 (and I’m almost there) and I settle for terrazzo tile in Suburbia, leaving this life in the dust, forgetting my easel and my keyboard and my penchant for filthy, beautiful, flippy-haired, silent, artist-type, aloof boys? What will happen?
It terrifies me, the prospect that I will one day forget to travel, to love, to be excited about prospects and flirting, forget how easy it is to be childless and broke and alone. It’s so easy. I’m so scared.
Have a blessed day.