Dear Dear Diary
It is not safe even in the privacy of one's own home to avoid the harrassment and emotional blackmail that is the Christmas season. And it has not had the decency of even waiting for the greiving to pass over Dead Bird Day. Already, the demonspawn device in the living room is airing Holiday adverts complete with snow, blinking lights, and guilt-laden rosy-cheeked nymphs hawking anything from new cars to expensive jewelry to cellular phones and torturuous family dinners postively ruined because someone could not use the right spice
! I have enough worries of my own. I do not need any diamonds that look like pieces of ice to remind of the horror that is the winter holiday season. I do not need to worry about my spice rack. I have grown my own herbs for years, and if the local cats do not destroy them in their natural habits, I can do very well without buying any of them. Even when out shopping -- Why I was just admiring Halloween costumes to the tune of Jingle Bells. I was primed for disappointment to find a Mr. and Mrs. Claus costumes. In fact, I rather think anyone showing up at a party for Halloween so attired should be drawn and quartered. But it is an appropriate costume to hand out candy in for the little blighters with the temerity to even knock on my door. After all, Mrs. Claus is very giving, and even I can pretend to be generous once a year.
But I digress.
Even the radio is full of hints and guilt trips and threats of the joy to come as the family must gather. Frank is already pestering me about whose family shall expect us and when and what to bring. Truly I have no idea. His mother is a terrible cook, and will not permit me to help her in the kitchen. I must bite my tongue the entire time in politeness and it is plainly exhausting. Her home is so slovenly, the last time we stayed over, I brought my own sheets. Frank has insisted on hotels since then, and I am not sure if that is worse. And if we go to my mothers, she natters on and on about puppies and kitties and duckies, that I am made physically ill. I cannot bear that any easier. It is better with my brother there, for she will focus on him and I may fade into the kitchen, and cook for everyone.
What I truly would love would be to just stay home. Oh what a joy it would be to just be home for the holidays! Just Frank and myself underneath the tree. No stress. No worries. No need really for presents- most of the time he forgets anyway. And I could cook all day in all of the colors and no one, not one person, would dare object to guacamole with the turkey. Bliss.
I could smell the rotting chicken carcass. I have no idea what is wrong with these women's noses. They even argued over who would take the bag, and not in a "God I don't want it but someone has to take it" type of way. But Mrs. Beasley-Beasley herself took it by paying a whole $5 for it.
I laughed all the way home. Frank could not understand why, and every time he asked, he set me off again. Thank goodness he drove.
I really had not meant to do it. I was content to just think about it. Contemplate their faces, wait for their noses to kick in. But they had been cruel to me, even though they meant well. I did not sort things- I was promoted to table duty. They gave me a department to argue over and price. I asked if I could do the music and books, but that's Mrs. Anderson's post. She does that because she is the librarian. I really should not resent that- she's very good and usually kind.
I was posted where the late Mrs. Harman was always posted. She was a grandmother and took most of the leftovers home for her grandchildren. I wanted to sort things instead. But I had been at the Rummage sale before. So I had the table. I hated touching the things. Each tiny shoe, or pants, or bit of lace. I had to wash my hands often so I could bear it.
Worse, on the books table, there was a biography of Tony on display.
He winked at me as I walked by.
I did not buy it.
Today I am going to the Rummage Sale. Frank signed me up when I wasn't looking. I had been so good at avoiding Mrs. Beasley-Beasley. That's not her real name of course- it's just what she looks like. Warn, older, comfortable at first, peering over her half spectacles with her infectious smile, but if you hug her too tightly, you find the hard core center where the mechanics of the doll are hidden. While she will say all of the things you expect her to like the doll does when you pull the string, you know she has her own agenda. And last Sunday, she was planning her collection of "volunteers," circulating around the coffee room for social hour, touching an arm here, whispering into an ear there, and I squirmed away every time I saw her coming.
Frank, the poor man, is not experienced with her type. Therefore when the arachnae arrived, all he could do was stammer out the agreement that I would go. I will not leave him so defenseless next time. I underestimated her.
I know what she will have me do. I will sort things. I shall spend my entire morning sorting things. Everything that comes in must be removed from its bag and sorted onto the proper table. Ladies' things and men's things and household items and toys, and the prices will be put on the tables or the bins. In the afternoon, I will begin bagging things. Because if you arrive late to our rummage sale, you only get what is in a bag, and not to actually see the items- but it is so cheap, most people no longer care. Because they'll just bring the full bag back again next year for more sorting.
I don't even know why we bother airing them. Let's just sell full trashbags for a nickel. It's less effort and raises the same amount of funds.
But what I hate is being among so many women. The more men in one location, the more of a good time can be had. They share the experience. Slap each other on the back, insult each other as compliments, buy each other beer, and totally relax. Women cannot do that. They are simply incapable. They must talk about their families and their troubles and their diseases, and try to show which is more miserable, or more normal. And if you lack what they lack, they just cluck their tongues and tell you that you are young yet and you still have time. They cannot comprehend failure. I simply cannot bear their false sympathies.
And Frank will never understand this. He is a man. He will be happy directing traffic in the parking lot huddling around coffee for warmth with a male compatriot. They will make plans to meet for football or darts; they may even keep them. But he won't be in the basement with the knowing looks.
I wonder if I brought a bag of our kitchen garbage with me and brought it out for the bargain bag bits-- if someone bought it and complained, would I never be asked again? It is almost worth the effort. Yes, I think I will. I hope Mrs. Beasley-Beasley buys it, like she usually buys all of the leftover bags.
And last night, I dreamed.
It was an evening wandering. There was a lot of music... but no Tony. No, I did not hear Tony. Everyone was there. Everyone I knew, even the old bitch next door, and we are all young together. Dressed up and pretending to be adults. And I watched the couples form, and people paired off.
But I was alone and confused.
Until he came. He wasn't tall, or handsome, or even remotely charming. But he looked at me. At all of me. And he smiled. Such a big warm smile.
So I took his hand. And he led me through the corridors of the place, until we found a place where we could be alone.
There was a mattress, and some rumpled blankets. But it didn't smell. Nothing smells. It was clean.
And only then did I realize that as we had gone walking, that he had turned invisible, and I could no longer see him. But I could feel the warmth of his hand as he pulled me down beside him. I could feel his moist breath and knew his mouth was close to mine, and I closed my eyes for his kiss...
But it wasn't a kiss. The suction was too powerful. I couldn't tell if he was trying to suck me in or if I was trying to absorb him. And that terrifying moment went on forever before I found his chest with my hands and PUSHED
Gasping, he appeared next to me. He just looked at me. And I looked at him.
I knew then I did not want to lose myself in him. Or anyone else.
I got up from the mattress and turned to go.
Only now, the room no longer had a door.
I looked at him again. And he smiled.
I woke up crying. And Frank could never understand why I could not stand his touch just then.
I turned on the radio in the kitchen yesterday. It was ok. I only heard what I was supposed to hear. I haven't heard the voice for a long time, and I was hoping I imagined it like the couch doctor said I was. Yesterday was a good day. Angie and I made brownies- both kinds - and Frank sat and watched football in the living room and left us alone. He even let her stay for dinner.
Angie showed me a couple of new ways of looking up stuff using a computer that I hadn't found before. Did you know there's more to searching the internet than just Google? There's newsgroups and message boards and email-loops. I let Angie help me search for more information about Tony. Did you know he uses Lime-Scented Mennen and unscented shaving cream? I need to see if Frank will try those.
Angie signed me up to get lots of email about Tony. She even pointed me to a list of concerts. He's playing nearby fairly soon. Maybe for an early Christmas present, Frank will let me buy a ticket and go. Angie said she would ask if she could go, and she'd be happy to come with me. If she does, maybe Frank will let me go. I find the idea deliciously exciting.