Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Delicate Balance

Hello? Is this thing on? HELLO? Oh, what the hell.

Kate Hepburn here. Susan's been trying to scratch out something or other on this bloggy thing, but she hasn't been having much luck with it and I'll tell you why: The girl's gone crackers.

Yes, I know she looks all right. Not as thoroughly bathed as I'd recommend, but not drooling or twitching. But I'm telling you, she's scattered. Wiggy. Loony.

You don't believe me?

Remember the rains that hit Los Angeles like a freight train the other week? Well, some of us—some of us raised on the eastern seaboard with a little sense in our heads—look at a rainstorm and think: "Close the windows! Get out the rubber boots!" Susan sees rain and thinks, "Free carwash!"

Oh, that's not the loony part—the car was disgusting. So she drives the beast out of the garage, parks it on the street...and the sun comes out from behind a cloud and stays out for the next four days. From Monday till Thursday. Which is when she looks at her watch at 10:20 a.m. and realizes it's street-sweeping day. From 10:00 to 1:00.

Out she goes, flying down three flights of stairs like a lunatic, panting up to the parking officer who is just that minute writing a ticket.

"I'M. MOVING. THAT. CAR!" she says, flailing an arm in the direction of a formerly blue Honda now thoroughly camouflaged under layers of grime.

"Citation's already in progress, ma'am," says the implacable officer of the law.

Result: An unwashed car and a $60 parking ticket on her own street. A street on which she has her own free parking space, in a garage. And that's not even the nuttiest part: This is the third time she's done this.

Then there's the curious incident of the dryer repair man in the daytime. Some of you know a bit of this story—the Russian repair man who, without touching, opening, or testing the non-heating dryer, tells Susan that she must "re-pless de gess heating coil" for a mere "two hondred seexty-seffen dohllars." At which point she thanks him and points him toward the door.

A moment of clarity. Until she calls Sears and agrees to pay $200, sight unseen, for a dryer repair and a one-year warranty on a dryer she's going to own for another month. The Sears repair man arrives on Friday morning, turns the gas valve 45 degrees to the "On" position, and leaves, problem solved.

Beat, beat, beat goes her head against the toasty-warm dryer. Come Saturday morning, Susan and that nice-looking man she calls her Beloved join their friends for coffee therapy. First stop, Trader Joe's—the coffee bar offers a 20 percent discount with a Trader Joe's receipt. Susan buys a little something. Walks out of Trader Joe's. Puts her change in her wallet. Crumples the receipt in her fist and throws it in the nearest garbage can.

Oh ho, stay with me! Half an hour into their coffee date—Susan having paid full price for her drink—she gets up to refill her cup for 65 cents...and while chatting with her friends, throws her coffee cup in the trash.

You see what I mean. Loopy.

Some would say it's sad in someone so young. I say: Baloney! She's plenty old enough to know better. She's 48, for pity's sake. When I was 48, I toured Australia for six months starring in Taming of the Shrew, Measure for Measure and The Merchant of Venice. All those cities, all those parts, all those lines of dialogue! But I didn't go gooney-bird over it.

Susan chalks it up to the stress of selling her house and moving cross-country. Insists she's fine most of the time. Says this odd behavior just oozes out between the cracks.

Oh yes, packing, cleaning, strangers poking into your closets—I know, I know. Such a torment, so painful! YAWN.

Listen to me: Be more of a pig.

I spent most of my life as an absolute pig, concerned only with me, me and me. Not worrying one whit about other people's feelings, what anyone thought, what other people needed. Granted, I was Katharine Hepburn and I could get away with it. I can't speak for you.

But I'll tell you, a few piggy qualities come in handy. Pigs don't worry about new carpeting. They don't fret about real estate prices. And they don't get wiggy. They just put their snouts down, snuffle up their food, and move on.

Oh, you don't have to be a complete pig. Even I learned to soften up when I met Spencer. But for heaven's sake, toughen your skin! Grow a few piggy whiskers! That'll put some healthy distance between you and all that nutty stuff out there.

Because that's where the nutty stuff belongs, my dear. Out there.


S said...

oh susan, hope things get better- honestly, this is not that bad- think of these things as little "mossies" (mosquitoes) as my ex-boss used to say. the move is hard, but i hope 2010 is a wonderful year for you, here's a hug for you and best wishes, shayma

Susan Champlin said...

Shayma: Very belated thanks for your warm and comforting comment. I'm going to remember "mossies" from now on, and try to treat all annoyances as equally minor. A New Year's hug to you, too.