Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Her Enthusiasms

Photograph by Seth Townsend (not posed)

She drove everybody crazy. She couldn’t help it because, as if it were an affliction, she was naturally overcome with enthusiasm. She would tell people – she would apologize to people – that she had a big motor and what can a girl do with big motor but run it wide open? Why turn it off when there is so much to do in one lifetime? Sometimes, when she dealt with her children or her relatives or her friends, when she’d explain a new idea she had in the works, she would see the way they looked into her eyes, a hesitance, a nodding rejection, a patronizing lift of the brow, and she would know the truth: no matter how many parties and dress-up days and trips out of town she organized, no matter what she did to alleviate boredom in the world, she would always be the woman with the blazing letter C on her chest. Crazy.

A while back, her older sister called and asked why since the beginning, since the womb, since birth, did everything have to be a such a major production? Why not mellow out and be like everybody else? This was an unanswerable question much in the same way that life itself was an unanswerable predicament. She was either getting herself ready for the next event or cleaning up from the previous event and this would go on, without pause, till she could not go on any longer.

Friday evening, she locked herself in the bathroom, ostensibly to shave her legs, to beautify before going out with friends. She drew a hot bath, lit candles, relaxed, and drifted off to an enthusiastic, dreamy oblivion.

The next morning, she woke in the tub, in the cold water. Her legs were not as wrinkled as she thought they might be. She rose, she put on a robe, she opened the door and could hear her children in the living room watching TV, and she walked toward the sound. The kids were watching an infomercial about a miracle cream that would send acne all the way back to the stone age from whence it came. With this cream, the announcer said, you would never be unhappy again.

One of the kids asked where she’d been all night. She looked at the TV, at the kid, at her pointless life, and she said she couldn’t remember.

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