FRESH YARN presents:
I am 24 years old. I have signed up to do odd jobs with an agency named Lend-A-Hand. It is a service that provides people with someone to do anything from dog walking to party planning. I am in love with the idea of having a different job every day. It is glamorous and exciting and a sure way of putting me into some of the best apartments in the city. It will not be long before someone realizes that I am special and should not be bartending a cocktail party, but rather hosting one.
When my specialness is discovered I have decided that I will not let on right away that I am even aware that I'm special. I will be humbly taken aback when some new client demands to know why I am not starring on a soap opera or the face of a large ad campaign. But as my adventurous spirit dictates I will take to the idea quickly. Why not? I'll say. I had not ever thought about starring on One Life to Live, but if you say this part is perfect for me, who am I to disagree?
Remarkably, in all my previous jobs my specialness had gone undetected. I couldn't be sure if the wait staff at Bennigan's was pretending not to see it or were simply jealous of it. Either way, it was time to move on. I needed to surround myself with those that would be most likely to see what should by now be glaringly apparent. My specialness.
I did not
actually know what it was that made me special or what it was my specialness
would translate into career-wise, but I felt that that was something I
need not concern myself with as the person who discovered me would no
doubt have many ideas of their own.
As the groundswell of attention builds, some guests will most likely place bets about what I studied, who my favorite authors are, where I have traveled to. While others will simply wonder what I really think of them.
Through no fault of my own, I will become the centerpiece of the evening. This unwanted attention will initially make me uncomfortable, but I will rise to the occasion by commanding every topic that is tossed my way. Finally, the host will pour me a drink and demand "for god's sake, put down that tray." People who have been dying to talk to me all night will now come forward freely. I will make important friends whose primary interest will be my future happiness.
Towards the end of the evening there will be an announcement by one of the more influential guests. He will tell those assembled that they have all witnessed my last night as a cater waiter. There will be applause, appropriate blushing and downcast eyes on my part, followed by an incredible job offer. One that might involve traveling, wearing expensive clothes, or starring on One Life to Live.
Being the realist that I am, I have prepared myself for the possibility that this might not happen on my first day. But I am fairly certain that the wait will not be a long one, as I have a feeling that the time is now exactly right for my particular brand of specialness. And Lend-A-Hand seems to be the perfect springboard to catapult me into unimagined success.
I receive the call that offers me my first job. It is to assist an elderly, disabled man with household tasks. This does not seem to afford the best possible opportunity for highlighting my talents, so I politely decline. The woman on the other end of the phone tells me that if I don't accept it, in the future she will withhold from me the better assignments.
I should mention that I hate the woman who calls to match lend a handers with prospective employers. She behaves as if there is nothing special at all about me. As if I am like every other aspiring loser that she deals with on a daily basis. But then I remind myself how stupid she'll feel when my specialness is revealed and my hatred for her is temporarily squashed.
Besides, I later think to myself, this older gentleman could be my benefactor. Now I would be a fool to think a complete stranger would re-write a will to leave their untold wealth to someone who tidies their apartment for one afternoon. But the truth is, it could happen.
I'm actually moved when I think of how much joy I can bring into the life of this well-to-do, wheelchair-bound shut-in. Sipping tea as we leaf through family photo albums. Listening to old 45's as he tells stories of his foreign travels. My youthful enthusiasm making him feel alive again for the first time in decades. How could someone not want to reward that? I could be securing my entire future this very day.
When I enter his apartment the first sign that I might have misjudged the situation is the smell. It is not the whiff of coziness and abundance, but rather that of urine and rotting fruit. The client has wheeled himself uncomfortably close to me, his footless leg dressed in a brightly colored argyle sock.
He orders me into the kitchen so that I can begin reorganizing his cabinets, arranging all the food items according to size and color. While on the surface, color coding canned goods appears fairly harmless, it is to be the first of many labor intensive, anally compulsive chores. The chances of my specialness being appreciated while folding a closetful of linens into the size of chocolates are now appearing slim.
I reassess the situation and forego my previous goal of becoming an indispensable companion, preferring instead to look on this as character study or a form of performance art that will later help inform a multi-media piece, one-man show, or really great essay that will appear in a literary journal and win prizes.
While polishing his Hummel figurines with a toothbrush, I decide to show an interest in one of the books on his nightstand. My final hope is that this act of kindness will be just the gesture to help loosen the pursestrings of an eccentric millionaire. When I tell him that Dickens is my favorite author, he asks me if I will wash his stump.
only further underlines the unlikelihood of any inheritance, much less
People paying a small fee for you to provide any service that they require had at first seemed like a thrilling opportunity to dabble in a variety of occupations, but upon further reflection revealed itself to be something much more simple. Slavery.
Needless to say, not one of these assignments provided a suitable platform for my specialness, and I now can not help but be forced to consider the question that had secretly been gnawing at me for years.
What if I'm not special?
I had certainly been told it often enough by my parents. Some of my teachers. Even a neighbor.
But I quickly silence that voice, reminding myself that most of those people are either alcoholics or dead, and take an action that will most definitely steer me in the right direction.
I become a bellman at the Paramount Hotel. With so many people from all over the world coming and going, one of them is bound to see what's really inside me.
And then, finally, my life will begin.
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