Emotionally Challenged Christmas
she left the room I whispered to my sister Gloria that I took the
earrings and gave them as a gift at the "Cousins Party"
earlier that evening. She said I shouldn't worry.
self-talk skills I had, which at the time were minimal, could not
have stopped my fast moving train. Not even a room full of shrinks
could have talked me off my self-induced ledge. My head was on autopilot,
and there weren't enough foil-wrapped chocolate balls in that whole
Santa-shaped jar to put a dent in the pain. I finally managed to
get myself in bed, frantically masturbating just to fall asleep.
me, Margie was almost always happy -- even when she was saying something
socially inappropriate like, "Cindy, why are your pants always
so tight?" or, "Do black people really douche with Coca-Cola
so they won't have babies?" Sure she made you squirm, but she
didn't suffer from spinning head and uncontrollable self-loathing
next morning I woke up refreshed and happy. It's Christmas I thought
oh wait. The earrings. Those goddamn cowgirl hat earrings. Shit.
There were six or seven other crappy pairs of earrings on my mother's
dresser. Why did I have to steal those ones? What was I thinking?
What am I going to do about those fucking earrings?
what am I going to tell my mother? My mother. My mother. The echo
was so loud I could barely walk. I had to get those earrings back.
I crawled to the phone and dialed the McGarey's number, hoping Margie
would answer. What was I going to say? Mrs. McGarey answered the
phone. Dorothy McGarey. She went to school with my mother.
Mrs. McGarey. Merry Christmas. Is Margie home?"
sure is and thank you so much for giving her those earrings. Margie!"
damn. I am such a loser.
Margie, its Cindy Caponera. Merry Christmas."
for the earrings. I'm wearing them right now."
got two tops that match them perfect."
well I was wondering -- you really like those earrings, huh?"
them?! I'm putting them on the top of my earring tree if
I ever take them off." She laughed slash snorted.
I was wondering
do you think I could get them
want them back?" she squealed.
is she talking so loudly? I hope all the McGareys aren't sitting
in the kitchen listening. "Well, it's just that my mom bought
those for my sister and I didn't know it and
.Okay, you know
what? Why don't you keep them?"
can have them if you want them, but you're being a big weirdo."
said it with so much disdain. Normally, "big weirdo" wouldn't
carry that much weight for me -- except when it's said by the person
that I would usually refer to as the big weirdo. After all, people
generally thought I was very cool.
What have I done? "You know what? You should keep the earrings.
I'm so sorry I called. Please keep the earrings and forget I ever
I hung up I heard her voice trailing. "She wanted the earrings
that morning, as if the earlier conversation wasn't humiliating
enough, I ran into Margie on the way home from church, and through
her matching crochet scarf and tam, I saw the earrings. She saw
that I saw the earrings and smugly touched one with her thumb and
forefinger as she continued clicking confidently down the street
in her gouchos and vinyl boots. I prayed for an angel from heaven
to come down and shoot me in the mouth.
it was I, not Margie, who was the emotionally challenged, mildly
retarded girl. I was so afraid of my mother that at the age of thirty-two
I almost stole the joy of another mildly retarded girl by asking
her to give me back a five dollar pair of earrings. .
say to my mother, "Mom I made a mistake. I stole a pair of
earrings and I'm sorry." The reason I couldn't say it was because
it never would have been enough. Because what she really wanted
to hear from me was, "Mom, I'm sorry I'm thirty-two and I have
to live here. I'm sorry I disappoint you so much. I'm sorry I'm
an artist and not an airline stewardess. I'm sorry you're a housewife
and not an airline stewardess." So many obstacles keeping us
from the friendly skies.
got up the nerve to tell my mother what happened. She waved me off
with a disappointing look. It was just one more example of proving
her theories about me to be right. First I ate and ate. Then I cried
and cried. Not because of the earrings, but because being an imperfect
child should never, ever have to be that painful. Especially when
it makes another perfectly, imperfect child so happy at Christmas.
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