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My Emotionally Challenged Christmas
By Cindy Caponera

After 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.

Whatever 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.

Unlike 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 disease.

The 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?

And 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.

"Hi, Mrs. McGarey. Merry Christmas. Is Margie home?"

"She sure is and thank you so much for giving her those earrings. Margie!" she bellowed.

God damn. I am such a loser.


"Hey Margie, its Cindy Caponera. Merry Christmas."

"Thanks for the earrings. I'm wearing them right now."

I bet you are.

"I got two tops that match them perfect."

"Um well I was wondering -- you really like those earrings, huh?"

"Like them?! I'm putting them on the top of my earring tree if I ever take them off." She laughed slash snorted.

"Like I said… I was wondering… do you think I could get them back?"

"You want them back?" she squealed.

Why 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?"

"You can have them if you want them, but you're being a big weirdo."

She 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.

"No." 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 called."

As I hung up I heard her voice trailing. "She wanted the earrings back." Click.

Later 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.

Clearly 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. .

I couldn't 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.

I finally 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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