As Camille put it, it’s hard to feel for me over still another Trudy incident since I should have learned my lesson by now.
And I do ask myself, what is my problem regarding my psychotic, alcoholic neighbor who bites when you least expect it? I suppose I should always expect her to act out in some unkind, neurotic way that pierces me like a poison arrow, yet amnesia strikes time and time again.
The other explanation is she can be very nice when she wants to be so that’s usually the Trudy I expect to encounter, not the mean one.
Her latest affront occurred last Monday when she invited me over for dinner. I had met her on the avenue and the first thing she did was thrust her two bags of groceries at me saying, “Carry these, they’re too heavy for me.” I did only because she recently has had back surgery. Why she can’t have her things delivered is beyond me since she can well afford it, but I suppose, why bother when you have a good-natured mule in your midst.
When she was going in to have her procedure she asked if I’d be around to help her if she needed anything. This was shortly after my heat crisis when she let me shower at her house, so naturally I said yes. But then the date changed along with me getting a 4 day job.
Wanting to do something nice for her, I gave her a pair of Brooks Brothers blue-striped pajamas to wear when she came home from the hospital. They actually were my favorite pair, brand new only worn once, that I had cleaned and pressed. I didn’t have the money to spend 100 dollars at the store but figured it was still a great gift. And I did tell her they were mine. You see, if it were reversed I would have been flattered that someone was giving me something so special to them.
But that’s me.
For starters, she didn’t thank me which made me think she didn’t like them but how could she not. They’re really nice, soft cotton…roomy and warm and I know how much she likes pajamas.
Then on Monday as I’m leaving she comes out of her bedroom with the pajamas all rolled up in a ball. “I’m giving these back,” she said, hunting in the closet for a shopping bag.
“Giving them back,” I said confused, “but I gave them to you…they were a gift.”
“I don’t want something I won’t use,” she said, handing me the bag.
Now where I come from if you get a gift and it’s not something ‘you’ll use,’ you politely say, thank you and pass it on. You don’t return it to the giver. I was hurt, and even though the smart part of me said, now you can be the one who looks like Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night, it still stung. When I told Camille she said, Trudy would have looked more like Aunt Bee serving 5 to 10 than a 40s movie star. This of course made me laugh, but my feelings were still hurt.
“Camille, do you think I insulted her by giving her my own pair?”
“If you did, she’s even a bigger idiot than I thought.”
“They were practically brand new. I would never give anyone something that wasn’t nice.”
“You’re talking to me Susannah. How many things of yours do I have that I wear all the time. Like this cashmere beret that you said made you look like Patty Hearst.”
“It looks much chicer on you…more French, less stick ‘em up. I don’t know Camille, but I feel small.”
“Susannah, how often has she made you feel that way? Don’t answer that, it’s too depressing. I think it’s time to cut her loose. The next time you need a shower you can cab it to my place. I know hers is more convenient, but I can promise you when you leave my house you’ll be the same height as when you walked in.”
I know she’s right. There’s just that part of me that thinks Trudy will change one day and be someone I can feel totally safe with. I used to dream this about my mother too.
As the late, great Bill Hicks would say, ‘When you decide to land, let me know.’
I think I’ll leave it at that.