“Susannah, we need to ask you something?”
“Well, you’re all up early. What can I do for you?”
“Remember when you wrote in ‘Things That Elude Me’ about giving your manicurist a ‘fresh fifty?” Do you actually give her 50 bucks at Christmas?”
“This is what you want to know at 10 in the morning? Are you kidding?”
“It just seems like a lot of money to give to some woman who does your nails.”
“Okay, be careful for what you ask for because I’m about to tell you why I give her, at least, 50 bucks at Christmas.”
“At least? You mean it might even be more?”
“First of all, when you see someone every week, sometimes twice 12 months a year, whether you want to or not you get to know them. They actually become part of the fabric of your life.”
“Oh come on, she’s only someone who provides a crummy little impersonal service.”
“Impersonal did you say? Crummy? She’s tending my hands and feet for God’s sake, 4 things I can’t live without, you call that impersonal?
SIT DOWN AND LISTEN UP!”
“Angelina Hollywood is not just some obscure, irrelevant peon on the planet with a secret desire to go punk, she happens to be someone I greatly admire.
“You admire her? But she wants a tongue ring!”
She works 6 days a week for a woman who would whip her if she could get away with it, taking care of an entitled, upper East Side clientele. Do you know what that means? She’s at the mercy of a bunch of spoiled, self-absorbed bitches, and no, this does not include me.
Why doesn’t it?
Because I’m truly humbled by Angelina.
Do you know why she has only one day off? She has a 9 year old son back in Mexico being raised by her parents and she sends most of her money home. She hasn’t seen him in over 8 years and thanks to Skype at least gets to sort of watch him grow. Imagine a mother in prison with a screen between her and a kid she hasn’t held since birth. This young girl, who you’ve casually decided doesn’t deserve a little help, basically works for the benefit of her whole family.”
“Yeah, wow indeed, and here’s something else I respect about her. Her employer, the one who hated her name arbitrarily changing it as if she were a stray dog, tried to get her to work 7 days, but Angelina, all 5 feet of her, who little by little has gained self-esteem, politely and positively refuses. I’ve seen her quietly stand up for herself unwilling to yield to the greed of a woman who one day I will personally stab with manicure scissors. Takes everything I have not to report her but then all these young girls working without papers would be treated even worse by the powers that be.”
“Are you trying to make us cry?”
“Now there’s a thought.”
“It doesn’t bother you just a little that they’re all illegal?”
“It bothers me more that you are.
What kind of question is that? Do you know what bothers me? That they have to hide in barrels in the back of trucks petrified to be discovered. I feel security should be tightened but not for the innocent who clearly are just that. Do you think Angelina has a bomb in her buff kit?”
“You’re overreacting Susannah.”
Really? How’s this? FUCK YOU!
I’ll tell you another reason my heart opens for an Angelina, I relate to her. I may not have crawled across a border with a knapsack and pesos sewn in my bra but I know what it’s like to be more or less alone fending for yourself without the help of family. My parents are both gone, I haven’t a significant other at the moment. An ‘independent life’ is not always an easy one to pull off.”
“How come you didn’t mention any of this in the piece?”
“Well one, it was none of your business and if you go back and read it again you’ll see it wasn’t about that, however a sensitive person might have read between the lines.”
“Are you saying we’re insensitive?”
“If the shoe fits pal.”
“Let’s address generosity for a second, shall we? You seem fixated on 50 bucks like it was too much money to give away especially to an insignificant person providing a senseless service.”
“Who said it was senseless?”
I feel we should give everything away, as long as your needs are met and I’m not saying one should live in a tent and bathe in a pond either. As I’ve let on, I take excellent care and deny myself nothing, but that overflow, the part that could benefit others you don’t necessarily need, should be shared.
I learned this from my grandfather who, if he had ten bucks and you had nothing, he’d happily give you five. Please note the word ‘HAPPILY’. You can’t begrudgingly give, it needs to fill every cell in your body with satisfaction and joy. Willingness needs to replace reluctance.
“Susannah, are you sure this isn’t some kind of leftover Catholicism of yours? It sounds an awful lot like tithing.”
Do you even know what tithing means? It’s when you give 10 percent of your income to a church. Have I mentioned a church? Wait, I’ll scroll back.
Do you know what the definition of ‘giving’ is? ‘Freely transferring the possession of something to bestow with an open heart.’
How about ‘generosity’? ‘Showing kindness toward others; a readiness to give more of something liberally and unselfishly.’ To share.”
“Why are talking down to us?”
“Because you can’t part with 50 crummy bucks, that’s why and remember, you asked me.”
I’ll leave you with this so you’ll hopefully hate me for the rest of the day.
Benevolence has a universal, domino effect. If I give to you someone will undoubtedly give to me; if you break open your wallet and give to someone else the universe will give to you. However, if you step on the hose, as a former friend of mine used to say, you stop the flow and people suddenly are hungry and have no place to sleep. Scales are tipped and the earth has no balance. The rich rule then markets crash.”
“Why don’t you just go on Ebay and buy a pulpit?”
“Maybe I will.”
‘We will never ask you anything again Susannah?”