I have gotten extremely good at saying no to parties and events I don’t wish to go to. The trouble is now, as punishment, I’m perceived as the bitch who purposely ruined Christmas.
I’d like to say I don’t care what people think of me but as it turns out I do. I suffer from what I call Italian guilt that lies dormant all year round but activated come the holidays.
The minute they light the tree at Rockefeller Center the countdown begins. It happens, like clockwork, every year.
“So just go to a party or 2 Susannah, then you won’t feel so bad.”
“Are you serious? You have to consider how awful I’ll feel after attending.”
“Which would make you feel worse, going or not going?”
“They’re pretty much neck and neck.
A friend of mine just yesterday when I went to her for solace casually told me how selfish I am, and she’s a pal so you can imagine what my enemies must be saying.”
“Do you have enemies Susannah?”
“Let’s just say I look both ways when I leave the house.
See, what others perceive as selfish I consider self preserving. I don’t want to look and feel like hell in the morning which is pretty much why I don’t want to appear at any of these inane affairs. I’d much prefer to sleep, get up early and write.
Is that so selfish?”
“Yes, you should ignore your own needs to make others happy. It doesn’t matter to anyone that you feel like shit the next day as long as you do everything they want you to do. What planet do you live on anyway?”
“The planet, I like myself?”
“But who are you to like yourself? I thought your mother taught you to be a subservient, well mannered door mat? And weren’t you raised Catholic?”
“Yes, actually born with Original Sin, something that I still find mystifying. Like what was going on in that womb for heaven’s sake that made me a sinner the second I made my entrance?”
“Perhaps you should consult your bible.”
“I don’t have a bible. I gave it to Housing Works as a donation. Now that wasn’t selfish.”
“Just blasphemous. Nothing like telling God you don’t want any.”
“If I didn’t know better I would think you were my mother talking.”
“SURPRISE! I wondered when you were going to notice Susannah.”
“But it didn’t sound like you.”
“I’ve learned how to throw my voice, you know like Shari Lewis.”
“I took a class. I have so much more free time now since that I’m not cooking and cleaning all day long. See, it pays to be a good person Susannah. I even have my own suite. If you’re not careful you’re going to end up sleeping in a barn.”
“Look, I happen to know I’m a very sweet girl inside and out. Just because I’m good to myself along the way doesn’t mean I’ll be rooming with a cow.”
“Remember the Christmas when you dunked your cousin Laura in the eggnog and I had to throw the whole bowl out?”
“Yes, that was a great Christmas. She never pulled my hair again.”
“If you started to be nicer and more willing to make others happier than yourself God would overlook that little incident, among others like the time you put Monopoly money in your grandmother’s wallet.”
“How did I know the FBI has no sense of humor? I was 9.”
“God wants you to repent.”
“But when would I have time to write?”
“You’re missing the point dear. Who do you think you are anyway, Jackie Collins?”
“NO! If that were the case I’d quit this minute.”
“Just remember what happened to your father because he fished so much. It made him always late for dinner. And remember how he insisted on raking leaves in his long underwear? And we mustn’t forget how much he hated Grampa. These are serious infractions.”
“They are not. Where is Daddy anyway?”
“Let’s just say he’s not up here with me.”
“Is it because he slugged Uncle Danny?”
“You want to talk selfish, your father never threw any of those poor fish back. On top of that who do you think had to gut and clean them all?”
“Nobody made you. You’d wait in the garage wrapped in Saran Wrap making you the biggest martyr by choice.”
“Yeah, that’s right and do you know who I dine with almost every night?”
“John the Baptist, that’s who. I’m an honorary apostle I’ll have you know.”
“John the Baptist wasn’t an Apostle, he was a prophet.”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s who you know, that’s what matters, even up here Susannah. Don’t kid yourself.”
“You know Ma, I appreciate the impromptu visit but I have work to do. I hope that you have a very nice day. Give my regards to John.”
Ugh, what a morning. I think I need some air. I’m told Gucci made a great hair-shirt this year that’s 75 ply cashmere that’s supposed to rip your skin to shreds so I think I’ll head on down to the signature store to check it out.
If I’m going to suffer at least I’ll do it in style.
“You know Susannah, there are still 15 days left till Christmas.
Maybe you should think about buying 2.”