Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Karma is a hard mistress

I am a firm believer in the old adage “What goes around, comes around.” This has led me to do my best in my early middle age to right a few wrongs that I know need some serious attention. I work for charitable causes, I try to live in the shoes of others, and I am inspired on a daily basis by Kuan Yin. I’d like to say that I’ve never done anything HORRIBLE like, you know, killing someone…but that would be a lie that would put me one ring lower in hell.

It was fifteen years ago or so when I left my job in the merchant marine because nowhere in the sailor’s handbook does it allow for pregnancy and childcare in the middle of the deep blue sea is an iffy proposition. My husband was still sailing so I was alone in Oklahoma, surrounded by elderly neighbors that took an overbearing interest in me.

As I look back on it, I understand the cultural oddity that I presented to these neighbors. I was pregnant, I was without visible husband, and due to the southerly nature of my location and the female essence of my being, I was undoubtedly unable to wipe my own ass without male input. They were worried about me. They thought they needed to take care of me. I, on the other hand, was pregnant for the first time, hormonal, lonely, and incredibly independent. (My father-in-law tried to warn my husband that I had a little too much “moxie”. I took this as a compliment.)

One of our next door neighbors was a widow that had nothing better to do than to look out her window and spy on the neighborhood. She would then call me up daily and report what she saw. Since I would go out everyday for a walk, she would have to report that she saw me out walking and she really liked the outfit I was wearing and where did I get it and where was I going and blah blah blah blah…Now, I know that there are many women out there that like to talk on the phone. I know that there are many women out there that would love to have a next door neighbor to chat the day away, even if there is a fifty year age difference. I know that there are women out there that would think it was sweet to have a next door neighbor that was so concerned. I am not that woman.

I have to talk on the phone as a part of my job and I don’t have a problem with it but I hate talking on the phone otherwise. Whenever I get stuck on the phone I am ALWAYS trying to get off. I’m the one that keeps saying things like “Ok, sounds good to me…” voice trailing off…take the hint…leave me alone… “Well, I’m cooking dinner and I think I smell it burning…” (Note to self-don’t use this at 7:32 a.m like you did last week). I am always reaching over to hang the phone up so many times during a conversation that I look like I’m having a seizure. I have two sisters that live out of state and they know that the only way we will talk by phone is if they call me. It’s nothing personal; I just hate talking on the phone. (After they call and I end up going through the scenario above for an hour and a half, I literally have to lay down after I hang up.)

So, at the time of the unintended murder (yes, it was unintended) I was eight months pregnant and my husband was in Japan. We didn’t have the internet or email back then, just the telephone. I never knew when he would call so I always wanted to get the phone no matter what. And when I say I was eight months pregnant, I mean that I was huge. I was never one of those fading violets that got through my pregnancy looking like I had eaten a single side salad for eight months. I was often found sitting in the corner of my living room smeared head to toe in chocolate brownies and jujubes.

When the phone rang, I was in the bathtub. I was wedged in the bathtub. It was a frantic rush to pry myself out of the tub, grab a towel, and run to the phone.

It was not my husband. It was my neighbor. It was my neighbor there to tell me all about who was doing what in the neighborhood.

And I officially lost my shit.

I stood in the middle of my living room wrapped in a towel, dripping wet and pissed off. I believe I was looking forward to talking to my husband a little too much and the entire situation just made me melt down.

Yeah, that’s a good rationalization.

I proceeded to tell her that she drove me nuts. I told her how I didn’t give a shit what the rest of the neighborhood was doing. I told her that I thought it was creepy that she called me all the time after spying on me.

I told her that I didn’t want to be her friend.

Then, I hung up and went back to my bath.

She never called back and I was so totally cool with that. And then a few days later I heard from my neighbors on the other side of us that she had dropped dead. Not just dropped dead due to old age…but dropped dead within an hour or so of our conversation.

I hung up and finished my bath. She hung up and had a stroke.

To top it all off, after coming home and hearing the story, my husband commented to our remaining neighbors about this incident happening right before she died.

Yeah…you want to know how Typhoid Mary felt? I can tell you. But I did get my wish and my neighbors never bothered me after that.

So I now spend my life working off my horrible karma. I can tell you right now that if there is a hell for incidences like this, it won’t be a hell purified by fire…it will look more like a Jean Paul Sartre story. I will be in a room with my neighbor and it will consist of her telling me the gossip of the neighborhood over and over again…

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