The other day I was running errands. Of course the Bad Luck Fairy who never shaves her arm pits had pissed on my head. I was already in a foul mood. People were acting crazy, and I just wanted to wall myself up in my digs I can barely afford and hide. At least I would be getting my money’s worth out of my apartment. Yes, a refuge against these nut jobs who somehow wander the Earth like I do. I wanted to tell every escapee from the lunatic asylum calling me that I was dead. That way they could never bother me again.
Then I saw a person I despise. Yes good old Jayne. Yes, Jayne. Jayne Kildare, perfect in every way. She looks like she could be on a soap opera that’s how good she looks. Jayne always had a snazzy outfit on, and never had a wardrobe that was under $1,000. She also worked this cush corporate job in a hedge fund where no one knew what she did, but she made a decent living. Jayne had written a chick lit novel, and was being wooed by a huge publishing house. It was along the veins of Eat, Pray, Love, chick lit, a genre that has a following but I believe kills trees and wastes time. Jayne also had a fiancé who had a good job and was as perfect looking as she was. They had a nice place in Tribeca. I hated Jayne’s guts by default. It was easy.
Jayne knew I didn’t like her and I never bothered to hide it. I never told her that I hated her writing. Commenting would mean I respected her as an artist. She usually told me my stuff was “dark and depressing.” Yes, Jayne. I have experienced poverty, lived off nickles and dimes literally, and had men do me wrong. I know you have never had a bad day, Jayne. Sorry you can’t relate. I secretly hope you walk into traffic. That way you can’t pollute my hopelessly flawed planet with your perfection.
I was not in a Jayne Kildare kind of mood, so I pretended not to see her and be focused on some task. The morning had sucked, and I was wearing the only clean shirt I had. It had been clean, that is, until I accidentally spilled coffee on it. I had gotten into a minor scrape with my bank, and had some people who owed me money that were being dick faces. While I had gotten the money, these people had been a headache. I wasn’t in the mood to have my head split open by the shiny, happy, people squad.
The last update I had gotten from Jayne was her obnoxious newsletter telling us how much the editors LOVED her piece of shit book I could wipe my ass with it was so vapid. Then I heard nothing else. That was two years ago. Looking away, I felt like perhaps I had been saved. No such luck. Jayne saw me and yelled, “APRIL!” Fuck my life. Fuck my life with a bright pink rubber pony they sell in the West Village sex shops. I was in no mood. Did I say fuck my life yet? I will say it again. Fuck my life.
“Hi Jayne.” I replied. Jayne Kildare looked good as usual. I had a pen from an errand before in my hand still. Should I take it and stab myself in the head? Hmmmm.
“Oh April, it’s so good to see you. I heard all about your book.” Jayne gushed. I wanted to ask where hers was but I knew she would tell me about how she was being wooed by some big publishing house and I would end up stabbing her in the head with my pen. While I hate her guts, I don’t want a felony charge.
“Thank you.” I said tersely.
“Everyone who reads it says you write with such honesty. Your pieces for the Huffington Post are honest, too.” Jayne said as her perfect white teeth flashed. I wanted to tell Jayne that I honesty despised her, but that would have made me look like a bad person. So I just thought it instead.
“You still writing?” I asked. Not that I cared. It’s called being polite.
“Well not exactly. You see, I had a big contract with Simon and Schuster and they gave me a huge cash advance, but I wasn’t happy. You see, my life looked really good on paper, but that was the externals. Internally, I was falling apart. I had put on this great show for the world but was really dying inside. I had gone to the great college-Cornell-and had the great job but it didn’t complete me. I was just with my fiancé because everyone told me I should have been. And my apartment just depressed me. So I let go of the writing contract. I let go of the job. I let go of the fiancé. I let go of the apartment. Now I live in Inwood with my cat and am very happy. I am the happiest I have ever been.” Jayne informed me.
Now I was astonished. What I wanted to say was, “Jayne, thanks for telling me. But I really don’t care about you. As a matter of fact, I don’t even like you.”
Jayne wasn’t done though. She was just getting started. Jayne told me she was presently living off unemployment and had just gotten her apartment. For months before that, she had been sleeping on friend’s couches. Of course, this was after she broke up with her fiancé and began sleeping with a guy from college who she still held a torch to. This dude broke her heart, she had a nervous breakdown, and slit her wrists. Jayne had spent a few months in Bellvue figuring out “who she really was.”
Now I was slack jawed. How does one respond to this? “Jayne, you’re crazy. Congrats. Not only did you spend time in a nut house, but now you are greeting a mere acquaintance on the sidewalk like they care. You go from someone who had a great life to someone who’s utterly allergic to achievement that has no job, lives in a shitty apartment and their only friend is their cat. But I’m glad you’re happy, Jayne.” But I didn’t say that.
Instead I stood on the sidewalk searching for words because the Bad Luck Fairy had disappeared the her sister, the Awkward Fairy took her place and was now taking a big shit on my head. I had no idea how to handle this impromptu confession of a would be chick lit author that now had turned into a cautionary tale. Was this the part where I hugged her and let her know I was her friend? Or was this the part where I ran in the other direction because this was too much information in too short of a time span? Sure, my brain cells would have a better chance of surviving if I bilked in the other direction. Yet I would look like a really rotten person.
That is when it hit me. I had to make my break in a kind, loving way. While Jayne’s world had come crashing down, I still needed my mind not to turn to sludge and for her insanity to steal my energy. So I said, “Jayne, it was really great seeing you. I know you are going to be okay. You just need to hang in there and keep writing. Maybe get a journal.”
“That would be a great idea.” Jayne told me. “You have always been a really great listener.”
“Thanks. I need to run to an appointment. But thanks for sharing.” I said with a fake smile. Meanwhile I wanted to borrow her razor so I could slit my own wrists after she took ten minutes of my life I was never going to get back.
However, I walked away and I didn’t despise Jayne or the air she breathed for once in my life. Maybe the perfect thing had been an act all along, and she was struggling really badly. It was almost tragic that no one knew her life had been such a nightmare. Plato said something to the effect of everyone fights their own battle. I truly wanted her to keep writing. It would keep her out of the psych ward, and the stuff she would churn out would be insightful, dark, and somehow funny. It wouldn’t be the fluff she normally passes off. For as bitchy as it sounds, perhaps Jayne had been given a creative break through. I wanted to run back and encourage her to take it. On the other hand, maybe not. I didn’t want to know anymore.
I also started to feel better about myself and the coffee stain on my shirt. Maybe I wasn’t as perfect as Jayne, but my book had gotten published. My work was out there in the world, and hers wasn’t. Maybe I don’t have the perfect house or perfect man or perfect job or anything going for me sometimes, but I get things done. In the scheme of things, I realized I had not brushed my teeth or combed by hair either. But hey, maybe I was doing better than I thought I was.
Maybe Jayne sought me out because she desperately needed a friend. She wanted a listening ear that understood hell and walked through the flames. While I never had done a psych ward, I had a lover I had to let go because he didn’t want to adhere to his bipolar regimen. It was hard, especially with his mounting legal issues. Jayne probably felt I wouldn’t judge her. She was wrong, I had, a little…And then I didn’t.
Still, why me? Why the hell did she have to dump on me? Why the frickety frack?! Jayne’s family was old Boston money. I am sure her high priced shrink would have given more insight than a person from the past who didn’t think much of her. I wanted to tell her to get away from me because she was sucking my brain.
Instead I had been a nice girl and said, “Thanks for sharing.”
Sigh, fuck my life. Fuck my life with a bright pink rubber pony from a West Village sex shop.