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Posted by helenofjoy - Oct 24, 2013 - 7:16am

I see her through the kitchen window, hunched into herself, shuffling in a kind of quick step to the back door and undoing the security chain.  She is 60 years old, but to observe her, she truly appears to be a woman in her 80’s or older.  She is too thin, but has always been too thin, which may have been a high priority to her deep within her secret self.  Her skin is loose and more than finely wrinkled, most likely from decades of chain smoking Marlboro Lights while depriving her body of meaningful nutrients and lubricants.  Her lips are pursed, deeply lined and she speaks in a soft, recently acquired lisp as she opens the door for me.  “Hiiiiiiiiiii Honey!  Come on in!  Itth tho good to thee you!”

Sometimes I wonder what she would think if she could see herself as others see her.  If she could watch a movie of her life over a couple of days or weeks.  I’ve witnessed evidence of a personality disorder, perhaps narcissism or borderline and can see that her thought processes are very different from mine and that of most of my other friends.

She has great taste in clothing and would look smashing in most of her things if she put on a little bit of weight and stood up straight.  Her posture is that of a whipped dog.  Her strawberry red hair and a perpetually heavy application of black mascara surrounding cheerful blue eyes and a big smile makes her instantly endearing to those who first meet her.  In her younger days she had no trouble attracting men, indeed seems to still have no trouble attracting men – even those young enough to be her own offspring.  She is artificially sexually charged and will most likely remain that way until the day she dies.  She firmly believes that hormones and amphetamines are her best friends.

I once observed an attractive young man, say in his mid-thirties – prime of his life, creep silently from her apartment at the crack of dawn, daily, over a period of almost a week.  It was clear he didn’t want anyone else to know he was boffing her, but every night after dark, he came back for more.  Then finally he stopped coming.  She wouldn’t always tell me of her adventures as she was convinced I would judge her harshly for being promiscuous.  In the end, I would judge her far more harshly for being a liar than for being a tramp.

I’ve always found it a little troublesome that she becomes almost angry in response to news of a friend’s good fortune, or a family member of a good friend that has a life changing, positive experience.  She may not even have ever met this person, but her reaction to their good news is one of disgust and spitefulness, as though she herself was robbed of the opportunity of something similar.  She will mumble under her breath about the person’s “perfect” life.  “I hate her,” she says.  I don’t get this at all.  Maybe I could feel this way about someone who clearly does not deserve any good fortune what-so-ever, like O.J. Simpson.  But don’t most people feel happy about another’s achievements?

I asked her once what she would choose to be if she could come back to life as an animal.  Without the least bit of hesitation, she said, “A lap dog!”  I pictured it in my mind, Sophie as a lap dog, small,l white, soft-haired, pampered and bejeweled.  Sitting contentedly in the satin lap of a well-tended, stylish, lady.  Never having to make a decision or having to do anything in the way of earning her own living.  For isn’t that the dream of all young girls?

Perhaps I’m the odd one.  My dreams were not of being taken care of, but of action, adventure, travel and excitement.  Sophie seems to believe that the course of the rest of her life depends upon someone – some unknown man coming into her life and being instantly smitten by everything about her, professing his undying love and unending supply of Viagra and promising a life of good care and contentment.  In the meantime, she waits in front of her computer, scrolling through the avatars of strangers on a dating site full of people searching for unusual and varied types of stimulation, and in some cases, actual relationships.

Her surroundings become less and less comfortable with the accumulation of old mail, hastily scribbled notes, newspaper ads and paper bags and boxes cast down in the living room for the amusement of the cat.  There is a perpetual foggy atmosphere from the smoldering incense meant to mask the aroma of oven baked coconut shrimp and medicinal quality marijuana wafting through the tiny apartment, which may partially explain her inability or unwillingness to tidy up her home from time to time.  Depression feeds itself well here.

She knows she is clinically depressed and has the prescriptions to prove it.  She has always been her own worst enemy, sabotaging her own efforts at every opportunity, and doing precisely the opposite of that which would or could bring about success.  She takes the longest way possible to get to the grocery store and back home.  If you give her directions, she will follow her own route rather than do what someone else has told her to do.  If you ask her to pick you up at the airport in Lincoln, she will drive instead to Omaha.  It’s like there is a mean little Sophie inside who says, “No!  I’m going to do it MY way!”  Then when failure invariably results, she cries the victim.  “Why do thethe terrible thingth happen to ME?”

But…there’s always a but isn’t there?  The side of Sophie that those who love her keep to the forefront is the side that shows up at your doorstep night after night to turn down your bed for you and clean up your kitchen and fix you some sleepy-time tea before tucking you in after your foot surgery has laid you up for six weeks.  The side that actually gives up a thirty five year smoking habit so she doesn’t have to keep “lending” cigarettes to a consistently broke Bobby Hawkins, her next-door neighbor.  The side that religiously makes the twenty mile trip on Sundays to visit an old boyfriend with a brain tumor to help keep his spirits up.  She loves tending flowers and manages to keep her house plants mostly alive if not thriving.  Her smile can still light up a room.

13 comments on this journal entry.
What Day Is This?
helenofjoy Avatar

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Posted: Oct 29, 2013 - 4:24pm

Big changes happening for Sophie!  She is having new furniture delivered and her main squeeze is coming to help "organize" and tidy up so her surroundings aren't so depressing. She is coming for dinner and wine this evening.  And Scott - you really would enjoy meeting her!  I've never laughed with anyone as much as I've laughed with her!

PoundPuppy Avatar

Posted: Oct 28, 2013 - 3:24pm


meower Avatar

Location: i believe, i believe, it's silly, but I believe

Posted: Oct 28, 2013 - 7:42am

Fantastic piece of writing Helen! 

thank you for this.  

kurtster Avatar

Location: drifting

Posted: Oct 26, 2013 - 7:37pm

powerful stuff.
swell_sailor Avatar

Location: The Gorge

Posted: Oct 26, 2013 - 1:37pm

Beautiful writing. 
We're all riders on this train
ScottN Avatar

Location: Half inch above the K/T boundary

Posted: Oct 26, 2013 - 11:04am

Actually, to me anyway, she sounds like a well-balanced, self-realized person. Prolly fun to meet.
That said, I like SFW's comment.
I get around
haresfur Avatar

Location: The Golden Triangle

Posted: Oct 25, 2013 - 3:44am

nice.  you really captured the complexities.
ab origine
oldviolin Avatar

Location: esse quam videri

Posted: Oct 24, 2013 - 8:44pm

Shine On.
Coaxial Avatar

Location: 543 miles west of Paradis,1491 miles east of Paradise

Posted: Oct 24, 2013 - 8:25pm

Thank you for sharing her with the rest of us.{#Good-vibes}

BlueHeronDruid Avatar

Location: planting flowers

Posted: Oct 24, 2013 - 5:07pm

I eat pints
ScottFromWyoming Avatar

Location: Powell

Posted: Oct 24, 2013 - 3:08pm

Save that or send it to the papers, for when they have to run an obit. 

Antigone Avatar

Location: A house, in a Virginian Valley

Posted: Oct 24, 2013 - 1:01pm

Beautifully captured. Thank you for sharing her with us.
Living with passion
Alexandra Avatar

Location: PNW

Posted: Oct 24, 2013 - 8:23am

  She has all the makings of a book character. I'm glad there are almost always lovable qualities to find in people.