The negative space of gratitude

Barnes & Noble on a Monday afternoon.  It took the damn day to get me out of the apartment at all.

I came down here, well, because I needed to get out of the apartment. But the pretense was to buy a new copy of Victor Frankl, figuring my thoughts on man’s search for meaning might be well served by reading “Man’s Search for Meaning”.  Just a thought. More on that later. It’s a larger project

I’m sitting in Barnes & Noble in cool springs, getting a little writing done (or trying like hell) and this woman is sitting here bitching a bluehaired streak about the gifts she got for Christmas.  A frying pan that’s too small, $120 tickets to a play she didn’t want to go to.

“I could have used that hundred twenty dollars at the book store.  And I had to buy my own dinner and I could barely even choke it down.  High schools put on better plays than that.  The lighting was awful. The costumes were bad.  Ten tickets.  I guess she thought she was being nice.”

“See, my kids know better.” Her friend said. 

“Well, I know not to say anything in front of my kids any more. A couple years ago I wanted new hubcaps and I kept talking about them and hinting and Christina got me hubcaps. The kids kept saying ‘don’t get that. Grandma doesn’t want hubcaps.’ Yes grandma DOES want hubcaps.” She shook her head while staring at the table, lip curled.

“We went to that store and I saw that plate I liked and I said if I come back later and it’s still there, then I’m meant to have it. If it’s not then I wasn’t. Well we got busy and I forgot about it. They all chipped in and bought it. I don’t have the room for that thing on my wall. What am I going to do with that? Do you want it? It’s nice. But if you don’t want it it’s going to goodwill.”

“Then, my 75th birthday. They made me a cake *whupee* then the kids sang.  I’d rather they had done none of that.  Then they gave me a picture book of the whole family and I could care less. It’s in my closet. It’s pictures from the lake. I don’t go to the lake. I mean if it had had better pictures of the kids maybe.”

“Ya know they complained because the year before I wasn’t all *ha ha ha*.  So I made a point to sit there instead of just going in the kitchen by myself.”

“And they gave me a picture and it’s of the whole family together and I’m over there in the corner and they don’t understand that that picture is exactly how I feel.  And none of them understand.”

Her friend, who’s got a decade or two on her has tried twice now to change the topic, but she just keeps bringing it back to how awful her kids and grandkids are, presumably for not being psychic or something. 

She has no concept of the part she plays in her own misery.  None.

So forcefully is she rejecting anything other than wallowing in abject misery and spite that I can’t even drum up sympathy for her.

She leaves, finally, bent over her aluminum cane ten years too early, her body, outfit, and scowl a perfect depiction of her character, while her much older friend, with the posture of someone in their mid 40s walks behind her with the gate of a nurse.

I guess that’s my writing for the early afternoon shift. Wasn’t my plan. But sometimes the topic just hits you with a cluebyfour