The Bronze Monkey and The Fire Hose
With a tip of the hat to the cliche... it had been one of those days. My accountant was waiting for my tax information. (What receipt? I was supposed to KEEP that??) There were bills to be paid and a stack of letters to be written. (You haven’t written that thank-you note YET??!) I needed to run to the vets for Apple’s joint medication. (Yes, Yes, active dogs who’ve had knee surgery need JOINT medication. Who knew?) A bag of tweed suits sat forlornly by the front door waiting to be taken to the cleaners. (What if I just put them in another closet till next fall? Would that be SO bad?) The phone was ringing nonstop. (Just let it go to voicemail this ONE time! And nobody ask me ANYMORE questions!) I had a long overdue list of emails waiting my reply. (Maybe they’ll forget they’ve written me?) I had absolutely no idea what to cook for dinner and after a short perusal inside my pantry, knew that whatever I concocted would require a lengthy trip to the grocers. (Dinner out? AGAIN?) The ferns and alyssum needed water, as did the birdbath. (Oh Lord, isn’t it supposed to RAIN sometime this week?) Edward wanted a walk. (Soon, Buddy. Soon!) There were wilted flowers in vases all over the house and a row of late night knitting had gotten off pattern and was waiting to be taken out and done over. (WILTED flowers! WHAT a metaphor! And would anybody EVER notice that knitting mistake if I just IGNORED it?) I had an appointment with a decorating client who’d chosen the wrong carpet and now wanted me to choose colours for the walls that would, somehow, alleviate the need for ripping it all out. (Why, oh WHY, didn’t you call me in FIRST?!) As chairman for our neighbourhood home and garden tour, I was writing the tour program, looking for volunteers and sponsors, and delivering tickets. (HOW many years have I done this now?) Delighted with the cool, sunny Spring weather, both Edward and Apple had obviously been exploring the newly blooming garden regions as there was now a tell-tale trail of green grass and clover down the bedroom hallway, and.. WHAT... was that a paw print in mud? (What do you MEAN the vacuum is out in the studio? There’s MUD in the hallway!) At ten I received a text from my manicurist. (Did you forget about me? Your appointment was thirty minutes ago!) The neglected characters from the book I am writing kept knocking on the inside of my brain, desperate to escape and land, neatly arranged, on the page. (WHO am I kidding? I’ll NEVER be able to finish this! Virginia Woolf and that BLASTED Room of her Own! Right!) It was also one of those mornings when I seemed to have too much hair. Too long, too wild, to ever arrange in any way resembling attractiveness. (Visions of Judi Dench, Sinead O’Connor, and Curly from the Three Stooges floated temptingly into my head. (Can I just CUT IT ALL OFF myself??) Fortunately, I did have a appointment with my hairdresser at noon which, miraculously, I had not forgotten.
There is a phrase going around these days describing various types of modern irritations as “first world problems” and while I fully recognized mine to be sitting squarely in this category, I could feel myself fraying nonetheless. One tiny innocuous question, one wayward quizzical look.... that was all it was going to take to send me up on the roof in a full Brunhilde breakdown. Then... just as I was preparing to leave for my hair appointment I saw the line of dust behind the bronze monkey that sits, holding bananas, on my kitchen counter, a line of dust that seemed at that moment to signify all that I still had to do and would never manage to get done in the measly twenty-four hours allotted to me in one day.
In total over-reaction, I placed my palms flat down on the edge of the sink and took a deep, somewhat shuddering, breath. Then I began to laugh. Not the laugh of the amused, mind you. No, this laugh seemed to emanate from a part of my brain usually reserved for that moment in time when one narrowly misses being hit by a train. Jerky, too loud, and with a soupcon of sardonic blackness that worried me just a bit. Taking a deep breath, I reached for my car keys and sunglasses. Ignoring the gazes, both canine and human, of my family, I calmly walked out the front door and climbed into my little green Fiat. I rolled down the windows. I turned up the radio. Petula Clark. Ah, yes. A hair cut would make me feel better.
Arriving at the salon, greeting my hairdresser of over twenty years, I had just settled in for a relaxing hair wash when he suddenly lost control of the sprayer and hit me square in the face. Not a trickle, oh no, but a full on blast of water not dissimilar to that bursting forth from a fire hose. My hairdresser’s profusely delivered apologies excepted, silence landed on the floor of the salon like fistfuls of cotton; combs and clippers froze in mid-air. Everyone waited to see what the poor soaking wet, sputtering lady in the grey jeans was going to do. Well of course, it was funny. And this time my laughter was deep and therapeutic. I howled. In less than a second, the entire salon was rolling in laughter along with me. For several whole minutes a roomful of strangers forgot the insignificant irritations that collect like dust around each of us every week as we all roared with laughter, at me. Yes, I was an object of absurdity and happy to be so, for no one deserved to be laughed at more than I.
Now I am not proud of this comparison, make no mistake. But as a personal penance of sorts for my momentary lack of centeredness and calm that was restored only by a blast of cold water to the face, I shall share this small clip from the old classic movie, Dinner at Eight. Billie Burke’s speech here bears an uncanny resemblance
to my own capitulation to trivial troubles.
Feel free to laugh at me.