Christmas with a Carpetbagger


Today, I was happily Christmas shopping in the fancy little café/chocolaterie with Mom, feeling full of holiday cheer, glad to be in one of the old warehouses of my hometown that has been repurposed instead of torn down. Though rain is coming tomorrow, which will melt the snow that has made a gorgeous backdrop to my holiday, it was that kind of snow-covered, holly-laden day you look back on as nearly perfect. Mom was trying to select a box of cleverly shaped chocolates for a dinner party she’s going to tomorrow night, and I was admiring the case of cheesecakes that have gravity-defying architectural elements.

It was a day of errands, so I was slopping around in my favorite fleece boots and oversized sweater. I’d failed to brush my hair because brushing hair sometimes bores me, and I was no doubt looking like a big, gray-coated slob. But I don’t care. When I’m home, I’m home. I’m not here to impress anyone.

This is the type of un-brushed, minimal make-up moment when I inevitably see some old boyfriend from a million years ago. Though I have no interest in such men what with Z being so fabulous and all, it is preferable to have such a creature look at you with interest or as if he is harkening back to yesteryear, wondering where he went wrong instead of displaying signs of relief that he escaped a fate worse than death by not hitching himself to ratty-haired, skwonkily buttoned you.

But on this very Christmassy day, I did not see an old sweetheart. Instead, I saw someone infinitely less tolerable: my nemesis, Voldemortress.

There are many things I could say about Voldemortress, but what you need to know about her is that she is a carpetbagger, who has no one’s best interests at heart except her own. She made my life difficult once upon a time for no good reason other than she was doing a little world building and I was in the spot where she wanted to construct a grist mill. Plus, she is the antithesis of me, and while I generally have a live-and-let-live policy with most human people, because she was a thorn in my side, I find myself loathing those differences between us, which begin with the sartorial (she’s a clothes horse, and I am, well, see photo to the right or a few paragraphs above) and ends with the way she says “important” (just like John Edwards back when he was on the campaign trail, lying to all of us about his personal life). Impordant, like that first “t” is a “d” and she hasn’t noticed.

So there I stood, salivating over cheesecake, which I do not need because my jeans are large but also tight, and I looked over and there she was, having some sort of impordant business meeting. She didn’t even look like herself. Her hair was puffier (but combed, unlike mine), and she’s done something really dark and unfortunate with her eyebrows. Was it her? I wasn’t sure, and then Mom sidled up to me and said under her breath, “Is that Voldemortress?” Confirmation.

Chocolate purchases no longer mattered. We skedaddled out of there, exactly the way I always think Harry Potter should skedaddle whenever he is in the presence of He Who Shall Not Be Named. In the face of some evils, my motto is that it really is better to run. Though admittedly, today  I wasn’t really hell bent on leaving because those tiny cheesecakes looked so good. Mom, however, was spluttering and full of rage on my behalf. I feared my mild-mannered and very gentle mother might bean Voldemortress with a box of chocolates if we stuck around. As we walked out to the car, Mom was still hissing.

What surprised me though was how light I felt. For a while now, I’ve had a variety of interior monologues with this woman that range from giving her a piece of my mind in the Meijer parking lot to stopping to help her change a flat like a good Midwestern Samaritan, and then hopping into my car with her tire iron clutched in my hand and the tire unchanged. (As I drive off in this fantasy, I am laughing maniacally.) But today, I felt nothing much really. In fact, it struck me that the three times I glanced her way trying to figure out if that was her underneath those unnaturally dark eyebrows (and what exactly had she done to them anyhow?), she was holding her hand in front of her face, as if it were large enough for her petite self to hide behind. Instead of sitting there grandly, assuming that I would cower in her presence, my presence clearly made her uncomfortable. It wasn’t nearly as satisfying as driving off with her tire iron, but the rest of the day I felt some impish pleasure, knowing that for those few minutes when we were under the same roof, she was having a hard time concentrating on whatever machinations she was putting into play with the men in suits. Possibly she feared I’d cause a scene and ruin whatever scheme she was embroiled in. She doesn’t know me well and may mistakenly believe I’m a scene maker. However, I prefer to believe that she is fully aware of what a rotten person she was to me and she was filled with something akin to shame, and thus had to hide her face.

Mostly, I can’t tell you how relieved I am that I did not give in to the Midwestern inclination (and curse) to be polite to someone who has been adversarial.

Happy Christmas to me.

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