Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Calming Fragrance of Inner Peace

My best friend Starr Ann isn't intentionally perverse. Well, perverse is the wrong word. What I mean is that she doesn't go to any trouble to run against the grain, but sometime, a lot of the time, she just naturally does.

Like when we were in high school and studying communism. Of course, it was real easy to pick up on the fact that the nuns expected everybody to react negatively to the word communism. I guess I don't have to describe the reaction Starr Ann got when she stood up one day and said communism sounded like a very nice system for doing things. Then, to make it even worse, she pointed out that, if you think about it, a convent functions like a little communist society. It wasn't until after class, when we were walking by ourselves, that Starr Ann added she'd never recommend actually forming a communist state, because although the theory is awful pretty, there's nobody but humans to try it out on, and on a large scale, human greed would be bound to mess things up.

Anyway, right now, everybody you run into is so uptight about the economic crisis. Like yesterday. We were at the grocery. Starr Ann had bought a package of vegetarian bacon as soon as we got there, so she could walk around eating what looked like - raw pork! When Starr Ann does that, you can just hear people tisking about the fact she's gonna get worms for sure.

Dang. Now I have to decide whether to leave that part about the raw fake bacon in here or not. On one hand, it doesn't do a heckuva lot to support my statement that Starr Ann isn't intentionally perverse. Heh. On another hand, I like to tip people off to fun things to do. Okay, I'm leaving it in.

So, there we were in the grocery, and here comes our neighbor, Randy, moping down the soap aisle. Starr Ann flapped a big ol' piece of raw fake (but very real looking) bacon in her mouth and said, "Why so chipper, Randy?"

Okay, I'm thinking about just taking out that whole sentence where I say Starr Ann doesn't try to be perverse.

His surprise made him almost look perked up for a second, but then his face went all heavy again, and Randy said, "Chipper? Who can be chipper with the stock markets crashing and credit drying up and nobody knowing from one day to the next who's gonna lose their job?"

Starr Ann sucked the last bit of salty goodness out of that particular piece of bacon and said, "Now, Randy, aren't you the guy who's been complaining about your job the whole nine years you been working at the hardware store?"

Randy puffed up his chest. "Sure I hate my job. Nobody likes workin'. But I'd sure like bein' broke and hungry a whole lot less."

Well, I could see Starr Ann revving up to get Randy in a conversation that was going to twist him up good, so I grabbed a slice of Starr Ann's bacon and stepped between them. "You hungry now, Randy? Want some of this?"

You should have seen the look that rolled across that poor guy's face at the thought of eating pork worms. Soon as he got feeling stable again, Randy wheeled his cart in the opposite direction of the one Starr Ann and I were headed.

We were about to pass on by the diet soups aisle when Barbra Jayce Cramer-Tildon spotted us and rushed right over with this real dazzled look on her face. Which meant absolutely nothing, because Barbra Jayce's face no longer has a repertoire of expressions to arrange itself in. Nope. What with all the facial medical interventions she's had done and all the makeup Barbra Jayce wears, it's just about impossible for her to look anything but dazzled. Up until that last intervention, if you got Barbra Jayce real mad you could see a little something that bordered on stunned, but those days are past her now.

Anyway, we tried to hustle down the next aisle in a hurry, but Barbra Jayce just grabbed about ten cans of unseasoned water chestnut broth and ran to catch up with us. "Starr Ann! Margo! Ain't everything awful?" Barbra Jayce said, in that heavy, gravelly voice that's about as opposite as you can get from dazzled.

Starr Ann said, "Awful?"

Barbra Jayce said, "Don't tell me the economic crisis and this stimulus package business doesn't scare you half to death, Starr Ann."

Rolling a bacon slice up real neat, Starr Ann said, "Okay, I won't."

Barbra Jayce threw her hands in the air and said, "There you go, Starr Ann, acting like there ain't a thing in the world can shake you up!"

When Starr Ann popped that rolled-up bacon in her mouth, you could tell the implications would have registered on Barbra Jayce's face if only they could. But they couldn't.

Anyway, by that time, we were entering the pet section, and Barbra Jayce growled out, "Mark my words, this country's headed for disaster."

Starr Ann stopped a little ways down from the pet food part of the aisle, put her hand on Barbra Jayce's shoulder, and said real kind, "BJ, you ever stop to think that living in a financial system where people who hollow out the currency, lending and re-lending money until it's nearly worthless, are lavishly rewarded, while the ones who actually produce things of value, like food, or art, or healing, or learning, have to barely get by or else resort to credit - did you ever stop to think that a country that functions like that is already in a state of disaster? Personally, I'm ready to face whatever this correction brings."

A casual onlooker would have thought maybe Barbra Jayce had been strongly affected, dazzled even, by Starr Ann's words, but of course, that wasn't the case. Barbra Jayce paused for the slightest moment before saying, "Don't you come crying to me, Starr Ann, when you finally realize how far all that inner peace crap's gonna get you, you hear?"

Starr Ann just finished off her last piece of fake bacon and held a bottle of de-wormer up where she could see the label better, saying all distracted, "Wonder if this one's cherry flavored."

Obviously, I went ahead and left in that part about how Starr Ann isn't intentionally perverse. I'll leave it to you to decide if I did the right thing.