I met an old man at a party about ten years ago. I think he was in his nineties. He was so upbeat and chipper, even dapper, that I asked him for the secret of his success. He said "Well, I try not to be too authentic. " How wonderful, I thought. I immediately took this for my own and adapted it to my life. However I have recently added to it.
You would think I'd know better, being a psychotherapist and all, but I am much too quick to offer my "helpful" advice to my nearest and dearest which I did, again, on Christmas Day. I cooked a sit-down turkey feast for my family--approx 20 but who's counting? I got the feeling that my "helpful" advice was much more annoying than helpful. So I made a mental note that from now on I will try not to be "too authentic" or "too helpful."
I was bustling all the food to the table and the womenfolk were all coming into the kitchen with their offers of help. My daughter-in-law kept asking me about the mashed potatoes. I didn't want to let on that I was planning to whip up some instant mashed potatoes at the last minute. "Oh, I'll take care of them," I smiled. But she was relentless, looking around the kitchen for the pot of boiling potatoes (which wasn't there) that she could help me with. So I had to fess up that I was pulling a fast one and, indeed, I needed her help as I hadn't made them before and in the last minute rush was trying to measure the right amount of milk per package. I don't think anybody really noticed the difference except my daughter-in-law who said she didn't like them. I liked them better than the regular mashed potatoes myself. Now everybody is dropping hints that maybe cooking the whole meal is too much for me and we should make it more "pot luck" with everyone bringing a dish. The next day I was out booksigning again
It was more of an adventure than I bargained for. I was booksigning some of my children's books at the San Diego Zoo and it was so crowded I couldn't find a parking place. Even the volunteer parking lot space, where I was directed to park, was full. I drove about a mile away before I found a spot. Of course I could have waited until someone pulled out but I was late already and how long would I have to wait? I was in a hurry. I thought I'd park further away and then call a taxi.
But my personality is not suited to actually carrying out such premeditated organization so here's what really transpired. As I pulled into the space in the shopping center, I noticed a woman just pulling out. I knocked on her window and said, "I'm an author booksigning at the zoo and there was no space to park. I'd be glad to pay you $10 (which was about all I had on me) to drive me to the Zoo, just down the road. She rolled down her window about 2 inches and after my tale of woe looked upon me with fear and suspicion and hastily declined. Well, it is a dangerous world, I thought, and I guess San Diego isn't really a small community. If I was going to ask for a ride, I could see I couldn't ask a respectable middle-aged woman. I, you understand, with my snow white hair, am quite beyond middle-age myself.
But calling a taxi wasn't easy either. I didn't have my cell phone and these days, there aren't convenient pay phones anymore. Gone with typewriters. And how in the heck do you call for a taxi in San Diego anyway. I'd never done it before in my life. And, as I said. I was already late.
I was looking around for a more likely candidate who might be up to driving me to the Zoo. Someone who was a little more laid back and "in the moment." Just then a bus pulled to the stop and was waiting for the light to change. What good timing I thought. But the driver said they didn't go by the zoo, that I would have to cross the street and get the bus going in the opposite direction. As I was waiting for the light to change I saw a car also waiting for the light to change, with a guy in it that looked like he wouldn't be scared of anything. In a pinch he could even, I suppose, pass for somebody's idea of a terrorist. Dark, swarthy guy. Muscled arm resting on the open window. But somehow, I had a good feeling about him. So, I took a chance, I told him the same tale of woe. Meanwhile I had put on my "I am the author" button to add to my credibility that I wasn't a dangerous nut.
"Sure, I'll be glad to take you to the Zoo" he said breezily. "I'm not doing anything." So I hopped in. He refused my offter of $10 and drove me through the heavy traffic. Because of the congestion, it took about 20 minutes to traverse that one mile. While driving we chatted and it turned out his partner was suffering a terrible bout of depression. I gave him a quick once-over of my depression work and I told him I would send him my two get-out-of-depression books as a thank you and he said he felt that I was "God sent." I was already thinking he was "God sent." We agreed to meet for coffee, with his partner, later on. It was a good feeling. Maybe the world is not such a dangerous place after all. Love, Moby Jane