Survivor guilt

I want to tell you in advance that I am at this point in my life pained whenever I spend money on frivolous things, like pedicures, or on things that are more expensive than they ought to be, like women’s clothes sold at blimped-out prices. I have witnessed so much poverty and suffering in the world and have myself lived so often on the very edge of life that indulgences like these make me feel ashamed. That said, I had a pedicure today and, after, bought overpriced ladies’ garments.

The pedicure I can explain: I no longer see well enough to clip, much less polish, my own toenails, and painting your toenails in summer is de rigueur if you wear open shoes at work. The clothes I can’t really explain, but, in my defense, it’s rare for me to run into deeply discounted fashions that fit me well. I have found that one needs to be a size 0 and below or a size 16 and above to have really good luck at sales. And, my mother drilled into me, and sadly to the core, the idea that only the poor and the uneducated buy things on sale, even though she had only a high school education and, while growing up, was herself poor.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I reek of guilt whenever I walk into a nail salon, and to compensate I become meek. Today, however, I gave up that silly show when a pimply young girl in a stained pink dress bent my toe so hard that I howled and then dug into the cuticle so deeply that I bled. She giggled, gossiped with the  toiling pedicurists to her left and right, and looked everywhere else but down. At one point, her cell, which was across the room, rang, and she ran off to answer it. “Really?” I asked no one in particular.

Generally, I am obsequious in any situation where I feel I am exploiting people who are doing dog work. Today, however, I wanted to eviscerate this adolescent, who grew tired of my feet in about ten minutes; instead of disembowelling her, though, I left without giving her a tip. “Bitch,” she probably muttered as I walked on by.

Later, while trawling a nearby Chico’s, I wanted to throttle the fawning saleswomen who refused to leave me alone. Could they help me, no thank you, was I sure they couldn’t help me, no thank you, could they hang up my clothes in a dressing room, no thank you, could they bring me something in a larger size, no thank you, could they bring me something in a smaller size, no thank you, could they see how I looked in the blue one, no thank you. Let me just say that I didn’t behave well.

I think it is this that got me upset and made me behave badly: I can no longer endure the insensitivities and cruelties of others, and I suppose this is partly so because of the long line of ragtag scoundrels who have traipsed heavyfooted through my life. More true now, though, is the pain I feel when I see us become the machines nature intended.

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