Monday, April 21, 2008

"Why I Am Iris" update

Fast forward six days. It was the Wednesday before my bat mitzvah. I was lying on the couch with one of Hannah's magazines and a bowl of Rice Krispies—therapy food and intellectual reading—thinking about seeing if there were any decent movies on TV when Dad walked in with the kind of determination on his face that either meant I had a chore to do or he had accomplished something and was about to tell me to get off the couch so he could watch some kind of sport. Or occasionally it meant he'd just gotten off a particularly long conference call. In that case the determination didn't really make any sense; I liked to imagine it was determined frustration with whomever he was just talking to.

He slapped down a piece of graph paper on the coffee table in front of me. Hasty black words ran across the page, letters running into one another and being capitalized where they shouldn't have been. When Dad was a child in school, teachers had tried to make him write with his right hand because they were still convinced that being left-handed was evil. He wasn't ever actually taught to write because he supposedly a spawn of Satan. Talk about bias affecting someone's life—now we know that even spawn of Satan deserve to learn to write. There was also a pen in his hand, the Bic kind that lets out lots of ink when you don't want it to, which he didn't seem to know what to do with. He discreetly set it down on the front hall radiator behind him. "That," he told me authoritatively, "is what has to be done before Saturday."

I gulped. "Not family cleaning time. No way."

"Why doesn't anyone ever want to clean?" I gave him a look. "Fine, fine, you're young, I get it. Youth is wasted on the young."

"Dad. The saying is, 'Life is wasted on the living.'"

"Goes either way. Look. I need you to make a list of songs for the candle lighting, and then I need you to help me with my not-a-Jew prayer." OJ Simpson, not a Jew, I thought, remembering a lyric from Adam Sandler's 'Hanukkah Song.'

"How long do I have for the list thing?"

"About an hour. Then I'm going to the gym." My dad got more endorphins than most people out of exercise and practically had an obsession with the gym. Happiness and wisdom were his two biggest aspirations, what he wanted out of life, and between his crazy job, family problems, and other whatnot, he had a right to go to the gym if it made him happy.

"OK, thanks." I smiled briefly and returned to my cereal. Finally, I gave in and turned on the TV. Unfortunately, as tends to happen when you trust a television, everything on was terrible. The choices were few and far between. Did I want to watch Super Sweet Sixteen or Dora?
What was I asking myself? Who would want to watch either of those shows? Depressingly enough, the answer to that question was most likely everyone I know. I poured the rest of the Rice Krispies down my throat. Manna from heaven for a tortured soul.

The next day, I left school early to get a facial and manicure. The best part about that afternoon was that I got to miss band practice and softball. My friend Julia and I made up half of the whole flute section in our school band, and she was dramatically better than I was. In fact, I was so embarrassingly bad that I made every effort not to actually blow any air into the instrument so I wouldn't wreck her chances at becoming part of the New York Philharmonic. The same was true about Julia in softball; I felt like all the spectators at our games were only there to marvel about how magnificent that girl with the flowing blonde hair was and how she must have been playing forever. She was the best friend who did everything better than anyone else, who would end up being a supermodel and a high-paying lawyer, who would retire by the age of forty and live in a beautiful Park Slope apartment. There was no way I could ever beat Julia. It was saddening to know her and yet an honor to even have met her.

The woman who painted my nails was wearing way too much eye makeup. She reminded me of my fifth-grade social studies teacher with her caked-on foundation and layers of overly thick mascara. Her eyes were sunken deep into her face, which made it incredible that she could apply so much glittery green eye shadow. The overabundance of cosmetics made it difficult to look at her.

At one point, Dad came in to see whether it was time to pick me up. He turned out to be fifteen minutes early, but Makeup Lady was thrilled. She eyed him from beneath her Vera Wang glasses, which she obviously didn't need for vision but was wearing because they were the hallmark of New Jersey suburbia: not classy but shiny enough to pass. "Is that your dad?"
I noted her not-too-shabby diamond wedding ring. "Yeah."

"Ha! Thought he was your older brother."

Ick. Don't talk. Just give some of that attention to what you're getting paid for. You're painting my fingers. My nails, lady, you're supposed to be painting my nails. God. "Haha. Yeah." I grimaced.

"What does he do for a living?"

Oh my GOD. "Um, he's the director of the IT stuff for a major law firm." Her face expressed totally undisguised incomprehension. "He works with computers at a law firm," I said slowly.
"Oh computers, that's nice."

Uh-huh. You know what else is nice, is having your nails painted. My mother is not paying eighty frickin dollars or however much this salon scams you for so that her daughter has red hands and white nails at her bat mitzvah. PLEASE FOCUS. "Yeah." I twitched.

"Oh sorry." "No, no, it's OK." Of course it's OK. Everything's OK when your bat mitzvah is in two days and your grandmother has decided that both her brother and stepbrother have to have prayers in their honor and your math grade is suffering and your brother was just hospitalized for three days. Everything has to be OK.

10 comments:

Weezer's Biggest Fan said...

OMFG THAT IS THE BEST ENDING EVER!!!!
You are such a great author TSM!! (the smart one)


~MeG

Weezer's Biggest Fan said...

Okayyyy guess what? I'm on my Dad's new macbook pro!! it beasttt yahh.
I'm also asking my dad if we can bring in the camera and the answer is.........

HE HAS TO ASK MOM!!!!!!
And he would prefer to keep it safe because its really nice and all. I guess we'll have to borrow Mr.Gordon's camera thing. Or use my lappith toppp.


~MeG

Thin said...

thats quite good zoe.. is it kinda based on your life, with the batz miztawizzy thing and a brother being hospitallized??

Anyway, check out my blog would you?

Caroline =]] said...

heyy zoe,
OMGGGGGG I LUV HOW U PUT DA SUPER SWEET SIXTEEN thingy in ur story.
it was probs the only thing u could think of when u said tv b/c i was talking bout it so much LOL!!

Caroline <3 said...

nice art tech project idea!!! im sure it is bad 4 megs and u b/c u guys r constantlllllyyyyy talking or about ur blog or blogging =]

Thin said...

so............. please go to my blog. Are you guys igorning me or something?!

*sniff *sniff

~Katie Cat

Anonymous said...

this was perfect!

Thin said...

Zoe.. help me!

Our old friend Lulu left these comments on my new blog aka "Writings from the Sushi Bar."
Here is the first one.
-------------------------------
FYI i dont think this will work any more. c i found a diff blog with a girl named courtny and she is 18 and she is from newzeland and is called the rainbow socked ninja warrior and just click here... http://www.gaiaonline.com/profiles/2535744/
ok and that will explain it.
--------------------------------
Well, it didn't explian it really. and the second one confused me more!

------------------------------
idk and there r alot of things that i have been overlooking but now relize alll lead up 2 things im not shure how 2 explain. like the hole dyslexic thing seems weird 2 me. so im gonna tlk 4 a while. i dont no tho. so i will think about it and get back 2 u on that.
----------------------------------

I am just taking this the wrong way, or even not uderstanding the text speak and getting it completely wrong?!

Um, so really confused here. hopeing you could simpfly this for me!

~katie

Thin said...

Um... so?!

Thin said...

.....