News from England

I got a fax today from my stepmother in London, England. She’s 74 and living alone since my father’s death in August. Someone has a pretty warped sense of humor over there; it’s not just here. Here’s her fax to me:

“Yesterday, I got a brown envelope with a second class stamp on it. I opened it and inside was a folded white sheet of paper, edges turned down all round. I opened that and found clumpy white powder and the message, “B-o-o-o-o-o you have been anthraxed.” I thought it was a hoax, so I put it back in its envelope. A couple of hours later, I thought perhaps I should tell the police. Phoned police and they said someone would be round. Couple of hours later a big police van arrives and 2 guys in fairly posh sort of uniforms arrive — no white suits or plastic gloves. So I give them the envelope and they look inside and pour the powder into a large plastic bag and say that’s the third they’ve got that day. They are one of 8 units in the capital [London], had come out from the centre to me [in Wimbledon], and most of the units had had 3 or 4 by yesterday afternoon. The powder was “Bold” detergent but he said some people had been very frightened. I said I took it as a joke, but a very stupid one. What a waste of police time. They are all absolutely identical except for the number of o’s — think he was getting tired by the time he got to me! I think they will get him and he will go to prison (under new legislation) for a stupid prank. But people do have to be protected.”

I love it that she’s too smart and strong to be scared by this idiot, even though she is elderly and alone. But she built up her real estate empire completely on her own, and learned to drive and bought a car without telling her first husband. She just drove it on home one day. You can’t keep a woman like that down for long. But I bet many others in the same situation would have been really scared, and you can’t blame them, either. I guess no matter how bad a situation is, there will always be someone mean and/or stupid enough to take advantage of it, whether as what passes for a joke or for their own advantage.

Retail therapy

I love this expression from my gorgeous niece, Cat: “retail therapy”. Retail therapy is when you go shopping to make yourself feel better when you’re riding a bummer. And unlike conventional therapy, you always get results — and instantly! — with retail therapy. So the next time things look bad, don’t get sad. Go shopping! You read it here first.

Silver Screen

How did the great actresses of the silver screen learn how to cry so beautifully? Personally, I end up with a red face, stuffy nose, red eyes, and sans make-up — distinctly un-lovely, un-photogenic, un-Hollywood. But beauties of the past, such as Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, and Vivien Leigh, managed to cry beautifully, with jewel-like tears rolling dramatically down their lovely faces, which remained uncontorted, and without destroying their make-up, which remained flawless. They could do this, apparently effortlessly, both in ethereal black and white and in glorious Technicolor. I wonder if this is something they learned in acting school, or from Max Factor. Of course, it might be one of those girl lessons I missed, like how to keep your bra straps up.

Another girl lesson I seem to have missed is how to apply make-up in a moving vehicle. I am somewhat proud of the fact that I can do the whole thing, including contact lenses, in about 15 minutes, but if I tried to put on make-up in a bus or car, I’d end up with lipstick all over and/or minus an eye. This morning, Rufus and I took the bus in to work (the 41 Union, which is populated entirely by market people, wearing clacky shoes, blabbing loudly on cell phones to impress fellow riders with their importance, and reading either the sports section or the business section of the paper, both sections which get recycled instantly and unread chez nous), and there was a girl actuallly applying eyeliner and blush as the bus moved jerkily up the steep hill on its trolley cables. Far more impressive than blabbing on a cell phone, because not only was she undamaged, but her make-up came out pretty good. Now, there’s a girl who can probably cry like Garbo.