Thursday, October 06, 2016

"Compare and despair"

That rather facile little rhyme is a favorite of my oldest friend's shrink. I never quite got it until recently.

I've long envied my friend Barb's lifestyle. She's sophisticated and wealthy. She always knows what wine to order, and which is the new, hot restaurant. She and her husband now own three homes -- a house with a full basement and garage in Chicago, a 2 BR condo in Hilton Head, and a new house that's under construction, also in Hilton Head. I have a two BR condo with a hole in the living room wall, an outdated kitchen and a half complete bathroom because I can't afford to fix/finish anything.

Yet this year, Barb has dealt with a double mastectomy and a botched reconstruction. Her husband is facing lung cancer. And Hurricane Matthew is headed toward their places in Hilton Head.

In all, I'm feeling kinda lucky to be a sedate old cat lady, looking forward to the Cubs/Giants in the playoffs.

This profound revelation came to me while watching a really rather dreadful musical from 1941, Ziegfeld Girl. I am a big Judy Garland fan, yet this one has somehow always escaped me. Now that I've seen it, I realize I hadn't missed much.

Three girls make the Ziegfeld Follies. A wise old theater veteran tells them they have to choose their path. Do they want to take full advantage of the opportunity they have been offered and become stars? Will they ignore their careers and fall victim to temptation? Or will they decide that glamour is not for them, that they want home and hearth?

Judy becomes a star. Lana becomes a drunk slut. Hedy forsakes glamour to become a housewife. Yawn.

As I was watching this predictable soap opera, my mind wandered. Hedy was quite dull, but Judy and Lana were both better than the material. As they sang and suffered in glorious black and white, I thought -- these MGM girls never had to worry about bedbugs, or broken elevators, or outdated kitchens and bathrooms. I felt like quite the victim.

Then I remembered that in real life, Judy died in the bathroom of a drug overdose at age 47 and Lana's daughter stabbed a mafioso outside her bedroom door.

Suddenly I once again felt lucky to be average. Dull. The Cubs are literally the most exciting thing in my life right now.

Good for me! Go, Cubs, go!