Oh, Untimely Death

First off before you read this post and more importantly before I write it because I haven’t written it yet, I’m still on the first sentence, see? This post will be jolly. But you must know before reading it my two biggest fears in life.

#1: Death (does that count as a fear “in life?” I suppose it’s right on the line.)

#2: Specifically dying of breathing complications. Knowing that I could have done something, as in dying from an asthma attack and realizing my inhaler wasn’t strong enough. Dying in a fire, although scary, not as maddening because I really have no control at that point.

Okay? Let’s go!

So I’m at Kinko’s using the Caveman-era paper cutter (one piece at a time or else it ruins the blade? Why not leave out lefty scissors and a butter knife and I’ll just poke my eyes out.) to cut my flyers for my show.

[Sidenote: If my dear friend, PFT, is reading this. I tried desparately to go to your recommended WeHo postcard place and the guy said that for what I want, which is the same thing that you get done, it would start at $49.99. When I said that my friend told me to ask for this guy by name, he said, “Your friend never came here. I don’t know his name. I’ve never given anyone that deal in my life. It doesn’t exist.” It’s totally eerie and reminiscient of your Ghost Strombolie. So I went to Kinko’s to DIY.)]

So, I see this older woman, about 65, waiting for me to stop slicing my postcards, one by one. I realize I’m slowly going insane and I’m going to have the people behind the counter, once they got off the phone and realize they are at work, cut them for me. I say to the woman, “You go.” And she says, “Oh dear. Don’t leave. Don’t leave. You have to show me how to use this new fangled machine.” I’d argue that it’s only a fangled machine, nothing new about it but she was older, and in her day they could only rip things.

She had a bunch of cards that in flowery cursive, with flowers, that said GOD. And she had inserts that needed to be trimmed so that they wouldn’t look, “tacky” inside as she said.

I showed her how to use it and she said “Oh, you teenagers know everything.” I’m thirty-one years old. So I was angry at being called a teenager, since I’ve worked so hard to stop wearing clunky shoes with black velvet dresses. Maybe I was angry because I wasn’t a teenager. But I felt animosity. Then this woman got competitive. She said, “But then again we had machinery in my day that you girls wouldn’t know how to use know…so I could show you a thing or two.”

And she raised her shoulders and shifted her weight a little. She was acting like Mae West. “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime and I’ll show you how to use a typewriter, you teenager from the future, you.”

She was acting strangely like my mother. Last year at Christmas, I drove from my mother’s house about 2.5 miles to the Trader Joe’s in Needham, Ma. And miraculously I got there in under five minutes. Now, in LA, a two mile drive often takes 25 minutes in traffic. When I experessed glee to my mother that I was in the suburbs where there is no traffic, she got very defensive. “Oh. It’s so bad here. I can’t get anywhere. We have it too.” Which made my dad roll his eyes and go, “Joannnnn, de traffic here is notin’ like LA.” (No he’s not Jamaican, just from Boston.)

Anyway, the woman leaned in and said, “I’m making sympathy cards. My best friends daughter dropped dead this weekend. Asthma.”

She needed to stop right there. Because I was about to go hiking and now when I hike alone, my biggest fear is a massive asthma attack and even though I keep my inhaler in my jog bra (put your boners down) I fear I won’t grab it in time and I’ll fall on the ground dead and someone’s dog (not on a leash) will eat my brains out.

I said, “How old was she?”

She said, “Oh, older than you. She already had teenagers.”

I felt better. And then she said, “But she really had the attack because she’d just gotten off a plane, on vacation.”

Okay. Stop. I’m going on a plane in three days. My biggest fear is losing my ability to breathe, or having it so compromised that I’m breathing in poison and I don’t know it until I get off the plane and drop dead at baggage claim. And I always assume bad things will happen on vacation because, isn’t irony a bitch?

But then I realized I should wise up. Maybe this asthmatic didnt have her inhaler.

So Old Lady says, “She used her inhaler but I guess it was one of those things were she needed a more powerful one, didn’t know it and couldn’t get to a doctor in time.”

AH HAH! I knew it! I knew shit like that was possible. Why am I paying my therapist to feed me with lies!

I said, “That’s scary. Because I have asthma.”

Old Lady said, “Oh honey. That’s not scary. That’s deadly.”

The woman continued, “I mean you’re young but yeah, if you have asthma now, well….when you’re in your forties, I mean….that’s how it will go.”

That’s how it will go. She was like a visit from a pre-Grim Reaper. “Oh I’m not here to take you now, but just to confirm that you aren’t neurotic, you’re just in touch with your body, the body that I’ll be taking by way of asthma in about 15 years.”

I wished I hadn’t stayed to help that lady. I walked away and checked the expiration date on my inhaler. I am good to go until March 2006.

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