One “M” or Two?

My assistant, Paula, usually has an interesting to-do list. You know, “Get doggy ice cream,” “Tow the Jaguar back across the state.” “Take the dog to acupuncture.” Things like that. This week’s list includes:

1. Get Janine’s clothes back from the deranged person.

2. Find the heathen stonecutters.

Let’s start with number two. I’m trying to order a carved stone for a friend’s garden. The catalog company thinks it should say, “Grow, damnit!” I am quite sure the correct spelling is “Grow, dammit!” Isn’t it? (My spellcheck was less than helpful on this issue, suggesting “admit” and “dampish”, among others. Sounds like Bill Clinton’s average week, doesn’t it?)

The plot thickens. We finally convinced the catalog company to go with “dammit.” Then the actual stonecutting company called and refused the order because they are a Christian company and will not use profanity. Even if it’s spelled wrong. Hence the search for the heathen stonecutters. Let me know if you know any.

As for number one, it’s been quite a week here at Chateau Janine. One of my great luxuries is to have a yoga teacher come to the house. No driving to a gym, dealing with other people, she just shows up and we have class here. On Wednesday five o’clock came and went and “Brenda” (not her real name, for reasons that will soon be apparent) didn’t show up. Brenda’s usually very reliable. I called her, but the phone was busy. Two hours later it was still busy. She doesn’t have voice mail, so I couldn’t leave a message. It’s not my business, but I know she lives alone, and I was probably the only one who knew something might be wrong, so….

I found her apartment just as she was being helped up the stairs by some guy. She said she had had an anxiety attack at another student’s house and the student had sent this guy to drive her car home. We couldn’t find her key and managed to pop the door lock. Once we located the run-down cell phone (hence the busy signal), the guy fled.

I helped her into bed. She was clinging to me, crying, asking me to hold her and read to her. This is about the last thing on earth I wanted to do. But she has no family or friends I could call and I just couldn’t leave her in that state. Her apartment is not air-conditioned. About an hour later the doorbell rang. Her massage therapist had arrived for her massage appointment. Words cannot express how glad I was to see him. I was outta there in an instant.

The next day she called me three times between 6 and 6:15AM, begging me to call her back. When I did, she sounded suicidal and begged to come over to my house. I said OK. Got some food into her and took her for a walk. We had to stop several times because she got nauseous from the medication for “the seizures.” Oh boy. When we got back, she asked if she could please stay at my house a little while and go for a swim. I had to leave, but I figured my housekeeper could help her if she needed anything.

Around noon I got a message from Paula that Brenda was making soup in my kitchen. I called Paula and told her to get Brenda out of there before she left for the day. At four Paula called me and told me Brenda refused to leave because she was going to serve me dinner. I called Paula’s voice mail and left this message “Hi, Paula, I guess Brenda left hours ago, she was just going to take a quick swim. I’m staying over here for dinner and will be home late, so be sure to lock up the house and put the burglar alarm on.” Just to be sure, I waited an extra hour before going home.

Later on I found out the rest of the story. When Paula played the voicemail for her, Brenda went into a seizure on my kitchen floor. Paula asked her who to call and Brenda told her “Sidney” (her ex-boyfriend from 5 years ago that she hates!). Sidney agreed to meet them at Brenda’s apartment. Paula drove Brenda’s car over there. When Sidney showed up she got a ride back to my house.

Brenda called me at 6AM the next day to ask if I could get her some drugs, any prescription antidepressant would be fine, since she couldn’t see her doctor until three that afternoon. I didn’t answer that one (no, I don’t happen to be on antidepressants, and no, I would not give prescription drugs to someone who had a seizure on my floor…). She called again at 1PM and said it was OK that I didn’t get her the drugs, and she’d see me on Monday. I left her a message that perhaps we needed a little break from each other. She left me a message (I won’t be answering my phone for quite a while) that taking a break was fine, but could I let her know if this by any chance had anything to do with what happened this week. Because that would be good information for her to have. Later she left another message that she also needed to take a break for her own reasons, but how should she get my clothes back to me? I didn’t know she had my clothes.

When I found the empty tequila bottle in my bar that afternoon it all started to make a little more sense. I threw out the soup and bought some pastries for my employees to thank them for dealing with her. Paula will get my clothes back somehow.

Anyone know a good yoga teacher without a taste for tequila?

Copyright 1998 by Janine Smith. Not to be reproduced or distributed without permission