Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pink Thong Mystery Solved, and An Epiphany about Being Nice

The matter of the pink thong has been put to rest. They were Gigi's and they were, in fact, a bit pricey. The production and fabric quality was so good that the panties held their shape and elasticity throughout numerous gently hand washings. So I stand corrected on that original assessment; nevertheless, they were second string or she'd have noticed they were gone immediately.

Solving this little mystery perked me up a bit today. I was tired from the party which was lovely but started late since the actors came over after the show, and the curtain didn't go down on Corpus Christi until 10:15. I decided against instituting the Sarah Palin Free Zone - and it turned out nobody talked about the election at all what so ever. We were all too busy bursting into song because the show is such a success they added a performance since they sold out the run. Congratulations to 108 Productions of Los Angeles! The best thing is that I bought enough food so that there are plenty of leftovers to make a lovely picnic for tomorrow afternoon which is also supposed to be lovely (and I have a date with the Artist from the South of France).

Lovely, Lovely, Lovely. All this pleasantness merely enhances the gentle epiphany I had this week when I realized that I don't have to be a Nice Girl anymore.

When you've been conditioned to be a Nice Girl, you occasionally find yourself in situations when you simply don't know what to do because you're too nice. Sometimes if you weren't stuck being nice, a course of action would be clear. To illustrate, we will look at the time Houston Northwest Hospital lost my father.

Right after Hurricane Rita did not hit Houston, my father was up on a ladder taking off plywood from the upstairs windows when he had a stroke. When he passed out, he fell off the ladder. As it happened, when he landed the blockage in his carotid artery dislodged, thereby stopping the stroke. He fell abouat eight feet onto the cement around the pool so his wrist and ankle were busted all to shit. My mother had gone to the grocery store - having first told my father to wait until she got home to get on the ladder. My father's inner Clint Eastwood took over when he hit the ground and he had managed to pull himself to the back door where my mother found him lying in a puddle of blood.

It took a couple of days for one set of doctors to finish operating on his ankle and putting pins in his wrist and stuff during which the did a bunch of tests and discovered a 95% blockage in his carotid artery. The Stroke Theory was born. Also during this time, my sister-in-law who is occasionally Tacky, wrote on the patient dry-erase board at the foot of my dad's bed: His Wife told him not to get up on that ladder.

The day they did the roto-rooter on my dad, Mother and I hung out in the Surgical Waiting Room. The surgery itself went well. The doctor came out to tell us Dad was doing fine and would be moved to recovery shortly. About an hour later, at 4:30pm, the two volunteers who worked the reception desk and kept the coffee fresh were done for the day. Wanda Mae Bouffant and her partner Sue Sue shouted out, "Anyone want coffee? Time to wash the pot." When there were no takers, Wanda Mae said, "Okay then. Y'all answer the phone."

I was stunned. The telephone connecting the waiting room to the operating room had been left in charge of about 35 random souls, half of them watching the Astros game while they ate Barbecue from Luther's across the street. Every ten or fifteen minutes, the phone would ring. Someone would answer it and call out the family's name. Again, I was stunned. In New York City, nobody in their right mind would leave the one line of communication to the operating room in charge of unauthorized personnel. Never mind that patient and family privacy were violated every time somebody shouted out a name. After fifteen minutes with no information, at least one of the New Yorkers would have gotten impatient enough and aggressive enough to bang on the operating room door which was at the far end of the room. No one in the Operating Room would have gotten a moment's peace. In fucking credible.

Mother and I sat there for some time watching other people get phone calls. Mom started getting nervous. We each checked in the Recovery Room, but they thought Dad was in his hospital room which he had vacated prior to the surgery. Clearly, Houston Northwest Hospital had lost my dad. I looked around the recovery room for him myself, but so many old white men were laying around with tubes in their mouths that you could hardly tell one from the next. I thought I saw him, but it turned out it was a man from New Orleans who'd been laying in the recovery room with about a dozen other old white men from New Orleans since Katrina because there wasn't anywhere else to put them.

I was so alarmed and distressed by the situation that I stopped being Nice. I popped my head into the waiting room to tell my mom what I was doing, went to the main reception area, warned the clerk that I was fixing to throw a fit so she should point me in the right direction, was stopped by a middle manager who checked the computer and said my dad was in his room. That's when I hollered, "Somebody better tell me where the FUCK my father is RIGHT NOW," and stomped my foot. We made quick progress from there on out.

This story goes on for days - but the salient point here is that Down South, we take being nice very seriously. When you toss certain Christian training on top of being Nice, you can be paralysed like the two women in the waiting room we met after I pitched a fit. They'd been waiting for over four hours with no information about one of them's husband who had surgery for a brain anyuerism that morning. Maybe they were afraid he was dead and didn't want to hear it so they didn't get pushy. G*d knows we don't want to get pushy like those Yankee Feminists on the TV.

The scene in the hospital was out of character for me though. Normally I'm so worried about not offending anyone (to his/her face) that I don't mention things that bother me. That's how Gayle the Hillbilly Hustler was able to move in here last Thanksgiving. I had said she could stay with me instead of in the Hostel on Wednesday and maybe Thursday night, and when I went to pick her up Wednesday evening, she had the pecan pie from Little Pie Company as well as boxes, shopping bags and suitcases.

Everyone who knew me well took this opportunity to point out, in the most respectful way, that I was a complete dumb ass. What my friends and family hadn't recognized is that I had to be Nice when I asked Gayle to leave or else there would be problems. If I asked her to leave and then went to work - she'd take the silver. If I asked her to leave and supervised her departure, there was a very good chance she'd get drunk and kick my ass. And make no mistake, I was well aware Gayle the Hillbilly Hustler could kick my ass any time she wanted to. That's because I was a Nice Girl and she wasn't. She was very well versed in the intricacies of social exchange with Nice Girls. In almost every conversation, she milked our common Texas background with amusing personal anecdotes, and she did all the cooking.

She should have done her own damn laundry. If I hadn't seen those crusty panties, it would have been a couple more weeks before I got really suspicious. I probably would have been more sympathetic during her week long Bloody Mary Juice Fast - except it was my vodka and I was sober.

I suspect that I've been struggling against my Nice Girl conditioning for years which is why the Disney Princesses drive me crazy. Every single one of them, from Snow White to Ariel to Pocahantas, Jasmine and Belle, is a Nice Girl. I don't know about Mulan since I didn't have to see that movie.

While I was doing all this thinking, I was listening to Blondie. Deborah Harry is a good example of someone who might be girly, but isn't particularly nice. I always loved Blondie. I always loved Tinkerbell, too.

She's magic, and she isn't a bit nice.


Blogger Kitty said...

I have the Nice Girl thing too, except the last 5 years have taught me that it can sometimes make me unhappy. So I don't do it so much anymore. I have learned to be Assertive. Not Agressive (which is something totally different, though also useful on occasion), but Assertive. In a smiling way. I don't want to offend anyone, but I want what I want, and I'm not scared to say what that is, or to ask for/expect it anymore.

Maybe it's an age thing?


October 26, 2008 at 5:51 AM  
Blogger PENolan said...

Age is a major factor, for sure. My mother will testify to that. I'm not surprised to hear that the Nice Girl phenomenon has followed us over from England since lots and lots of Americans came from England to begin with. Must have been essential to the survival of the patriarchy for the women to Hush Up and Be Nice.

I still think there are similarities in manners between England and the South, but I get all my information from Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope.

October 26, 2008 at 7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sick of being a Nice Girl. The trouble with that is, once you've been nice and kept to the High Road, people assume you'll alway be Nice. Then they mess with you. Being a Nice Girl has frequently been to my disadvantage. As soon as I have the right opportunity, I'm channeling my Inner Bad Girl for all she's worth.

October 26, 2008 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Comrade Kevin said...

My grandfather was the typical Clint Eastwood type, too. He cut his hand something awful with a circular saw, and despite copious bleeding drove himself to the emergency room to get stitched up and bandaged.

October 27, 2008 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Gail said...

Hi Trish-

I love how you demanded that
'they' locate your father. And I so get that 'nice girl' image. I am usually quite nice, or better said, I am kind. Even reading the words "nice girl" gives me shivers for many reasons, so I get it!

And the cast party? I needed way more details, ya know? :-)

We had no power here for over 24 hours, and the phone is still out. I am not all that good at "roughing it".....we don't have water when the power goes out so one cannot 'flush'. Yes,I had to 'go' outside. Quite an adventure.


October 27, 2008 at 10:05 AM  

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