Monday, April 19, 2010

Reality check

In which we see Ms. Bradstreet get slapped on the side of the head with a cellphone

The Maria Chronicles, #51

"So let me get this straight," Maria's friend Janice is saying to her on her cell as they lie in bed in their respective apartments. "Prince Charming, who has been courting you for months, has been a perfect dreamboat during your convalescence, right?"

"More or less," Maria responds, grudgingly, knowing where this is going.

"He learns you may lose your job, and so tells you about a lead he has for another one."


"And you're non-committal."


"And you've had no great leads in the weeks that have followed."

"Well, no. A couple things. I've gotten a couple calls from the employment agency I've been using, but they don't much interest me. Still, I'm hoping something will come through."

"OK. So then this contact of aforementioned Prince leaves you a message asking you to come to interview for a very good job, a better job than you have now."

"Well, I don't know that for sure. But it's probably more administrative. I don't think I want that. I'm a teacher."

"But you don't actually know just what the job involves."


"Because you haven't called him back."


"And how long has it been since you've received that call?"

"Three days."

"Three days? Jesus, Maria, what are you waiting for? It's just a phone call, for Christ's sake. What: are you afraid you're going to lose your virginity if you call the friend of a friend back? Just to talk to him?"

Maria sighs. "You're not making this easy for me, Janice."

"Is that my job?"

"Of course it's your job. You're my best friend. I'm conflicted. I need someone I can talk to about this!"

"Well I'm here, aren't I?"

"Yes, but you're yelling at me. It isn't helpful."

"This is called a reality check, Maria. And it is helpful. You need some friction to see matters clearly."

"Oh I've got plenty of friction in my head, I can assure you of that."

"That's the problem. It's in your head. It's your own friction. You make it, you use it. It's the friction of a control freak. You and I both know this about you."

Maria has no ready answer for this. It's what her ex-husband used to say about her.

"So you're telling me I have to go on that job interview," she says resignedly.

"Can you afford not to?"

"No. I can't."

"So then why are we even having this conversation?"

"Because I really don't want to do it."

"Why, because you'll feel beholden to Jack? Jesus, you've got to let go of that, Maria. So what: the guy was a Wall Street pirate. That's history now. You think you're going to punish him by refusing to accept anything that comes your way because it may be tainted? You're such a goddamn Puritan, Maria. The world's first Chicana Puritan."

"Boy, you're a hard-ass, Janice."

"Well, am I right?"

"Not exactly."

"Fine. You're not the world's first Chicana Puritan."

Maria can't help but laugh. But Janice is pushing ahead. "So what do I have wrong, then?"

"I mean yes, at one point, it was about that."

"Punishing him. Withholding approval."

"Yes. It was. But not anymore."

"So what is it now?"

There's a long pause before Maria answers quietly. "Because I like him."

There's another pause before Janice responds gently. "All right then. Now we're getting somewhere." Another pause. "So you're afraid to take the job because you don't want to feel dependent on a guy -- a rich, good looking guy who might make you feel insecure as it is -- because you'll feel uncomfortable and maybe even self-sabotage the thing."


"Well OK, Maria. That makes sense to me."

"So you think I shouldn't call the guy back for the interview?"

"No, I think you have to call back the guy for the interview. Doesn't mean you'll get or want the job. But again, you can't afford not to. It's really quite possible that you'll get the job, love it, and get Mr. Second Chance in Life in the bargain. Actually, you may well forfeit Mr. Second Chance if you don't make the call, because if I were him I'd begin thinking that you'll never get over what he may well perceive as this withholding approval thing. But none of this is to say that your anxieties are misplaced. I get it now, Maria. Feeling dependent on him would feel really shitty, and maybe doom the relationship. But you're just going to have to face that fear and walk toward it. Which you can and will. Just like you did in walking away from that asshole husband of yours."

Maria's eyes are glistening. She rubs them. "Now I know why I called you."

"Damn well took you long enough. So what's happening this weekend? Is Mr. Right going to sweep you off your feet and take you to some fancy restaurant?"

"No. He did that last weekend. Actually, he's going to be visiting his daughter this weekend down in Washington, where she's attending a conference."

"Great. My sweetie is also going to be out of town. How about I swoop down there with a pair of theater tix. Can you wedge your aching leg into one of those tiny rows?"

"Actually, I get the cast off on Thursday."

"Great. So it's a date."

"It's a date. Love you, Janice."

"Yeah, right. whatever. Back at ya, kid."