Okay. So I did not spend 67 minutes in the service of others on Madiba’s birthday. Instead I had a Monday morning deadline that I ignored on Friday afternoon, so I worked on keeping my own derriere out of trouble.
I feel a little guilty, and cannot quite figure out why. If one commits random acts of kindness throughout the year, like tipping a car guard even though one is sitting virtually right next to one’s car at a sidewalk table in Melville, and buying the Star, sometimes, from the woman on the corner of Yale and Empire even though one has already read it, and donating loads of nice stuff that one might very well wear again in five-or-so years’ time to Mary’s church fund (or Mary), why should an hour of one’s time not spent in the service of others make one feel like squirming in the presence of those who did?
I don’t know, so I am going to move along here.
I do lots of nice things for other people. For example, I often tell a woman I know that I admire her shoes, and it is usually true – she wears these unbelievably gorgeous sex-pot heels that may even be Ferragamo. But sometimes she wears white PVC stiletto boots with a black mini. Whatever her shoe collection might do for her husband, the boots are the most revealing and for that reason alone one might want to issue a cautionary note.
The right thing to say, of course, would be, “Jolene*, those boots are just what they need at the Wits drama department of this year’s production of “Hair the Musical” and really honey, after forty five I believe the right length for a skirt is anywhere BELOW the knee.”
But no. Tough love is so much harder than just being a plain old bitch, so on those days I just keep quiet. And not in the Eleanor Roosevelt† way either. I do wish I had the courage to help her with this, but I don’t. I am too much of a ninny to be completely revolting to someone that I know. In theory, Jolene should be grateful for advice that stops her from appearing in public dressed like an ageing and delusional drum majorette. But as we all know, more likely she will be angry and embarrassed and hurt. Like my good friend Ruth once said, honesty is not always the best policy. And I have been so good on that score, that I think my 67 minutes for the year has been taken care of.
* Not her real name.
† She once famously said, “If you cannot say anything nice about anybody, come sit here next to me.”