Habit Patterns [Educational Short, 1954]

Dear Barbara,

What a creep that narrator is! I’m so sorry that her vile words must overlay your needless suffering. Let me say—as a fellow slob who’s done quite alright for herself—I think you’ve got a lot going for you. Once you ditch the toxic narrator, I’m sure you’ll be unflappable. As for the narrator, what does she know about being a person? She’s just a cold voice with no veins for her blood to travel through. Don’t let her hogwash derail your spirit.

Here’s what I’d advise:

Ditch the scarf. All it would take is for one devotee to discern the face of Our Lady in that sweater stain and the devout would make pilgrimages for a glimpse of your bustline. They’d hang Milagros from you, crossing themselves in prayer. Each thread of your garment could be sold at the price of diamonds. Centuries hence, guards would protect your remains behind velvet ropes in a cathedral where your suburban domicile now stands. I am, as we speak, soiling my décolletage in solidarity.

Befriend Helen. The narrator is stubbornly bent on pitting you girls against one another, but Helen seems perfectly benign . . . and who has time for infighting anyway? If other fictional pairings are anything to go by, you two could really help each other out. Think Laverne and Shirley, Rhoda and Mary Tyler Moore, Anne Shirley and Diana Barry, DJ Tanner and Kimmy Gibler. Shipshape types have been coupling with freaky slob dreamers since the dawn of time. The shipshape ones model self control for the freaky ones; the freaky ones help the shipshape ones get loose. Everyone wins! Also–news flash–binaries are limiting, but for the sake of this example, we’ll let that slide.

Keep telling stories. So those girls at the party failed to see the genius in your brilliant (if slightly embroidered!) account of you summer at sea. Whatever! Keep up the good work, I say. I like how you lit up while recounting. Someday you’ll be telling a story and the listeners will light up in return. It will feel awesome and you will have real friends and not zzzz acquaintances.

Here’s a novel idea . . . be yourself! So you were too busy sleeping in to come up with party quips about Tess of the D’Urbervilles. It isn’t the unforgivable act the narrator makes it out to be. You only go around once, old girl. Any person worth your time will shrug at the sight of your crumpled robe on the bedroom carpeting. It is what was formerly filling out that old robe–brains and entrails and all–that counts.

Get mad if you must. Slaying the narrator might be taxing, so I suggest screeching along to a little curative Alien She (which, in my opinion, is thematically appropriate to the task at hand)! Care for an appropriate rage read? Check out Sylvia Plath’s In Plaster.

Yours,

Li ❤

You go girl!

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