When I began writing this column seven years ago, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I'd have to address anything like the events of Sept. 11, 2001. What happened is unimaginable and unthinkable. We're all going through a really hard time right now, and I'm sure each one of us has considered our future. Will times get even harder? What is my place in all of this? How much control over our lives do we really have? All of these are important questions.
As for me, I've been thinking and feeling a lot these past few weeks, probably more than I have in my whole life put together. I've been sad, angry, mournful, contemplative, and confused. I've wondered if war will only make things worse, or if we have gone beyond the point where peace is possible. I've wanted to believe that supporting our country would keep us strong, but couldn't deny that I had serious doubts about our fate. Nor could I deny that my faith in God wavered a little. Does He disapprove of what happened? Does He even care? After a great deal of soul-searching, I finally arrived at a conclusion.
I decided to pretend that all of this never happened.
I couldn't believe how much better I felt! Why I hadn't thought of it before? I was like, "Earth to Jean! Earth to Jean, do you read? Hel-lo!" What's the point of making yourself sick with worry and doubt? That's no way to live... unless you're making reservations for a permanent stay at the funny farm!
I mean, that's what the terrorists want, right? They want us to be Gloomy Guses with frowns hanging to the ground. Well, like our president said, we shouldn't give in to these terrorists. And to that, my personal response is, "What terrorists?"
You Jeanketeers are probably wondering how it's possible to pretend that all this never happened. It's simple: Emotionally withdraw from the world! I mean, greet the world with a smile and a positive attitude, but treat everything—what's the word I want to use here?—superficially!
I think we all owe it to ourselves to retreat into our little worlds. We should bake ourselves sinful chocolate delicacies! We should coo over the 2001-edition Christmas ornaments at the Hallmark store! We should savor the latest Lillian Vernon catalog! We should daydream about making out with Patrick Swayze on an exotic Hawaiian beach as we drive to work! We should cut out pictures of mouth-watering dishes from Martha Stewart Living and paste them in our scrapbook! We should dress our cats in doll clothes and take pictures of them! In short, we should pursue the distractions that make our lives fulfilling and worthwhile, because life is not about getting angry over things you cannot control, but pleasing yourself.
I told this to Roz, my Fashion Bug supervisor, and she just looked at me with her mouth wide open. At first, I thought she was impressed, but all she could say was, "Jean, that's the weirdest and most irresponsible thing I've heard since all of this happened."
I wasn't fazed. I replied, "Since all of what happened?" Roz's mouth opened even wider, and she stormed away without a word.
Things weren't much different on the homefront. That night, hubby Rick came home from work, proudly showing me his new "When We Get Through With Them, Afghanistan's Gonna Be Af-GONE-istan" T-shirt. I said I didn't get it. He snorted, "Ain't you been around a TV the last few weeks, Jean?" I said, "Of course I have! You know I'd never go a day without my soaps!" Boy, that really knocked Rick for a loop! He slowly backed out of the living room, staring at me like I'd grown an extra leg or something!
But you know what? Roz, Rick, and all the rest of them don't bother me. After all, I can't expect the whole world to understand where I'm coming from. I realize that not everyone is a self-centered Midwestern woman with a low-paying retail job who's never been farther east than Columbus, OH. But this is what God has made me, and I think the best thing I can do right now is to not question it and just be me.
So if, like me, you're lucky enough to be in a position to be self-centered, don't feel guilty about it. Go for the gusto! (It may one day be a luxury none of us can afford.)
I'll continue to do my thing, putting up with good ol' hubby Rick, spoiling my flabby tabbies, and working at Fashion Bug. Because I think it's important that some things stay static and unchanging. It's what puts stability in our lives. And if I can do anything to cheer up even one of you Somber Sallys, it's all been worth it.
This may seem egotistical, but, for the first time in my life, I feel like I can say this with complete certainty: The world needs Jean Teasdale!
Now, if you'll pardon me, my Fingerhut catalog awaits!