The frankincense is always greener on the other side. Or whatever color frankincense is.
On Christmas Day, my cats dined on a tuna and pumpkin medley. My friend Sarah’s feline, Saba, whom I’m watching while she’s out of town, enjoyed a fancy feast of wild salmon florentine with garden greens. My supper was lacking in comparison; I chocked down a banana and a frozen burrito while working a 10.5-hour shift. Well, it technically wasn’t frozen when I ate it, thanks to my proficient microwave skills. So, that’s better.
The newspaper I work for used to provide the skeleton night crew of flunkies on the clock on Christmas a catered meal as sort of a sucks-that-you-pursued-journalism-as-a-career consolation. This year, however, we were left to
pack our own dinners order from Chinatown starve. “It’s a kick in the balls,” my outraged colleague griped. Remembering he was commiserating with a girl, he then rephrased: “Kick in the, uh, crotch area.”
I know this is the time of year that I’m supposed to be giving thanks that I’m employed, my cats and I are healthy, we have a roof over our heads, and we have warm beds to sleep in (even if Teva and Isabel won’t step paw anywhere near their bed), but I spent most of Dec. 25 eschewing the second annual cat-wrapping and instead lamenting that if I were living in a homeless shelter, at least I wouldn’t be lonely because of winter overcrowding. And I’d be served warm holiday meals. Well played, homeless people.
While we’re on the topic of Christmas, my period is almost two weeks late, and I’m growing concerned I’m carrying the Lord’s child because ’tis the season. It all adds up. Like Mary, I was raised Jewish. And I haven’t had sex in a lot of months. And I don’t know what myrrh is, but that doesn’t make me want it any less. God’s baby mama’s plight is the Biblical equivalent of the reality TV show “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.” Which up until an ova ago was, admittedly, a pipe dream for me to appear on, because I didn’t not know that I was not pregnant. You know?
Thinking that this might be my last chance for pampering before my virgin birth, and also wanting to look my best for when the media hordes show up to document my immaculate conception, and also because I had a lot of split ends, I booked a haircut. The salon is one of the only places I feel beautiful, because stylists usually fawn over my hair, which has sort of a unique color. “You have Susan Sarandon Red!” one flamboyant barber once told me, before faux fanning himself and bursting into the song “Dammit Janet!” from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
When I was little, my grandpa, from whom I inherited my ginger genes, used to tell me to keep my crimson clippings after a trim so he could glue them to his forehead to supplement his thinning locks. Actually, he still tells me to do this. While I’m told his hue was more of a fiery orange, mine is a shade of auburn that doesn’t often occur naturally. In fact, I’ve only ever seen it in person on animals. For instance, Saba the cat, an orange tabby, and I match fairly well. But dogs, Irish setters and the like, seem to come closest to my color. Remember the episode of “Friends” when Joey meets his identical hand twin in Las Vegas? I had to travel only 2.5 hours by car to find my identical hair twin, who belongs to a Provincetown B&B innkeeper.
But “Dog Red” sounds slightly less classy than “Susan Sarandon Red,” so let’s just go with that.
At the upscale Harvard Square salon, it was heavenly to be touched, to have someone shampoo my scalp and massage my temples and run her fingers through my wet hair. As she combed and snipped, we chatted about her hometown in Russia, her son who aspires to be a music producer, the graphic design classes she’s enrolled in online. When she finished blow-drying, she spun me around in the chair, held up a mirror so I could view the curls in the back, and declared in a thick accent, “You are goddess!” I *really* need to start spending more time in salons. Also, homeless shelters.
Amid the attention and flattery, my mind strayed from my heart and my, uh, crotch area, and I forgot for a moment that I’m alone, yet again, at the holidays.
“Are you seeing anyone?” she asked.
And then I remembered.
“No,” I said, shifting my eyes downward and sweeping away rogue hairs from my sweater.
“Well,” she said, winking. “Maybe next year.”
“Maybe next year,” I repeated.