From the book
From the book
HOW TO RIDE AN ELEVATOR
SEVERAL YEARS AGO WHEN the relationship I assumed was both nearly perfect and my last turned out to be neither and ended car-off-cliff style, I experienced an unexpected and profound personal awakening.
This awakening arrived convincingly disguised as the most miserable and debilitating period of my life--a life that would now be trimmed short from the disease of ruination.
So complete was this state of psychological collapse, it even followed me into elevators.
As I stood in a hotel elevator one afternoon on my way back to my room, it stopped on that floor with all the conference rooms, where they keep the people with name tags.
One such person stepped into the lift, pushed the button for her floor, then took a step back and angled her body so that she was not quite facing me, but neither was she looking straight ahead at the seam where the doors meet, as common American Elevator Etiquette dictates.
Even out of the corner of my now suspicious eye I was able to register the "I'm a people person" body language such a stance suggested.
No sooner had I formed the silent thought, "God, a people person. She better not speak to--" I heard this: "It's not that bad."
I'd been scrupulously careful to keep my thought about her to myself; she had not done the same.
What's more, she'd spoken these words much louder and with more conviction than you would think necessary for a space roughly the size of four caskets standing on end.
"I'm sorry?" I said.
She was looking at me with an expression of incredulity mixed with boldness. The highlights in her spiky hair had a greenish cast in the unflattering elevator lighting and her lipstick provided her with an upper lip that I saw she did not actually possess.
"I said, it's not that bad," and she gave me that frank, eyebrows up, let's-be-real-here, look. "Whatever it is that happened, it can't possibly be as bad as it looks on your face. How 'bout trying on a smile for size. And if you're all out, I've got one you can borrow."
My first thought was, "It's leaking out of me? People can see it?"
My second thought was, "Die, bitch."
But I am much too polite to say something like that so I said, "I'll try."
Encouraged, she continued. "It'll lift your spirits. The first thing I do every morning is smile at myself in the mirror and say, 'You are a powerful, positive person and nothing can get you down today.'"
Thank God the elevator doors were already open and she was on her way out as she finished yammering at me, but just to be on the safe side I reached forward and began stabbing the Door Close button.
Now, I have an uncommonly high threshold for most any category of stimulation you can think of, but especially when it comes to being shocked, horrified, or enraged.
I was all of these things now. After a mere elevator ride that could not possibly have lasted longer than thirty-five seconds. Maybe forty seconds, if we passed through some sort of time-expanding warp.
Once in my room I had to think, what the hell just happened there? Why do I hate Lipstickmouth so much?
I am not a spiritual person, as I was in childhood. But occasionally, one event in my life will so quickly be followed by a second event that so perfectly replies to the first, it gives me pause and makes me wonder if I still have my St. Christopher medal somewhere.
Glancing down at my laptop, I noticed the following bold headline in my news...