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January 8, 2017 / thackersam

Oh What Fresh Hell Is This

frustration2My favorite Dorothy Parker poem Frustration, copied from a book long before the internet made it easy to print out, has hung on the cabinet in my office, and has had a place of distinction wherever I have been sitting in my current and past jobs. When my boss noticed it not too long ago, he told me I had to take it down. Though she was known to have made more than one suicide attempt, I don’t think Dorothy Parker had any intention of physically harming anyone. I myself have carried an imaginary bazooka since I was in my early 20s, and when I worked as an assistant manager at a Victoria’s Secret store more than 20 years ago, I found that I also had an imaginary machete, which was used to chop off the hands of a piggy male client. And although my mind saw his severed bloody hands flop to the floor, that was and remains the extent of my violent behavior.

I share Ms. Parker’s frustration that there are so many awful people out there, chief of whom will be taking office shortly, and there is little we can do about it. So we imagine their demise and hope that karma gets them in the end, so to speak. The poem is now tacked up behind my computer monitor where it is still visible to me.

The impetus of tonight’s post came this week when the phrase “What fresh hell is this” came to mind, for a reason I don’t recall though I am sure is work related. When I looked up the phrase, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is attributed to Ms. Parker with a story that goes thusly: She was working on a manuscript when the phone rang causing her to cry out loud “Oh what fresh hell is this.” Obviously amused by her own utterance, from that point on she would answer the phone not with hello, but with those words as her greeting.

Like many others I’m sure, I’ve noticed the similarities between Dorothy Parker and Carrie Fisher; their work as writers and on movie scripts, and their caustic wit, their addiction issues, among other things. I was fortunate to see the documentary last night that was released months early due to the odd yet now understandable circumstances of Fisher’s and her mother Debbie Reynold’s deaths. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, is, I think, a really good documentary on its own, made ever so much more poignant by their recent deaths one day apart. One line in particular stood out for me when Carrie Fisher pondered: “If you die when you’re fat, are you a fat ghost, or do you revert to a more flattering time.” Hmmm.

BTW – Even though I have dramatically cut down on my dairy consumption, prompted by a friend’s suggestion that it may help me avoid a third bout of breast cancer, I just noticed that my Sunday brunches at Tribeca’s Kitchen where I compose my weekly blog post, and where everyone knows that I must sit in Alberto’s section and that my coffee cup must always be filled, I consume nearly a whole pitcher of milk. You know, the small metal ones with the flip lids. And I don’t even drink my coffee light. What a dilemma. Cancer or coffee the way I like it, and lots of it (coffee, that is).

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