The jealousy started when she was nine years old. She was jealous of the girls who had a different, fantastic dress for every day of school.
So she asked her mother for more dresses.
“Now that is just too much!” her mother replied. “Those girls are spoiled. It is a waste of money for you to have a different dress for every day of the week! Besides, where would we keep all those clothes?”
She instantly became sad. She was sad that her mother was so upset over not being able to give her a dress for every day of the week.
So, she asked her father. Her father told her that it was greedy of her to ask for so many dresses.
“Those girls are either from wealthy families or their mothers are spending money that they can’t afford to spend. You need to learn how to sew. In time, you will have more clothes. But that is not important. Right now, you need to focus on more important things and to get your mind away from keeping up with those girls.”
So, she asked her Aunt. Her Aunt was always good for a bailout or for some sound advice. Her Aunt always took the time to think about things called “alternatives”.
“You need to learn how to sew!” Her Aunt yelled. She loved to yell when she had an “epiphany”.
“Now let’s see, you will begin with simple things, so you will have to mix them in with clothes that you already have. Those rich girls have dresses with details that will take a long time to learn, so don’t look for a quick way to keep up with the Joneses, girl! Let’s see if your Mom will help…”
On the first day of school, she had an excellent wardrobe of mix and match clothes. She even received compliments from the rich girls. A couple of the rich girls wanted to pay her to make blouses for them.
But then she noticed that most of the kids had money for school lunches. What a cool thing it would be to sail into the cafeteria without a lunch box, to step up to the counter and to wave a hand around and order food!
Her Mother told her that school lunches were nasty and expensive. Her Father told her that she should be glad that she had a Mother to make lunches for her.
“Some kids don’t even get to eat lunch. A lot of them have to get the free lunch programs.”
Then she asked Auntie. Auntie came up with the idea of selling some of her creations. That would give her money to buy school lunches. So, she went to the rich girls, started making little detailed blouses and skirts of her own design, and soon had money for cafeteria lunches.
Mom was right, though. The cafeteria lunches were nasty, so she stopped buying them and started appreciating the beautiful lunches that her mother packed for her.
In High School, she became jealous of the kids who had time to hang out after school and go to dances. So she started hanging out after school and going to dances. But it was too much to study and sew and hang out and dance. She cut back to studying, sewing, and hanging out with her good friends. That was far more profitable than mindless hanging out with stupid kids and boys who just wanted to get in her pants.
Then, she became jealous of the glamorous kids who modeled and acted and traveled. She was a good actor and she learned some things. She learned that she was a brilliant seamstress and that she could make good costumes. Her greatest accomplishments included a complicated dress for the “Queen of England”. It was a stupid play and the language made no sense at all, but it was fun and the actors were cool kids.
Her school counselor recommended that she go to design school and become a fashion designer. The counselor gave her some books about the fashion industry. She started reading biographies, watching movies and soaking up all that she could soak from the fashion magazines.
She asked her Auntie about fashion as a career. Auntie said “Don’t you ever take drugs. Ever! That industry is the worst for starting people onto drug addictions. And they will lie through their teeth to get you to try drugs! The very first drug that you take could get you addicted for life!” She yelled.
“And don’t get overly concerned about your weight, either. Just watch your diet and exercise. They’re all starving themselves in the fashion industry, and those New York women are completely neurotic about weight!”. Auntie was passionate about this topic. But Auntie soldiered on and delivered some goods.
“Let me see who has been able to do well in that industry without going crazy or doing drugs….”
So she graduated High School and went to the graduation parties wearing fabulous outfits that had all of those “Rich Girl” details. She spent the Summer sewing and selling clothes and went to Design School on scholarship.
And she promptly became jealous of the people who spent their lives designing and modeling and traveling and going to parties without becoming drunks and doing drugs. She graduated at the top of her class and went out into the world in order to design, travel and avoid drugs.
Today she sits by her pool, watching her grandchildren cavort. She is waiting for her husband to come home for dinner. They will have a traditional “Pre Oscar” quickie after their son had picked up the kids. Then they will get dressed.
She wonders if she will win another Oscar tonight, this time for her costume work on the most nominated film. Her husband has two films up for Oscar nods. They are “A” listed for the red carpet, so they will have to deal with the coked up, yakking interviewers. Her phone is ringing off the hook. It’s only the press. She ignores the calls and watches her grandchildren cavort in the pool.
She reflects upon her life and is amazed at how jealousy, a negative emotion, could have been such a positive and motivating factor in her life. She is thankful for the people who made her work that jealousy and do the right things about it. She has lived long enough to know how it could have all gone wrong.
She has witnessed the ways in which mishandling jealousy went so wrong for so many. The emotion slowly destroyed bodies, hearts, careers and minds.
She shuts down the internal dialogue about jealousy. She watches her grandchildren cavort in the pool.
The truth is that she hasn’t been jealous of anyone or anything for decades.