We've all seen them before. Shriners, Socialists, and the Boy Scouts of America...beggars. Tens of people all around us, everyday, manage to find themselves in some sort of ridiculous pickle, as they hustle help from meaningless strangers. The world can easily be divided into two groups: the "haves" and the "have nots." We've all heard these tired colloquialisms, but it's true. I roundly consider myself a "have not." You either belong in beauty pageants or American Idol. Those poor pageant girls are hotmesses and could really learn from people like Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. Clay and Ruben are a twenty-first century Simon & Garkunkel, riveting "haves" in my book. Instead of appealing for tiaras on television, those shellacked "scholarship-opportunity" damsels should really be knitting socks for six-toed babies or contributing to the Fox News Channel. Much like the engineering behind the Peanut M & M and the structure of the post-birth vagina, humanitarianism has long fascinated me. I would totally posit myself a giver if I wasn't me, as I amass nausea from most people and shoulder an innate selfishness with pride. My struggle with charity emanated as a youth.
Fifth grade was a big year for me. Not only did I have to reel in my self-importance as an elementary senior, I attended a different school and exploded into my brand new training bra. I also met Janice Osbourne, a grade-five colleague and grade-ten "have not." Janice, looking back, was probably clinically-depressed, and, worse, quite poor. She was a tragic riot that I generally avoided. However, one day, she revealed to me how pathetic she felt about her home life and how sad she was not to have any friends, beleaguered by the fact she felt unpretty. Even at my tender age, the charity gods and/or Mother Teresa tested me. Before this point, my philanthropy ended with dropping dimes in the "Help Save a Child" basket at Mexican restaurant cashier desks. Janice embodied the fucking dime basket. Her attempts to present depth did not impress me, yet I did resolve to take her under my wing and teach her about life and how to be modern girl of the nineties. But with recess in fifteen minutes, I needed to hurry.
I sat Janice down and instantly shouldered flashbacks of giving my parents the "sex talk" a few months prior. What a debacle. Janice needed to comprehend that she should first be a girl. "Since you do not have a penis, you are not allowed to sport a bowl-cut for hair or wear Doc Martens," I said. When she needed inspiration, Dolly Parton would serve as a perfect example of modern femininity and provide appropriate examples of makeup application and hair height. She appreciated that visual more than I would know at the time. After we discussed the oh-so-important facade, I realized I must delve deeper and classify her personality disorder. I was seriously involved with psychoanalysis that year and strove to stretch my expertise with this new case study. "Janice, the root of your problem is poverty. If you pretend to come from money, as I do, all of your stressors will disappear. All smart people build walls of lies to protect themselves. I certainly do. If you construct a moneyed persona, popularity awaits you," I proclaimed. Janice thanked me for the advice and went to the girls' bathroom to stare in a mirror and think about our discussion.
After my pep-talk with the adolescent version of Paula Poundstone, I confided in our teacher, Ms. Collins, about my concerns. "Listen, Janice's problems are bigger than you and me. She either needs to speak to a counselor about her condition, or she requires an exorcism faster than I can say 'too legit to quit,'" I explained. I presented a detailed plan of action for the post-exorcism remodification, knowing that awareness of this issue was tantamount. Failure to act would force me to call the Department of Children's Services, whom I had on speed dial as a looming threat to my father. Ms. Collins exhibited deep concern over my story. Being a teacher, her salary didn't allow for Botox, and furrows severely creased her forehead. She thanked me more than really was necessary for my benevolence and general compassion for human suffering. I brushed it off and asked her what she thought about third-world adoption's impact on the Bosnian War.
The faculty sung my praises for the rest of the semester. At the end-of-the-year awards ceremony, the county Superintendent of Schools honored me with the Kerr Cup for "Outstanding Achievement in Integrity, Community Service and Charity." I never really spoke to Janice after that. I was a god.
I brought AWARENESS to Janice's plight. But, what's more: it forces me (to this day) to review my self-awareness. Janice and I are quite similar, but perhaps I built better lies. Awareness is education. It is more vital than my bronzer, and I find that to be the biggest act of charity. As with the alcoholic quitters in AA, you first have to admit you have a problem. We need a constant dialogue amongst each other about the world's shittiness, and we need a constant monologue with ourselves.
I am sure Janice blossomed into a fascinating lesbian that certainly pays it forward.