Deborah

Chloe Selavka, Contributor

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Throughout my life, I’ve been raised against stereotypes. Well, I’ve raised myself against stereotypes; my parents often acknowledged people in Walmart as trailer trash, failing to remember that we were also strolling through the linoleum floored purgatory for teen moms rejected from MTV’s sixteen and pregnant, and old people with an enthusiasm for cheap suspenders.

But most of the time, I try to let people make their own impressions on me, not their clothes or body or voice. Except for soccer moms. I see them, and point them out from across continents, picking them out by their off-brand Coach sunglasses and their running sneakers meant for fashion, not exercise. You can’t forget their minivans either, boasting a high family count with a stick figure representation of their loved ones. I’m obsessed.

So when I fell into a minor case of absolute self loathing and my cousin told me to personify that hate into someone I could easily hate back, I found myself with an easy solution. The cruel voice in the back of my head formed one that could easily weasel itself into someone’s skull and send their last functioning brain cells running for the hills. The venom that leaked into my thoughts when I looked in the mirror molded itself into a makeup plastered face I wasn’t afraid to smack the blush off of. The nerves that suckerpunched my heart when I looked down at what I was wearing in public shimmied themselves into a pair of skin tight leggings that I was probably afraid to wear at one point, and then continued to shape into various extremities, including an obsessively manicured hand clutching a Starbucks cup. Her name was scrawled on the side, the perfect sum of all her parts. “Deborah.”

Her name didn’t false advertise; she really was awful. Her online dating profile would probably list her hobbies and interests as “long walks on the beach” and “jogs in the sunrise” and “crushing innocent teenage girls souls for the fun of it.” She enjoyed insulting me when I did something too bold, and her cackle echoed whenever I tried to wear something form fitting. But, she was ridiculously easy to tell off. Our conversations were like mean spirited checker games. I won more than she did (I was always good at checkers).

“Did I ask, Deborah?” I spoke as she told me I couldn’t pull off yellow. Meanwhile, she looked like a dying liver patient with a neon yellow running jacket on, sipping a glass of Chardonnay as she commented to me from a folding chair on the sidelines of her son’s soccer game. What a hypocrite.

“Don’t have to be a bitch, Deb,” I said as she snarked that my favorite shirt made me look like a circus tent. I told her I’m not the circus tent; I’m the effortlessly beautiful tightrope walker. She smirked and said I was more like the elephant, but I blocked her out; it was getting easier to do because her voice was slowly morphing into the safety demonstration on an airplane. Only the paranoid people listen, and everyone else typically doesn’t end up regretting dazing out and listening to their indie pop rock or Republican podcasts, depending what kind of old man they are.

Deborah did bite back though. There were days she was hard to ignore (like the part of the safety demonstration where they talk about the facemasks to keep us from getting killed. I can never figure out how those work.) She liked public and gruesome attacks, pulling weapons from my arsenal of social anxiety and “that stranger just looked at me weird.”

I have vivid memories of onslaughts of comments she would whisper into my ear. After two remarks about how people were looking at me because of my slightly tighter than usual top, one about my baby face, and a tag along about how I looked like “procrastination and insomnia’s love child”, she would have me feeling like I needed oxygen. Unfortunately, I would typically be at a loss because A) I have a minor case of asthma and B) I have NO IDEA how to put those friggin masks on, no matter how many times I pause my republican podcast to listen.

Often I couldn’t retaliate silently, and would either end up crying IN PUBLIC, or yelling back at her. IN PUBLIC. The most memorable of all was when I was out shopping, innocently trying on clothes when Deborah’s troops came knocking at my door, their bayonets (I have no other knowledge of knives than the material I pull from historical books and the boardgame Clue, and Ms. Scarlet in the dressing room with the dagger does not sound nearly as dramatic as Ms. Scarlet in the dressing room with the BAYONET) scratching at the back of my eyes, and I decided to make the braveman’s choice to run and hide. I swear I checked that the bathroom was empty, I swear it. Why did it matter anyway? I didn’t know that my mouth was going to stand up for me when Deborah began suiting up for another checker match, but it did, and I normally would have been thankful but my mouth had done what it had always been good at again. It had gotten me into trouble.

No sooner had I spoken the words “Fart (we’ll say that’s what I said) off Deborah” when the stall behind me opened and a woman with an offended and slightly confused expression stepped out. Her hair was disheveled and she wore a Subway uniform, with a name tag that read Deborah. It was then I realized I had royally farted up.

I quickly opened my mouth to explain, “I’m sorry…” I was just scolding my anxiety. Who has a name. Yeah, no. I quickly reached to my pocket. I could totally pull this off as a phone call to a friend. Except my phone was in a bag I had dropped by the door, and all I had in my pocket was a pen. I bet if I stabbed myself in the neck with this thing I would have a pretty quick death. The woman was still staring and I felt the need to do something before my hands took control and grabbed that pen to end it all. “I’m sure you’re great!” And then I ran.

Not my best choice, but we all make our mistakes. At least I didn’t go through with my ballpoint pen plan. Now, that would be a whole other set of psychological issues.

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