Saturday, January 07, 2012

Butter, Onions, and the Margaret Thatcher Syndrome

"Why not have my bedroom as the main room? After all, I spend most of my days in bed; I most often eat in bed, watching cartoons on FOX TV; it's not as if I throw dinner parties." Indeed, bits of toast and scraps of mortadella were strewn on the sheets, which were stained with wine and cigarette burns in places. - from "The Map and the Territory" by Michel Houellebecq

At the beginning of the movie, "The Iron Lady", Margaret Thatcher is shown as an elderly woman buying butter and a newspaper in what we in New York would call a bodega - in Australia and perhaps the UK - a "milk bar". Thatcher, played excellently by Meryl Streep, queries the cost.

I'd forgotten all about "The Iron Lady". The movie, that is. Who could forget Thatcher? Or perhaps I should ask, "Who can remember her?" Old people, I suppose ...

Surprisingly, I remembered the movie - because after all I saw it over a week ago, and the attention span of us baby-boomers is fast approaching zero.

I remembered it today. I was in my local supermarket. When my turn in the checkout-line came, I was charged nine dollars something for a generic brand of unsalted butter, one onion and four Idaho potatoes. I paid, and was checking the printed receipt.

The checkout dude, complete with facial piercings and manicured eyebrows, tried to rush me on. Perhaps it was time for his meal-break. Behind me in the line, an elderly gentleman was looking into his basket, puzzled at what appeared to be a bagel. The checkout dude was snapping at me, "It's $9.20!" I think he thought that people as old as me couldn't read.

OK already yet, I was thinking to myself as I moved rapidly away from his line of vision. No way did I want to cause a scene. I don't fight battles I cannot win!

Then it hit me. An epiphany of sorts. In my time as a professional woman I have more than infrequently been called, in a derogatory tone, "Mrs. Thatcher". And here I was acting just like the woman - well at least like the woman as portrayed by Ms Streep.


I shuddered.

The day had not begun well. In the morning I'd woken from a nightmare where all the men I've ever known (in the biblical sense) had merged into one very scary male. The dream had been vivid, and now I come to think of it, very clever and imaginative. Well of course imaginative.

This chameleon, chimera, whatever, spoke a mix of Oxford English, accented German English, Strine and American. Truly an abomination I can assure you. What's more, he was argumentative, mellow, practical, sensitive, autistic, well-proportioned, youthful, over-weight, intelligent, social, slightly stupid, all at the same time.

Quelle horreur! I awoke in fright. I'd been arguing with him because he wasn't here and wasn't not here all at the same time.

There's only so much a gal can take.

And now the Thatcher thing.

Am I truly, Thatcher-like, losing it? Is my old friend Paul right when he tells me that we baby-boomers are dropping like flies, and so why are the governments worried about looking after an ever-increasing elderly population?

Am I doomed to be a person who queries the price of onions? Will Rick Santorum become the president of the United States? And if so, will I have to flee this island of Manhattan?

If I were under thirty, I'd say, "Whatever!"

As it is, all I can say is,

Stay tuned!


jps said...

my accent is not that bad,
you know who

Anonymous said...

You are not turning into Margaret Thatcher, just go to another check out line and check the bill at home later.

The nightmare is another story!Rick Santorum should be our worst nightmare!

Anonymous said...

Ah, sweet Kate. You're joining the 'club'. But not to worry, once you figure out what's really important, you'll mellow out. Save your Aussie dollars, home is just 18 hours away.

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