The other day, sitting in my apartment pondering the state of my existence and the person I’ve become, I suddenly heard a distinct musical burble. I leapt up, thinking I’d mistakenly sat on my new iPhone.
From of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a shining sphere of light hovering just above my kitchen cabinets, As it quivered toward me, balanced in the middle of this Technicolor translucence I spied a slightly blurry Billie Burke, in full Glinda the Good Witch drag.
I stood transfixed as the bubble slowly settled onto my desperately in need of being refinished hardwood floor. Then — just like those cottony dandelions we all blew into the wind as children — it disappeared, revealing Billie/Glinda in all her glory, magic wand and bemused smile at the ready. Despite all the mystery, my first thought was, “Jeez, she’s a lot shorter than I anticipated.”
Billie crooked her heavily-crowned head, leaned in closely and merrily piped,
“Are you a good bitch, or a bad bitch?”
“I’m not a bitch at all, if you please,” tumbled from my mouth as I curtsied, involuntarily. I looked down at my legs in disbelief and heard my cats giggle behind me — at least I think they were giggling. It’s hard to tell with cats.
Apparently my answer gave Billie pause. Or annoyed her, I couldn’t quite tell. She scratched thoughtfully at her blonde curls with the tip of her magic wand then seemed to made a decision. In one a swift gesture she plucked the heavy crown from her head and used it to gesture towards my sofa. “Sit. We’ll discuss.”
Ever my mother’s daughter, before complying, I politely offered her a beverage.
“Are you nuts!!! This dress was sewn right on me. I know it gives me a killer silhouette, but this waistband could choke a horse. So let’s cut to the chase.” I plopped down on the cushion and waited for my next signal. Clearly, we were not Kansas any more…
“All righty — let’s see, you’ve been sitting here pondering the state of your universe, correct? And not getting anywhere, from the looks of it.” Before I could defend the accusation, I caught her sharp sweep of the room and silently conceded the point.
“Not only that, but it’s been the same story with you for a while, which is exactly why they finally sent me down for a chat.” She paused. Apparently, It was my turn.
“They did?,” I offered, with great portent. When in doubt, go for the gravity. “You betcha,” Billie shot back. Before I could inquire who ‘they’ were, exactly, she barreled ahead. “So again, I ask the $64,000 question — are you a good bitch or a bad bitch?
I took a nearly imperceptible pause before she spat out, “Come ON — it’s a simple question, girlie.” “I’m not a bitch at all?” I dribbled in reply. She slapped her wand against the sofa cushions. “Ohhhhhh, good heavens, of course you are. You’re a bitch. I’m a bitch. She’s a bitch,” she continued, pointing towards one of my cats (the one brave enough to peek around the chair.) “And yes, I know. But I’m speaking metaphorically here, not anthropologically.” I didn’t know if this was a reaction to the uptick of my eyebrow or the indignant twitch of my cat’s tail.
She took a calming breath, “We’re all bitches, dear. Everyone gets bitchy from time to time, n’est ce pas? The differential here is good bitch/bad bitch, hence, my question. So, where do you fall?”
By this point, I wasn’t sure if I were more struck by the idea that Billie Burke had just called herself out as a bitch or that she was sounding less like the Good Witch of the North and more like Karen Walker after a few cocktails on WILL AND GRACE. “Come on, come on, come on,” she hissed. Her magic wand double time-stepped with all the energy of a 12-year-old competition dancer.
The tornado in my brain was now a Category 5, much bigger than the one that dumped a house on the evil-assed stripped stocking wearer. And the incessant tap of that wand finally drove me over the edge, “I guess— I think— I might— I DON’T KNOW!!!,” I screamed.
“YES!!! Finally, anger!! Excellent.” She jumped up and did a surprisingly clean Thumb Flip Under Leg move with the magic wand which would have scored points at any twirling competition. I was confused but impressed.
“Look,” Billie continued, “I don’t have time for you to meander through the Kubler-Ross model. You’ve managed denial and anger pretty quickly on your own. But this dress is killing me, so we’re going to have to speed it up. I’ll push you through bargaining and depression so we can get right to acceptance. Truth is, hon, I’m starting to lose circulation in my legs.”
It was a startling admission on so many levels, I had no reply.
“Let me guess, you were told if you ate all your peas, kept your ankles crossed like a little lady and studied very, very hard eventually someone would notice and you’d get your just reward, right? So how’s that been working for you?
I looked behind me for Dr. Phil, but she grabbed me by the chin and turned me around. “Eyes front, this is still my ball. I’ll tell you how it’s been working — NOT! It sucks. You’ve spun your wheels around the same track over and over again. Sure in different years there were different jobs and different relationships, but always the same model with the same result. And you know what they say about repeating the same actions over and over hoping for a different result??? That’s right. Insanity!”
I wondered if this was the same ‘they’ who’d sent her down for this intervention, but it didn’t seem the sane time to ask.
She continued. “So, on the Kubler-Ross we’ve hit denial, anger and here we are at bargaining. How many pep talks did you give yourself over the years, “If I do “X” then “Y” will finally appear.” Did that ever work — nope. There’s your bargaining. Moving on — duh!! Smack into the Big D — DEE-pression. Who wouldn’t after all that spilt milk? Yes, it’s been rough and you’ve had the full ride. I know, I know. But, guess what — it’s almost over.”
She clapped her hands and actually began to glow. “We’re almost at acceptance!” On the outside I smiled and nodded in partnership. On the inside, I was praying for a seat belt, as I felt a sharp curve approaching.
“So, when they saw you sitting here, starting down that same circular path to nowhere yet again, they decided it was time to call in the big guns — ME. I have a 97.6% success rate and the fastest turnaround time in this hemisphere. I don’t like to boast, but I’m at the top of their list.”
“Who are these people?” I finally blurted out. Although like Butch and Sundance, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know. Not a problem, as it turned out. Billie was in such a race to the finish she ignored my question.
“Honey, in only a matter of minutes I already have you at the door. Ready to take that last step, to finally unlock the secret of your existence.” Now, that caught my attention. I crossed my arms and sat back. “Okay, go ahead.”
“Here it is. The answer to my question. The answer to almost all your questions — you are a bitch. A good bitch.”
I waited a second. The room didn’t move, nor the chandelier shake. So I risked a serious “Oh, really” pout. But she was ready for it.
“You’ve spent your life following rules, avoiding being angry, keeping quiet unless you had something nice to say, right? I know, your Mother. She wasn’t wrong, but she wasn’t right, either. And she just wasn’t ready for this.”
Apparently, though, her daughter is.
“Did you ever stop to consider the positive side of bitchiness? The righteous posturing, the validated slow burn? Being a good bitch — allowing your self to be a good bitch — is to recognize your anger, embrace your reaction to rudeness, unfairness, and just plain nasty and whatever you do, don’t bury it. Engage!”
This was a totally new concept. I have bartered with, bludgeoned and buried several graveyards of personal grievances throughout my lifetime. There was a definite appeal to her logic. My eyes said, “Tell me more…”
“Accommodate your anger, it’s just as powerful as your happiness. Find a way to stick up for yourself, your beliefs and your point of view even if you have to go a little crazy ass on them. You may be surprised how nice it feels. Instead of hiding that gray mood, show it off.” This was starting to sound a lot like the antidote to an old Miss Clairol commercial. But “does she or doesn’t she” sold an awful lot of hair dye. My roots and I were still listening.
“What’s more, the new you can step up for the angry, repressed girl who’s been trying to get what she wants all this time. As a good bitch, instead of waiting, now you simply ask for what you want.”
Hmmm. Ask for what I want. I wanted to slap myself with the simplicity of it.
“As to the flip side, I know taking someone down, slicing them off at the knees, a full-scale bad bitchout sometimes seems the only solution. It’s certainly tempting and can feel incredibly satisfying — in the moment. But it’s not recommended as a steady diet. However, sometimes,” her eyes twinkled, “one does have to indulge.”
She paused and let it all sink it. “That’s it. We’re done.” She reached over and plopped the crown back on her head. “So, now can I finally get an answer to my question?” I took a deep breath and smiled.
“Yes, ma’am. I am one good bitch.”
“Excellent!” She glanced a nearby clock “Two minutes-thirty, broke my own record. Sweet!” She leaped up to attempt a high-five, but fell back on the sofa cushions. “I’m fine, I’m fine. Just totally numb below the waist. Damn dress. Good thing I have alternate transportation.”
With that, she drew a large circle around herself with the magic wand. Immediately she was back inside her bubble, ascending toward my kitchen cabinets. With a final thumbs up, she disappeared into a corner crack and was gone.
As I looked down at my feet I smiled. I was wearing my red patent leather clogs. Clicking my heels together for good measure, I said the words out loud,
“I am definitely one good bitch.”
From somewhere in the ether, I head Billie reply, “Of course you are, my dear. Now go enjoy it.”