Cranky’s husband has taken a powder. Which is why Cranky’s life has turned into an episode of “Two Broke Girls” or actually the Cranky version, which is “One Broke Girl and Her Dog.” Every week, I compare my bank account with theirs. 632.23? You go girls! So Cranky has had to hustle for money to put food on the table and in the dog bowl. After applying for like a light year’s amount of jobs, Cranky got hired by a company that supplies personal assistants to rich people. Which is really the perfect thing for this economy. A direct redistribution of wealth. If we cannot tax the rich we can at least get them to pay us a nice chunk of change for rearranging the Birkin bags in their closets. It’s all very Robin Hood like. The tagline for the company should be “Takes From the Rich and Give to the Poor.”
So off I go on my first assignment on the Upper East Side, natch.
I get there at 9 a.m. and it seems no one is home. 9:05 no one there. 9:10-nope, nobody. The uniform doorman shrugs his shoulders. 9:15-nothin’. Then the doorman asks another building employee about her. “Oh her?” he says, ‘She’s in the gym.” Doorman calls the gym. “She says to wait,” he says. Thanks, got that. Would I ever in my life do that to someone? No. But I have never in my life had a personal assistant.
So to sum up the day. The client spent the entire day trying to decide whether she should go to Rancho La Puerta or the mental hospital. Cranky could not make this up. RANCHO LA PUERTA SPA OR THE MENTAL HOSPITAL.
The plan was for me to organize her office. What actually happened was doctors kept calling to tell her to check herself in to the psych ward.
The phone rings. “Hello?” she says, “A locked ward? I don’t know. I don’t know. Well, I have a tennis game on Tuesday, I’m not sure if I can find a sub.” She turns to me. “He hung up on me. He’s not very nurturing.” Then she stops and brings her face close to mine and while gently moving her face back and forth asks, “Do I look crazy to you?”
Why the universe puts Cranky in these situations I will never know. Maybe it’s because Cranky has a sense of humor and the universe knows Cranky will appreciate it. Anyway, Cranky answers tentatively, “Not really,”
“I don’t?” she says.
“Well,” I say, “ I’ve been around depressed people and usually they can’t do anything. You play tennis and go to the gym. You don’t seem very high on the depression scale to me.”
The phone rings again.
She answers. “Hello? Yes I am thinking about it. I don’t know. Well maybe. If I check myself in can you guarantee I’ll be out by Friday afternoon? I have a big dinner that night.”
So the day is spent with the client sitting with her hands on my knee asking me what she should do. “I think I should just go to Rancho La Puerta instead. I mean, they have a structured environment there. Maybe I just need a rest. But I don’t know if I should go alone.” A pause. A long stare at Cranky. “It might be better to have someone with me.”
Now Cranky loves a spa as much as anyone. The people in the white robes and the new age music remind Cranky of the afterlife, but all the shiatsu in the world could not reverse the psychic cloud surrounding this woman, so I swivel in my chair and look down.
She invites me to lunch. As we are entering, she says; “We’ll split something.” I am on the Upper East Side. The bastion of rich women who eat nothing and are cheap cheap cheap. So she orders a lunch special and we pick at it. I keep asking for refills of the teapot to fill myself up.
When we return, I do my one task of the day. I make out a check for a kid having his Bar Mitzvah and write a card. As I am writing, I realize that I have been out socially with the Mom. It is a classic reversal of fortune moment. A few months ago I was a happy wife. Now there I sat, poor, alone, listening quietly to a crazy rich woman who has all the material things anyone could ever want, who can’t decide whether to go to the nuthouse or to Rancho La Puerta, and I see, in spite of everything I am still lucky.