Crazy Aunt Helen: In the Bleak Midwinter

A few Halloweens ago Stella and Coco were invited to a costume party with the theme “dress as what you used to want to be when you grew up”.  Stella’s earliest ambition was to be a rich lady, an occupation that would combine her twin passions of getting dressed up and lying around all day doing nothing.  For the party she donned a black silk dress, a series of scarves, mountains of costume jewelery and high heels.  She turned and faced the mirror.  Staring back at her was  a once-wealthy bag lady who, having lost all of her assets and most of her sanity wears all her valuables at once in a desperate effort to impress the gilded, twinkling elegance of her former self on passersby.
Through this form speaks the voice of Crazy Aunt Helen, avatar of the dwindled prosperity of generations past.
Now in an attempt to bring this voice to the public,  launches our advice column. “ASK AUNT HELEN”.
photo by:
Dear Aunt Helen,
My boyfriend broke up with me on New Years Day, right after I lost my job.  I’m miserable and  to top it off I can’t afford to pay my heating bill.  How do I beat these winter blues?
Freezing in Fargo

Dear Freezing in Fargo,
There is a pictogram daguerreotype I keep by my bed, of the snow-covered cottage in New Oldesvilleshire where I  was born and raised, that will forever be a reminder to me of the winter of aught five.  A treacherous winter, it was.  A bitingly cruel winter in many, many ways.  It was to be the winter that will live in infamy for the rest of my years.  I was an adolescent girl, a  fiery young thing, always flying in the face of  numerous predetermined cultural expectations of how a woman should speak, think and behave.  I swore I would become a writer, and with my three sisters I would stage elaborate plays in our once-grand-but-now-humble family home.  Oh I was a saucy thing in those days! I had an indomitable will, a passion for truth and a loud,  tomboyish manner that caused my great aunt to shake her head at me until  the wrinkled skin under her old-lady chins wobbled like a Christmas pudding.
In the winter of aught 5 I had just written my latest manuscript entitled “Avril’s Atonement”– a masterpiece in melodrama.  That evening I and my older sister Meg attended a play with the rich handsome young man next store and his earnest but reserved tutor.
My younger sister Anne had always been envious of the constant and well-deserved attention bestowed on me by the boy next door, Mr. Lawrence  had adored me romantically  for years despite our longstanding platonic friendship. Anne being the youngest and wholly untalented in any art but fluttering her eyelashes and giggling was positively green with envy.
That evening, she hatefully, like the insolent shrew she is, threw my manuscript in the fire!  Well, don’t you know, the foolish girl had no idea that the money I would have gotten for that manuscript would have paid for the doctor who was tending to our ailing sister Beth.  I shook my fists and a rage and cried out “ANNE!  AAANNNNNNNNE!!! YOUR FOLLY IS YOUR OWN!!!”  But nothing could rescue those pages of parchment, torched on the fire. Beth died later that winter.
Perhaps, as LingLing is insisting I am not recalling my own experience, but rather Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women which I read in the depths of an ether binge in 1922.   No matter.  I will never forgive Anne, or forget her betrayal.  My depression following the incident was so profound that I never again put quill to paper.  NEVER!
Regardless, a nice warm glass of brandy always cheers me up when I am in the depths of misery.  Remember to add a dash of Robitussin, the tiniest shot glass filled to the brim with dark rum, 3 sprigs of saffron (one of LingLing’s old Chinese secrets!  Perhaps THAT’S how gets my sheets so white!), and a base of white truffle oil to give it a nice kick.
If you don’t have any of those things, sometimes rubbing alcohol a teaspoon of vanilla and a sprinkle of condensed milk will do the trick.
Make sure to follow this delightful cocktail with a warm but shallow bath.  Before you know it, you’ll be waking up in the tanned strong arms of  a Scandinavian sailor with eyes as blue as the Adriatic Sea and hands that could wrestle an ox in heat if it struck his fancy!
More often than not however, you will be gently stirred awake by the chill of what is now a mix  of 30 degree bathwater and your own vomit, listening to the mewling of your unfed cats and persistent pounding in the northern region of your head.

1 Comment

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One response to “Crazy Aunt Helen: In the Bleak Midwinter

  1. Madam,

    As a friend of the poor dear who wrote you for help I can only reply “for shame!” You ought to know by now that there are poor souls in this world who need little more than a quick phrase of sympathy to revive their spirits. That is all that “Freezing” asked of you. Apparently, that cold black shriveled prune that you insist upon calling a heart led you to give her nothing but the recipes of tonics whose side effects greatly outweigh the meager benefits they may provide. You are indeed crazy, and I implore you to refrain from offering advice to anyone save the angry inbred goat who pokes through your rubbish for precious antique cans. Louisa May Alcott is no doubt spinning in her grave, screeching for vengeance against you and your ilk. Good day to you, please retire from the business of human aid.

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