There is a woman who lives in my head and is, without question, the wisest person I’ve never met. She doesn’t have a name and her ethnicity shifts from Hispanic to white to black to “doesn’t matter” on the constant. I call her “Hairnet Lady,” and though her genetic makeup is enigmatic, her life is anything but. Hairnet Lady is an imaginary figure I follow around when I find myself getting way too stressed about the stupid things I stress about in my own life. It’s her that I turn to when I need to uncomplicate things by putting them into perspective.
Hairnet Lady is a culmination, a fictional embodiment, perhaps, of all the regrets I’ve heard from people who are dying. (Sorry to get all dark on you, but there’s a point.) Hairnet Lady lives a life that unwinds those grievances by living a life that some dying people wished they’d lived. For example, one of the biggest deathbed regrets that come up is spending too much time at work, and not enough time with loved ones. (I should mention that my aunt works in hospice and shares lots of these stories with me. I also watch a ton of documentaries on dark subject matter and films chronicling those who are dying always show up as suggested viewing for me.) Another regret that’s far too common is stressing about what others think and not living a genuine life for one’s self. Losing touch with family over petty squabbles comes up a lot, as does taking things way too seriously. Hairnet Lady does none of these things. This is who she is and why I call her Hairnet Lady:
Hairnet Lady gets up at a reasonable hour and she goes for a walk. She’s in her 50s and she sure does love fresh air to start her day. Then she comes home, has a simple breakfast, gets her shower out of the way, and dresses for work. She works at a fast-food restaurant (I always see KFC, for some reason) and she doesn’t give a damn that it’s not glamorous. In fact, she loves her job and it’s set schedule. She gets there at the same time each shift and puts a fresh hairnet on so she can get to battering the chicken. She laughs a lot with her coworkers and has a great relationship with her boss. She could, in all reality, be the general manager of the chicken joint, but she doesn’t see the value in higher pay for more stress. She’s just fine in her small apartment with her simple joys and nothing’s going to mess that up for Hairnet Lady, no siree, Bob. When she clocks out, there’s no thinking about work, and that’s how she stays so sane.
When she gets off work, she sometimes drives her simple little car with no bells and whistles to visit friends. (Where she goes after work depends on my own mood for that day, funny enough.) But she always makes time to get out of the house and socialize a bit, because she cares about the people she loves and doesn’t mind showing it. On the weekends, Hairnet Lady’s grandkids stay over and it’s pretty much the highlight of her life. She loves to cook for them and never forgets to sneak little candies into their overnight bags when they leave. It’s her version of being naughty and thrills her to no end.
When the work-week rolls around, she doesn’t groan and carry on about it — she’s happy, remember? Grateful. It keeps her busy and provides a steady paycheck to keep her simple life afloat. I love Hairnet Lady. I think she’s wise. I aspire to have her attitude toward life.
It’s the reason I’ve chosen to step down from my position. The newspaper you’re holding in your hands will be the last one that I helm as editor. The next issue will be a collaboration of me and the new editor, a gentleman who’ll get his own introduction at next press. Journalism is a true passion of mine, but much like Hairnet Lady, I can’t be a manager and stay in love with writing at the same time. It may be ideal for some, but the deathbed repentance over stressing out too much is one that hits home. I simply worry too much about letting the community down when I feel I’m taking my eye off the storytelling ball and bite my nails over the composition of an entire issue.
I just want to bread the chicken.
So I suppose, in a strange way, I’m manifesting Hairnet Lady. I reckon we call her Berlin. That makes all the sense in the world.
Warm Regards on a Chilly Afternoon,