1. Sewer Santa

2. I shouldn’t have

3. The door opens when you come in


My best friend Janice is a wonder. She can bake anything from pies to souffles and create sauces that will make your taste buds weep for more. Her garden is perfect. There isn’t a bug alive who would dare to nibble at her cabbage leaves. If she owned a cow, it would no doubt drop fertilizer directly on the zinnia beds and avoid all that unpleasant middleman business.

You won’t find an out of place hair on her head or anywhere else. Her wardrobe is impeccable. She doesn’t rely on designers who might not subscribe to her taste or to the season. She makes all her own clothes; she’s seamstress, tailor, sewer—Santa suits are within her repertoire as are bridal gowns and hospital scrubs. She is perfect, just perfect.

I hate her.

I shouldn’t have such animosity lingering inside me, but I can’t help it. I’ve known Janice for a hundred years, or at least it feels like it, and I’ve never, ever surpassed her at anything. I can’t even best her at “nice”. If I take a beribboned box of store-bought cookies to old Mr. Durwood at Christmas, Janice shows up with a home-cooked turkey dinner. Once she even sent his kids round trip plane tickets from New York to LAX and hired a cab to drop them off at his door for a Christmas surprise.

This whole thing would be a lot easier to take if she was at least supercilious about it, but dammit, she’s even gracious about that. She tells me I do my part.

“Come on, Phyllis,” she told me once. “You are talented in a lot of ways. It just takes a little different viewpoint. After all, the door opens when you come in and it opens when you go out. If someone holds it for you in either direction, they are worthy of thanks.”

I hate her.

I suppose in the normal course of events everything will even out in the end. I will age gracefully and she’ll succumb to some monstrous disease that causes flabby upper arms and geriatric acne. I will find peace and contentment in charitable works, while she applies for Meals on Wheels.