You Were: The Head of the PTA

July 2, 2010

(Who Were You? #8)

You can see ghosts. (It’s something we share in common.) I’m not sure if you know this (although I suspect that you do). Sometimes it takes a while to discover the talents we’ve brought with us through our many lives. But if you ever want to test your skills, feel free to pay a visit to Brooklyn and have a nice chat with my ghost.

You’ve led countless interesting lives. It was hard to focus on one. But perhaps we should start with your most recent incarnation. In the 1950s, you were a housewife in suburban New Jersey. You were happily married with two lovely kids and a cocker spaniel. But from time to time, some of the ladies in town would whisper about the bags under your eyes.

“She looks a little tired,” one would say. “It’s hard being perfect,” another would respond. “Did you see that cake she made for the PTA meeting?” Then someone else would chime in, “I wouldn’t want to sleep, either, if my husband looked like hers.”

But it wasn’t the baking that wore you out. Each and every night, you’d wait until the neighbors were tucked into their comfy beds. Then you’d put on your walking shoes and start your rounds. As you strolled the streets of your picturesque town, the ghosts in each house would come out to complain.

“They’re going to burn the whole place down if they don’t clean the chimney,” a spirit would say. “He’s having one too many cocktails before he picks the kids up from school,” a ghoul would confide. “The woman who lives in my house is lonely. She could use a good friend,” a particularly sensitive specter once told you.

You took careful notes and addressed their concerns first thing in the morning. The people down the street never knew why a chimney sweep just showed up on their doorstep one evening. How their children became part of your carpool. Or why the woman who never left her house suddenly started showing up at all of your cocktail parties.

You were the person who kept the whole town from exploding. (Literally in one case.) And how did the citizens thank you? By denying you the one thing you wanted most in the world: To be elected the head of the PTA. (Why was this your dream? I have no idea. There are some deep, dark chambers of the human psyche even I am not allowed to enter.)

Once you’d lost the title three times in a row, the ghosts started to notice that something was wrong. You weren’t quite yourself, and your small talk was suffering. Finally one overheard his human housemates discussing your plight, and he and his fellow spirits joined together to come up with a plan. What you needed, they decided, was a fabulous campaign.

The next evening, as you were making your rounds, the ghosts came to you one by one. “There are six solid gold coins hidden where the outhouse once stood. Put them there myself back in 1878,” one said. “There’s a painting in the basement that they’re going to throw out any day now. Looks like it could be a Picasso to me,” another claimed. “The people who live in my house robbed an Iowa bank back in ’42. Bet there’s probably a price on their heads.”

Soon you’d acquired a campaign war chest bigger than any ever seen in a New Jersey PTA race. You put up billboards, bought the front page of the local paper, and started your own radio station. The day of the race, no one was surprised when you won by a landslide.

Unfortunately your new PTA duties, combined with your nightly rounds, proved too much for your delicate system. You never got a chance to institute your new school lunch plan. But you were so eager to return to this world that you were reincarnated more quickly than most.  (And I really hope you take it easy this time!)


One Response to “You Were: The Head of the PTA”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by PenguinTeen. PenguinTeen said: Who Were You? #8: The Head of the PTA #theeternalones #penguinfive […]

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