Dear Annie: Years ago, Ann Landers published an essay about a woman who sees a stranger in the mirror. Can you reprint it? It’s very apropos to what some of my friends and I are going through. – Northern California Girl
Dear Northern California: Here is an edited version of Rose Mula’s piece, copyrighted in 1999. If you would like to read more of Rose’s work, it is available at www.seniorwomen.com.
”The Stranger in My House” by Rose Madeline Mula
A very weird thing has happened. A strange old lady has moved into my house. I have no idea who she is, where she came from, or how she got in. I certainly did not invite her. All I know is that one day, she wasn’t there, and the next day, she was.
She is a clever old lady, and manages to keep out of sight for the most part, but whenever I pass a mirror, I catch a glimpse of her. And whenever I look in the mirror to check my appearance, there she is, hogging the whole thing, completely obliterating my gorgeous face and body. This is very rude. I have tried screaming at her, but she just screams back.
If she insists on hanging around, the least she could do is offer to pay part of the rent, but no. Every once in a while, I find a dollar bill stuck in a coat pocket or some loose change under a sofa cushion, but it is not nearly enough.
I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but I think she is stealing money from me. I go to the ATM and withdraw $100, and a few days later, it’s all gone. I certainly don’t spend money that fast, so I can only conclude the old lady is pilfering from me.
You’d think she would spend some of that money to buy wrinkle cream. Lord knows she needs it. And money isn’t the only thing I think she is stealing. Food seems to disappear at an alarming rate – especially the good stuff like ice cream, cookies and candy. I can’t seem to keep that stuff in the house anymore. She must have a real sweet tooth, but she’d better watch it, because she is really packing on the pounds. I suspect she realizes this, and to make herself feel better, she is tampering with my scale to make me think I am putting on weight, too.
For an old lady, she is quite childish. She likes to play nasty games, like going into my closets when I’m not home and altering my clothes so they don’t fit. And she messes with my files and papers so I can’t find anything. This is particularly annoying since I am extremely neat and organized. She also fiddles with my VCR so it does not record what I have carefully and correctly programmed.
She has found other imaginative ways to annoy me. She gets into my mail, newspapers and magazines before I do, and blurs the print so I can’t read it. And she has done something really sinister to the volume controls on my TV, radio and telephone. Now, all I hear are mumbles and whispers.
She has done other things — like make my stairs steeper, my vacuum cleaner heavier and all my knobs and faucets harder to turn. She even made my bed higher so that getting into and out of it is a real challenge. Lately, she has been fooling with my groceries before I put them away, applying glue to the lids, making it almost impossible for me to open the jars. Is this any way to repay my hospitality?
She has taken the fun out of shopping for clothes. When I try something on, she stands in front of the dressing room mirror and monopolizes it. She looks totally ridiculous in some of those outfits, plus, she keeps me from seeing how great they look on me.
Just when I thought she couldn’t get any meaner, she proved me wrong. She came along when I went to get my picture taken for my driver’s license, and just as the camera shutter clicked, she jumped in front of me! No one is going to believe that the picture of that old lady is me.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.