Ruminations on Martha
March 6, 2004
schadenfreude \SHAHD-n-froy-duh\, noun:
A malicious satisfaction in the misfortunes of others.*
I still can’t quite believe that Martha, Our Lady of Arucana, is headed to the Big House–the ultimate renovation project, the place where the milky green of her cake stands is the color of the hallways.
I live in a part of the world where a thousand people would line up patiently for an hour to hear her talk–waiting because she wanted the chairs in the auditorium rearranged in a more perfect way. She was in town for the Antiques and Garden Show a few years ago, and it was a big deal for no reason except that it was Martha in the flesh.
I credit Martha with my rediscovery of knitting. It was in that very line, snaking its way through the Nashville Convention Center, that my friend Frannie handed me a small ball of what I now realize was Koigu. “Want to try?” she asked, having tried for a few rows to figure out how to knit. It was Frannie’s daughter who had prompted her to learn–the second grader whose teacher, the amazing Mrs. Smith, routinely taught entire classrooms of children to knit. When I took hold of those needles, who knew where it would lead me?
I feel sorry for Martha. She has everything in the world except her freedom. However easy it is to chortle in that mean way about her greed and arrogance, just think about how it felt for her to go home last night. I was trying to imagine how she could possibly continue to publish her magazine in the face of these convictions, and I thought for a second: wow. What if she let some inkling of her humanity through? What if she simply let it all out and got all Oprah about everything? What if she let her magazine reflect something other than glossy perfection?
It just wouldn’t happen, that’s the problem. If she had let the sloppy edges of life show a little sooner, she might well have fared better in her trial.