So there I am, shopping at Macy’s. Suddenly, I notice that of the three navy blue cashmere sweaters I am pawing through, one is out of order. It should go S-M-L, and instead, SOMEONE (not me) has relocated M to the front, so now the order is M-S-L. This is (obviously) unacceptable. I move M back to the middle where M belongs. A woman (cute, young-ish, wearing a silver top and tight brown skirt with a ruffled hem) taps me on my shoulder. “Ma’am? Do you work here? Can you tell me where to find the Ralph Lauren section?”
This is the Curse of Virgo.
I don’t want to put all the cashmere sweaters back in order; I’m compelled to, whether I like it or not. I decide I do not want to be mistaken for a Macy’s employee: clearly it’s time to leave. The Sock Department is on the way out, right next to the door. There are three stray pairs of suicidal socks that have jumped from their respective overcrowded hooks to their demise on the dirty floor. Of course I must pick them up and re-hang them (tell me, what choice do I have? it’s the right thing to do). This time it’s a man that taps me on the shoulder. “Selena? You need to get back to the Shoe Department, stop wandering into Socks.” (I am picking up on a distinct hierarchy here, with Socks being waaaaaaaay below Shoes in the pecking order. The way he says “Socks” is exactly like someone might say “expired cottage cheese” or “poopy diapers.”)
I look him in the eye (he has “manager” written all over him) and I say what anyone would say under the circumstances, “No problem, it won’t happen again. Oh, and it’s Serena, not Selena.”
He smiles at me. We understand each other.
I hightail it out of Macy’s and over to Chowder City to get a cup of yummy clam chowder. As I walk up to the counter to place my order with the “To Go” girl, I notice that the stack of paper menus has not only tipped over, but some of them (gasp!) have fallen on the ground. Queen Virgo picks them all up, and arranges them neatly (some were upside down) and sets them precisely on the counter. The waitress notices. She says, “Are you Lisa? Is today your first day as hostess? Manuel was looking for you.”
I laugh, and shake my head no, all the while thinking, If I make small talk with Manuel and he finds out I picked up all the menus, will that maybe get me a free chowder?
(And as a quick aside, what's with me being mistaken for retail clerks and hostesses all the time? Why am I never mistaken for a doctor or lawyer or Gwyneth Paltrow or someone like that? Is it time to ditch the "Hello, Kitty" barrettes that were always meant to be ironic anyway?)
The Curse of Virgo follows me. I try to leave my Virgo-ness at home or in the car, but no. The Virgo Tendencies cling to me like a cheap fleece jacket straight from the dryer sticking to, well, everything else in that load of whites. Virgo-Virgo-Virgo. Nothing messy, nothing out of place.
As you can well imagine, this Virgo Hypermania did not go over so well when I was a flight attendant for United Airlines. The other flight attendants and I would finish up the service and then have a little time to relax in the back galley. One flight attendant might, I don’t know, decide to drink a coke. She would pour about half of the can into her cup of ice and sip it, enjoying the sweetness and the necessary jolt of caffeine. Then, maybe, a passenger would call her over to ask her something important (like, May I have a pillow or Are we passing over the Grand Canyon right now?). I personally had no time for fruitless pillow searches or ho-hum scenic distractions: no. I had enough distraction right here in my own back galley: she had left her coke on the counter.
Was she coming back for it? If so, when? Who knew? Was she done? Your guess is as good as mine. I stared at the (hypothetical) soda (but it wasn’t that hypothetical as this scenario in its countless variations played out on almost every flight). I watched the remaining fizzy bubbles ... stop ... fizzing. The ice had melted down to tiny reflective shards.
Honestly, what choice did I have here? The choice had already been made for me, and most likely had absolutely nothing to do with being Virgo. That’s right: I threw it away. Blip! Gone. Into the trash.
She would (predictably) come back. Her name was Suzette (or Sophie or Lucy or Frank or Diane or Jeannie or J.J.) and she would say (barely masking the dismay in her voice), “Did someone throw my soda in the trash?! I wasn’t done with it yet! Who did that?”
I would look away. Queen Virgo, guilty again.
Don’t think it ends there; the passengers didn’t much care for my Virgo-ness either. “Can you help me lift my small tote bag into the overhead bin?” a kindly older woman might ask. “Not before you zip it closed and get that stray dog-fur off of it—wow, your dog is a shedder!”
The first time I was written up, unpleasant words like, “judgmental” and “disrespectful” were bandied about, as in “The passengers are complaining that you are being judgmental.” I would roll my eyes and sigh, “They're wrong, I'm not being judgmental, and by the way, I resent you writing me up, and your pencil is not very sharp, why don’t you sharpen it? Also, I'm curious: did you even go to college, because I don't see a degree on that cubicle wall.”
The Curse of Virgo, as you can ask any of my many friends born between August 22nd and September 21st is: we like everything perfect. No, it’s more than that. We demand that everything be perfect. If things aren’t perfect, well, then you’re just lazy.
Fear not, though, my lazy friend! Queen Virgo is here to save the day, organize your kitchen and purge your files: it’s what I do. I have this innate sense of the way things should be, the way things could be, the way things must be (hint: they're all the same way—my way). It takes every ounce of my being, every fiber of my soul, to not pick up the dollars in the Starbucks tip jar and line the George Washington visages up the same way and put the dollars back into the jar. (Really? You would give the poor girl a wrinkled dollar that looks like it went through a particularly defeating spin cycle? Why not a crisp dollar? I’m not saying you have to iron it, but please think about it for next time ... ).
You know what would make my life soooo much easier? If everyone were a Virgo like me. My friend, M, who is my co-worker at the high-end kitchen store, is also a Virgo. He tells me there are classes for “Former Reforming Virgos.” Huh? (I guess one good thing about a class full of Virgos is: no one’s late.)
What do you mean, I ask M, reforming Virgos? I happen to like myself and all my quirky (some would say “cute”—that would be what I would say, while others might use a word similar to “annoying”—The Husband might say that if polled) ways.
“Well, I don’t know how to break this to you, MOV, but not everyone is as enamored of Virgos as we Virgos ourselves.”
“I don’t really understand where you’re going with this ... ”
M leans in; he has a secret to share.
“MOV, you know I think you are great, but other people, they just, well, they mock Virgos.”
“What?!?” I screech. My mind is numb: why would someone purposely ridicule a Sweet Helpful Virgo like myself? I can’t fathom it.
M continues, “You know how Virgos are obsessed with order and neatness? Well, I hate to tell you, but the rest of the world seems to be consumed with chaos and messiness.” He frowns an exaggerated frown to get his point across.
But is he making it up, the part about the class, I mean? If there is a class, should I take it? Would that be akin to a self-imposed intervention? What is so horribly wrong about being a Virgo?
"You know, MOV, I took the class, twice. It would really help you. I have completely let go of that whole clean/ neat/ perfect Virgo thing. It's like I'm a new person." He smiles broadly then does his best "Price Is Right" spokesmodel gesture, showcasing himself to reinforce that, yes indeed, he is truly a New Person.
This lovely and exquisite hand gesture violently knocks M's scalding hot coffee all over the back counter and immediately drenches a stack of important fliers (10% Off Coupon!). I do what I do best: grab a sponge and clean up the mess that has now dripped onto the floor. M doesn’t notice: he’s too busy frantically drying the fliers with paper towels, one-by-one, lifting the fliers into the air and flapping them around like warning flags in a vain effort to make them pristine and dry once again.
("Messy Or Virgo")