June 25, 1998
Enlightened Teresa vs. the Princess of Doom
By Teresa Strasser
Teresa Strasser is a twentysomething contributing writer for The Jewish Journal.
Enlightened Teresa vs. the Princess of Doom
Let me introduce you to Enlightened Teresa. She's open, warm, generous. She's had a lot of therapy. She's read Melanie Beattie, Tikh Naht Han, Martin Buber and John Bradshaw. She's a glass that is half-full, life is full of wonderment, a carpe diem kind of gal. She's can-do!
Then there's Teresa, Princess of Doom. Life has served her up a few raw deals and she's more than a little bitter. She doesn't like new people, new places or new things. In short, it's safe to say she doesn't like ... change. The Princess of Doom doesn't take well to life's little set-backs. In fact, she's been known to weep openly while clutching a newly minted parking ticket.
Lately these two just can't seem to agree on anything. They co-exist, battling over daily decisions and vying for position. It's exhausting, frankly. I've discussed this with friends, just to make sure it doesn't mark some sort of psychotic break, and most assure me they recognize the syndrome. Here are some examples of what happens when Enlightened Teresa and the Princess of Doom step into the ring.
A man I hardly know invites me to his company picnic.
Enlightened Teresa: What a great opportunity to meet new people! You've never been to Burbank, now you get to explore a new area! Sure, you're a little nervous, but that's normal. You'll just have to flex those social muscles and see what happens! (Enlightened me doesn't see anything wrong with using exclamation points, while the Princess of Doom finds them nauseating).
Princess of Doom: Picnic? Two words. Sun burn. Two more words. Food poisoning. I predict an endless afternoon during which you'll be stuck with a bunch of unspeakably boring accountants eating botulism-infected potato salad and trying to act like you enjoy having your face painted by some out-of-work actor in a clown suit.
I get rejected after a job interview.
ET: Well, this was a great learning experience. You are really on your way. The next time, you'll really shine. This kind of thing just takes time!
PD: Of course they didn't want you. You'll probably end up picking cans out of the trash and collecting all your loose pennies just to buy yourself a pack of generic cigarettes to smoke on the street corner with the other washed-up failures. Believe me, you're never too young to be a washed-up failure, my friend. (For some reason, the Princess of Doom is prone to expressions like "my friend" and "pal.")
An ex-boyfriend finds true love.
ET: Isn't that great for him? You see, there's someone for everyone! It's so nice when two wonderful people find each other.
PD: Nice? That yutz can find someone and you can't? Pack your bags, pal. Looks like you're about to board the bullet train to Spinster City.
You get the idea. The tricky part is that both have totally equal influence. I suppose as long as they stay neck and neck in the attitude foot race, I'll stay in that comfort zone between Mary Poppins and Chicken Little. I'm told it's normal to be somewhat fragmented, that we all have different aspects of our personalities, all of them real, each of them serving a distinct purpose.
Now that I've assured you how normal this all is, I might as well tell you about Ginger and Incense-Peppermint-Strawberry-Wine.
Having Ginger is kind of like having my own inner Spice Girl. She's feisty, aggressive and prone to making very suggestive comments at inappropriate times. When Ginger comes out, it's like having a minor form of Tourrette's Syndrome. She blurts out untoward remarks at odd moments with her faux-sexy stripper voice. This makes Ginger an exciting party guest, but a bit of a freak show, say, on an airplane or in an elevator.
And than there's Incense-Peppermint-Strawberry-Wine. She makes appearances only during first date situations. She's usually nodding, her features arranged in such a way as to express maximum empathy and interest. She's soft and sweet, with rounded edges and a winning personality. It's not like Incense-Peppermint-Strawberry-Wine makes a special effort to obscure the Princess of Doom, but let's just say she's a lot more popular. Negativity and bitterness, while amusing, don't tend to be romance magnets, my friend. Well, we've got to go. We rented "Sybil." Now, that was one crazy chick.