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One of my new collegues (Canadian, about my age, very cool) told me the other night over dinner (roasted duck stuffed with rice, jujubes, peas, lentils and chestnuts) that I seemed like a Doris to her. I was startled. I’m so utterly convinced of my X-treme…Susan-ness, Susan-ity?? that it’s difficult to wrap my head around another identity.


Furthermore, Doris didn’t feel very flattering. Doris felt like curlers under a head scarf, too-tight stretch pants and several missed trips to the facial waxing salon. On the book side, Doris felt like shabby Harlequin romance novels someone left in the doctor’s office waiting room.


I couldn’t fault Canadian Cool. Back in the 1980s, I had a neighbor named Pam and I couldn’t stop calling her Betty. I have no idea why. Also, another new coworker seems like Nancy rather than Jeanne.


But Doris? Me? The name seemed to belong to a generation long before mine. Was Canadian Cool trying to subtly hint that I come across as staid? Old and finished? Doris. So close and yet so far from Dorothy, as in Dorothy Parker, who I dearly love. One syllable, as unreachable as the sun. Damn.

I ate a lot of duck and drank more than I’m used to, so when I fell into bed a couple of hours later, I was still chewing on Doris. When the alarm went off the next morning, my mind was clear and fresh and my first two thoughts were: Doris Lessing. Doris Kearns Goodwin.


I’ve felt fine ever since. Thanks, Canadian Cool!

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