Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Virginia Kreeper

I’m currently rereading The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde. The story has a mix of characters, some of which are characters from nursery rhymes. The main character is Jack Sprat (who changed his name from Jack Spratt to hide his origins); he not only lost his first wife due to her unhealthy eating habits but also has killed several giants in his job as a detective sergeant.

In this book, Jack is sent to a psychologist who will determine whether or not he is fit to return to his job. Her name is Virginia Kreeper. During the course of the session, Jack realizes that Virginia Kreeper is not a real, fleshed-out character. She’s one-dimensional, and her only purpose is to further along the plot that is his life. Once he realizes that, he is able to steer the session much more effectively.

That bit of the book was in my mind earlier this week at work. Something Very Bad happened on Friday afternoon, and there was a considerable amount of freaking out. On Monday, things were calming down as we realized that the potential backlack wasn’t really materializing and perhaps perhaps this was going to blow over with a minimum of fuss.


Except one person—we’ll call her Virginia—was still very upset. She took an admittedly bad situation and kept escalating it. We didn’t just make a mistake: Our reputations were ruined, the sky was going to turn red and the sand purple, the earth was going to reverse its path and we were going to suffer a cataclysmic apocalypse of our own making.

I realized that if I were inside one of Jasper Fforde’s books, Virginia would be a cautionary tale for me. She would exist to show me that this was the way I could go if I don’t take heed.

When I was in first grade, I cried because I missed a word on my spelling test. With that one mistake, I knew I couldn’t get an A+ on my report card for the term. My perfection was ruined, and I could never get it back.

It’s really a wonder I’m not perpetually on medication.

If I’m not careful, I can take situations and make them so. much. bigger. than they really are. I can take a mistake and turn it into the event that will ruin my life. I can expect so much from myself and others that nobody has a chance of ever meeting my expectations.

I can, and I have.

Virginia is a reminder, and I bow to the ground to her.


  1. We must all be on the lookout for mole hills.

  2. Having some vague idea where all of this is coming from, I appreciate it that much more.

  3. You are a wise woman. But I already knew that.