weirdness flows between us
THIS IS WATER. AND THIS IS UNDERPANTS.
I already mentioned this on Twitter, but I need to use more than 140 characters and record this for posterity. I had come home from work in a terrible mood. For once this wasn’t really work’s fault. I was having some bleak angsty fit where everything not only seemed pointless, but also difficult. Pointless AND difficult, what a lovely combination! This is the sort of thinking that leads to not taking a shower or changing clothes for days. Why eat, I’m just going to get hungry again. Why talk to anyone, they don’t understand anyway. Read this book, and then what? Does it contain the magic words to fix my life? Doubtful.
These feelings go great with a side of guilt-slaw, by the way. (Cabbage, shredded carrots, guilt, vinaigrette.) Obviously there is nothing terrible about my life, and I am being a whiny solipsistic baby by not choosing to do the work. Another stellar thing I had done on this day was yell at Nora for a not-very-good reason, so serve up another helping of that guilt-slaw on my BBQ Combo Plate Of Suck. Thanks.
I was answering some work email while dinner simmered, and Nora had already been into the office three or four times to interrupt, so when the next “Mom, guess what” came I was a little bit like WHAT. Then she said, “I can put my underpants back on without taking off my shorts.” And she did. And then she removed her underpants without taking off her shorts, and put them back on yet again without taking off her shorts, and I laughed and got over myself by quite a bit. Technique was very similar to under-the-shirt bra removal, if you’re wondering, and I am assuming it helps to have skinny legs, flexible arms, no hips to speak of, and giant jean shorts from the boys’ department.
CONVERSATIONS WITH NORA, IN WHICH I ALWAYS SEEM TO END UP WITH NOTHING TO SAY
1. First-grade social studies lately has been about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and Nora is now obsessed with needs vs. wants. This has been useful for Deep Discussion of first-world privilege, homelessness, and how many Webkinz one child can possibly “need.”
Nora: Is a computer a need or a want?
Me: A want.
Nora: Right. Although some people need a computer to do a job.
Nora: Sometimes they need a computer if they have a lot of stuff to look up. Like what kind of fish is safe to eat.
2. On the way to school.
Nora: Why are fire hydrants painted red?
Me: They aren’t always. They just need to be a bright color so they stand out.
Nora: Has there ever been a BLUE fire hydrant?
Nora: Has there ever been a YELLOW fire hydrant?
Me: Yes. There have even been fire hydrants painted to look like people.*
Nora: SCREAMING people? With their mouths open?
*One of my first memories that involved events outside of my own family was the great civic convulsion of 1976, when many neighborhoods painted their fire hydrants to look like short, squat, Founding Fathers. (Why? I do not know. I think America went a little crazy around the bicentennial.) The short squat fire-hydrant Founding Fathers were not SCREAMING with their mouths open, although that would have been awesome.
I AM A JERK, BUT HE WAS A JERK FIRST
I can’t believe I forgot to mention this, which happened in Atlanta! It was in my notebook but never made it onto the laptop, I guess.
I skipped out on a conference session because it was trying to bore me to death. The planning of my next move seemed like it might require a cocktail, so I went to the hotel bar with my book.
The only other patron was a young guy in sports attire, who seemed a little drunk although it was barely 4 pm. He said hello from down the bar and I gave that tight half-smile that acknowledges the presence of another human while (hopefully) sending signals that interaction is not an option. Signals, however, were not clear enough.
Basketball Jersey Guy: Whatcha readin’?
Me [big smile but no eye contact]: A book!
[Unfortunately he slides several seats closer to me. I cannot control my eyeroll and sigh as he does this.]
BJG: Hey woah, I’m just trying to be friendly. Just thought we could have a conversation.
Me: I don’t want to talk right now, sorry.
BJG: Well jeez. You’re cranky. [slides one seat farther away.]
[Relative silence for about ten minutes. I try to read but I am getting increasingly pissed off as I craft an internal Womyn’s Studies 101 monologue about how so many men think they are entitled to friendly conversation from a total stranger, just because the stranger is female. I start to feel feisty and like exacting some sort of performance-art-influenced personal revenge.]
I finish my drink and get up to leave.
[BJG looks up.]
Me: You’ve got something in your hair. Like right here. [gesture to my own head]
BJG: Yeah? [tugs at his bangs]
Me: Yeah. I don’t know, it looks like hair gel. Or maybe semen.
[The look on his face is indescribable.]
BJG: Uh…well…it’s not THAT.
Me [walking away]: Okay. If you’re sure. Later!
—mimi smartypants feels all better now.