Send in the Clowns

It’s been a long week… hell, it was a long week on TUESDAY, now it’s just ridiculous.  At least tomorrow is Friday and that’s almost as good as it actually being Friday.  However, it’s been the kind of week where you dream of throwing it all to the wayside and running away to some small town in the middle of nowhere, preferably with a beach view… or a mountain lake. Or the Eiffel Tower. I’m good either way.  While pondering my lot in life and Googling airline tickets to Paris during my lunch hour, it occurred to me that my life could have been very, very different.

When I was kid, my father always threatened to sell my brother and me to the circus when we acted up. Didn’t most harried parents? Being a parent myself, I can’t say as I blame him. Fortunately, for my brother and me, our mother would chime in, using her gift of persuasion, and rescue us from the circus life. I’m betting she hesitated a time or two over the years though.

This got me thinking. When I was a kid, I would have probably been great in the circus! As a kid, I had no fear, especially when it came to being adventurous. Go ahead, stuff me into a car with a bunch of clowns, I could have swung with the amazing flying trapeze artists, maybe get launched out of a cannon across the big top. Oh yeah, kid me would be more than ready and willing for the circus life. But adult me? Not a chance.

Quite frankly, if I were in the circus now, I would be… well, to say the least, bad at everything. I’m afraid of heights. I’m not quite sure how that happened. Well, maybe not heights, but if and when you fall, I’m afraid of that sudden stop at the end. I have severe social anxiety, as I think I’ve mentioned before, so I get tongue-tied when put on the spot… so being a hawker wouldn’t exactly be my forte.  I’m horrible at guessing ages and weight, often erring on the higher end. I’ve been smacked more than a few times because of it too. But I swear, she looked like she was a very attractive 60-year-old, how was I supposed to know she was 31? I mean, honestly. So, running the guess your age/weight booth would be a recipe for disaster and likely result in needing bail money.

I’m not a fan of being the center of attention, in fact quite the opposite. So “gather round everyone, and step right up” would be great, until the crowd stepped right up and I would spend the next 10 minutes hyperventilating into a bag. The show must go on, they say, but I’d need a few minutes or an hour to collect myself first.

Being a clown would be horrible. First of all, clowns are creepy to a lot of people, so you’re always dealing with that vibe. Add in a curmudgeon with anxiety issues and bad make-up skills, and I’d either be making kids cry or giving clown-fearing adults a new conversation to share with their psychiatrists. Aside from that though, I’d always wonder, are they laughing because I’m so incredibly funny or are they laughing because I’m an abject failure as a clown? My self-esteem wouldn’t be able to handle it, I tell you.

I could care for the animals and feed them, but I don’t agree with keeping animals in cages. In a lot of cases, the animals are abused so that they’ll perform tricks. First day on the job would be, “local crazy woman sets free the entire animal population from visiting circus.” And then bail money would be required, yet again, and that would be a whole ordeal.

My balance has also seen better days, not saying I’m very clumsy, but I’m kind of very clumsy. Riding a unicycle on a tightrope would probably either be a messy one-time event or an all-day excursion depending on if there’s a safety net or not.

The pattern seems pretty clear here.  Either my health and mental well-being would be in jeopardy or bail money would be needed for … well, any number of reasons.

Oh! You know what though? I do love food, especially cotton candy and popcorn, so I could be a food tester. I’d EXCEL at being a food tester! It would have to be in a quality control capacity though, as working at the booth would probably result in a loss of profit for the circus. I’m up to the challenge to see if I can eat my weight in cotton candy. Hmm… maybe that could be a side show act!? Looks like I found my circus niche after all.

Sense and Sensibility and Snark

I’ve often thought of starting an advice column. You don’t need a degree for common sense, right? Sometimes I think that too many degrees, certifications, and the like can actually keep common sense at bay.

Is your mother-in-law a nosy cat intent on destroying your marriage to her saintly child? Kindly tell her to go to hell, or not so kindly. Your choice. Probably not at Christmas or anything, but December 26th is a good day to do the deed. Co-worker trying to destroy your life?  Ask them what you did to make them hate you. Get to the bottom of issues!  Then, in the most professional way possible, tell them to kindly fuck off.

I’m inspired by people like Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren (who were sisters). They gave sound advice to thousands, if not millions of people.  Ann once said, “Know yourself. Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you’re wonderful.” I love this!

And while I am duly impressed by the likes of Dear Abby, Dear Prudence, and Ask Amy, I wouldn’t be fluffy with my advice. Oh no, my advice column would be more of the snarkier variety. Honest yet blunt… caring yet, well, um, blunt. Blunt with a side of snark. That’s my motto!

Is your significant other cheating? Give that low-down, lying schmuck the boot! Kick ‘em to the curb, I say! You deserve better!

Old high school classmate filling your Facebook inbox with essential-oil business opportunities? Block them! So what if it’s your husband’s sister!?  Block that pyramid scheming, MLM-spewing huckster! You don’t need that kind of stress in your life!

Just think, if I wrote under a pen name, there would even be a chance of that crazy ex-relative of mine writing to me and I could tell them to stop being such a self-absorbed narcissistic prat with too many cats!

Naturally any money I made would go towards extensive liability insurance, but it would be sooo worth it.

Are you a good person stuck in an awful situation? Write to me and let me help you sort it out! You see, there’s no room for unbiased perspectives in my column. I would stick up for the letter writer, always. Everyone needs someone on their side. Unless of course, they were an obvious asshole, in which case I would let them know in no uncertain terms that they’re the problem and should maybe find a mirror for some deep introspection.

I imagine myself firing away on a typewriter (they still make those, right?) and sending common sense advice out into the universe, making the world a better place.

I probably wouldn’t tell anyone about my column. It would be my secret, hence the aforementioned pen name. I would simply enjoy the fact that anyone I passed on the street might be someone who wrote to me. I might even hear the person behind me at Starbucks telling a friend about the wonderful advice they’d received from Miss Anonymous Snarky McSnarkpants… it was just the kick in the ass they needed to change their life!

And I would take my drink and walk home, smiling to myself. I’m a hero.

It’s NOT Bigger on the Inside

I cannot tell you the absolute disappointment I faced after this purchase. This is not fully functioning. It’s not even partially functioning. No Doctor. No time travel. Definitely not bigger on the inside. False advertising if you ask me. I’ll have you know that I sent it back post-haste with a very, very sternly worded letter.  I mean, what the hell, people!? I don’t care if it was on sale.  Is there no truth in advertising any more?

 

The Golden Age

The Golden Girls is one of my all-time favorite shows. Even in reruns, I love it. I love the repartee, the relationships, and the zingers that flew like confetti at Mardi Gras. But there is one thing that bugs me about it…

Articles about the show go on and on about these “elderly” women and how they’re roomies living together in death’s waiting room. When The Golden Girls show started, the characters were not that old.  The actresses who played them weren’t that old either. Rose (54), Blanche (53), and Dorothy (53) were only in their mid-fifties.  Sophia was 80. I’m in this age-range (think Rose, not Sophia) and I certainly don’t feel elderly. Sharing a house in a warm climate with a trio of besties as roommates sounds pretty damn cool to me, but the way they frame their “old age” really bothers me.  I mean, these brilliant women were just hitting their stride.

I read an article recently that suggests this show was about death and how these elderly women were just hanging out in death’s waiting room, waiting to die since life was apparently over for them. WTF?? If you read through the whole article, you’ll see that the writer equates these women with being on death’s door, and that the characters are devastatingly lonely because apparently all their family and friends have passed on… I know this came out in a different time but come on!

In an article simply listing “14 things you never knew about The Golden Girls,” Buzzfeed gives the backhanded compliment: “A group of elderly ladies, still in the prime of their life…”

Elderly.  Pffft.  These women were in their early to mid-50s – they weren’t 110!

I will say that their outfits and hairstyles probably did contribute to the age factor though. But even then, they dressed stylishly for the time.  An interesting interview with the costume designer of The Golden Girls revealed that they had a significant budget for clothing because the creators/producers were intent on making the female characters fashionable and high-end chic. Rue McClanahan even had it written into her contract that she got to keep the clothes. There definitely wasn’t any thrift store shopping on that set!

I guess you could argue that The Golden Girls characters were made to seem old despite their deliberately trendy appearance. The actresses and by extension, their characters, were victims of their time. Par for the course in a Hollywood where women weren’t allowed to age “well”… even in their own sitcom. I’m not sure that has changed all that much even today.

Because the article mentioned above annoyed me so much, I looked into the show’s history a little deeper and found that the creators specifically wanted to make the sitcom not about age. And for the most part, it wasn’t. This show talks about way more. You hear different perspectives of love and relationships. The writers were also brave enough to pull the audience’s heartstrings and open the viewers’ minds with progressive topics like social justice issues, LGBT rights, male privilege, the HIV/AIDS virus, suicide – all while making us laugh… and sometimes cry.

Quite an undertaking for a quartet of elderly women languishing in death’s waiting room.

The Dinner Dilemma

Don’t you miss it? That magical experience of childhood known as the dinner table. Not impressed? Neither was I … back then. But I sure wish I had one of those tables now, of the magical variety that is, not the useless one I currently own.

I mean, as a kid, most of us could just rock up to the table at dinner time and have food, just waiting for us, prepared by somebody else and bought with money from somebody else’s pocket.

Now, here we are. Look at us. Just look! We’re adults without a magic dinner table. Oh sure, you can still rock up to that lackluster piece of furniture in your dining room, but all you’re going to find is an empty surface and a gurgling stomach, served up with a cold side of pity and despair. This is the real world, folks.

I don’t know about you, but one of the biggest struggles I face in everyday life is the question of what I’m having for dinner. Yes, breakfast is technically the most important meal of the day, and granted, I sometimes have breakfast for dinner… but dinner seems to be the most difficult meal of the day.  Or at least, it is in my household.

It’s not even about deciding what to have for dinner, although that’s hell in itself.

What do you want for dinner?

I don’t know, what do you want?

I don’t care. What do you want?

I don’t know, I just know I’m hungry.

Me too. What are you hungry for?

I don’t know… how about you?

For most of us, you can’t just play a rousing version of the “what do you want for dinner” game and end up on the “lobster and steak” space. Oh no, you have to take your bank account into consideration. One of the most devastating and shocking realizations of growing up is discovering just how much food actually costs. Now you understand why your mother was always harping about eating everything on your plate. She was worried about your health sure, but the money!  Good grief, the money!

Say you can afford the food you want. Good for you. This just means you’ve earned the right to create a weekly menu and accompanying shopping list. Then a trip to the grocery store across town, which is a real treat, isn’t it? Made even more so if you have kids. Lugging everything home and putting it all away is a physical and mental test, if you ask me.

Ahhhh, but there is a bright side … you get to sit down and order a well-deserved pizza because who the hell has the energy to make dinner after all of that!?

Exit… Stage Left

So. According to my daughter, my writing has never been a paragon of dignity. Okay, I’ll give her that one. After all, she’s not wrong.

With that said, thanks to my children (yes, I’m blaming my kids), my ability to hold back my…  ummm… oh, who cares, I’ll just say it. My ability to hold back my pee is nearly nonexistent. When I have to go, I have to go. And my body, being the asshole that it is, when it senses I’m near a bathroom, it upgrades the urinary crisis to a breaking point. Why is that? Does anyone else experience that? The closer you get to a bathroom, the more urgent the need becomes, to the point of … hey, I’m right here, but I still might not make it?

Sometimes, I tempt fate and wait almost too long to start the trek to the restroom. Who has time for constant bathroom breaks? I don’t. I’ve got better things to do. I’d put an end to bodily functions altogether, if it were up to me. And why do they call it a restroom, anyway? It’s not like we take a nap in there. I mean, I wish!

Anyway, I was at work today and threw caution to the wind in order to finish the marketing project I was working on. Oh, I made it, but barely.

And as I headed back to my office, once again unencumbered, however so briefly, by a needful bladder, I got to thinking.  What happens if that fateful day should arrive when I don’t make it in time?  Well, I’ll tell you, and this I know for certain.

I will go to my office, grab my coat, and without a backward glance or a word to anyone, I will simply walk out, never to return.  I will head East (or North, or West, or South… I don’t know, I’m geographically challenged, people!) until I can go no further. I will take a new name, put down roots in a new town, with a new job, and new people who will never, ever know of “the incident” that plagues my past.

They might speak of me around my “old” office, after I’m gone. But in the context of “that crazy woman in marketing who just up and walked out one day,” and NOT “the woman in the corner office who peed herself last Wednesday.”

I’m good with crazy. Oh yes. Definitely, crazy.

Kiosk Hawkers vs Zombie Apocalypse

I’ve discovered this past week that the “after-holiday shopping and returns” is almost as bad as the original holiday shopping. On an ordinary day, the mall is a place where an introvert like me can go to blend in. There are people, yeah, but not mobs of people… just enough that no one stands out.  I can shop in peace, unnoticed, buy a soft pretzel, and slip back into the trickle of shopping traffic without drawing any attention. But this past week, whew!  There were gads of people. More than there were pre-holiday, I think. Forget about going unnoticed… that will just get you run over as you try to jump back into the rush of shoppers surging through the corridor while leaving a store.

Even if I’m not squashed by fellow mallgoers, there are bigger problems afoot at times like these: unexpected social interaction. Usually caused by… wait for it… Kiosk Hawkers.

I think I’m safe in saying that we all try to avoid them. I mean, we know they’re out there, with their “magic” lotions and creams, and their eyebrow threading stations, but if we’re careful, we can avoid being targeted. The strong and resolute can make it through the gauntlet without being harassed – I don’t know how, by virtue of their aura alone, I suppose. Some of us have strategies, like pretending we’re on the phone (that one’s my favorite). Or walking closely behind the group of people in front of us so that solicitors won’t see us. You know, strength in numbers. Or we just avoid eye contact altogether and with our heads down and ears closed, desperately keep moving along.

I know that the Kiosk Hawkers are just doing their job, but I’ll be honest. I loathe them.  I could recount numerous encounters to validate my point of view. Like the time the perfume lady sprayed me without asking first and, being sensitive to many smells, including, apparently, the one she sprayed me with, my throat started to close-up and it required a quick trip to the ER. That was fun.

Oh, but here’s a better story. One unfortunate day, too distracted by my soft pretzel and lemonade, my guard was down, my defenses were weak. I looked up. There he was. I inadvertently locked eyes with the shoeshine guy. Oh yeah, my mall has a shoeshine guy, who will, I’m convinced, stop at nothing to snag any innocent shopper and convince them to get their shoes shined. He even shines sneakers! I mean, when was the last time you put on your tennis shoes and said, “Man, these babies could use a nice glow”? Maybe people like their sneakers with a mirror glaze. I wouldn’t know about that. Back in my day, the more dirt and scuffs you had on your Vans #95, the cooler you were! It meant you probably owned a skateboard, rode a sweet scooter, and jumped fences.

Sneakers aside, how does this man convince anyone to stand (yes, stand… not sit) – with their foot up on a crate – in the middle of the mall filled with hundreds of people so he can scrub their shoes? Does he threaten to destroy their family? Does he walk up to them and quietly whisper through his corny smile, “Come with me if you want to live?” It’s beyond me. I just don’t get it!

Anyway, on the fateful day in question, I made the worst mistake a shopper can make where Kiosk Hawkers are concerned. I made eye contact. To a Kiosk Hawker, eye contact is the equivalent of having a neon sign on your forehead that says, “Pick me!”  What was I thinking?! I wasn’t prepared for this! He called to me and began eagerly insisting that my shoes were dirty, and I needed a shoeshine. He started rambling on about how a person should always look their best. Then I understood! These were his weapons. This was his tactic: tell an unsuspecting shopper that their shoes are filthy, causing them to feel insecure, making them question why they left their house, and every other choice they’d made up to that point.

Refusing to be easy prey, a boldness rose from somewhere deep within my anxiety-riddled being. “Nice try,” I thought to myself. A fairly strong “No thank you!” bubbled out, and I picked up my pace putting some distance between us. Undeterred, he followed, continuing his spiel along the way. I’m telling you, I barely escaped. But I was in the clear!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the most bizarre thing about this whole encounter: I was wearing flip-flops! He wanted to shine my flip-flops! Did the guy even look at my feet before throwing his sales pitch?  I didn’t even think flip-flops qualified as shoes, let alone need a shine. In my mind, I’m thinking, “Is there anything this guy won’t shine?” Would he have given me a discount considering that I had almost nothing on my feet? Or would there have been an additional fee since it would’ve been more like a pedicure? And just for the record… ewwww.

It’s moments like these where I think that a Zombie Apocalypse might not be so bad. Of course, there’s the whole potentially getting eaten by zombies thing, but that’s still better than getting trapped by a Kiosk Hawker.