May 18th, 2008
It’s noon here in San Diego and everybody in my family is asleep. I tried to close my eyes for awhile, but had so many things running through my head and then Merle Haggard did gone and woke me up for good.
I wish you could see me now: laptop perched on lap, bear blanket gathered round my shoulders. red eyes barely open, feet up, nose stuffed. It’s been a long week. And I mean that mostly in a good way. But we’re all exhausted. Putting on your public face for several days is draining and right when you get to the facade about to fall (my favorite part, because it’s real), your guests leave.
Indeed, our friends left early this morning and I wallowed for awhile in that post-visit funk I get. Used to be I’d drop someone off at the airport, then drive past all the places I used to live and sink into the memories for awhile. Friends from my past — the ones who remember your parents when they were young, the color of your ’70s kitchen appliances, and the Esprit outfit you wore to the Homecoming game — evoke a strong sense of nostalgia and oh shit! where have the years gone? in me. After a visit from an oldtime friend, the need to reconnect myself to the person I used to be — before kids, husband and commitment — is strong and the desire to ground myself in the physical places of the me(s) from then help me make sense of the me(s) I am becoming. (I fear that made no sense.) These drive-bys acknowledge my past self and give it a nod.
But, I had no time today (as most of my old residences from that time are in Chicago). And no legs. My friend – she’s a planner — and I packed each day with outings that wore us all out by the end of the day. Tuesday night I had the family to dinner while her husband attended a work cocktail party; Wednesday, we went to the park, lunch and beach; Thursday was the zoo and Mission Beach boardwalk; Friday, Legoland, and Saturday, Sea World and beach again.
Each day, I astounded my buddy with how little I know about how to get anywhere in this town or its main attractions. When they asked me what route I usually take at the zoo, I had to admit that most of the time, I wander aimlessly and just end up at stuff (life metaphor alert). Then, because I’ve been thinking in sitcom terms lately (a side effect of having no original thoughts of my own), I thought of that “Will and Grace” where Grace just met Leo and he wanted to go for a bike ride and she gasped and told Will, “He thinks I actually do stuff.”
Either way, throughout the trip, comparisons haunted me. She’s more directional than I am, more family-oriented, more calm, more together. I hate that I do that, but there it is. My friend, who I’ve known since high school, is one focused lady. Her parenting and discipline approach struck me as perfect, and strategic, because everything she did or said to her kids had a purpose, and that purpose was, “you’re going to learn to be great people.” As a result, her children behaved, not in a mindless, robotic way, but a “we choose to be great people way because we’re being raised with kindness, a firm hand, and positivity” way.
Meanwhile, I’m still wondering what the hell to do with Toots. She’s a challenging one, and I plan to write more about her later. Mostly, I will write about the not knowing what to do part. I’m at a loss regarding how to handle her personality. Also, I want to describe more fully how my friend parents her children, because I found it amazingly effective, and I’m scared that she’s gone, because I need step-by-step tutorials to emulate her style.
But first, I need to write about the Legoland throwdown.
It’s silly, really, but i have a thing with rude people. Rude, entitled-acting people who believe the world should revolve around them. Also, I have a thing about goombah husbands. When these two elements combine with sore muscles and a never-ending snot stream, it’s the perfect storm and I’m ready to rumble. Oh! And if there’s an underdog involved, forget it. Out come my brass knuckles.
So it went like this: We’re in the Legoland gift store, the one right by the exit. It’s the end of the day, and the cacaphony of temper tantrums, parents saying, “no,” and the cash register ringing, drowned out all sense. I lingered by the door, ready at any minute to fling myself out of it, when I heard a woman say, “EXCUSE ME!” I turn to look at a mombo, with her Bebe sunglasses, tight white tee stretched over be-tanned boobs, and short shorts, pushing a stroller. She’d aimed her bitchiness at a man stopped in front of a toy display. He moved out of her way, and as she passed, she said, “I asked you 5 TIMES!” Then rolled her eyes and jerked her stroller out the front door.
Overwhelmed by the rhinestones on her sunglasses and her supreme inappropriateness, I just widened my eyes and shook my head. Next thing I knew, her machisimo husband was in the hapless toy-display-gazer’s face, threatening to “take him outside.” All this in front of Hapless’ children. I couldn’t believe my ears. First, Bitchess gets pissed that this guy couldn’t hear her over 17 million children and get the hell out of her way, but now her husband is going to beat the guy up. All because he was standing there.
Next thing I knew, I’m proclaiming, “He didn’t hear your wife. He wasn’t in her way intentionally.” Then, under my breath, “Idiot.”
So Goombah starts clenching his fists, and doing that gay boxer in the ring move, and says that this guy got in his wife’s face. I’m so simply outraged now, as I saw the whole thing, and there was no face-getting-into of any sort (her miles of makeup would have left ample evidence of that). Angry now, I say, “Just leave!”
At that, he advances toward me with his curly straw glass, and I’m thinking I’m about to be KO’d, or punctured in some way, when my husband walks up. Thank God he didn’t see the guy move toward me in the way he did, because he’d have been forced to defend me, and The Rock is skinny (he’s more limestone than granite). The Rock admonishes me to just let it go, blah de blar blar, and I take my parting shot, “The only rude ones here are you and your moron wife,” which really sends Rocco over the edge, and I imagine even his wife probably looked up from filing her fingernails at that one.
Ever the voice of reason, my husband tells the swearing RidicuDad that there are children all around him, listening. At that, Dick-o-Matic leaves, as if suddenly aware that he looked like a total asshole.
It still burns me up to think about it. I know they deserve each other, but the kids don’t have a fighting chance between them to learn manners, sensitivity, and patience. Another Goombah and Bebe Princess in the making. Poor things.
Also, I know I sent reason over the edge by even entering into this altercation
(my kids weren’t with me at the time), but still: an underdog! And he’s hapless! What can I say? It’s The Fightin’ Side of Me (Merle’s still on the TV).
So where was I?
Oh yes. Was I still at the comparing myself to others? the whining? the exhaustion? the coal mines and the fine time to leave me Lucille?
I should be a country music songwriter.
Me and Merle, fighting the good fight.