Do you know what I’ve discovered? We are born, we die, but everything in between is usually one pratfall after another, which can be embarrassing and mortifying and seem like the most insurmountable problem at the time, until we actually run up against real trouble knocking at the door of our lives (mixed metaphor intended).
Image courtesy of flatrock.org.nz
A few days ago, my husband (WW) and I had just hunkered down in preparation for Hurricane Sandy to hit. Expecting 80 mile an hour winds and living amongst obscenely tall trees, we had put away anything that could turn into a flying missile, cleaned out the gutters, primed the sump pump, gathered the emergency lights and hand-cranked radio, and descended into the basement to stand guard through the night against something
we couldn’t even begin to fathom or control. What made the waiting worse is that one of our daughters and our only grandson were in the storm’s direct path in New York City. Worry about and for them was so debilitating
that I was practically near a nervous breakdown. During times such as these, WW is steady as a rock and I am a whirling dervish of frenetic talkative energy and planning.
Whirling Dervish|image from mysacredcircle.blogspot.com
THE MOTHER (Me): Honey, did you tell our daughter to get cash from the ATM in case the electricity goes and get tons of non-perishable food like tuna fish, peanut butter, crackers, and applesauce? Did you remind Boo to pack an emergency backpack for her and the baby and keep it by the door in case they have to evacuate? Oh and what about flashlights, battery-powered radios, and a security rape whistle in case the metropolis turns into Gotham City and anarchy ensues? Oh, and she should probably get duct tape (no emergency is complete without duct tape) and an ice chest full of ice for perishables and her friend’s insulin medicine. Did you tell her about filling the bathtub full of water to flush the toilets in case the city sewer pump gives out at the water station? Huh, huh, well did you tell her?
THE FATHER (WW): No, you told her all that and more during the 10 text messages, 14 phone calls, and 20 emails you sent her over the past two hours. In fact I just got a call from our daughter that I couldn’t understand what was being said through our grandson’s screaming and our daughter’s yelling because your last suggestion about filling the bathtub with water caused mass hysteria in her house. The new kitten, Jo-Jo (used to jumping into the tub to play with the baby’s bath toys) didn’t realize the tub was full of water and took a flying leap off the side of the tub into what quickly started becoming his watery grave. Our grandson got hysterical because Jo-Jo was drowning, the shower curtain got ripped to shreds because the kitten tried to use it as a ladder to climb out of the tub, both our grandson and our daughter have kitty scratches from head to toe, and now the kitten has gone into hiding and refuses to surface—all this before Hurricane Sandy has even shown up. I just got a text message from our very frustrated older daughter that says: “Dad, contain your woman; she is driving me freakin’ crazy!”
“Soggy Pissed-off Kitty”|Google Image
THE MOTHER (Me): Well, excuse me for just trying to get everyone prepared for what the weathermen are calling the “storm of the century”!
THE FATHER (WW): Honey, you know that most things we obsess about never come to past, but when they finally do knock on our door the best we can do is be prepared and the rest is in God’s hands. You’ve done your part, now let God show up. Why don’t you take your mind off obsessing about the safety of our grandson and do something constructive. What’s the theme of next week’s blog?
THE MOTHER (Me): Oddly enough—worrying about stupid shit we have no control over. Isn’t it ironic? We could be blown away at any minute, and I’m still being plagued by an embarrassing incident that happened to me on the elevator at my company the other day. I’m actually mortified at the thought of what people must be saying about me behind my back, and the irony of it all is that it wasn’t my fault!
THE FATHER (WW): All righty, now. This story sounds like one for the family scrapbook. Pass me the popcorn, and let her rip.
THE MOTHER (Me): (You have no idea how much of a pun that is!) Well, you know what an impeccable diva I am? How everything has to be in place and just so? The other day, I was really struttin’ my stuff (black and white “to-die-for” ensemble with gobstopper pearls, Coach bag and gorgeous Stuart Weitzman pumps) when I got on the elevator on the executive floor of my company (picture badge and name prominently displayed for all the world to see), and a building services man that I recognized didn’t speak when I spoke to him, but gave me a rather chagrined expression as he sped past me to exit onto my floor. Once the elevator doors had closed, I instantly knew why his expression was so tortured: he had left behind a fart of biblical proportions! It was so rank that the paint seemed to be peeling off the elevator walls. I have no idea what that guy had had for lunch, but it smelled as if something had died in there. I was the only one on the elevator, and as I tried my best not to breathe, I pushed the next floor’s button hoping I could escape before anyone else got on (I should have reopened the doors and gone back the way I came but I was too flustered to think—I think the funk had addled my brain). As Murphy’s Law would have it, a gaggle of chattering new college hires (all shiny and new and dressed to the nines on a tour of the Executive floors) flooded the elevator and blocked my ability to exit before the doors closed. Like magic—within five seconds—all of their chirpy voices screeched to an immediate halt as they all turned and looked at me in wide-eyed horror as they grabbed their noses and exclaimed in a unified Greek chorus shout-out: EEUUEW! At the next floor they all fled the elevator like a flock of magpies being chased by a skunk—leaving me alone with a shattered reputation in the midst of a funk not of my own making. I wanted to go running after them to plead my case: “It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me; I’m too cool to fart in public,” but I was so mortified, all I could do was hang my head as the doors closed and the elevator car descended to the first floor. How can I show my face again at work? Every time I get on the elevator now I feel as if people I don’t know are pointing and whispering: “That’s her—that’s the chubby Pépé Le Pew we were telling you about.”
That’s what I want to blog about. Why did something (not my fault) cause me such chagrin and mortification, and why can’t I shake it off? Nobody got hurt, no property was lost (last time I looked, the elevator car had not imploded), and nobody died.
“Elevator Fart”|image from gomauri.com
THE HUSBAND (WW): Well, in light of a very real tragedy that is about to descend up our heads, you might just get some perspective about how in the scheme of things, a smelly ol’ fart is no big deal. If our family lives through this storm without loss of life or property, a misguided fart in juxtaposition to Hurricane Sandy will be a great story for your readers. Ask them what nonsensical things trip them up that should be simply shaken off on any given day, because at some point, real tragedy comes a knockin’ and we need all the courage and strength we can muster to conquer those “real” trials!
I am discovering that the playwright Jean Kerr of Mary, Mary was correct (and I paraphrase here): “It is no use making up troubles that don’t exist because trouble will come knocking at your door soon enough.” When WW and I woke up the next morning, our house was not flooded, the tall trees were still standing, and my daughter and grandson were unscathed in Queens. But what is fast becoming legendary is that millions of others from the Caribbean to Maine lost electricity, lost their homes to fire and floods, and some lost their lives trying to escape the mayhem of what turned out to ironically be called the “perfect storm.”
Trouble had indeed come a knockin’ at many of our “neighbor’s” doors in New Jersey and New York, and now it is up to us and every other American of all stripes and colors, political persuasions, and religious ideologies to get over our petty and nonsensical selves and our entrenched ideologies and lend a helping hand to our neighbors, relatives, friends, and strangers far and wide so that they may recover as soon as possible. No state government can stand alone in times like these (no matter what the Republicans tell you), no federal government can do it all (no matter what the Democrats tell you), and none of us can exist without each other (no matter what the various ideologues preach to you). As we approach the presidential election, Hurricane Sandy has made it abundantly clear for those who have eyes to see that now is not the time to elect a rich,
heartless, corporate raider whose mantra is, “I’ve got mine, too bad you never got yours,” but now is the time to RE-ELECT a brilliant man who has the Christlike heart of a community leader and understands that if the United States of America is going to make it in the future when trouble comes knockin’ at our door, we will all need to underscore the united part of our country’s title and pledge allegiance to the fact that we are all our brother’s keepers and all in this journey together.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been harmed by Hurricane Sandy and suffered loss of family, friends, and property. We pledge to come to your aid as brothers and sisters and fellow Americans until you can stand on your own two feet again!—Image from homeless.samhas.gov
“Above all things let us never forget that mankind constitutes one great brotherhood; all born to encounter suffering and sorrow, and therefore bound to sympathize with each other”—Albert Pike (American Lawyer, Journalist and Soldier, 1809-1891)
“If you really believe in the brotherhood of man, and you want to come into its fold, you’ve got to let everyone else in, too”—Oscar Hammerstein II (American musical comedy Author, Lyricist and Producer influential in the development of musical comedy. 1895-1960)
“People ask me all the time, ‘What are you, a Democrat or a Republican? A Catholic or a Muslim…’ What am I? I am none of these. I belong to nothing but the human race. Why isn’t that ever enough?”— Kate Miller
THE WORRIED MOTHER (Me): “WW, did you tell our daughter that she needs to get the largest mallet she can lift and carry it with her at all times because I just read an article on Huff Post that millions of rats have been washed out of the sewers of NYC, and they will be roaming the streets in gangs (you’ve heard of the Crips and the Bloods—well, these will be the “Rats”) because they can swim and climb. Huff Post says that there is a good chance that our grandson could be exposed to ‘leptospirosis, hantavirus, typhus, salmonella, and even the bubonic plague.’”
OUR DAUGHTER (Boo): “Daddy, your wife is driving me insane!”
“My inner self—The Eternal Worry Wart”| image from iwillassistyou.wordpress.com
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.