This week has taught me a few lessons I should’ve learned long ago. I’ll share them with you on the unlikely chance I’m not the last person to learn these things.

First: I got internet scammed.

I am mad at myself about this. No, actually, I’m just mad at my brain. This isn’t all of me’s fault. But sometimes it’s late on a Friday night and you’re sitting too close to the television watching someone in HD who looks a little scary in HD and you start thinking about your own skin and the state of things, and how you recently did your taxes and saw the year you’re supposed to retire and it doesn’t feel far enough away to be impossible to reach.

So you start thinking about The Soap and remember that someone recently sent you an email with a subject line “The Soap” and a link to get it, and yes it’s late and you have had a glass or two of wine, but you go there and it’s all kind of half in English and half not, but so is The Soap. So you pay for it with PayPal and not your AmEx, which you never normally do for an internet purchase, but you tell yourself, “This is good for me” and you even email someone else who was asking how to get The Soap and you think you’re being so helpful and then two weeks pass and suddenly that website has vanished leaving a note that basically says: “Thank you for your cash, Pamie. You’re an idiot.”

Did you guys know that “pastime” means something you do to pass the time? Of course you did. But not me. I thought it was something you did in the days of yore. You know: during a time in the past. (“His favorite pastime was rolling a hoop down a hill with a stick.”)

I have lived a number of years on this planet and only two days ago did I figure out that while, yes, old people seem to have way more “pastimes” than young people, that doesn’t mean it’s something that only old people can have. History books are filled with lists of pastimes, but it wasn’t until I was staring at the word THIS WEEK that I realized it wasn’t about a past time, but a way to pass time.

Speaking of words, I came up with one I think we should all be using.

Shituation.

As in: “We are having a full-on shituation with your kid’s diaper.” or “I didn’t tell you to call her! Things were fine and now you’ve turned this into some kind of shituation I’ve got to deal with. Thanks a lot, Becky.”

Look, I’m not terribly proud of it, but I think it could have some mileage.

Finally, yesterday I figured out exactly why I often come off as a dork when there’s no reason for me to look like anything other than a human being doing a human task. Like, say, when I’m getting into my car at the valet.

People do this every day. Multiple times. Usually without a problem. I should be able to do it without at one point having to apologize to the person handing me my key. Only yesterday did I figure out exactly why I turn a normal situation into a dorkstorm.

I narrate.

Why do I narrate? Why do I tell people what I’m doing as I’m doing it? And when exactly did I start to do this? I don’t remember always being like, “Okay, that is my car, yes, thank you, and I’m going to find you your tip which I had but now I can’t find it’s in my purse somewhere just one second sorry oh it’s not — that’s my tampon — nope not gonna hand you that so I’ll just give you this Sacajawea coin and I’m sorry.”

I’ve started calling my mother when I’m on long drives to meetings and the other day I found myself once again narrating every second of my life. “Okay, Mom, I’m probably going to have to let you go because I’m entering this parking garage and I bet I’ll lose you but oh, it’s really crowded in here so I think… maybe I can fit into that spot… but I will have to… turn around… right here… and then I move my car like this… and then I turn the wheel here and even out and slowly pull up until… I am now you. I have turned into you, Mom. I just officially turned all the way into my mother.”

I have to learn to keep my mouth shut and just do things. That’s how cool people do it, right? They just walk over to things and get in them or stand in a line without having to make any kind of comment. I bet they ride on planes without feeling forced to say hello to the person sitting next to them. They must have such internal freedom, the ones who don’t narrate. They never have to tell a stranger on the street: “I almost fell just now!” They probably don’t even tell the lady at the post office why the box they’re mailing is so heavy (“I’m returning boots that don’t fit because my calves are too big”). I bet they don’t feel compelled to tell the waiter why they’re asking for a to-go box (“I had this huge lunch way late because I was trying to not eat and then I did”).

The non-narrators must go through life feeling pretty good about themselves every day. This is not what happens to me. What happens to me is I feel the pressure to go get a manicure and pedicure because my feet, to quote Samantha Who?, were looking like apricot scones. So I go with a friend and then decide I should maybe get my eyebrows done, because that’s what ladies do and I don’t know how eyebrows are supposed to be shaped if they aren’t shaped like my eyebrows. This would be the second time I’ve ever gotten my eyebrows waxed, but why the hell not. Be a lady, Pam!

So I get a pedicure but I wore boots, so I have to wear these paper flip-flops as I go get my eyebrows waxed. This is where a quiet lady pulls off what appears to be just the slightest amount of my head skin along with my eyebrows. I am trying to quietly shuffle home from this brutality when my friend’s husband demands I have lunch with them right then, because he wants to introduce me to his friend and business companion.

So there I am wearing giant sunglasses and paper shoes, trying to act like I’m the kind of lady who is so cool she doesn’t get embarrassed when strangers have lunch with her right in the middle of a beauty routine. And I know I’ve got about fifteen minutes before my face is going to swell and turn red with anger, and I don’t have any ibuprofen, so I duck to the side and place my ice-cold water bottle against my brow for just a second — and it’s all it takes.

My face swells so much, my skin gets so blotchy, that when I sit up I have no choice but to rip off my sunglasses and explain: “I AM HAVING A BIT OF A REACTION TO THE WAXING.”

And of course the people at this table recoil in horror, and of course they don’t know what to say, because this isn’t how normal people react so I just keep narrating, because I hadn’t been narrating and it was held in too long and it made something inside break.

“THIS IS WHY I DON’T LIKE TO WAX MY BODY PARTS. THIS IS WHY I SHOULD BE HIDDEN AT HOME. I AM GOING TO GO THERE NOW. I GOT INTERNET SCAMMED RECENTLY. HEY, DON’T BUY CHINESE JAPANESE SOAP ONLINE IF YOU CAN’T READ THE WEBSITE BECAUSE IT’S NOT IN ENGLISH. THAT WASN’T SMART. INTERNET SHOPPING USED TO BE ONE OF MY FAVORITE PASTIMES. ARE MY EYEBROWS BLEEDING? I HATE THIS COLOR NAIL POLISH ON ME. ANYWAY, IT WAS NICE TO MEET YOU. WHATEVER WAS IN MY CREPE IS MAKING ME CRAMP UP SO I’D BETTER GO. CAN SOMEONE HELP ME PUT MY SHOES ON?”

I can’t even blame my mother for that one. That monologue of shame was all me.

You guys, how do you keep from narrating? I think I’m doing it to make people feel better about what they are observing, but I’m only making it worse! Do you just stay silent while they look on in confusion? Or are you not making these kinds of public mistakes? Do you just pay for the valet and get in your car and drive off? How are you so cool?

[db]

[Front image from when I was recently on The Cheshire Cat’s radio show. I’m awkward because I’m trying not to narrate while posing for a picture.]

42 thoughts on “This Week in “Somtimes I’m Stoopid.”

  1. Oh dear lord, hand me oxygen, so funny I can’t breathe. I’d like to think I am not having a laugh at your expense because I am a nice person, but if not at your expense, I am just a crazy person sitting at home laughing in the general direction of her computer. If it makes you feel any better I laugh hardest at things that I relate to.

    I am a chronic narrator, my students point it out to me all the time. I believe the reason I narrate is to teach, however I do it just as much if not worse with adults so, there’s that.

    You should know from this moment forward, I will refer to anything mildly upsetting as a shituation, and also, I will refer to that Jersey Shore guy who is in rehab as the Shituation, it will make me feel less awful for knowing who he is.

  2. So THAT’S what’s wrong with me. I seriously do the same thing. I blame a mix of general anxiety/insecurity with a lifetime of living with cats. So much easier to slip into narrate everything when there’s a furry beast with big eyes appearing to hang on your every word.

    1. Oh, yeah, that’s probably where I picked up the habit… Thanks! Here I’ve been thinking it’s just ’cause I’m neurotic. But now I can blame the cat!

  3. I narrorate….all the time & it drives me nuts but yet I persist. Maybe we need a support group?

    Shituation just became my new favorite word. Thanks Pamie!

  4. Pamie, don’t EVER stop narrating. I think the lives of real ladies with fancy face-hair must be so, so dull. And they certainly aren’t entertaining ME. Which is all that matters.

    Once, I tipped someone with a condom wrapper. SO THERE. I didn’t even take it back, I just laughed really loudly and abruptly, and left.

  5. Ok, I narrate too. However, I have learned to do it in my head unless I’m alone, or with only my daughters. They tease me, but I’ve caught my oldest doing the exact same thing, heh.

  6. I think you narrate because you are too nice and maybe worry too much what people are thinking. Kind of like you said. You need to be more of a jerk and not care what people think.

    I’m sure you can find some people in LA to teach you. :)

    That sounds mean, sorry. You know what I mean though, right? I find I do that sometimes when I’m in more stressful situations like interviews or certain things at work where I’m being tested.

  7. I narrate as well. Oh, and I’m a corporate trainer, so I’m doing it in front of 5-7 adults at a time. Sometimes it’s about not being able to find the example I want, and sometimes it’s at the computer as if it’s a living thing that can hear and respond.

    Glad to know someone awesome does it too!

    1. Oo, I didn’t even think about the aspect of doing it at… non-humans. I do it to my cats all the time, just waltz around the house all “Who wants tuna? Tuuuunnnaaaa! Where did your mommy put tuna? The can opener isn’t in the drawer! I have to rotate the laundry now first! Oh, so many launderies! How am I going to get this all over the room without covering up stuff that’s already drying? We should get the outlet fixed so we can dry it!” And on and on and on.

      Not really the same thing as the shameologue, but it can turn in to one when I inadvertently do it in front of guests….

  8. Oh, Pamie! You’re so funny! I narrate all the time as well. Except sometimes I can’t recall if I’m narrating in my head, or out loud, so I’m not sure if I need to explain more to the people around me, or just smile.

  9. lol, my boyfriend and I use “shituation” all the time! Also, its friend, zituation – usually required when there is a conspicuous pimple happening on the other’s face….

  10. Howling with laughter…and the fact that Kara mentioned cats KILLS me….!!!! My narration comes with songs to the CATS…I really need a life. Pamie, again you are so funny and now I will forever use “shituation” and think of you. Could that be an entry for you in the Urban Dictionary…perhaps???

  11. Oh, Pamie. I know what you’re talking about. My mom does it too. And sometimes I look at her aghast, because does the waitress need to know that she ordered black tear we’re going shopping for shoe insoles after this and that means a lot of walking and we really need the caffeine, self-conscious laugh, and doesn’t being old suck? Except well, she hopes she’s not old yet, but that caffeine would be nice, and could she have an ice cube in it as well, please?

    But sometimes I do it too.

    And here’s what I realized: I do it because I’m over thinking. I’m afraid they think my behavior is weird, and I need to qualify it. But the trick is to stop assuming YOUR BEHAVIOR is inciting their reaction. Next time the valet looks at you weird, tell yourself it’s because he just realized he has spinach in his teeth and he’s terrified to smile at you. Or, when you order black tea and the waitress raises her eyebrow, assume it’s because she’s remembering the weird woman from earlier who told her the wackiest story about shoe shopping and black tea.

    Helps immensely.

    Best,
    -Mandy

    1. Double amen to what Mandy said.

      I used to do it too, and I think there’s a level above this where it’s not even caused by other people’s reactions. Where we don’t even assume that the eyebrow is about our tea orders, we assume that their lack of reaction is hiding a secret judgment about our tea orders (or more accurately about EVERYTHING WE HAVE BECOME IN OUR LIVES, possibly via our choice of tea) and rush to build a wall of words to try to hold the tidal wave of shame/judgment back.

      Of course, the call is coming from inside the house. So all it does is feed into the belief that they’re judging us, making the tidal wave… spiral out of control? I think I just created a tidal whirlpool?? It’s the thing you get when you fasten the liter soda bottles together and flip them back and forth, in elementary school science experiments, right?

      I think that the narration basically boils down to “sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry, ha ha, sorry, uh, sorry.”

      I do just stay silent now with a lot of these things. Like, so much of what we’re ashamed about is NORMAL BEHAVIOR. Everybody asks for to-go boxes! (Not everybody, but I swear waiters must get asked like 20 times a day.) Everybody has to dig around for 10 minutes while somebody is waiting for their tip or their business card or their change from the coffee place or whatever it is. Everybody gets internet scammed. But the shame-o-scope makes it look all huge and bulbous and abnormal and blobby in our heads.

      I’m starting to think that the main purpose we serve on this earth is to dump all our toxic shame. There should be a 12-step program for it. (There are lots – Codependents Anonymous is probably the most powerfully to-the-point place for this – but none of them have it in the NAME.)

  12. Hmm. Well I’m paranoid about letting strangers drive my car, so I don’t valet, so that takes care of that one.

    If you hung out with people who commandeer conversations, they probably wouldn’t give you the chance to narrate. Being an introvert also seems to help. Can’t say I’m remotely cool though.

  13. I think narrators are the cool people. How else does anyone stumble into hilariously random conversations with total strangers?

    Just last night my husband and I ended up in a lengthy discussion with our grocery store cashier about which single-serving ice cream is better: the haagen-dasz dulce de leche, which obviously has taste on its side, or the nestle cappucino that’s twice the size and half the calories.

    I think the narration only gets awkward when there’s *no response*. Blank stares are the worst.

  14. I don’t narrate. I don’t keep a journal or write a blog or tweet or update Facebook (which are all kinda sorta the same things, yeah?). I’m not sure why. I don’t hold it against people that do; I totally get why a person would want to, or would enjoy doing those things. It’s just not my cup of tea.

    Maybe it’s ’cause I already know what it’s like to be me, so narrating seems redundant, and with time being short, I’d rather hear what it’s like to be you. (By “you”, I mean generically “not me.”) So I read other people’s tweets and blogs and sometimes have conversations with narrating strangers in shops.

    Does that make sense?

  15. Oh I can’t stop laughing…
    I think the flip side of narrating out loud is when I am so terrified of saying something dorky that I don’t say anything – nothing at all. When the valet guy hands me my keys I am that weird silent woman who fumbles with her purse for three minutes before handing him two crumpled dollars and driving off. It is just as bad as saying something embarrassing, but way less funny.

  16. I narrate about half the time. And I, too, sing songs to my cats, JC. I find myself explaining to the waiters if I DON’T get a to go box, like they’ll be offended I am wasting food. “It was really good I swear but I am not gonna be near a fridge for like 6 hours after this and I don’t want to have food rotting in my car”

  17. What do you mean, pastime means something you do to pass the time?! I am 30 years old, and until now I thought the same thing you did…I hate to admit it, but I even googled the definition just to check. Man.

  18. We have all been there….my latest shituation? If it were a book title it would be called “Sunny, Shadow and 3 dumb schmucks”…yes the first two were real names and no they weren’t pets either…

    I narrate frequently, embarrass myself even more frequently, and mostly just inadvertently shock people by being my “stoopid” self. :) One hot mess always…who wants to be a normal betch anyways?!

  19. When a narration scenario presents itself, I (try to) talk myself out of doing it. Something like, “nobody gives a crap about why you have you backpack on backwards, Jeanette” or “Everyone can see that your hair explodes when it rains; no need to point that out.” That’s on my good days. I try to be good. Being cool, I’m afraid, is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Still waiting!

  20. oh god I cant stop laughing.. I dont know why but “head skin” made me laugh harder than anything. shituation also made me snort like crazy. effing love you. so hard.

  21. 1) “Shituation”? Genius. Pure, organic free-range restaurant-quality genius. My wonder morphs straight to jealousy which congeals immediately into envious rage and then ferments straightaway to ooey-gooey anger.

    2) Re: narration: I do it constantly (even my dreams have me doing voiceover, and I have actually wakened myself from sleep due to my laughter at the tragic awfulness of this narration) but I have the good sense (and taste) to keep it an interior monolog unless/until someone makes the mistake of *asking* me about my day/week/life, in which case they then get the podcast lowlights.

    3) re: “The Soap”: never heard of this. Must be a chick/LA/crazy narrating person thing.

    4) “Dorkstorm.” I refer my honorable colleague to the remarks I made previously re: “Shituation.” FTR, I have near-identical feelings about another friend who introduced me to the phrase “ringing the Pavlovian dork bell” (mentioning any word which immediately sends most/all friends down a long line of familar refs, ex– dropping a PRINCESS BRIDE or LEBOWSKI ref which sends everyone into fits of quoting other similar line). I told him “that’s so good, I hate you for it.”

    B

  22. I think the naration may be a form of existentialist angst. Your naration forces people to acknowledge you therefore affirming that you exist. Also, I worked as a valet, and we only care about one thing, the size of your tip. If you do not tip, how do we know that we exist?

  23. Oy. Totally me. I am doing some interviewing and writing for the magazine I bought and did my first Skype interview a couple of weeks ago. I particularly liked the part where I told him that I was going to breathe and speak more slowly and make eye contact via the camera in an attempt to make him more comfortable. Which I said aloud making us both decidedly less comfortable. Thank god my dog walked in and broke the awkwardness with more awkwardness somehow restoring normalcy. A narrating shituation of my own design. Thanks for at least helping me know what to call it! ;)

  24. Seriously, I stopped reading after “Shituation” because I have a friend who started saying “Shitatrosphe” and it stuck. You know when you can’t get home on time to let your dog out and he has to shit on the floor but, no, this time your dog had diarrhea everywhere. That, my friends, is a shitatrosphe.

  25. ….um, I found the soap. As in I was on vacation and found it. Because ever since you wrote about it and I tried it I realized it was the BEST. SOAP. EVER!

    I can’t believe you cause me to do the things I do. Now, I will have to say “Shituation” all the time (because it is the perfect word, obviously) and am keenly aware of my own narration.

    Thanks. Thanks a lot!

      1. I did. I have it in my hot little hands. Let me know if you want the e-mail address of the lady who sells it. Or, if you want her address and the next time you are in Hawaii you can just pop on over to her house. Which is what I did…and it was a little weird.

  26. Oh, no, you got me! I’m definitely a narrator, and a dork. I usually go for the combo, though: I make jokes spontaneously and make people look at me like I live in a box in an alley. (I don’t; my mother left me a very nice house, thank you.) Never been scammed, though. Buy my soap at the grocery store. Oh, and “shituation” has been formally added to my personal lexicon. What a marvelous word! May I offer in return, from sci-fi author Spider Robinson, the equally marvelous “shitful”, as in, “Sorry, dear, but I’ve had the most shitful day.”

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