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.
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.
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?
[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.]