It’s been a week, and it’s only Wednesday. I had thought about writing out a long missive about why reproductive choice is crucial and what a shame it would be if the United States decided to adopt the reproductive policies of places like Egypt, Iraq, or the Philippines, but every time I start to think about it I just get angry and then sad and then angry and then sad. So, tonight, in need of an escape from the atrocities around the world and the insanity here at home, I pulled out the big guns. I watched a couple hours of South Park. And then I rewatched this video on TikTok like fifty times.
Sometimes you just need a couple hours of universally offensive, poorly animated characters killing Kenny or an inane TikTok challenge to take you out of the dark places in your mind.
A few months before we went to Hawaii, I mentioned to my husband that it might be a great opportunity to have some family portraits taken. So, I did some research to find us a photographer. The one I tried to book was already spoken for, so she pointed us towards another woman and we booked a thirty minute photo session with her. We ended up taking the photos right at the house where we were staying, which was perfect. At any rate, the photographer took all sorts of different poses with different groups of us. And when we received the photos today, we were happy to discover that we did all actually clean up well and take some lovely photos.
We took some more traditional, look-at-the-camera-and-smile photos, and then she said she wanted to take some candids. She asked us to look at each other and pretend like we were having funny conversations. So, we did. And this is when I discovered my true calling.
I could be a fake model. I am really good at tossing my head back and laughing as if someone just said something really funny. Now that I’ve told you about my skill, though, try to forget it when you tell me a joke.
“I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb…and I also know I’m not blonde.” ~Dolly Parton
I have been busily working to prepare for a garage sale this weekend. I despise garage sales. The only thing I loathe more than having a garage sale is having a house filled with stuff I am dying to get rid of. And this is how I’ve gotten myself into the predicament of needing to be involved in a garage sale in the first place. For about a month now I’ve been taking a good, long look at our closets, cupboards, cabinets, closets, and drawers. I’ve boxed up books, dishes, toys, and crafting supplies and hauled it out to our staging area on one side of the garage. This week it was finally time to involve the boys. Together we attacked their bedrooms and their playroom, spending hours finding lost game pieces, reuniting action figure collectibles, and tossing out random things none of us could explain.
As we were down in the basement playroom today, I pulled open the blind to let more light in. When I did, I noticed in the window well a small garter snake lifting its head up and checking me out. Spiders I can’t stand but snakes fascinate me, and this one was downright cute (if a snake can be cute). I quickly called Joe to come check him out. We stood at the window staring at the little guy until he spooked, probably because of all our gawking and pointing, and slithered his way down into the hole under the rocks where he resides. When he was out of sight, a thought popped into my head and before I could stop to evaluate it fully I opened my mouth and it spilled out.
“Do reptiles breathe air?” I asked my biology-enthusiast son.
The minute I heard my words I realized how truly asinine I sounded. But alas…it was too late. It was already out there and there were no take backs. My son was staring at me as if I had seven heads.
“Ummm…Mom? Every living creature on this planet breathes air,” he said just before erupting with laughter. Nice kid.
“Well…” I stammered, searching for an explanation as to what had caused my temporary lack of common sense and my absent third-grade science skills. “I’m TIRED” was all I could come up with.
“What? Do you think reptiles are aliens? All we’ve got is oxygen, Mom. It’s kind of necessary for life. That’s pretty basic science.”
“I know. I know,” I said, trying to recover. “I just wanted to see if you knew the answer. I was testing you,” I answered, hoping to cover my tracks.
“You think your son who was obsessed with dinosaurs for years doesn’t know that reptiles breathe air?” he asked. “I know a thing or two about reptiles, Mom.”
He then ran upstairs to tell his brother what I had said because there’s nothing better than pointing out to your sibling what a boob your mother is. The minute he left I looked back out the window. The snake had reappeared, its small head held high up in the air in indignation. I swear I saw him roll his black-slitted eyes at me.
As the two boys spent the afternoon having random laughs at my expense, I tried to be self-effacing and calm about the flub so as not to fuel the fire any further. Throughout the day I texted them random comments about air, and I joked along with them and laughed too. I mean, my question was pretty ridiculous. There was no denying it. And having a mini-meltdown about their hysterical laughter was not going to make the case against me any less damning. So I rolled with it. I had no other options. But, man oh man, admitting and accepting my own idiocy is a lot of work.
It’s humbling when my brain takes a quick vacation. And it is happening to me more frequently as I age. I walk into a room and stand there trying to determine why I am there in the first place. I start one task and then like a Labrador Retriever chasing a squirrel I’m off in another direction only to realize hours later that I never finished that first task. Today’s brainless statement was likely induced by a lack of sleep coupled with deficient nutrition after ingesting a greasy burger and fries for lunch. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself because, honestly, my mind is not usually that vacuous, and I refuse to think I’m losing it this young. I mean, I do know that there is no life without breath. Guess today I needed a reminder that sometimes life is a bit more worth living when you’re laughing so hard at yourself that you can’t breathe.
After the debate tonight, I did something I never do. I flipped through channels, found a movie, and watched it. The movie was Bridesmaids. The first time I saw it, I saw it in the theater with my friend Heather. We laughed until we got to that point of no return when everything you hear is funny. We would get ourselves under control and then laugh again when someone else in the theater started laughing. In fact, I remember that I laughed so loud that I snorted, and then I laughed because I snorted. (I am nothing if not dignified.) When the film came out on DVD, I bought it. I forced my husband to watch it. Tonight, I knew it would be the perfect debate relief. It was. I once again laughed until I wanted to cry.
As the credits were rolling tonight, though, I thought about the story line between the police officer and the main character, Annie. I like him, not just because he’s got that darling Irish accent, but because he knows she’s batshit crazy and he likes her anyway. He seems to sense she’s going through a rough patch and rather than judging her for her irrational behavior he hangs around long enough to see her through it. I think that’s beautiful.
We don’t do that often enough for each other these days…give each other the benefit of the doubt. We don’t accept apologies willingly enough. We don’t overlook faults quickly enough. We hold onto grudges and keep our guard up so we won’t get hurt. It’s too bad, really, the amount of misunderstandings that occur because we’re so concerned with things being equitable and neat. I know I am so guilty of this. I should try harder to be like Officer Rhodes, to see past the imperfections of others (and myself) and just be nicer.
Not all things in life that are a laughing matter are without a lesson.