Nobody Cares What You Like

This is purely an old person “get off my lawn” discussion, but I am fascinated when I see kids get asked what they want to eat for dinner and then get cooked separate meals from everybody else at the table.

You know what we ate for dinner when I was a kid?  Whatever my mother was making that night.  If you had a dissenting opinion, you could feel free to either go hungry or arrange to eat at a friend’s house that night.

For instance, I don’t like ham.  Never have.  I think it tastes and has the texture of what I imagine human flesh carved up and served on a plate would taste like.  If I have to eat it, I will gag.  I will involuntarily heave.  I literally cannot force it down.  Growing up, one of my friends didn’t like ham, either.  So what did we do?  She and I drafted the following reciprocal agreement in order to address our shared issue:

If my mother was making ham, I would eat dinner at her house that night.  If her mother was making ham, she would eat dinner at my house that night.

I believe they call that “learning priceless problem-solving skills” and charge like $1,500 nowadays for a workshop to learn them.

Granted, we did have that one night where both of our mothers were coincidentally making ham, but that was the night we learned that sometimes life is just out to kick you in the taco and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Yet another life lesson!

I can tell you for damn sure what none of the mothers in my neighborhood were doing.  They weren’t cooking four different meals to suit everyone’s tastes each night.

I can’t even imagine how hard my mother would have laughed if I’d said, “Oh, hey.  I know you’ve been at work all day at your crappy, low pay, high stress job that you hate, and I know that you’re making sloppy joes for everyone else, standing in front of the stove still wearing your work clothes, but can you make me chicken fingers instead?  You know, just for me?”

You would still hear that laughter today, echoing through eternity, bending space and time in its wake.  I would have never lived that down.  That would be a story that was passed down to all future generations:

“Can you believe she thought I would make an entirely separate meal just for her?  Why stop there?  Why not ask for your own castle and unicorn?!  Her own dinner!  Sure thing, Jackie O!  I’ll get right on that!”

Same goes for stopping at multiple fast food places.  If I’d said to my mother, “I know everyone else is getting Burger King, but can you make an extra stop so I can get some Wendy’s?” she would have just lost control of the car and driven into a lake, she would have become so delirious with laughter.

You knew better than to complain about your lack of fast food choices.  You were lucky when you got fast food at all, and not the frozen cube steaks and sauerkraut Mom forgot to take out to thaw that morning.  You’re gonna get picky about the fast food?  Oh, that’s rich.  Why not get picky about free candy on Halloween while you’re at it?  Get picky about the denomination of bills in a birthday card!  But I wanted fives!!!

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It wasn’t because my mother was a harsh parent – far from it.  It’s because dinner was an event that was grounded in facts.  Dinner = whatever Mom was making that night.  That was a fact.  The idea that children might have been permitted to have an opinion on the matter was totally unheard of.  It never even crossed my mind.  Did I have an opinion on whether she should pay the property taxes quarterly or once a year?  Nope!  Because my opinion wasn’t relevant to the matter.

The same way that your opinion is irrelevant as to whether the sky is blue or the sun rises in the east.  If you have issues with these things, you better find a way to deal with them, because the sun ain’t rising in the west just for you, babycakes.  You’re not entitled to have the world skitter around your likes and dislikes because, I can assure you, absolutely nobody is as concerned about your likes and dislikes as you are.

If you care 100%, then the rest of the world cares negative 500,000,000%.

Nobody cares what you like – and we all need to come to terms with that.

Like Mom used to tell me, “You are so special…” and then she’d pause and say “…juuuust like everybody else.”

That’s not only accurate, but will sure as hell keep you humble, too.

Sometimes you have to eat something for dinner that you’re not crazy about.  What can I tell you?  Life is hard, kid.  It’s one meal.  Either force it down or load up on side dishes that night.

Now get off my lawn.

Mz. Mannerz: Hi Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Time for another exciting edition of Mz. Mannerz!

Hi.

Who would have thought such a little word could inspire so much rage?  I mean, I would have thought that, but I fly into rage over someone misquoting lines from Caddyshack, so I’m a bad gauge of what’s rage-worthy.  You should probably talk to someone who doesn’t have a vein semi-permanently bulging out of their forehead if you want calm and well-thought out commentary on the matter.

I mean, goddamn it.  If you’re not gonna get the quote from the movie right, then don’t quote it.  You can’t just replace Bill Murray’s line “Big hitter, the Lama” with “The Lama is a big hitter” because you will have ruined the line.  RUINED IT.

As I will pontificate to anyone who will listen while I eat pizza:  Comedy is as much science as it is art.  Maybe more, even.  The order of the words counts.  Every word, change of tone, inflection, eyelid movement – it all counts.  It is 100,000 times more complex than drama, and I will stand by that until the day I die eating pizza.

Drama is so freaking easy, it annoys me to no end how much credit people get for it.  Oh no, they killed that character everybody liked and it was sad!  A lone tear falls from a sad British person’s face.  Cue violin music as people make stern facial expressions under overcast skies.  Black umbrellas.  HERE’S YOUR OSCAR.

Sad shit happens in real life all day, every day.  Making a movie about sad shit where the main take is, “That was sad!” is not the work of genius.  That’s just long-winded reality with a soundtrack.

You try killing off a character everybody likes and making it funny.  Craft a touching death scene to kazoo music.  Shoot Old Yeller with one of those guns that just unfurls a banner that says “Bang!” yet still preserve the integrity of the scene.  That shit is hard.  That shit takes finesse.  Watch “The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of The Desert” for further reference.

Where was I?

The person who texts you with the word “Hi” followed by nothing is the most obnoxious person in the universe (besides guitar players, which I try to cover in every other blog post.  Try to keep up).

What this person has done with their lone “Hi” is start a conversation with you by immediately forcing you into an awkward silence, thereby drafting you to be the person who remedies it.  They’re not being folksy with their “Hi”, they have given you a J-O-B.

My whole life, I’ve had this desperate need to fill the awkward silences in conversations to make sure everyone is having a good time.  You might better recognize it as, “Good lord, you never shut up, do you?” but your better class of swap-shop psychologists would call it “codependency”.  I always try to have at least three universally interesting topics on-hand just in case an awkward silence happens.  I literally cannot take it when people seem uncomfortable.  It makes my palms sweat and my heart race.

The person who just sends “Hi” is the same person who when you respond with:

“Hey, what’s up?”

Will respond with “Nothing!” and then continue to sit there in silence.

GIVE ME SOMETHING TO WORK WITH.  Why did you text me if you have jack jimmy squat to say???

Did you just want me to entertain you?  Because if that’s the case, feel free to say that right up front.  “I’m bored and I can’t find any way to amuse myself, can you tell me a knock knock joke?”

Hey, schedule-permitting, I would be fine to tell you a knock knock joke.

Schedule-permitting.

Also, my schedule does not permit that ever, so if you want to be a wisenheimer and text me and say, “I’m bored and I can’t find any way to amuse myself, can you tell me a knock knock joke?” your text will be deleted and you will be immediately put on “The List”.

Is “The List” a good list or a bad list?

You tell me.  Do you think something that I refer to as “The List” is a good thing?  Take a moment.  Really think that over while you look at my prom picture:

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It was a magical  night.

I’m not filling awkward silences anymore.  If you text me a “Hi” followed by jack jimmy squat, guess what you’re getting back?  Jack.  Jimmy.  Squat.

I will wait you out, joke-a-cola.  I will let that “Hi” lie there like a corpse if I have to.  I refuse to participate in your senseless games.  I won’t do it.  The ball-rolling is now your job.

Unless a full ten seconds go by, and then my palms will start sweating and I’ll tell you about that time my best friend Anne and I went on a date with five Moroccan contortionists and fire-eaters at Epcot when we were 19 and when I called my mother beforehand to brag about it, she yelled, “DON’T YOU MARRY ANY OF THEM! THOSE MOROCCANS TREAT THEIR WIVES LIKE PROPERTY!” because that shit is universally entertaining.

So!  To summarize:

  1.  Don’t quote the movie if you don’t actually know the quote.
  2.  Comedy is harder than drama.
  3.  There should ideally be a give-and-take in successful human communications.
  4.  Don’t tell my mother that you’re going on a date with Moroccan fire-eaters and contortionists.
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That Mighty Mighty Bosstones t-shirt I’m wearing never failed to attract inordinately flexible Northwest Africans.

First Time? No, I’ve Been Nervous Lots of Times.

We’re flying to New York for vacation.  I like to repost this old story sometimes when I’m about to get on a *plane.  Mostly because posting it is a ritual, and OCD is not really “curable” so much as “treatable”.

I’ve also been touching a particular stuffed animal on the right foot eight times every day for the past week, but we won’t get into that yet.

So it’ll take a couple hours to fly to New York, which means a couple hours of me white-knuckling the armrest, rocking back and forth and saying, “What was that noise?!  Did you hear that?!  We’re crashing aren’t we?!!!  We’re crashing and you know it and you just won’t tell me!!  You would tell me if you knew something, wouldn’t you?  WOULDN’T YOU?!!!!  No, don’t tell me.  I don’t want to know –  unless you know something!  Why did you just look at the wing?!  Is there smoke?!  What the hell was that noise?!  What was it?!!”

This is after popping a tranquilizer (or two) before the flight.  Good thing, too, because otherwise I might become a real asshole on that plane. 😐

So I have a few phobias, flying is obviously one of them, but all of them revolve around some kind of hideous, improbable death caused by things like plane crashes, serial killers, and flesh-eating bacteria.

My New Year’s resolution in 1999 was to spend an entire year studying the world’s religions and pick one that I thought would suit me, so that I could finally stop being so scared of this stuff.  I was raised in the Protestant church (sporadically), but something about it never sat quite right with me.  Probably the whole “Jesus loves you – unless you don’t love him – in which case fire will rain down on your tortured soul for all of eternity” thing.

Man, talk about a guy who has a problem with rejection! Even when you have the misfortune of dying, there’s still all that judgment!

Just got decapitated on a ride at the fair?  Seems pretty bad, doesn’t it?  Well, you better pick up your bloody head, your list of sins, and get in line for the pain train straight to Hell.  You’re gonna be all, “I just got my head cut off!” and he’s gonna be all, “Remember that time you hit your thumb with that hammer and yelled out my name in vain?  Time to pay the fiddler, my child.”

Also the “no dancing” thing.  But not unlike putting Velveeta in literally everything, that’s really more Methodist/Baptist specific.

So I sought out a religion that would give me something to believe in, without the threat of burning in hell for all of eternity because I had an impure thought about the rhythm section of Duran Duran ONE TIME.  After much reading and research, I settled on Hinduism.  You know, like every other navel-gazing white girl asshole in their early-20s.

I studied every text I could get my hands on, started meditation classes, became a vegetarian, and visited the local Hindu temple.  I carried the Bhagavad Gita around with me like a newborn baby.  When I became tense or frightened, I would chant, “Amaram hum madhuram hum” which means,  “I am immortal.  I am blissful” – and after a while, and for the first time in my life – I believed it.

I no longer had an obsessive fear of death, because what was death but a doorway?  Was I afraid to walk through a doorway?  Of course not!  I became incredibly centered, calm, and really annoying to be around.  Nobody likes a 23-year old who thinks they’ve got it all figured out.

After a year of religious enlightenment, I had to take a five hour flight to Las Vegas.  This was going to be the big test!

Balanced, centered, and fearless – I refused a tranquilizer for the flight.  I said to my mother, “There’s nothing to fear anymore.  Does it really matter if I die?  What is this body if not a mere switch-plate for my soul?  You and I have found each other so many times in the past after being separated.  We’ll find each other again.”

She pursed her lips at me and said, “Uh huh.  How about you take one just in case, Maharishi?  You can crush it and sprinkle it over your tofu.”

I dismissively waved my hand at her, gave her a hug and a “Namaste” to which she replied, “Whatever.  Just try not to sell anyone any flowers at the airport.” I boarded the plane and placed my carry-on bag in the overhead compartment, sat down, and fastened my seatbelt.  I had never felt so in control…

…until the plane started down the runway.

Sometime between take-off and landing, the Bhagavad Gita became a paperweight, and my new mantra was, “I’M SORRY, JESUS!  PLEASE DON’T LET THIS PLANE CRASH, JESUS!  OH MY GOD WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!!!!!!”

Thankfully, the nice old lady in the seat next to me was kind enough to give me her barf bag to hyperventilate into, and she even loaned me her crucifix-embroidered handkerchief, which I attempted to return to her after I’d wrung it out several times with my tears and sob-drool.  She politely told me to keep it.  I later dropped it into the trash at the airport, along with the bindi that was on my forehead under my bangs.

 

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“It was at that moment that I first realized Elaine had doubts about our relationship. And that, as much as anything else, led to my drinking problem.”

 

*I realize that by posting this before a plane trip that it’s going to make it double ironic if we’re in a plane crash.  You’re all gonna be like, “Oh my god – SHE KNEW!”

One of the most important things to know about dealing with OCD is that you do not have the ability to control things with your mind.  Seriously.  Here’s the treatment for OCD:  Stop acting like you can control things simply by thinking about them or saying them out loud or touching inanimate objects X number of times.  That shit will make you crazy.

I also realize that by pointing out said double irony that it’s actually going to be triple ironic if we’re in a plane crash.

Damn it.  See you in Hell.  I’m off to touch a particular stuffed animal on the right foot eight more times.