the semi-horrible, not-so-great, sort-of bad day that turned out just fine
Yesterday morning I slept through a few snooze buttons and awoke to find myself jet-lagged and sporting a brand new zit. It was early enough that I did not yet suspect that this was going to be one of those days. Do you remember Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day?
Of course you do. Well, I’m not pretending to rival Alexander. I didn’t experience the kind of problems that made me want to move to Australia or anything (or, in the Australian version of the book, to Timbuktu). Additionally, Alexander had the excuse of being a child. Whereas I do not.
So I will admit that this was not a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. This was more like a semi-horrible, not-so-great, sort-of bad day, the kind where all the big things are just fine, and even as all the little things go wrong, your 21st-century, internet-meme-conditioned brain tells you that these are “First World Problems,” even as you get even more annoyed thinking about how offensive “First World Problems” is as a meme, and even as all the little things add up and start to drive you pretty nuts.
I guess you could think of it as a kind of Chinese water torture test for your personality. It’s just some drops of water, but waiting for the next drip to drop can make you feel insane. Insanely cranky.
So. I woke up with my zit and my jet lag. drip. And as I made coffee and realized that my half & half was sour, I watched the ant infestation-celebration that was happening all over our apartment. drip. drop.
These bastards are not messing around. They’re in our kitchen, swarming over the basil and around the sugar. We clean up the food assiduously, but they appear in my bedroom, climbing the quiet cityscape of books on my floor and dodging in and out of the keys of my laptop. We spray them with chemicals, but they show up in the bathroom, scaling the shower door, eating our soaps and singing French love songs to one another. goutte-à-goutte! (oui, ooh la la, “drip-drop” en français!)
There was almost nothing to eat, so a grocery trip was in order. And it’s always a good idea to go grocery shopping when you are ravenously hungry. At the store, I spent too much money (yes, buying things like $5 coconut water out of curiosity, shut up), and then got caught in the rain trying to carry my overloaded, quickly-weakening paper bags outside. drip. (rain)drop.
When I got home, I had enough quarters to start half of my laundry, and after realizing that I had lost all my nice hair clips on my recent trip to New York, I pathetically decided to repair some old ones with superglue. This is a pretty sad activity, made sadder by what happened next. I snipped the clogged superglue nozzle and, yes, squirted the contents of the (deceptively small!) tube all over both of my hands. drip-drip.
Superglue, as advertised, dries instantly. Suddenly I stared down at two stunted, weirdly fetus-like appendages and could only pulse them in futility, since neither hand was free to separate the fingers of the other. My solution was to rage around my house like a tiny, bratty Godzilla.
Did I mention I was on the phone with my lovely boyfriend? I shouted that I was bleeding and dying (I mean, there was a little blood, since the tearing flesh stuck more to the glue than one would hope as I desperately pried my digits apart). I’m also pretty sure I accused him of not taking my crisis or my very sincere feelings about it seriously. drip-drip-drop.
I soaked my fingers in hot soapy water, gently cutting and peeling glue and skin off my leper’s hands with a pair of tweezers and then rubbing the little red sausages raw with lotion (this actually helps, by the way – the greasiness of the lotion after the soap works wonders, in case you ever find yourself in a similar predicament. I hope you do not.) After going to retrieve my laundry, which had not fully dried and had been thrown aside in a damp pile by some unknown hellion, I hung my sheets on the building’s interior banister (it was still raining outside), returned to my desk, and only then realized I had spilled superglue on that as well. drip. Scrubbing away at it, I destroyed the varnish around the spot without removing any of the glue. drop.
“I AM IN THE WORST MOOD! I FEEL HORRIBLE!” I shouted into the phone.
“Yes, I see,” said my calm counterpart. “Do you want to stop feeling horrible? Let’s go out. I’ll come get you.” This seemed potentially more agreeable than my solitary state of misery, so with much harumphing (using the technical term here), I deigned to come along. I started by taking a nice shower. I realized when it was over that my towel was out with the wet laundry. Rather literal drip-drip.
I put on a sequiny dress to effect higher spirits and rushed out the door in high heels, only to step into the dark stairway of my building, trip, fall face forward on my hands and knees, and slide down 4 or 5 stairs to the landing. drop-drop.
But you know what? Soon I was outside, dashing through big, splashy drops of rain to a warm car where someone waited who wanted to laugh with me (at me?) about it, and my stockings hadn’t even ripped. And that’s how this semi-horrible, not-so-great, sort-of bad day turned out just fine.
I think the more irascible among us have to be reminded sometimes that that all the little drips hardly add up to anything, and that we’re the ones standing in our own way. Maybe we just have to put on our most sequiny dress and let someone who really loves us take us out on the town to for a few drinks and a good laugh at ourselves.
Alexander’s mom tells him at the end of the book that everybody has bad days, even in Australia (or Timbuktu). And who knows? Having your fingerprints removed violently by superglue may not be the worst thing. I could become a spy. I could think of it as a fancy spa treatment. I could probably steal a copy of Alexander from the bookstore and they wouldn’t even be able to pin it on me with my prints.