Honest to Goodness, my Badness.

 Rain teased and fizzed my bangs into a ruffle-knotted mound of ugly across my forehead. The baby chose the tampon aisle as the setting for a dazzling display of toddler will. He grunted and kicked chunky sneakers which translated quite clearly into “Take your grubby paws off this cart, witch!”. And so it was that a quick trip to Target spiraled furiously out of control: just a lady, her prayer-worthy hair, and an immobile cart housing a fairly hostile Man Child.

   I would adapt, unwillingly but forging ahead all the same, and manuever the cart with my feet and belly. Approaching the checkout lane, I yanked my foot from the cart’s bottom rung, fumbling backwards on my rear still sore from a modest attempt at jogging. Another mother gasped as my son giggled in delight at the sight of The Large Tumbling Lady. I couldn’t muster a thank you for the stranger, offering instead a slightly more positive-toned grunt as I watched her wheel away, three angelic children in color-coordinated jumpers gracing her side. The girl behind the register smiled and cheerily asked how old my “darling boy” was. “18 months,” I barked at her, failing to explain that he was closer to 44 years, if you cared to count the time he spent training in Hell.My grandmother’s calm voice rang in my ears. Be nice or leave, I think it said. To which I said “I’m trying… to leave. Nice can suck the proverbial it.” This was the no good, very bad day I’d read about in horror stories children’s books. Right shoe hooked, left love handle nudging, I headed towards the door desperate for sun to shine or Baby to forget the manipulative powers of The Shriek-N-Holler or maybe for those automatic doors to swing open to tomorrow.

    I settled into the car reciting positive affirmations to cut through the cloud of poop the day had swirled around me. They went along the lines of “Eff your couch, World” and “Wine will heal all wounds”. Mid way through the third cycle of “Don’t make me cut you, Universe” I noticed something stuck between windshield wipers. I huffed, and puffed, and pulled the card down.

Oh no you di-nt.

      I ran around the car with a vengeance. The fact that the poor of parking was decent enough to leave a kind note, the fact that I could see no real damage to my car even with my face pressed against the door, the fact that this was proof that people are mostly good and honest seemed not to matter.

My head swirled with vicious thoughts:

– I will kick your car. I’d kick your dog, too, if he were here.

– May your Nissan feel the blow of a thousand Hummer doors a swingin’.

– I hate you…. and also everything.

Delightful on Saturdays between noon and noon thirty... Sometimes.

      I drove breathless in my fury. How dare he accidentally hit my car and leave no mark and a nice card! Doesn’t he know my hair is playing horrible head games? Has he no pity for the mother of a freshly fanged ball of fussiness? At a red light I glanced at the card again, no doubt searching for more places to put blame for an awful day. The stranger wrote the note on the backside of a business card… for a church… where he worked… as a pastor. WWJD? Ugh. He’d probably have left a business note with an honest admission and a genuine apology and an offer to help mend the broken. I was quickly seeing the light through the dark heap of wiry bangs.

     Once home, I fluctuated between high-moral thoughts of kindness and dirt-lurking schemes of lashing out. I could meet nice with nice, or I could meet nice with the god awful wrath of all that is mean. The latter had served as my modus operandi for longer than I could remember. It took an invisible scratch on a car door to point out the various ways in which I constantly force my bad days onto others.

-I threw a milkshake at my sister once. The hair of a biracial girl is no joke, rarely touched with water, and certainly never the sugary paste of a dairy treat. I believe my boyfriend had dumped me, so logically, I took to hurling soft serve through the air with the rage of a woman scorned.

– Crashing around the office at eight months pregnant gave me the insecurity of a Weeble told not to Wobble. I felt ridiculous, a beach ball perched atop chicken legs clanking around on high heels too thin to carry this mother’s load. One particularly clumsy day, I stumbled into a table, sending a lamp flying and shattering and crashing like my confidence in furnished form. I felt like crying. So I turned around to meet the concerned gaze of a co-worker with a spiteful “Shut your mouth when you’re talking to me”.

    See? All sense all the time. Years of sense. Sense so advanced and explosive it almost looks like nonsense. I struggled through the day, eyeing the stranger’s confession every few minutes to gauge my level of badness at any given moment. My inner dialogue read like a poorly written scene from a soap opera: Hope wants Beau but Beau acts unsure but he really is sure but Hope doesn’t know that Beau knows that she has a rare disease and Beau can’t stand the thought of loving a dying thing while Hope just got a call from the doctor and learned that her disease is also just a mild allergic reaction and after her brush with death she’s ready to live life to the fullest and embrace love but Beau’s still like “Eh. I can’t quit you, but I must”.

     There was a little less heated love and probably fewer doctors and diseases involved in my case, but the back-and-forth feeling of it all was pretty much there. Could I contain my ugly, unforgiving self long enough to tell the pastor what I felt below the muck? Would the pastor, obviously pretty tight with the Holy Family,  have any way of knowing how rotten the girl behind the dented door could be?

     I waited, paced, and eventually fixed my hair with a comb and a hat. I took many a trip to the garage to remind myself that there is nothing to fix here, no damage and no loss. I supplied the demanding tot with bottomless bottles of apple juice, buying myself a few moments of calm. I picked up the phone and called the man.

I hung up.

I called again….

ten more times in rapid succession…

and hung up.

I called one last time, reminding myself that you can hate a  bad day without hating the whole world that thrives during it.

A friendly recording sounded. I swallowed quips tinged in sarcasm. Burps tasted like bitterness as I listened to the stranger’s voice telling me to leave a message and have a blessed day. The beep, the church bells, ringing, I took a deep breath and left a message, realizing only later that I’d failed to announce myself, my reason for calling, my social security number and any other useful information. Instead, I just said Thank You.


49 thoughts on “Honest to Goodness, my Badness.

  1. Closer to 44 years if you count the time he spent training in Hell…haha! I’m always able to pick out one line from your posts that cracks me up more than any other and for some reason, this is it today! Great post!

    PS- in case you didn’t notice, yeah, that’s me on Freshly Pressed! Bam!

  2. If you can only come up with 2 examples of oozing badness over everyone you know, and they look to be at least 10 years apart, there’s probably some hope for you. Major exorcism needed, no doubt, but there is hope.

    1. Haha! I probably shouldn’t brag, but I have, indeed, been subject to an exorcism before. My mom insists it was a loving circle of church friends there to pray for me and my sleep problem. That doesn’t explain the burning incense and excessive sprays with Holy Water 🙂

      1. I THOUGHT you looked familiar. Did your head spin around and you projectile vomited pea-soup when the Holy Water hit you?

  3. The three color-coordinated-jumpered children? They’ll grow up to be addicts with OCD with that much perfectionism in their lives! Or, at least, that’s what you can tell yourself. Wait, doesn’t that nudge the badness quotient up a notch? Oh well.

  4. “Don’t make me cut you, Universe” – Ha! That’s a mantra I can get behind.

    “Thank you” was all you really needed to say because you were calling more for yourself than for him, anyway.

  5. Hilarious. I visited a friend this past weekend who was in a screaming rage over her office mate going through her files when she was in the hospital for several days after falling a securing a head lump the size of an avocado. I read his email and all I got from it was that he was trying to help, but my friend was in Rage City. She kept saying, “I’m going to let him have it!” The next day, I was at the college where she worked to give a workshop. First, she and I walked to her workstation and there was the File Stealing Demon. My friend marched over to him and I clamped my hands over my ears. She looked him right in the eye and said “Thanks for helping while I was gone.” Later, she admitted she read the email again and he really wasn’t trying to ruin her life.

    1. Haha. Exactly the reason I’m glad I didn’t encounter the door-thumper at the scene. How many Hail Mary’s do you have to say for cussing out a Man of God for no reason?

  6. haha… I love the random unclear voicemail messages. I’ve been on the givinga and recieving end of those (“Hi, give me a call back, k? bye!”) Yours is nice and simple… but leaves your priestly car-buddy with absolutely no idea why he’s being thanked!

      1. with that alternate message, it would have been a very good idea for you to NOT leave your contact information. And possibly to block your ID.

  7. You have me totally in awe, being 8 months pregnant and trying high heels. I probably shouldn’t admit this in public, but I have tried high heels being NO months pregnant (though looking around 2-3 months or so) and found them unconquerable. For you to do it at 8 months, even leaving a trail of destruction, is amazing.
    (Um.. Yoo-ho, John-boy, you DO realise you just admitted to thousands (hundreds? dozens?) that you wore high heels as a GUY? Ah, what the heck – my chances at macho went down the drain with the Village People’s song of the same name. :D)
    My mother was diabolical in keeping my sister and I quiet. She’d carry one of the larger size Tootsie Rolls in her purse. When we’d start to get cranky, she’d hold it in her hand to get it nice and squishy, then hand it to us. By the time we unwrapped it and stuffed it in our mouths, it had sufficient adhesive qualities to glue a gator’s mouth shut. And it worked! (Hey, YOU try screaming with a mouthful of gooey Tootsie Roll!) 😉

  8. Tori,
    As usual your brilliant story telling has led me to laugh and think all in one fell swoop. Speaking as someone who felt like her head was spinning and she was spewing demonic green pea soup at anyone who entered her presence this morning, I totally relate. Congrats on realizing that sometimes all you have to say is Thank You!

  9. Tori- My question to you is this- could anyone really hear the man child over all the other screaming children at Target save the three – I’m sure- medicated- ones at the check out? Really- when’s the last time any one with three children attempted to get 3 to dress alike without all out war fare ensuing? We’re short on Targets here but my best practice is to always have ear plugs- to keep the screams of mine and all the other childrens’ screams at bay.No worries, Grasshopper- let him yell and just keep shopping next time. It will instill a long term hate of shopping which is cheaper in the end. I like the tootsie roll idea too

    1. I am sure no one even noticed the Man Child’s fussing, but I am THAT mom who gets instantly embarrassed when I can’t keep him in line. In fact, I’ve already started microwaving a family-size bag of Tootsie Rolls. Dude won’t get me flustered next time!

  10. But wait…are there any soap opera scenes that aren’t poorly written? I mean, I’m no connoisseur, but it seems like Beau and Hope are always getting mixed up in nonsensical, farfetched gibberish of that sort.

    1. True. I left out the boat chase away from mobsters, Beau revealing his true identity as a former hitman, and Hope revealing her true identity as a dude. It’s all trashy, isn’t it?

  11. You write so incredibly well I’m always tempted to copy you, even one line. But I resist and just keep coming back to read you.
    Personally, I think bad days should be something that you can just wash off in the shower.

    1. Haha! You’re so nice (and don’t think I haven’t wanted to copy your quote-worthy posts, missy). Something tells me I would’ve needed some heavy duty bleach and a bristle brush to scrub my bad day off in the shower. I was all worked up with no one to blame!

    1. Vidal Sassoon would WEEP. It was that awful. Bangs sounded like a great idea, until I realized they don’t play nice with wind, rain, humidity, or anything else really. If I stand perfectly still in a very air conditioned room, I look pretty lovely!

  12. Don’t you wonder if he left the note because he didn’t do any damage? My car has plenty of little dents and scratches, and I’ve never gotten a note. It all seems slightly out of sync, doesn’t it?

    Wonderfully written post — funny and frightening at the same time. “I hate you…. and also everything.” That says it.

    1. That’s a good point. I suppose it would have been much harder to work up the nerve and leave a note if he’d taken out a door. Poor guy didn’t know he was dealing with the Queen of The Melt Down, though, so I give him points for things he had no way of knowing!

  13. At least you got the note. Where I live, they leave a dent and a smear of paint. If you did get a note, it would be fake contact information. So glad you didn’t curse out the pastor, I bet you would have felt awful about it later. (But it would have made an interesting follow up post.)

  14. As usual, your post has left me laughing out loud! Sometimes a simple “thank you”can go a long way in changing attitudes…

  15. Haha bless you, we all have those I hate the world days and nice to hear some hope at the end that not all people suck and not all days end they way they begin 🙂

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