There are some people in life who manage to bring out the best in you. You know who I’m talking about and you know what I mean by the best. I’m talking about the people that render you completely and utterly stupid by simply looking your way. The people from whom you would like some reciprocal respect for some inexplicable reason. The people who manage to shatter the “I give zero fucks about you, world!!111!” barrier we strut around with daily. Yeah. Those people. Like everyone else, I have had a few of these creatures in my life; personally and professionally. My experience has been to avoid these people at all cost because who wants to appear as a mentally deficient dumbass or be mortally embarrassed on a frequent basis? Egos can only sustain so many punches before the bruising occurs and permanent damage is done.
Working from home has granted me the good fortune of essentially eliminating characters like this from my life. I stay in the safety of my home, free from the days of hiding under the sofa and from my own shadow. When venturing out in public, terminally shy Kang now has her sidekick as a sort of deflect-o-shield. Any situation with a potential for discomfort and embarrassment can be quashed by interacting with my child. I no longer come across as aloof. No longer do I appear as a snob. No longer do I have to worry about someone engaging me in conversation and searching for words while, internally, I’m hoping to self-immolate because shy introverts do not care for these particular challenges. And before another word is said – yes, you can be extremely chatty and opinionated among people you know quite well but still be shy and introverted. Weird, eh? But completely true.
Back to the topic at hand, there is a teacher at Milkface’s school who has this unique gift of rendering me dull-witted. The woman who can take down the strongest of people with a single sentence becomes totally unhinged and unable to string together more than three words without sounding like a total lunkhead. Trust – I’m talking about a level of dumbassery reserved for signs at Tea Party protests. I become the physical manifestation of “Get a Brain! Morans” or “Not a Extremist. Just Extremey Over-Taxed!!! No Amesty” Is the picture forming, now? It is also imperative to note that if, by some flaming miracle, I do manage to string together a coherent sentence to exchange pleasantries with this person, the question is typically so inane the only suitable response is an adolescent-esque side-eye. I lower my head, blush and, again, wish for self-immolation.
The natural question “Why can’t you simply avoid this person?” springs to mind. Alas, I cannot. Milkface adores him. And, like every good mommy out there, when you see your child adore a teacher, a part of you shares that adoration. It’s just the way the Mom Gene works. Fucking Mom Gene. As if the menstrual cycle and hormonal fluctuations weren’t enough to contend with, now I have this bullshit to toy with my emotions, too? As I age, I seek paths to simpler living; not more complex. This is more complex. I did not sign up for this part when I procreated.
With the back story somewhat set up, I bring forth the asshattery.
Last week, after the weekly doctor visit and Target run (look – Mom Gene up in here), I roll up to the school. My mind was back at the doctor’s office or Target or up my own ass. Whatever. It was not present. Teacher-of-Whom-I-Make-an-Ass-of-Myself was traipsing through the parking lot. Dilemma: stop the car, roll down the window and exchange pleasantries or keep going? No time to think! Eye contact made! Awkward alert! Awkward alert! Code humiliation! Think of your kid! Think of your kid! My Little Pony! What’s for dinner? How much money is in the bank account? Did you leave your coffee at the doctor’s office again? Did you remember to eat lunch today? Where’s the fucking brake pedal? Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I stop the car. FIRST FUCKING MISTAKE.
I roll down the window. BOOM. Reality settles in. As soon as I open my mouth to speak I realize that the radio is on (Sirius Lithium channel, to be precise). Playing on the radio is Nine Inch Nails’ Closer. Aaaah…you see where I’m going, don’t you, my pretty? My mouth is open, a word salad is about to come tumbling out and I’m interrupted by Trent Reznor bleating “I want to fuck you like an animal.” Did I mention the teacher is MALE? Did I mention the male teacher is young (perhaps young enough to be my son)? Did I mention that the young, male teacher who renders me an idiot is not exactly a passenger on the Big Bus of Unfortunate Looking People? SECOND FUCKING MISTAKE. And, I hasten to add, the only mistake that matters.
So here I sit, in my middle-aged splendor, in my middle-aged sedan, listening to music that is 20 years old and sexually suggestive – trying to keep on chattering away as I frantically push the volume buttons. Naturally, the volume buttons are all “NOPE! EAT MY SHIT, BITCH. YOU AIN’T FINDING ME TODAY. NEENER NEENER NEENER!” The words “UR…uh…Milky’s favorite…heh…heh..heh…” did come out of my mouth but for the love of Flying Spaghetti Monster, it was fucking Beavis and Butthead hour up in that bitch. Fortunately, the conversation lasted about as long as a sixteen year old boy having his first go at it so I was able to remove myself from the situation, park the car and begin laughing hysterically. And did I laugh! Tears were streaming down my beet red face. I was so damn discombobulated, I stumbled around the school and went in the opposite direction of where my child would be when it was time to pick him up.
A few joking text exchanges with friends and a self-deprecating Facebook post later, I thought that was the last of it. After all, who would actually take any of this seriously? I mean, it’s not like Closer isn’t a well-known song, right? And really – look at me? Do I look like the type of person who would be sexually suggestive? Wait…now I sound like a paedophile. TRIPLEDEFUCK.
Welp – the joke is on me! Things weren’t just awkward or remotely uncomfortable. Things have gotten a bit more “real” for my taste. Mind you, I have yet to be yanked into the Head Mistress’ office for improper conduct (although, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if that did happen) but there’s a whole lot of side-eye, uncomfortable exchanges and general ignoring going on at the school by other faculty members. That’s right. Unfortunately, it’s not simply limited to the teacher who constantly bears witness to my inner circus freak. Others with whom I would normally chatter have been just a wee judgmental. Granted, I do spend a lot of time up in my own head, “thinking too much” about experiences but it doesn’t take a terribly intuitive or intelligent human being to detect when others are, how shall we say, put off by their presence or essence. And that really cuts to the core. So, I put on the big girl panties and dashed off an email explaining my embarrassment and apologizing for any offense I may have caused. Classsssy.
I can live with making an ass of myself. I have been doing a stellar job of that for forty-three years at this point. Some people paint. Some people craft. I fuck up in spectacular fashion in the most public way possible. That’s my milieu. To paraphrase a bit, with such extraordinary talent comes great responsibility. I have learned the whole “improvise, adapt and overcome” and move along with my bad self. I have mastered the art of letting the haters hate. I could teach a class on giving zero fucks. In this instance, there are just too many layers of ewwwww, ugh and ouch to do that, though.
I feel tremendously shitty because my child is on the periphery of this madness. If anyone judged him because his mom had a momentary lapse of judgment, I would be crushed for him. He’s a great kid and will have his own issues to handle later on (the joys of being a kid and then the joys of adolescence). I feel really frustrated that a group of adults could fall into the trap of making an assessment about my behavior without even considering what might have been going through my brain at the time. No one likes being denied the opportunity to share their perspective. It’s very dehumanizing. Usually, when I run across people like that, I immediately consign them to the box of stupid people and banish them to a life at sea with the rest of the intolerable human stains on this planet as they’re not worth the oxygen spent speaking of them. Unfortunately, I’m sort of stuck being nice to them and that just grinds the old gears.
The ultimate sadness comes from two places: the idea that someone could think so poorly of me and that someone I respect could think so poorly of me. It’s a double-edged sword slicing through an already fragile ego. It’s a problem with absolutely no solution. For an outcomes oriented person, it’s a tough, tough pill to swallow and yet I have to swallow it because my options are limited to making jokes about it among my friends, scribbling down my thoughts on paper and doing absolutely nothing else. The following Monday morning, after a pantload of unpleasant interactions, I left the school feeling like a cross between a deflated balloon and a broken toy. I actually cried while driving home and pulled a full melancholia by listening to The Smiths, album upon album. Then I slapped myself across the face for self-flagellating. Sure, the whole thing is going to smart for some time to come. Maybe it will all be forgotten after Christmas break and I can resume just being my bad ass self without worrying about what others think. I won’t lie and say that as I walk with my head held high that there isn’t a part of me cringing on the inside, though.
The moral isn’t simple. This isn’t a case of “Hey, Jackass! Don’t listen to songs with questionable content when driving to your child’s school.” That would be omitting a significant part of the equation; the dynamics of human interaction. And, if that was easy to work out, there wouldn’t be a bazillion psychotherapists in the phonebook, would there?