Of course, I like my family and my friends and most people depicted on ABC Family shows.
My problem is with other “people.” (And, just to be clear, I’m not talking about “you people” in some thinly-veiled racist way. However, racists are part of the “people” I don’t like.) I’m talking about “people,” like the guy that jumps in line when we’re all waiting for the next available cashier in an orderly fashion. (No, you are not the genius who figured out the line with no wait while the rest of us poor saps stood around like sheep waiting on Tanya on register eight.) It’s the unsolicited-advice-givers and I-don’t-know-what-to-order-at-the-top-of-the-line-during-rush–hour types that make me a tad crazy – and dark.
Where do I think my son is most likely to learn that I don’t like people?
Like many families, we love an outing to the zoo. There’s fresh air, and cute animals, and walking. And on nice days, there’s also every other family within a 15-mile radius.
On our first trip to the zoo, I was enjoying the otter exhibit when a barefoot woman emerged from the lily pond to talk to me. (I have issues with feet and bacteria. We were already off to a bad start.)
“Have you seen the otters?” she said.
“Not yet,” I said. Then I proceeded to tend to my son – you know, the one in the stroller that I came to the zoo to spend time with. I was doing my best to mind my own business when I heard a kind of squealing noise.
“I found them!”
I did not acknowledge. I know myself.
“Do you want to see?”
“I’m OK,” I said.
“No, come see,” she said. Then, said stranger proceeded to grab my arm (I also don’t like to be touched) and pull me over towards the corner of the giant tank where the otters live. “Do you see them?”
“They’re all sleeping on top of each other,” she said. “It’s a pile-up.”
Friends, it was a pile-up alright. It was a pile of rocks.
But, I don’t like to engage with strangers, let alone argue with them, so instead, I stood there while a stranger held onto my arm and pretended to marvel at the rocks/otters.
Later, when we went inside the monkey house (which I’m sure has a more scientific name, but I just learned the difference between tortoises and turtles, so clearly I’m behind on all matters animal kingdom), I encountered a middle-aged couple pawing each other in front of the lemurs. While myself and the children – please don’t forget about the children – watched those delightful little imps run around and swing from ropes, Ronnie, as I’m calling her, grabbed Ron’s crotch and whispered things in his ear more appropriate for HBO late night than daytime at the zoo.
(I’m guessing that they really wanted to do it like they do it on the Discovery Channel. Also, in honor of Ronnie and Ron, I will no longer say “go at it like bunnies,” but instead refer to those that want to get it on like visitors to the monkey house. Clearly, I’m not getting as much from primates as some people do.)
Then there are the unaccompanied minors. Please don’t get me started on the unaccompanied minors. I know it makes me sound old, but on this particular day, their clothes were so tight and their comments were so dumb.
I believe it was while four such youngsters were attempting to trap a peacock that I said, “We must move on now, and to somewhere they won’t follow.”
While I’d like to be my best self for my kid, and I’d like to think that motherhood has reorganized my priorities, helped me let go of the small stuff, show more compassion and on and on and on, it seems I’m still me – petty complaints and misanthropic tendencies and all. Is it better to just own it or try and be better? I’d like to say I’ll try and be better, but then someone steals a parking space I’d clearly stalked and claimed with my blinker, and well, we’re right back where we started.
I think I’d rather admit to most of my 20s than see that sweet face fall the first time he hears me yell at an aggressive telemarketer.
Because right now, my son looks at me like I’m awesome, and I don’t ever want it to be any other way. He thinks my singing, dancing, tickling ways are delightful. He has no idea that I’m tone deaf – let alone the rest of it.
When he looks at me with so much love, well, I, too, which I wasn’t the person who complained about “That Guy” at the pharmacy who always says that it will be 10-15 more minutes no matter how many hours in advance I called.
I wish I could stare at a pile of rocks with genuine wonder. It seems like more fun than cynicism.
Maybe it’s enough to try. Let’s hope so, because that’s all I’ve got.
* Photo of actual otter, not rock. Photo by hotblack.