When we returned home from the Midwest, the first thing I did was drag my sorry self upstairs to crash out in bed. After nearly 15 hours in the car, it was all I could do. But the first thing my husband did, being the amazing soul he is, was go through the entire house to make sure everything was just as we’d left it. And everything was fine. Save for the flies.
When we left John says he noticed one lone fly bzzzzing round an upstairs room. No big deal. He figured it’d be dead by the time the weekend was over.
Remember Cutie? My daughter’s runaway hamster?? Yes, I know I haven’t written about him in weeks. But that’s b/c we thought he was still on vacation. Well… he is, except it’s that reeeeeeeaaaalllly long vacation that never ends. Ugh. we can now state w/ fair certainty that Cutie has become banquet to 50,000 flies. So we’ve spent the better part of two days shooing, swatting and otherwise casting out these winged creatures from our happy home. And in tackling this new and vexing challenge, I have noticed something truly profound.
When a fly gets trapped inside, they follow a particular pattern. First, They zoom from room to room looking for an exit. Second, they find a window. They fly back and forth past the window, assessing the possibility of escape. In a last-ditch effort, they begin to fly into the window, over and over, as though their feeble crashes will at last force the glass and they will be free. Eventually, the exhausted fly succumbs to the inevitable, either crawling up into a ball and breathing its last, OR conversely, overcoming its initial aversion and fear and FINALLY allowing me to gently scoop it up and release it out into the world.
Having watched this scenario play out OH SO MANY times over the past couple days, I have been struck by the similarity between humans and flies. These flies leave you wondering. WHAT THE HELL??!! ARE YOU REALLY SO DAMN STUPID?? I AM HERE – ARE YOU BLIND?! MY HAND! It is GUIDING YOU OUT – SEE THERE!! THE OPEN WINDOW!!!! IT’S RIGHT THEEERRRRRREEE!! I AM TRYING TO SAVE YOU, YOU MORON!!!
When a human becomes trapped – and here I am speaking rather metaphorically – so by this I could mean a myriad of things. But when a human becomes similarly “trapped” w/ no hope of escape, their response is very much like the fly. We are stubborn. We are STUPID. We do not want Help. We don’t NEED HELP. Instead we rush round looking for a means of escape. OH! And there it is. But it’s not, not really. No, it’s an impenetrable hurdle. So we bang out heads against the proverbial glass, frustrating ourselves and every conceivable attempt at freedom. And when that *Great Hand from the Sky* reaches down to help, what do we do?? We fail to see it. Or if we do, we RUN THE HELL AWAY.
Sometimes life presents you w/ a metaphor that you just can’t help but notice. I do not profess to be any more in tune w/ the great Cosmos than the next guy, but I can tell you this whole FLY THING has gotten my attention. The past several days have been pretty hard for me. I do not like vertigo. Yes, it is BAD. Having to steady myself constantly against the rotational force of the planet, whilst everyone else goes about their daily business blissfully unencumbered SUCKS. Feeling shitty always puts me in a slightly philosophical frame of mind. SO. Feeling this way, I would just like to say HEY. HEY BIG GUY. If you are up there, pitying me or watching me with amusement, FEEL FREE TO HELP. I am here, just smacking my head against the glass, so You just FEEL FREE to stick that big ol’ mitt out for me already. As long as you’re not going to smash me dead, I_am_YOURS.
As much as I wish it were otherwise, I spend a good portion of each day driving. My older daughter to or from school. Running errands. Going to the post office, the library, the grocery store. What have you. And living in the middle of a big city, all this driving inevitably causes a whole lotta STRESS. Some nincompoop cuts me off without any semblance of turn signal. Another jackass sidesteps the WHOLE LANE OF TRAFFIC to speed past us in the BIKE LANE. Another guy just can’t wait for the light – or by the way, the elderly man CROSSING THE STREET. Frankly, some of these folks should not only have their licenses revoked, they should be pulled bodily from their cars and beaten senseless.
I curse frequently while driving. I hate doing this, since I pretty much always have one or more children in the car with me. We have actually had discussions about “mommy’s language” – how un-lady-like it is, and how it should not be repeated in public. I am glad my kids are bright, b/c other than peppering their day-to-day speech with an above average use of the word “Crap” they have heretofore suffered no other ill effects of my potty mouth.
I am a cautious driver. This stems from several things. 1) I value my children’s safety above all else and will not jeopardize it to get to [WHEREVER] ten minutes earlier. 2) I value YOUR CHILDREN’S SAFETY as much as I do my own. 3) I like people and do not want to hurt them.
B/c of this, I stop at stop signs. And when I say I stop, I mean I am probably the only damn driver in West Philly who comes to a physical halt-machen at the intersection. I stop. I look both ways. I make sure there are no bicyclists approaching. If there are, I wave them through. I do not give a shit if some psychopath behind me cannot wait 20 seconds for me to do this w/out their face turning purple. F*CK THEM. They will be the one going to jail for manslaughter, not me.
Driving here in Philly is bad b/c 1) there are inexplicable intersection nightmares, such as 30th & Market. WHERE ARE THE TRAFFIC ENGINEERS?? Green lights get traffic moving, especially onto the highway. MAKE THEM LONGER & MAKE THEM CONSISTENTLY GREEN ALL THE WAY ALONG. As it is now, the gridlock has traffic tangled in both directions from JFK all the way to the Walnut Street Bridge. If I had to deal w/ this every single rush hour I would GO INSANE.
2) Obeying the law is optional. And I am not exaggerating. The “roll-through” has been elevated to an art-form here in Philly. People speed. They swerve. They cut. They do not wait their turn. They do not like letting people in – unless you are attractive. And as everyone knows we’re all just a bunch of fat ugly slobs, you can imagine what this leads to. The cops do not enforce 99.9% of the traffic laws b/c they are too busy trying to keep us from killing each other.
3) Philadelphians are selfish like few others. Not all of us, mind you, but a whole whopping percentage of the population. Enough to make you think twice about trying to cross that street. When I was pregnant with my first child I used to walk home every day from work. 4 miles. from City Hall to West Philly. I was nearly hit more times than even I care to repeat. AND WHY? B/c most people suck. If they aren’t stopping for a full-term pregnant woman, you sure as hell know they AIN’T STOPPING FOR NO ONE.
4) Lastly, I would hazard a guess that upwards of 35% of Philadelphians drive illegally. And by this I mean w/out a license, registration, insurance – or all of the above. Sometimes in a stolen car. What do they care if they hit you or your car? It’s not their money. They are willing to take the chance b/c here in Philly at least, there’s no reason not to.
The way you drive speaks VOLUMES about you as a person. It accurately communicates your level of compassion and humanity better than almost anything. For instance, one of our neighbors is a very nice person, a deeply religious man, a hardworking husband and father, and yet, just last week, he nearly RAN MY HUSBAND OVER at the end of our block when John was riding his bike. WHY? B/c he didn’t recognize John and was interested in speeding up and cutting off that guy on a bike. People feel a sense of entitlement behind the wheel of their car which verges on sickness, and they behave in ways they’d NEVER otherwise would b/c of it. They feel protected in that cocoon. It’s like Jekyll & Hyde. For others, driving simply unleashes the INNER NATURE. Are you a control freak? Fast lane doing 55. Are you completely self-absorbed? Yakking into your cellphone, making a left turn from the right lane. The list goes on.
A car may be classy, but it’s only a car. The model you drive may communicate your taste or your circumstance, but it often has little to do w/ your true level of class. B/c THAT cannot be bought. Rich, poor, it all boils down to one thing. You can’t polish a piece of poop.
Yes, things have been ever-so-exciting here at our palatial West Philly estate on this 3-day Presidents weekend. Yesterday I took care of some friends children most of the day, while my husband caught up on schoolwork (but mostly surfed the internet). I baked a cake for another friend’s party, but got distracted and when my husband yelled, HEY YOU WANT ME TO TAKE THIS OUT OF THE OVEN? I ran downstairs panic-stricken to find my beautiful cheesecake the color of burnt caramel. But I will be bringing it anyway. I don’t have time to make another one – the party is today. And it is a baby shower, so maybe they won’t notice. I cleaned the kitchen cabinets b/c I was bored and they were disgusting. But then I got even more bored and I stopped half-way through. My husband said he was jealous that I was getting to clean the cabinets and I felt really bad for him b/c that is so sad. His schoolwork must be truly awful.
Last night my husband and I had a Date Night Out (OOOooooohhhhhh). I know you are all hopelessly jealous, but try not to hate me too much. We decided to stay out as late as we wanted too b/c our friends were keeping the girls OVERNIGHT. (OOOOoooooohhhhh…) Yes, I CAN FEEL your envy. We decided to go where we always go when we have a night totally to ourselves. Atlantic City! And we were not alone. It was a way busy night down in AC, what with the Village People performing at Resorts and Frankie Valli at the Borgata. I am not a big fan of either, but they are both well-liked by many. The groups of fans were identifiably different and that was fun too.
So we did what we always do when we go down there. We went to stuff our faces at the Borgata Buffet. It was a very long wait at the Buffet. The line wound round 4 of those theme park line dividers, there must have been 150 people ahead of us. All waiting. I amused myself by staring at the people whose tables were closest to the waiting area. I sent them telepathic messages imploring them to throw a shrimp or two my way, b/c I was so hungry. I told my husband there should be some sort of device which tracks hunger, much like a metal detector detects metal. As you came into line at the Borgata Buffet, a restaurant worker would wave this special wand over your stomach and it would register your hunger in decibels. The hungriest would be moved to the front of the line automatically, leaving the less hungry to wait – and as they waited of course, their hunger would increase, making it an altogether more pleasant and satisfying experience for all. Especially me, b/c my hunger was very great and I would have been seated an hour earlier than last night.
While we were waiting in the verrrrrry loooonnngg line, I distracted my husband with stories from the supremely hilarious book I have been reading. It is called The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs and it is laugh-out-loud funny. I truly love this book, I guffaw heartily and then my husband calls from the other room – HEY WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT? I am reading honey. OH, THAT BIBLE BOOK? Yeah. OH. I think he is jealous of this A.J. Jacobs for making me laugh so hard. And I am not joking. He has glanced at his dust-jacket photo and I know he is thinking Boy I am glad that A.J.Jacobs looks like a writer and not a movie star (no offense, A.J.). Also, my husband has begun growing a beard. At first it was a mystery as to why. I complained but I FINALLY get it. He is jealous and wants me to like his beard. I think. It took me a while to put 2 and 2 together, but I am finally getting 4. So this book I am reading is all about A.J. (and his alter-ego, Jacob)’s quest to live by the rules of the Bible for a year. NOT AN EASY TASK. So many whacky rules to abide by. Like tending sheep, and not touching women. His wife Julie deserves accolades for her patience. I laugh as much about that as anything. I cannot imagine what it must have been like living with this guy for a year, on the receiving end of all this oddity. I picture a lot of heavy sighing. Way to go, Julie! You are a very good wife. So I regaled my husband with funny stories from this book, and I could sense even the women in line behind us listening, b/c it is that THAT funny. You really must read this book. I am looking forward to reading A.J.’s other book, The-Know-It-All when I am done. I just know it will be good fun.
I will have to tell you more about my adventures later, as I have to go to the baby shower now. Hope you are having a fun weekend too.