Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Three Things I Learned the Hard Way

Three Things I Learned the Hard Way

I was tagged last month in Carolyn Castiglia’s blog to inform my readers about some valuable life lessons. It took me a while to sift through the many pearls of wisdom that come to me on a daily basis. I kept myself from writing about certain topics, as those lessons may be better-suited for different posts. For example, how to cheat at Uno (Three Things I Learned the Card Way), over-easy is best (Three Eggs I Cooked the Hard Way), and locking your knees makes you faint (Three Things I Learned the Buckingham Palace Guard Way).

1. No One Likes a Stalker

I was five or six. My mom was visiting her friends, and my sister and I played with their son while the adults did boring things like have coffee (gross) and talk about BLAH BLAH BLAH (I had already run upstairs). I remember playing with a boy named Tyler and admiring his stilts, which were actually crutches. I kept trying to hook my foot inside the hand rest, and after failing three times I decided my career in the circus would never be. I also decided I liked Tyler. I told him this, looking up into his 8-year old face (me, challenging a full grown man!), and he said. “I don’t like you.” Then he ran off to show us more of his toys. Some time later, I presented my case again to the judge, “But I REALLY like you!” He frowned and said, “What are you, Forgetful Jones or something? I don’t like you!”

He referenced arguably the dumbest Muppet on Sesame Street. Unlike Cookie Monster who can spell and The Count who can count, Forgetful Jones was a cowboy who was too stupid to finish a sentence. He dared compare me to a purple-faced, mustachioed moron! I learned then and there that if I liked someone, I had better make sure the feeling was mutual before moving forward. This has kept me from pursuing romances with Hulk Hogan, Prince and anyone named Tyler.

2. The Office is No Place for Smiles

I have learned a lot of lessons through temping, and this one comes right after “Don’t pour Cap’n Crunch on the desk in front of you and eat it with your shoes off…especially if you stole it from the desk of the person you’re substituting.” When I left a certain company, they bade me farewell with a lovely greeting card, flowers and a gift. The name on the card that came as the greatest surprise was that of my direct supervisor, who I was convinced, hated me. His note: “You were of use here.”

That has since become a line I share on stage. In a farewell coffee break I had with another employee (a former temp himself), I asked if he thought there was anything I could do differently for my next post. He said, “You should probably sit up straight. And iron your clothes. And not laugh or smile as much as you do. It gives off an unprofessional vibe.” Looking back, my boss was trying to teach me that same lesson through example. For two straight months, he never smiled.

3. Neglect Hurts…and Haunts

Sometimes I tell a joke in my act, “A guinea pig is the gift that says, ‘Sure you can have a pet…this year.’” I used to mumble, “Rest in Peace, Madame Jewels,” as an afterthought. This was less of a tag line and more an involuntary admission of guilt. Whenever I think of that pet, I think of how her life ended: alone, in darkness, without having received much love.

The only space for a rodent to freely kick woodchips out of a cage was under the stairs in my basement. Whenever we would turn a light on down there she would shriek for company. When we opened the fridge in the kitchen above she would shriek for carrots. She didn’t know to shriek for water, so that was something you had to remember in between Tiny Toons and Animaniacs. In my case, I went through Rescue Rangers, Ducktales and Tale Spin before she came to mind, even if each episode had a talking guinea pig in a business suit, which they probably did. It was only after I grabbed an Ecto Cooler from the fridge that I would hear the shriek, deliver a carrot, and then notice an empty bottle.

She did not die of thirst. I don’t know what she died of because I stopped checking up on her when I found out my mom would do it if I let enough time pass. The announcement of her death was more of a reminder that I had a pet at all. Death always makes you think of time lost, and I remembered the days I would bring her out of her cage into the living room, and pet her until she purred. I should have done that more often. Maybe then a giant guinea pig ghost in chains wouldn’t hover over my futon at 3:00AM each night.

I tag:
J.L. Cauvin
Matt Sears
Adam Wade
Mo Diggs
Jen Dziura and
Jesse Cooper

Read their blogs for a laugh, but also check periodically to see if they have contributed their own tales of woe and whoa.


Mike said...

I lost a rabbit the same way. The poor thing had half scratched it's wooden door apart in its frenzy to get out and eat something.

My life lesson- don't get a rabbit.

My dad has rabbits and one of them is a vindictive piece of crap. It used to wait beneath my brother's bed (not mine as I was happily not living at home then) and whenever his hand would loll over the side, it would try to bite it.

That's holding a grudge.

My brother wakes up in pain with a bleeding hand thinking- 'wtf?'

Abbi said...

Yeah, Rabbits that bite. They come from outerspace. I'm surprised there aren't more horror movies about that.