September 13th, 2007

Ingredients for Life *

Certain ingredients make up a full and interesting life. Enough work to do, enough fun to enjoy. Love, of course, and good things to eat (and drink. Heck, I’ll just come straight out and say it: coffee). Plenty of surprises (preferably good ones), and enough stuff to complain about.


If you don’t take it too seriously, griping can really add some zest to your life. Fortunately for all of us, there are enough people in the world who grate against us that there should never, ever be a shortage of stuff to complain about.


But equally important are those people who make you feel like you’re all part of this big crazy world together. That no matter what happens to you, there’s someone who understands.


Like the bank representative I talked to yesterday. (Insert transition here.)


Last week I discovered my checkbook was missing. (All together now: “Oh, no!”)


I called a couple of the places I had been, but no checkbook had been turned in. I looked under seat cushions and furniture and all over the car. No checkbook. I pondered long and hard, and at last realized what had happened.


I’d accidentally thrown it away.


(I’ll pause here for the laughter to die down.)


I don’t have a problem admitting the stupid stuff I do. (If I didn’t talk about the stupid stuff, there would hardly be anything left for me to say!) But even I thought that was embarrassing. And yet I had to call the bank and confess my silliness. Then I had to weigh my options: only a handful of checks were in the tossed book, which is probably sitting in some sour-smelling recycling facility right now, buried under piles of sticky soda cans and greasy pizza boxes. Is it worth closing out the account and opening a new one?


Still weighing those options, I’ve kept a close eye on the account. And yesterday I finally figured out the numbers of the missing checks, so I called the bank to stop payment on them.


The representative helping me was so calm and friendly about it all, it made me feel even stupider. And so, being me, I had to tell her just how idiotic I feel because I threw away my checkbook.


“Don’t feel bad,” she said. “We all do stuff like that.”


True enough. But she wasn’t finished.


“Let me tell you a story to make you feel better,” she said.


The other morning her mother realized she couldn’t find her watch. That watch is always laid to rest on the nightstand in the evening, and immediately donned in the morning. But that morning she couldn’t find it. Of course she blamed her husband. They unmade the bed. They lifted the mattress. They argued. And then, after who knows how long, she glanced down and realized she was wearing the watch.


That is pretty funny, especially—as the daughter pointed out to me—her arms would have pretty much been right before her eyes the entire time they were searching for the watch.


But I couldn’t let it go. I mean, that’s bad, but in my opinion it’s not quite as bad as turning the house upside down, searching for a pair of glasses that are already on your face. Which I have done more than once. In fact, now when I can’t find my glasses, I just reach up and pat my face to see if they’re already there.


But the banking representative saw my glasses, and raised me a set of keys. She’s run around the house frantically looking for keys she was already clutching in her hand.


By that time, we were laughing so hard we were hardly coherent. And I have to admit, I felt better.


So I think I’d better add these items to my Life List: you also need plenty of laughter, and a line to toe, dividing too-serious from not-serious-enough. And you need to remember that we’re all in this together, and even if there are people with whom you’d rather not be in anything together, at least they provide you material for griping, and that brings me nicely back to the start of this blog, so I guess I’ll just stop here.

* Isn't that a tagline for some product? I certainly hope I'm not infringing on any copyrights here. Although think of the griping material a lawsuit could provide me!

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