Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Sign Of The Crab

Today is one of those days that start on the wrong side of the bed, covered in drool, and come served with a strong desire to punch someone in the face. And buy "punch" I mean "2013 is a great year to find a channel for all my unexpressed rage" and by "someone" I mean "anyone that speaks more than two words in my general vicinity."


From the shrill beep of the cash register any time my numbed-out brain hits an incorrect key; to the guy that throws his money on the counter instead of lifting his arm an extra two inches for my hand; to the too-nice old lady asking the same 10 questions three times in succession; the only saving grace of this day is that I may be able to pass off the sore-throat tremble in my voice as near tears. That might get me more sympathy than telling the guy ahead of me in line at Starbucks to hurry the fuck up would.


On the bright side, I think I'm getting an ab workout out of all this coughing. I'll count that as compensation enough for the tight-wire strings running through my shoulder muscles.


Luckily, I know my coworkers well enough to let them know when I'd rather be telling them off than conversing. And luckier still, I can say this knowing that they will not take offense but rather let me stew in my misery, glued to a computer screen, than attempt to rattle me out of it with their tales of New Year's debauchery. Actually, if those tales involve losing your favorite shoes, fighting with a loved one, and losing all sense of morality around 2 o'clock in the morning; well then count me in! Because when there's nothing else to snap you out of a bad mood, obscenely reveling in someone else's is just as good.


Oh, and I also ripped my new tights wearing the boots that I KNOW always rip my new tights when I cross my legs. I guess I stil don't learn by experience very well.


I have, however, learned through 24 years' worth of experience that I am much better off sharing with those around me how I'm feeling than keeping it under wraps made of fake smiles and too-loud-laughter. It took me until a few years ago to finally get it that just saying "I'm crabby as shit today" relieves an elephant's worth of unnecessary pressure. No fake smiles needed. No internal string of expletives at anyone that breathes too close to my ear. As soon as those that count know that I'll be the last person they hug today, I can work out on my own how to rise from the muck. Or not.


For most of my life, I was a very good actor. I knew how to pretend to be awake and alert when I was exhausted; I knew how to fake enthusiasm when I didn't give two shits; I knew how to be your best friend when I didn't care whether I saw you for another second of my life. Needless to say, playing pretend gets exhausting.


I think I even remember the first time I told someone besides The Mother that I wasn't altogether "there" because of my mood. And I remember feeling a hell of a lot better about being open and honest about it, afterwards. It makes telling the world when you're happy that much better, too. In the past few years I've learned even to tell complete strangers when I don't feel like talking, because hey, sometimes I really just don't feel like talking.


A few weeks ago Buddy Holly and I were out at our favorite bar. I could tell he was trying very hard to engage me in conversation -- he was talking circles around me and I was trying my best to be attentive and interested. A feat that is normally not all that difficult for me, considering I can talk and talk and talk and talk if need be. After a while, when he asked me a question, I simply told him I wasn't feeling very talkative that night. His response?


"Thanks for telling me that. It means a lot that you would tell me what's going on without me having to guess where your head is and if it has something to do with me. I can appreciate that feeling."


I may be crabby as hell today but at least it's out there. I may be in a bubble of my own thoughts, but at least my nearest and dearest know it's not about them. I may get close to verbally handing someone their own ass at any given moment, but I think I'll just keep my mouth shut knowing that they know the truth: it's not you. It's most definitely me.




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