Have you ever have the experience where someone says something unbelievably rude, insensitive or stupid, that in the moment you just drop your jaw in disbelief, but it is minutes, days or even weeks later where a rebuttal comes that is far more cutting than, “Yea, well…so is your mother? I don’t know, isn’t that what the kids say these days?” Over the years, I have found myself lying awake at night fantasizing about the machine gun spray of insults that would destroy the person who deigned to sass me the way they did…six months ago.
What makes me think of this, you ask? Oh you didn’t ask? Well then…I’ll get back to having something nasty to say later…and when I do get back at you, it will be a doozy—or totally not worth the wait— I’ll be coming back at you well into my eighties, and you’d be like: “Sorry, what was this all about?”, and I’d stare at you blankly before realizing that I had no idea what I was going to say in the first place or where I am for that matter. What do you want from me? I’m old! But anyway, today at work, I was finishing up my work week with a little cleaning and puttering. My industriousness builds, and after I wash a load of aprons, I vacuum the laundry area, and then decide to do the stairs as well. I wouldn’t recommend that, lumbering down the staircase awkwardly, vacuum in hand. A guy from the warehouse begins to climb the stairs, so I step aside to let him pass. “You having fun? Vacuuming the stairs…you like doing that?” he says, chuckling. The rolodex of possible comments whirred through my mind, but all I could muster was “No…it’s not fun”, before going back to work. Poor guy. I’m sure he thought he was being a real laugh riot, but there are few worse things than people A) watching you work B) making unnecessary comments about said work. Just walk on by buddy, just walk on by. This makes me think of this book that my brother Anthony had when we were kids: Al Jaffe’s “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions”. My goodness, it would crack us up. For those not familiar, it’s a comic where someone says something stupid, “Are you vacuuming?” and the other person has three things to say in response like: “No I was trying to give a hickey to the carpet” and whatnot. I need something like that in real life; they need to create a phone app for that.
My husband and I currently live in a townhouse where the living quarters are stacked on top of one another. For ages, there was no one living upstairs, and within the last month, a young couple with a small child moved in. And since then we have enjoyed the endless symphony of thumping, thudding and dragging…of what I presume is furniture. Frustrated with the endless noise, Ben and I discuss whether we should pop over; maybe they don’t realize that they are disturbing us. “You go over then”, says Ben. “Why me? Why is it always me having to do stuff like this?” “Because I’m so tall and immense (“immense” is a word he loves to throw around), I’ll just intimidate them”. And I’m not intimidating at all, months ago I had a mild altercation with someone, and as I tried to firmly stand my ground, I sounded an awful lot like a Bee Gee strung out on cough syrup—high pitched and dangerously shrill. So, I slip out, and knock on their door, waiting with trembling hands and a pounding heart (have I mentioned that I don’t enjoy confrontation?). The woman answers the door and looks certifiably unfriendly. “He-he—loow”, I start. Uh oh, there’s that Barry Gibb voice again. She says nothing, which makes me even more nervous. “I was won-der-ANG, if you would mi-ind, keeping the noise dounw-nn”. Her eyes narrow in on me. “You see, we’ve got a kid, she’s five and we can’t help the noise”. The child is standing behind her mother, and couldn’t weigh more than forty pounds, and clearly is not wearing steel capped boots, so I know that the onus is not solely on the child. I see that she is moving to close the door, so I try again, “I app-re-CIATE th-aaat, thanks for your ti-iiime”. Fuck. I don’t think I got my point across. But my pitch was excellent. Of course, when I relay the story to Ben, I am snappy, sassy and totally articulate. “She’s like: oh we’ve got a kid, and I was like: ‘Oh is that daughter? I was about to compliment your mother on being so small and youthful’. And then I was like ‘Listen, if you can train dolphins at Sea World, surely you can teach your kid to not stomp around like an a-hole before seven in the morning’”. But Ben, just smiles, and listens intently, because he knows I didn’t actually say any of that.
Before the Barry Gibb in the doorway incident, we had a situation on our hands at a pharmacy. I was suffering from epic heartburn, and we had gone to the closest shop in search of a remedy. Facing a wall of medicine, I turn to the pharmacists counter for advice. There was only one person working, and she is so intensely focused on her lone customer: a middle aged menopausal woman who is relaying her reproductive journey from her teen years from the sounds of it. They are going over each product in her basket, giving each one a pet name and a back story while an inferno rages inside my esophagus. We go to another drugstore and again wait for advice. We are standing in the antacid aisle with another husband and wife duo. Her heartburn is so bad that she is talking about sores in her mouth, so when the pharmacist comes round, looking to us as to who goes first, I look to ole mouth sores, who then commanders the conversation. I quickly step in, as she is clearly about to get into the nitty gritty details. I take a mere thirty seconds to get the product knowledge I need, grab two items, and make a fevered dash to the till. Of course, there is only one cash register open, and OF COURSE, there is a customer redeeming points and taking her sweet fucking time doing god knows what, I am a inches away from ripping open my bottle of Gaviscon and chugging it like I’m at a pre-teen at a frat party. The transaction is completed, and the woman makes a move to walk away, and then turns her body back, “Aaaa-ctually, I forgot to get my lottery tickets”. And from the fiery, hellish depths of my diaphragm, this disgusted sound ejaculated from my mouth. The woman, hand on hip, looks over at me: “Excuse me? I am a paying customer, and I will not be rushed, thank you very much”. Ben says “Calm down lady”, and again the rolodex of comments whirl in my head, but I say nothing. But I wish my hideous heart burn on her…”Yea bitch, you feel like you got a bone stuck in your chest and acid in your throat…TAKE THAT!” I really got to work on my revenge tactics because according to the internet, you can give someone chlamydia, but you can’t give them heartburn. In the meantime, please don’t be rude to me, I can’t take the hurt, and I won’t have a response for several weeks at least.