Sunday, June 07, 2009

Eating around the dead mouse

I was going to blog about this, eventually, and then I watched that horrible Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals and decided I'd post about that. This weighs a little more on my mind.

L'Ailee and I were grocery shopping yesterday afternoon. Now, I understand, in retrospect, why someone might have wanted to confront me. But we're still pissed.

We were looking at ice cream. I make it pretty often, because I can customize it for us and make it egg-free to accommodate my allergy, but sometimes I just want someone else to do it for me! So I was looking at ingredients. "I'm a little bored with ice cream," L'Ailee admitted, in her normal (low) conversational voice.
I didn't take offense. I like her to tell me these things, because it's so much easier that way. "I don't get it," I replied with a smile and my own normal conversational voice. "I've never been bored with ice cream."
"Nothing could make you bored with ice cream, could it?"
"That's right." I pondered, searching my mind for scenarios. "Why, if I found, like, a dead mouse in the carton, I'd probably eat around it."
"Ewww!" L'Ailee covered her face. I love doing that to her.
"No, I wouldn't, either," I admitted. "But if I called up the ice cream company and told 'em about the dead mouse, and they asked me if some free ice cream, the exact same kind I saw the mouse in, would make everything okay, I'd say..."
"Of course!" She shook her head and chuckled.
"Hell yeah." She knows I'm a fiend for freebies, too.

Just then a woman with two young kids approached and asked, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but can you please quit talking like that? About mice in ice cream? It's really gross."
"I'm sorry, ma'am. I didn't know y'all were there." I think even my very accent offended her--I've seen that look often enough up here.
Nonetheless, she continued. "That is really rude. It's bad enough that I have to explain your lifestyle to my kids, and then you talk about disgusting things like that!"
"Your kids look more interested in the ice cream," L'Ailee pointed out. Indeed, it seemed I'd done nothing to reduce their appetite for it.
"That's no excuse for being rude."
"I apologized for my joke. It was tasteless," I said. "It was also private. As for our"--here I made air quotes--"lifestyle, you'd encounter it someplace eventually. We're not gonna apologize for being us where your kids can see it." She wanted to say something; I cut her off. "If you have a problem, you can tell us you have a problem. Don't hide behind your kids."
"I'm not hiding!"
"Mind *them*." I took L'Ailee's hand, and we walked away, without ice cream. It wasn't fun. We find the whole idea that our affection, our holding hands, our give and take, is simply so offensive that children should never be exposed to it, lest they--shudder!--ask questions extremely bigoted. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last. But we've been seeing what this does to our friends who are parents, our brothers and sisters in other states, us in the political realm. It's tiresome.

A few of the people who come to my house for games and races are people I met at work. I don't blog about work very often. I've said I don't have rules, but that's one of my rules. I literally helped draw up the rules regarding it for my office. We can't be specific, we can't give away trade secrets, we can't demean someone else by name. But I think I need to share something that's bothered me.

We've all been on edge ever since the stock market went slideways anyway. Now we're starting to feel a bit better. Well, a person there who has been a real stabilizing force, whom I like and respect a lot, has cancer. And instead of getting better, it's spreading. She's taking a leave. "Fighting this is going to be my full-time job," she says. She doesn't feel up to much else. I want to say more, but we said so much at my house. Tomorrow I won't be seeing her at her usual place, and she won't put a hand on my shoulder when I start stressing, and I'm tearing up at the very thought yet *again*.

I cried buckets before we went out to play street hockey, which we did so we wouldn't become reclassified as plant life from all our sitting around. I'd cried on L'Ailee's shoulder, quite literally ruining one of her T-shirts, before that. My work husband, who played on my Penguins fan (or, in his case, Wings-hater) team, didn't cry. He rather violently checked several of his erstwhile opponents, his friends, instead. L'Ailee was one of them. She's a pest on whatever surface she plays, but she didn't deserve to be sent damn near airborne the way my work husband did it at one point. I of course sided with my actual wife rather than my work husband--I stopped to help her up and make certain she was okay, and I didn't work with him so well. He apologized profusely, and L'Ailee's genuinely forgiven him, so I can, too. Forgiveness is not something that comes naturally to me, unfortunately. Long ago, I decided to accept this about myself, because I realized that my fundamentalist relatives' emphasis on "forgiveness" really meant guilting others into forgiving *them* and never returning the favor. Normally I think I'm just fine, grudges and all. Tonight I don't.

We wanted to be distracted and have fun, and we got even more bummed out instead. So I poured out my frustrations late last night as if it was just a Gods-awful game that bothered me. Sports can take you away from the things that are really bothering you, and they can serve as surrogates, too. It's easier to cuss out a team's badly timed incompetent performance than it is to cuss out a friend's badly timed cancer.

The nice thing about liking more than one sport is that you get another chance to see something you'll enjoy. This morning, the NASCAR fan forums and lists were buzzing about crazy little Kyle Busch's win at the Nationwide (analogous to "minor league") series race in Tennessee last night. NASCAR gives weird trophies, and this track gives the winner a guitar. Busch caused a genuine controversy by smashing it in true rock star style. A lot of people don't like Kyle, because he's so talented and so young and so cocky, and this just confirmed their feelings. L'Ailee and I laughed instead. We needed that.

I'm glad I neither went surfing nor saw "Drag Me to Hell" today. I'd have missed Tony Stewart's tour de force performance in the Sprint Cup race at Pocono today! There are so many reasons why that win shouldn't have happened. He started last. Pocono's a difficult track, with its distinctive triangular shape. He damn near ran out of gas. Carl Edwards was running so well. But Smoke moved oh so relentlessly from the back to the front, and when it counted, he *stayed* up front! I didn't get to celebrate the way L'Ailee and I have come to enjoy, of course. The win didn't make my or anyone else's problems go away. However, it did shine a ray of light into our minds for a few minutes. I'll take it.


Snooker said...

So sorry to hear about your work friend. It is horribly hard to consider that persons we love might not be around for us in the future. This is why we must let them know how we feel about them often and enjoy them as much as possible - sick or healthy.

As for the ice cream episode. People will always be afraid of that which they do not understand. Try to live life as an example of how good we can be, and you will be educating them along the way without even knowing it.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

I didn't realize what a jock you were ... playing street hockey, surfing. Cool. It made me feel like a slug but I am so uncoordinated any sport I try (out of water) is not a good thing.

I am so sorry about your friend. As I type this an ex family member is being tested for cancer. Its the worst.

I'm also sorry/angry about that rude person (ice cream aisle lady) who took a moment of fun and turned it into ugly. (I would have reacted the same as L'Ailee to the dead mouse thing.....ewwwwww!)

CrackerLilo said...

Thanks, Snooker and Barbara. I hate an empty chair. We helped her clean out her desk and cubicle last week. I had to pass it a few times today and almost lost it. I wasn't the only one.

Snooker, I hope that awful woman's kids remember.

Barbara, things starting off fun and going ugly just seemed to be the theme of my weekend! Oh, well. I'm not really a jock. I'm married to a super-jock who likes to make me move out of my comfort zone, which I see benefits me. (I do it to her in other ways, too.) It's nice to know I can shoot a goal in hockey or belly-dance and have people enjoy it.

But like you, I prefer water. Esther Williams, who's in her 80s and still swims, says everyone is ageless and weightless in water. It's a wonderful thing!

liminalD said...

"That is really rude. It's bad enough that I have to explain your lifestyle to my kids, and then you talk about disgusting things like that!"

Good lord... people really get on my wick sometimes. How is your lifestyle any of her business? And people really think kids are naiive, don't they? I was asked by a five year old if I was gay one time, without any guy having to hold my hand to tip her off.

Crikey Joe.

Seda said...

I'm sorry about your friend with cancer. That's a rough road. My mom had it a year or so ago, and, thank God, it's fully in remission. I hope the same for your friend.

I understand your frustration and annoyance with the rude mother at the ice cream freezer all too well. I work with the public at my job, and one, after helping a woman and her daughter with their issue, heard that someone had called my boss to protest that his daughter had to see me. He was very offended by my existence, and loudly protested at the counter - "What do you tell your kid? That's what I wanna know." Blah, blah.

How about telling them the truth?

Anyway, courage. I'm glad you held hands walking away. The woman's kids no doubt thought the mouse was funny, and that you were sooo much cooler than mom.

At least, I hope so! My kids would have.