“back to the Coca-Cola
Excuse my meltdown last week. I’d started off talking about Coke and my childhood fondness for the malt-like beverage in the seaworthy glass bottles, but digressed into a rant about a problem that typifies 90 percent of Americans: lack of quality time for fun, love-making and twirling my fingers through Eddie’s hair.
I’m better now, a little more focused. Could be the extra sleep I got due to a scheduled power outage on our block (construction workers are replacing old power lines). Could be the extra leisure time my entire family squeezed in after an unscheduled lengthy three-hour nap, over at Shilshole Bay—the next best thing to a secondhand urinated beach offering.
Because I’m an obsessive-compulsive, perfectionist Type B- personality, I need to revisit what I’d intended in the first place regarding my life-long love for Coke (the soft-drinkable kind) and the assorted addictions other people cling to, to get through life’s jam-packed stress levels.
Now, around these here parts, I’m known in my very small, very obscure, very anti-social circle as a goody-two-shoes in trash-talking veneer. I don’t give as good as I mouth off, quite frankly, and despite the hooker persona – all platinum blonde in two-toned blood-red Texas tart nails – I’m about as innocent as an eight-year-old in pigtails with braces playing jacks, whose idea of temptation is wolfing down two snack-sized bags of Lay’s barbecue potato chips, instead of one after school. Mustn’t ruin dinner.
Somehow or another, however, I developed a “bad” reputation growing up, past my tweens, of being a loose girl, the girl who’d do it with anybody, including Linda York from my 6th grade class (only, she tried to do it with me in her shed, heavy breathing, “You’re so pretty and soft” before I hightailed it outta there with my clothes intact), the girl who wouldn’t think twice about breaking up an all-American couple known as Bobby & Cheryl, two tall, skinny perfect specimens of KKK-dom, the girl who stayed out past dark to kiss all the boys in the neighborhood without their permission, ON THE CHEEKS!, the girl who kept her virginity until a boy one year younger than her in high school tricked her into a date rape, leaving bloody entrails all over his bed as proof that that easily earned reputation was complete fallacy.
I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs, sleep around, any of that nasty shit. Drinking gives me the runs and makes me throw up. Second-hand smoke causes flu-like symptoms and dry heaves. Drugs? I don’t even take aspirin if I can help it. And sleeping around only happens in my active imagination whenever British actor Damian Lewis happens on my screen. [If he happens upon this column, as I know he’s discovered the Internet as of a year or two ago... my husband gave me a freebie on you, whenever you’re available.]
That said, despite my pristine inclinations and my occasional tirades against the weak-willed dopers of the world, my stubborn father-in-law who recently refused medical attention after accidentally overdosing on his prescription, having returned to his chain-smoking habit and his big house, when he should be taken care of ‘round the clock by professionals at a home, what with his failing heart condition, my world-weary sigh of disgust whenever I hear of some wealthy, pampered, famous superstar who could have anything in the world he wanted with the snap of the fingers when the rest of the growing Third World has to scrounge on his digested crumbs, going the way of Robert Downey Jr. ....
... I understand addiction.
Addiction. Routine. Habit. That urge to fill up an emptiness we all feel, whether we’re happy and wanting to share, as fast as we can, or sad and wanting to end the sadness, as fast as we can, or whatever is going on in between, it’s a part of humanity, just the same as Adam and Eve’s insatiable, god-like aspirations, pandering weather reports, death and taxes.
Something to get us by.
I don’t kid myself into thinking I’m immune, just because I don’t partake of the usual, often illegal. I have my own addictions to feed or fend off.
Food, sugary drink, TV-lured sloth, ‘70s music, the beach house in my own daydreaming mind I go to when life is turning into one giant toilet bowl on eternal flush.
If any of us really sat down – in a dark corner of our room – and thought about it, we’d understand the existence and popularity of addiction, more varied as each century advances into the next. There are things people out there are craving for that boggles the logical mind. And I’m not just referring to the bricks and the mud pregnant women must lick during their second trimester.
Teens are getting high on medications to cure acne, treat migraines, deal with nausea and diarrhea. Depressed patients accidentally discovered a kind of cure for their secondary ailment, IBS-D, while on Zoloft or other well-known anti-depressants. They’re still sniffing airplane glue and Sharpies. One high school student, in the middle of taking his WASL, stopped long enough to relieve himself with a bottle of Elmer’s glue.
I can hardly blame them. Life’s hard enough.
The job takes over, sparing a few measly hours to fix a leaky faucet, squeaky wheel, mow the lawn, pull the weeds, do the laundry, wash the dishes, fix three healthy meals from the four basic food groups with as little preservatives as possible without sneaking in extra time nobody can afford from the all-important money-making job, and if there’s 15 minutes to spare, veg out in front of a children’s program if you’re parents, HBO or porno if you’re not.
I envy, marvel and double-take on those people who have made a fine art out of lounging around at the coffee houses dotting Seattle proper. I passed one in Fremont the other day, on the way to yet another household chore, a street corner, six-figure suburban chic in hippie enclave, just sipping frappucinos on a warm sunny Mother’s Day afternoon.
They must work at Virginia Mason as an x-ray runner, like my best friend Jon does. He rises and shines two hours before dawn breaks, does his x-ray running for eight hours, one half-hour break, home, vegan dinner, in bed by 8 p.m., every day of the week until the weekend, when he does the groceries and walks around checking out the latest guitar stores on Saturday and the laundry and the cleaning on Sunday before it’s back to the grind. He doesn’t own a car, doesn’t have a family, doesn’t have to worry about a whole lot of earthly possessions either. But then, he’s not very fulfilled, even though he has all his ducks in a row, a safe bank balance and freedom, in weekend increments.
My husband Eddie got mad, because the only day he had off that week – he’s overworking like a dog for the rest of this month – was, in his words, “wasted,” because I had the bad sense of falling asleep when he’d planned on doing something, going out, when he should’ve fixed the broken headlight switch in the Mustang, replaced the wobbly front left tire of the Explorer and tracked down a missing cell phone (mine) somewhere in Everett where I think I last dropped it.
Maybe the wasted three hours he spent twiddling his thumbs while watching a basketball game downstairs was a sign from God to slow down and do nothing. Just the same as missing the last 10 minutes of my recorded ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: The Home Edition” – the 12-hour one in mid-town Manhattan with the grateful firemen – could’ve been avoided if I’d just paid attention to God’s message to me when I wound up sitting on my bed at 10:47 p.m. later in the week with a chance to watch the repeat live, but chose not to because I’d already had it on replay waiting to watch without commercials.
Anyway, the point is, I’ve had to avoid the news constantly heralding the worst in an already impossibly frustrating situation, called life fucking us over without a lubricant, and so, when someone goes off the deep end, goes weak in the willpower, and goes AWOL from the normalcy of healthy, sane, addiction-free living, a huge part of me – the part that somehow is still unable to track down 3/4ths of the rest of my brain matter since hitting middle age and parenthood – goes, “Uh huh.”
With the catch-22s of parenting in today’s gestapo society, where your fitness depends on the liberal fascism of an overscheduled, overactive, over-indulged spoiled little brat on the Top 10 of over-achievers, and know-it-all spies are everywhere waiting to remind you of what you’re doing wrong or not enough of, it’s no wonder “Oprah” featured the lavish drinking parties of the Tupperware set not so long ago, mothers getting tanked with other mothers, one mother doing it just to rustle up enough energy and presence to take her children to a playground.
Even back in the old days, oh, about 10, 20 years ago, being a parent ranked up there with school teacher or garbage man, without the pay or the leniency. I remembered plenty of cocktail parties to which my own parents were accustomed. Lots of shots, loud salsa music, olives dressed as grapes for one more martini to cushion the blows of endless cleaning, endless nagging, endless worrying, endless continued singular focus on only the children. Their puke, poop and piss on your once-stainless steel armor. A wig will take care of that, ma’am.
When my mom contracted breast cancer over two years ago, she considered returning to her chain-smoking habit, thinking, “What’s the point? I try to be good and then I get cancer. Why not enjoy my life instead of more suffering?” I couldn’t argue much, except to spout the usual feel-goody-two-shoes drivel, “Mom, you’d be suffering more if you had to deal with cancer recovery and chain-smoking, making the cancer worse.” She hardly bought that line, “Yeah, yeah, but ...”
Order a large cheese pizza with a pitcher of Coca-Cola and crushed ice, that’s my answer. It’ll last me about 30 minutes. And sometimes, I have to make hourly trips to the bathroom at night, interrupting my sound sleep.
Yeah, yeah, but...
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