[Theological Aside: I am fully aware that I am both inherently wicked and perfectly sinless under Christ’s grace … if you don’t get that dichotomy, ask a Lutheran. They love dichotomies. Can you tell I like the word dichotomy? It’s so erudite. Anyway …]
We all have that side we don’t show the world. The shameful little character flaws we try so hard not to reveal. You know what? I bet people have more in common with these skeleton-closet personality traits than we let on. Here are some of mine. Hang on.
- Every once in a while, a baby will appear on my Facebook feed and before I can stop myself, I think, “Holy shit, that is a really ugly baby.” (I’ve even done it to friends’ babies. I told you I’m evil.)
- I would totally laugh if I saw any person trip. Even, dare I admit it, a blind person. I would hope to catch myself in time and clap a hand over my mouth to muffle it, but that horrible original impulse remains. OF COURSE, I would then get control of my diabolical self and step in to help them up.
- On the subject of tripping — once when I worked in retail, I fully tripped a kid who was running unsupervised and demonic around my store. On purpose. OH SHUT UP — he was like six or seven, it’s not like he was fragile. Besides, he was being a holy terror — screeching, knocking merchandise over, throwing food on the floor … if you’ve never worked retail , you will never, ever understand this. (Cue “He Had It Coming” from Chicago. Trust me. He did. And oh God, it was glorious. The crowning factor was that the little bastard didn’t even realize I did it. He just looked around, silent and befuddled, like, “What’d I trip over?” HAHAHAHAHAHA.) #StealthTrip
- I like animals better than people. Because let’s face it, people suck. I fully smile and say hello to dogs on walks and totally ignore their owners.
- Twice a day, in rush hour, I pray for a pandemic.
- I tell my nephews things that are patently untrue, but usually well-meant, because what are kids for but to screw with? Examples:
a.) The real name for otters is “water sausages.”
b.) Of course I’ll catch you if you jump off the deep end of the pool.
c.) Your mom knows everything. (That one backfired. I said it to my 5-year-old nephew in a moment of admiration, because my younger sister is so smart and sweet and accomplished. She told me the next day that my nephew had asked who the smartest person in their family was. Confused at this apparently apropos-of-nothing query, she replied that everyone in their family was smart in different ways and all good at different things. Processing this for a few seconds, my nephew then replied, “But Aunt Laura said you knew EVERYTHING!” Haha. Oops.)
- I do, however, tell them that when they are grown-ups, they can eat ice cream for dinner if they want, and stay in their pajamas all day, and drive their cars anywhere they want. I left out the unfortunate qualifiers of working 40-60 hours a week, paying for everything else they need first, the unfairness of income and property taxes, and the ever-present crippling companion of adulthood that is existential angst. They can find that out on their own.
- Sometimes when I’m hanging out at my sister’s, my 9-year-old nephew will make rounds and ask if we want anything to drink. Usually he has a little notepad to write it down. Oh my God, it’s so cute. The first time he did that, we were sitting in the hot tub and he brought me a soda. I was so overwhelmed at this display of benevolence that I gave him a $2 tip from my wallet. Now the little comedian does it all the time, and raises his eyebrows, like he knows a tip’s coming. You know what? I usually give him a dollar or so. Do you realize how cool it is to have drink orders taken at family gatherings??! Damn right I’m subsidizing that shit.
- Of all the teens and kids in my family and belonging to my friends, I totally admit I have favorites. I suspect they know this, but I don’t care. If you suck up to Auntie, she’ll suck up to you. That’s how the world works. LOLOL
- Every time my husband gets on the roof to clean the gutters or check the satellite, I think, “I’m just one accident away from an insurance payout that could change my life.” (And I LOVE him. No, really.)
- I am particularly susceptible to flattery that is not an outright lie. It comes from being ugly the first 20 years of life, I suppose. That small spark of desire for admiration never fades. I’d truly like to get to the point where I give no shits what anyone thinks of me. The odds of this happening are distressingly low.
- Since I cannot cook, I am very food-motivated and will likely do almost anything if you feed me.
- I used to intensely dislike children. It was kind of legendary among my family and friends. I just couldn’t relate to them. They’re SO. FRIGGIN. LOUD. They smell. They’re inexplicably sticky. They, like horses, can smell fear and will exploit this. Watching them eat is like a horror show of disgust. Have you seen the shitshow when they sneeze, and a huge bubble of alien snot blooms out of their nose? And, even worse, JUST HANGS THERE??! Excuse me while I barf in my mouth. Then, little by little, creeping up almost undetected, like rust eventually taking over the underbelly of a car … something happened. My infant nephew peed on me while I was holding him, all wrapped up in a cozy, snuggly blanket, and he was so adorable that I didn’t even care. My nephews grew up a little and got personalities. The older one made me a placemat for a family dinner that said “Ant Lora.” I loved it so much I took it to work and stuck it over my desk. They sit in my lap and lean back against me and murmur, “I love you, Aunt Laura.” My best friend’s little girl will reach her arms out in the “hold me” gesture as her eyes light up when she recognizes me. Then my stepdaughter told me I was going to be a meemaw. I have no earthly idea how to be a “proper” meemaw. I am only 43, for God’s sake. I make raunchy jokes and drink just slightly more than is good for me. I will probably teach the kid to play blackjack as soon as he can count. I have no compunctions about playing for his allowance to teach him that life isn’t fair. I am 100% sure that I will accidentally cuss repeatedly in front of him. Then he will probably call another kid in his daycare a rat bastard and then I’ll REALLY be in trouble. But … you know what? I will always let him lick the batter. I will always slip him pocket money and whisper, “Don’t tell your mom and dad!” I will read him books on my lap for five hours straight if he wants. With accents and sound effects. We will build Lego houses and play demolition derby, really loudly, with his Matchbox cars. I will buy him a zoo membership every year, learn what his favorite animal is, and we’ll sit there for an hour or two and I’ll tell him a fake name for his favorite animal. (“That manta ray is really called an Ocean Flap Flap.”) If he plays sports, I’ll buy one of those stupid shirts that says Team Name Here Grandma. And I will sing to him when he’s two days old, and wonder what he will grow up to be passionate about, and watch with an odd mix of longing and confusion, because I never had my own child, so it will sort of be like he’s mine, but twice removed. And he can always ask me anything, or tell me anything, ever. And while I might tell him a harmless, patent untruth from time to time … he will always know that I adored him before he even drew a breath. And that I would do anything to make him happy.
You know what? Maybe I’m not so evil after all.