excuses, excuses

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
-Benjamin Franklin

I have bad habits. Everyone does, right? And since I know they are “habits,” defined by the regularity with which they occur, I know that if I try to explain myself every time, I’m just going to end up repeatedly sounding like an ass. But here, on my own blog, I can explain away! No, really. While I am writing this for all the times I’ve silenced my valid excuses, I also think it’s fun to explore the ways other people think. Like the time I asked a friend about her morning routine. She talked about her alarm going off, her shower, her tooth-brushing, her breakfast. Now, while this may sound like a mundane conversation, I was blown away. Almost every day since high school graduation, I have woken up feeling like I have no idea about what the next few minutes or hours will bring. This was never so true as it was when I was single and an on-call flight attendant. I signed a contract stating that I am ready for things like going on an 11-day trip through Amsterdam and Mumbai on 2-hours notice. And, several times, I did. (Really, this sort of flexibility comes in handy for parents.) I guess I carry that spirit with me even though my days are quite regular now that the twins are school-age. (Oh, do things get crazy around here during the summer, though!)

So, I’ll give you mine and you give me yours. Deal?

  • Being Late

I’m starting with the one I feel most bad about, my Achilles’ heel. Not too long ago I finally read The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing. Not only was it a great read, but a quote in there really stuck with me. At one point, the protagonist’s lover tells her something along these lines: “Don’t be late, darling. It tells people they can’t count on you.” (This isn’t the exact quote and I returned the book, so I can’t look it up. But I really like the word “darling.”) I’m sure I’ve heard similar things about being late in my life, but this one really stuck. So, pretty much every time I agree to meet anyone anywhere, I tell myself, “This is a new chance not to be late.” And then, I’m late. In my younger days, this was because I had a completely ridiculous thought-process of thinking I could prepare to leave, actually leave, and arrive ALL AT THE SAME TIME. When I finally realized how problematic this logic is, I began to give myself better increments of time for all the steps involved prior to arrival. By then, though, I had kids. So now, if I’m late, there is a GOOD CHANCE that someone else’s poop was involved and subsequent clean-up of said poop. Also, I do silly things like walking around for 5 minutes looking for my phone until my back pocket vibrates with a text message from my friend wondering where I am.

  • Biting My Nails

Really, is this soooo bad? I like them short and I don’t carry nail-clippers. Plus, it gives me something to do when I’m in my therapist’s waiting room.

  • Fondling Produce

I didn’t actually realize others might view this one as a bad habit until recently, when a friend of mine posted this as her facebook status:

Dear lady checking out my groceries tonight, please don’t stick your nose in my basil and sniff it like a drug. It was very disturbing and unsanitary. I wash all my produce, but no one likes someone else’s nose in their business. I’m sure you are very nice, but wrong is wrong. Thank you!

She was addressing the check-out lady here, but I’m guessing that she also wouldn’t want hippies like me caressing and sniffing and breathing all over the produce like I do. It’s a valid position. I’m going to try to stop doing that. But this is one that seems almost instinctual to me, so it’s gonna be hard. And, speaking of grocery stores…

  • Not Returning My Cart to the Cart-Bin

I don’t feel too bad about this one. For one thing, I’ve gotten better about doing it. It’s like, 70/30 in favor that I will return it. For the 30% of time that I don’t, I tell myself one of three things:

  1. A mother-of-twin-infants might appreciate having a stray cart out in the middle of the parking lot, because she can park next to it, transfer the twins from the car to the cart right there, and stroll them into the store. (No, this is not AT ALL based on personal experience.)
  2. The baggers at the the store seem to consistently have personality conflicts with the checkers and stockers, so I’m guessing they’re always looking for an excuse to stay outside and get some exercise and fresh air.
  3. At least I remembered my re-usable bags.

  • Not Making Small Talk

Some people find my relentless intensity daunting. I will not talk to you about weather. Within the first five minutes of meeting me, I will have gotten out of you what your favorite books are, which ones you hated, what religion you were brought up in, if you are still practicing this religion, how you feel about your parents, and how you feel about your children. If you try to give me an answer that is insincere, I will sniff it out and watch you with a kind smile until you tell me the truth. I have no excuse. Curiosity, I guess.  “Heck! I have a couple of friends that call me whiskers, cause I’m curious like a cat.”

  • Not RSVP-ing

This is a tricky one. Because, technically, I do RSVP, but usually not until a few hours before the event is scheduled to begin. I don’t really have much reason for this, other than my issue with not knowing what day (and sometimes, month) it is. Some time ago, I decided that I would get a family calendar and put it up in the kitchen and keep great track of days and dates and appointments and parties. It just didn’t happen. I’m starting to wonder if it’s ever going to happen. I kind of don’t think so. Besides, if the weather is right to go to the beach, chances are I will be doing that rather than taking my children to one more birthday party where they will eat shitty food, get their feelings hurt by some punk-kid, give toys to a family who doesn’t need more toys, and come home with cheap party favors that will end up broken under my feet when I’m trying to cook dinner.

  • Interrupting

After being late, this is second-worst in my mind. Once, I heard that interrupting people is a signal that you think what you have to say is more important. This is honestly NOT why I interrupt. When I interrupt you, it’s because I find what you’re saying fascinating, stimulating, thought-provoking, and I’M SO EXCITED TO SHARE THIS CONVERSATION WITH YOU THAT I’M GOING TO BURST!!!! But, still. It’s rude and I’m trying to stop.

So, that’s my list. For every one here, there are probably two more that my husband could name, but I don’t want to know about them right now. I can only accept so many flaws at a time. It occurs to me that I have come up with seven. Maybe I should re-name this post The Seven Bad Habits of Highly Sporadic People.

What are yours and why do you do them?

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11 thoughts on “excuses, excuses

  1. Love this list, especially the shopping cart return and being late. I’m trying to think of one that might make you laugh. Here it goes; The rules on eating cheetos. I was weirdly used to eating my own bag of cheetos when I had my first roommate. We usually had snack sized individual bags growing up. Cheese (and I’m using that term loosely) gets on your fingers while eating cheetos. I used to lick my fingers and put my hand back in the community bag until she told me how disgusting that was. Now I wait until the end, put them on a plate, and mostly don’t eat them at all because they are cheetos. I had no idea I was doing it.

  2. It worked. I’m laughing. Especially at the image of Cheetos on one of my nice, white plates. We might as well put Hawaiian Punch in your fancy wine glasses while we’re at it. 🙂

  3. CB, if you’re reading this, what was it that your doctor-spouse said about biting your fingernails? You told me the other day, but I can’t recall with perfect clarity– and I think it deserves perfect clarity.

    • why would CB not be reading this? *please note: i’ve updated this list with “small talk” and concluded anew since 1:30 PST.

  4. LOL! I’m going to say it again. I love your writing and look forward to read everything you put out there. Fondling Produce: Out of sight out of mind really for me, because I do wash my produce, everyone should; however, doing it to produce I’m currently checking out, right in front of me, is unacceptable! 🙂

    I have loads of bad habits. I bite my fingernails and leave my shoes all over the house for Jake to trip over at night. The worse habit I have would be:

    When I unload the dishwasher, I open the cabinet door to put the dishes away. You are probably saying to yourself, “Yes, this is how dishes get put away.” But, Instead of closing the cabinet door every time and opening it back up again, I just leave the doors open. I know this is extremely lazy, but I really don’t like opening and closing doors the several times it takes to unload dishes. It’s not like it’s a major work out to help me in the bicep/tricep region either so why bother? This is not really that big of a deal, but then I get busy cleaning up, forget I forgot to shut the doors, and don’t realize it until after I’ve left the kitchen and enter back into it before I notice all the cabinet doors are STILL open. Yes, this is a run-on sentence…another bad habit I usually have to fix and I’m a teacher…sigh! I forget to close things and have short-term memory loss about it. It’s a problem.

    • I just wrote my response to Maria’s question. Then I read this comment. Michelle, if we shared a kitchen, our cabinet doors would always, always, always be open. In the words of Randy Jackson, I feel you, dawg.

      • I feel you back, dawg on the whole flossing issue. In my opinion, we are providing them job security. If we did what they asked us to do, why would we need to go see them? They should thank us, really! 🙂

  5. michelle, i’m directing everyone to your response when they ask why i take the cabinet doors off every place i live in….(and i end my sentences with prepositions) 🙂

  6. Pingback: comments welcome | [writing] between friends

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