Reflections of a Mental Marathoner
I am a daughter of the South.
Not the current South of Paula Deen, Duck Dynasty and (Lord, love her) Honey Boo Boo. I’m talking about the South that belonged to my grandparents . . . the South where the temperatures were hot, the air was unconditioned and everything moved at a leisurely pace to hamper the progression of sweat that rolled down their backs and dripped into their shoes. A checker game took the better part of an afternoon. A porch swing swayed to the unhurried tempo of The Old Rugged Cross. Even the vowel sounds were twice as long as they needed to be.
That is the heritage of the South that God planted in my genes. The metronome that sets the pace for my life clicks at a slow beat.
I like to think all around a subject. And it takes awhile.
I tend to walk in contemplation. So I move slowly so as not to bash my shins on the bits and bites in the world that I have failed to notice.
I am a marathoner. Which, by the way, drives my husband, the sprinter, to exasperated distraction. I have learned to smile and wave as he passes me on the day’s journey. I’ll find him again by nightfall, lying face down in a puddle of pooped.
Please, don’t think that I can’t work at a fast pace. I can and I do when it is necessary. But it stresses me. And it isn’t pretty. It isn’t at all pretty.
Do you doubt me? You should not.
The Saturday before Easter I hosted a big family dinner . . . the kind of dinner a woman periodically puts together to remind her children that she can cook and assert to her husband that she can compete with his mother. I said, “No, thanks. I’ve got this.” to all offers of help and cooked an early Easter meal for my husband, kids, niece, nephews and in-laws.
To further impress my family, I put together a game of Easter Jenga with over-sized Jenga blocks complete with candy and prizes for the winners. Nothing says, “Happy Easter” like a giant bubble wand, glow-in-the-dark Mardi Gras glasses, an M & M coffee cup and a battery operated fart piano I found in the Walmart clearance isle.
I also needed to take a chunk from the afternoon to finish shopping for the Easter bunny and attend the funeral of a dear friend’s father.
I had to set the dial on my inner metronome to its highest setting to get through that day. The needle on the dial began to shake terribly and a red light blinked a foreshadowing message, “Warning! Slow this sucker down! This is not going to be pretty! This is not going to be at all pretty!”
I didn’t have time to stop and read the message.
The events of the previous day determined that I would spend two hours in the middle of the night at Walmart, roaming the isles with six other sleep-deprived people who couldn’t remember why they were there and one woman who was chirpy and cheerful because her husband was babysitting and there were no children in her cart. I was in bed at 2:30 a.m. and up again at 7:00.
Running hard on four and a half hours of sleep, I began to cook. Before noon, I had marinated a pork loin in a soy sauce concoction, cooked my son’s favorite strawberry pretzel salad, chilled six batches of jello jiggler jelly beans as requested by my daughter, made a bowl of Texas caviar, thawed blackberries for two cobblers, set out vegetables to be cooked later, cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom, and rearranged furniture so I could feed a larger crowd.
Me, a marathoner?
Not that day!
I had become a sprinter!
And my brain was fried.
Because my overworked synapses had shut down and gone on strike as I dressed for the funeral that day, I forgot it was Tater Day weekend. (For those of you who are not local to my end of Kentucky, and are wondering what a Tater Day would be, put on your redneck-colored glasses and picture flea markets, funnel cakes and a three day traffic jam.)
Because I had forgotten it was Tater Day weekend, I did not leave home in time to work my way through the traffic and get to the funeral on time.
Because I did not get to the funeral on time, I had no opportunity to put my arms around my grieving friend.
Because I was blinded by a fog of bad-friend guilt, I missed the turn-off for Walmart and got on the highway to head home without shopping for the Easter bunny.
Because I had to go miles out of my way to turn around and go back to Walmart, I lost even more of my dinner preparation time.
Because I was counting the many ways in which I am an idiot as I walked through Walmart, I miscounted the number of children I have and did not buy enough chocolate Easter bunnies.
Because I did not buy enough chocolate Easter bunnies at Walmart, I had to make an unplanned stop at the Dollar General Store near my house. (Making three trips to Walmart in 14 hours was not an option for me.)
Because I had to stop at the Dollar General Store before I got home, I was pushing my bladder to the limits of its capacity.
Because I was pushing my bladder to its limit, I was doing a special dance through the Dollar General Store.
Because I could not continue the dance in my car, I employed the jump up and down in the seat form of bladder control as I drove home.
Because I was jumping up and down in the seat of my car on the way home, I caught sight of myself in the rear view mirror.
When I caught sight of myself in the rear view mirror, I realized that Tater Day wasn’t all my burned-out brain cells had forgotten as I dressed for the funeral that day. Although I had brushed my teeth, curled my hair and applied a coat of foundation before I left the house, I had stopped there. I had not put on the rest of my make-up.
As I stared in horror at the reflection in the mirror . . . which was devoid of color and appallingly lifeless . . . except for my eyes which held an extra sparkle . . . because they were floating in the overflow of a brimming bladder, I reminded myself.
I am not a sprinter.
Sprinting stresses me.
And it isn’t pretty.
It isn’t at all pretty!