Monday, April 27, 2009

Dispatch from Suburbia

It was a big day on the cul-de-sac.

I found the source of the dead animal smell in the refrigerator. I’d been looking for days. I finally opened the cheese drawer, and Eau de Microbe hit me bang in the kisser. It was the decayed St. Andre I’d bought for guests about a month ago. I’d been saving the cheese they didn’t eat, on the grounds that it cost too much to throw out. I didn’t eat it, because high fat cheese makes my stomach hurt. Eventually, it got shoved to the back of the drawer, where it had plenty of time to sulk and plot revenge.

“Aha!” I said to the dog, who is a great listener.

Emboldened by this success, I decided to fix other nagging problems in my life. So I jettisoned three burdens that had been weighing on me heavily. I had known for weeks that I needed to say no to three people whom I like and admire. Saying yes instead of no to them would have kept me out of the house three nights a week and cost me money I don’t want to spend. Nonetheless, I’d been agonizing over saying no, for weeks.

So I said, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do that,’ to someone who does good works and had asked me to join her. And to someone else I said, ‘Really, I feel very bad about it, but I have to resign from this group.’ (Not Oddfellows, by the way.) And to yet a third person, I said, ‘I thought I would be able to hire you to do some work for me, but I can’t after all. I’m sorry.’

In other words, I did what I am always telling my husband, children and friends to do: if you can’t do something, or don’t want to do it and don’t have to, or thought you wanted to but then changed your mind, just say so. It’s your life, and life’s too short. Why do things that make you unhappy, when love and decency don’t require you to? Whoever is being turned down won’t fall apart. At worst, he or she will be grumpy for a bit, and then go back to worrying about his or her own stuff.

After practicing for one morning what I’ve been preaching for years, I felt faint. I went out into the front yard to get some air, and to look for portents of doom. I checked to see if the maple tree had begun to shed human tears. Nope. Were the daffodils nodding in time to that song I can’t get out of my head? Hard to tell, but I decided to ignore them. My dog, the good listener, did jump up and bite me on the elbow. Maybe that was my karma, of the rare, fast-acting and relatively painless variety. Maybe not.


Eye M said...

Thanks for the smiles this brought to my face. I, too, should say no more often. Your encouragement to do just that is greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Cute! And such good advice. Thanks.