Sunday, January 15, 2012

Woman on the Run

Here's something that's a lot less effective when you live in the country: dramatically storming out.

In the city, after you've slammed the door, you step into the dark unknown where the metropolis swallows you whole. It's possible, in these circumstances, to make the person with whom you're at odds sweat a little, for whatever pernicious act they've inflicted on your poor tormented soul.

It doesn't work nearly so well if you have to put on your hat, scarf and boots, walk to the car, scrape the snow and ice off the windshield, warm it a little and back carefully out the driveway. It's less impactful, from a cinematic standpoint, if the person who's pushed you well beyond your limit, sees you get your side mirror tangled in the bushes on the way out.

The other weekend I felt the need to leave the house with statement. This WILL NOT STAND!

I managed to get out and down the driveway with some vigor, but the moment my tires hit pavement I was no longer a woman scorned, but rather a sad sack on a country lane with the defrost fan running high, trying to make out the road ahead through a tiny portal of defogged window glass. Nowhere to go.

If you storm out in the big city you can walk the darkened streets listening to the soundtrack of your personal noir film, titled, "You Did This to Me", starring you as the under-appreciated heroine. In the country you can only fume in a Giant Eagle parking lot listening to an NPR fund drive.

I try not to be overly dramatic too often, but now and again I like to remind my people that they are free to go fuck themselves.

Living out here it's hard for your walk-out to differentiate itself from the five-year-old-boy version. Vild, at that tender age, ran away from home into the family backyard, where thirty minutes later his parents found him "living" in a leaf pile. I definitely did not want my rebel yell to be muffled by lawn clippings. My statement needed to be bigger than the compost heap.

The most drama I could muster was a timely showing of Mission Impossible-the sequel. That, and a large popcorn. I wasn't exactly turning to prostitution to support my habit, but this act of defiance would take me from the house and away from those terrible people I call my family. It would prove, irrefutably, that I am a woman with mystery wrapped around me like a chiffon scarf in a Hitchcock movie. I can pull on my protective snow gear, go to a mediocre movie at a convenient showtime - and I might NOT pick up milk for breakfast on my way home! If only a Ford Freestar could peel out without tossing the booster seat against the door.

At the theater, I continued to blow the cool air of intrigue - buying a single ticket, standing in the stupidly inefficient line, anticipating the consumption of a giant snack.

The three 'visor' employees, whose job it is to ply me with over sized vats and vessels wearing open hats and aprons, do so with astonishing sloth. There is no fervor to match my inner tempest. The menu of nine expensive things takes them seven to ten minutes per customer to serve. Surely another sequel to the film I'm trying to see will be made by the time I get my bucket and trough. Never mind that they are pulling the wind from my melodramatic sails with the dead calm of their incompetence.

Keeping this low-productivity machine grinding along, is that other employee. Suit-man.
He's that guy who comes from the back to fill cups when the line begins to groan audibly with inefficiency. He's the older young guy, who has, as part of his boss-man paraphernalia, an earpiece. His Associates Degree in Hotel Management has earned him this badge and you will not take it away from him. Like the secret service, this middle-manager needs to be in constant radio contact with his subordinates, the Visor employees, even as he stands next to them scooping kernels into pails, within speaking range. He might, without notice, have to guide in the butter chopper, as it lands in the parking lot next to the dollar store. There is time sensitive data he needs to relay to the girl with the sweeper in theater 8 of this, Hell's Octiplex.

Back in the day, when I needed space, I'd smoke half a pack of cigs on a foggy beach in San Francisco. I damned the heedless souls who'd befouled me with my devil-may-care promise of early-onset lung cancer and heart disease. Or once, drunk and foul in Cabo San Lucas, I staggered the streets muttering, then wrote illegible letters on cocktail napkins in a bar owned by Sammy Hagar. Later that day, as I lay with my face on the cool tile of the bathroom floor, my un-boyfriend wouldn't even bring me a coke from the vending machine when I begged him. My performance as a woman unfettered was electrifying.

I ask suit-man to hold the butter while I willfully ignore the message from my kid who wants to know if I'm still going to make dinner and if not, can he have three cookies. I ignore the next one as well, the one inquiring if I might, on my way home, be able to stop and get some colored folders.

It's as if they don't know that I've quit them. That I am an island. That I am no man's servant.

As Tom Cruise climbs the outside glass of a skyscraper I text them in the dark: Yes, I'll bring the folders.


  1. When I storm out of my house, I make sure to slam the door hard enough to knock something off a shelf, then I have to climb the hill in my backyard. Sort of anticlimactic.

    As usual, I love your piece.

    1. If I knock it off the shelf, then I have to pick it up later.

  2. Food too high on the "pyramid"? You could always cut back on the medallions of beef, lobster, caviar, roasted plover, lamb's lips and headcheese. I think you'll find a real economy there. Or, let the others do the planning, shopping, driving, cooking, and cleaning up.

    Ask these Egyptians if they know how much a gallon of milk costs.