ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL LIMITED TIME OFFER ACT NOW GUEST ENTRY: My Life is a Joke
Please enjoy this delightful break in our regularly scheduled but sporadically updated program for an entry by Sister #3. You’re welcome.
My sister has been pestering me to contribute to her blog since she started writing it. Alas and alack, the life of a royal like me is incredibly busy so I haven’t had time to contribute. Also, she never updates and who wants to contribute to a vessel of wit and wisdom that isn’t properly maintained?
[Blog mistress’s note: Cheeky little brat.]
I suppose that’s where I come in. As I contemplated an appropriate topic for my guest entry, nothing particularly clever came to mind. I am a philosophy major, and as such I am fond of writing dry, analytical essays intended to make the reader weep because they are so logical that their brains simply cannot handle the pure, unadulterated rationality so they must create emotion where there is none. In layman’s terms, they are, in fact, “bored to tears.” I shall spare all of you that pain and toss the old advice to “write what you know.” Who really knows anything about philosophy anyway? It’s a bunch of things that people made up in the first place, and then we are required to know the things that other people made up, so that apparently makes it knowledge. I will make up my own thoughts one day and they will be magnificent and students of future generations will curse my name as they are assigned epically long papers on my made-up thoughts and have to connect it to some inane topic.
BUT I DIGRESS.
I am not writing what I know. I will instead write what I do.
And what is it that I do, darling imaginary audience? Well, I live as a relatively functional human being. I bathe, I eat, I work out, I have social interactions. I also mess these things up and more on a regular basis. But those things are the primary functions I perform, so I will address those. Two of my dearest roommates used to listen to my stories endlessly, and we adopted a phrase to summarize as well as title all of these stories: “My life is a joke.” These stories sometimes really did seem to model themselves after actual jokes, but most of the time they more closely resembled really bad sitcom writing. Without further ado, welcome to an introductory episode of the terrible sitcom that is my life.
The beginning of college held a lot of firsts for me, with one of the most disorienting being my first communal shower.
My college experience started with Cadet Basic Training, and all I was allowed to wear at the time were Army-issue glasses.
They are horrendous. I also had a strap that held them in place. Now, they did their job for the most part (except when they fogged up while I was trying to shoot), but they had no place in the shower. When I went to shower for the first time, my near-sighted self was thrown into a blurry, steamy box of naked female bodies with no way to orient myself to what was happening. This is not as erotic as it sounds. These females are checking each other for ticks, prickly heat, and the like. They are trying to move as quickly as possible so that everyone can conduct proper hygiene, but if you’re me, you’re stuck at the entrance to the shower trying to figure out where to go. I had a number of courses of action run through my head:
- Go back and get my glasses. I mean, I can only see like a foot in front of me. How am I going to get clean?
- Announce my presence to the girls in the shower: “Hello. I cannot see without my glasses. Will someone please help me find an available shower head? Also please do not stare because I cannot stare back and trying to start a staring contest with me without my glasses would be massively unfair.” Damn all of them and their 20/20 vision.
- Just go in and stand there and see what happens.
I went with number three and that worked out for me because I was naturally called over to the nearest open showerhead and bathing without vision wasn’t really all that difficult. Muscle memory. This option totally worked out because I still have friends. I wouldn’t be friends with the “girl who wore her glasses in the shower” or the “girl who announced her nearsightedness and demanded a Seeing Eye Friend in the shower” so I’m glad I didn’t go with either of the first two.
I’ve since mastered the whole communal shower business (aided by the fact that I got my contacts back at the end of Basic) and the only issue I’ve run into since is finding the showerhead with hot water. People say the building I live in now is haunted, so I’m pretty sure Moaning Myrtle hangs out in one of the girls’ bathrooms and pipes hot water only through like two showerheads.
This creates another one of those Awkward Situations for me when I shower in the morning. I’m usually the only one in there, or I only pass one person on their way in or out, but I always worry someone will walk in on my Hot Water Acquisition Ritual one day and I’ll have to explain, butt naked, what I’m trying to accomplish. You see, for some reason, turning on every single showerhead helps the water heat up in some of them faster.
So that’s what I do. I turn on no fewer than six showerheads and stand in the middle in my birthday suit and wait for my delightful scalding water to be ready. Sometimes I go flush a toilet for good measure, even though I understand literally nothing about plumbing. That always heated up our water in the shower at home, so maybe it’ll work here. Mostly I think it just kills time, but it also increases the risk of the Hot Water Acquisition Ritual being discovered, so I have to rush speedy quick back over to my shower. It seems to be working and I haven’t had to take a cold shower yet, so knock on shower tile that it keeps going well.
I have a small phobia of eating in social settings. I also go to a school where we eat family-style for two meals out of the day. This works really well for me when I eat at the same table every day during the school year, but in the summer your table mates will vary a bit more. I don’t feel comfortable telling a table full of variant table mates what I would to an actual table family. Normally I very aggressively tell people to “mind their own plate” because my stepmom taught me that. Baby Sister (who is actually 18) is very bossy and Stepmonster got tired of her telling everyone what to eat. I adopted the phrase and use it at school. However it is summertime and the variant table mates might silently judge.
I know I do, so I assume every time they glance my way they’re doing it too, so I’m thinking, “Okay, I know I ate 12 baby carrots and the bun for the roast beef but I didn’t eat any roast beef but I really like the bread of this bun and I didn’t want the weird roast beef and also I have a thing about roast beef every since my dad purchased way too many Arby’s Roast Beef sandwiches during my adolescence!” This thought is accompanied by what is probably a nasty look on my part, and the alleged judge-y person is all, “Could you pass the ranch?” And then I think, “Ew, you totes should not put ranch on that.” But I pass it anyway and continue to judge silently. Just call me Judge Foodie.
ON WORKING OUT
This is another one where all the silent judgment happens. The difference here is that I’m usually staring at someone else because I’m curious about what they’re doing and wanted to know how it’s working for them.
Recent internal questions that I’ve had include: “How long have you been doing free-standing handstand pushups? Were you trained to do them as a child? Did you run away and join the circus before coming here?” and in the weight room: “Does grunting while you do bicep curls make you feel like a man? Should I try?” and back in the cardio room where the horrible climbing apparatus known as Jacob’s Ladder hides in the corner and some people seem to enjoy using: “Are you a masochist?”
Not that I can really talk. I too enjoy engaging in semi-masochistic behavior at the gym from time to time, but I also am looking forward to the day when I can power walk for fitness and it actually counts for something.
Normally I’m pretty smooth at the gym, drenched in sweat except for the outline of my sports bra (I can’t seem to break the barrier and sweat all the way through both layers), and only limping a little bit as I make my way to my next trick. The other day, though, I was cooling down on one of the stationary bikes and finished up and went to retrieve my water bottle. There was only one other person in the room at the time, also on the bike, and they were totally bored and watching the only other live activity in the room, AKA me. You know what I did? I went to put my things in my drawstring backpack all smooth-like because that’s my Gym MO, as previously mentioned, and I knocked down my water bottle off of the ledge and made a big mess. If no one else had been around I probably would have been like “eh, it’ll dry soon enough,” but I suddenly felt as if Lone Biker was judging me and I threw my sweat towel on top on it. Lemme tell you, the ol’ sweat towel ain’t no Sham-Wow. It didn’t do crap to absorb that water so I just ended up spreading it around. I gave up after a bit and stuffed the towel in my bag and left in shame.
This incident has led me to believe that I need a more reliable water bottle.
ON HAVING SOCIAL INTERACTIONS
This one is tough because it happens quite a bit. I’m generally quite good at these but I also struggle with quick and witty responses. Texting is a much better medium for the rate at which my brain processes things. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve answered, “Hey, what’s up?” with “How are you?” after a pause in which my brain should have realized I was asked first.
Walking and being greeted is especially difficult, as is being called out in a large area. I probably reply with the appropriate response at the appropriate time about 10% of the time. Because of this sad truth based on highly educated statistical analysis, I have developed a catch-all response. It’s the “one size fits all” of social responses and it is The Open-to-Interpretation Large Smile, which for our purposes we will call “OTILS” for now. You know the smile I’m referring to—you’ve gotten it from people who have no idea what you’re saying, who have no idea who you are, or have no desire to speak to you. You’ve also given it. I’ve perfected it. Witness:
“Hey what’s up?”
“Saw you out at the restaurant/bar/library/movies/gym the other day!”
“Oh haaaay gurl! I see you!”
“I was just thinking about how *blah blah blah*”
“You have to be at (insert place) at (insert time).”
Are you seeing the genius?
It requires no commitment, garners no obligations, and creates an environment with very minimal risk for another Awkward Situation. It is genius, and I am sharing it with you because I am a nice person.
I hope this summary of what I do on a daily basis enriches your life. I hope you are able to learn from my actions as a functioning member of society and use those to help guide your own actions in life.
May you always be able to avoid the dreaded Awkward Situations and reach the ever-fulfilling punchline of My Life is a Joke.