It’s not that I’m trying to do something evil and malicious as much as I’m trying to set goals for myself and am embarrassed, so I like ~ sneak…
In the end, I always pre-confess. That’s what you do when you think you’re probably going to get caught anyway. I pre-confess on a regular basis. Because seriously, it’s just less embarrassing that way…
Need an example? How about my joining Toastmasters. I hid it because it’s not something I want to do, it’s something I feel like I need to do. Reason being that I dern near swallowed my tongue when I spoke last January for a whopping 50 minutes at The Women Of Faith Seminar. No jiving ~ my entire soul… wrapped in anguish. What if I choke? What if I faint?! I can’t tell you how my innards leapt for joy when I discovered it had snowed…surely that would mean my talk would be postponed for like, oh I don’t know, maybe 7 years? Certainly I’d be ready to speak in front of others by then, right?
It wasn’t postponed and despite the snow, it had a decent turn out…which meant people were like…there – you know, listening?
So basically, I slithered by that day. But I don’t want to nearly slither by in this world, I truly want to be able to master this beast, encourage others to be the best they can be with my speaking. Without telling a soul (not even the dog) I sneaked out and went to my first Toastmasters meeting.
On the way there, my fella calls me.
MY FELLA: “Hey baby – Whatcha doing? Wanta go to lunch?”
MOI: “No. Nope. No thanks, Sweet Pants.” I nervously choke out.
MY FELLA: “Why?”
MOI: I ummmmm. You know………. Am VERY busy so…………..Ummmm…….. Nope. But thanks, Sweet Pants!
Now when you’ve been dating for a while, you kinda get to know each other’s schedules sure Sweet Pants knows I’m starving like a T. Rex at 12:00, so this doesn’t jive with my man.
MY FELLA: “U aren’t gonna eat lunch?”
MOI: “No, no. Not today. I’m at home working on my writing and I’m not planning on leaving the house whatsoever.”
MY FELLA: “Is that so? Because I’m behind you on Walton Way. Sissie, what’s going on……”
Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. You can see where this whole scenario is going …..
I do NOT pre~ confess, I make an excuse, hang up quickly, leaving my Sweet Pants a lil irritated and thinking I’m sneaking around with another fella.
I dart into the brick building and quietly ask a stranger where the Toastmaster meetings are held.
He points to a set of double doors. I walk in and am instantly taken aback when I see about 200 white plastic seats……. like, completely filled up with people. The room is packed!! Everybody is dressed in formal attire; some of some them are even wearing a tux. Two women are in white wedding dresses and might I add, I can’t help but to notice that I am the only Caucasian person in the room…..I kinda stick out. I could tell my sneaking days are now over.
Wow! These people must really get into their Toastmaster meetings. Are they dressed up to make like…wedding Toasts? Ugg. I don’t like this. My throat starts getting tight. Are they like gonna make me dress up too? Cause I can tell you right now, I’m NOT putting on that stinking wedding dress and then make a speech. Besides that, what’s up with all the camera flashes?!!!!! This is insane, these Toastmaster people are taking this way too far!!!!!!
I pull out my phone and shoot a text to my friend who was supposed to come with me but bagged.
I text her one word: Crap.
My friend texts back: “Uh oh. Why crap?”
I answer: “They make you dress up in wedding dresses and they take your picture.”
Her response? “Abort.”
In the meantime, Sweet Pants is sending text after text about honestly and relationships and the fact that I really need to wash my car.
I’m dangling on the edge of my white plastic chair, when out of nowhere, three men charge towards me with their huge cameras. The men start clicking and flashing away. These were like… serious cameras too, you know, with umbrellas and everything? One guy came running up to me and started click, click, clicking in my face and I stuck my hand up and said “Look here, now! I’m nervous enough as it is about this whole Toastmaster thing!! I will just go ahead and tell you right now – There’s no way I’m putting on that wedding dress. And you are absolutely not gonna take my picture!!!”
“Mam,” the man with enormous flash confides, “this is not Toastmasters. This is a mock African-American wedding that we are shooting for an ad. Now if you don’t want to be in the shoot, I suggest you not sit here because we are just about to start!”
I have never bolted so fast in my life…..
Disheveled but determined, I once again quietly ask around to find my Toastmaster meeting.
And finally, I found her.
Unfortunately, I also find my little brothers friend as well as somebody from my church.
“Hi ya Sissie!” My brothers friend calls out.
“Missed you last Sunday at church!” The other dude announces as he pats my back.
I sink down in my seat thinking to myself: What in the world have I done?! This is so completely stupid. I totally don’t want to speak in front of my little brothers friend. Then, my secret will be OUT! What are they going to do, hang out for drinks; where his friend leans in close; cackling as he sips his bourbon and coke; “You shoulda seen ole Sissie last week…. Make sure she’s ok, will ya? She took quite the tumble when she tripped and fell off our Toastmaster stage….”
Or maybe the skunk will be my friend at church? I picture him making our Sunday morning announcements “Good to run into Sissie Dale at our local Toastmaster meeting, let’s keep Sissie in our prayers and if you actually heard her make a speech, you’d know why!”
As if this misery is not intense enough, my daughter texts me: “Momma, 911! Please bring me my lunch, I’m starving and I forgot it.” I grimace and sink further down in my seat. “NOPE.” I text back.
The next text is from my brother: “I’m stuck half way across town, can you meet the roofer for me?” My response: “NOPE.”
FYI: the thought did occur to me ~ if you weren’t sneaking around and actually told everybody what exactly you were doing, you might save yourself some unwarranted anger / frustration.
I made it through that hour of misery, no one making me speak, thus making me faint and I went to my car where I pre-confessed everything…. to everybody.
Their response? CHEERS! We are proud of you!
My advice? Be bold. Quit sneaking and start speaking!
Let’s get one thing straight right now:
I. Am. An. Alarmist. My family knows it. My friends know it. Even I know it…..
Strangely enough, my neighbors have caught on …. “Yea so, we didn’t tell you about the break in two streets over because we knew you get…..ummmmmmmm……scared very easily. Remember the last neighborhood break-in you heard about? You suggested our street hire the swat team for extra protection?”
My children have learned to roll with it. But sometimes I think I may embarrass them.
IZZY: “Momma, why did you have to run through the parking lot of the Country Club in your pajamas? You were wearing those ugly fuzzy slippers (you promised you’d throw away) with your arms flailing and screaming “NO! NO! Stop Izzy – get away from the balcony, you’re about to fall! Hold on…..Mommy’s coming!!! STOP!!!! GET BACK!!!!!!!!!!”
MOMMA: “Well, excuse me for living, Miss Priss. I came to pick you up a lil early after your dance and imagine my surprise to see your body dangling from the second story balcony?!? Why would you lean over the railing for heavens sakes, those things aren’t fool proof, you know?!!! Instantly, I imagined you losing your balance and before my very eyes, your body would be splattered on the ground below. It was devastating.”
IZZY: “I was not dangling. We were taking pictures on the balcony.”
MOMMA: “You dangled and you know it!!!!”
IZZY: “Ok momma. Would you please at least brush your hair before leaving the house next time?”
With catastrophic thinking, a side effect is the dreaded CLAUSTROPHOBIA. My children are accustomed to this as well. Just this past week in Hilton Head….
JAKE: “Momma, we know that you’re not dashing up and down 4 flights of stairs ‘for the exercise’, you’re afraid the elevator will break.”
MOMMA: “I’m not scared. That man standing in front of us was a heavy breather and he was sucking up all the air. Besides that, the elevator made a sound. I distinctly heard it. The elevator clicked a little. I had to hop out so I could be the one to call the fire department when it jammed. You should thank mommy for being so alert…….”
JAKE: “Yea. Soooooo you didn’t have to shove the nice man outta the way….”
And I can explain. I have several good reasons, countless really, to justify my alarmist mentality. Let’s put it this way. Just recently, my own sister told me: “I was talking about you the other day. I told my friend that my little sister has a bullseye on her back. If something bad is going to happen, it will seek her out and POW! Hit her right in the kisser! It’s amazing, really.”
When my sister told me this, I felt very sorry for myself. Truly, I did.
But then, all my self-help reading and writing kicked in and the thought occurred to me: So yea, maybe there IS a bullseye on your back. So what? Maybe you should consider yourself lucky. And just maybe, from now on, that bullseye will attract only GOOD things. Instead of being a target for the bad, you are destined and marked for only good things.
And I liked this idea much, much better.
Last week, my two children and I had a most fabulous New Year’s Eve trip, maybe the sweetest eva… It was quiet, beautiful and confrontation free. We went to our condo in Hilton Head Island where we hopped in the reclining chairs, threw those babies in reverse, cracked open boiled peanuts, read books, watched movies and hit the after Christmas sales.
For once, nobody got bored: “Momma – is this all there is? Like dirt and water? Can we leave early? There’s so much more to do in Atlanta.”
There was no complaining: “Oh looky here momma, all my friends had a surprise birthday party for Mary. Here they are on Instagram having fun while I stare at dead horseshoe crab carcasses with their guts spattered on the beach. Good call, mom!”
When it rained, nobody sighed loud venomous sighs of defeat – “If we were back in Augusta, we could be going to the movies with our friends – yep, there’s a big crowd going at 4:00. I think they’re up to 14 people. Yea, gosh. And I’ve really been wanting to see that movie……”
Instead, as it rained, we all three lined up on our balcony – 3 black beetles parked on a slice of white bread during a Sunday picnic. Snuggled under our blankets (we all bring our own or arguments over who has the softest blanket erupts) to watch the poor innocent lovers dash madly off the beach to keep from getting their hair wet. Doesn’t anybody ever look at their weather channel for crying out loud?
Life was good and bullseyes free.
This morning I woke up at 5:00 to write. Ok 5:20. I checked my email and saw a video of the Hilton Head condo below us burning. Since we had just left days before, my alarmist mentality kicked in.
Now, I will be honest, those people would not have wanted me at that fire. I. would. Have. Gone. Ballistic……
I hate this side of me, truly I do. I watched the video over and over and over. What if it was that sweet crippled man that lives in our condos was trapped? Are our smoke detectors working? Are the people coming in behind us ok? What if we were still there and all had on our wind machines and didn’t hear the alarms?! (This is very possible due to the fact that we all carry our own noise makers, click on our cell phone white noise apps and add the bathroom fans for extra measure.) Don’t ask me why. We are weird.
I staggered around my room this morning, trying to find my lap top to watch the video more clearly. All the while, my mind is racing…..
What if?! What if?! What if?
And then it hit me – settle down, sister. Had you and your children still been there, it would have been ok. You would have known to get them out safely and since they automatically take the 4 flights steps with you, they know the exit route well. Instead of imagining you and your children being there next to that fire or worse yet in that fire, you have that bulleyes slab dab on you. And remember, from now on, that bullseye means you are marked for GOOD things.
It’s truly miraculous how many people don’t want to be your friend when you’re just a dog. I mean seriously. When I posted my bestest New Years Eva picture, me in a gold dress with a lil cleavage, I suddenly had many, many new friend requests; people I know without a doubt, didn’t know me from UP. 37 in one week to be exact.
When I changed my profile pick to my dog, Mopsy, the requests suddenly stopped. HMMMMMM…
This is not the first time my dog Mopsy has taught me a valuable lesson….
Mopsy was nothing more than an abandoned mutt. My mother found her when I was about seven years old tied to the front door of the humane society. There was no note. No explanation. And nobody coming back to get her. At first glance this was nothing new. It was a no kill shelter which made things very hectic and cramped. Dogs were constantly being dropped off anonymously. My mother volunteered on Saturdays and most times, I joined her. I played with puppies, nursed back sick kittens and held my nose profusely when I was forced to walk through the ‘dog room.’
Upon first meeting Mopsy, every one wondered aloud, “How could anybody give this adorable, silky long-haired puppy away? She is absolutely precious!!” One black ear always laid flat to the side of her head, the other, which was white, always stood straight in the air. Her milky white fur was long and thick and her tail curled over her black fanny.
When my momma went to pick her up and bring her inside, she instantly figured out the reason why nobody in the world wanted Mopsy.
The. Dog. Was. Mean. As. Hell.
Nobody and I mean nobody could pet, pick up, or really, go near this dog. And seriously, nobody wanted to. This dog was totally hateful – even to the other animals at the shelter. My momma always had a special bond with broken dogs, she was a true blue dog whisperer. Growing up, it was nothing for us to see an injured dog on the side of the road and either take it to the vet or nurse it back to health at home. It didn’t really surprise me that she somehow made friends with this particular dog. One week after she was abandoned, Mopsy was brought home to live with us.
Most did not share any affection whatsoever for this dog. Why? She bit. She barked. Endlessly. She growled, snarled and bared every single tooth in her head should one even attempt to approach her. I believe the words ‘Fruits of the devil’ and ‘Satan’s spawn pup’ were recently used to describe this very dog. Consequently, Our yard man quit. We were sued twice by the neighbor two doors down because she ‘attacked’ them. Mailmen began carrying very large sticks and mace. She made my friends cry and plead with their mothers to pick them up early when they would visit. My little brother, George, learned how to run very fast to avoid the wrath of Mopsy.
I, on the other hand, absolutely adored her.
Nobody besides my mother and I were ever allowed to touch her. Hold her. Be within two feet of her. Momma used to say that it was probably because she was beaten when she was little. “Its a survival tactic.” My mother would tell me. “She’s been hurt and she’s trying to protect herself.”
FYI: Mopsy never did cozy up to anyone else in the family.
I can’t remember why exactly, but for some reason Mopsy instantly
liked loved me. Perhaps it was because I didn’t mind slipping her meatloaf remnants under the table when my mother wasn’t looking. Maybe it was because I taught her to sit up and pray, her lil paws clasped tightly together. Perhaps she appreciated the fact that I was the only one willing to wash her and blow her long mane dry and promptly plop her into my bed. On the nights I couldn’t sleep, it was Mopsy who sat up with me, listening intently as I told all her all my deepest secrets. Sometimes we ate crackers in bed, probably sharing the same water glass, Mopsy rolling around my bed, playing and pretend sneezing. Me scratching her pink freckled tummy and promising her: You are finally safe. Mopsy didn’t mind our long discussions of friends who had hurt my feelings the previous day at school. I didn’t mind the tedious work of picking the fleas from her thick coat. One by one, I’d smoosh those menaces together, in hopes those terrible fleas would never return.
FYI: Mean friends and mean fleas always return. it’s just a burden we bear to be alive.
Perhaps my dog adored me and no one else because I didn’t fuss when she would leave unwanted presents on my mothers fine oriental rugs nor would I fuss when she would eat my friends underwear and snarl at them when they would enter my room. “It’s ya own fault, I would holler at my friends. You shouldn’t have left your bathing suit on the floor, you know my dog is quick!!”
Maybe Mopsy loved me because I made her feel a like lil movie star as I propped her on my pink butterfly bike for a long afternoon ride. Somehow she propped her paws on the cross-bar and together, we soared through my neighborhood – Mopsy balancing herself, never once falling off.
We must have looked like the biggest buffoons. I totally get that.
But at the time, we thought nothing of it – We were having delightful fun! We furiously waved as people would slow their cars and roll down their windows saying things like “Is like…that dog tied to your bike? How is she staying there?” I’m sure when they rolled up their windows nd drove off, they looked at the person sitting next to them and said “What. A. Freak!!”
It was all fun and good times until Mopsy would get her long furry tail caught in the spokes of my bike. This proved to be a most unpleasant predicament. Without a cell phone and usually several streets from home, it proved quite the challenge to flag down fellow passersby and say “Yo! could you please call my momma, my dog’s tail is stuck in the spokes again!”
Horrified, the driver usually knew us or knew of us and my mother was summed at once and would arrive with her black pair of sewing scissors. Five minutes later, Mopsy was cut free and we were back on the asphalt streets, making our rounds.
Mopsy has been long gone but she has never, ever left my heart. If you know me at all, you would know that I beat to my own tune: I wear my hair big with four different kinds of hair sprays. My ear rings are even bigger. Every room in my house is painted a different and mostly – a bright color. I absolutely adore wallpaper and if you stand next to me for any length of time, beware: I may try to wallpaper you as well. I wear red lipstick. Or hot pink. Frosted if the spirit moves me. Those close to me call me their friend who never left the 80’s. I could give two rips. It’s just who I am. Now with this being said, years later, my perspectives may have changed a bit:
- I’m not sure I would be tolerant of my puppy piddling on oriental rug.
- The thought of picking and popping fleas makes me instantly nauseated. I cannot believe I did that…
- And sharing my water glass and bed with my dog….not so much.
- Sharing my bike with my puppy dog, no matter how utterly ridiculous I may look? Absolutely!
Mopsy taught me early on in life that just because something is beautiful on the outside does not mean that they are not an absolute mess on the inside. Maybe the reason she chose to love me is because she knew that I needed her just as much as she needed me. Sometimes we are hurt. Broken. And afraid. We all need to be loved unconditionally. Fleas and snarling teeth included.
I pray I always have the courage to be who I want to be, to hop on that pink butterfly bike with my nearest and dearest and venture out. Shouldn’t we all? If not, when did we suddenly become afraid to be who we really were? Afraid of what people would say or mock us? Where did that COURAGE as a child come from? Or maybe, it was nativity? Which ever word we choose to use, I want more of it.
Never ever quit the journey of you. Even if it involves making a buffoon outta yourself.
Life is short. Live it.