I know I shouldn’t complain.
I know enough people suffering from real illness to know that this Martian Death Flu (aka Pneumonia) I’m fighting is just a blip on the radar. I know my marital problems boil down to my husband being a slob. He isn’t cheating on me or squandering our money or punching me for sport. And my kids? Yeah, I complain when my both my Straight A Students give me attitude or make gross body noises, but they are perfectly healthy and (outside of the house) well behaved young people who I am proud and extremely lucky to have. I know I should count my blessings instead of complain. But still.
Last Thanksgiving, I wrote about how it is the little things that make us happy. Conversely, isn’t it the small things that make us the most aggravated? The papercuts on our thumbs that make opening bottles and jars near impossible? The tiny little grain of sand that gets in between your big toe and the thong of the flipflop you are wearing near the beach so that you can’t think of anything else? The settling down to watch a much-anticipated ball game on your DVR only to discover that in its place your helpful DVR taped a six hour marathon of “Full House” reruns?
Here’s an example of a joy and an aggravation: the other day I went to make a peanut butter sandwich, and had to open a new jar of peanut butter. I peeled the foil thingie off the top and laid it on the counter while I went to make the sandwich. Naturally, I was unable to do only one thing at a time, and by the time I had eaten my sandwich, and went to clean up the mess I had made, the foil thingie was gone. I know what you rational people are thinking. You’re thinking, “So what?” So what is this: I just like licking the little spot of peanut butter off the foil thingie before I throw it in the trash. I didn’t even realize I liked it until I was deprived of it. And I wasn’t mad until I saw it lying on the top of the trash can with…yes…a tongue print on it.
I mentioned before that I’ve recently discovered I have a soy allergy. This means that I am denied the sinus-clearing delicious pleasure of Hot and Sour Soup from Oriental Garden when I am sick. It also means that most chocolate, which uses soy as an emulsifier, isn’t the greatest for me to eat. And yes – believe it or not – there are non food pleasures as well. The twice a year or so when I break down and get a manicure, I really like the smooth enamel feeling and can often be found rubbing the surface of my thumbnail with the pad of my index finger. Petting a purring cat is pretty joyful, too.
I know I’m not alone in this. A friend of mine named Ronnie called me not too long ago. She is a fabulous real estate agent (she’s the one who sold me my happy place), which requires her to spend a lot of time in the car. which means she has pulled through her share of drive-thrus. On this particular day, she was eating as she drove, taking care to be neat about it. She pulled the packet of fries out of the bag, and put it in her cupholder while she ate. When she stopped at a red light, she picked up the main bag and dug her hand into it. And – get this – there were no stray French fries at the bottom. Not one. Nope. And it struck her then and there that the bonus fries at the bottom of the bag were her favorite fries, and she felt cheated without them. It ruined her day. And, as many people do when their days have been ruined, she called me to tell me, because she knows I am a collector of random facts about people and things and could help her laugh about her disproportionate disappointment. I Got it. I mean I capital-G Got it. We all have our things – the brownie batter left over on the mixer; the pop and then smell of a new can of tennis balls being opened; the feel of sheets right after they come out of the dryer and you have just taken a shower; the taste of a Nutter Butter with your Hi-C after you’ve given blood.
I know my life is generally pretty good and will gladly give my Queen of Complaints Crown to any of the scores of people with a legitimate beef with planet Earth. But just like the small inequities in life make us unhappy, the small pleasures give us great joy. So whatever you do, let me deal with the foil thingie on the top of the peanut butter jar, and let Ronnie have every single fry on the bottom of the bag.