I’m good at being humbled. Too often, I start to climb up the steep and slippery slope of my high-horse-pedestal and fall flat on my face, knocking out some of my dignity, and slide back to the bottom.
I am currently sitting at Starbucks, waiting for a former university student, for our weekly tutoring session. I try to work with Andrew (my former student) on grammar, writing, composition, and the modes of rhetoric. Frequently, we end up chatting about life, swapping work stories, and discussing our kids and their most recent mis-adventures.
Sitting at a table facing me are two women, one of whom is bald with a down of barely visible white hair. Alopecia? Cancer? Does it matter? No. Because, in the end, I am going to brush my thick bangs out of face while this woman will continue to smile and talk comfortably with her friend and ignore me while I do my best to pretend that I am ignoring them (I’m not listening to their conversation) while I continue to bask in the beauty of my muse and the inspiration she is giving me.
I arrived at Starbucks absolutely pissed. My husband is the Scoutmaster of a Boy Scout troop and one of the boys has finished his Eagle Scout. Woot! I am the Advancement Chair because the former Advancement Chair stepped down for various reasons. Okay. When Pat took over as Scoutmaster, I 100% supported him. I still support 100% because it is a wonderful organization that benefits Pat and the Boy who is a member of Pat’s troop. Win-win situation all the way around.
However, (yup, here’s the comma-but) I wanted to be fair to the Girl. I chose not to become involved with Boy Scouts because I didn’t want the Girl to think that she was any less important than the Boy. When I was growing up, I felt like my family’s lives surrounded my brother and his soccer career. My dad was my brother’s coach and I was dragged from game to game. Now, these are memorial and emotions that are almost 40 years old so take everything I am writing with a salt-mine worth of salt (grains aren’t big enough for me and my lovely, exaggerated memories/emotions).
Regardless, I didn’t want the Girl to think that she was unimportant or not as important so I supported Boy Scouts financially, timewise, family-wise. I donate money. I make sure that Boy and the Husband are able to get to all the places they want to go. I even edit the Husband’s emails to the troop and the parent. I have even gone as a driver/chaperone on a camping weekend. Yes, I am the sacrificial lamb….BAAA!!!
So when the Advancement Chair stepped down, Pat approached me quiet nicely and quite humbly and asked me if I would be oh-so-willing to take on the Advancement Chair which I had no desire to do but I loved my husband and I wanted him to be happy so….why not? I asked the Girl and she said that she didn’t care because she knew that I loved her as much as her brother.
So, pissy situation….Pat and I had a bit of an argument, or, rather, he got mad at me which made me mad at him. He has a boy who just earned Eagle Scout, but there’s a mistake on the application which I, as the Advancement Chair, found. However, I should have found this mistake two weeks ago. I wanted to bury my head in the sand. I asked Pat to make the phone call to get the edited application but he told me that I was just “passing the buck.”
Excuse me? Oh, the emotions got twisted and I got all bent out of shape because, how dare he, I had lovingly taken on a position on the committee that I, the sacrificial lamb (BAAAA!), took on to save him. If anyone accepted the passed buck, it was I, the sacrificial lamb (BAAAAA!!!).
Pat noticed I was pissed. I took the higher road and said that I was indeed angry but was only going to be emotional and not be able to have a logical conversation (I am a Vulcan-sacrficial lamb, BAAAA!!). I chose to leave to attend my tutoring appointment.
Which brings me to where I am sitting and the women I have been observing.
I am all emotionally twisted because Pat observed that I was “passing the buck” (and not the sacrificial lamb to make an herbivore reference/pun). I get all snarky and unhappy and take my poor wounded soul to my tutoring appointment. My former student who is slightly older than me is an amazing man. Every year, he comes to my class to talk about his experiences on 9/11 when he was a New York City police officer. Andrew was at the World Trade Center, watching the jumpers and timing when and where they would land so they wouldn’t kill him. He was there, guiding people out of the building and helping them escape. And then he helped with the “vertical clearing” in terms of finding victims, even if it was just a body part because so little was left. And then he was at a dump site, staring at a conveyer belt that held debris from Ground Zero so he could pick out the human remains or any identifying belonging that could be returned to the victims’ families to give them some modicum of closure.
And I’m all emotionally twisted because my husband observed that I “passed the buck.”
The woman without hair occasionally skims her eyes towards me, as if checking out how often I am not-staring at her. Every now and then, a quick action, a happy chuckle will grab my attention and my eyes shift over the horizon of my laptop’s screen and I see her with the thin white hair that I can barely see unless she moves into the light.
I have no idea about her history and will not conjecture. One of my nieces has Alopecia and tires of when people immediately assumed that because she was wearing headscarves and head coverings that she had cancer. I will never forget her stories of people trying to be compassionate but just being intrusive.
I also know that no matter what conclusions I draw, I will not ask the truth because, in the end, it doesn’t matter. She is at her table, and I am at mine. We are two satellites in this destiny-orbit and our paths will not intersect for much longer. However, as she laughs once more, I feel the wounded pride leak a little further into my shoes and the anger I was feeling steadily get replaced with peace and contentment.
I’ve already called the future Eagle Scout and will be at his house in about an hour. I’ve made amends with my sacrificial-lamb (BAAA) self and sent her back into the closet of my Superego (yes, I know I’m not talking about the right thing, but I think the idea of the ego being a superhero being a bit funny).
Andrew’s here. It’s time to tutor. Or time to talk. But this story will stay only in the digital world and will between just the “two” of us. I don’t need to fume anymore.