I suffer from a severe, often debilitating illness – one that has plagued me from early childhood: I have acute chronic foot-in-mouth disease. I am congenitally unable to prevent myself from saying the wrong thing to the wrong person at the worst possible time. (Side Note: Since I had a fibula flap surgery earlier this year, I take pride in knowing that I can literally claim to have my foot surgically implanted permanently in my mouth. And yes, I get that it’s a leg bone, not a foot bone, but close enough for government work).
(Side, Side Note: I fully expect someday to have my identity publically revealed as the author of this blog, and when it is, I’m sure my medical condition will ensure the revelation happens by the main point-of-contact/decision maker in a large governmental entity with whom I am trying to close a multi-million dollar contract, a deal that will fall through when they take offense at my saying “close enough for government work” since it implies government employees can’t be bothered to do more than slap some random crap together and call it a day. I’m not (ok, mostly not) saying that – I worked in government, I know a lot of hard-working, productive employees. But dmn it, it’s a stupid saying that I never created, and kind of works in the sentence, so cut me some slack on this for crying out loud!)
I started thinking about this topic today after I got off the second of two frustrating calls with family members (a call to my sister, and a call to my mom). These are two of the people who lived in my house for weeks at a time while I was going through cancer treatment, driving me back and forth to appointments at the hospital, trying everything they could to find food I could keep down, and who pulled me through the worst experience of my life – one I could never have survived without them. But the problem was, they both have shitty phones. They both are aware of the problem, but haven’t gone to the Vrint or Sperizon store to get it fixed yet. The issue is that they cannot hear most of what people are saying on phone calls (it’s not just me – it happens on all their calls). The problem is that they both try to avoid letting people know they have bad phone service in the same way: they wait until they don’t hear talking anymore and then give some sort of neutral response to pretend that they had heard every word, even though it’s obvious they haven’t. The calls were pretty much like this:
Mom/sister: how’s your day going?
Me: oh it’s good, but it started horribly. I burned my lunch and set the smoke detector off. Then while I was trying to air out the kitchen, I spilled all my washed and cut up vegetables on the floor, before tripping over a computer cord and spilling burnt sauce all over myself.
Mom/sister: (pause. Nothing. Pause. Nothing. Pause).
Me: hey, did I lose…
Mom/sister: (interrupts) oh yeah, ha ha, sure, that sounds good there.
Me: (losing my temper) Jesus Christ can you please take your shitty phone in and get them to replace it? I am so tired of you not hearing anything I say!
Mom/sister: I’m sorry, I’m going to take it in, but I was too busy volunteering with homeless children and AIDS patients to get to the store before it closed!
Me: (thinks to myself, aha, I have once again proven what an asshole I am. Spends next hour kicking myself in the butt, metaphorically speaking, not physically because I’m not that coordinated).
I really can’t help myself. The worst part is that I can sometimes see it coming. It’s like I’m seeing myself from afar, watching my mouth opening, about to say the wrong thing, and I’m running forward in slow motion, like in a movie, calling out “nooooooo!! Don’t do it Celina!!” And yet, boom, out it tumbles, my little tongue turd, out there in front of everyone. It doesn’t even need to be something I say: I get into trouble just as easily (or easier) via email or text. For example, about two years ago I was on a project with a guy who was a bit of a blowhard (by “bit” I mean “absolutely and 100 percent”). I was texting a friend of mine who also knew Coworker Blowhard, relaying my thoughts of the guy’s rambling bull$hit. Guven my previously disclosed medical condition, I probably could end this story here. However, for those who can’t see the obvious, the end of the story is that I texted Coworker Blowhard instead of my friend. I remember the text wording had enough to immediately let him know I was referring to him (so I couldn’t muster up an excuse of “no you’re not the jackass I was talking about, that was, um, my cousin!”) I don’t have the text anymore, but think it was something along the lines of “Jesus will this jackass ever quit rambling on with his bullshit about how to plan a (project/deployment/activity, whatever else we were discussing).”
Constantly, constantly, this issue follows me constantly no matter what I’m doing. The end result is always the same – I look like an asshole, end up having to apologize profusely, and worst of all, I basically cede all higher ground that I may have held before the comment was made to the idiot that I was beating (up until then) in the discussion or situation. That’s what really sucks. I don’t feel bad for thinking or (often) saying what I did, but man do I hate having to give an enemy a freebie like that.
I can do it in non-verbal, non-written ways too. Few years ago I was taking a plane from the East Coast back to California. Having lost all elbow room to armrest hogs on the flights earlier in the week, I was determined NOT to spend the next four hours with some selfish prick’s (it’s always a guy doing this) elbow jabbing me over and over again in my side. I got on the plane and took the window seat, and I planted my elbows firmly on the armrest, taking control of the situation and staring down others to let them know I was NOT f**king around – this was MY goddamn armrest.
This guy comes in and sits down next to me, trying a few times to adjust his position, but gaining not a micromilimeter of space on my armrest. I almost strained my arm keeping it frozen in place, but by God, I was taking a stand. This was for me having to suffer on the earlier flight, and on other flights in my lifetime. This was me taking a stand for women everywhere, women who were tired of being pushed aside by selfish bastards who think the world owes them an armrest, because it DOESN’T! No, EVERYONE deserves a share of the armrest jerkface! It’s not yours by virtue of you having a penis! Today, it was MY armrest, the armrest for all of womankind! Hear us ROAR and FEAR us, because your happy-go-lucky days of stepping on women’s elbows to steal our armrest space are OVER!! I was so proud of myself, my resolute steadfastness was a solid steel backbone making me proud for being in control. I was actually pretty uncomfortable, but I was suffering for the cause.
After a few minutes, I decided to put my headphones on, awkwardly since I could only use the arm that wasn’t cemented to the armrest. I had to fumble around and shift, and as I did this, my soda started to slip from where I had braced it between my knee and the window. I made a grab for the soda and in doing so, lost my grip on my iPad and headphones, which hit the ground between the feet of my up-to-then conquered foe, before bouncing underneath his seat. Fuck. What was I supposed to do? Bend over and reach between this guy’s legs to get my iPad back? I could see how that would go over so well with the authorities after I was kicked off the plane for attempting to molest a fellow passenger. Luckily, I was spare the inconvenience of this, because the guy reached down and got my iPad and earbuds, handed them over to me, and said very nicely, “there you go.”
Nature and airlines don’t give you a hole in the ground to crawl into when you need it. I mumbled my thanks to him as the truth sunk in – the truth that I had let down all of womanhood. How was I supposed to keep control of the armrest when I was fighting a guy who not only gave me back my iPad instead of forcing me to beg him to step out of his seat so I could retrieve it, but was also NICE when he did it? A part of me wanted to think, yeah, sure he was nice, he just WON THE WAR, cocky bastard! However, the realistic part of me knew he probably never noticed he was fighting in the Last Battle of Man versus Woman over Armrests Everywhere. My face was burning as I silently signalled my disgrace and defeat by moving my elbow over and off of the armrest (yes, he immediately stuck his elbow on it as I vacated it, but to his credit, he didn’t keep moving around jabbing me in the side). I lost, that’s what hurts. This was at least seven years ago, but it remains as clear as if it had just happened. Without saying a word, I had stuck my foot in my mouth, and given control of a situation to the person I most wanted to prevent from having it.
I have thousands of these stories. Family, friends, enemies, coworkers, coworkers who are enemies, I have embrassed myself in front of them all. It would be funny if it happened without me getting caught, but alas, I am ALWAYS caught. I could never be a criminal, because I am completely sure that the minute I committed a crime, I would do something like accidentally send out a public Facebook post to the entire world announcing what I did, or I would butt-dial the investigators while I was bragging to myself about getting away with whatever it was that I did. I don’t just follow the law because it’s the right thing to do – I also follow it because I could never get away with anything if I didn’t.
Blargh. It’s a hard burden to bear sometimes. Knowing I’m going to always do the wrong thing in the most public way is not easy. I was at a pool party and some good friends were ragging on reality tv shows with somebody I barely knew, saying that the Duggers were creepy, or that the Sister Wives guy was a tool, and I thought that sounds like a funny conversation. I think I’ll join in by joking! I opened my mouth and said, “yeah but the worst reality show is that Little People Big World right, because what’s scarier than a tiny person right guys? AmIrite?”
Stunned silence and gasps as my friends looked at each other. Another friend came up and told me that Tammy or Tabitha or whatever her name was who was sitting next to me had two brothers who were little people. And she was a key member in the Society for Protection and Understanding of Little People, or some other group. And, I don’t know, probably her brothers were the official spokesmen for worldwide Little People advocacy and outreach. And..holy $hit, there I went again. It seemed so unfair – why am I the one getting busted for a stupid joke when they were all joking about other groups a few seconds ago?! Where were the ploygamous FLDS members who should have been there for their Sister Wives slam, or radical conservative members of the quiverful movement ready to defend the Duggers to the death, huh? Where were they? Why was I the asshole (again)?!?
There’s something I learned since then, something important I will tell you now: I was, and am, the asshole, because that’s the role God has designated for me in this life. I’ve learned to accept this “blessing” or “curse”. It doesn’t make it less difficult, constantly having to eat my words and grovel for forgiveness, but at least I know that it is out of my control to prevent it from occurring. I’m as much of a victim by my Fate-ordained role of the Asshole, as are those I am directing my asshole-ishness towards.
And something else: maybe I’m supposed to be the Asshole. First time I realized this was a divine gift was when I was at the Smithsonian Museum with my sister and nephew. The nephew wanted to see the rocks and genstones, so we decided to take the elevator up to the next floor. Elevator arrived, and it was fairly full, but definitely had enough space for us. This blond hag, however, blocked us from getting on, putting her hand up in my face, screeching there was no room, nobody else could come in (all while poking at the close door button). I was stunned – but only for a second. What the fuck you stupid bitch! There’s enough room for us to get on! Give me a effing break!
She started to answer back, but the doors were already closing, so I ended giving my retort to a pair of elevator doors (I increased the volume, hoping it would carry my words to her). I turned to my sister who was trying hard to pretend she wasn’t related to me, and said loudly, what kind of fucking asshole does that? Did you see that? Did you see that stupid bitch? What the hell!?
I was still monologuing about the situation when the doors re-opened a minute later, with the same stupid blond witch, and the same people who were on it previously. This time she got off, pushing past me, saying, “the elevator is BROKEN, but nice language in front of my precious snowflake, formerly innocent children whose lives you have devastated with your vile, vicious language.” (I’m paraphrasing).
Most people would skulk off at that, because, yeah, you shouldn’t call a woman a stupid bitch in front of her kids. However, I’m not most people: I tealized it for the first time right then and there. I am God’s Designated Asshole. I felt like a dove had come down from heaven to crown me with this title. Emboldened, I let fly with a variety of insults punctuated by commonly-deemed-inappropriate four-letter words, all while my sister was pulling me backwards away from the encounter, and my nephew was struggling with his iPhone trying to capture the moment for YouTube eternity. My sister thinks of that as a “unhappy” memory. I look at it differently though. Yes, I was an asshole, but in this case, the woman kind of deserved it. She could have told us that she thought there was something wrong with the elevator, but instead she put her hand in my face and screamed at us that we weren’t allowed on the elevator. If you need proof of the righteousness of my actions: my sister pulled me onto the elevator, and when I hit the button for the next floor, we immediately were transported there with no problems. Obviously, God had fixed the elevator because I was in the right. Maybe my assholery had (and has) a purpose. Maybe, just maybe, I am being subcontracted by God or Destiny to serve out a helping of Vented Spleen upon those most deserving of it. Maybe, I am God’s Designated Asshole, upholder of truth, justice, and karma against malefactors everyhwere.
That’s what keeps me going these days. The thought that my humiliation and near constant stupidity has a purpose – that this is my reason for being here on Planet Earth. My reason for surviving all the crappy times earlier in the year. My mission for humanity. I get that not everyone will understand that. A lot of misguided people will think, no, you’re just an asshole, but they’re partly wrong. I am an asshole, but I’m not JUST an asshole – I’m the Designated and Chosen Asshole thank you very much.
Oh, and you’re welcome for when I deliver my bullcrap spewing to the next deserving person potentially impacting you later in life, even though I know you won’t say thank you, just remember that it wasn’t an accident that caused me to make an asshole out of myself: it was Destiny.