Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sprinkles Are For Winners

As always, I sit down to type a blog about the relationship between my thoughts and wonder what the distillation will be by the time I reach the end.

The idea for this particular blog started forming last Friday, while my husband and I were watching American Idol (we are huge fans of all singing and dancing shows). A commercial for Progressive Insurance was aired. Everything about the ad is a nod to the 1970’s – hairstyles, clothes, vocabulary! What captured my attention occurred at the very end:

            Flo (Insurance Salesperson Expert): Now, let’s go get you some ice cream!

            Guy (Newbie salesman who she has comforted after he’s botched

            a sale): With sprinkles?

            Flo: No! Sprinkles are for winners.

The 1970's were harsh!

I rolled on the floor laughing. I have a harsh sense of humor, and I often tell those who spend a fair amount of time around me, “You’re gonna have to toughen up.”

My sense of humor isn’t cruel, I just dare to say things that many wouldn’t, assuming that the person on the receiving end knows I'm a kind person. Really! I also endeavor to deliver humorously - alas I fail all too often. One could ask why they have to toughen up and I don’t have to be more sensitive. The answer is… I can’t. I’ve tried, but I always backslide. It is an inherent part of me, as inherent as my predisposition to like bold color instead of muted tones.

A fictitious example… My husband walks in from a tough day at work, he’s been there for hours, and has missed dinner. He comes to me for comfort, arms outstretched, exhaustion in his eyes, and as he reaches for me, I say, “Deal with those eyebrows, we could French braid them!” So… not cruel. Funny, right?

(Remember to keep all these stories in your head so you can put the final thought altogether.)

Over the weekend my daughter was playing in a volleyball tournament. Sixteen teams were playing at once, the ‘bounce, bounce, bounce, thwump, groan, more groans, and more thwumps’ soundtrack reverberated around the gym. On Saturday, as I was contemplating taking Ibuprofen, a couple sat down beside me to watch their daughter’s game. Long story short, I immediately recognized them; they were co-workers of mine back in the late 1980’s at Microsoft. I hadn’t seen them in twenty five years. It turns out our daughters are on the same team. There was something very surreal seeing our two girls standing next to each other.

I must quickly insert here that back in the 1980’s I was disguising myself as a software tester. When my long-ago co-workers asked what I currently did, I told them I write Chick Lit and Contemporary Women’s Literature. “Chick Lit?” he muddled, then looked at his wife. She shrugged her shoulders. Now to be fair, there was a whole bunch of shrieking and thwumping going on… but it’s possible I should have stood up, all gansta-like and asked, “Whadda bout’ it?”

(Holding on to the French braid thought? Add volleyball story…)

Finally, it is Sunday. Now if you know where I live, you know why Sunday was an important day. Volleyball of course! Not really… I live just outside of Seattle, so…. Yes, the Seahawks and the Packers were playing for the NFC title game.

As I was sitting in a massive gym listening to, ‘bounce, bounce, bounce, thwump, groan, more groans, and more thwumps,’ pockets of people were huddled over phones, tablets, and laptops, cheering on their daughters and the Seahawks – the 12th Man, alive and well. It was interesting to observe and feel the rise and fall of the energy in the room.  Someone over my left shoulder was keeping up a running commentary on the state of the game.

Imagine a rectangle and I am the bottom right hand corner point. Imagine happy, wild, and jubilant cheering occurring in the corner opposite me, making its way around the perimeter of the rectangle. As a conductor leads their symphony, the crescendo rose and fell, finally arriving at my feet. It was super exciting.

As a friend’s husband said (not me, so don’t shoot the messenger), “If people left with five minutes to go in the game and missed out on that, they’re idiots! They paid good money for those seats.”

So, where are we? Oh, bringing all the threads together.

Usually by now I know how all the threads tie together, let me think. There’s a 70’s, 80’s, 90’s thing going on… There’s the evolution of life, me as a young girl, me in my early twenties working at a software company, me in my late forties writing Chick Lit novels… where does the harsh sense of humor come in? While I've always believed it is one of my most endearing qualities, and some will tell you it isn't, the truth is, it suits writing and the life of a writer well.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had this deep, deep, deep rooted belief (for lack of a better word) that my timeline restarts when I’m finished with one path. For example, when my kids are grown-up I will be thirty-four again (how old I was when I had my first child) and my life will take off from that point, leaving me countless years to be a writer, a Landscape Architect, a songwriter, a painter, a textile designer. I was literally in my late twenties when I realized I had this belief.

As I watch my children grow up, as I see friends grow older, as I watch my celeb crush age (not well), as the bounce in my step isn't quite as springy, I have come to the full realization that this belief is… ridiculous. While that may be abundantly clear to any and all of you who read this, I find it quite shocking.

Advertisements that mock an era I can remember shocks me – clearly the statement is that we all looked and sounded silly. As my children reach an age I remember feeling like I owned the world, I see the privilege of youth. Winning a football game in the last two minutes reminds me how quickly the tide changes and that being on top is fleeting.

Is this all negative? No! I love that society hopes it can laugh at itself. I am thrilled to watch my children evolve into who they want to be. As for myself… about seven years ago I quit dyeing my hair. When I went in for my last haircut I told my hair dresser, “Maybe I don’t want to grow old quite so gracefully.”

In that statement isn’t a defiant cry against growing old, it is a defiance against being out of place, out of style, out of time, and out of ideas!


Jonas See's in Color: Loose Threads


As always, thanks for reading!