There are some things that, no matter how old I get, I will never understand.
Following is a short list.
Formerly “cat ownership” (see note*), snake ownership is something I really don’t understand.
“Your” (I use quotes here because no snake was ever owned by anyone or anything) snake would probably just as soon see you choke on a chicken bone as toss live mice into its stinky, glass aquarium, otherwise known as Thunderdome.
What pleasure do people derive from this arrangement? Yes, snakes are interesting, but not so much when you stick them in a see-through cube and then watch them lay there aimlessly for the rest of their God-forsaken days.
Plastic Shopping Bags
I realize that paper bags are environmentally incorrect as well, and that we sometimes forget our recycled Lululemon bags when we go to the grocery store, but can’t we just outlaw plastic shopping bags altogether?
Knowing that my plastic shopping bag has been filled by the cashier with a single magazine for a 10-minute ride home where it will be tossed (possibly re-used, but still eventually tossed) and end up sitting in a landfill for the next eon, or in the belly of a porpoise who has mistaken it for a tasty fish and then dies a slow and grisly death, makes me feel sicker than a porpoise who has eaten a plastic bag.
Swimming in cold bodies of water.
To all you “polar bears” out there, I apologize, but swimming in cold bodies of water seems sadistic.
I was raised (and possibly scarred by) spending summers immersing myself in the ice cold waves of the Atlantic off Cape Cod, where you screamed as you tried to work your way in, and turned blue after roughly three minutes. We pretended it was fun.
It was not fun.
Give me a tepid pool or a sun drenched Caribbean sea any day, and I’ll be glad to have gotten in and out of there with my nipples still attached to my body.
Oddly-groomed facial hair.
A regular beard, maybe. A five o’clock shadow, definitely. If I were a guy, I would most certainly tire of dragging a razor across my chops every single day.
I’m talking about guys with soul patches, handlebar mustaches and mutton chops. What are they thinking? Are they trying to be unique? Draw attention away from some other feature? Emulate famous scientists or circus performers?
Whatever the reason, I beg you: stop. You will never be taken seriously with a waxed mustachio shooting like errant twigs off the sides of your face.
Eating brussels sprouts.
It pains me as a lover of vegetables to admit this, but I loathe brussels sprouts.
I have tried to prepare them in every imaginable way, particularly because my husband loves them– and I am told I make a delicious sprout—but they turn my stomach. How anyone can eat a brussels sprout, after inhaling its sulfurous stench as it infects the kitchen like some culinary ghoul, is beyond me.
Obviously more consequential than which pet you choose, how you groom your facial hair, whether you eat brussels sprouts or enjoy cold water, or even whether you still use plastic shopping bags, mean-ness is truly a thing I will never understand.
In kids, I get it. Their ability to be consistently compassionate is not yet formed. I forgive the meanies who threw worms at me while we waited for the school bus in third grade.
But in adults, the things I see and hear every day—like trying to sneak into Yoga class for free (yes, I saw you), cutting in line, flipping the bird, saying cruel things on social media etc etc, mystify me.
Sure, I like everyone, have the urge sometimes to “budge” as my son calls it, shout rude things or work my hands into offensive shapes, but that urge quickly passes.
Making other people feel bad ruins my day. I’m the person at the side of the road waving everyone in front of me, complimenting my student for the sort of crow pose they just did (because it’s awesome and I’m really proud of them), and buying one extra Christmas present for my kids to make sure they all get an even amount of stuff.
Before you tell me to dim my halo, I’ll admit to being a chronic pleaser and that’s essentially a selfish thing to be.
Even so, it’s so much nicer when the people in your life are happy, and maybe, in that case, a little selfish isn’t all that bad.
*note: Cat ownership used to be on this list, until my family adopted Oliver, a soft grey barn cat with an attitude. Thank you, Oliver, for proving that even the most unknowable things can one day become illuminated.
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Ed: Sara Crolick