I AM A MIDDLE AGED WOMAN DOG
Sometimes you end up in the corner of a president’ s day themed college apartment party, on a Ultimate Sack 5000 bean bag chair watching the neighbor whom you are unrequitedly in love with talk to a six foot tall blonde about which hobbit they would be in the Lord of the Ring series if they could be ANY hobbit, (ANY hobbit!) and as you watch him take a piece of red tinsel out of her hair, you just have to resign yourself to the fact that the night is not going well.
My close friend told me that when she writes in her diary (her innermost thoughts and opinions) she immediately follows up these statements by then writing: “Is that fucked up?” I laughed at her when she told me this. I found her written questioning of morals to be somewhat silly. For isn’ t the whole point of keeping a diary to write those wicked secrets, un-PC thoughts, and obscure kinks, without any self evaluation or second guessing? Isn’ t the diary, by nature of it’ s privacy, one of the only places where we can venture into being the shitty people we all are without retraction or compensation? And who is she asking this question of, when the diary is for her eyes only.
We called Boring Shannon “Boring Shannon” even though I don’ t think any of us had ever spoken to her more than a handful of times and for more than a handful of minutes and without handfuls of memory impairing alcohol clutched in our sweaty college palms to assess the accuracy this nickname. The apartments of 549 Kelton and 547 Kelton were a close knit group and we most likely perceived Boring Shannon as a threat to the interlacing, an extra body to incorporate during Sound Round, a game we invented. (It’ s just charades.) And for me, she was another harlot to distract my neighbor from his true love: me.
Before the party, my roommate Olivia and I were making garlic bread. And by making garlic bread, I mean drizzling bread with oil and dumping garlic salt over it before putting it the toaster oven. We were talking about Boring Shannon.
“It’s not that Shannon…”
“It’s not that Boring Shannon isn’t nice.”
It’s just that Shannon…”
“It’s just that Boring Shannon doesn’t contribute.”
I don’ t know what kind of contribution we were looking for. I don’ t think we knew. We knew nothing. That’ s why we were ok with putting flavored salt on toast and calling it garlic bread.
I’ ve heard people (TED talk researcher Brenne Brown) say the feeling of shame is the feeling like you did a bad thing because you are a bad person. I’ve heard people (TED talk researcher Brenne Brown) say the feeling of guilt is feeling like you did a bad thing but you are a good person.
And what’ s embarrassment? I don’ t think TED talk researcher Brenne Brown has anything to say on the topic.
Sometimes you end up in the corner of a college apartment president’ s day themed party, on a Ultimate Sack 5000 bean bag chair watching the neighbor who you are unrequitedly in love with talk to Boring Shannon about which hobbit they would be in the Lord of the Ring series, if they could be ANY hobbit (ANY hobbit!) and and as you watch him take a piece of red tinsel out of her hair you just have to resign yourself to the fact that the night is not going well.
Even though Boring Shannon’ s drink isn’ t entirely empty you offer to refill it for her and she does not protest. You go into the kitchen and you pour some honey whiskey in her red solo cup and also in your red solo cup, and then you hesitate. But not even for that long. You would like to think you’ d hesitate longer than you did. And you spit. You spit into her cup. And she drinks it.
If I were my friend writing in my diary about the night where I spit in a girls drink, I most certainly would wrap up the account with “Is that fucked up?” in big bold letters. And then in even bigger bolder letters: “Am I fucked up?”
Written a million times.
Written like: Yaaaas.
Written like: Oh yeah.
Written like: Yup.
Putting aside the information from a white lady researcher (Brenne Brown) and sitting with my own thoughts of shame or guilt, there are two images that appear in my mind. Shame is like a blonde Labrador retriever with his tail between his legs walking down a beach in the rain, whimpering. In my mind, the image of guilt is a middle aged woman with chocolate all over her face looking into a mirror and shaking her head, saying “Now why…why did you do that?”
When I fish out old pastries from the bakery trash can next door, my head fully submerged in the festering smell of garbage of coffee grounds, I feel that something is wrong with me to make me do this and also that I am a good person for making use of waste, though the measure to which I go to ensure this is unfortunate and gross. When I woke up that one morning and saw a trail of wet wood emerging from my closet, and realized I had peed over my laundry basket because I thought it was a toilet, I felt ashamed of my dream brain’ s wild imagination and guilty that I gave into it. When I bite off my own finger nails, when I bite off my own toenails, when I take far too many snacks from the houses where I dog sit, spend way too much money on striped leggings, eat green beans and milkshakes for dinner, forget to call my grandma back, make racist jokes.
I am not only a bad person who does bad things but also good person who can find justifications for these bad things that I do.
There you are on a large eight person beanbag chair between the two talking of mythological creatures, feeling like you are the smallest of all hobbits, nobody’ s: my precious and trying to keep up, and you tire out. You get tired. You spit into a girls drink to give your own insecurity tennis shoes, and send them running rampant, naked into the night, like a bunch of seniors after their spring semester finals. You feel terrible the next day when you tell your friend Olivia, while she is is emptying garlic bread crumbs out of the toaster oven, you feel terrible, but also, you both laugh.
I walk around most days carrying shame and guilt. Not just a dog. Or a middle aged woman. But a middle aged woman dog. Being a Middle Aged Woman Dog is a lot of weight, sometimes too much, to carry. But just like a bunch of horny adults on a large seat made out of beans: it’s also a hilarious image.