Friday, December 06, 2013

Stress and Excuses

“I’ve had a wonderful evening. This wasn’t it.”
Grucho Marx

I don’t manage stress. I pretty much make a hash of trying to remain calm while stress increasingly bosses me around. I could turn to drugs I suppose. But reality is still there, waiting up and sitting in a chair with its arms crossed over its chest when I try to sneak back in after curfew.

Which wouldn’t be so bad, since I’ve had enough experience making excuses about being late: trust being earned and not demanded, as we all know. See, the cigarette smoke smell on my fingers is from holding the pencil used by other bowlers who smoke when we all used the same pencil to mark our bowling scores. Yeah, I was out bowling. I broke 100.

It’s the tiny detail that makes it real. Not too much embellishment, just a touch. I actually did break 100 once too, so it wasn’t so much a lie as it was a distortion of the order of events that really happened. Kinda like Grucho’s lovely evening.

Once, when I was late for work around Xmas, I said I had a flat tire. Lame, right? But no, because it turns out this guy in a Santa Clause costume stopped to change my tire. Who would make up something like that? The person who won’t just phone in a trite excuse, when they can tell an engaging lie, that’s who.

But what is bad is my stress mismanagement. What used to be little stuff has become bigger and I remain copeless in the face of simple things. Like yesterday, I was late for a sewing class which frankly who cares, right? But I was already a bit tense when I left the house. Then, Nana in the car in front of me slows down for several dozen of the 87 stop lights between me and the class while the lights are still bright green light; because, well they will eventually turn yellow; and in due course almost certainly red; and her reactions aren’t what they used to be when she was, say, 80. So better to just stop at the green ones, or at least pause long enough for me to give her substantial and detailed advice about what she might be doing instead of driving ahead of me when I’m late, like, say, knitting tea cozies for her friends at the retirement home. Or bowling with heavy smokers.

The funny part was that I was the first to arrive because everybody else thought the class began at 9:30 not 9:00. The instructor explained the website had the late time although it was really supposed to be 9:00 (which is what the employee on the phone told me). So of course I said, yup, sure, I thought it was 9:30 too, but I’m early because I wanted to have time to enjoy a cup of coffee and chat about making tea cozies.

At least I can still make good excuses. I suppose my still functioning bullshit skill balances out my diminishing skill at coping with stress. Which, when I think about, is a good trade-off because there are stress-management drugs but as far as I know science hasn’t created a medicine that can enhance one’s skill in making up entertaining excuses for being late.

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