I drove to the post office yesterday to mail a bill payment. A rare occurrence; I do that mostly online now. I got there at 5:29, not a moment too soon for the 5:30 pickup. The postal lady was out by the drive-up mailboxes with her big basket cart thingy, collecting the mail.
The Postals are usually friendly if I pull up when they’re collecting the mail. I pulled up and said Good Afternoon. The look she gave me made me feel like I just said Oh the frogs are on the ceiling dripping chlorine tea. I’ve got the big glitch. Your purple cheese. She looked at me like I’m some poor little idiot.
“Let’s go. I have to hurry! I have a truck waiting.”
Oh dear, oh my, oh fuck your truck.
I snatched the envelope from the seat and poked it out at her. She grabbed it and I drove off, moving through the gears as quick as I could. Little truck, get me the bloody hell out of this new and desperate world. Take me back to 1968, when people – no less burdened by the malignant anxiety of war – were generally at least more civil.
It was like a switch being flipped on the breaker box of my brain. (Really more like a switch someone had been flipping for years had finally decided to work.) Do you ever have that feeling? Like you’ve been sitting in the dark and didn’t know it? And somebody just powered up one of your sickly white fluorescent tubes? Sure.
What showed up in my freshly brightened attic was this: I don’t like being a grownup. I don’t want to be a grownup anymore. I’ve never been good at it. I want to be seven again. Maybe it’s because she made me feel like a kid being scolded.
When you’re a kid you get to blame people for being mean. You can get your feelings hurt, oblivious to your own complicities, say What a Jerk, and move on. As adults, we’re expected to assess, to acknowledge each other’s frailty, to accept that everyone has a bad day once or twice a week or more. And give a nod to karma. What goes around comes around, and all of that.
When you’re a kid, you can give them your sad eyes, your far off look, and hope they’ll feel guilty. I have no such powers anymore. Nobody is going to feel sorry for me about anything short of prostatitis or pet loss. And believe me, I’ve been trying it lately. An adult can hope for bleary-eyed itinerate Justice I suppose, but not pity. Suck it up. Walk it off. Get your ass up and do something, even if it’s wrong.
Am I wrong, or does adulthood plainly suck?