OtterSummer 8.31- ComePlain

sucks
The Otter was up early this morning because I told her she had to be. Last night, I announced that we ... ahem ... we ... would be driving The Muse to work this morning, which meant The Otter would have to be up and ready to roll by eight thirty. And, surprisingly, she was up and ready to go by eight thirty.

Of course, this being a car ride, she plugged right in to deflect any possibility of conversation, so The Muse and I were able to cover several weighty topics of no interest to The Otter; worse, topics she seems to find consistently irksome. Once we’d deposited The Muse across the street from the belly of the beast, The Otter moved to the front seat where I asked her if she was interested in breakfast. She was. Pancakes? Sure. We drove to the one reliable breakfast joint on The Hill, and she ordered a full stack of blueberry babies, complaining about the smell wafting across the aisle from the fish monger’s place. “I hate the smell of fish.” she proclaimed.

I tried, after she’d complained about being over-stuffed with pancakes, to engage her in a little light-hearted shopping banter, but she found every one of my attempts irksome. “David, if any group of my friends were here, they’d agree with me. Stop talking!” she advised. I just couldn’t.

She did giggle when I suggested that the kim chee could burn off your lips and that burned off lips constitutes the primary protein source in the typical Korean’s diet, but she was not interested in my guided tour of the disembodied pig parts case in the meat market. I’d considered buying some fresh mackerel to grill in fig leaves, but when I described the plan, The Otter seemed to be choking back the better part of her breakfast.

”I’m not supposed to be out in the sun,” she complained as we made our way back to the car in the scorching mid-morning heat.

”Then I recommend you scoot over to the car just as fast as you can.” This yielded an irked grrrrrr.

She didn’t want to stop at the next place. “You didn’t tell me that we were going to be stopping on the way home.”

”You think I’ve brought you out under false pretenses? Almost everything in this world happens under false pretenses.”

”Just get me home!” Jeeeesh!

She decided to stay inside the un-airconditioned car at the next stop, even though I knew the counterman would ply her with nibbles of cheese. “No way,” she insisted, so she sat in a closed car, sweltering while I shopped in air conditioned comfort. I knew I was supposed to cave in to the complaint, and not abandon her in this dicey neighborhood without the air conditioner running, but there’s a point—a wholly healthy point—where even the most caring grandfather doesn’t care; shouldn’t care. I reward The Otter with what she insisted upon.

I brought her a cold beverage from my excursion. She had not succumbed to her stubbornness and even thanked me before I announced that we had an additional stop to make before we could head home, which elicited a plaintiff, fading, “Nooooooo!”

Didn’t convince me to turn around. “The next place has parking in the basement, so you won’t have to go out in the heat to come in.” Didn’t matter, she complained, she was not accompanying me.

”I don’t like to go out in public in the morning,” she explained. Fine, she sat in the car through that stop, too, complaining how hot it had been after I returned.

”Can we just go home now?” she implored.

”Just one more stop.” This encouraged a longer string of invective implying that I was just irking her on purpose. I suggested that she might consider adjusting her irk setting so she was less sensitive, but she insisted that this was beyond her control. “Especially when I get up so early in the morning,” she complained.

There’s no talking anyone out of such firm convictions. I’m confident that somewhere between here and where ever there might be, The Otter will learn a raft of techniques to deflect what now seems like inexorable irksomeness. I’m equally confident that she’ll never succeed in talking anyone else out of behaving in what she now experiences as irksome ways, and not only because she can only report their infractions after the fact. At my age, I am pretty much who I am, no sense of fatalism implied. I like to poke fun at the pig tails in the meat display case and try to determine the grossest cuts displayed. I love to pontificate, and cannot imagine who I’d be should I somehow lose these now essential parts of me.

I have had not a shred of luck trying to talk anyone out of who they seem to be; their behaviors emerge before volition, and they have no point of intervention to comply, anyway. I’ve had considerable luck, though, learning to adjust my own tolerances in the presence of otherwise irksome behavior. This might be a form of radical acceptance, but it amounts to no more than acceptance; letting them be themselves, since they will be anyway.

Likewise, I can’t talk The Otter out of who she seems to be, either. She has these days where she seems to wake up in line at the complaint department. I listen, of course, and do what I am empowered to do, most of which seems destined to remain unrecognized or unsatisfying. I’ll always fall short, but not always because I couldn’t satisfy the complaint, but because I know better than to start down that doodle bug hole. Better, I think, to maintain a certain indifference to the insisted-upon outcome, and to let The Otter get what she insists upon as an alternative. Sure, she’ll complain until long after we finally (“Finally, David!”) get home, but she was complaining anyway.

Us geezers aren’t half a deaf as we must seem to be. Sometimes great love makes it hard to hear the message being implied. My self esteem doesn’t seem to need her approval anymore, and any old noise seems a satisfactory surrogate. Complaint? Praise? They seem just about equivalent these days.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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