April 8th, 2011

Dater Unknown: First, breathe. Second, laugh.

Doozer. In a word, that’s how this week started out. You know, one of those times when life is simply doing her thing, having her way, making your heart heavy and your motivation light. And let me tell you. When life is having her way with you, there is no lonelier place than inside the grey walls of a cube at work. Mute grey fabric does little to lift spirits or provide perspective.

I was zoned out, biting my cuticles when the Microsoft chime of a new email snapped its fingers at me.

It was an email from my mom, addressed to my sisters and me. The subject was: “Aw memories!” She wrote nothing; her email was simply a forward of an email I had sent my sisters and mom at this time last year.

This was the email I had sent:

Sent: Sunday, April 18, 2010 3:23 PM
Mom, Sister 1, Sister 2

Got up this a.m. and went into the kitchen to have some cereal before I headed out. The one cat who is obsessed with touching me was there. I spoke to her; I was even jovial. I was getting ready to pour my cereal when I looked over and THERE WAS A DEAD MOUSE/RAT on the kitchen rug. It was not a baby. It was lying there NOT QUITE DEAD as I saw it barely breathing. The cat SNIFFED it like “look what I got!” and I was like, “What did you do? Where did this come from? OMG!” like she (the cat) was going to answer me. I threw the Cheerio box back into the cupboard and ran downstairs to put on clothes and am now at a coffee shop where I will stay today. I am not touching the dead rat with a dustpan or any of the like. I will not remove it or be there until it is removed. And I don’t think I can eat in that kitchen anymore. ha. this is all just grist for the mill of hilariousness/disgustingness.

Half-way through reading, I was laughing one of those muffled work laughs, and by the time I finished, I was laughing out loud.

You see, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I spent last year living in the Pacific Northwest. Beautiful, yes. Home, no. The end of my tenure in Seattle brought the end of a relationship and a move to the basement of a house occupied by a nice woman in her 50s and her two needy, corpulent cats.

Desperate times called for desperate measures, and I needed to find a place to live for a few months before I moved back to Texas. So I turned to everyone’s best friend, Craig. Craig and his list of Temporary Roommates Wanted options in a city I didn’t know well were overwhelming, so I went with the safest option – an older woman in a nice neighborhood who worked, had an open room in her basement, and had cats. You know, an older version of a Cathy cartoon. Cathy, while a little zany and prone to have sweat droplets flying off her head, wasn’t known for being a creepshow. My logic was simple. Woman = Cathy cartoon. Cathy cartoon = no need to fear for life.

The first night in the basement I slept better than I had in months. It wasn’t until a few weeks that I started hearing the rodent keg parties in the walls and on the roof. Beggars can’t be choosers, so I powered through and slept with my pillow over my head. But then I started seeing some in the house. Sure, they were always dead (rats were the only thing besides food that made those cats move), but stepping on a dead rat in the kitchen when you come home late at night after working? That’s so gross. Finding a shoe-sized rat in my toilet when I opened the lid one morning? Really freaking disgustingly vile. Telling my Cathy cartoon roommate about said rat and having her tell me not to worry, it’s just a “juvenile” and that she’s had a few rats pop up in her toilet lately and then ask if I want any of the tuna salad she’s making upstairs? Well, that steps over the line of Gross and into Comedic Gold, folks.

I responded to my mom’s email expressing my glee that all I have are spiders in my place. And as the day wore on, this email kick-started a contagion of thinking that cascaded like a line of dominos standing at attention.

Domino 1 – Holy crap. I remember how trying that was. How in the world did I make it through those last few months in Seattle?
Domino 2
– Wow. I made it through that.
Domino 3
– I am a raging bad ass for making it through that.
Domino 4
– I think I’ll come out on the other end of this thing too.
Domino 5
– Oh, Cathy cartoon roommate. Life is damn funny.

Grateful for the reminder, I filed that email away to re-read when I need to remember it’s possible to make through anxiety-ridden experiences or situations. And better yet, remembering to breathe and laugh during those times.

Wait, what? You thought this was a dating column? Well, laughing through the stressful times is just as important in dating as well.

About a month ago, I decided to introduce my boyfriend to my entire family. My family is fantastic, but families are inherently insane. We were going to dinner to celebrate my sister’s birthday, so all the essentials of a remaining calm would be present, namely alcohol, Mexican food, and an occasion not centered on me.

I vacillated between nervousness and excitement for a week or so, but a few hours before the dinner, I ventured into the So Nervous I Need To Re-apply Deodorant category. They were all excited to meet him, and I was looking forward for them to meet him. But what would happen? What would he think?

Mariachi music flowed through the air and vodka sodas flowed through my veins. Dinner was nearing its end, and I thought, “Well, hell, I think we made it.” We began to get up, and the only remaining folks at the table were my boyfriend, my 4-year-old niece, and me. The others were just ahead, filing out.

Note: My niece has three loves, in this order: icecream, men, and bathroom humor.

I started to hold her hand so we could walk out, and she wanted none of me and instead held onto my boyfriend’s belt and pant leg. She’s nothing if not subtle. She unhooked her octopus arms and looked at him:

4-year-old niece: Are you a dad?
Boyfriend: No, but I have a dog.
Niece: You tooted!
BF: No, that was you.
Niece: Yes you did! I heard it!
BF: No, really, that was you.
Niece: ….. Hahahahhahahahhahahahhahaaahahhahaha.

Frankly, I like her style. Find yourself in a stressful situation? Breathe and laugh with those around you, friends.

— Dater Unknown


Andrew B — Friday, April 8, 2011 7:03 pm

I bet it was you who tooted

Whitney — Saturday, April 9, 2011 5:18 pm

Love this. Love your fam. Love you, madly. Hope you’re hanging in there my darling. I’m thinking of you constantly.

site — Sunday, April 10, 2011 2:10 am

Thanks, its usefully for me.

Eileen — Sunday, April 10, 2011 7:11 pm

HAHAHAHA!! This is so cute Sarah! You could tell the 4 year old, “If you smelt it, you dealt it”. Glad the boyfriend me the fam!

Blaire — Monday, April 11, 2011 1:19 pm

Love this: “Microsoft chime of a new email snapped its fingers at me.” Love the way you write! Also like your word choice: “a contagion of thinking”

Emily — Monday, April 11, 2011 10:26 pm

Avery RULES! And so do you, of course. Tears. Y’all have had a hard week. Love you.

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