Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Heartfelt Hypothesis on the Hierarchy of Hesitations

“I’ll just wait out here...” I casually SAG/AFTRA professionally acted my way out of a paper (or plastic?) bag, lolling in front of the automated doors as a friend of mine entered the brightly lit megalopolis to purchase a few items from the magnificent shopping arena wherein one could purchase everything from clothing to radial tires to a yearly bulk supply of toilet paper.
To be sure, there existed absolutely no Spock-logic behind my hesitation, as whilst I could’ve saved God knows how much money on kitchen trash bags (and a lifetime supply of vitamins that theoretically might expire before I do!); all of the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up in a perfunctorily profound protest.

In fact (from a purely scholastic point of view mind you), the Greek Philosopher Aristotle once said that “Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.”  (!!!)
After all, I was situated with my friend who’d driven us somewhere deep into the heart of The Valley at the time!  (I don’t much care for abandoning my “comfort zone”, nor did I have an escape route without so much as my alter ego Wonder Woman invisible airplane!)

And yes, in 20/20 hindsight, OF COURSE I was reacting overly dramatically to irrational fear...  But all I knew (that betwixt the two), there was absolutely NO way anyone could possibly ‘Pepe LePew’ me through those doors!

A decade or so later, I found myself temporarily befriended by an on-line blogger who confessed that she as well, was irrationally hesitant of confronting two things in her world – one being uninvited spiders randomly carousing about her home (not so irrational in my opinion), but was most predominately stricken with absolutely paralyzing terror at the daily strands of hair from her husband lurking in the bathtub drain.  And curious as to whether or not she might be uncomfortable with the idea of potential male pattern baldness in her handsome hubby, she assured me that I was completely off the mark.
“For whatever reason, soapy, slimy wet hair sticking to the shower just totally grosses me out.  I can’t explain it!” she shared her personal idiosyncrasy for all to read.  “I have to put on arm-length rubber gloves to even try to touch that.”  (Call me crazy, but these are the moments of honesty that I totally respect!)

Amidst the same decade whilst I was dating a certain boyfriend, I was blessed to be befriended by said boyfriend's dog “Jack”; a most beloved loyal canine hero who’d been rescued from the mean streets, and despite canoodling with the likes of A-list movie stars (I’m neither confirming nor denying that Jack actually knew “Jack Sparrow”), this pup never forgot his humble previous life, and took a full-body eighty-pound belly-up leaning to the liking of me.

Jack was protective!  Jack was fierce!  Jack was a serious bad-a@@ pit bull/boxer mix who feared nothing and harbored no hesitations!!!

Well...  except for shopping carts...  and skateboards... (Apparently miniature wheels were PTSD reminders of life on the streets, and ergo, Jack’s Kryptonite.)
But there again, these are the moments of heart-felt honesty that ultimately move me and help me feel connected as one less oddball on the planet.

“Like it or not Penny, you’re currently unemployed.  You don’t have the luxury of catered food all day at a Studio, so you’re going to have to learn to feed yourself on a budget until you’re booked on another television show.”

“They have a hot food bar here, a cold salad bar, a full deli, and if you have any questions they’ll even let you taste a sample before you make a purchase” a different friend of mine gently guided me into the welcoming arms of a smallish local establishment a mere mile or so down the road from my home.  “Certain things are obviously overpriced since we’re in an upscale store, but you can figure this out for yourself.  I believe in you” she patted me on the back as she moseyed off with her own list.


Left to my own devices of attempting to stock my fridge and freezer without wasting too much money, my friend once again patted me on the back as we met in the checkout area; where much like Las Vegas casino card dealers, the cashiers stood in uniform at the front of their lines, ready for takers as if they had an open ten dollar minimum Three Card Poker table at the Bellagio.   
And having spent only about forty dollars, I was feeling quite confident!

Now, this is not to say that I didn’t make a few mistakes in the following weeks... 
Yes, on occasion, I over-purchased like a whale in Vegas... 

(Note to single people out there -– pre-sliced fruit is edible for only a day or two before it begins to smell like compost;  plus I’m still rather iffy on the whole concept as to precisely when creamed spinach morphs into something “more” than goo.  It’s already moldy-green and stinky when it’s fresh, and yes; I now irrationally fear that whilst I’m sleeping, the tub of iron-based vegetation is secretly bulking itself up like Arnold Schwarzenegger to impress the ocularly popular tub of butternut squash.)
Nevertheless, I digress!

I’d spectacularly miraculously overcome my irrational fear of Grocery Stores!  (I can hear my friend Richard in NY laughing that I’ve thus surpassed spending a gazillion dollars at my local 7-Eleven for mustard); but a knack for shopping for ONE person is DEFINITELY a learned skill.
Who would ever have thought (with my dismal disabilities as a Domestic Zero); that I could possibly teach myself how to make a seriously fabulous fried egg/sharp cheddar cheese sandwich?   (Hint:  if you slather your heart healthy whole wheat bread with real mayonnaise and fry the egg in butter, you’re good to go.) 

(Brilliant idea that some years ago I purchased a spider-web "Joan Cleaver-esque" apron.  Yay! I can cook!  (Well at least, I can kind of barracade myself from splattering grease.))
And although I may be temporarily unemployed, by my mathematical calculations, I’ve successfully tackled the ability to devour proper feasts in my bat-cave for less than a few dollars per feeding!

Irrational (or rational?) fears are significantly difficult to conquer.  Believe me:  I get that.  (My ongoing psychopathy with regard to prepping eggs is the incessant need to spoon out that creepy SOLID WHITE ganglia-blob lurking ominously in the albumen (the clear goo by the yoke)).  Seriously!  What the HECK is THAT?  Is it an undeveloped chicken spinal column?!  (Frankly, I don’t even want to know...) 

Yet despite my heroic ability to triumph and conquer a fear which used to paralyze me back in the day, a few more hesitations have thus presented themselves of late which I feel the need to address and analyze:
With four rather determined canine paws dug deeply into the tile floor in defiant rebellion, the owner of “Muffy” profusely expressed regret to all of us shoppers who couldn’t help but ‘coo’ and ‘aww’ regarding the adorable ‘Toto-esque’ wired-hair terrier being gently “dragged” by his leash down the Yellow Brick Road toward the refrigerated section of the Grocery Store.
“Muffy hates anything cold.  I can’t explain it!” his owner continued to apologize, straining to reach for a quart of low-fat milk as Muffy (all of about maybe twenty-five pounds?) doggedly (pun intended) stood his canine ground and shied adamantly away from that which made him most uncomfortable. 

Yet in a heartbeat, with all due proper puppy smiles and sociable happy tail-wagging as he trotted proudly about the aisles (away from dairy case!), Muffy won over every customer in the store.  (Give me a high four, Muffy!)  
Honestly, I was just about to self-congratulatory pat myself on the back for my smug courage of accomplishing at least one irrational fear, but standing at the Deli counter, I too shied away from that which I truly fear the most...

And all I could think of was, “there but for the Grace of God, go I”.
Granted, I didn’t see the wobbly-wheeled heaping shopping cart of street trash ‘valuables’ at first (Jack would’ve ran like the wind!); but there was no avoiding the indelible odor of the homeless man standing in line in front of me who was mid-negotiation with the hair-netted lady behind the counter as to just how much hot food he could afford.

“I may be a bit short on cash, but I do have some money” the homeless man suddenly turned to me with a wad of crumpled singles in his crusty hand; eyeballing my Humane Society T-shirt which proudly purported “Adopt Your New Best Friend!”; a photo of a droopy-eyed Beagle puppy looking particularly hopeful below the caption.
(Note to self – perhaps I need to choose my wardrobe more carefully.)

“Um, I’m so sorry, but I’m using a credit card for my groceries” I explained honestly, feeling absolutely awful for telling the absolute truth.
“That’s OK.  You can just put MY food in YOUR basket and take all my money” he suggested rather Spock-logically.

Oh, good Heavens... 
Now, yes of course, everyone should most certainly have the right to eat! 

But God forgive me:  There was NO way in the WORLD that I was going anywhere NEAR touching his gnarly paws.  (I don’t even nosh at a Drive-Thru restaurant in my own car without so much as half a bottle of hand sanitizer!)
Yet blissfully, before I could even begin to try to form another sentence, much like the Security in Las Vegas (with ever-so quiet efficiency), the Manager of the store and a few Guards eased all of the man’s ‘aromatic’ belongings in his personal shopping cart outside into the breezy air.  And escorting the gentleman through a proper checkout line, they presumably came to a civil agreement as to a compromise.

“I guess we’re going to need to use a lot of Febreze!” my own Vegas-esque Cashier attempted to make me feel less uncomfortable as he scanned my items.

Personally I think all of us (in our own wonky ways), share the hesitations and fears of that which make us significantly “uncomfortable”. 
Perhaps too, my senses have been a wee bit heightened, as for the last couple of weeks I’ve been getting all of my affairs in order.  And quite frankly (my macabre sense of humor notwithstanding), this entire process has kind of creeped me out!

Now I’m healthy as a horse mind you, but as I’m approaching “middle age”, I’ve been encouraged to (at the very least) prepare a last Will and Testament, an official Power of Attorney, as well as miscellaneous paperwork regarding who gets to pull my plug if my body is somehow horrifically mangled in a bizarre five-mile-an-hour car chase on my beloved congested Santa Monica Blvd. 
And whilst  I’m not entirely sure if the use of the term “no-brainer” is politically incorrect, I’m definitely pro-DNR, donate what’s usable, and after that I don’t much care.

But even with all such awkward tasks accomplished, signed by a Notary, copies made and mailed, there remains yet MORE paperwork with regard to financial institutions and my chosen beneficiaries?  Good grief!  It’s NOT like I’m a millionaire! 
(Well, perhaps not YET, anyway...)

 “***IMPORTANT NEWS REGARDING AN EXECUTIVE OVERRIDE MAILING YOU’LL BE RECEIVING THIS WEEK*** Not everyone will receive this message.  It’s a special alert being sent only to past participants – and you are one of them.”” 

Yes, Publishers Clearing House has offered me the one (in a megabazillion) chance to win $14,000.00 a week for life, allocated with flowers, balloons and a theoretically big old honking check.

I suppose I could handle THAT paperwork with no hesitations.  (What can I say?  I continue to believe in dreaming HUGE!)
Wishing you all a week of utter and profound fearlessness!