Thursday, April 1, 2010

(Mrs) Adventure #6: The Impatient Goldfish

I am impatient. Exceptionally impatient. And stubborn. To a fault. I have always had problems waiting for things: summer to arrive, Christmas gifts to be opened, school to finally be over…for good. In other words, if patience is a virtue, then I’m Satan’s mistress.

I usually deal with my impatience by bugging the hell out of everyone around me. One can imagine what holidays were like in my household, or dinners in general. Especially if it meant that there was a surprise waiting for me at the end of a meal. As a child in restaurants, when I finished my meal and wanted dessert, I would get up from the table and begin pacing around it in swooping circles. Looking back, I can only begin to imagine what the other patrons thought of this seemingly mentally challenged child doing laps around the fine china. Tired of my antics, my parents instructed me to stand in one place. So, once I had finished that last pea, I’d simply get up from my chair and stand in place like some bizarre robotic creature. I didn’t make a noise, it was just subtle affirmation that I had finished my meal and would like a sundae. Please.

In early life, I found ways to cope with my severe impatience. For example, when my friend Jennifer and I were frustrated at the amount of time it was taking us to win a goldfish at the school fair, we simply devised an ingenious plan. Since the gym was teeming with roughly three hundred Attention Deficit Disordered children being watched by four or five completely non-medicated and sober adults, (this was before Ritalin was handed out like vitamins and Prozac could readily be purchased like Skittles), we simply walked up to the lady running the goldfish game and told her we had won.

“Yeah, didn’t you see? We threw the ball in the vase. So give us our goldfish.”

Sometimes it’s amazing I didn’t turn out to be a bank robber.

I remember her staring at us, unblinking for a good six seconds, then deeply sighing and handing over a plastic bag with one live goldfish. Except Jennifer and I allowed our greed to overcome us, and by the seventh or eighth time that we had claimed to have won, she stopped forking over the goldfish. Which was fine in our minds, considering we couldn’t carry many more plastic bags in our greedy, grubby fingers than we already had. Those goldfish, which I aptly named Jaws I-IV managed to live for quite a long time. A few even survived an attack by a frog I had brought in from outside and dumped in the tank. So, I consider it a worthy steal. I don’t even remember if my mother questioned me, but I probably confused the heck out of my father when he realized that his daughter didn’t have the throwing arm and steady aim he mistakenly assumed.

Later in life, when I didn’t have the patience to study for exams, I trained myself to think quick and bullshit. It worked for me, actually. During an essay exam, for example, the final question of the test was: (I kid you not) make up your own question and answer it. So I did. My question? Why did I take this class? I ran on for a good three paragraphs by citing my professor’s accomplishments in the medical and anthropological field and why he was a personal hero to me. I ended up getting 100% on the exam.

I maintained solid A’s throughout college, with the exception of Calculus. Apparently, there’s no talking your way to an A in Calculus, especially when your professor speaks little English outside of his native Chinese language. In fact, I’m not so sure he even knew that he was supposed to be teaching. It was as if he wandered off a plane bound to Indiana and an immigrations agent took one look at him and said, “Son, I bet you’d be good at math!”

I’m gonna tell you this right now; math is NOT an international language in any regard. I failed the class. But really, who needs Calculus anyway? I bet Oprah doesn’t know a thing about cosigns. She has people for that, and I always assumed I would as well. I substituted the failed grade by aceing ‘Logic,’ which ironically, makes no logical sense whatsoever; considering anyone who knows me would be willing to admit that I lack greatly in the logical arena. In fact, when I took an IQ test, I was out of the park on reading and language comprehension, but damn near mentally retarded on the logic side. I’m not joking, I think the exam might have said, “Child, if you are reading this and not drooling out of the corner of your mouth with your eyes rolling back in your head, then you better seek immediate help.” But my logic teacher was a Russian lad, and the exams involved drawing symbols; it turns out I’m a lucky guesser.

But I digress. In actuality, my impatience has actually always worked in my favor. Impatient that I wasn’t heading up a company, I worked my derriere off in the television business world. When I wanted something, I went for it with tenacity. And that includes relationships (romantic or otherwise), television shows and occasionally material possessions. I’m not saying I’m some model of ethics, but if I wanted something I wasn’t about to wait around to attain it. I simply found a way, (legally, of course) to obtain the treasure I sought.

And all this was working out for me quite well until I met a veritable opponent. The United States Marine Corps.

See, that’s the thing, the USMC doesn’t care one bit if I’m impatient. Impatient for orders, impatient for where I’m going to be living, impatient to get my husband home safely. Nearly two months ago I was married. And since that time, my husband and I have been in the same city for only half the days we’ve been wed. Before the first year of our marriage is over, we will have spent only 1/3 of the time on the same continent. Even crazier, since my husband and I began dating, we’ve only spent three weeks living in the same city, and during that time my professional life was anchored nearly two thousand miles away.

And the scary thing is; that makes me lucky. I’ve read stories of couples in the military that have been married four years, and of that time, they’ve clocked only about eleven months together. Unlike the gym of Laura B. Sprague elementary, I can’t just walk up to a frustrated and overwhelmed Executive Officer and inform him that, “guess what? When you weren’t looking, my husband completed his seven month deployment, so it’s time to send him home with me.” Even if I stand behind him or her at the dinner table, he or she is probably not going to budge. No matter how much I sigh or bark or whine.

This frustrates me to no end.

I have seen the women that stand behind deployments with pride, finding peace with their husbands being gone, knowing that the sacrifice is well worth their pain. Whew, man oh man do I admire those women. I look up to them, really. But, I’ll be totally honest with you: I am not that woman. Certainly, I feel that sense of swelled pride. I honestly can’t even imagine what it would be like not being married to an Officer in the USMC; if I was Goldilocks, then he was ‘juuussst right.’

Sure, it gets easier (at least, that’s what they tell me), but I’d be a bold faced liar if I said it didn’t righteously suck. And there are days when I want to say to him, (sometimes I actually do say this to him), why didn’t you want to become a doctor, a lawyer, hell, a taxidermist? Heck, even serial killers typically work in one location. There are days when the only company I have is one Robert Mondavi, and the only male action in my life is on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ That’s admittedly pretty scary. Because I’d rather have no male action at all than witnessing some male shaking his behind clad in rhinestones and glitter gel. *Authors note: Unless I am at a gay pride parade, and then it is very tough for any heterosexual male to compete with that kind of fun.

So I play the waiting game. I pause when I see the American flag now, understanding what it stands for, understanding its importance. When I see a Marine Corps sticker, a Navy, Air Force or an Army sticker on the car, I will want to pull over and hug the driver. I will want to tell them that I’m here, that I’m going through the same emotional rollercoaster, and that occasionally I too get angry, lonely and sometimes ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ makes me want to puke as well.

What it comes down to is this: I am one impatient lady who despises waiting; moral of the story. For goldfish, dessert, or my husband.

So hurry home soon.

In the meantime, I’ll be exhausting Netflix, working late hours and bugging my family and friends. I’ll be writing pitches on male escorts and homicide detectives. I’ll be at that Irish pub pouring back drinks, sharing laughs and writing the next story in my head. I’ll be on my back balcony lost in conversation with a best friend while aimlessly glancing at the clock and subconsciously calculating the time in foreign lands. I’ll be snuggling up under the covers with my toothless dog, and I’ll be catching myself from crying over a Folgers commercial when the solider comes home from war and surprises his mom and little sister. I will probably buy a goldfish or two fair and square, namely because I want the company, even if it is in the form of a mindlessly mute friend. I will watch as it swims around and around the tank…waiting for its dessert. Dreaming of the day when it will be free of restrictions and orders.

United States Marine Corps, you win this time. But next time, maybe you won’t be so lucky.

Maybe next time I’ll get to have my dessert. And I will tell you now: I will enjoy every minute of it. Because then I won’t be impatiently waiting for the next big thing, I will already have it home.


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