This is an untested theory, but I’m thinking that you can tell a lot about a person by their favorite children’s book. I seem to recall Ted telling me when we started dating, for example, that he identified a lot with Eeyore from the “Winnie the Pooh” books as a child. That would have been a good warning sign about life with my husband, had I only been paying attention.
As for me, there are many books that I enjoyed as a child but one of my favorites is “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”
For those unfamiliar with it, the book is about a boy, Alexander, who has an all-around awful day. (I guess you could probably guess that from the book title.) Nothing goes right: He has to sit in the middle seat between two other passengers on the car ride to school. He discovers at lunchtime that his mom has packed him a lame lunch devoid of all desserts. When their family goes shoe shopping after school, he can’t get the shoe he wants because the store is out of his size. And on it goes through the rest of the day.
Alexander’s way of dealing with these minor setbacks in his day? He wants to move to Australia.
I can so relate to this on so many levels.
Take yesterday, for example. There are some days when you know, within 20 minutes of forcing yourself out of bed, that it’s not going to be a great day. Yesterday was one of those days. It wasn’t quite on par with Alexander’s in terms of terribleness… but it wasn’t great. Consider:
- I knew my pants were kind of on the short side when I put them on in the morning, but when I got to work, I realized that they in fact were floods. To compensate, I had to borrow a page out of Boof’s book and wear my pants so low on my hips that if at any time I would have leaned over, half of my very generous backside would have shown. And my pants were still floods.
- The article I labored to write for work did not quite pass muster with my VP. He ultimately didn’t tear the article apart as much as I had feared, but I first had to endure 15 minutes of him rubbing his chin in consternation as I explained my thinking on the article, sighing, saying to me, “OK. Let me finish going through it, and then you can take a look and we’ll discuss,” and rubbing his chin again.
- A chat at lunch with one of my friends got me thinking that the organization we work for is an inefficient monolith that is completely ineffective in fulfilling its mission and that anyone in their right mind really shouldn’t be happy working there. I subsequently spent the next two hours wondering whether there were any decent jobs that I could apply to, pondering what the salary would be for those imaginary jobs, thinking that things would be so much better if only I were somehow independently wealthy, then worrying that I might get bored if I were independently wealthy because then what would I do during the day?
- Boof had his last basketball game of the season last night, during which he didn’t play much at all. And when he was on the court, he didn’t play great. So basically I was unhappy when he wasn’t playing, and I was unhappy when he was.
- After all that, the last thing I wanted to do was go home and make dinner, but it was my turn. Except it turned out the eggplants I had been planning on using for dinner—these two plump, purple eggplants I’d bought at Whole Foods, the mecca of overpriced produce—had gone bad. I improvised a pasta, broccoli, and beans dish that Billup generously deemed “OK, actually.”
See what I mean about this? It was a semi-lousy day, but instead of (a) laughing at my ridiculous wardrobe, (b) feeling satisfied that my article ultimately didn’t get edited that much, (c) feeling grateful that I even have a job, and at a nonprofit organization that is at least trying to do good work, (d) being glad for Boof that he got to play some and that his team won their last game of the season, and (e) patting myself on the back for improvising a dinner on the fly, I scowled, whined and generally crabbed my way through the rest of the day.
But of course I did it this way. Because I am Alexander. And believe me, if our family could afford for me to move to Australia, I’m sure everyone would have been in favor of shipping me off after my dark mood last night.
But Ted says some days are like that. Even in suburban Washington, DC.