|Bounce palaces: not particularly fun to rent out and sometimes stinky.
This would be true regardless of proximity to the Apocalypse.
I’m all for the ‘if you’ve got to do it, then enjoy the hell out of it’ approach to life. If I’ve got to cook dinner then I may as well pour myself a glass of wine, crank up some tunes, and be like, “Hell YEAH I’m cooking dinner!” But sometimes that’s really hard to pull off. I have yet to bring myself to a place of “Hell YEAH I’m cleaning up vomit!” or “Hell YEAH my hair looks like a severely neglected lhasa apso!” I’m human. I’ll deal with it.
Case in point: Today I spent roughly 90 minutes calling around to different bounce house arenas and indoor gyms trying to cobble together some workable logistics and budgeting for my soon to be five year old’s birthday party with twenty or so kids who ::: gulp ::: we will somehow have to feed. There was very little, “Hell YEAH!” to be found in the experience.
So how am I coping with this exceedingly first world problem (aside from, you know, actually doing something to solve it)? By complaining. What can I say? I appreciate the classics. I brought up my party planning malaise with a group of parents who were talking about birthdays.
Commiseration and helpful suggestions were reassuringly forthcoming until someone said, “Well I don’t mind stuff like that any more. Since Newtown I just feel blessed to have a living child at all.”
This happens every so often. Tragedies are brought to the fore in every day conversation in such a way that everything grinds to a halt amidst murmurs of “Yeah, that’s so tragic and upsetting.” Not, I suspect, because no one has similarly trivial tales of woe to relate but because it’s possible to use social consciousness as a silencing mechanism.
Once you bring shootings, cancer, or genocide to the table the other participants in the conversation can’t be like, “Dead kids. Sure, sure. But let’s talk about how my kid is all kinds of alive and I’m irritated by the prospect of being forced to pay a 50% mark up for crappy Papa John’s pizza at an effing bouncy castle.” I mean, who’s that much of a jerk?
I am, apparently, because that’s what I’m about to do: Newtown was truly horrible and my heart breaks for those families. My sense of outrage that an elementary school shooting happened in the first place is perhaps paralleled only by my infuriation at the fact that we are not doing much to prevent the next needless gun death aside from yelling at each other and talking about how tragic all these needless gun deaths we’re doing nothing to prevent are.
I get that I’m lucky to have a healthy, happy five year old for whom to throw a birthday party. But, man, is this birthday party planning stuff not taking me to my happy place. And that’s okay because at any given time I am capable of experiencing varying levels of ire directed at multiple targets. I’m complicated like that.
I would be an asshole if I reacted to party planning as if it were on par with death. But give me a little credit and assume that is not, in fact, what I’m doing when I tell you bouncy castles sometimes smell like feet. It’s not like acknowledging foot stink dishonors the victims and is a major contributing factor to future massacres.
None of us can get to “Hell YEAH!” all the time. Even in a post-Apocalyptic hellscape we would still be irked by bad hair days and pizza mark ups bordering on usury. By all means process and express your reaction to heartbreak but, please, refrain from using tragedies as silencers. We shouldn’t confuse trivial irritation with soul crushing loss. Equally we shouldn’t mistake the refusal to acknowledge trivial irritation or the lamentation of the horrific with actually doing something to meaningfully address soul crushing losses and true tragedy.
We live in a world where there’s foot stink and Newtown. So let’s live there, be human, and actually deal with it.
I’m linking up with the Yeah Write open challenge grid. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a grid of full of posts by writers who blog and bloggers who write.)