On Paybacks Being a Bitch

paybacksThe holidays are fast approaching and I will be staying in Prague. This is a little depressing, as there is no place like home. I’ll miss Christmas Eve extravaganza and hanging with my crazy family. I’ll miss the six-day eating contest that is the holidays and I’ll miss Christmas morning.

I won’t miss traveling. It’s not the flying death tube or the airplane food. It’s the people. The wailing child and the drunken idiot shouting for peanuts. The three dudes at the airport bar in backwards Boston Red Sox hats saying dude a lot about dudes who aren’t presently duding.

I gripe about it all. This kid should shut up; Sir, you’re making a scene, stop drinking; and Oh, stop saying dude you twenty-something twit. We get it, you’re in college.

And then I get home where there are nieces and nephews who screech at impossible volumes. The toddler cousins who run in circles and whap their faces off of bureaus and shriek and wail as I pour another drink and curse.

The only thing I’ll miss less than this is the moment that my mom brings me down a few pegs. Invariably, in the middle of my most face-reddening rant on those presently annoying me, she leans across a table and tells me that I used to be this person.

The problem is, this is hard to deny. In fact, it’s impossible.

I was the worst child in the history of existence. I ran around in circles creating impossibly loud sounds, hit people, bit people. I stripped off my clothes without a moment’s thought. I was too hot, I might say offhand upon interrogation. Why the hell wouldn’t I take off my pants? I didn’t work alone, either. I was the Lord of the Flies and used to rally the other kids into a mob of snot, intensity, and volume. If I wanted to destroy a really important occasion I might do something special like shit myself or throw a baseball through a window.

I was awful.

Whenever my mom calls me out on my rather undignified past, it sends me on a vision quest of embarrassment. I like to alter my memory so that it suits me. I’d like to think that at six years old I was drinking tea and talking children’s literature. Green Eggs and Ham, the most fascinating use of fifty words in the English language. But this is far away from reality.

And it doesn’t stop there, either. I was the worst everything. I was that person at every age. I wore the backwards hat, duded my brains out, and thought I was just oh so cool. I was that guy at the bar, the guy who thought he was being hilarious by being loud or that he was special for discovering Jägermeister.

It gets worse. I grumble about lazy students, late people, and rudeness. Guilty, guilty, guilty on all counts. The students who get on my nerves are a portrait of me at my most lethargic best. I have staggered into a professor’s office the day before an exam, introduced myself for the first time and asked questions. Later I’d be mystified as to his terseness. Well, like, isn’t his job to teach, dude? I used to show up thirty minutes late to places, loudly enter, and not even notice the irritated looks on the faces around me.

It’s as though all of the awful versions of me are coming back to pay me back for past crimes.

So what to do? Well, what’s done is done and I can’t rewrite the past. So as much as it pains me, I guess I have to be, ugh, more patient. Damn.

Let me tell you, folks, there’s nothing worse than self-awareness.

Anyway, happy holidays.

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