Janet Sheridan: A Mind Divided
July 27, 2017
I rarely see issues in terms of black and white; instead, I bob around in a sea of murky gray. Ambivalence plagues me in matters great and small, more commonly small: Do I or do I not like rutabaga, fantasy fiction and men in skinny jeans?
I can't decide how I feel about prepared produce. Washed, peeled and chopped fruits and vegetables kick-start my cooking and don't require dangerous tools — I can open a plastic bag of carrot sticks without severing a finger. But when I pay extra to avoid peeling and chopping, a heavenly host of thrifty ancestors wails in mournful chorus, "Oh Janet, oh Janet, where did we go wrong?"
Greeting cards confuse me. I like their convenience, but rarely find them suitable. Recently, I wanted to buy a get well card, but the messages I read seemed inappropriate: "Please get well so I can find you attractive again." "So sorry you had to use your sick days for a real sickness." "As we say down on the pig farm, you cured yet?" Which would you send to an elderly female relative hospitalized for invasive tests?
I dither about dogs as well. I loved our family dogs and another that shared many years of my adult life. But I dislike yapping dogs, nipping dogs, growling dogs, charging dogs, jumping-on-me dogs, slobber-sharing dogs, night-barking dogs and owners who can't or won't control them.
As we say down on the pig farm, you cured yet? Which would you send to an elderly female relative hospitalized for invasive tests?
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Texting confounds me. My grandchildren respond to a text, and, since I learned to click on the little microphone and talk, it's quick and easy to compose one. But I hate texting when people with whom I'm having dinner do it. It's especially galling when they exclude me from the exchange and carry on a secret conversation punctuated by chuckles. I'd rather they talk to me, even if it means listening to a story I didn't enjoy the first five times I heard it.
I'm conflicted about powerboats. I've skimmed across lakes and ocean bays, enjoying the breeze powerboats create, the speed with which they move and the sights I see. I like watching my husband and grandchildren water ski. But the noise, oh the noise. Some of my happiest memories involve cutting quickly through the water on a sailboat, a blue sky above, the clear water of Lake Tahoe below, the only sound the wind in the sails — until a powerboat passes; some jet skis whine by like maddened mosquitoes; or a rogue breeze abruptly stands the boat on edge and my shrieks of terror deafen everyone on the lake.
As an amiable introvert, I enjoy exchanging pleasantries with strangers in waiting rooms or on planes. Doing so can make the time pass more quickly. But enough is enough. When non-stop talkers tell me the life history of somebody I don't know, I suffer. So I amuse myself by seeing how long they'll continue to talk after I quit saying "uh huh." So far the record belongs to a lady who talked about her hairdresser's daughter's wedding for nine minutes and thirty-one seconds before abruptly asking, "What would you have done?" then answering for me by describing what her hairdresser's daughter's boyfriend's grandma did.
I'm even at odds about myself: I like my positive nature, common sense and ability to reach the top shelf of anything; I regret my slowness off the mark, my timidity with technology and the distress I cause others when I sing. But I comfort myself with the knowledge that nothing in existence is perfect — though roses, sunsets and ice cream come close.