I’m a fairly cheerful person as it goes. Beer glass half full, sun’s in the sky all’s right with the world, today is another chance to become the person you want to be, all that greeting-card stuff is okay by me. But encountering disappointment is inevitable. I’ve learned the valuable lesson (cue strings) that it’s how you deal with the disappointment that matters.
Like my impressive chest sunburn that hasn’t faded in five days. Am I complaining? No, instead I’ve decided to take pride in my pigmentation. Red leather is in this year, and is usually expensive. Mine was free.
Here’s another example. As a disclaimer, this was entirely my fault for ceasing to pay attention to an (admittedly long) email chain.
I thought my coworker was having a barbecue yesterday. I wasn’t sure if I really had time to go, because my guitar class had a recital, but I wanted to make the effort to hang out with the Now! Coordinators–that is my job title, I know you’re jealous of the punctuation–and so I figured that I’d bring my guitar along with my Leinenkugel Summer Shandys and my big bag of BBQ chips, have some hot dogs, chat a little, and head directly for my concert.
First off, acutely aware of my time crunch, I missed the bus. I’d even checked the bus tracker online to see when the bus would come and had left the house with time to spare. But instead of getting frustrated, I decided to take it as an opportunity to read my book, so I sat at the bus stop and waited. About fifteen minutes. I read about ladies in Camelot sleeping with their stepsons.
The bus did arrive, around the time I had hoped to make it to the barbecue. I got on and tried to sit. First my guitar got in the way, knocking into poles and getting caught on handholds, then the row I’d chosen seemed designed for people without the need for legroom–people with knees a few inches from their bottoms? People with multiple leg joints? I tried to move my things so I was only taking up one seat in what was technically a handicapped row. My six-pack of Leinies wouldn’t fit anywhere except on one leg, tilted and almost spilling off my lap. And thus did I make the trip, thinking, At least it’s not rush hour!
I got off at the right stop and found the house with the help of a folded Post-It note in my pocket. I waltzed happily up and rang the doorbell. Nothing happened.
I counted to fifteen and rang it again, holding it longer this time. Nothing happened.
I peered around the house on both sides. I didn’t hear characteristic happy barbecue noises, but I was at least ten minutes later than my coworker had said we could show up and I thought maybe I was one of the first ones there. So I called out: “Sue! Hello?”
Suddenly a soft, accented voice called back. I couldn’t tell if it was from the yard of the house I was looking at or not.
“Hello? Can I help you?”
“Um, hi,” I said. “Is there a barbecue?”
“I’m looking for Sue.”
“There’s no one here by that name.”
Okay, I thought. First: Is someone messing with me? Are they all inside giggling as Sue does a weird impression to scare me off? Am I being hazed?
Given that we work together and have never yet hung out, it’s unlikely she feels comfortable enough to do that, I thought. Do I have the wrong house? I realized at that moment that I didn’t have the phone numbers of any of the people who were going to this barbecue. I called my roommate. I made her go into my work email and find the email thread and read me the address. It matched the one on my Post-It and the one I was facing.
I rang the bell again. Nothing.
I paced back and forth. By this point I’d been outside the house for fifteen minutes. Even if I caught this barbecue, I’d have to leave soon for my recital, and I hadn’t eaten dinner. Then I caught sight of some ladies in the yard next door. They were staring at me. I worried for a second that they though I was a burglar or a gang member, then remembered the huge, gawky guitar strapped to my back and the goofy, confused expression that was doubtless on my face. I wouldn’t be afraid of me.
One lady called, “Are you looking for someone?” Hers was the accented voice that had told me she didn’t know a “Sue.” One small victory–I had not been barbecue-crank-yanked. She came to the fence and asked me what I needed. I sheepishly told her that there was supposed to be a barbecue and that I’d checked the address, her next door neighbor’s house was the one, my coworker was housesitting–
“Well, dear, I think they probably aren’t here yet,” she said. “You should wait.”
I agreed, mostly so that she’d feel free to go back to her friend. Looked at my watch. Time to go if there was any hope of eating anything. Booked it out. Texted a coworker who I knew wasn’t going, saying that I hoped I didn’t look bad as the girl who said she’d go and didn’t show up to eat her share of the meat. Little did I know, she texted the coworker throwing the barbecue, who then sent me a message. The barbecue had been cancelled. She thought I knew.
We did the adorable dueling apologies thing, her for not…having had the barbecue? Making sure I wouldn’t show? Me for being an idiot. Texted back and forth. Bonded.
But the real moral of the story is how I dealt with the disappointment. I’m a grown woman. I can handle it when plans fall through. I’m not a slave to every little frustration. So what did I do?
What any self-respecting person would have done: I tore open the big bag of chips, ate most of them, looked to the left and right, noticed a police station nearby, then decided to ignore it as I wrapped a Summer Shandy in my sweater and proceeded to drink it at the bus stop.
**note to any local law officials: Parts of this story may be fiction. I can neither confirm nor deny that alcohol was consumed on public property. But if it was, it was classier than if I had been some wino because my beer was in a nice cardigan and not just a liquor store paper bag**
That’s how we deal with disappointment, boys and girls. Because when you decide on impulse to eat an entire bag of barbecue chips and drink a lemonade beer, God says, “Heck, that’s just sad. Let me help this kid out.” And then when you get to your guitar recital, your teacher will have brought a bottle of champagne. And he will give the bottle of champagne to you for safekeeping, and it will be your responsibility to see that the champagne is gone before you get up on stage with the rest of your massive guitar class to play “Handle Me With Care” to an audience of people just waiting to perform their own song. So it is written. Right here in this blog.
This is my point for what to do when faced with disappointment: Drink, and drink will be given to you; seek and you will find a kind accented lady; gorge, and the chip-bag will be opened to you.*
*My apologies to Matthew 7:7.