I survived turning 40 but getting to this milestone has been rough and full of angst. In fact, the day of the big event the weather and yours truly held the same level of snark. Where Monday had initially been planned around sushi and sake, it consisted of peanut butter and honey on wheat with eight hours of Empire Earth. I had taken the day off and finished all my schoolwork so as to go out to celebrate when the school called with the announcement they were sending the troops home early due to impending hazardous weather.
Sure enough, not long after the munchkins walked through the door, freezing rain fell and that was the end of the plans. Which is OK, I’d prefer kids home safe than being sorry later. Plus, this whole angst thing has been in full swing since Thanksgiving, it was nothing new and getting old.
Fortunately, the facade of crankiness began to crack on Tuesday thanks to a combination of sun and the air holding the promise of spring. It was exactly what the doctor ordered and good thing, too, as my purple eyeliner was beginning to reflect my pervasively bad mood. The color and thickness for the last 90 plus days reaching ridiculous near-Goth proportions.
All through the holidays and into the weekend before the big 4-0 day, my eyeliner application had become extreme. Even one Ms. Wee Emma pointed it out with the comment, “I see all that purple around your eyes.”
A part of me wanted to blame boredom or better yet a mid-life crisis but how to explain that to a kid? So I quickly scrambled for an explanation that would be satisfactory to the ears of my ten year old. Or so I hoped as this is the child who once asked, “Have you ever felt like everyone around you is a robot? That aliens are using them to study us?” My head filled with battling theme songs to The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and visions of sci-fi movies They Live and Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, the original version with Kevin McCarthy, by the way. “Have you ever felt like that?”
Munchkin conversations are always interesting, including the morning of Emma’s inquire with her hound dog expression and a finger pointed to the corner of her left eye as she made reference to all the purple.
“These are my pre-angry eyes,” I said and out of nowhere proceeded to compare it to Mrs. Potato Head preparing Mr. Potato Head for a dicey adventure out in the human world in the Disney/Pixar flick, Toy Story II, with an exclamation, “‘I’m packing you an extra pair of shoes and your angry eyes, just in case.’”
Given how I’ve felt for three months, having a pre-set pair of angry eyes is nothing more than being proactive or my just in case. I even wore an exceedingly heavy pair of pre-angry eyes to my local DMV where I’ve felt more warmth and cheer during a root canal than what I received while renewing my license this year.
This, of course, is a classic case of confirmation bias - you go looking for trouble, you will certainly find it or create it.
Renewing one’s license with the aid of an angst-riddled individual as an angst-riddled, heavily eyeliner-ed individual on the cusp of turning a snarky 4-0 is a precise example of creating a viscious circle of more angst. Yet, as I paid a small fortune for new tags, hiding behind a heavy pair of pre-angry eyes, I recalled what Emma had said about aliens and robots.
Perhaps the DMV angst-riddled individual was a robot under alien control and the frosty glare with a curt tone had a far more insidious explanation than I realized?
Or maybe she just needed to wear more eyeliner?
Bethany J. Royer is the mother of two munchkins and has a serious case of psychology student senior-itis. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.