sophomorism

Ben walked into playschool today chirping My goddamn car keys! Where are my goddamn car keys, goddammit? except he said it more adorably than I did this morning, and he didn't yell.

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I feel for baby elephants on leashes and yeah, that's wrong, but I am robbed of The Circus. Not the kind that charges $250 per seat in Vegas. I'm talking about a convoy of wooden wagons and bearded ladies and strongmen and gypsy fortune tellers and sword-swallowers. The kind I could run away to join. And the master of it would appraise me and say

"Do you tame tigers?"

"No."

"Can you do magic?"

"No."

"Do you ride a ten-foot unicycle?"

"No."

"Can you eat with your feet?"

"No."

"Have you ever had babies?"

"Kind of."

"Will you have any more?"

"No."

"Are you a good mother?"

"No."

"Are you well-read?"

"No."

"Are you pleasant to live with?"

"No."

"Are you finished the next book yet?"

"No."

"Why?"

"I don't know."

"Are you making money for your family?"

"No."

"Why?"

"I don't know."

"What's the point of you if you can't tame tigers, swallow swords, grow a beard, make money, or write a book? You taught your child how to say goddammit. You haven't taken a full breath in four days. What's the use of you? You're sucking at everything."

"I know."

(uncomfortable silence)

(Circus master sighs)

"I need someone to shovel dung."

"You do?"

"Yes. Elephant dung."

"I don't know if I can do that. I mean, what if I don't do a good job? The elephants will resent me. I'll ruin them. They'll grow up remembering how I let them down. They'll..."

"Look, lady. As soon as we get that wheel fixed on the dancing bear's cage, we're leaving. Nobody runs away to shovel shit. They all want the trapeze or the highwire or the wild west revue. But hey. You're not doing anything else. You're just standing here in the middle of the woods, wishing you could run away. But you don't do anything. So this is all I've got for you, as long as you don't teach my elephants how to swear."

"I can't promise that."

(uncomfortable silence)

(Circus master sighs)

"Fine. We'll dress the elephants in sailor suits."

(Hands me a shovel)

(I take it)

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Do you drink? Jog? Do yoga? Max out your credit card in Cabo San Lucas? Snort hard drugs? Bark at your kids? Get more sleep? Overdose on neo-citran? Stare blankly at Facebook? Go to church? Stay away from church? Find a renewed focus and finish a novel? Embezzle? Sell your body? Maybe just a kidney. Nobody needs both kidneys. That's totally redundant. And plenty of people need one. Maybe not here. There are laws. Maybe in Micronesia or somewhere like that where they don't have laws and sell redundant kidneys in little carts on the street.

What do you do when you feel like you're letting everyone in your life down?