It Could Always Be Worse
We lost power on Tuesday, which is sorta kinda why I didn’t have a post. I'm not gonna lie to you: We didn’t actually lose power for that long. But when the lights did go out, it was kind of like when you are just going along, living your life, going to the dentist, dropping by the library, picking up 240 pounds of humus (not hummus!) and suchlike, and all of a sudden the volcano in your back yard erupts! But you’re okay! But then out of the still-smoking mouth of the devastated mountain comes a cloud of bloodthirsty pterodactyls, and you’re running and running with your family, and you find a safe place in a cave, and you’re hiding and you’re scared, but you’re still okay! But then the pterodactyls use their horrible beaks to pry their way into your house and, out of pure prehistoric malice, they wreck all your important papers and your baby memorabilia and your wedding photos, and it’s very sad and upsetting, but you’re still, still, still okay!
But then, in your hiding place, you happen to back into a glass of water that you had set down for a minute. And one of your socks gets all wet. And suddenly, somehow THAT IS NOT OKAY.
So, that is what it was like when the power went out yesterday evening. I will spare you the details about the rest of my day, but, man, I’m telling you. Pterodactyls.
But if there’s one thing I know, It Could Always Be Worse. We actually adopted that as our official motto when my older sister announced that she was supposed to bring in a poster depicting our family crest (we didn’t last long at that school). As I recall, the finished product showed our brand-new motto rippling proudly under an escutcheon divided into four tinctures, each with a charge; to wit: a Star of David, the head of Groucho Marx, an open book listing our favorite authors, and a Bagel Rampant. (If you haven’t treated yourself to Margot Zemach’s wonderful picture book, It Could Always Be Worse, you should check it out right away!)
So, yeah. Without even stretching my brain, I can imagine how much worse things could be. For instance:
1. Okay, so the roof was leaking a little bit. But it wasn’t leaking a lot! And we do have pots to leak in. It could always be worse: We could not have pots.
2. Hmmph, so it turns out I’m supposed to be on the radio talking about something I know almost nothing about, right at the same time as I’m supposed to be at my son’s open house at school, right at the same time as I’m supposed to be making supper, which will probably turn out to be, like, leftover chicken nugget and strawberry jelly casserole with a side of potato chip crumbs; and this is on the day when I can’t write in the morning, because of a dentist appointment, and can’t write in the afternoon, because of band practice. But the good news is, the ridiculous, unreasonable way we’re leading our lives is private! No one needs to know what loathsome foods my kids eat in lieu of dinner when we’re having a Bad Day, because that's personal information, and there's no way that --
3. Apparently the washing machine is supposed to make that sound, because it is cutting-edge technology. Can you imagine how irritating it would be if it were making that sound and it weren't because it was cutting edge technology?
4. When it's 3:30 a.m. and you just barely finally gratefully put the world's teethingest baby down to sleep, and just at that very split second, the three-year-old comes barreling down the stairs howling like an overheated locomotive, you know what word comes to mind, right, parents? That word of terror, the one that signifies untold suffering and the hidden anguish that is the fate of all guardians of little ones: "Vomit." So you go and see what the problem is, and it turns out that she's upset (by which I mean insane) because, see, her sister lent her her squishy mattress, but in the middle of the night, she took her mattress back. This tragedy is further augmented by her blanket being upside down, her Pillow Pet having gone missing (can't blame him), the fact that it's hot but NO NO NO WE DO NOT WANT THE WINDOW OPEN, all three night lights are missing, no you can't sleep in your tent, HOW LONG HAS THIS WET BATHING SUIT BEEN HERE, oh holy saints have mercy on me, what did I just step in, do you know what time it is, I knew there was a reason I never come up here anymore.
So you finally get things more or less squared away, with a combination of stoic compassion and intimidating glares that little children can see even when there is no nightlight. You slither back into your own bed, where of course the baby immediately wakes up ravenous, having gone a full twenty-eight minutes without nursing. And at that very moment, the words pop into your head: Nobody threw up.
You see? It could always be worse.