How Claire Huxtable Failed Me: An Exercise in Blaming My Shortcomings on Must-See-TV
In addition to an irrational fear of centipedes and a penchant for constipation, one of my many charms is my absolute refusal to be assertive in situations that require me to do so. Of course, I have no problem being assertive in completely inappropriate situations, which is to say that if I’ve had a couple Jack & Cokes and you happen to tell me that some bitch at the next table elbowed you on the dance floor and then gave you a dirty look, OH HELL NO I will not allow that to go down, because THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR, and oh, hey, look, I’m getting kicked out of the bar. How’d that happen?
Dalton, you magnificent son of a bitch!
But when it comes to things like, oh, telling a waiter he got my order wrong, explaining to my hairstylist that I don’t like the cut she gave me, or – GOD FORBID – asking to speak to a manager? Hell no. You go right ahead, Assertive McGee. I’ll be over here with my bad hair, eating the meatball sandwich I did not order AND LIKING IT.
I will now quietly accept my fate as a Romanian gymnastics coach.
And I really don’t know how this happened. After all, I grew up watching ladies like Julia Sugarbaker and Claire Huxtable on TV every week, and those bitches did not front, my friends. I idolized them. When I was in 3rd grade, I wanted nothing more than to grow up to be a sassy black lawyer in Brooklyn, or – if I was still white when I reached adulthood – a well-spoken interior designer in Atlanta. However, instead of this:
“Let the record show…”
I turned out more like this:
Oh, Peter. I understand your pain.
And I’ve tried. Oh, how I’ve tried. But along with being horrendously unassertive, I was also gifted with somewhat of a short fuse (Thanks, Lord!). So my attempts at speaking up for myself tend to go awry at the first sign of resistance from the other party. And by “go awry,” I mean “contain high-pitched screams of profanity and hysterical tears.” Just to pull a completely hypothetical example out of the air, here’s how a conversation between me and the salesperson at a college bookstore might have gone, if he had hypothetically refused to return a very expensive textbook I mistakenly purchased:
GUY AT COUNTER: Can I help you?
ME: I want to return this book.
GUY AT COUNTER: That book is non-refundable.
GUY AT COUNTER: It’s non-refundable. Those books are specific to the semester, so we don’t need them anymore.
ME: BUT I DIDN’T KNOW THAT WHEN I BOUGHT IT AND THERE WERE NO FUCKING SIGNS AND NOTHING ON THE RECEIPT SAID SO AND IT WAS A MISTAKE AND I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY FOR THIS I CAN BARELY PAY MY FUCKING RENT WHAT AM I GOING TO DO YOU ARE HORRIBLE AND AWFUL I HATE YOU AND I CANNOT HANDLE THIS SHIT AND I AM NOT LEAVING UNTIL I GET MY MONEY BACK OH MY GOD OH MY GOD WHY ME OH MY GOD AND MY STOMACH HURTS AND NOW I AM LATE FOR CLASS I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HOPE YOU ROT IN HELL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO ME JUST LOOK AT ME LOOK AT MEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!
So. Uh. I got the refund.
And my friend Bird, who had the great privilege of accompanying me that day, has never been the same. Hypothetically, of course.
You see, when you go from zero to BURNING RAGE in 30 seconds, assertiveness is not so much your strong point. So, until I figure out how to express myself without untoward amounts of tears and spittle, I’m obligated to go with the more sanity-friendly option: keeping my damn mouth shut and taking it up the ass like a champ.
Someday, Julia Sugarbaker, I will have balls as big as your shoulder pads.
Entry filed under: And you KNOW THIS!.