The stop-sign whisperer blowing in your ear

Maybe it was karma. A few weeks ago a drunk and/or stupid-ass driver ran up my driveway, hit my car, knocked over the stop sign on the corner, and drove away. Being in blessed sleep (blessed because it’s elusive these days) I heard nothing, and awoke to the mess. As I stared at the fallen stop sign from the deck above, I could only think of how my life often reflects these moments when all one can say is, “Fuck” when things that we or others should be stopping just won’t stop.

My personal stop sign has gone dark. Where it used to rise up if I was eating too much, puffing too much, making excuses too much for not exercising, it remains in the shadows. I know it’s there. It makes little noises, peeks out from its dark corner of my grey matter. But the stop sign has yet to be repaired and put back in its rightful place, known as the small town of Willpower.

If only the stop sign were on a spring and even when it was down a bit would spring back to save the day before the next size of jeans had to be ordered. Back in the 1970s, my Dad created a stopping mechanism for Mama Bear. Mom got her first garage to park the family car in when we moved up in the world to a suburb of Portland. As with most garages, there’s was a lot of stuff in in, but Dad had it very organized around the available edges of the space and overhead in boxes. Mom loved the garage because it got her out of the weather and she could go straight into our house and not get wet in Oregon’s famous rainy clime. But she was having a wee bit of a problem knowing how far to pull up the car. She’d either pull up too far and there was no room to get to the door into the house; or she wouldn’t pull up far enough and the garage door would stop just before hitting the trunk of the car.

Dad being Dad, he rigged up a plastic golf ball with holes in it on a piece of twine and tied it to a rafter. The idea was that as soon as the mini-whiffle ball touched the windshield, Mom should stop. This simple tool, the ball on a string, was indeed the precursor to the technology now on cars that uses obnoxious beeps to alert people of impending doom. Or just a wall getting too close. Or a human with a shopping cart.

I was pondering, in the way that I do (formerly known as daydreaming), and thought how useful Dad’s ball and string would be if I had it to tell me when to stop. Not in garages, but across my whole life. Just as it helped Mom not run into the wood pile in the garage, it could help me to stop before I sent a snarky email to my boss. Stop before I ate the ‘Sharing size’ M&Ms all by myself. Stop before I said the one thing that was sure to start a stupid fight with The Husband. We all have things we do, even daily perhaps, that would benefit from a ball on a string to tell us when to stop, before it’s too late and the damage is done.

Shrinks and those prone to advising others have psychological terms for it. And likely also have strategies for their clients on “making good decisions” (oh, how I hate that phrase). I just know it’s hard to break the bad habits — to actually STOP — and wonder why some people have great will power and some don’t. Since it’s Sunday, here I go stepping into the vestibule confessional. Sometimes I just fucking hate people who have great will power. This includes women who only eat salad when they go out to dinner, who exercise every day, who ALWAYS eat right and make the right choices, who look good in shift dresses and flats. I’m sure there’s a male version: guys who go to the gym every day and are super buff; who no longer eat red meat and put protein powder on every fucking thing they eat and drink to improve their metabolism; who always win at whatever sport they play.

So, yeah, I know, it’s irrational jealousy. But that darn stop sign won’t pop up either when I’m going negative on the poor, innocent skinny chick who eats nutritional meals. She may as well be the devil incarnate. Luckily no one can read my thoughts as I take a man-size bit of a cheese burger, wipe the grease from my lips, and wish I could spit far enough for it to land in Miss Skinny’s entrée salad.

But not all is lost. So, back to the downed stop sign. The beach town I live in, surprisingly, had a temporary stop sign put up on my corner within about 90 minutes of my talk with the police office who came to check out the damage of public property and my poor little car’s backside. But the afternoon of that same day, a whole new sign was put up, cemented and graveled into the sidewalk. The speed at which this was done was laudable for a small town. It also made it harder to have negative thoughts about the incident. Except for my Rav4 (Black Current color!) having to be in the car-hospital for some time, I’ve moved past the swearing and gnawing about it. Now a brand new rental Rav4 (Black) sits in the driveway, paid for by insurance (except $9 p/day).

Yes, I’m still optimistic. If the stop sign on the corner can come back so fast after being taken out by a drunk driver, my will power can come back too, despite being hit by the medically- and health-induced trauma of family members, and now Mama Bear’s trip to heaven. Yeah, and other shit to, including my odd personality (google personality traits of Geminis).

Even this morning I made myself a healthy smoothie, ignoring the Easter Basket that The Husband surprised me with on the kitchen table. It’s 1:15pm and the chocolate has not yet been breached. The stop sign is up! I’ve taken myself off bereavement leave, and my wheels are turning. I don’t want to give up on myself. Don’t you give up on yourself either. Our will power is there and we can all figure out how WE need to pick it up off the sidewalk and cement and gravel it back into the right spot.

Don’t worry, Lady Proverbs is giving myself and all of you permission to still have the private glee of hating the skinny chick and the buff dude. Fuck ’em. We’ll show ’em.

From Lady Proverbs, somewhere on the Oregon Coast.

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