Unless your childhood was a mundane mix of mild manners and perfect parenting you probably read the infamous, Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorsts, somewhere between wetting the bed and fourth grade. I could delve into details of the prizes his brothers found in their cereal bowls that morning and what Alexander found instead,(nothing), but from the title the underlying nature of the story is apparent. As adults without bed times and with the ability to buy ourselves a cookie, we at least have some idea of what cheers ourselves up. Because of this it feels rare to have the sort of bad day experience you were privy to as a child when your parents yelled at you and your brother ate the last ice cream sandwich and your sister wouldn’t let you watch Boy Meets World. What consists of a Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, you may ask?
I wouldn’t have been able to answer this until last week. The day begun averagely so, not only did I have clean underwear, but I got a full night’s sleep the night before. And then I knocked over my cup of coffee into my work backpack. Oops. I don’t know if you know what stale coffee smells like, but it is a delicate yet distinct mixture of canine ass and mold. As I was rushing to clean up the mess in my backpack, on my floor, and dripping down my fireplace (those San Francisco living-rooms-turned-bedrooms), my elbow collided with the corner of the door. As I began to frown I tried to talk myself out of it.
I was dangerously approaching the start of A Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – and before 8am. We all know bad things happen in threes, and when one of my earrings fell into the toilet after I had peed in it I momentarily lazed in relief before leaving my home; those were my three bad things. In retrospect, it’s never that easy, is it?
Still somewhat new at my place of employment, still unable to gracefully accept a compliment, some lovely ladies complimented the low back of my dress near the restroom at work. This prompted me to explain in vivid details the measures one might go to while wearing a lower-than-average-backed dress while possessing slightly larger than average nipples. Dialogue such as this may have been exchanged:
“Thank you! I put Band-Aids on my nipples, since they poke through and I’m not wearing a bra.” I was at the conversational birth of memorable nipple monologue when a manager I had never spoken to came around the corner and directly into the conversation. Perhaps, his ears didn’t pick up the nipple confession, perhaps he didn’t know what I was referring to, one would like to comfortingly self-talk herself.
“Jesus.” He said, certifying his overhearing of the nipple talk. That was not only uncomfortable in an, upper management just heard me talking about nipples and Band-Aids, and Band-Aids on my nipples, but a possible sexual harassment sort of way. I wanted to die, but instead returned to my desk.
Hours later I left work and went to therapy. I hadn’t been in months and I thought I needed some expensive advice. Whenever I discuss a man my therapist approaches the conversation delicately to figure out if I have slept with him before she gives her advice. Sort of like a mental, genital feel-up. Then she gives me a verbal back pat and tells me take it slow and observe how he acts in the place of frustration before doing anything (translation: make sure he’s not an angsty, selfish artist).
Talking about your feelings is a damn weird thing to do before a date, which was where I was heading next. I put on lipstick in one of my favorite bathrooms in the world on the eleventh floor and may or may not have washed my feet in the sink, before I experienced excitement for the evening.
Although no one truly cares about the intricate details of my life except the people I share genes with, it is important to paint the picture in this instance. My favorite composer who I have loved for years, who my sister introduced me to, was coming to San Francisco. I had known about the show for nearly half a year, I had tickets, I had asked a man on a date that I liked, I wore a backless dress, I had Band-Aid on my nipples, I was wearing underwear and I had filed a police report that day (another matter entirely). I met my date near a homeless person after exiting public transportation.
We had dinner and sake and beer and then settled on a beautiful back patio for a drink before the show. It was so lovely that the physical residue of backpack coffee and mental residue of the Band-Aided nipple monologue could have happened weeks ago, or to someone else entirely. I feel like I tricked and conquered my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. We kiss, we’re weird, we move to a table near a heater and a gaggle of grey haired men. And then it’s time to go. My hands quickly recruit the tickets from my purse and I unfold it, un-crease it and spread it out flat as I check the time per our conversation to do so. The petite print of date and day of the week, Tuesday, meets my gaze.
It was Wednesday. I had mixed up the dates; the concert was the night before. And then not just a stray tear or two, but a terrifying psychotic mixture of loud laughter and borderline sobbing simultaneously occurred. I had reverted back to childhood and like Alexander himself, cried in public like he would have. It was my bad day and I was going to cry if I wanted to.