The World As Mare Sees It...
We Brake for Cheese 2004-04-23










When my father is very satisfied, very content, he proclaims in Italian that he's "happy like Easter Monday".

It loses a little in the translation, but basically boils down to the idea that Easter Sunday is a day of spiritual joy and family togetherness and there's loads of general smile-making emotion going around. Then, when you add the extra day of quasi-celebration after that, that free day when the most that is expected of you is to pull the extra leaves out of the dining table from yesterday's giant seating, then - and you'll have to forgive the irresistible pun here - it really puts the cherry on your Sunday.

The last few months for me have been harried at best. I'm 'in charge' for the first time in my career, and suddenly, a whole new crop of worries has wormed their way into my brain. Eventually, I'll be able to handle them all, but in the meantime, I'm dealing with them in my own way. That is, I've never dealt with worry well, but I'm trying as best I can. I'm not calm, I'm rarely cool, and I've never been collected. However, where I used to feel instant panic that would require a glass of water and slap across the face, I now let the maggots in my brain steep slowly. The years have taught me to make it across the room - even through the day! - more sedately. I'm far more snappish of course but, you know, bygones. Someone's got to suffer, and better the people around me than me myself. I've got a business to run, after all. I can't be breaking down every second day. (God, if only that were so.)

Except, (and you may or may not have noticed this!) but I've got a wee preoccupation with the size of my bum. Scratch that. I've got a preoccupation with my weight; I've got an obsession with the size of my bum. I think that if I shed that, along with those few extra pounds, all the bits of my brain would sit a little more evenly on the scales.

A couple of weeks ago... I've waited this long to write this because I'm still rather embarrassed about it... Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I stepped on the scale at DubDub and saw that after a week of fanatically counting points, I'd gained a polite point eight.

Point eight. POINT eight! Do you know what weighs point eight, poppets? The straw that broke the camel's back, that's what! Point eight had embarrassingly shiny eyes staring at the lovely Weight Watcher lady who smiled consolingly and asked if I'd stay for the meeting. Point eight had all the worry I'd experienced from January crop up and spill over in the middle of Second Cup while I tried to buy a cup of coffee and ended up humiliating myself instead. Point eight drove me up into the next pound and the Flirty Hemline Fund that I'd so publicly lauded down a bloody fiver. Point damn eight had all the rage I've felt towards my friends in the last few months take over my brain and make me blub uncontrollably every fifteen minutes. Point eight made all the frustration I've accumulated at work pile up and knock me around the head; things like my inability to manage one person, and my uselessness at stupid things like Excel, and the realization that stock managing is not just counting suddenly loomed over me like a falling shelf of heavy books. While my sister and my mother shopped after our weigh-in, point eight made me leave the store so that I could get a hold of myself. Point eight made me cry because I couldn't hear Henry Rollins the week before, which only made me realize that I'd never be able to enjoy any kind of live theatre again. Point eight made me reject the idea of ever returning to community theatre, an idea I've been toying with of late but summarily dismissed because an actor who can't hear her cues is a sorry actor indeed. Point eight called me a Singleton and didn't make it sound as fun as Bridget bloody Jones does.

Point eight effectively ruined what started out a good day, and the most brilliant part of it is that it wasn't about point eight at all.

It's point eight, poppets! I'm obsessed, but I'm not insane! But now I know - there really is such a thing as the straw that broke the camel's back.

It took a good several hours, but I eventually stopped with the sniffling and the silliness and the Kleenex, and got myself together. It was Easter weekend, and while I felt better, I knew that my miniscule and pitiful crack-up had taken a lot of joy out of the holiday.

But Monday... Monday, my mother decided to take advantage of the fact that she's high enough to do it, and played a little hooky from work. My sister teaches in a Catholic school, and therefore had off. My father even closed the restaurant. My brother is young enough to look at school as a respite from the rest of the family, and carried on as usual.

And I? Well, I had had a craptastic weekend; I was on the verge of a far more serious crack-up than something that weighed less than a pound; and I had an employee. These three factors together meant that I could go back twenty years, nod to my father's invitation, and crawl into the back seat with my sister so that we could get away for a day. Granted, my sister brought her planning, my mother was barking into a cell phone all day trying to negotiate some millionaire's mortgage, and I studied incomprehensible sales stats about titanium versus acetate spectacle frames... but we did it in a car, with my father whistling at the wheel, and a sense of calm insisted on pervading the atmosphere. Maybe it was calm for old time's sake; maybe it was calm after the storm, but any calm is a good calm and I don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

We stopped in a small, kitschy, picturesque town about 45 minutes out of the city. We got on the road again and paused for coffee in some other kind of weird metro-hamlet. It had one main street and every franchise in the world. A truly self-subsisting community, that. A couple of hours into driving to nowhere, my father pulled onto the shoulder of the small highway we were on, reversed a bit and took the other fork that led us to the Silani Cheese Outlet. From the backseat, I remarked that we should have a bumper sticker that says "We Brake for Cheese" and we all chuckled, content in the fact that it was a lame joke, and we were the only ones in the world who would find it funny. That's what family is for - to laugh at We Brake for Cheese, and to let you sit in the back seat for a while.

And then there were more trees and fewer buildings, and then there were fields and cows, and then there were small shoppes and quaint olde tyme towns peopled with happier citizens in acid-wash jeans and hair-bands.

We ate; we threw some money away on articles of homey cuteness; I let my shoulders relax a bit. We found a casino, and tried our luck; I pretended to be in Monaco and sat at a blackjack table, doubling down and losing it all. For the ride home that evening, I bought a couple of scratch and win cards and scratched and lost, and made jokes about printing errors in the lottery corporation and obviously shoddy workmanship in the design of my cards. Lame in the extreme, but lame is laughter, especially when it's shared.

We got home that night, and I watched a Queer as Folk re-run, and refused to examine the goings on of the workday that went on without me. On Tuesday, I started fresh, and with a few less aches in my shoulders, and twenty-four whole new points to eat.

It was a happy Easter Monday, and I guess it doesn't lose much in the translation at all.

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