Molly Fisk on the Urge to Stray

Day 100, 365, KEEP OFF THE GRASSImage from Flickr via (Creative Commons License)

I don’t know about you, but I hate doing what I’m supposed to. The idea of being good gets under my skin and makes me want to swear loudly in public or drive the wrong way down a one-way street.

This came up as I watched myself glide through a stop sign in third gear this morning. My rationale is that since the stop sign didn’t used to be there, and I didn’t used to have to stop, I don’t have to stop now. That makes sense, doesn’t it? If someone else gave me this argument I would be rolling my eyeballs. There’s just a part of me that doesn’t want to obey the rules. I drive along the back of a local supermarket, where all the loading trucks are, to miss the speed bumps in front, and feel as though I have special privileges. I’m cool, I know a shortcut.

Do you ever feel this way? I’m extremely good in most situations: I’m polite, I put my napkin in my lap, and meet almost all of my deadlines. I never litter. I take paint cans to the special place at the dump where paint cans go. But all the while, the part of my brain that wears too much mascara and a black leather jacket is looking for a sneaky way around the rules.

I don’t know where this sense of entitlement comes from, although it may be hereditary: My dad had it in spades. Is my life boring and I’m trying to create a little risk, a scintilla of drama, by tempting invisible highway patrol officers at that stop sign? Did I never get past the teenage rebellion stage? I’m 60 years old. My parents are dead. Exactly which grown-ups are going to reprimand me?

Being good just seems exhausting. I’m always being good. When do I get to be bad? Don’t you sometimes want to buy a can of spray paint and go wild? And I don’t mean spraying lines from poems on the side of a warehouse, which could be considered art. I mean 10-foot-high, bright red-curses dripping down the front of City Hall.

What keeps me from acting out these urges is that I’d so hate to be caught. I don’t like it when people are mad at me. I never cruise that stop sign if there’s a cop in sight, and believe me, I do look around. The Pepperidge Farm driver asking me to get the heck out of the way is one thing; I can take it. But what if someone I know saw me spraying graffiti on the Episcopal Church at two in the morning, or picking every rose out of someone’s front yard? I’d probably be arrested. Semi-Famous Local Poet Defaces Historic Landmark. Can you imagine? I’d never live it down.

So I limit myself to parking in yellow zones before six o’clock and slipping in the back doors of restaurants. Returning library books after the due date. Boldly taking my own popcorn to the movies. It’s ridiculous, but I can’t seem to stop wanting to be special. Even though my political and spiritual philosophies both tell me that everyone’s equal, some days, I don’t want to be equal.

Some days I just want to be King.



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  • Shirley September 7, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Right! Sometimes even we regular folk need stimulation and/or to be noticed. Even if it’s bad.:-)