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Mug shot

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

“It’s all small stuff.”

“Don’t let things get to you.”

“Don’t bottle it up.  Speak your mind!”

Stand up.  Sit down.  Follow the rules.  Forge your own path.  Be happy.  Life’s not all sunshine and glitter.  Differentiate while you standardize! Carbs will make you fat.  Carbs will give you energy.  March to the beat of your own drummer.  No, not that beat.

I believe I’ve come to the conclusion that nobody knows what the H. E. double-hockey sticks they’re talking about.  One of my favorite quotes comes from that great philosophical classic The Outlaw Josey Wales.  “You must endeavor to persevere.”  My father always sounded particularly nebulous and wise when he threw out this little gem in my childhood times of trouble.  I’d ask what, exactly, that meant and he responded with the equally obtuse “When you know, Grasshopper, you will be ready to go.”

Great.  The foundation of my psyche was apparently built on a vigilante, a Kung Fu loner, and a heaping helping of Yoda.  That’s why sometimes I can’t decide if I want to ride off into the sunset or Force choke someone.

Take Friday, for instance.  Two piddling things, trifles really in the grand scheme of this thing we call life, happened that profoundly colored my attitude and general faith in humanity.  Some sorry mug stole my “pet” coffee cup off the drying rack in the teacher workroom.  Not out of the extra dishes box, mind you, or off the fabled give-it-away table, but right off the drying rack where stuff clearly belongs to somebody.

My first impulse was to conduct a room-by-room search and show some masters’ degree-holding snit a little Sand Mountain justice (See, that Josey Wales stuff is ingrained).  But lunch period is short, and by the time I rounded up a bowl to heat my mater soup, I had a roomful of freshmen waiting on me.  One precious soul inquired about the contents of the bowl.  “Blood of my enemies,” I deadpanned.  The freshmen worked hard, especially for a Friday.

Fortunately, I had a standardized test analytics session scheduled for the remainder of the school day, which, as you can guess, cooled my boiling blood into a torpor.  I sent out a sweetly worded APB for the kind return of my coffee cup. Only those who know me well could read the Liam Neeson between the lines…”I want my coffee mug back.  I will hunt you down.  I will not stop.”  At the end of the day, my mug was still at large.  Come Monday, if it hasn’t re-appeared, I’ll start my campaign. Something along the lines of “I hope you’re enjoying my polka-dot mug.  It was passed down by my dear departed grandmother, who kept her teeth in it.”

Yeah, it’s a cup.  I get that.  It’s a piddling thing.

The second trifle came in the rush to get ready for the football game.  This week required me to drive 20 minutes east to get home and transform from a pirate to a lion only to rush back west an hour, choke down some bad pizza in a seedy part of town, and make it to the stadium in time for the pre-game heraldry.   Not only do we not miss a down; we greet the team/band/cheerleaders/chain crew fieldside.  It’s great!

So, imagine my surprise as my beloved, exhausted from his own school day and rushing to get the farm animals fed before we speed across the bay on a quest for football glory, plops a single bloom on the counter as I’m getting my game face on.  “Your new gardenias are starting to bloom,” he says and is off to find a sweatshirt before I can thank him.  The heady, aromatic scent of the gardenia wafts through the air and I crush its petals against my wrists, a balm alleviating the hectic stress of the day.

It was a singular act, simultaneously thoughtless and thoughtful. I can’t tell you the last time he bought me flowers…that’s not the way we quantify our marriage, as if there must be some sort of floral manifestation of love to make it believable.  That solitary bloom, however, held the promise of endeavoring to persevere.

Yeah, it’s a gardenia bloom.  I get that.  It’s a piddling thing.