Where Are The Little Men in White Coats When You Need Em’?

January 30, 2008 by Ellen Stimson in Grief, Humor, Nervous Breakdowns

I have been feeling just a little bit frustrated lately…out of sorts might be a better description. And kind of mad…at almost everyone. I mean I’m not out of control or anything, but I have been having these relatively minor, teensy little, hardly worth mentioning really, nervous breakdown thingys.

You know my mom died, and my sister and I are estranged, and the funeral was sort of a nightmare what with the melodramatic eulogy that kind of erased my whole existence, and the marching up and down the aisle with histrionic sobs and head shaking recoveries, while my family and I sat riveted in our pew and tried to be elegant by comparison ….(actually that last was rather easy) Once I turned slightly to catch the eye of a friend in a row just across and a little bit behind, and was rewarded by seeing a church full of people with their eyebrows up around their hairlines. The scene gave a whole new meaning to wide-eyed.

So I figure I am entitled to a little upset here and there. Only I seem to be having them, umm… everywhere. First it was the restaurant. We don’t have many restaurants up here and in winter they close early and business is slow. You’d think this might make them actually want to please their customers. Only this is not been the general experience. Good restaurants continue to be something we pine for from our old lives.

I wanted a little iced tea. Now I am well aware that it is winter, but did I mention that my mom DIED? Doesn’t that entitle you to some iced tea if you want it for God’s sake? I didn’t actually say this, but I did try to persuade her to bring me some iced tea. The server calmly repeated that they don’t serve iced tea in the winter. I patiently explained…(okay patient could possibly have been mistaken for condescending), that since they have tea bags and water and ice, really we could all be on the same team here. Yes, but when they serve iced tea they do it from pitchers, and they didn’t have any out because they weren’t serving iced tea, explained the slightly exasperated server. Just bring me a tea bag. And some ice. I will make it myself. She started to speak, and I may have raised my voice a little when I said PLEASE, I want hot tea and a GLASS of ice! My daughter could be seen whispering to the server and my husband left her something like a lifetime tip, and I realized that we were all acting like I was a perhaps being little bit unreasonable here. I don’t know. I just wanted the tea.

And recently I went into the bookstore. I buy literally thousands of dollars of books from this store every year. Once a salesperson slipped and told me I was their second highest customer. That may have been an exaggeration, but I am by any reasonable standard a good customer. I make special orders instead of using Amazon. I do most of my holiday shopping here. We buy books for our whole family. We are interesting eclectic readers. I am friendly, and cheerful, and never complain. Well, almost never. Well, until now I guess.

But they have taken the chairs OUT of the fiction section. Now I am a fiction reader and moreover a fiction browser. This is a real honest to God hardship. I am seriously bummed out here. I mentioned to one of the employees that I missed the chairs. Somebody bought them she said…(who buys their furniture at a bookstore) Okay so are more coming? Maybe!, she answered brightly. So, okay after a few days, I “mentioned” it again, only this time to the manager. He too told me the story of the couple who’d bought them and a whole bunch of other bookstore furniture. (I was beginning to really dislike these furniture buying people) I asked him if they were
replacing them and explained about how fiction browsers, like me, actually exactly like me, like to sit there and browse….(and buy of course was the bigger implication)…He was still smiling about the furniture buyers and fiddling with the cash register.

The owners are mainly upstairs and are rarely on the floor. So I emailed the youngest of them, and he answered with the damn story, told in funny quirky detail, about the people who bought the furniture!

Now I hang out at this bookstore quite a bit. And they don’t take tips in apology, so I am trying to behave. I am clearly not communicating effectively. They don’t seem irritated as much as amused, and clearly they do not get that I want them to decide about the chairs…and in my favor.

Yesterday I went back into the bookstore. I was feeling itchy and mad, and considering perhaps just a little screaming fit that they need some CHAIRS in the fiction section, when I went in and discovered these little fat ottomans paired together reminiscent of chairs. Only they were barely off the floor. Little leather cubes really. That barely hold my elbows let alone my bum.
What does a girl have to do around here for a chair?????


  • Katiedid

    you must not drink..?….you just need a little whiskey

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been saying that for years katie… but, sadly not single malt. I think, perhaps, she would take you up on a margarita with some sort of liquor floating around in it. Probably with some chips and salsa… At least, as I remember it.


  • margie

    Ooh I think you are onto something. In the 50s there were mother’s little helpers. In the 60s and 70s we all got stoned. Then in the 80s we started wanting to set good examples for our children, and now we are just a mess missing cigarettes, booze and fried food. No wonder we have road rage…throw W in there and it’s a wonder we aren’t all rampaging in the streets.

    Funny post…your sister sounds like a real peach

  • margie

    Oh and therapy. I forgot THERAPY, which makes us guilty over even thinking about that little beer in the back of the fridge… at 7AM….

  • Amy

    Sometimes I am amazed at peoples lack of common sense. Is it so hard to figure out that hot tea and a glass of ice will MAKE iced tea in a pinch?
    Your request did not seem too odd to me. My husband would be over tipping the waitress too, in fact he has.

  • Don Mills Diva

    I hate it when people seem to lack basic common sense. I’m a customer. I want ice tea. Bring me some damn iced tea – it so simple. I lose my mind over things like that.

  • Anonymous

    Oh yes, bookstores should NEVER EVER sell a customer’s favorite chair! there should be a law…JS

  • library lady

    I drink iced tea all winter at most restaurants. Of course, here in the Midwest, we understand those things. I think you were a model of self-restrained dignity during your sister’s performance, and your family was magnificent. As for little leather ottomans, aside from the butt/ottoman ratio, my old knees would never make the round trip down and up without an unseemly display!

  • kat

    This stuff drives me crazy too. From now on maybe ask about the tea before you are seated. It might be a better barameter than just looking at the menu

  • Max

    So library lady actually saw the thing. Wish I could have….your life with your family is the best revenge. You will feel better soon.
    And I too will vocuh for the whiskey cure…

  • Illinois X

    remember that movie where jack nicholson wanted a BLT w/o mayo and they couldn’t/wouldn’t make it for him? sounds like your experience…

  • jamie

    I’m telling you, I think the January Funk is plaguing the nation. I’m surprised you have troubles getting iced tea year round in Vermont–here in Iowa, it’s basically a staple! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by my blog–I’ll be back!

  • beesknees

    Sounds like TP knows just what you need. Alcohol has gotten a bad rap. Get a little bit drunk two or three times next week, YES 2 or 3, and see if the haze doesn’t somehow clear things up. It is counter intuitive, but we can’t all be wrong….and you have a mean sister, a dead mother, and WINTER. Don’t try to go it alone….
    LOVED this post

  • Anonymous

    Yes, right? I mean I know that they are the service class and to them we have a moral obligation, and we must mind our manners, snd they are struggling to raise nice kids and pay their bills just like we all are,but COME ON. We are talking iced tea here, not a Brandy Alexander.
    Great read….M

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