SOMEBODY’S IN-BETWEEN GIRL
Let’s say one day you’re skipping down a path and you come up to the proverbial fork in the road. Most people don’t know, but “proverbial” is also a term of art that means “heavy with charms,” which let’s say this proverbial fork in the road is. As you were skipping down this path, before you hit the fork, you had in mind some good stuff for your future.
Let’s say you see the ideal future in terms of red velvet cake. You’re not naïve, you don’t expect it to be the perfect red velvet cake, at least not at all times, but for the most part, you know in your heart that a red velvet cake future is right up your alley and you’re willing to take the ups with the downs, because, after all, the name alone is worth constructing goals around.
So at this proverbial fork, there are, hanging from the wise old willow tree, along with the willow’s natural jewelry (long branches draped like heavily jeweled necklaces), charms. You can see them flash as they spin and catch the sun. Each charm tells you something about your red velvet cake future. There is the clear blue pool of pure water, there is the champagne flute filled with diamonds, there is the adorable fuzzy teddy bear.
You look down the path on your left. There are birds chirping down there. It smells like a fresh, healthy forest. Are the vague dancey notes of a horn section coming from far away? (Yes.) Because you are an exhauster of options, a think-through-it kinda human, a Planner with a Capital P, you take a look down the right path. Not much to see here, folks. And yes, that putrid stench and low, painful wail is in fact coming from the same entity. You shuffle back over to the left path.
As you turn, you run into an unscrolled scroll, floating at face height and flapping in the soft breeze like a shirt on a clothesline. You peel it off your face and read:
1. This is just a path. Right now you’re reading way more into it than is actually here.
2. On the other side, you may run into any, all, or none, of the following, in whatever combination is legally permissible by law: soul-shattering heartbreak, chronic indigestion, a variety of OCD-related disorders, citizenship in a land ruled by ego-infested robots on power trips, an unthinkable shortage of high-quality footwear.
3. Later, when you say you never saw it coming, remember this sign.
4. This is just a path.
Because you are A Planner, you sit down on a mushroom that was ripped off from the set of Alice in Wonderland, and you think Really Big Thoughts. You can hear the horn section and the clink of charms like wind chimes behind you. What you don’t notice is: the clear blue pool of pure water is saturated with poisonous chemicals, the champagne flute is cracked and that’s zirconia, and the adorable teddy bear is hanging by a noose.
At this point, you are thinking critically. You’re thinking that there are possibilities that you haven’t considered, but you feel confident that you have enough information to make an informed decision about which path to take. You take nothing for granted. You make no assumptions. You completely ignore numbers 1 and 4 from the unscrolled scroll flapping like a shirt from a clothesline that you had to peel off your face.
Now let’s say at this point I come along. I would bring with me my chaise lounge, also ripped off from the set of Alice in Wonderland, and set up shop next to you on your mushroom. My butler would produce from his shirt sleeve a tea set made of priceless china that he would set upon a silver tray engraved with ancient words of prayer thought to bestow upon its owner powers beyond the imagination. Because I am grounded and humane, I choose not to abuse these powers. Also, sometimes they make my face break out.
Once my tea set is set up and prepared, while my butler then gives me a manicure (buffed, clear polish), I explain to you your Red Velvet Cake Future. I explain it so well that you get it on every level—emotional, mental, physical, spiritual. You get it so thoroughly you feel it viscerally, as if you actually lived through it already and you know, right down to your very raw nerve endings, that I am so not bullshitting you when I say: the Red Velvet Cake Future is not actually Red Velvet Cake.
You know this to be true, of course. First, you are still understanding things on multiple levels, you clever bastard, and fourth, now you’re starting to think you’ve already been taught this lesson before and you pride yourself on your quick ability to learn, it’s a skill set that’s served you well since high school. Besides, you think, this person stretched out languorously on the chaise lounge with the tea and the butler and the manicure—how can you not trust a woman who wears alligator shoes with the teeth still in place?
Still…if the Red Velvet Cake Future actually did work out…
Would you walk down the Red Velvet Cake path? You would, wouldn’t you.