A History of Disappointments

July 20, 2012
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A friend once told me her greatest fear in life was being disappointed. I possess no such feelings.

I. When I was six, my family visited my grandfather in Chicago. On the plane, my mom gave me a watch, a beauty of a thing, with four detachable faces, each themed to a different season. I strapped it onto my wrist, grinning at the passengers around me.

An hour after landing, we hitched up our towels and walked to the pool. I went into the water with my watch, clogging gears and cogs the instant the plastic touched the water.

II. On an elementary school field trip to the Edgewood Park Nature Center, as Ranger Harry gave our class a long, dull review of photosynthesis, a tiny green inchworm was spotted on the arm of a classmate.

"Look!" someone shouted, and we all crowded around, ooh-ing.

Ranger Harry also spotted the inchworm. He picked it up between his thumb and his pointer finger, looked curiously at it for a second, then flicked it away.

III. In middle school, a boy told me he had a crush on me a week after I had nervously told him my own fluttering feelings. However, by now, my feelings had mostly dissipated, as I saw him for what he really was, in pants a little loose to be tight on purpose, and a mustache so prominent that it couldn't be coaxed out of my imagination.

IV. E.B. White is a man. This is strangely shocking.

V. My family adopted a grey and white kitten from the animal shelter for $50, Mia. A little while later, my parents gave her away because they realized everyone in the house was allergic to cats, excluding myself.

VI. On my sixteenth birthday, I came downstairs in sweatpants, walked into the living room, and was blinded by a camera flash.

I saw my dad and brother first, dressed up in matching suits and bowties. Next, a heap of teenage girls my mother determined to be "my friends". There was an assortment of women there, my mom’s middle-aged friends, and a couple of younger sisters from around the neighborhood.

People threw their arms around me, mussing my half-washed hair, enveloping me in bosoms and gift cards, choking me with perfume. They gathered around the dining room table, now laden with coffee cake and strawberries, as my brother served drinks to the assembled women.
I sat tentatively at the head of the table, next to a girl my mom figured I was better friends with than I actually was.
“This is pretty crazy, huh?” I said.

“Yeah,” she said, and looked down at her plate.

VII. On the first day of summer when I was small, my mother packed up the car for a picnic at the beach, with pasta and lemonade and bikes for riding along the boardwalk. We climbed into the car, and backed out of the driveway. There was a crunching sound. As it turns out, the tricycle belonging to my three year old self was sitting in the driveway, almost packed in the trunk of the car, but not quite.

VIII. Neither of my parents have any memory of this.

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