Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Can You PLAN to be Spontaneous?
I remember when I was young and single, I was sitting in a bar waiting for a friend, and a guy approached me and offered to buy me a drink. “What would you like?” he asked. I looked at him slyly and said “Surprise me.” Whoa, I had no idea where that came from. Maybe, I needed to cut back on the hair dye. But, darned if his face didn’t light up when I said that. It was plain to see—men like spontaneous women.
I was feeling almost giddy…until the bartender placed before me…a White Russian. I immediately had a flashback (yes, this is a flashback in a flashback) to when I was a child, and my father would not allow me to leave the dinner table until I finished my milk. I spent hours at that table. I forced a smile and took a sip. Yup, there was that disgusting milk moustache. I tried not to shudder. A promise was born at that exact moment. I would never try to be something I’m not. A promise that I have broken too many times to count. But even today, I don’t drink milk. It turns out I am extremely lactose intolerant. No apologies necessary, Dad.
A few weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, my husband asked me what I wanted to do that day. I tried to think of something, but I was drawing a blank. “Why don’t you decide?” I suggested, and then it came out of my mouth again. “Surprise me.”
Now, I don’t know what the opposite of spontaneous is, but whatever it is, that’s what I am. And, my friends know it and my family knows it, and my husband figured it out within five minutes of meeting me. During our first year together, he would say “I have an idea. Why don’t you put your hair in a ponytail and throw on a baseball cap and we can go out for breakfast!” Our eyes would meet… and we would burst out laughing! That was as likely as me traveling with just one bag.
So, we got in the car and headed west. I tried to sound all carefree (oops, broke that promise again) and asked “Okay, what are we doing?” With a playful look in his eye, he said “We’re going hiking!” I managed a weak smile and turned to stare out the car window. Hiking? I had no backpack containing a rain jacket, food, and fresh water. We live in Colorado. In my mind, to go hiking in Colorado without the right gear and supplies… well, it’s just dangerous. I was wearing flip flops, which would be little protection against rattlesnakes. I didn’t even have my knife! Ever since I realized that bears eat people, and Colorado has bears, I have not gone hiking without a knife. You may think that’s silly, but in my mind “silly” would be bringing shark repellant. I am never silly.
My inner turmoil continued. What if I slip and fall into a crevice and am forced to gnaw off one of my limbs, because I don’t have a knife. It could happen. I checked my phone and it was only half charged! And worse than that, I didn’t even have lip gloss with me. Trying to hide my anxiety, I went on the hike. To my immense relief, I wasn’t eaten, I didn’t get dehydrated, and I didn’t even get chapped lips. BUT, I did get dirt in my flip flops. Will the words “surprise me” ever come out of my mouth again? No.
I’m not spontaneous. I like to say I’m prepared…and careful…and only slightly paranoid. So, if you hear the sound of a promise breaking, it’s probably just me, telling someone I’ve just met that I’m “laid back.” I wish.