Nobody Says “Oh, Hell” Anymore

Before I write anything else, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Personally, I plan to have a quiet New Year observance alone in my apartment in San Francisco, watching an online stream of the Times Square celebration in New York City.  Celebrate at 9 p.m. in San Francisco, and then retire with a book.

I didn’t celebrate any of the traditional holidays earlier this month, and didn’t exchange presents with anyone.

Dave Hill’s Monday night show on WFMU in New Jersey was interesting.  He celebrated Christmas with his family in Cleveland, and noted that he gave his sister bags for cleaning up dog crap.  He was on the air with a nasty cold, so I admired his perseverance as well as his pragmatism.

Due to a financial arrangement which I won’t describe in detail, I receive a lot of dog crap bag-types of things, too.  Never cash. There’s an occasional gift card, but most of the time I just send an e-mail asking for DVDs, toiletries, etc., and a package arrives soon after.

Most people think of Christmas in materialistic terms, so you might say I’m having a late Christmas.  Today a heavy package addressed to me was left in the lobby of my building.  It wasn’t the last, either.

Evidently, the delivery person was able to get through the front doorway without calling me on the intercom, so I was surprised to find it there.  Recently, the security in my building was “enhanced,” and delivery people have been getting the brunt of it.  They’ve been leaving a lot of those adhesive-backed notices.

But I digress.

The package was a little more than I could handle alone, but some gay or bisexual women (I’m in the latter group) will play the tough girl and refuse help from kind men who offer.  Okay, some straight women do that, too.  Maybe the other gals can handle that fine, but I refuse help and then injure myself.

At first, I thought I was alone in the lobby.  Pushing the box across the floor to the elevator was an option, but when it got stalled on an uneven section of floor tile I lost patience.

“Oh, fuck,” I said.

“May I help you?” a man asked.

I looked up and saw the building custodian.  I could feel my face getting redder than it was when I was just pushing the box and getting angry.  Now I was embarrassed, too.

“I apologize.  I thought I was alone,” I said.

The custodian in my building is all class.  He dismissed the rude word and asked again if I needed help.  And I refused.

We got into the elevator together.  He was going to a different floor to do work, but he may also have wanted to keep an eye on me because I was obviously in over my head with that package.

A couple I hadn’t met were in the elevator.  Guilt and shame, being what they are, compelled me to break the ice with my new neighbors by confessing that I had said something quite offensive in front of the custodian, and he had been a perfect gentleman about it.

“You need help with that package, don’t you?” the male neighbor said.

“Oh, no thank you.   I’m fine,” I replied.  He’s onto me, I thought.

The custodian left the elevator first, and my floor was next.

This is when I show the new neighbor what a strong, independent woman I am, I thought, ready to take on the world.

I pushed the box across the floor to the open doorway, where it got stuck on the elevator door track.

“F,” I muttered, stopping myself just in time.  It was just the F sound.  A single consonant.  The fact that I started to drop another F-bomb was a cry for help, though, and just between us I’m grateful the neighbor recognized it as such.

I swallowed my pride and thanked him for carrying the package to my doorway.

After pushing the box inside my apartment — damn the threshold — I opened it.  I had asked for a jumbo supply of mouthwash, among other things.  This has to be the mouthwash, I thought.

Inside the box I found twenty-seven cube boxes of facial tissues and a skein of yarn.

The mouthwash will be heavier.  And I’d better follow my maternal grandmother’s example and get into the habit of saying “Oh, hell” when I’m pushed to the limit.  The witnesses weren’t flustered by my current swearing habit, but I offended myself by behaving that way in front of them.  Maybe that’s when you get your first inkling that you have to clean it up.

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