Recently, Petunia, Dash and I travelled to sunny Florida to visit their grandparents and aunt in their gorgeous home by the beach. Flying coast-to-coast with them is increasingly easy as they age; just download a couple of new movies in their iPod Touch devices, give 'em a pack of Starburst each, and they forget they're cooped up in a 737 for six hours. It used to be that Dash would ride primarily on my lap, but, now, he sits by the window, Petunia between us, and I can veg out with my iPod or a good book. Everybody wins! A few rows ahead of us, a morbidly obese man had a quick but noticeable exchange with a flight attendant about the empty seat beside him; there was a long list of standby passengers, but the guy had bought two seats so that he could fly without encroaching on anyone else's personal space. I found that thoughtful of him, 'cause some people aren't so kind.
You know the ones I'm talking about: the lady in line behind you in line at the pharmacy, literally breathing down your neck because she has absolutely no concept of personal space. (This always happens to me at the pharmacy, for some reason.) Recently, I asked one such lady to step back and give me some space, and do you know what she said? "This is a line in CVS; this is how it works." When I said, "I'm here to pick up medication for a highly contagious illness, so it's in your own interest to keep your distance," she didn't budge, though we were literally toe-to-toe. So I used my best Simon-Says voice to ask the entire line to take several steps backward because those toward the front were getting squished. Still ... no response. Suckers learned that when you're a frequent flyer at CVS like I am, what this effort gets you is called to the front of the line to pick up your suddenly-ready script, even though it's been sitting there for days. Pharmacy tech has my back, yo.
But what about when no one has your back? Recently, we hosted several events at our house; and during those events, I close our dog in our master bathroom and post a sign on our master bedroom door reading: "Dog inside -- please do not open." Well, once, I forgot. I forgot during the party for which I had run out of time to tidy up the master -- which I usually do, even though no one ever opens the "dog, do not open" door. Except I forgot the sign that time, so my bedroom, into which I threw all of the stuff I didn't have time to tidy up before the party, saw some traffic. How much, I won't know ... but my dog even got loose from confinement, so that someone or someones even used my bathroom.
My problem with that? I might have forgotten the sign on the door, but my bedroom door was c-l-o-s-e-d. Do you ever enter a room at someone's house without permission? I think not. I felt like my personal space was violated, and I wonder if people now recognize me from that episode of Hoarders, 'cause my room was really that bad. What can I say? I have two kids and no household help, so I do the best I can and am steadily improving in that arena, but we still have too much stuff and not enough places to put it. I'm working on that. But I don't even know to whom I need to explain that because I don't even know who was in my private bedroom.
In any event, such as it is, I've realized that I have personal space "issues," as in, I don't like anyone in it -- not the pharmacy line-lady, not the stranger-in-my-bedroom, but, beyond that, not even my kids as much as before. Our first night in Florida, my little guy wanted a Mama-snuggle, which I failed to read as code for "I don't want you to sleep a wink, oppressor." Finally, I shoved the dude to the other side of the bed, put a pillow between us, and declared it to be the Berlin Wall of sleep. There are some times and places where a person just needs her space. I'm figuring in bed, in bedrooms, in bathrooms, and, yes, even in line at the pharmacy are reasonable claims. It'd be nice to always have it on airplanes, too, but most people aren't as considerate as the guy in 11D and 11E -- like the 50-something lady in the handknit yellow sweater who, as she turned aside while waiting in the bathroom line to let someone pass, let rip a loud and pungent fart about two inches from my face, and then had the gall to lean in and tell me that The Fighter (which I was watching) is a terrific movie. I briefly thought about giving her an example of exactly which type of blow I thought Micky Ward landed best, but, instead, I pulled my t-shirt up over my nose, turned to my son in the window seat, and asked if I could hold him for a little bit, at least until the Farting Lady could get to the bathroom and back.
Fortunately, the kid didn't mind a bit.