Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Luckily, a Bad Attitude Ain't Against the Law

By Sophie

Tell us about a “criminal” habit you have.

This one stumped me. The truth is that for all my bad attitude, I'm generally a fairly rule-abiding type. I don't cut in line or cheat on my taxes. I follow directions most of the time, as long as they aren't too stupid or boring. I believe that the social fabric should remain unrent and that it's our collective job to stitch up the holes when things go awry.
But here's the thing: I really hate being told what to do. A LOT. I'm not sure why this is, but my son suffers from the same affliction so I assume it's not only genetic but psycho-chemical.
I'm a live-and-let-live type for the most part, so I don't go around telling people how to live their lives. When people do it to me, I feel defiance of an intensity that could boil ice. And I'd like to say that I'm mature enough to just experience and observe the emotion, as a therapist once advised, and then let it go.
(Wait - is defiance an emotion? Probably not. It's probably more of a blend, like, say, curry powder. Defiance feels like...intense irritability tinged with fury and fear. Hmmm. Powerful stuff.)
Anyway I'm good on the experiencing, adequate at observing - but I suck at the letting it go thing.
Just one example - a while ago I was all set to go on a tour of some government offices with a writers' organization. I'd already picked out my stodgiest polyester outfit and sensible shoes and was planning to do a whole good-citizen look, perhaps even wear lipstick and carry a bone-colored purse. (Fashion is NOT my forte.)
But then an email came around advising us not to wear shorts.
And I kinda lost it. I experienced thirty seconds of white-hot eyeball-searing rage. DON'T tell ME what to WEAR, my inner demons bellowed, and I dug furiously through my drawers to find my micro-teeny black Lycra skort, an item that a woman several sizes smaller than me might wear to a spinning class on the Love Boat. My response was immature. It was irrational. Thankfully I came to my senses before the event and got back in my polyester groove (I went with the large scale floral, as you can see in this photo where I'm being handcuffed for poor fashion sense by my friend Karin.)

When I'm flying and they play that incredibly annoying video clip that tells you to put down your reading materials and learn what to do when the plane falls into the sea? I pick up my book and hold it inches from my nose and hum. The little sign at the Co-Op that reads "We hope you brought your own Reusable Bags" makes me want to manufacture a thousand landfill-bound plastic ones on the spot (plus another thousand to protest capricious capitalization). Neighborhood associations are not good for people like me - the very notion of an "unacceptable mailbox style" is like chewing aluminum foil.
All of this brings to mind a Montgomery Gentry tune called What Do Ya Think About That which goes, in part:

"Sayin' blah blah blah
Just a jacking their jaws
Gotta let it roll off of my back
I don't give dern what other people think
What do ya think about that?"

Wise old bards, Eddie and Troy. (I do believe the proper spelling is "durn," however.)

Oh...incidentally, my first-ever published novel was released yesterday. I'm happy. Thanks to my friends here at Criminal Minds for, well, everything.


Bill Cameron said...

Sophie, I'm so excited about your book, you defiant troublemaker! Congratulations!

Jen Forbus said...

First and foremost...Yea!! Yea!! Yea!! Congratulations on your release! So, so wonderful.

You make me laugh. I desperately WANT to be defiant and in my mind I am all the time. My actions, however, show me to be the coward...I do what I'm told even if I'm cringing and ready to blow up inside.

And your choice of songs was so appropriate. The original lyrics for that song were supposed to be "damn" throughout the whole song. The producer wouldn't allow it, demanding they use "dern"/"durn". But being the defiant one he is, Troy snuck one in at the end.

Defy away, Sophie!!

Bobby Mangahas said...

First, congratulations on the book release, Sophie!!!

I too, really HATE being told what to do. Okay, let me re-phrase,I may, and I mean may, (translation: fat chance!!) do it. But tell me how to do something and it's on!! >;-]

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Congratulations on your release day, Sophie! I twittered about it. No idea if that will help, but I hope it will.

You, defiant? Hard to believe...not.

I can be told what to do sometimes, if it's logical, but mostly don't like it much either. I mean, screw that. Nobody's the boss of me.

Sophie Littlefield said...

i am feeling warm and fuzzy all over to know that my friends are equally incorrigible. :) Love you guys and your un-order-around-able selves. Sometimes I think we should be allowed to run the world and sometimes I think that would be a bad idea, indeed...

xo y'all

Unknown said...

My husband suffers from the same affliction, which only causes strife when I'm driving and he really NEEDS me to run the light. For his lifetime high score.

Loving your book, congrats on a wonderful launch and many festivities to come.

Shane Gericke said...

Great post, Sophie. I'm happy to be told what to do ... when I ask for help or advice. (Or if wants to pay me seven figures to do stuff their way.) Unsolicited? Forget it.

I was at the local riverwalk a few years back, smoking a celebratory cigar. I'd signed the contract for the new book, and life was sweet. I was alone in the open breeze, enjoying the water and air and ducks. And coffee, naturally.

A mom with a trio of youngsters comes along and parks about 30 feet away. Nobody else around, but they park 30 freakin' feet away, right? I keep puffing, knowing what's coming as surely as night follows day.

Drum roll ...

The little boy walks over. He looks uncomfortable, but apparently has his orders. He says,

"Uh, mister, my mommy says you have to put out your cigar because it's hurting my little lungs."

Not the kid's fault she's a dipshit for parking there in the first place, and a passive aggressive dipshit at that. So I smiled sweetly, looked down at the little lad, and said,

"Do me a favor and ask mommy to come tell me herself."

He smiled and went back. As he spoke, I took a big drag and blew it out slowly. Just like Bogart in a black and white movie!

Mommy glared hot enough to boil beans, but left. I enjoyed the rest of the cigar in peace.

Funny part is, if mommy had asked me nicely instead of sending junior to do her dirty work--or if they had sat far enough away to be, well, far away--I would have moved down further or put it out myself, to make sure they weren't getting any smoke. I don't Cigar often, and never around people who might not appreciate it.

But hey, she asked for it.

Speaking of smoking, Sophie, congrats again on the book launch. I hope you sell a whole bunch. I'll tell all my friends to go buy, which will get you, oh, one or two more sales ...

Bobby Mangahas said...

Crime writers running the world, huh?

"What's the worst that could happen?"

Kelli Stanley said...

Soph, you are always AWESOME and never more so than last night at your reading!! Congratulations, honey--you've always been a super-star, and now the whole world can know it!! :)

I only wish our other CMs could have heard you voice Stella's rumination on prison sex-toys ... but hey, buy the book, guys, and you'll get to read all about it. ;)

And I'm right there with y'all about the whole questioning authority thing. I can sometimes be downright subversive ... and have been known to swear profusely at robotic question software voices when on the phone.

You know, they may name them Mindy or Cindy, but it's actually a computer, designed to waste your time and keep you in limbo for as long as possible.

"Would you like me to connect you to customer service?"

"Wow! What a great idea, you *^^# nitwit!"

I tend to get angry about the erosion of humanity and civility in every day life ... I think we put up with far too much in the name of expediency, economy and "progress."

BTW, Shane--wonderful!! Remind me to buy you a cigar along with a cocktail!! ;)


Sophie Littlefield said...

kelli, i would pay serious money to see you lose your temper and chew someone out. That would be f'ing awesome!

And Shane, put this on your to-do list: "smoke cigar with sophie" ....and any mom who uses her kids to do her work needs a time-out.

it always bugs me when i see toddlers carrying their parents' protest signs, even if i agree with the sentiment. The Big Guy entrusts us with children, His most precious gift, but the idea is we are to let them grow up following their own design...NOT ours.

OK am going to go yell at son to run his life exactly as I see fit now....

(i=hypocrite, always...)

Leslie said...

Sophie, Congratulations on your book's release!!! It must be a wonderful feeling!

The sign that gets my goat is above the shopping cart "corrals" in the parking lot.

For Your Safety and Convenience, Return Shopping Carts Here.

Somehow, I'm sure it isn't MY convenience (or safety) they have in mind. Without that sign, I'd return the cart without a second thought. With that sign, let's just say a lot is riding on the cashier's customer service attitude!

Sonja said...

Hey Sophie, you can come to my office in shorts any time! In fact, it would be even more fun if you painted tattoos all over and wore thick makeup and your hair like Farrah Fawcett...SLC needs a little influx of fashion:) Can't wait til your book arrives!

Shane Gericke said...

Scotch and ceegars, you are SO on, Sophie. Any other CMer or FOCM--that's Friend Of CM, but don't pronounce it with a short O, thank you--is heartily invited to join us.

As for kids being gang-pressed into mommy and daddy's pet causes, I couldn't agree more, Kel. Around here, wingnuts like to line up on sidewalks and wave poster-sized photos of scraped out fetus and other medical delights. Personally, I couldn't care less--free speech and all--but they press their five and six year old kids into service, waving said photos and chanting and shouting bout the rest of us being killers and blood merchants. I find that revolting. Shouting at that age should be reserved for dodgeball, not political extremism. Likewise, on the other side of the wingnut, protesters waving signs of mutilated soldiers, with kids in tow. Leave your kids home, ya morons.

And so spake I ...