By Cherimie Crane Weatherford
Coping mechanisms are as personal and unique as the individual in need of coping. What may ease pain, provide a desirable distraction or lift the woes of life’s little hiccups for one, may not help another at all. By now I thought I had experienced many of life’s harrowing hiccups — from the more serious to the simple inability to talk my way out of a ticket or commit to a particular hairstyle. Each instance required its very own set of coping skills that morphed into a completely accepted mechanism of miracles.
For example, breaking a leg — an arm, a finger, a toe, a rib, etc. — I was always prepared with crutches, group empathy and a ready-made excuse as to why I simply could not attend whatever unpleasant event I was scheduled to dutifully attend. Being healthy as a farm horse, I rarely had the usual suspects such as colds and viruses; I am more of an all-or-nothing injury-type person. If I’m going down, might as well break something.
As in any complicated life situation, I heavily rely on my Rolodex of past complications to convince myself that survival is attainable. After all, if I survived being trotted upon by a Quarterhorse, having my ponytail stuck in a fully operable third floor escalator and falling from varying heights from various trees to land uncomfortably on various homemade ladders, this too I shall overcome. It only makes sense.
Then as life so often does, it chose to remind me of who it is exactly that is in control. It is not me.
My beauty routine is not rocket science, as a matter of fact there is basically no rhyme nor reason to what really can’t even be classified as a routine. It is more of a divide and conquer approach to making myself presentable according to societal standards. While attempting to create my socially acceptable mask of deception, I couldn’t help but notice the unrelenting need to scratch every millimeter of my suddenly sensitive freckled skin. As if makeup application isn’t already a monumental challenge, doing so while rubbing against a door, wall, any inanimate object in order to scratch an itch takes it to an entirely different degree of difficulty.
Encountered with a new sensation, I do what women do. I yell for my husband. It has to be his fault; there is no other logical explanation. My intellectual instinct — although busy itching at the time — supported this notion whole heartedly. Once he finished fighting back a chuckle, he realized it wasn’t my ordinary cry for blame. He assured me he didn’t give me fleas, and our dogs enjoy a higher level of health care than either of us, so they were immediately cleared of all charges.
Hours later, I was covered in an unflattering Pepto Bismol-colored cream that when dry looks very much like paper mache. From head to toe, I was a pale pink pasty peeved off half-pint of poor me.
Some women have mastered the damsel in distress cuteness that somehow draws in the opposite sex, fully prepared to cater to their every exceedingly needy whim. I do not possess this gene. In fact, all my genes create the exact opposite effect. Not only did I look like Miss Piggy, but I wasn’t winning the Miss Personality award either.
I was not happy. Every move cracked the paste, every crack of paste caused an itch and every itch sent me one step closer to prime time news. In this situation I was NOT a damsel but a fire breathing dragon that singed any moving object within four miles.
Apparently, I have developed quite the distaste and allergy to poison oak. Somehow I spent my entire childhood (and a good bit of adulthood) climbing trees, gallivanting through fields and walking through woods that would send most running for a concierge, and not once did I encounter the evils of this devilish demon. Batman has the Joker, Superman has Kryptonite, politicians have each other and I now have poison oak. Such is the great equalizer that is life. My future romps through rural terrain shall forever be changed. While sipping my coffee through a straw in order not to disturb the pink paste on my face, I searched the World Wide Web for a HAZMAT suit, preferably in red.
Quarantined and mad as hell, I sat with sock-covered hands, paste-covered skin and a newfound respect for Edward Scissorhands. I knew I would survive, as I always do, but I decided this was certainly one life experience that would be filed in its separate section in my Rolodex under “(insert expletive) poison oak.”
By Cherimie Crane Weatherford