Ramblings of An Idle Mind
Uzma Tahiya Khan
Hurrah! One more week till summer vacation. No more blaring alarm clocks jarring me from spine tingling dreams, no more Mrs. Rosenberg (my physics teacher, whose only goal in life it seems, is to make mine miserable) breathing down my neck and no more last minute cramming the night before mid-terms.
I was looking forward to pool parties, a summer fling or two, a mega shopping spree and hanging out with my friends at the beach, i.e., nothing but fun and total relaxation.
But, as it turns out fate had other plans…
Let me start at the beginning… one fine day, precisely at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, February the 3rd, 1988, I was born. Then 17 years later I sat in our living room, gaping at my parents, completely dumbfounded.
"Divorce?" I screeched, finally finding my voice. "What do you mean you are going to get a divorce?" I looked helplessly from one parent to another, hoping that my Dad would contradict what my Mom had just said. "Is this a joke?" I said, cracking a feeble smile. Feeling relieved that I had figured it out, I got up from the couch and looked behind it. I then proceeded to open the large cabinet on one side of the room to peer inside.
"Um… honey, what are you doing?" said Mom, exchanging a worried look with Dad. She got up and gently put a hand on my shoulder. "Maybe she's in shock."
"I'll call Dr. Harrison," said Dad, hurrying over to the phone.
Relief was quickly being replaced with panic. Visions of a camera crew and a smiling reality-TV host popping out of their hiding places were evaporating fast. "Stop, okay?" I said. "What did you… when did you… why?" I managed to stammer.
Okay, so my parents did not have the most perfect marriage in the world, that much I knew. Apparently, the spontaneity of the 'honeymoon phase' had long been taken over by the more monotonous, though sometimes hectic everyday life. But that is the way it is supposed to be, right?
"Sweetheart, it's not that we don't love each other anymore… it's just that we are no longer in love," replied my Dad, gently steering me to the couch. My first boyfriend had spoken the very same words, a month after he professed his undying love for me, causing me to give him a black eye.
Mom sat on my other side, her head bobbing up and down in agreement, a smile plastered on her face. I have always thought that my Mom looks a lot like a Barbie doll, with her long sun-streaked golden hair (which after I recently found out was originally mousy brown, has led me to stop agonising over my own wild mane of raven black hair), her flawless features (hats off to Dr. Barry Metcalfe, her plastic surgeon) and impeccable make-up.
Note to self: I am starting to realise that Mom is a tad bit superficial.
"We tried, but it's just not working anymore and it is only right that we tell you, after all, you are a very mature young lady." Funny, how I wasn't 'a mature young lady' last week when I asked about getting a part-time job (so much for being Zoya Khan, career woman busy and important). Looking over at Mom, who was smiling proudly, I wondered whether her extensive use of hairspray could be affecting her brain.
We sat, wrapped in our own thoughts, the silence only to be broken by my exasperated groan as I caught Mom admiring her reflection on the surface of an antique brass lamp.
Standing up I announced, "Since it seems that our family meeting has come to an end, I'll be up in my room reeling from shock, probably in denial and possibly contemplating suicide."
Later that day I sat in my best friend, Maggie's room discussing my situation as she cat-walked around the room modeling a pink cotton mini-dress.
"It's not that bad. Don't worry so much," she said, sucking in her cheeks and striking what she apparently thought was a sexy pose. I was vaguely reminded of a stork wearing a pink tutu and stifling the laugh that bubbled in my throat, turned the page of the magazine I was scanning.
I sighed, tossing the magazine aside. "Come on, I need a caffeine recharge and there is a double iced mocha with my name on it!"
As we strolled down the street were unfortunate enough to encounter Mrs. Davis, who spent the greater part of her day craning over garden fences, spying on her neighbours. Wearing a ridiculous sunhat covered in large plastic flowers she waved at us while she attended to her flowers (this, I suspected, was more of a means of spying rather than an actual hobby). Before she could invite us in for lemonade and shrewdly probe around for some gossip, we hurried around the corner towards Moon Beach Café.
Maggie sipped her raspberry seltzer said with a coy smile, "Jamie told me that Sean Williams asked for your phone number."
I nodded and smiled to myself. Sigh, the Sean Williams aquamarine eyes, sandy blonde hair, gorgeous build and a killer smile. The epitome of perfection.
I couldn't wait to throw myself against… no, no! Focus, woman. I shall be cool, calm, collected and play hard to get.
"Why hasn't he called yet?" I moaned, glaring psychopathically at the phone.
Note to self: Staring at the phone and mentally willing it ring doesn't guarantee results. I went to the mirror, still very sad and traumatised and scrutinised my features.
Oh, God. I am so unattractive.
Suddenly the phone rang. Sprinting across the room, I snatched it up.
The next few minutes were utterly blissful as I let Sean's husky voice wash over me. "So, how about I take you to dinner tomorrow?"
Yes! I am irresistible. Hurrah!
Keeping my fingers crossed, I prayed silently. This is it…the big moment. I held my breath as he leaned over and frowning handed me my report card. I gaped at Mr. Cleaver. Ugh. Two A's, three B's and two D's. What an outrage!
Note to self: Must do better next term. Watch out world, my inner nerd will soon be unleashed!
Sean Williams. I love him. Okay, not really. I just like him, but 'love' sounds so much more dramatic and grown up. After all, I am a 'mature young lady'. It is time to set aside meaningless flirting and casual dates for a committed, fulfilling relationship.
As the final bell rang, signaling the end of the final period, I quickly shoved my textbooks in my backpack. Goodbye school. Hello, summer! Suddenly, a loud crash made me look up. A guy (quite cute, I must add) had apparently tripped over his shoelaces and bumped into Mrs. McMillan, the librarian, causing her to drop her armload of books. Amused, I watched him mumble an apology, help retrieve the fallen books and hurry of to a corner of the library. Shaking my head I walked out of the library, a smile on my lips.
As I passed the skating rink on my way home I spotted Sean. My joy was brief since he had his arms around another girl. Crestfallen, I dragged my broken heart home.
Sean Williams. I loathe him.
I was still seething as I neared my house. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mrs. Davis hurrying across the road and I walked rapidly to avoid meeting her. "There you are," she said, grabbing my arm. "I've been meaning to talk to you. How are you, dear?"
"I'm fine," I replied cautiously.
Mrs. Davis nodded sympathetically, patting my shoulder. "Divorce is such a common thing these days. Nothing to be ashamed off."
"I'm not," I said, indignant.
"Yes, yes." She paused and then blurted, "I have been suspecting for a while though. Not much of a surprise. I have a knack for these things, you know." Obviously unaware that my jaw had dropped open, she continued, "Well, I better be off. I'm making pot roast."
My Grandmother had always said that indifference is a mighty powerful weapon and that there is nothing to be gained from giving in to anger. So, I chose to suppress the disgust and anger that bubbled through me. As I walked I recalled what Mrs. Davis had said and was again appalled by her insensitivity. It was in that instant that I made a decision. I hurried towards her house looking around to make sure that no one was looking, crept towards her flowers. Taking out the nail clippers from bag, I snipped the tops of all her flowers.
I had succumbed to my anger. And it felt great!
The bell above the door jingled as I entered Moon Beach Café, later that week. Most of the wooden booths and tables jammed with people and there was hardly anywhere left to sit. Suddenly, I spotted the guy from the library. Seeing that he was alone, I strolled over and said, "Hi. Mind if I join you?" He looked startled but shrugged and I slid in opposite him and introduced myself. For some reason he grimaced as he said, "Conner. Nice to meet you."
And so passed the next twenty minutes, with me blabbering away and Conner responding with an occasional nod or shrug.
Note to self: Must read 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus' to better understand the male species.
Third week of summer. I am glowing from my fabulous tan (endless hours at the beach and by the pool were apparently put to good use), went on marathon shopping spree and am planning another and finally started to work out. Number of summer flings is still zero.
A few days ago I accompanied Mom to a garden party. As I sat amongst the beautiful flowers with the gentle rays of the sun warming my back, soft music in the background and feeling drowsy from all the food I had consumed, I was struck by how beautiful and precious life is. While I was in the midst of my new found respect for life, an adorable little toddler staggered over to me. I reached out hugged her and was just about to announce how happy I was to be alive when she kneeled over and threw up all over my new, expensive designer shoes.
Note to self: Never have children.
I put on final coat of lip gloss and stepping back admired the results. Casual yet trendy. Perfect for a night out with my girlfriends. Who needs boys?
Later that night, as we stood in line for our movie tickets, a gentle tap on my shoulder made me turn around. I was startled to find myself looking into Connor's warm, hazel eyes.
"Hi," he said and bit back an amused smile at my less than enthusiastic response. "Listen, I just wanted to set something straight." He took a deep breath and hurried on, "About earlier… you see I was in the middle of a horrid toothache. My dentist had to prescribe painkillers and finally I had to have the tooth pulled out and..." As I watched him ramble on, I was struck by the same feeling I had experienced the time I laid eyes on him. Something tugged at my heart and a feeling of warmth spread throughout my body.
Oh, God. He is so adorable.
He finished his speech and grinning sheepishly, stammered, "Would you… can I… if you'd like to…"
"I'd love to," I replied, smiling. We exchanged phone numbers and I waved as he got into his car. Then linking arms with my friends, I walked into the movie theatre.
I once heard someone say that life is what happens when you are making other plans. How true. The most wonderful things in life happen when you least expect it.
It's such a surprise.
Copyright © Uzma Tahiya Khan 2005 All rights reserved
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