when i was younger my family had a like cup.
anytime someone used the word "like" inappropriately ten cents when into that little red solo.
you, like, know what i mean don't you?
my mother gave us each two dimes to start with. a little cushion to ease us into the game. i think i used my two dimes and that was it. (such was my prowess and love of the english language).
however, if i remember correctly--and i usually do (such is my cross)--the game actually bankrupted my brother.
but it was my brother who many years later resurrected that red solo cup. and this time the stakes were raised: a dollar for any unsolicited you should...
it's shocking just how often people say you should, or some variation thereof. often the phrase is silent, like the understood you in english grammar. but silent or not there was a holiday season in our house, long after my brother and i'd both moved out, in which dollar after dollar went into that red cup (and most belonged to my mother).
the you should game was genius. on so many levels. mostly because it always broke the tension of conversations leading to dangerous territory.
in fact, only good came from the red cup. when all was said and done we'd collect the money and buy ourselves pizza. or take in a movie. together, with our mistakes made manifest in the form of green, we'd take the time to invest in family.
i now think twice before speaking like a valley girl...and in a world where people are getting lazier and lazier with their speech and the words they choose (heaven help us) this can not be valued highly enough. and i certainly think twice about dolling out advice (most especially to my brother).
now i can't stop thinking about the word perfect. what does it mean? and why do we use it?
i looked it up in merriam webster and there are all-together eight definitions, two of them obsolete.
for what follows, let's got with this: being entirely without fault or defect.
but let's all be very clear here. perfect doesn't exist, right? there is no such thing--it is a false goal, a false god of our culture, no?
it was while babysitting i noticed how often i used it. you've got your shoes on? perfect! you had a sip of milk? perfect! most of the time i used it to usher things along--make them move faster.
and then one day, as i listened to myself tossing it so carelessly to a two-year-old-girl, living in america where the attempt at perfect is practically a national pastime, i stopped myself. because what will come of that day when she asks me what it means? how will i respond? and if it's not me she asks, how will that person respond?
then again, she may never ask. there may be no need to. i've been defining it all along just by my use of it.
i've been defining a thing that doesn't actually exist.
there's this beautiful moment in the book thief where a word is defined as a promise. i love that. imagine: a single word, each and every single word, a promise. powerful.
so here i've been parceling out false promises in the form of this elusive, little word: perfect.
so i stopped using it. and just as i stopped i started noticing how often everyone else did.
all the time. that's what i've learned: we all use it. all. the. time.
you're ready for your table? perfect! ready to go? perfect! you want to sign up for this class with me? perfect.
ah, the plight of perfect.
i was talking to tom about this. tom and i talk about this kind of thing. he's good, that tom. (tom is my therapist). and he said it's like a cuss word. ubiquitous and without any real meaning. overused and under-understood. tom's good that way. smartest person i know, actually.
so i told tom about my plan.
how when i raise children i want to do so in a household absent of the word. perfect will not be part of our daily vocabulary.
and when we introduce the word we will do it justice. pay homage to it's power, actual definition, and inherent falseness.
so for now i've got a little red solo cup on my desk. and every time i slip, i stick a dollar in. call it my f*** up fund. (love that alliteration).
even if perfect did exist--even if there was such a thing, i don't want my kids chasing after it. i don't want to chase after it. it's just so darn boring.
and life and all it's miraculous, little imperfections should be fun, no?