hung with a new rope

My dad used to always say about my mother that “she would complain if you hung her with a new rope.”

If you asked him, he’d say he gave her everything she wanted, but it never made her happy. If you asked me, I’d say, he’s half right. She was almost never happy. Let me give you a for example: We’d all go out to eat at a nice restaurant and without fail, my mother would find some reason to complain. Without. Fail.

I’ve come to realize it’s a less than charming “quality” I may have inadvertently inherited.

I wonder, though, has it ever happened to you? That you’ve wanted something, I mean, wanted it bad, only to get it, and discover it only left a really bad taste in your mouth. I’m not talking about a black fly/chardonnay kind of irony.

Let’s say a fat woman wants more than anything to be thin. She has gastric bypass. Loses a ton of weight. Gets thin and gorgeous. Only to discover her body is riddled with illness. The byproduct of surgery. She dies. Sure, she got what she wanted, to be thin. But she’d give it all back, just to be alive.

Or worse. She becomes thin, only to realize her shallow-minded husband, friends, and family cannot accept the “new” her. The outgoing personality. The woman that had been hiding inside, tucked away underneath all the fat. They reject her. Now she is thin, but alone. Lonely and depressed. Is this what she really wanted?

You’ve scrimped and saved every dime, for years. Forfeiting vacations. Fun with friends. All to put a down payment on a home. Something you can call your own. To end up waste high in weeds. With a toilet that doesn’t flush. Now, you dream of being back in that condo you were renting. The one where Hank the maintenance man was always on call and took care of everything.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the dream job. The one you went to college for. Acquiring more student loan debt than you care to think about. Ya know, the dream job. The one that kept you going while you were still at the job that was more like a nightmare. That job where you could finally say, “I have arrived.” Only when you arrive it’s not as glamorous or as fulfilling as you thought it would be.

I don’t know if my mother set out looking for the negative in things. But I do know she almost always found it. My dad was right. She wouldn’t have been happy if she’d be hung with a new rope. Mostly, because she wouldn’t have wanted to be hung at all.

I may have inherited my mothers genes, but I don’t set out looking for the bad. It just seems to find me. Wherever I go. I think I want red, when it turns out I wanted blue. I thought I needed this.. when what I really needed was that. Oh hell.. get a rope. But make sure it’s a new one!


– J. Ela


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