I have been known to be very unrealistic when it comes to things that I say I want to do in this life. And, admittedly, I know that as soon as the words start to come out of my mouth, I already have zero intentions of actually doing them. These things are not unrealistic to other people, but I could write a book about how NOT to achieve your dreams. You just have to fail in your mind before you even try. It’s easy. For instance, when I say, “Someday I’d like to be a travel writer,” I know this won’t ever happen because I frequently get lost in my own neighborhood…where I grew up. I also wait terrified for food poisoning to set in after I eat anything remotely different from the norm, and I have to drink a whole bottle of wine before I board an airplane. Anyway, this got me thinking about unrealistic expectations and where they come from; and today, it all became crystal clear.
This afternoon, my mother and I sat across from each other eating flounder francaise from the Valentine’s Day early bird menu at a restaurant where a tan, wrinkly man in a tuxedo stands on a stage and croons Frank Sinatra to a couple of bar flies in the middle of the day (who knows, maybe he’s living his dream, and if so, I commend him. He’s fairing better than I). But, whenever my mother and I get together, she finds it necessary to tell me which career path I should be on, and every time we get together, I am a little bit older and a little bit closer to these options hitting their expiration date. Once, I mentioned that I liked sea lions and she said that I should get a job working with them at Sea World. I live in Pennsylvania with my two kids, I’ve never even seen a sea lion in real life, and I’m positive I would suffocate in a wetsuit. Today, she looked at me straight faced and said, “I know what you should do. You should be a weather girl. On TV.” I let out a heavy sigh and poked around at the sad, soggy fish on my plate and said, “Mom.” I thought that would be enough to stop her in her tracks because do I need to explain? Yes. Yes, I do. “I’m serious, Sheleen. They make really good money.” I set down my fork and leaned in. “Mom, I’m 35. I’m also not a meteorologist, nor have I ever even entertained the idea of becoming one or had any interest in the weather at all. And anyway, I’m pretty sure you need big boobs to get that job.” Complete lack of education and experience aside, she argued the boob part. Have I seen so and so’s boobs on such and such channel? My boobs are fine. They’re totally qualified for the job.
I pacified my mother by telling her, “Fine, I’ll look into it. I’ll go home, put on a decent bra, and practice fluid arm movements in front of my wall like a professional.” She nodded her approval and I realized that this is where my unrealistic expectations come from. They are born out of my mother’s belief that I can do anything, and while I pity her for that, I also bask in that glow of non-reality. We finished our wine, paid the check, and on our way out, I asked Frank Sinatra’s impersonator if he knew the song “Stormy Weather”, and he knew it well.