Cirque du Crazy

My ruined ring
  • My ruined ring

I have issues with time. Not the laid-back, “I’ll get there when I get there” variety that seems to afflict so many here in San Diego. My time issues are more Swiss-German.

I was standing at my computer, applying makeup while scanning email, when I decided to double check the time on my Cirque du Soleil tickets. When I’d first received them, I’d noted “7:30 p.m.” and assumed that was when the outside tents would be opened — the area where people perused merchandise and the concession stands prior to taking their seats.

“Oh, shit. Shitshitshit,” I said, dropping my compact mirror and shoving items (phone, lipstick) into my purse.

David entered the room while putting on his jacket. “What is it?”

“This says 6:30. The grounds open at 6:30. It’s 6:38 right now. Oh my God, we’re not going to make it — the actual show starts at 7:30.”

“Relax, it’s okay if we don’t mill around, we have time,” David said.

“You don’t get it. We should be there by now, and we haven’t even left. Sorry, I don’t mean to snap. You’re right, I just want to be sure we have time to pee and find our seats before the show starts, and then there’s parking, and fuck. Okay, no, I’m good, you’re right, let’s go.”

As I drove (fast, frantic), David continued to reassure me, but I wasn’t hearing him. My inner monologue was deafening: Why didn’t you check the tickets? You’re never going to make it. You’re going to miss the beginning, and they don’t seat you until the next break, you fuck-up. Why didn’t you check?

“It’s just a show,” David said.

“One I really want to see,” I shot back. But I was beginning to calm down. It was 6:48, and we were only a few miles from the exit. We were going to make it; everything was going to be okay.

“Oh, no, No, NO, what’s this?” Traffic to the exit was backed up by at least half a mile. I brought the car to a stop. I was so close, I could see the tents set up at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. “This is not happening,” I said. “You know when we have a tight flight connection? How when there’s plenty of time I’m relaxed, and how when I know I’ve missed it I’m relaxed, but how I am when there’s still a chance of making it based on when we land and how far we have to run to the next gate?” David nodded. “I can’t handle that limbo,” I said.

I took a deep breath. David was already showing signs of irritation — rolling his eyes, making comments along the lines of, “Let’s just forget about it, then;” things that told me I needed to stave off the freak-out that was building inside of me with each passing minute. I glared at the clock as if trying to telekinetically set it on fire.

I tried to not talk, but the words just came. “This is all my fault. I should have checked. I can’t believe this. We were just hanging out, it’s not like I even have a good reason, and if we miss the beginning...” I sensed I was further angering David, which only made me feel like more of a fuck-up, so I stopped talking. My car inched forward. “I can see it. This is torture. So close and yet so far away, knowing we’re right here and going to miss it,” I said, mentally slapping myself for not holding it in.

“First of all, you need to learn to discern the consequential from the inconsequential. This is not consequential,” David said in his last-resort, drill-sergeant tone. “It’s not like we’re rushing somebody to a hospital and can’t get there — this is just the fucking circus.”

“Cirque du Soleil,” I said quietly. “It’s better than the circus.”

David sighed so hard I could smell the mint in his mouth. “If we get there late, they’ll seat us when they’re able to seat us. Worst-case scenario, we miss the first half but we’ll be able to watch it on the big-screen monitors while we sip champagne.” He looked at my face, which was pulled tight into a wide-eyed grimace. “Look, if it means this much, we’ll just buy tickets for another night. None of this is worth being self-destructive over.”

“What do you mean by that?” David looked pointedly at my arms, or, more specifically, to the fingernails I was digging into them — methodically, evenly, so that no spot was missed. “I can’t...” I forced my nails away from my arms, squinted my eyes, and bit my bottom lip so hard I could feel it turning white beneath the red lipstick. My eyes started to water. It was 7:15, and we were nowhere near the light at the end of the exit.

David didn’t get it — it wasn’t the show, or at least it wasn’t only the show. It was the principle. I have never attended an event I wasn’t at least 30 minutes early for. We don’t go to the movies anymore, mostly because David is sick of arriving up to two hours before showtime. When going to any theater, I need time to adjust — to relax, to buy a drink, to find a seat, to pee. I spurn those who arrive “on time,” which is late in my world. Everyone knows if the show begins at 7:30, you need to be in your seat before then. I closed my left hand into a fist and pounded my forehead.

“I’m going to get out of this car and get a cab home if you don’t stop it,” David said.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I just... I can’t accept it. I can’t let go of it. I keep chiding myself for not looking at the damn ticket better.”

“You need to get over it. Because I can’t be around you like this.”

“And now I’m feeling more anxious because I’m upsetting you, on top of being able to see the place I’m trying to get to, but can’t reach.” I wouldn’t find out how hard I was gripping the steering wheel until we almost needed to cut off one of my fingers to remove a deformed ring later that night. I still maintain it was from the clapping during the show and not my death grip on the wheel.

“I hate feeling like I don’t have any control,” I said. “Of this traffic, of the way I’m reacting to it. I just... I hate it.”

“I know,” David said, softening his tone for a moment. “I know.”

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Reading this myopic crap makes me grateful that I do not know you. David would have been better off to simply exit the car and leave you to yourself. Diva? Probably. Raving bitch? Without question.

Barbarella is a raving bitch because she is anxious? Because she is taking responsibility for her behavior? Barb, I think you are brave to admit to your broken parts in such a public form. Remember we can not change the behavior that we don't acknowledge.

Thank you, Denise. I was reluctant to let this one go to print, for obvious reasons. ;)

I'm sorry to sound trite, but I feel your pain. You are experiencing one of my obsessions of 30 years ago. Reading this missive is so in tune with my memory that I swear I had a Sam Becket moment. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_Leap)

Then there is hope - you grew out of those obsessions, maybe I can too. :)

Jen O says: Thank you for writing this -- I feel the same way sometimes.

Nancy W. says: Thank you for being real. Suddenly, I like you more.

I hate that f*cking exit. Unless you have hours to kill, you need to drive to the font, squeeze your way in and cut someone off. That is a scenario would drive most people crazy.

There must be some other way to access the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Otherwise, anyone having an event there should mention "If you live within 10 miles, allow two hours for traffic."

You can get off at Gennesee, then drive along the coast.

Ah, never thought of that. And it would be a lovely route. Thanks!

There is another way. Take the Del Mar Heights Road to Camino Del Mar. Follow it through Del Mar and it arrives at the south end of the racetrack. It can also back up, but not as bad as the freeway. Most of the people on the freeway are not familiar with the Del Mar roads. Sometimes you can also pass Via de la Valle and take Lomas Santa Fe and backtrack on Stevens Avenue (near Fidel’s) and come out right at the intersection of VDLV and Stevens – at the intersection where the Fish Market is. That is often times better than waiting in line on I-5.

Thank you for the inside scoop! I'll make a note of it so that in the future I can avoid any... mishaps. ;)

Reader_reader, It was fantastic. Not sure if you caught it, but there is one line in this story that alludes to that. Here it is in context: "I wouldn’t find out how hard I was gripping the steering wheel until we almost needed to cut off one of my fingers to remove a deformed ring later that night. I still maintain it was from the clapping during the show and not my death grip on the wheel."

I'm sorry. I have read your column numerous times hoping to garner something of merit...The only thing I can say to you is it is a woeful shame that such a talented writer as yourself would have not one substantive thing to say. What a waste. What an enormous amount of energy you detonate us with telling us in exquiste detail your "neurotic" behavior. I know some find it "cute" but I find it obnoxious. And I'm a huge fan of eccentric, neurotic, silly characters--as long as they are funny. I bet you think you are just super hip, edgy, urbane, progressive...and maybe you are, but ultimately these mean nothing when you also happen to be obscenely self-absorbed. Who cares if you have a weird thing about getting somewhere on time? Seriously? Do you have any idea how vaccuous you come across? Steve Carell's character on the Office, is like you, but he's funny. I'd be wildly praising you, instead of writing such a mean review if you were too.

I had a similar experience recently (was meeting a new friend for coffee and totally got the time wrong, so they were waiting a half-hour for me), and perhaps more horrifying than keeping the person waiting was how violently I berated myself on the ride over. I’m sure I looked crazy, and I definitely felt like it when I calmed down and reflected on my critical self-talk.

I haven’t figured out the trick to talking myself down during my lateness, but over time I’ve managed to be in the moment once I arrive so that I’m not squandering both the journey and the destination. From the sound of how much you enjoyed Cirque, it sounds like you have, too!

Thanks for putting yourself out there. ( :

Hi. I am in recovery right now, and the step I'm on requires one to look at their character defects, which I'm taking seriously. So when I wrote the above review about your piece being "vacuuos," and not "substantive," for some seemingly inexplicable reason, I felt really shitty about it, and thought, "Maybe I should have waited before firing off a harsh missive like that." Also, I talked to my sister who happens to be a writer and she said that basically people are revealing their soul, putting themselves out there and that it can be very traumatizing to writers to have someone so indiscriminately castigate them. So. I went back and started reading more of your pieces, and I just want you to know, that I found some really good ones that I thought were written from a very unique perspective, (yours) about lamentably common everyday issues that I'm sure people may quietly think, but just never verbalize. Like the one on phone communication. That was exceptionally insightful. And the one you wrote about Lexapro...I got a lot out of that as well, and I believe you brought up some very valid points about losing moto, sleeping too much, on and losing your edge while on meds, versus being slightly out-of-control but feeling your feelings and being who you are not on meds. I still maintain the belief that you are a very talented writer...would like to see more substance, but then again you may be catering to a group that don't really want that, after all you are a diva. And, you were funny in the those pieces as well.

Barbarella -Being of Swiss (Schaffhausen) and German (Stuttgart) lineage myself, I can understand how you felt. HOWEVER - It's OK to be actually HUMAN and screw up once in a while. This topic is hilarious to me because my wife also misread the start time for the theater last week and we showed up nearly at intermission. You know what ? No one died or became gravely injured because we a missed a few minutes of a show. Now, had it been ME who goofed up instead of my wife, she would have killed me, or at least hurt me badly - she has quite a pinch when she's highly irritated. How about if it was David instead of you - would he be recovering from a pummeling, or would it be just one of those things that happen in life and you would have forgiven him by now? Remember this: Every day above ground is a good one. Love ya'! Tschuss !!! (mit umlauts)

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