Worse Before It Gets Better

Bad news abounded. Laundry piled up, the milk ran out, unwanted hairs sprouted, bulbs blew, noses ran, plaque formed along the gum-line, knives dulled, spots formed on glasses, smiles upside down were frowns, drawers jammed, toes poked through socks, deodorant wasn’t up to the task, salad dressings separated, words failed, a button fell off, hair conditioner quit, bacon was all fat, phone lines crackled, pens exploded, bills went to the wrong address, cookies were fat-free, chips were baked not fried, tomatoes were odorless, ants found the sugar, beds didn’t make themselves, practice didn’t make perfect, virtue was its own reward, youth was wasted on the young, herding cats was like herding cats, the elevator went in only two directions, all clocks were right twice a day, the bottom graduate of the medical school class was called, “Doctor,” God decided s/he was a doctor, shelves collapsed, silverware disappeared, underwear ripped, carob replaced chocolate, women gossiped while men shared confidential information, men were passionate while women were bitches, asteroids threatened life as we know it, very small life was living all over us every second, your last meal was your last meal, paper cuts stung like the dickens, it was quality versus quantity not quality and quantity, a never-ending pasta bowl was not that terrific a value, very few people had attorneys on hand to review credit card insurance agreements, drains clogged, birds made nests in chimneys, pictures hung crookedly, the other shoe dropped, desperate times called for desperate measures, ends split, water pressure dropped, trash bags broke, gutters flooded, flowers wilted, volcanoes spit, toddlers’ towers of blocks tumbled, telemarketers called, relatives visited, barn doors were open, flies landed on your hamburger, that sense of permanence was an illusion, crime paid, termite damage continued undetected, that last step was a doozy, the good old days weren’t good for most people, that was supposed to be French fries instead of cole slaw, 186,000 different chemicals were legally dumped in California without manufacturers knowing their effect on human or environmental health, heavy metals accumulated in breast milk, some of those manufacturers donated money to cancer “advocacy” non-profits that ignored how their donors were creating disease, a pregnancy was terminated because Down Syndrome was present, a child was removed from a mother because the mother had Down Syndrome, a woman with Down Syndrome was forced to file a lawsuit against a hospital to get on a transplant list, protests clashed with the real world, elective cosmetic surgeries boomed along with infant mortality, the days got shorter and the nights got longer, US soldiers’ deaths, gas prices, and SUV purchases soared, the term “green-washing” referred to donations made by a company that disposes pesticides in poor communities to reputable non-profits fighting disease in those communities, Wiley E. Coyote met the business end of an Acme anvil, motel wall-to-wall harbored who-knew-what, San Francisco apartments lacked screen doors, gestational diabetes was not covered under the federal Healthy Families program for pregnant women, Mars Bars were being edged out by Snickers With Almonds, paint dried way too slowly, devilled eggs were made without mustard, what looked like a pound of coffee in the grocery store was twelve ounces and then eleven, Henry Kissinger was touted as a statesman, the phrase “Nixon who?”was heard, Tom Lehrer’s reference to “pre-nostalgia” lost its irony, waxy yellow build-up built up, potatoes sprouted, alfalfa sprouts spread salmonella, anti-bacterial soap spawned resistant strains, regular soap got rid of bacteria just as well by washing with it for 26 seconds, Brussel sprouts were soggy slimy little balls of stink, cruciferous vegetables everywhere were over-cooked, inadequate representation sent disproportionate numbers of innocent poor, minority, and low-IQ people to prison, mentally ill young people ended up in the criminal justice system because it was the best-funded system, fake butter ran rampant in movie theaters, Mexican cheeses languished in obscurity, inner beauty felt dissed by the phrase “Beauty is only skin deep,” there was a rock and a hard place, the bus was late, the baby cried, the tub overflowed, the wine was corked, good loving went bad, someone ate crackers in bed and was kicked out, the devil got his due, the crackers were stale, time waited for no man, linen wrinkled, bank fees multiplied, interest rates jumped, delicate complexions freckled, whites yellowed and blacks faded, paper rotted, families fought, the remote disappeared, Dad was hung-over, a kid decided to heat the whole outdoors, balloons popped, clowns were scary, it was all uphill from here, toilets backed up, dandruff flaked, a good deed was punished, the microfilm fell into the wrong hands, the screen went blank, it took two for the carpool lane, the dog threw up, kitty went to a family in the country, dinner burned, peas fell off the fork, stars exploded, grass went to seed, dander caused a sneeze, fingernails scratched a blackboard, a killer stalked his prey, a hamster was lonely, skilled workers lost jobs, petro-chemically based dyes pinkened salmon, sleep deprivation ravaged immune systems, fists slammed faces, hunger slowed baby brain development, the plan didn’t cover prescriptions, the key broke off in the lock, it wasn’t you it was me, you did want a person like that to be your friend, pennies were not accepted, diamonds were not a girl’s best friend, the court found you guilty, oceans warmed, ghosts moved the bureau, teenagers groused, lightning struck, trees fell, lightning struck twice, fascist regimes replaced dictatorships, a wedding ring was slipped into a pocket, a hat looked goofy, furrows deepened, teeth ached, money talked, children lost the bread-crumb trail, charlatans duped, lone witnesses recanted, credit cards were denied, fathers skipped town, stitches opened, no one had to know, aqua was not your color, most men weren’t seven inches, telephones didn’t ring, lines went down. Pots boiled over.

excerpted from The Cure for Gretchen Lowe
2006

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