My LIfe as a Cartoon Character

by on January 17th, 2011
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Life would be so much easier if I were a cartoon character. Why? Because all the stuff that hangs me up would suddenly become hilariously funny, and not simply medication-requiring pathetic. For example, today, I read a comic strip where the heroine was given tickets for a surprise winter cruise by her boyfriend. Was she happy? Grateful? Or even pleasantly surprised? No. No. And no. She was upset because she had to go, heaven forbid, bathing suit shopping in winter. That’s bathing suit shopping with nothing but her extra holiday poundage and pasty skin to accompany her. Believe me, I can relate. But instead of silently turning to the jar of peanut butter for help, our heroine turned to her friends who all hugged her, each of them saying something witty, poignant and funny. Yeah, like that happens in real life. And, by the way, I’m still waiting for control top panty-hose to become fashionable on the beach. I can see the infomercial now. “You too can look 10 pounds slimmer. For three small payments of $39.99 each, we’ll send you our patent-pending body-slimming beach wear. Call right now and we’ll throw in a free inflatable beach ball.” Who says fat girls can’t have fun on the beach?

Okay, so maybe my trepidation about buying a bathing suit isn’t the best example of my neurosis. But there is more. Much more. Wanna know what my nickname was growing up? Patty is what people call me now. Patty, short for Patricia. But my full name is Patricia Elizabeth Haley. I was the youngest of three, and that, my friends, sealed my fate for the dumbest nickname known to man. Patty-Betty-Baby. Family old-timers still call me that. Patty-Betty-Baby. Say that three times fast. It’s not a name so much as a tongue twister, or, once again, some cartoon comic strip baby. See, it all boils down to the almighty cartoon characters.

And still, somehow, there’s more. How about my fear of change? It’s true. I suffer from fear of change. I’ve been a middle manager, working in the same little cubicle, at the same telecommunications company for ten years. Ten years. That’s 3,650 days. Give or take a business trip here and a weekend off there. But yes. Three thousand six hundred fifty days have been spent writing monthly status reports, balancing budgets and assuaging difficult personalities. I’m capable of more. I’ve got my masters in business administration for God’s sake. But I’m scared and apparently, according to my mother (or was it my shrink), locked up by the golden hand-cuffs. If I were some sort of cartoon girl, this would be great material. I can see it now, my skinny wrists, locked together by these big gold-jewel-studded-rapper-girl hand-cuffs. My moniker would be something like P. Bet E. Baby. My generous stomach and long hair would be splayed across the page. Behind me are several other chained up workers of various shapes and sizes. Below me is this caption: P. Bet E. Baby and her chain of fools. I’m laughing already.

So there’s the bathing suit. The name. The chains. And another thing. Will my boyfriend, Freddie, ever ask me to marry him? We’ve been dating for five years. But honestly, after five years can you call it dating? It’s more like staring at each other. That’s it. Freddie and I have been staring at each other for five years. He doesn’t like mushrooms, shopping or me talking to him during the Super Bowl. And he knows I hate cats, my job, and the fact that he doesn’t like me talking to him during the Super Bowl. So, we know each other pretty well, and although he swears he doesn’t want to stare at anyone else, he is not ready to stare at me for the rest of his life either (read marry). What the heck does he think we’re doing now, if not staring the bejezus out of each other? There’s a funny comic strip right there. The cartoon me is old and shriveled, standing at the pearly gates and there is St. Peter, standing on a cloud, looking down at an old and shriveled Freddie, who is still alive on earth. St. Peter turns back to me and says, “I told you not to wait.” That’s funny, right? I’m old and dead, and St. Peter shoots me an I told you so!

I want to be married. I want a new job. I want to be able to wear a decent bathing suit on the beach. But I can’t. Or won’t. Or don’t. I am stymied by myself. I go to my shrink, finally ready to take the plunge. Ready to medicate myself with Prozac, Zoloft, or one of those serotonin lifting medications. It’s a big step for me. I don’t even like to take aspirin. But I’m stuck. So I walk into the office, sit down, and sigh. Not a tiny sigh. A huge, deep, way-down-from-the-bottom-of-your-belly sigh.

“Wow. Let’s talk about that, Patty,” Dr. Ferdinand says.

“I need Prozac.”

“Why?”

Where have you been this last year? I want to say. But instead I say “I can’t get my groove on.” Yeah, like that was so much better.

“Your groove on?”

“Groove. Y’know. New job. Marriage proposal. Slimmer me. I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I’m spinning my wheels here.”

“And Prozac will help?”

“I don’t know. It’s either that or…”

“Or what?”

“Or, I don’t know. I think my life would be much easier if I were a cartoon character.”

“Go on.”

“Well, all my “stuff” would just become hysterically funny. Can’t you see me looking all fat and cute in a comic strip, wrists locked with gaudy rapper handcuffs? I know what my name would be if I were a rapper.”

“Tell me.”

“You’re kidding, aren’t you?” Are you sure you went to med school? I want to say, but don’t. Instead, I blurt out, “You really want to know my rapper moniker?”

“I want to know anything you want to tell me.”

“P. Bet E. Baby.”

“Catchy,” Dr. Ferdinand says, her voice all genuine. “And what would this comic strip rapper say?”

“Well I wouldn’t talk so much as have a caption under me. You see behind me are all the folks I work with. They have handcuffs on too. Only they’re a lot smaller than I am in the comic strip. And the caption says, ‘P. Bet E. Baby and her chain of fools.”

“Funny.”

“I thought so. So you see, if I were a cartoon character I could be really funny.”

“But you’re not.”

“Funny?”

“No. You’re not a cartoon character. You’re a person. A funny person. A feeling person. A human person. Not a cartoon character.”

“Damn. I was starting to think this cartoon thing could really work. I guess I really do need that prescription for Prozac.”

“Tell me about that, P. Baby.”

That’s P. Bet E. Baby I want to say, but don’t. I need a new shrink, I think to myself. One who doesn’t call me by my incorrect rapper moniker. I want to tell Dr. Ferdinand that. I want to fire her, Donald Trump style. ‘You’re fired.’ Instead, words I am not prepared to say come out.

“Dr. Ferdinand. Help me.”


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