Deal or Big Deal?

October 4, 2012

When I was a kid–probably about 8-years-old since I’m always 8 when I think of myself in “when I was a kid” mode, I had buttons. Buttons with a Capital B! Loads of buttons! Junk drawers full of glorious Buttons! I’m not referring to the functional kind, though. These were Buttons with Sayings! Buttons like those they call “flair” in the hit movie Office Space! Button-Collector Buttons! And while I’d like to convince myself that my passion for buttons occurred during a bubble-in-time when buttons were authentically cool, that’s like saying everyone looks GREAT in gaucho pants when, in fact, no one looks remotely ok in these monstrosities. Similarly, everyone knows that buttons are, were, and will always be for people who aren’t quite smart enough for chess; people who spent a disproportionately long time at the Orthodontist in 7th grade (“Miss Thus-‘n-Such, I have to GO…my retainer is waiting for me at Dr. Who’s Its”). People who…

The fact is, Button Lovers are people with an altered sense of themselves and the impact their political inclinations, opinion of Terriers, belief in 4-leaf clovers, and support of “off-season” holidays have on the general population. In my defence, however, my passion for buttons was not formed in some kind of loser-vacuum. No, sirree Bob! There was an actual day at school created especially for button aficionados. ‘Twas a day in which students, teachers, and custodians alike were encouraged to sport their most gaudy be-pinned badges with the gusto of Jimmy’s soccer mom at the Championship Game. And since I know you’re interested, if I had to pinpoint the genesis of my button fetish, I would say it began at the Holiday Village Mall with the purchase of a small phrased button. It said, simply: Just Visiting this Planet The ‘JV‘ and ‘Pwere a bold dark purple,and there were tiny shooting stars in the background barely distinguishable to the naked non-alien’s eye.

I liked everything about this button: the font, the size, the shape–even the delicate closure that was easy to pin onto backpack and sweatshirt material alike. Most of all, however, I felt like this button understood me. Not because I actually believed I was an alien (although my own mother would neither confirm nor deny this suspicion), but because I didn’t always feel welcome here on Planet E. I felt like if I said what I was really thinking or, for example, what I had really done one day during summer vacation (experimented with attempting to turn grapes into raisins in the microwave but actually causing a microwave fire and producing a charcoal-like substance which was in fact not a raisin at all but a messy substitute for chalk–a substance with which I then used to write cryptic messages onto the driveway…), I would be disqualified as a qualifying Human Being; I would be told, “Go to your room and don’t come out until you’re 18 and have your Welding license!” 

But you see the problem was (and is), if indeed I am just visiting this planet–if I have limited time, I kinda want the experience to be interesting; to be a Big Deal…in fact, I would like to be a Big Deal while I’m at it. Not necessarily “The Next Big Deal” a la Justin Bieber (I’ll take your lame example and I’ll raise you a YouTube star); just a good old-fashioned capital B.E.D.: Big Enough Deal. Big Enough Deal to get a free refill when refills cost 52 cents; Big Deal enough to tell inappropriate jokes at Christmas parties and get away with laughs; Big Deal enough not to own a yacht, but be invited to “hang out” on my best-aquaintence’s private one without feeling compelled to eat as many free snacks and drinks as possible…after all, Big Enough Deals are invited again…

Why do I feel the need to be a B.E.D? You see, I have it in mind that when I’m a B.E.D., things like the following will occur naturally: my hair will always be the perfect length–noooo need for bobby pins or apologies to my hairdresser–it will look perfect always. I will never feel hot or cold. I will only get sick when it is convenient for me (like when I just don’t feel like doing another cameo role for Jimmy Fallon’s latest low-brow episodic). I will never be too hungry or too full–except when I’m attempting to fit into the latest piece of haute couture my new friend, Mr. Fashion Designer X has created especially for a one-size-smaller me. And, because claiming to be a slow, deliberate reader will still be in fashion, my Big Enough Deal Status will furnish me with a socialite friend in the defense-phase of her PhD. She will compile for me special “Slow Reader” version Cliff’s Notes for the most Significant New Books.

When I am a Big Enough D…

…but then I wake up from this daydream and I’m on a bus from the graffitied ‘burbs of Rome which, I realize, counts as fairly Big Deal for a semi-hick from the semi-sticks, but…’burbs are ‘burbs everywhere, and dog poop will always appear on your shoe at the most inconvenient moment until the point where you!–You!! YOU!!! are so authentically Big Deal that the Great “They” in the Sky places red carpet beneath your feet.

You see, there are all sorts of moments in life. Dim moments, sure–moments when the bulb’s burned out in your heart or the switch is temporarily broken in your mind. I’ve had a “couple 3” of those myself…but there are also bright moments–when the bulb’s been traded, upgraded; when the switch gets swaped and you can see again. These puzzle pieces, individually, are sometimes illuminated so brightly it’s impossible to see them when they are in front of you, just like you can’t look at the sun with your naked eye. It’s only with sunglasses or the muted-ness of Far Away that it’s possible to view them directly…like seeing the shapes of the continents by viewing the Earth from a different planet.

Still–we ride, we fly, we bus, we Metro/Subway/Underground–we experience–Big Deal or No. Each day we put on our metaphorical buttons and watch what happens. Sometimes it’s though a book or television or the internet or our nosy neighbor or the voices inside our heads. Other, rarer times, it’s on a yacht or a Gulf Stream or a ski lift high above in the Alps. Whatever the modality, everything moves…and this fact alone is a miracle. It is a Big Enough Deal. It is the axiom that states “Go, now! Your time here is limited. You are ‘Just Visiting this Planet'”.

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