Sometimes in life, we obtain knowledge that is not always immediately applicable to us. Our wondrous brain manages to hoard it all in an organized fashion within its deep recesses (without even so much as an intervention by The Container Store), gifting us with useful tidbits of days gone by when they’re handy sometime in the future. It never fails to surprise and delight me when a random memory crops up, presenting itself as the perfect solution to a current day problem. Such is the case with a little lifestyle mantra I observed about 15+ years ago, one that is now remarkably apt in my now-adult island life.
Growing up, one of my childhood friends lived in a way that was the complete antithesis to how things went down at our house. At our house, shoes were removed at the door, food was not eaten outside the kitchen, pets lived outdoors only, and the near-white carpet remained spot-free with its perpetual freshly vacuumed lines. Natalie’s house, on the other hand, was where overzealous cleanliness rules were not only disregarded, but blatantly mocked. While I realized I could never live in such squalor myself, Kid Me loved my brief stints into their world to revel in the rule free chaos. Their mom worked long hours and though I heard her frequently complain about the messy state of affairs when she returned home at night, apparently she never put her foot down, as no one ever did anything about it. They simply added to the detritus until it would reach a boiling point, then they’d give it a surface clean, and immediately go back to their slovenly ways. It was awesome.
One time, Natalie accidentally knocked over a liter bottle of Coke on her parent’s nightstand, and my memory of her reaction has conveniently popped up for usage in my rock life today. Instead of panicking and rushing to clean it up as it dripped all over the floor and bedding like I would have done (though it should be noted, we never had Coke anywhere in our house left out to be spilled in the first place), she just grabbed my arm and powered us away from the scene of the crime, too grossed out by its stickiness to even consider wiping it up, spouting what I came to know as her mess-maker’s mantra: “Just walk away, just walk away.” And so we did. Again and again.
Witnessed the cat barfing all over the living room carpet? Just walk away, just walk away. Tried to make a layer cake but dropped it on its way out of the oven onto the floor in crumbles? Just walk away, just walk away. Forgot a lip gloss tube in your jeans and now the family’s laundry in the dryer in caked in sticky red goo? Just walk away, just walk away.
While not a practical lifestyle motto for those of us who do not wish to live in a pig pen, I have found this head-in-the-sand, not-my-problem, delusional sentiment to actually be a valuable island life coping strategy.
Whenever I recount some island life horror to someone, let’s say, the time I took a swig of my early morning coffee and a squirming cockroach washed into my mouth, the listener will often respond, aghast, with, “How can you even go on living? I’d die. I’d literally die. And move! And I’d never drink coffee again.” And while I understand the feeling – it was certainly my first line of thought in the moment as well – I do cherish the good parts of island life too much to allow these everyday abominations to put me on a plane running for less bug-y pastures. I needed a better management strategy than death – or worse, life without coffee. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the rock win. And thus, I have adopted a version of Natalie’s childhood mantra as my own island-style coping mechanism that I call Disgust, Adjust, Delude. Here’s how it works:
ISLAND LIFE HORROR: You sip your coffee and a squirming cockroach washes into your mouth.
DISGUST: Immediately spit it out, spewing coffee all over your desk. Gag, and gag some more, and then barf if you need to.
ADJUST: Never drink a cup of coffee in the dark without a lid on it again.
DELUDE: Pretend that it’s impossible that this could ever happen to you again. Go on with your merry island life, drinking coffee, never allowing yourself to think about that feeling in your mouth – ever. Just walk away, just walk away.
ISLAND LIFE HORROR: The restaurant/bar you’ve chosen for lunch is unapologetically out of: everything fried, anything salad, all fish, club soda, tonic, and tomatoes. That leaves the only food option for you as a hamburger bun with a slice of American cheese.
DISGUST: Shake your head with your dining mates. Mutter a disgruntled, “Seriously?!” to yourself.
ADJUST: Order the damn cheese sandwich – with an extra side of tequila.
DELUDE: Pretend that it’s impossible that this could ever happen to you again. Go on with your merry island life, returning optimistically to the same restaurant a week later for lack of other options, never allowing yourself to go there craving anything specific – ever. Just walk away, just walk away.
ISLAND LIFE HORROR: You step on a scorpion in the dark in your bedroom. Barefoot. Its guts are squished on your skin, and you have been stung.
DISGUST: Wave your girlish hands in the air whilst yelling, “Eeeeeeww!! Owww!!”
ADJUST: Start carrying a flashlight to shine in your path whenever you’re walking between your bed and the bathroom at night.
DELUDE: Pretend that it’s impossible that this could ever happen to you again. Go on with your merry island life, walking with confidence, never allowing yourself to fret over where scorpions may lurk – ever. Just walk away, just walk away.
ISLAND LIFE HORROR: You are picking up a shipment off the ferry dock on a heavy cruise ship day and are forced to make small talk with a sweaty, shirtless 300lb man who’s wearing only a Speedo.
DISGUST: Keep your sunglasses on and do your best to never glance downward. Eye contact is your only friend.
ADJUST: Next time, try your best to wait in the car until the last possible moment and when you do emerge, always be on your cell phone – even if you’re talking to no one.
DELUDE: Pretend that it’s impossible that this could ever happen to you again. Go on with your merry island life, treading amongst the cruise shippers with confidence, never allowing yourself to think about the inappropriate things you have seen in Speedos – ever. Just walk away, just walk away.
ISLAND LIFE HORROR: You watch people lustily eating fried chicken with their fingers on the ferry. They lick the grease off their hands and proceed to touch the seats, the doors, and the railings that you have also already touched.
DISGUST: Hold your hands tightly in your lap, careful not to touch anything else unnecessarily. Purse your lips like a judgmental church lady and put in your earbuds to block out the lip-smacking sounds around you.
ADJUST: Carry baby wipes with you on all future ferry rides and refuse to be embarrassed by your meat juice remnants sanitation procedures.
DELUDE: Pretend that it’s impossible that this could ever happen to you again. Go on with your merry island life, taking the ferries as you must, never allowing yourself to think about what people look like sucking on chicken bones again – ever. Just walk away, just walk away.
ISLAND LIFE HORROR: You reach to grab onto a railing and grab onto a snake instead.
DISGUST: Recoil your hand and jump back as it slithers away.
ADJUST: Improve your balance through yoga so that your need for handrails decreases notably.
DELUDE: Pretend that it’s impossible that this could ever happen to you again. Go on with your merry island life, grabbing onto rails with confidence when needed with your eyes first, never allowing yourself to think about the icky snakeskin feeling on your fingertips again – ever. Just walk away, just walk away.
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Feel free to use this little technique for whatever island horrors that may befall you. Have a recent humorous horror you’d like to share? Insert it in the form of “Disgust, Adjust, Delude” in the comments below!