The Cranky

What is it that makes someone cranky?  I don’t mean just cranky, like, growl at the coffee machine because it’s not meeting your needs quickly enough. I mean cranky enough that you lash out at someone and share your cranky to the point that it also becomes their cranky, and, thusly, not just one person’s day is made bleak, but two.

I behaved badly. I let my cranky out to thrash about on the floor, and it adhered itself to someone else who happened to be walking by at the wrong moment, like the tentacle of some slimy undersea creature with those nasty suction cup things full of viscous wet sputum. It left dribbles on the floor, and circular shaped bruises all over its hapless victim’s day.


That’s the sound my cranky made when it suctioned onto the unwitting bystander who simply didn’t see it coming. Schluck is different than Phloufgh, which is the sound my cranky makes when it feels badly about itself.

I am not, generally, a cranky person. Having raised a large family, I learned very early that patience is the key to happiness, and that few things are worth getting cranky about. So what was my problem? Here are my suggestions, to excuse, explain, and exonerate The Cranky.

It’s a full moon.  I work at a high school. Teenagers. Hormone Central. There is a new illness expressing itself in the world, known as Electro-Magnetic Hypersensitivity, related to the over-exposure to technology. I wonder if there is a corresponding condition as a result of exposure to teen spirit? We, who spend our days engaged in teenage maintenance, understand the pull of the full moon. There are more break ups, more fights, more weird behaviours such as flicking spit globules into your neighbor’s hair, in the teen world, with the advent of the full moon, than on any other day. Perhaps my cranky was a direct result of my daily immersion in enough hormonal pheromones to seriously fuck with even the most stodgy middle-aged physiology. My blood remembers being young and impetuous, but my middle-aged body can’t keep up, and so, in an outpouring of lunacy, I get cranky. (Or it could just be the spit globules.)

It’s PMS. “Hello, This is your uterus calling. Although you have blessed the world with four delightful progeny who will, no doubt, enlighten the world with their marvelousness, I feel obligated to piss you off once a month by pulling on my steel toed hiking boots and dancing the Macarena on your spine. In anticipation of this monthly minuet, I will torment you with aching, bloating, miserly weariness and I will encourage you to cry over things like diaper commercials, the sun coming up in a pink sky, and the feel of a book cover on your desk. You’re welcome.”

It’s menopause. No. No, it’s not, goddamit. It’s just really hot in here, ok? Okay?

Oh. Yeah. Now it’s not as hot as it was a minute ago.

Whatever. Not menopause.


It’s the accumulation of petty annoyances that reach a tipping point. It’s the kid in class who was reading “The Angler’s Rule Book” right in the middle of my riveting discussion of “Verb Tense Agreement and the Role of the Gerund in Third Person Point of View.” (She wasn’t the only one who would have rather been fishin’!). It’s the paper mache paste I smeared all over my nice sweater in first class, so I spent the rest of the day looking like a large animal had drooled on me. It’s the Weiner running away for four hours and coming home looking like he’d spent a weekend in Vegas with cheap wine and even cheaper hookers. It’s my ex-husband proving to the world, once again, exactly why he is my ex-husband. It’s all of these things, and the pounds I can’t shed, the naps I can’t take, the people I miss, the hours in the day that don’t exist, and the fact that I wore heels to work for two days in a row, and walked like a cripple for the rest of the week. And that weird nerve thing twitching under my right eye. And that tiny cut on my index finger that hurts like a sonamabeech. And Mondays. I hate Mondays.

My motto, with my kids, for which I have endured years of mockery and jest, is: Like water off a duck’s back. This is how I try to approach my days, when things are stressful, when people ask me to do things I don’t want to do, when my body reminds me, yet again, that I am one day closer to becoming Great Aunt Tilly. Let it go, rise above, take the high road, just look at how that water beads off that duck’s back, and do you have any idea how delicious duck breast tastes, marinated in raspberry jam? Last week, I forgot about the fuckin’ duck.

So, I let my cranky out, and it wasn’t pretty, and I feel really badly about it. I apologize to anyone who has a circular shaped bruise, with slimy drippings, fading yellow on the memory of their encounters with me last week. There is no excuse for the sharing of a bad day, forcing someone else to wear the uncomfortably tight, itchy woolen sweater of my irritation. Next week will be better. No excuses.

Is it really hot in here? Or is it just me? Phloufgh.

Check out my new novel: That Thing That Happened, available for both kobo and kindle.

Finalist in WFNS Atlantic Writing Competition

Grub Street Endorsed

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