I guess this whole thing started after I had my wisdom
teeth out. There's a beautiful picture of me a few days afterward.
Please note the items on my makeshift bedstand: two presrciption bottles:
percocet and antibiotics; a bottle of ginger ale for taking the afforementioned
prescriptions; the remote control for the TV and my DVD player, which was
used quite a bit; the third Harry Potter book, for reading; and an ice pack,
for... icing. This is the couch where I stayed for a good five days,
and it's also the couch where I became a Type B person for the first time
in my life.
But before I get into that, I have to go on a tangent. Everyone who told me that getting your wisdom teeth out was the most terrible, painful experience that would ever happen to me can kiss my arse. I only needed the percocet on the very first day (not that I didn't use it after that, but I could have probably gotten along without it...). The pain was completely tolerable and actually not that bad at all. Probably the worst part was the swelling, and that was only bad because I looked ridiculous. Well, the first day, I had to back to the dentist before he left, because apparently there was a tear in my gum that I didn't feel, but it bled for like four hours or something, and by the time I got to the dentist, I was all dehydrated and ended up passing out after he gave me some "emergency stitches." But even that wasn't that bad, because I got to be revived with smelling salts, which was, oddly enough, something I've always wanted to happen.
OK, back to the story. Well, while I was sitting on that couch for five days, I was unable to shave because of my swelled cheeks. The result was that I ended up getting the beginnings of a beard. The unusual part about this was that I didn't care at all. I was relaxing all day, taking a leisurely pace with everything, and wasn't irritated by anything.
I became a Type B personality.
Normally, and especially this year, I'm a die hard Type A, as almost anyone who knows me will tell you. I woke up two hours before my classes started every day so that I could get ready and have time to eat breakfast. I was always on time for everything, if not early (except once, when my alarm didn't go off for my SlowKids practise, and I got
there 15 minutes late, looking really disheveled and totally freaking out). All my clothes were folded neatly and stored according to a complex organizational system which took into account things like "Length of Sleeve / Leg," "Weight of Fabric," and "Overall Aura." My CDs were in alphabetical and chronological order, and my tea collection was divided into "Morning," "Afternoon," and "Evening" subsets. The following characteristics of a Type A personality are taken from the Mind Publications and Queendom.com websites. In orange, for your convenience:
"1. Time-Impatience,. A type A person, is most often intolerant of how much time everything consumes. Impatience regarding inordinate or unnecessary delay is normal and justifiable, but what characterizes type A behavior is constant sense of time urgency and impatience regarding the time various tasks and chores ordinarily consume. In moderate cases, a patient has a constant sense of "time urgency," but in severe cases, the impatience regarding time becomes so intense that it creates a chronic sense of irritation or exasperation"
It took me 46 seconds to read that paragraph, decide it should be in my column, and copy and paste it into this page.
"2. Ever-present and all pervasive hostility, or as labeled by Friedman, "free floating hostility." This is when the level of hostility one exhibits is often not justifiable or valid when compared with the cause or the event that provoked it. Type A behavior is often characterized by hostility that is provoked by trivial and insignificant events."
And just who the hell does this Friedman think he is, hmm? He probably just got pushed down by someone in elementary school who was trying to get to his class on time, the little baby. He probably spent all day thinking of that "free floating hostility" catchphrase, too, and who the hell is he to determine what level of hostility is justifiable? Jerk.
"3. Constant apprehension of future disasters. People who suffer from Type A have a constant apprehension of future disasters they may encounter. For example, they may have just won a big victory, but even during the triumphant moment, apprehension may still persist of a disaster that may foul up the future for them. They live in dread of negative possibilities."
Funny, I've always thought of this as being prepared.
"4. Type A is also characterized by a general discontentedness and the impulse to be overly critical and demanding, even contemptuous of imperfection, in the self and others. This focus on negative aspects and the accompanying bursts of hostility, impatience result in guilt, remorse and anxiety."
The word "result" should be "resulting." Awkward sentence; minus two points.
Anyway, I have come to the conclusion that on me, having a beard makes me a move from a Type A person to a Type B person. Even after I was able to shave that week, I decided to just let it go. The beard was already on me, and was already starting to work it's personality-changing magic. I was still getting stuff done, I was just taking my sweet time at it. And believe me, this was not the result of the percocet, which by now had moved from the "I Don't Really Need This Right Now" category to the even more exciting "Hey, I Can Take These To School With Me!" category. I wore dirty, unironed clothes and socks with sandals instead of shoes; I let my CD collection get a little out of order; I just felt calm all the time.
I think the time I actually realized that this was a result of my newfound facial hair was at night, while driving my friend Chris to Sara's house. "Chris," I said. "I think this beard of mine is making me more relaxed."
"Oh?" he replied. "How so?"
"Well, look. I was late to pick you up, and now we're late for Sara's house, and I don't even care!" I usually always leave 15 minutes before I have to leave to get somewhere on time. "I'm not even speeding to make up for lost time!" And I wasn't speeding, either... not that I ever do, of course.
The beard was great. It made me calm and relaxed; I liked the way my face felt soft instead of rough; I liked that I now really looked like the Family Neohippie, instead of just kind of looking like it, and of course, I liked the newfound possibility of having my personal appearance compared to the character of Shaggy on "Scooby Doo." But alas,
probably one of my more hated character traits is that, even though I really want to not care what people think, I usually do, and only two people expressed pleasure in my unkempt appearance: my brother and my grandmother, God bless 'em.
My mother, who is building herself a track record for destroying my self-esteem concerning personal appearance (ask me about "The Merlin Shirt" sometime), asked me one morning, with a raised eyebrow, "How long are you going to keep that thing?" When I told her I would probably shave my beard off before I went back to work, Sara said, "No! You should keep it so all the people at work can see how bad it looks!" And even Chris said it was "looking a little scraggly, there."
That night, all of these comments danced around in my head, slowly whittling away at the part of my brain that wanted to keep the beard. Of course, they whittled it away to nearly nothing, and the next morning, I shaved it off, immediately cutting myself and wishing I hadn't shaved it off. That day, I became more tense and uptight than I'd been all week, at one time freaking out at my grandmother's house while waiting for my Mom to bring my brother and I home. This is an actual transcript. Or, more likely, a fairly close one.
Me: (enters kitchen with strange gleam in eyes) Mom, I need the keys. I need to go home.
Mom: Why? We'll be leaving in about a half hour.
Me: I don't care. I need to go home now.
Me: I need to accomplish something today. I need to do something. I haven't done anything all day.
I need the keys. I can pick you up later, but I need to go home and do something!
Then she silently handed me the keys to the car, being careful to maintain eye contact at all costs. Man, that was probably my biggest freak-out of the summer. Zoinks!