by Susan Sey
My curling iron exploded last week.
Okay, so maybe exploded isn't the right word as it implies flames & suchlike. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say my curling iron spontaneously disassembled itself. While I was using it.
It was a shock at the time. There I was, holding a tube of million-degree metal inches from my eyeball when one of the screws holding it all together shot across the room. I had just enough to time think, "What the hell was that?" when the other screw shot out, too, & the whole deal went SPROING (seriously, it made that noise) as the clampy bit that grabs your hair hurtled across the room at high velocity.
I wish I could say this came as a surprise but it didn't. Not really. For some time, I'd been contemplating putting the old girl out to pasture. It was at least a decade old. The plastic bit that keeps your thumb from roasting alive had disappeared years ago. The little foot that keeps it from melting your bathroom counter? Same thing.
But my inner eco-warrior kept saying, "Oh come on. You use it, what? Like once a quarter? You really want to toss this one in the landfill while it still adequately bends your hair?"
Well, yeah. Yeah I did. But I want lots of things I probably shouldn't have. Dessert for breakfast. An unlimited supply of paperback books. A reason (any reason, please lord) to skip the gym. And since my idea of personal grooming rarely extends beyond showering, brushing my teeth & using deodorant, could I really justify a new curling iron?
Clearly I could not.
Was I being frugal? Environmental? Stingy? Careless?
Nah. I think I just hate change. I liked my old curling iron. It had an on button, an off button & it curled the hell out of my hair. (No easy feat, that. Teflon only wishes it was my hair.) Now I have to go back to the dance & find a new partner, which a recent trip to the beauty aisle at Target has assured me will be complicated. Nano-ceramics will, apparently, be invovled. Jeesh.
Now some people like newness for newness' sake. I am not one of those people. I will wear underpants until they are nothing but a band of elastic. I once owned a car that required a set of instructions if anybody besides me drove it. ("The gas gauge doesn't work so you'll have to reset the trip tyche every time you fill up & calculate your mileage to see when you're due for a fill up. You also have to roll down the window & let yourself out the drivers' side door as the inside handle's broken. Speaking of the driver's side window...")
I think maybe it's not newness I dislike so much, but the choosing. I hate trying to pick out the best new thing from a whole bunch of other new things. It's so much pressure. What if I choose badly? What if I screw it up? What if it's an expensive mistake? What if the choosing process forces me to acknowledge unflattering truths about myself? (Underwear shopping is great for letting those unflattering truths out of the bag, by the way. I'll bet I'm not the only girl out there wearing her unders to shreds.)
Same goes for starting a new book. Is this the right hero? The right heroine? The right match up? What if this other guy's better? Is this the right tone? The right conflict? The right place to start? I have probably written more Chapter Ones than any person on the face of the planet. And it's all because I'm the kind of girl who holds onto her curling iron until it explodes on her.
So how about you? Do you hold onto stuff (or habits or theories or people) until they blow up on you? Or do you thrive on novelty? Does new give you a kick or a headache? What was the last thing you kept too long, from leftovers to an outgrown boy/girl friend?