A Little Veruca-Like

After hearing some disappointing news recently, I set out to walk a few avenues and call whoever would listen to my fretting and rambling. The unluckiest of my friends who picked up my call happened to be R, who listened intently and calmly, letting me finish my obsessively inappropriate freak out.

As I neared the end of my story, over exaggerating, and emphasizing the disappointing facts more harshly than I highlighted the good, I concluded with: “It’s just I want it! I want it now! I don’t want it to be complicated! I just want time to go faster.” Pushing the tantrum to the extreme, I went as far as to stomp the pavement, and glare up at the sky in despair, regardless of the flocks of people on either side. Bringing my stance back to street view, I happened to be right in front of a candy store in Chelsea, and in that instance, I channeled a character that’s not a positive person to relate to.

Veruca Salt.

You know – the brat from Willy Wonka? Who says the same words to her father that I happened to slip to R, and is as intolerable as it gets. She’s the gal who wants the world, the whole world, and demands to be given it…now.

Am I Veruca-like?

I don’t come from money and I’ve never dated men for their money – being rich isn’t a qualification to grab my attention. I’m not a child, though I may act like one from time-to-time, as all well-adjusted adults allow themselves to do. I really don’t want a magical squirrel, though I’ve convinced myself I’ll name any animal I get “Henry,” no matter what it is, which perhaps is more irrational than wanting a rodent, anyway. On the surface, I don’t have the fundamentals of Ms. Salt, but in my actions and in the words I use – sometimes I’m impatient and demanding, and perhaps, I may even have a sense of entitlement. I mean, I am a Gen Y-er, right?

It isn’t so much that I think I should get things because I’m me, Lindsay Tigar. My name isn’t significant or noteworthy; it is just another byline in the hundreds of thousands of budding journalists and bloggers who write to be heard and to give, not to be famous. I don’t usually jump up and down, complaining and whining that my life isn’t going as planned or I’m not receiving all the things I believe should be coming my way. But I do think that if I work hard, if I’m positive, if I’m a basically a good person, everything I’ve dreamt of will surely be mine one day. As long as my visions aren’t magically and lofty, or my commands unappreciative and rude, like Veruca.

But sometimes, what I see for myself is probably unrealistic. I can be overly demanding of what I find myself deserving of, and if the mood strikes me wrong, I can be a bitch just like the next cranky New Yorker.

Once I hung up with R, I walked the 30 blocks back to my apartment, deciding fresh air would be better for me than a crowded cart. Annoyed with myself for overreacting, for getting my hopes up, for getting down on myself for things that are sincerely out of my hands, I thought about the Willy Wonka character I so enjoyed watching as a child.

Confessing to myself for the first time, I realized Veruca had been my favorite to watch. She was so over the top, so awful to her old man and Mr. Wonka and the other kids, that she eventually was declared a “bad egg” and sent down a garbage chute. I liked her though – even though she didn’t have refined qualities like respect and patience, virtue, and understanding – she just wanted what she wanted when she wanted it, end of story.

And that’s the truth of the matter – we’re all a little Veruca-like at times.

But if we learn from the sugary-sweet factory she played in, we know the one who finishes the race isn’t the one who skips ahead. It isn’t the one who rushes Father Time or gets everything they want. It’s not the person who overindulges or decides to cut corners and not fight fair.

The one who eventually finds that golden ticket – in whatever form it takes that means the most to us – remembers to be honest. Not only with the world, but with themselves too. Even if that means admitting Veruca is a part you play more often than you’d like to admit.

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