If Beggars Can’t Be Choosers…

If Beggars Can’t Be Choosers…

Someone was offering me a gift. It wasn’t quite to my liking and the phrase beggars can’t be choosers popped in my head. In this case, the gift was substantial, something I wouldn’t do for myself and was fortunate to be the beneficiary of. I wanted to want what was on offer, not crave something unavailable. Quoting this phrase to myself was supposed to help achieve that. But no sooner had I said the phrase then I started to dissect it. If beggars can’t be choosers, then choosers must what? Pay a fee? Instead of thinking about gratitude, I started to think about this new phrase.

The phrase implies that getting what you want means you need to have money. The better choices are usually more expensive. I get that with hotels and restaurants and carpets and homes. If choice is the most important thing, then money is the most important thing. The more money, the more choice.

But what if having the ability to choose without restriction excludes you from a different worthwhile experience? Is choice always the best option? Is it ever preferable to be the beggar?

Not everything in life is for sale and not every outcome is predicated on choosing. More often than not, fate is the chooser and makes beggars of us all. You don’t choose who you’re going to randomly meet and fall in love with. You don’t choose your child. You don’t choose to have an accident. You don’t choose the Fiestaware that came with your spouse. You don’t choose the things you find yourself obsessed with like a love of crystals or plants or Fiestaware or art. Many things just happen and often those things affect your life far more than what you do choose. No one’s gravestones talk about their great choice in carpets. So why do we think choosing is the ultimate in self-expression?

Also, while it’s wonderful to have what we want, it’s only wonderful if we know what we want. Our desires are a moving and morphing target. Sometimes you buy something you think you want and find out you don’t. That sucks. How do you learn what you love? You try new things. How do you try new things? An opportunity comes your way. Until you try it, you may not want to. Until you love it, you may be put off by it. There is always an unknown period of just experiencing something and learning from direct contact. We don’t get that with choice. You don’t know what the vegan tacos taste like when you choose the pork.

It’s important to develop both skills, both mindsets. If you are going to pay, you might as well get something good if you can. And for sure, it’s good to use your resources to support your affinities and open yourself to opportunity. But if you are going to be the recipient, it’s best to have the ability appreciate what you have been given, to orient towards the positive rather than ruminate on the negative. To see that maybe you have been given something very valuable and rare. Something you would never have otherwise. Don’t reject something before you really know what it is.

Sidewalk Face 814

I Lost It Over Slippers

I Lost It Over Slippers

It’s humiliating and humbling. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a house shoe. I ruined our lovely lunch (we even had special bread!) because I wanted everyone’s feet to be warm and I was thwarted. Can you feel me? I wanted something nice for everybody, I had given up several hours of time to make it happen. And like a kitten undoing the rolled-up yarn with a single playful swipe, my child inquired, are they leather? Here’s the story.

It starts with husband. A few weeks ago, he tells me he’s really cold while wearing a thin cotton shirt, a thin cotton sweater and bare feet. Oh my goodness, how can you re-grout the bathroom and still have so few survival skills? To be fair, he has bad feet and hates anything binding, like socks. So, it’s a challenge. He has never in our time together, had winter house shoes. I feel like this could be a game changer for him.

My house shoes came from payless. They cost about $12 a decade ago. Every year I tell myself, get a new pair! The faux shearling that used to invite the foot into a sleeve of luxury now looks like dryer lint if dryer lint was hard and mean rather than soft and wimpy. But the soles of the slippers are doing great. There are going to be here when the sun supernovas.

A few years ago I did order an adorable replacement. Something woolen with little decorative flourishes sewn on. Something that would make you smile every time you put them on. But they had a small lip at the back of the heel and my foot was just a fraction too long. Oh brother! Are you kidding me! Disappointment is a hard emotion. An excess of smoking badness and nowhere to set it down like holding a hot skillet with a thin towel in a crowded kitchen. I didn’t have the stamina to remedy. I was too defeated. Husband handled the Zappos return and I retreated back to my stale but monogamous house shoe marriage.

I can’t remember my child’s house shoe history, but he doesn’t have any now. He mostly wears a pair of off-white fuzzy socks and they look pretty bad on the bottoms because Los Angeles is a filthy place and unless you want to sweep and mop every day, your socks are going to suffer.

With that, I’ve laid out the need. Are you rooting for us to get house shoes?

Like most of us, I am on Instagram a lot. Their AI has figured out that I will click on ads for bras and for slippers. So many bras and slippers and I just keep “saving” them. So, I week ago I open up my Instagram saved folder, locate these slipper sellers and start researching. I get it all figured out and then promptly do nothing because you get a pat on the back for figuring it out, right? But you don’t have to pull the trigger and spend actual money.

A week later and this task is my final project for the long Thanksgiving weekend. I am not bringing this to-do item into December. So, I go to order husband’s house shoe, he is getting a very high-end Nordic wool slipper that does all the things because he has the worst feet. Nope. Wrong! All sold out! We are repossessing that pat on the back; your research was for naught. You waited too long and you have to start over. I can feel the skillet of disappointment heating up!

An hour later and he is getting the cheapest slippers, but they are WIDE! Which he said was imperative. Now for me and son. I was going to order us some really stylish, vegan shoes from Australia, but two issues are upsetting me. And honestly, now that I am looking at this under a microscope, I can see that these issues are probably why I didn’t order right away. The shoes have a lip on the heel and no free returns. I cannot deal with returns. We need to order from Zappos. I find one in the exact uninteresting style of my old payless shoe. I tell son to pick his color and then I chose the other color for me. Done! Ha! Take that stupid to-do list!

Son and I then walk to the super fancy grocery store a block away and celebrate by getting some top shelf rosemary sourdough bread for our sandwiches. This is rare and fun. We are eating our sandwiches when son, who is having avocado rather than leftover Thanksgiving turkey, says: Are those house shoes you bought leather? What do you think friends? Is suede leather? The metaphorical skillet heats through the metaphorical thin towel in un-metaphorical seconds. I lose my shit. I make some scary howling noises then proceed to place my head in my hands and sulk in a big way. Would anyone like a little rancid butter for their rosemary sourdough?

What was happening for me is that the to-do item was now uncrossed and back on the list, return non vegan suede slippers to Zappos, my least favorite thing! Not only had I not accomplished my goal, I had more work to do. The whole point was to move into the work week light as feather chore-wise. It felt intolerable.

Both son and husband were perplexed but neither of them had spent their holiday time online, researching house shoes.

Anyway, no matter how I felt, I knew I was behaving poorly and had to pull it together. We were able to cancel his order. Amazing son provided a link to an affordable vegan alternative within the half hour. Ok. The to-do item is crossed off. Everything’s fine.

I know I live with a kraken. But I am trying. I am trying to make life nice; I am trying to get things done. I am trying to be good person. Life is hard. Obviously, this isn’t even in the realm of actual hardship. But life is comprised of many small moments and our emotional equipment is the same for both the small and large, the hard and the petty. So, though I acted badly, it was just for a few minutes. I did apologize. We are getting slippers. Onto the next thing.