When I was 14 years old, I really wanted a vanilla milkshake from McDonald’s. So much so that I scoured the city of Lawrence by foot to purchase the milky, sugary ice cream treat. At the first McDonald’s, the machine was broken. I frowned at my teenage peer and her 5-inch long acrylic nails. What do you mean the machine is broken? She tapped her fingers against the counter and yelled, “I said we ain’t got no milkshakes!” I stomped out of the line before she cut me with her glittery nails.
The following McDonald’s was another bust. We ran out of vanilla, said the male cashier. I gave him the evil eye and he adjusted his hat nervously. “But the strawberry milkshake is good!” He cheered, hoping to ease my anger and make the sale. “Strawberry?! I hate strawberry!” I stomped out of the line before I cut him with my pinky (it’s the only fingernail that grows long enough to use as a weapon) and continued my search. The thing is, there was no where else to go! Lawrence is a city with a total area of 7.4 square miles, which means there can only be two McDonald’s! Or something like that. I had no choice but to give up. With head hung in defeat, I walked home and dreamed of the vanilla goodness that I didn’t savor.
Lesson of the story? No matter what it is that I want I just can’t seem to get it! Utz Rippled Cut BBQ chips, Stella Dora fudge cookies, Hostess orange cupcakes: I’ve gone on a wild goose chase for all these items and have come out empty handed! This is also the case in my relationships. There was Elijah – my Colombian/Puerto Rican boyfriend who left me in limbo for months and then returned into my life to do it again. There was Mr. G – the Dominican who romanced me at work while having a girlfriend at home. And most recently there was Luke – my once boyfriend who became my ex when he failed to give me the quality time and attention that every woman deserves.
It is a pattern that I cannot seem to break. Still, when I want something I do not give up easily. On the contrary, I continue the chase. Take last night, for example. After having a cool margarita, a warm Irish coffee, and a White Russian that the bartender at Altus so happily warmed up, I wanted a specific treat. I wanted popcorn. But not just any popcorn. It had to be Smartfood white cheddar popcorn. I entered the store on the corner of 190th and St. Nicholas. No luck. I walked to 191st and St. Nicholas and searched the Fine Fair shelves. Bags and bags of chips of every variety and no Smartfood white cheddar popcorn! I huffed out the door, the sliding doors opening slowly and pushing me to the brink of explosion. One block over and to the right and I was in the smoke shop. Scanned the contents and found no popcorn of any kind. One more stop, I told myself, my stubbornness and demanding nature holding steady. 300 feet over and to the right. Swung the door open. Walked toward the back. Circled the store and every shelf. NO SMARTFOOD POPCORN!!! I inhaled and exhaled, steadying my heart rate before I lashed out at the other bags of chips, ripping their heads off like a scene from a movie. An old Dominican employee watched me from behind the counter.
“Que buscas, linda,” he asked, sensing my frustration.
“No lo tienen,” I replied with a sigh.
“Pero dime. Quisas lo tenemos atras,” he continued, hoping to ease my frustration.
“Smartfood white cheddar popcorn…la bolsa es negra..” I whined, my eyes as big as saucers as I hoped for the best.
“Ah no…no la tenemos,” he concluded. I frowned and turned to the door. Before storming out I turned back and screamed, “I never get what I want!”
Down and out and walking the streets of Washington Heights, I contemplated my fortune. Why does the Universe make things so difficult? Why can’t I get what I want when I want it? Why do I always have to struggle for everything I do attain? Suddenly, it hit me. Maybe I just need to stop obsessing over what I think I want and try something new. Maybe I never get what I want because I demand and press the issue instead of letting it go. Yes, that had to be it, I analyzed. And so I decided to change my pattern.
I entered the bodega across the street from my building and stood in front of the rack. It was stuffed with bags but still no Smartfood white cheddar popcorn. There was, however, Wise white cheddar popcorn. I picked up the bright orange bag and glared at it for a few seconds. Then I remembered my epiphany. I would buy this bag of popcorn and eat the contents. And so I did. I also enjoyed them. I sat in bed and sucked the white cheddar off my fingers, one by one, and promised myself that next time I wouldn’t fight my fate. Instead, I would expand my mind and try something new, because as Iyanla Vanzant says, “When your way doesn’t work, don’t be disheartened. You must be willing to try another way.”
It’s either that or get some glitter in my eye.