Resist much, obey little

By Kris Ferrazza | Dec 05, 2019

It’s looming on the horizon, bright as day: 2020.

Already, I’m not a fan. And I’m not talking about the political tsunami that is headed our way. I’m looking forward to that. I’m talking about the idea that soon it will be the year 2020.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, Kris, come on. It’s not a big deal. Get over it.”

Yeah, no.

It seems like only yesterday we all were in a panic over Y2K. We fretted that the arrival of the year 2000 might somehow smite us all. Banks would fail, power plants would go dark and airplanes would fall out of the sky. Hospitals wouldn’t be able to save our lives, the stock market would crash, gas pumps would shut down and paychecks wouldn’t be cut.

On that fateful New Year’s Eve, my husband and I wanted to get home by midnight. We sat in our den watching television and waiting for the clock to strike 12. After it finally did, I downed the rest of my champagne, relieved to see we were not about to witness the downfall of modern civilization.

The arrival of 2020 is no Y2K scare, to be sure. But it just doesn’t sit well with me. It’s going to take awhile to adapt. In the words of Walt Whitman, “Resist much, obey little.” While I may not be able to stop the changing of the calendar, I don’t have to go quietly.

A few years back, I started to see expiration dates of 2021 and 2022 on my driver’s license, credit cards and aspirin bottles. It never failed to stop me in my tracks. My reaction was always the same. First, I was convinced it was a typographical error. Then I would do the math and realize it was only a few years away. Mind blown.

For better or worse, I married a guy who goes with the flow. Nothing phases my husband. He is as easy going as they come, and tries to take me along for the ride. Well, I’m not interested. Sure, it seems like a lovely way to live, truly it does. But it’s just not the way I’m built.

So it doesn’t help that anytime I’m resisting change, he throws out one of his favorite phrases. He’ll say something like, “It is what it is,” “Just go with it,” or “What are you going to do?”

Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to do everything in my power to try to stop these new things from happening. Does it work? Usually not. Resistance is often futile. But it makes me feel alive. And at least I know I tried.

Tim and I knew early on we had different approaches to life. But it really surfaced when we took ballroom dance lessons. I know you’re probably wondering how I got my then-boyfriend to agree to take these lessons. I’m sure it went something like this.

Me: “Hey, I signed us up for dance lessons.”

Him: “What? Why?”

Me: “Because it will be fun.”

Him: “Ok, I guess it is what it is.”

On the first night, the dance instructor chided Tim for failing to lead me around the dance floor.

“Lead her with your strong right arm,” she said, patting his arm.

“I’m trying,” he said. “She won’t let me.”

I smiled, trying to look innocent.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she snapped. “Do it like this!”

She took me in her arms and tried to waltz me around the room to demonstrate how easy it was. Naturally, I fought her every step of the way.

“One, two, three...one, two, three,” she said. “Work with me.”

I refused. My jaw was set, my arms were stiff, and my feet would not follow her lead. Instead of following, I tried to steer her back toward my bemused boyfriend. She returned me to my unfortunate beau, giving him a sympathetic look and a quick, “Just do the best you can.”

Years later, I had to be fingerprinted to start a new job in a school. At the state police barracks, a stern-looking trooper called my name and I stepped up to the table.

The policeman cleaned my fingertip with an alcohol wipe, then pressed it onto an ink pad.

“Just relax your hand and let me do the rest,” he directed.

“OK,” I said, nodding. The moment he put the prepared card in front of me, I put my finger square in the center of the printed box and pressed.

“No,” he said, discarding the fingerprint. “I don’t want you to do anything. Please. Just let me do it.”

“Oh, right,” I said. “Sorry.”

He wiped my finger clean, inked it again, and guided it toward the little square on a new card. Don’t ask me what came over me, but again I tried to take charge. I was determined to do it better this time, and do it myself. So this time I lightly rolled my inked finger, leaving what looked (to me) like a perfect fingerprint in the box.

I smiled proudly. He did not.

“You don’t roll your finger like that,” he said. “Really, please just loosen your hand up and let me do it.”

I was a bit offended. And he still was holding my hand, so I pulled away a bit. He held on and gave my hand a little shake. I resisted.

“See? You aren’t doing it,” he said. “Loosen. Your. Hand.”

It was only then I realized he was completely right. I was fighting him.

Clearly he thought I didn’t know what I was doing, but I did. I’d done this before. OK, sure, I’d never been fingerprinted by the police, but back when I was a Girl Scout, our troop made thumbprint stationery. We stamped writing paper and matching envelopes with our fingerprints, then turned the inky ovals into cute little ladybugs, birds, cats and turtles.

Did he seriously think I couldn’t do this? I considered telling him about the stationery, but then I noticed the line of people waiting. I saw the look on his face as he cleaned my finger a third time.

This was not the time nor place. I had to let the man do his job. So I channeled my husband for just one moment, and silently repeated his mantra. “It is what it is.” “What can you do?” “Just go with the flow.”

I did. I totally relaxed my hand, then the trooper relaxed, and we got our perfect fingerprints. As he finished the paperwork, I just couldn’t resist.

“Wanna hear something funny?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said.

“My dad’s a retired cop,” I said.

“I’m not surprised,” he said.

And the beat goes on.

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