A few years ago I was in the Bahamas with Party Jen, and while we were there we "swam with dolphins." I use the quotes because saying that makes it sound like a day on the open sea with Flipper and all his pals, but it was an hour or so in a sectioned-off man-made pool with one dolphin. Still fun, though, in that overpriced touristy kind of way. Anyway, before we were allowed in the water with the dolphin, we were told to only touch a certain part of their head, because if you accidentally touch them basically a quarter inch off from there, it apparently excites them in a way that only another consenting dolphin should excite them. I swear I kept my hands in the clear, but when I returned from my swim, the instructor, in front of everyone (couples! families!) told me that I had "riled up" the dolphin, that it's "not good to start something you can't finish," and that, finally, I'm a "dirty, dirty girl." He wasn't really mad, but as I climbed out of the water I slowly started to accept who I'd become: nothing but a fintease.
I tell you this story (maybe for the second time, for you longtime readers; I'm nothing if not redundant) because I think it sums me up pretty well. Maybe it's even my essence sentence, as my friend Kate might say. ("I got distracted, there was marine life.") Remember how in When Harry Met Sally, Harry tells Sally that she's the worst kind of high-maintenance, because she thinks she's low-maintenance? Well, I'm the worst kind of mischevious, because I genuinely think I spend all day whistling dixie and trouble just finds me. In the man-made pool of life, I always try to argue that the dolphin must have been coming onto me, not the other way around... and yet I'm the one who gets called a harlot (at high noon! in front of children!) when I was just trying to innocently experience nature.
Come to think of it, some variation on "I was just swimming around!" has always been my defense. When I was little, every day when I'd come home from playing and inevitably been up to something I'd begin with, "Well, I was just walking down the road/pulling my wagon along/eating a popsicle, but THEN..." (Also, ha, I did have a wagon that I liked to play with, but that makes me sound like a wee lass in the 1800s.)
Case in point: Look at this conversation that just happened at work.
Teacher/work friend: What does [student's dad] do, anyway?
Me: He's a cop.
My boss: No, he's not.
Me: He's not?
My boss: No, he's a contractor.
Me: Really? I could've sworn he was a cop.
T/WF: Just in your fantasies.
My boss: Yeah, you probably just really want him to be a cop.
School Principal: "You've been a bad, bad girl, Miss Red."
Me: Okay, see? I participated in this in no way! I just said I thought he was a cop! You guys made it dirty!
SP: Whatever helps you sleep at night.
T/WF: Thinking about [student's dad].
My boss: In his uniform.
SP: And handcuffs.
Again, just like back in the day with the dolphin, I'm going to claim innocence and that it's not MY fault that my bosses took a moment during a meeting to imply that I enjoy thinking about being disciplined by a naughty cop. Whether or not I do is irrelevant. I was just swimming around!