Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I am a crab. I’ve spent the last several weeks dealing with broken things: roof, internet, phone, car, air conditioning, and even my doorbell. I am hot and headachy and grumpy and never want to talk to a customer service representative again. My attitude is straight out of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day—except my terrible days have extended into terrible weeks. I am definitely Alexander.

Or maybe I am more like Pierre. I loved him as a kid—and I’m turning into him as an adult. “I don’t care,” said Pierre. That’s exactly what I’ve felt like saying all week. I don’t care! And I’ve been close to it, too. In fact, I’m on the brink of losing all semblance of civility. (I am also often tempted to adopt Bartleby’s refrain: “I would prefer not to.” That phrase would serve me well on a daily basis.)

Or maybe I’m Ampalaya, the Bitter Gourd: I read a translation of the Filipino folktale The Legend of the Bitter Gourd a few weeks ago. (The book is available through the International Children’s Digital Library.) Ampalaya is “pale” and “bland.” He feels jealous of all the other colorful and delicious vegetables. According to the book’s blurb, the story “teaches the evil of envy and greed.” Ampalaya, though, never seems to learn this lesson. He becomes shriveled and bitter—just like me.

Or maybe I’m the Grumpus. The Grumpus Under the Rug was my youngest sister’s favorite book growing up. In fact, we still use the word Grumpus to describe anyone in a “mood.” The family in the book blames everything naughty or wrong on the Grumpus. Someone spilt the milk? It was the Grumpus. Someone break a glass? It was the Grumpus. Of course, in my family, we always blamed any problem on the clowns who live in the basement. No lie. No wonder I’m so odd.

Or maybe I’m Edgar Mint. Edgar has the worst luck—ever. He is abandoned, abused, and practically stalked by his doctor. Although the book falls apart at the end, Brady Udall starts The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint with one of the greatest first lines ever: “If I could tell you only one thing about my life it would be this: when I was seven years old the mailman ran over my head.” Okay, even I can admit that Edgar has it worse than I do.

But isn't this exactly why books are so great? No matter my mood—depressed, delighted, romantic—I can find a character I can relate to completely.


Wanna-Be Lit said...

Wonderful. Even though I haven't read all of these books, I love the mention of the ones I have read. Grumpus! Oh, and the clowns! (Not that they're in a book, but I still love the mention.)

notaconnoisseur said...

I loved your comments. I still have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days myself. If I remember correctly the grumpus turned out to be a real character who was causing problems around the house. He was so thin that when he turned sideways you could not see him and he was the one who put marshmallows on the keys of the typewriter not the child in the story, if I remember correctly.

The Aspirant said...

Oh, the clowns. They caused so much trouble in our household growing up.

Blogger said...

They are still causing trouble.