Moderation – Even in the Good Stuff

photo of Mexican pottery bowl of green chili

Homemade green chili. Yummy? Depends….

Do you know anyone whose chirpy cheerfulness just make ya sick? Do you know anyone who constantly pulls harmless pranks in a persistent effort to cheer up any and all in his presence?

I do. I’m married to him. And I’m willing to say publicly that one can take only so much unrelenting good humor. After a point it becomes, well, annoying. You might wonder why I’m going public with such a dangerous admission. Simple: I have lots of backup. Friends who know my little honeybunch also reach a point after which they’re just DONE with his boundless geniality and endless pranks. And I can prove it.

The Story:
A Not-so-subtle Warning

A couple of years ago, Hubby joined a yoga class, a part of our church’s wellness program. He knows most of the class members and happily spends an hour grunting and moaning as he and his middle- and senior-aged friends Down-Dog themselves into alarmingly precarious positions.

He tosses out jokes, harmless barbs, and (what he thinks passes for) witticisms from the time he pulls the prerequisite yoga strap and cork block from the supply closet until he’s lacing his trainers after class. I know, because I took the class with him for a few months. A few months were all I could stand. (Okay, maybe arthritis also had a little to do with my exit.) Remember, now that we’re both retired, I LIVE with this persistent cheeriness 24/7. Class members, escaping the 24/7 sentence, generally put up with his merry antics in the interests of maintaining a certain yoga-ish esprit de corps.

Most of the time. Other times, not so much.

One of our friends in the class makes a mean green chili. This stuff is GOOD if you can stand the heat. Hubby is always tickled when she brings a recycled plastic container of her dragon-fire green chili. He squirrels away each too-hot-to-handle bowlful in our freezer, reserving it for a time when he‘s hankering for a fiery bracer.

Not long ago, he found one of these precious gems while rooting in the back of the freezer. “Whoo-hoo!” You’d have thought he’d found gold. He couldn’t be bothered with waiting for it to thaw. Instead, he upended the whole container over a saucepan and gave it a good whack. The whole frozen block plopped out with a promising thud.

Unfortunately, that promising thud wasn’t promising what he thought it was promising. Staring back at him from the saucepan was a block containing a thin layer of the fire-breathing green chili that he’d been drooling for, topped by a chunky, unappealing wad of frozen black socks. Yes, socks.  

Ah, yes, it slowly came back to him: that day, (Hmm, was it two years ago?) when he’d quietly stuffed his disgustingly stinky socks into the The Green Chili Chef‘s coat pocket. This would be just before he made a quick exit from yoga class, assured that his effervescent brand of humor would simply make her day. (Did I mention he’s also an unflagging optimist?)

If the old proverb, “revenge is a dish best served cold” is true, then her sock-chili must have been the most delicious revenge of all for The Green Chili Chef. Her gentle revenge wasn’t merely cold; it was frozen rock solid when it was unwittingly served by the victim himself. Now that’s cold. The Green Chili Chef had waited patiently for TWO YEARS, and got her harmless revenge* when Hubby texted and admitted to finding her “gift.”

I could be wrong, but I’ll bet Hubby won’t be sharing his grubby socks with anyone in yoga class from now on. As I said, though, I could be wrong: sometimes, he gets very near thick-as-brick status. But don’t you be thick-as-brick.

Pay attention.
You, too, have this problem.

Yes, the awkward truth is that all of us have at least one area of our lives in which we consistently don’t practice moderation. No news there. Here’s the tricky bit: when ours involves a positive personality trait (like Hubby’s), we tend to give ourselves a get-out-of-jail-free card. Our fellow travelers in life, however, don’t.

Don’t think you have an area of your life like Hubby’s? Ask your spouse or best friend. They’ll happily – and with alarming speed – tell you what you routinely do without moderation. Once you’ve opened the flood gate, they may even recite recent examples of your over-the-top behavior, proving beyond a doubt that you have a habit of taking a good thing too far.

Pay attention.
There will be consequences.

Like Hubby’s sock prank, your positive-behavior actions, practiced without moderation, will eventually boomerang. Will you welcome them when they return? Hubby didn’t. Having an expert’s fire-chili cruelly ruined by his very own stinky socks had its intended effect. I’m fairly sure because I think I’ve recently detected a downtick trend – very slight, but trackable – in his persistent prankishness.

So maybe he was paying attention, after all. And very soon now, I’m quite certain, it’ll be my turn to pay attention. (There are consequences in our house to blog posts like this one.)

© 2015, Teresa Bennett

*Our friend’s no-harm-no-foul revenge for Hubby’s dogged ebullience is sure to become the gift that keeps on giving. I can picture her chuckling every time she dons black socks. You go, girlfriend!