Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Task Sniper

Just who do you have to nurse to get an iced drink around here?

Back in college, we had a phenomenon that we referred to as "conversation sniping." This would be when an enjoyable and animated conversation would be rollicking through the lunch table, dorm common room, state funeral, etc, when someone would then say something to which there was no possible reply. The conversation was stopped in its tracks--sniped--and there would be no returning to the happy conviviality we had just been enjoying. Everyone would surreptitiously check their wrist to pretend that they were wearing a watch and then scatter, often leaving the conversation sniper wondering what happened.

While it is possible for anyone to be a conversation sniper on occasion, there are those individuals who make unintentional careers of conversation sniping. These poor snipers were simply unaware of the targeted nature of their quips, and let them fly willy-nilly into conversations. Often, the conversational bullet was somehow related to the rest of the discussion, but never did it give any option but to kill the conversation. Some examples of sniping:

"Oh My G-d! My cousin is that guy's ex-girlfriend's manicurist!"
"Wait, there are 10 big ten schools?"
"I had pigeon toes and I don't appreciate you joking about it."

I have done my fair share of conversation sniping, so I think it's only karma that I have now given birth to the ultimate sniper. Except instead of being exclusively a conversation sniper (although he certainly does that), he is more of a task sniper. (With a subcategory for sleep sniping).

Case in point: I have been thinking about/procrastinating on/researching for the novel that I started two summers ago for over a month now. After my long-standing fiction ambivalence, I've been thrilled to find myself wanting to write fiction again. Yesterday, I decided that I had done enough prep for this, and that it was past time to apply the seat of my pants to the seat of my desk chair. I sat down. I closed all internet applications. I opened a shiny new word document. I wrote two words.

And my little sniper took that moment to wake up and make one of his many demands. (1. I'm hungry. 2. Change me. 3. I'm bored. 4. I'm STILL hungry! 5. Change me again. 6. I miss you! 7. I have no idea what the hell I want but I'm going to be very loud about my dissatisfaction until I get whatever it is.)

It didn't matter that the young man had been sleeping for less than 20 minutes, and by rights should have been out for at least another 20 or 30. It didn't matter that I only wanted to write about 500 words, which when I am un-sniped, only takes me about a half hour. The child was bound and determined to target and destroy my productive time.

It's uncanny how the young man is able to know the exact moment when I am about to turn my attention to something else. Twice in the past few days, he managed to start crying just as my consciousness made the transition from awake to asleep. I swear he has radar: "Mama is not thinking about me. I must change that!"

Throughout it all, LO maintains a cool detachment. He likes to pretend that he is patient and long-suffering. He exudes a Joe Cool charm in public, striking GQ poses. But we all know that his inner monologue is all about the next unfulfilled need that he will broadcast as soon as Mama's attention is elsewhere.

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