Debacle

by Maria Pruneda

There are three things that are true kryptonite to my superhuman powers. Well in fact there are many, but right now, right this second I can think of one off the top of my head that could almost kill me.

Humidity is my archenemy. It is like Lex Luthor to Superman. Humidity sneaks up on me when I least expect it. It is relentless and has no regret. It seems as its assaults are carefully planned. Humidity is especially good at catching me when I'm in a hurry, sneaky bastard!

I'm getting ready to attend a soiree, and I check myself in the mirror. The stilettos announce my long and fit legs as the emerald green dress hugs me highlighting the right places, my delicate neck is adorned by a tasteful necklace, while charming earrings hang off my ears. My make up is impeccable and my hair is just right. I'm ready to conquer!

I grab my purse that matches my shoes and step out of the house. As soon as I step out, I feel my nemesis enveloping me in its lethal tentacles. It overpowers me before I can react and run back for cover. It got me! By now I can feel an anaphylaxis reaction working against me. How long has it been sitting outside prying on me? I inhaled a lethal dose and as if on cue my pores start to react, they are now dilating and moisture starts to escape, creating a mix of make up and sweat. My mascara stays put, but I know it won't be for long and the worst of it all...my hair! My hair starts to rise and starts to rebel against all its training. It is as if a primitive instinct has taken over my trained locks and they start to transform into what I can only refer to as a tortured mop. I can feel each and every follicle lose it sense of appease. The lionesses have lost all the fear and respect towards their ringmaster, and now are reeling into frenzy.

I run inside the house. I close the door as if my life depended on it, unaware that my devious foe is inserting itself through a narrow passage from under the door. I'm losing the battle.

I cross the foyer with a brisk pace. I'm aiming for my bedroom in search for the full body mirror that rests in the far corner. I'm looking for my image in the mirror, but I can't find myself. I see no wonder woman in a green emerald dress looking back at me, but a tiny little cartoon, with wet armpits and a smudged face staring angrily. Mafalada, the famous 70's Argentinean cartoon of a six year old with helmet hair comes to mind.

Like an obstinate six year old, I've decided I want to go to the party. I do my best to regain my composure. I change myself into a dry dress and tie my hair back. I'm not letting Humidity win. I touch on my make up and hurry to my vehicle. My vehicle is my temple. I'm immune to Humidity once I'm inside. The AC caresses me and forms a protective shield around me. Shit! I forgot my purse. I rush back inside the house, grab it, and run back to my temple without a single breath. I close my eyes and inhale deeply. I've regained my Zen.

I turn the ignition on, and a bright red light comes on. I need gas. Really? I direct my sanctuary to a gas station, while concocting a plan against my enemy. I will get off with my credit card in hand, ready to be inserted at the pump, punch in my zip code as fast as I can and start pumping. While I'm at it, I will get back into my vehicle sheltering myself. Once the fluid transaction is over, I will hurry out and back in, no receipt necessary and will be on my merry way to the party.

I'm sure I can make it to the gas station. It is not that far. All of a sudden an unnerving thought creeps into my head. What if I can't make it, and I'm stranded in the middle of the road? I will turn into easy prey and will be terribly defeated by Mr. Humidity. I would turn into a raggedy, clammy doll. It is too sad to imagine such a horrible demise, so I turn to one of my superpowers, positive thoughts. I will make it; I have enough gasoline to reach the gas station. I will make it.

Finally, after what appears an agonizing and endless six miles, I reach the fuel oasis. I park, and as planned I get down swiftly with my credit card ready in hand. I try not to breath. Oh fuck! The gas cap is on the other side of the car. Sure I can make the nozzle reach. After a futile attempt of elasticizing the gas hose I give up. Frazzled and all, I enter my temple. I turn on the car and move it into the right spot. I get off again with my credit card. My plan is in motion. I swipe my card and the pump indicates I need to see the attendant. I can't believe my luck. Out of 10 pumps, I picked the one that the card reader is not working. Not to worry; I run like a gazelle to the convenience store. I open the door expecting to feel the AC embrace me, but instead I'm slapped with a smelly stagnant odor inside the store, as well as what seems like an infinite line of people waiting to pay. This cannot be happening. For crying out loud, there's no respect for superheroes anymore.

I can feel my pores dilating again and my make up melting. Mafalda is saying hello back at me from the reflection in the window. What else can go wrong? As if prompted, the doors open and a frumpy lady enters the scene with a yelling toddler. They stand behind me waiting to pay. The toddler is yelling at the top of her lungs, but that's the least of my worries right now. A pungent and unmistakable odor starts attacking my nostrils senseless. The toddler needs a diaper change, but frumpy lady is immune, not only to the roar of her untamed little beast, but also to the aroma she expels.

I need to do something. Positive thoughts, positive thoughts I urgently summon. Fuck! My superpower is not working. Oh! But my other superpower is. I reach for a bright and colorful lollipop, and with the international gesture of "May I" I signal the mom, and she responds with a shrug of her shoulders, an annoyed sign indicating a "whatever". The crying subsides, but the smell seems like an American submarine trailing the waters during the cold war, ready to strike.

I'm back at my vehicle and I flip the visor down and look at myself in the mirror. I want to cry, but I know superheroes don't cry, but above all, if I do, whatever is left of my mascara will run down my cheeks and I will look like a mad raccoon.

I can not give up. Dr. Humidity won't take the best of me. I grab my make-up bag, and try to do my best with what I have in hand. I reach for the deodorant I carry in the glove compartment for such occasions. I adopt the hot hen pose. The one where you lift your arms enough so some AC can go under your armpits, while still holding the steering wheel.

I need my equanimity back. One, two, three I count. Seventy eight, seventy nine I'm almost there. Inhale. Exhale. Ok Poise is back. I make a circle with my neck, it cracks and I feel better.

I arrive to the social and because I'm late, there are no parking spots close to the mise en scène, so I park my vehicle two blocks away. I'm afraid Dr. Humidity is lurking around, but I formulate a mental diagram of my escape route. I have it all worked out. I would have to breathe, that's for sure, as I can't hold it for that long, but hey, I'm almost there. The cellphone rings and I'm deliberating if I should answer or not. I know I'm late so I don't. I put my cellphone back on my purse and get off. I start walking in a hurried way, as fast as my stilettos allow me to. I'm halfway there. And then out of nowhere I feel a drop on my nose and without any preamble it starts pouring down.

Surely there's a conspiracy going on, and I know Dr. Humidity and his league of villains are somewhere close by, laughing at the wet raccoon running from the vehicle to the house door and back, not knowing if to make it or not to the party.

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