By Faith Ellestad
Don’t tempt me. You will be disappointed. I think I am immune.
Well, there were little things, like eating a caterpillar, sneaking down to the neighborhood deli, drinking Ripple with my brother, but I’m just not a Type A. More like a Type L. I resist the big stuff. I’m scared or maybe rigid. Or righteous. Think of all the fun I missed, and all the angst. There’s enough of that without adding guilt.
So much for the great secret romance, or that heist I never got around to planning. Not gonna eat that second cupcake, either. Don’t tempt me with your cigarettes. I quit and I’m not going back.
I know it takes two to tango. Does it take two to tempt? A tempter and a temptee? I suppose I could tempt myself, but then I would have only me to blame. What would be the point of that?
Surely I must be more daring than I seem. Oh, I know, once I was smitten with a friend’s boyfriend, and agreed to a date with him. We had a great time and I was reveling in a flush of guilty triumph, as we returned to my dorm whereupon we ran into my friend just back from a date with my boyfriend. Buzz kill. What I thought was unique and daring escapade turned out to be a common occurrence among my dorm mates. Giving in to temptation worked out better for her, since she and my boyfriend got married, and her boyfriend and I broke up. Lesson learned there. I just don’t do sneaky well. And I feel overwhelming guilt.
How I wish I were relaxed and spontaneous. How I wish I could make decisions on impulse, black or white, instead of agonizing over every shade of grey, even moving toward sepia, before coming to a conclusion. I imagine my loved ones wish so, too.
As a child, I wanted to please everyone, which frequently put me in uncomfortable situations. Temptation was everywhere. I wanted to go out and play red light green light with my friends, but I promised Grandma we would watch My Three Sons together. Score one for Grandma. Jeannie and Mary asked me to play house with them, but Jimmy wanted to build with Lincoln logs and his mom made delicious lunches. Lunch won. If I didn’t tell my mom I threw up, she would let me go on the Girl Scout field trip to Chicago. That was a tough one. But I told.
Edging into adolescence, I became more and more cautious, and avoided doing anything that would make me stand out. I actually asked if I could attend parties, sleep-overs were just sleep-overs, and the most daring drinking I did with my friends was putting aspirin in Coke because someone said it would make you giddy.
Nowadays, I waffle between buying one or two pairs of jeans, the 300 or 600 thread sheets, having toaster waffles with syrup or Crispix for breakfast. I’d really like to grab my spouse and take a free-wheeling trip out west, or up north, but that would mean blowing off a lot of pressing family obligations. Oh, get thee behind me, Satan.
If I could replay my life, would I be a different actor? Would I indulge in risky business, or become less rigid? More daring? Could I separate the two? I’m not sure. I am trapped in my own damn chrysalis. No sign of a butterfly breaking through any time soon.
© Faith Ellestad
Faith describes herself as a serial under-achiever, now retired after many years as a hospital scheduling specialist. When her plan to cultivate a gardening hobby resulted only in hives, she decided to get real and explore her long-time interest in creative writing. She’s so happy she did. Faith and her husband live in Madison, WI . They have two grown sons of whom they are very proud, and a wonderful daughter-in-law.
I love this piece. You have written “my story” as a young woman. Thank you for sharing this