A handful of people who know me well understand that, although it does not usually seem like it, I DO have a filter. What goes on in my head is nearly always altered and cleaned up before it comes out of my mouth, believe it or not. This is what keeps me from swearing at preschool (most of the time), swearing at my mother (I swear AROUND her, but--usually--not AT her), and saying mean and hurtful things to people (like B) more often than necessary (and yes, sometimes it IS necessary). For example, when B informed me last week that he broke his toothbrush in half by using the handle to try to squeeze the last little bit of toothpaste from the tube, my response was a calm "Why didn't you just ask me to pick up more toothpaste?" instead of an exasperated "Goddamn it, Supertard. Can you SERIOUSLY not just tell me we need more fucking toothpaste? Is it REALLY that hard? I pass Walgreens EVERY DAMN TIME I LEAVE THE FUCKING HOUSE. It would take me TWO FUCKING SECONDS to buy more fucking toothpaste. JUST FUCKING TELL ME WE NEED IT, ASSHOLE."
*(Side note: two things. 1) I use a different kind of toothpaste than B, which is why I was unaware of his dental hygiene needs, in case you were wondering; and 2) Actually, I lied to you. I DID say all that stuff instead of just thinking it. I mean, for God's sakes, it's B we're talking about here. He's used to no-filter Haley. Sometimes he even PREFERS her, particularly if my shrewish tirades are directed at someone other than himself.
My filter helps me be polite to strangers (unless they piss me off). My filter helps me to be nice to my children (alcohol helps with this too). My filter keeps me out of jail when I get pulled over for speeding by some asshole cop. It may not work as well as other people's filters, but to some extent it still works. I NEED my filter.
Which presents a small problem because today, my friends, my filter does not seem to be working. At all.
Case in point: a friend and fellow preschool Mom is moving her whole family to Germany next week for her husband's new job. As she was explaining today how she would be left alone to wrangle her three children and a cat on the plane (her husband is already overseas) I asked why she had to take the damn cat. Germany Mom told me that the cat was eighteen years old, a member of the family, and HAD to go with them. (Here's where the filter broke.) Without thinking, I said, "Can't you just smother the damn cat with a pillow before you go and tell the kids he was old and didn't make it? That's what I would do."
A collective quiet settled over the preschool parents, with the exception of one Mom who LOST HER SHIT. Her mouth dropped open and she started gasping, "DO YOU KNOW YOU JUST SAID THAT OUT LOUD? It wasn't in your head. It came out of your mouth. I can't BELIEVE you just said that about their CAT! Who SAYS things like that? WHO?"
Um, me. I do.
At least, I do when my filter is off. I would always THINK them, but with someone I barely know (like these Moms) I usually wouldn't SAY them. I mean, I do have social skills. I know what is appropriate and what is not. And yeah, maybe I should have caught that comment before it made its way past my tongue, but I didn't, and frankly, I don't feel bad about it. Actually, I think it's kind of funny. Especially since Germany Mom told me, as I was leaving, "You know where I live. Bring over a martini tonight and you can kill my cat." Which immediately made me sorry she's moving to Germany next week because she's obviously fabulous. Like me.
So what I've learned today is that maybe having a dysfunctional filter isn't such a bad thing after all. It allows me to see who I can really appreciate, and around whom I can truly be myself. An important thing in this world, because life is too short to be anyone else. Anyone less awesome. Anyone but me.