Growing up, we were constantly threatened with empty stockings on Christmas morning if we didn’t behave. I was a certifiable Type-A/ Teacher’s Pet/ Über-Virgo, so the whole “Just be nice” thing came easy to me. I was eager to please my parents, so I flossed regularly, made my bed, fed the cat, played with my sister, and cleared the plates from the kitchen table.
When I went away to college, I was still That Girl. I would call my parents weekly, help my classmates on group projects, turn my homework in early, bake banana muffins from scratch, and go to the gym five days a week.
While dating, I continued in earnest to be That Girl. I would paint handmade ceramic Christmas ornaments for my boyfriend’s mother, be the designated driver, and work extra shifts for my co-workers when they called in sick or hung-over.
I was not just on Santa’s Nice List, I was the Valedictorian of Nice.
I woke up one day and realized the Naughty List is a helluva lot more fun. I was studying for a semester in Italy. Some friends and I scored tickets to a sold-out Violent Femmes concert. About halfway through, I had the brilliant idea that we should try to figure out a way to get backstage so we could meet the band after the show. I schmoozed the bouncer with my minimal grasp of the Italian language and somehow convinced him that I was the lead singer’s sister. Next thing you know, we were partying like a rock star with, ahem, some actual rock stars.
Back when I worked in the hotel industry, I went to Hawaii on vacation for a week. The day I was due to fly back (I was scheduled to work the next day), my flight out of Honolulu was cancelled. The helpful airline rep offered to book me on the next flight which was leaving in just three hours. I started to nod yes, but then suddenly thought to have her to book me for the next day instead. I called work and told them I was stuck in Hawaii for 24 hours. It felt sneaky, illicit, and delicious.
When I was a Denver-based flight attendant for Continental (briefly before United hired me), the airline closed my base. My supervisor informed me that I could either transfer to New Jersey or be laid off. For several weeks, I commuted back and forth and slept on the crew lounge floor in between assignments, and then one day I had had enough. I heard my name being paged in the Newark Airport (“Flight Attendant MOV please report to Gate 88 for your flight to Detroit!”) but I kept on walking, wrote myself an employee flight pass, and hopped on a flight to Los Angeles as a passenger. I changed out of my polyester uniform in the lavatory, sipped on my glass of Champagne as I settled into seat 1A, then phoned my dad and told him I quit and could he please pick me up at the airport?
I recently celebrated my four year anniversary of working for the high-end kitchen store. Last week, a crazy customer was complaining and then started yelling at me about some defective product or other and ended her tirade with Why don't you know more about the items you sell? To which I replied with a straight face Today is my first day here.
A PTA member of my children’s school called me the other day and asked if I could help out with an upcoming fundraiser which I had initially considered being involved with. I thought about it for all of two seconds and then heard myself reply, No—I am just way too busy right now.
So, Merry Christmas and may you find your Inner Naughty. It’s wildly liberating.
P.S. And thanks to HW for her fun comment on my last essay, which gave me the inspiration for this post