When Perfect is Perfectly Awful

I’m not perfect.

Please don’t tell me I am.

The day isn’t even half over and already I’m been told three times how perfect I am. Every day, I’m told I’m perfect so often I lose count.

At Starbucks this morning, I ordered a Pike grande.

“Perfect,” said the cashier.

It was 6:45 on a dark, chilly, morning in February. Yet another winter storm was said to be bearing down. The sidewalks were as slippery yet bumpy as if they’d been roughed up by a Zamboni gone berserk.

There was absolutely zero perfect about any part of this circumstance. I’m quite certain the cashier didn’t feel there was, either.

In fact, it was so imperfect that I felt the need for a slice of chocolate cinnamon coffee cake to accompany my perfect Pike.

“Perfect,” she said, when I ordered.

Oh, no it wasn’t. It was bad. And we both knew it.

Later, I made an appointment at Petsmart to have our Portuguese Water Dog groomed.

I requested a time around 10 or 11 on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

“Perfect,” the receptionist said, despite my imprecise and therefore imperfect request.

“I can do 10 on Sunday,” the receptionist told me.

“Perfect,” I replied. Because it was. It was absolutely the perfect time to get the dog to the groomer.

But ordering a coffee or requesting an appointment or asking the attendant on my Porter flight for a glass of wine does not deserve a congratulatory response.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m being graded. What if I don’t measure up with my request?

What if, instead of being told it’s perfect, I get A minus. Or even C+. It’s the old exam nightmare. Instead of perfect, what I’m saying is merely average, ordinary, flawed.

There are times in life when you really, really want and hope that something you say or do or write or accomplish will be greeted with the P word.

When you first appear in your bridal gown, you want to hear, “Perfect!” When you submit a presentation to your boss, perfect is the response you hope for. To have someone you love tell you you’re perfect is perfection itself.

I just don’t want to hear the word perfect as a response to my order at Starbucks tomorrow morning. And if I do, I just might say something in response that is perfectly awful.