Just what do I mean by "drama", though? Well, that arbiter of modern language, The Urban Dictionary, defines "drama" as: Something women and especially teenage girls thrive on, consisting of any number of situations that have an easy solution, which would bring a fairly good outcome, but these girls choose another bad way to deal with it.
Drama has been a great friend to me. Our relationship started when I was a little girl, watching soap operas with my grandmother. "The Young & The Restless", "Search for Tomorrow", "Capitol", "As the World Turns", "Guiding Light", and "The Bold and the Beautiful" - these were our people, with their big hair, perfect teeth, and the constant drama that swirled around their lives five days a week. The mind of the soap opera character was fascinating to me, especially as it contained a blueprint for problem-solving that involved heavy use of drama. Why tell your new husband that you can't have babies when you can easily steal the baby of your rival and pass the child off as your own?? Why get a divorce when you can fake your own death and run off to an exotic island with your lover?
Life after college was all about drama. For my girlfriends and I, every phone call/brunch/happy hour/dinner was a recitation of the day's boyfriend drama/work drama/family drama/roommate drama. No detail was too trivial to be dissected by the group. You presented your case and we members of the group would pore over every detail, CSI-style. My specialty was voice inflection ("He said he HATED you, or did he say he hated you?") while others of the group were experts in security ("You didn't let him take the keys to your apartment, did you?"), health and wellness ("You need to get tested!"), and employment and benefits("How dare he break up with you and refuse to give you that promotion! You should report him to your company's HR!"). And while I can imagine my 41-year-old self seated at the table next to my 20-something self and my friends and rolling my eyes at the gathering of this brain trust, back then we never judged each other harshly, nor did we ever think of a drama-free solution to our problems ("Maybe you shouldn't be dating your married boss!").
One by one, as we moved on and matured, the drama that bonded our young, single selves to each other would seem, on the surface, to have disappeared. But, let's be real - it hasn't. We may talk a good game, declaring drama-free-zones, and telling people to "keep it moving", but who are we kidding? We may think that we've cleverly disguised our drama-seeking ways, shrouding them in self-righteous indignation, but we haven't. I once stood in line at a Starbucks to pick up my dopio espresso. The place was packed and the line of people in front of me to place an order was twenty deep, while the clump of people awaiting their drinks at the other end of the counter numbered in the teens. About 3 minutes into my waiting was when the "incident" happened - a well-dressed female customer standing nose to nose with the lone barrista processing the drink orders. Apparently, her double shot of something or other was a single shot of something or other, and as she berated the barrista, our Working Girl tried to draw the rest of us into her tirade. Great plan, unless you overlook the obvious - that her nasty little fit was occupying the attention of the lone barrista and holding up all of our orders. She failed to recognize that her drama was causing more drama, and thought, instead, that she was merely exercising her rights.
I can think of far less dramatic occurrences of drama that we all indulge in:
- constantly arriving late or not showing up at all for outings with friends because of constantly overpacking your schedule.
- never having cash to pay your part of the tab because you forgot to budget in time to stop at the ATM or you're broke and won't fess up!
- loading up your credit card and never paying the bill on time.
And ordinary people aren't the only ones indulging in drama - the recent government shutdown was ALL drama! As a nation, we seem to have an insatiable lust for drama.
So, can we really live a drama-free life? And if we can, do we want to?