What Makes a Hot Mess?


The phrases of the year so far must be “literally” and “hot mess.” In fact, I’ve heard them literally used in the same sentence. I understand the word “literally.” Yes, I realize it is used improperly most of the time, so I avoid it lest I trigger the red-penned wrath of my editors. I also resist the temptation to corner the person speaking by saying, “Really? That really happened? Seriously?”

This “hot mess” thing I’ve been struggling with. I was under the impression that the term described a gorgeous woman with the mental agility of a senile gnat. I’ve learned my impression was far too limiting. Hot messes can be men, children, and even inanimate objects, such as cars.

I’ve been called a hot mess. That’s ridiculous—about as accurate as calling me a chess master. The woman who said that was simply trying to use a new phrase, and I happened to be in the way. Yes, I am a mess at times. My brain is cluttered with an odd combination of vodka, sex, and a low regard for the entitled generation. So, call me an old mess. Fuck. Print it on a red cap, and I’ll wear it.

As I type this and my cat, Symon, whines at me for Greenies (kitty crack), I wonder if he is a hot mess. He’s really fucking cute … and annoying. That would be two of the pre-requisites for the title, right? He’s orange. His belly wobbles. He has horrible tartar and cat-atosis. But, damn he is a cute bugger. Much like I would bring a shot to a hot mess rambling about all things Kardashian, I toss Symon a crunchy green ball of yuck. And, like a hot mess, he begs for more.

I wonder if the hot part is meant to be somewhat literal (eee-fucking-gads, again), as in steaming hot pile of shit. Lord knows a hot pile of shit is much more repulsive than frozen shit. So, a hot mess is far worse than a cold mess because a hot mess is smellier and harder to toss.

A buddy-with-boobies once told me her car was a hot mess.

“What makes it a hot mess?”

“It’s a Mercedes, hence hot, and the mess is inside of it because I’m a bit of a hoarder.”

“Um. OK. So, your car doesn’t forget her underwear and run around trying to make out with high-haired boys.”

“I see you’ve met my friend, Diana.”

“She’s a hot mess?”

“Literally, the hottest. I mean, she totally skanks out every time we’re drinking. Then, she usually winds up calling me the next day asking which end the morning after pill goes in.”

“I like her … even more than your car.”

“Whatever. I should give her your number so you can make hot mess babies.”

There’s a time and place for a mess. Don’t hate on it. Don’t try to fix it. Sometimes you just gotta get dirty with it.

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About the author

Author of humorous essays about relationships and lifestyles.