That nasty little phrase can be on the tip of my tongue all day. Like a Tic Tac, a nasty milk-sour one, that just won't dissolve.
I long to blurt it at everybody. Even the dumb squirrel pausing in the middle of the road, paws in air as if to make some terribly poignant point, so I must swerve to avoid smearing its bushy grey existence across the pavement.
The too-eager restaurant water kids who can interrupt my own poignant point to ask if they can top off my water glass: Oh, shut up.
Even my husband. Who likes to point out that we're out of bananas. Bananas are a sensitive issue. His morning granola otherwise seems inedible.
Then there is my mother: "You'd have more money if you didn't waste it on things like aluminum foil."
And my kids. Sometimes I have good reason to yell at them to shut up, when I actually restrain myself.
But on one particular evening, I had no good reason to tell either one to shut up. Still, I longed to, as when my youngest came up behind me with one of his many daily mom requests:
"Mom? Can I have a bowl of water for my grasshopper?"
"In just a minute."
"He may die of thirst."
It's there. On the tip of my tongue. That milk-sour taste. "I'm making dinner," I said.
Then the phone rang. I was hoping it was a telemarketer because it's ok to tell them to shut up, and when it's a computerized friendly recording I do tell "it" to shut up.
It was actually a friend calling. Who also happens to be the mother of my son's best friend.
She and her son felt like taking a bike ride over for a visit.
Now? Six o'clock? I felt my neck tensing. My face was leaning into a steaming pot of boiling water and I couldn't remember why I was boiling it. "Well, maybe not today," I said pleasantly, even though it was actually evening.... "I'm actually making dinner."
"Oh, well, Don's cooking tonight and he's not home until late."
Oh, how, nice. A husband who not only cooks, but would cook coming home from work late. While Mommy gets to think about dropping by for a visit at other people's houses while they're slaving away at their own mundane meals. Maybe burning the rice as I was then, filling a bowl of water for Mr. Grasshopper and trying to remember why I was boiling water in the first place. Had I been thinking first pasta instead of rice?
So now I wanted to tell her to shut up.
I didn't, of course. As I didn't with my husband, mother or children. In fact, I mustered a tone so even keeled, it made my teeth ache.
Since she was a friend, I decided to tell her the truth. That this wouldn't be a good time to drop in for a visit because I felt like telling everyone to shut up.
She laughed and said, "I just love how you're able to take care of yourself."
Hmm. I had to think about this. And about this friend who was actually the mom of four boys, three in junior high and then the first grader– a crowd compared to my two. Who, every time I've visited her house, has emanated an aura of calm in the midst of chaos; stacks of laundry folded on the couch yet to be put away; a fish tank green with suffocating fish; a dining room table of encrusted breakfast plates and broken Lego creations.
Yet, she could meander through the chaos as if strolling along a peaceful wooded path. And I'd always envied this calm, as a glass of juice spilled on a bad day can send me into a tailspin.
But maybe she's not so calm. Maybe the "calm" was a veneer to cover up the fact that she might actually stifle that: her own deep desire to tell everyone to just shut the hell up.
After hanging up, the sour Tic Tac seemed to finally be dissolving. At least for this day. And I called for Kenny to tell him he could have his bowl of water now -- a cereal-bowl-size full. What was I thinking, it's for a dog?
Wait. What! for a grasshopper? In the house?
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