Thursday, May 8, 2008
A Mother's Day cautionary tale, or what I've learned through humiliation
My children are still at an age when I can embarrass them simply by breathing and being on the same planet.
This makes existence difficult. It also confuses me. How could my precious progeny possibly be embarrassed by someone as cool as me?
I will confess that embarrassment may have been a contributing factor to my “coolness.” Let's just say I’ve learned a lot through humiliation.
For example: Never joke with a lost astronaut.
I discovered this after losing my way for hours while driving a Space Shuttle Commander from the Dallas airport to a speaking engagement in Oklahoma. Even small talk became painful. The silence was deafening. So I asked: “Don’t you think it’s funny that you could find way your way into space and back but now we’re lost in Oklahoma?” He didn’t.
I’ve also learned that you should never insist upon bringing food to a social event after the hostess has politely rejected your offer to contribute. It’s surprising how out of place a homemade Waldorf Salad looks alongside a gourmet catered feast at a future NFL Commissioner’s home.
I learned the hard way that planning ahead is important. But I’ve also learned to be careful who you blame when the plans don’t work out.
This valuable lesson came one Mother’s Day when I berated a restaurant hostess for losing our reservation for 17. We were eventually seated and enjoyed a lovely meal. Still slightly miffed, I returned home to a message on the answering machine from another restaurant where I actually made a reservation. They were holding a very large table for us. I hope they’ve let someone else sit there by now.
Speaking of memorable dining experiences, I could never forget the shocked looks from my son and his 4th-grade classmates when I pulled a beer out of my lunch bag instead of the cream soda I thought I packed to chaperone their field trip to the NH Statehouse. I learned this can be a good indication that it's time for a vision check.
Asking a fellow football parent years later if we would be having sex in a bowl taught me it’s safer to 1) never speak to another parent but if you must, 2) don’t repeat any phrase learned from your children.
I cannot accurately describe the reaction from this rather shy and very religious man. Finally he stuttered: “Excuse me?”
“I asked if we were going to have sex in a bowl next week,” I continued cheerfully.
His face darkened. “I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Sex in a bowl? That dessert you and your wife always bring to the dinners the night before the football games?”
“I call it Heavenly Delight,” he said as he walked away in a huff. I was so mortified that I couldn't stop giggling.
My oldest son initially was upset that I had revealed his team’s secret name for the dessert. But now both my boys deliver exaggerated renditions of the tale as often as possible. No doubt they will experience their own “heavenly delight” in retelling this story at my funeral.
I don’t mind. After all, I am a cool Mom.
I just hope they don’t embarrass themselves in the process....
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