I’ve never been particularly cool. I have a sweater that is old enough to legally buy beer were it so inclined. I’m clumsy and socially awkward, and usually not in an endearing way. Illustrative example: On a recent vacation with my brother and nieces, a small child actually pointed and laughed directly at me as I walked past. To be fair, I was wearing a furry headband with ears, and in retrospect I think he was probably jealous that I had fuzzy pointy ears and he didn’t, but he didn’t need to both point and laugh. The pointing stings a little.
I say all this because somehow, my kid waltzed through the genetic minefield that is my dna and glommed onto my husband’s. This is what I spent hours praying for while he stomped in my uterus at 2 a.m. “Please Lord, please let this sweet creature who is causing temporary incontinence at least be funny “ha-ha,” not funny “curious.” Let him or her know when to keep their mouth closed and keep people guessing. Let them not provide total strangers with intimate information that makes them cringe and wish they didn’t get on the same elevator. And maybe let them like cheese as much as I do. Amen.”
My husband, however, is the kind of guy people want to drink with socially. He loves music and has a mind-boggling collection. He follows sporting events both professional and collegiate but doesn’t do so to the detriment of our weekend family time. He can strike up a conversation with virtually anyone, anywhere and not seem freakishly desperate for human company. This is fabulous for me, because I never have to actually say anything when we go places except maybe “check please,” or even better, “hello.” Hello’s pretty much my sweet spot.
It’s not that I can’t carry on conversations, it’s that I’ve been out of social circulation for long enough that my barometer’s a little out of whack. And when I feel out of whack, I adopt a less-is-more strategy. What’s that saying, “better to keep quiet and let them wonder if you’re a fool than to open your mouth and confirm it?” Yep. That’s my strategy.
I was thinking of this the other day when I went to pick The Little Man up from after school care. When I walked in the gym to collect him, he was sitting in the middle of a group of three boys. He was talking with his hands, his face was lit up with a swaggering grin and I could imagine the conversation topics that were flying furiously between them. He caught my eye and knew it was time to go, and for a moment he looked sorry to leave his compadres. This happens more often than not.
What happened next was a little gift. I saw the disappointment on the other kids faces, heard their exclamations of “we have to finish this story! not yet! five more minutes!” and I heard bells. Happy, wedding day sort of bells, not alarm bells, mind you — went off in my mind when I realized that his compadres looked sad to see him go.
I did a little victory dance right there in the gym, felt the immediate wash of regret for that choice, and then said “thank you, Lord” under my breath. Nobody laughed or pointed. It was a good day.