The other night I was reading aloud to my husband an annoying Facebook post one of my friends had made. Very little clouds my mostly sunny disposition these days—and this particular post really had nothing to do with me—but it still had my blood pressure thundering and my fingers twitching to strike back with lightning speed.
“You should tell him to . . .,” my husband advised.
“I would never say that,” I replied. “I might think it, but I would never say it.”
And so I took a deep, calming breath and tucked my twitching fingers into my pockets where they could do no harm. But that exchange made me think of a whole slew of comments that my deliciously wicked little brain might concoct but that my timid little tongue would never have the courage to roll out for anyone else to hear. I’m not that brave, but I don’t think I’m that mean, either. And even though I may frequently be tempted to lash a verbal whip at others, just as often my unspoken commentaries (seasoned with a liberal dash of sarcasm) are directed at the cranky old lady in the mirror.
If you know me well, you might occasionally be able to guess the thoughts straining to slither through those tightly sealed lips—you might guess, but you will never actually hear me say . . .
“Do you think you could inch a little closer into my personal space? Your beer and Fritos breath is absolutely delightful, and your spittle spray is oh-so-refreshing!”
“You can’t be serious. The movie is always better than the book.”
“Gee, I love looking in the mirror and seeing my grandma looking back at me. Check out that sexy, sagging jawline! Look at all those lovely little eye crinkles! I can’t wait to see what other physical changes the next ten years will bring!”
“Honey, that dutch oven trick was so funny! Do it again! Do it again!”
“I know you just finished your cigarette, but could you hurry up and light another one—and be sure to blow your smoke in my face again? I’m really starting to like that burning sensation in my eyes and throat, and I love the lingering aroma of your menthols in my hair!”
“Of course, I would give up every brain cell I have if I could just look like Megan Fox. Wouldn’t you?”
“Time to go swimsuit shopping! My self-esteem is in need of a strong crushing, and by my calculations, if I do 500 crunches and 300 squats and lunges every day (and twice on Saturdays), I should be ready to squeeze into that baby without too much excess spillage by Labor Day 2016—but if I buy it now, I can try it on every day and add body shaming to my daily weight loss regimen. Fun, fun!”
“Could you talk a little louder on your cell phone? My husband and I were sharing a quiet dinner until you sat down at the next table, and your angry tirade against that dumbass boyfriend is so much more entertaining than the conversation we were attempting to have.”
“Yippee! I got picked for jury duty again!”
“Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be a few inches shorter and a few pounds heavier!”
“Of course, I value your opinions on marriage and parenting. In fact, I’m so honored that you’ve decided to share your wisdom (without my even asking!) that someday—when you are finally married with children of your own—I’ll return the favor.”
“Do you think if we started an online petition, we could convince all the morning ‘news’ programs to include more in-depth, thought-provoking stories about the personal lives of celebrities? Seriously, why would they waste precious air time with stories about the earthquake in Nepal or the plight of the honeybee when all I want to know is Kim K’s thoughts on marriage and her step dad Bruce—or the latest battle in the prank wars between Ellen and Matt?”
“Please don’t swat at those blood-sucking, disease-carrying mosquitoes in my presence. Those mosquitoes are some of God’s tiniest creatures, and they have just as much right to be here as you and I. And as for that copperhead over by the wood pile, give me a minute to fetch a shovel—and we’ll re-locate that adorable little serpent to the neighbor’s yard.”
“This retirement gig isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and I think I’ll go back to work. Alarm clocks, countless meetings, unrealistic expectations, stress and exhaustion—yep, I miss it all.”
“That mammogram was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Can you smash ’em one more time just for kicks?”
“It’s amazing how you can drive 20 mph below the speed limit and ride your brakes while going uphill. I know those 15 drivers lined up behind me are probably cursing you, but I applaud your exercise of extreme caution—well done!”
“I’m so excited for the next presidential election! So many great politicians have already announced their candidacy, and I can’t wait for all the positive campaign ads to dominate the air waves so they can help me decide who is most worthy of my vote.”
“No, no, really . . . I don’t mind that you’ve taken my lunch out of the faculty refrigerator (again). I hope you enjoy my turkey club sandwich—it looked really yummy when I assembled it this morning. And I especially hope you enjoy my homemade brownies since I included a special ingredient just for you (but you might not want to venture too far from the faculty bathroom for the rest of the afternoon).”
“You’re right–it’s none of your business. But, please, do go ahead and ask anyway–I want you to know everything about me and my business so that you can decide for yourself which juicy tidbits to embellish and whisper to the rest of the world.”
“M’am, you go right ahead and dig through the bottom of that over-sized purse in search of your jumbled wad of coupons—and by all means, let that under-worked cashier sort through your wad and eliminate the expired ones while the rest of us lined up behind you fidget quietly. Oh, and now you have to dig for the three competitors’ ads so you can do some price matching, too? No worries . . . I’m sure none of us have anywhere else we have to be . . . you take all the time you need while I expand my intellectual horizons with these National Enquirer headlines.”
Okay, maybe I am that mean. Perhaps it doesn’t matter that I won’t give voice to such thoughts—just the fact that I actually think them may be enough to warrant an attitude adjustment for this cranky old lady. Therefore, I hereby sentence myself to a weekend of solitary confinement . . . in the woods somewhere . . . next to a roaring waterfall . . . where the wildflowers are dancing on the breeze and my twitching fingers can tap rhythm on the glistening rocks. Yeah, that ought to do it.
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”