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Language Log

Monday, Dec. 24, 2018 - 3:08 p.m.

1. “We are not doing adult stockings until the 28th or 29th”. Oh. Who decided that. I have had my stocking every Christmas of my entire life but let’s change that by surprise proclamation. Of course, I’m an adult so it shouldn’t matter and I can’t act like a baby about it.

2. We sit at the restaurant table, my mother to my right and my mil across from me. I have to talk to my mother. I have to tell her about my visit from my sister. I don’t want to do this. I stare at the table and explain that we met at an Italian restaurant at a strip mall near her hotel. “I had a pizza. She had chicken Parmesan and spaghetti. She cut up her spaghetti,” I said. There, I’m saying things, isn’t that what they want? I’m describing what we did. Mom asked what we did. MIL stares at me. I’m rocking. “Why did you say that?” she asks. “What?” I ask. “That thing about the spaghetti.” “I just thought it was kind of funny and noteworthy.” She gives me that look. “Okaaay. Nothing.”

I try harder.
I am hit with a wave of guilt afterward and wonder if I am being intentionally weird. Surely I can just stop, sit up straight, legs together like a lady, have a nice conversation where I talk about the things people want to hear about and not things they don’t, and look at them even if I don’t want to talk to them or listen to them. Listening is safer, listening staring at the table is safest because I don’t have to emote, but I guess it isn’t safe enough. Surely I can just do this, I’m just not trying, I’m being lazy and self-centered and really it’s their comfort that is the top priority, isn’t it. Isn’t it.

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