I called my 31-year-old son the other day. His first words were, “What’s the matter? What’s wrong now?”
Does he perceive that I am always the bearer of bad news? Yikes! Is he right? Am I always calling with bad news? Worse yet, is there only bad news to convey?
Certainly, now that I’m older, it often feels that way. This one died of cancer. That one has just been diagnosed with cancer. So-and-so had a heart attack. Case in point: Recently three people died in my extended circle. I wasn’t close with any of them, but still three people! It gives you pause.
In contrast, at the same time I was mulling that glooming news, my 30-something Pilates teacher cheerfully noted that three of her friends were due to deliver babies any day.
While the list and litany of my loved ones and friends with ailments has grown in recent years, surely, I’m not all darkness and despair. I still believe I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal. Still optimistic. Still looking forward to what life has to offer.
The Bearer of Bad News?
But do my conversations reflect that? After my son’s comment, I’m not so sure. Certainly, there’s not much fun family or girlfriend gossip to report. Honestly, there’s not much family left to talk about! Too many are gone to the Great Beyond. So, long gone are the glory days of dishing the dirt on the relatives!
Of the existing relatives, few are of marriageable age. So, I cannot trash talk about future brides, grooms, or prospective in-laws. Nobody’s due to give birth. So there’s no room for a happy chat about new babies.
My husband and I don’t squabble much. So, there are no bad-mouthing moments there.
In sum, the family is a bust for providing grist for the gossip mill.
Gossip? Chit Chat? Sports?
And as for the dating ways of my girlfriends? Those days are kaput! They’re all happily wedded or divorced. No flings or affairs in the offing. So, no opportunities for gossipy updates there either.
As for discussing world news and current events? Nope. That’s not our family phone thing.
Sports? A definite conversation strikeout.
So, what’s left for a mother and adult child to talk about on the phone? Nagging is an option. I admit I do my fair share of that, mostly along the predictable lines of “When are you coming to visit?” and “Are you getting enough rest?”
Yet, in my (desperate) hunt for sparkling telephone banter, I found it unexpectedly just the other day as I ran into a burger joint to grab a take-out order.
A burly bald biker guy stepped in ahead of me. His appearance gave me pause. He was kind of surly looking, all tatted out and bedecked in a worn leather jacket despite the afternoon heat.
Before stepping up to the register, he grabbed a paper bag and started scooping up something from a big bin. I gasped. Peanuts!
Apparently, I gasped out loud, because Mr. Tough Guy looked up and smiled.
“Oh, man, I didn’t know they had peanuts,” I gushed. “Oh, wow. I just love fresh peanuts in their shell. They remind me of baseball games in New York.”
He laughed and said, “Well, allow me.”
With that, the big guy bowed slightly and stepped aside, handing me the scope and bag he was using. I was practically dancing with joy as I filled the bag to the brim.
When I got home, hands still crumbly with peanut shell bits, I called my son ASAP. Ha! I thought. At last, there was good news that could not wait. Peanuts!
Now, how’s that for being the bearer of good news? No doom. No gloom. A little nutty, but still . . .
But was my son happy I called? Of course not. I woke him from a nap.
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About this week’s photo: It is, of course, the great Lily Tomlin as Ernestine, the hilarious, snorting busybody telephone operator who was never the bearer of bad news — only non-stop laughs!
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