HR Rep: “But you probably already know all this, I’m sure.”
Me: “I still like hearing you say it.”
HR Rep: “I’m sorry? What was that?”
Me: “Oh I said I still like hearing… you… um, say it.”
In my defense… moments where I speak before thinking are few and far between. When I was a kid, my brother and I would argue passionately in front of my grandmother over ownership of toys when disputes arose, then we’d await her decision like two lawyers making their case before a judge. She’d look between the two of us, and more often than not, she’d shake her head and echo that exact sentiment.
“Lawyer? What’s that?”
…all we cared about was candy.
She explained what it meant to have a ‘silver tongue’, and a thousand other obscure phrases and terms.
She was an English Teacher in the school district, and she had a firm respect for language and eloquence that I thought was silly, at the time. In the summers she’d have my grandfather buy candy from the supermarket, and reading a book to her aloud earned us one, two, or even three pieces of it, depending on the length of the book. She’d have him buy several varieties, my favorite being butterscotch, and when we tired of something she’d switch to other flavors to keep us interested.
She corrected our pronunciation, cited our mistakes, and was genuinely puzzled when we found ways to manipulate her award system by finding books with extra large print and multiple blank pages.
Again, all we cared about was candy. Also bacon.
Now, when I cook bacon in the mornings, I’m often reminded of her. As a kid, I always asked for my bacon as raw as possible to maximize thickness, and she was the one who had to gently, but firmly, explain that there were “bugs” in some types of raw food that could make you “sick”.
At the grocery store I’ve been seeing packaging for “irregular” cut bacon, which is apparently sections that aren’t cut uniformly, leaving many pieces thicker then usual.
I would have loved that as a kid.
Despite our tricks, her efforts bore fruit. I’m thankful for the role she played in my education, and without her, I would not be the man I am today. Her lessons, more than anything else, remind me of a particularly old saying from ancient Greece:
“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
Thanks, Grandma. You were wonderful, and deserve more recognition than I can provide.
Certainly, that saying should be amended.
“A society grows great when old men and women plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
She enjoyed reading, but she loved crossword puzzles. At 14 years old, I still remember the sense of satisfaction I felt when she asked me a seven letter word for something, and I could actually offer an answer. I thought: “This is it. I’m grown now.”
So, with all that being said, I need to come full circle.
I don’t misspeak when I’m nervous or under pressure; I misspeak when I’m at ease, distracted, and just a tiny bit smitten.
So, like I said…