I have noticed that some of the best advice I have received in my life, has come from people who are the slowest to offer it.
Is that a saying? There has to be people who have said this before me. This thought just recently occurred to me though. It feels original.
Not to say that chronic advice givers don’t nail it some times. They do. Statistically speaking, they are bound to get some stuff right. Still, it’s those folks sitting quietly, going unnoticed, who know things. Why do you think they’re being so quiet? They’re thinking, silly. They’re gathering facts and weighing options. Those are the folks you want to ask about which stocks to buy. Not the folks writing blogs.
And that is just some free advice I’m giving to you about who to ask for advice. I hope you were listening.
Something is changing at our house. At first, I thought it was an anomaly; a unique occurrence, not connected to a pattern. I was wrong. Scott and I are finding ourselves alone more often.
The kids are all teenagers. Thankfully, these three humans we created, lean towards homebodyishness, like their parents. They could be gone a lot more than they are. That is true. But, they do have things happening in their lives right now that don’t involve us. And, that seams kinda mean.
In the last few months, Scott and I have had a couple of days or evenings where no one needs anything from us. Everyone is gone. At first, this time felt a little awkward. We’re getting the hang of it now.
Scott is funny. He always has been; I feel pretty sure that our common desire for a good laugh was what we liked best about each other back in the very beginning. It still is. So, we have that. Now that we are getting to hang out, and give each other our full attention, we see the silliness never went away. The silliness just got dusty, and some times forgotten, beneath the weight of parental responsibility.
This past weekend, Scott and I were having a good afternoon. Olivia came home in the evening from her youth group event. She had been gone all day and the night before. She was overtired. Olivia is a teenage girl. She’s my bff. When Olivia is overtired and almost 14, she can get a little cranky. It’s best to give her space. I know that. That’s what I do. Scott really doesn’t care about giving overtired teenagers space.
Olivia came through the door; she wasn’t smiling. Scott and I were on the couch together. We wanted to know how Olivia’s day had gone. She wasn’t in the mood to share. She tried pulling away from our questioning as fast as possible, to the safe retreat of her quiet bedroom. I was happy to let her go.
Olivia got down the hallway, almost to her bedroom, when Scott made her stop. He yelled, “Olivia, I just have one more question”
“What now?!” Olivia responded impatiently.
“Did you get all the SNEW out of your hair before you came home?”
Right there. That’s when Scott and I remembered we are really just two juveniles, masquerading as adults. I covered my mouth with my hand so Olivia couldn’t hear me laugh. Scott was doing the “snew” joke on her. Did you hear me? The “snew” joke is classic. The snew joke KILLS!!!
“You know,” Scott tried again, “The SNEW!!! I sure hope you at LEAST got all that SNEW out of your hair before you left.”
Olivia was quiet. I was giggling. It felt like I was the middle schooler I once was. Finding so much humor in something a stern teacher didn’t find funny at all. Except, this time, Olivia is the stern teacher. Scott and I are the middle schoolers.
“Dad!!!! I don’t even know what you’re talking about!!!! ”
She heard me laughing, “You guys are so ridiculous!”
The bedroom door slammed.
Well. Usually the snew joke kills. It’s supposed to go like this:
Me: Hey, make sure you get the SNEW out of your hair.
You: What’s snew?
Me: I don’t know. What’s new with you?
Then you laugh really hard, because I just got you good.
See? That joke is awesome. Especially when it’s used to pester overtired teenagers.
Even though Olivia didn’t cooperate, Scott and I still shared a laugh at his cleverness. Olivia took a little rest, and she figured out the punch line later.
She still wasn’t impressed.
Here’s a picture of Scott and me taking a selfie outside of a gas station this weekend. We were on our way to a wedding. That’s kind of juvenile too, right? We’re really getting good at this stuff:
You know what I don’t find funny? Humiliation.
I’m going to tell you a story; it is at the expense of my dignity. I’ve thought this over, and have decided I’m okay with that. Entertainment is generally my overarching goal. With that goal in mind, I believe this story delivers. The other reason I’m telling you this story is because there’s a moral to learn. This story offers you a win-win situation.
Let’s begin. I had to take our broken computer back to Best Buy. We really like Best Buy. They’ve been good to us. When you are waiting to talk with someone on the Geek Squad at Best Buy, they have chairs lined up in a row, so you can sit while you wait. That’s nice. Sometimes the lines are long.
I sat down in a chair, and began waiting patiently for my turn. While I was sitting, an older man came in the store, and walked over to the repair department. This man had long, gray hair. I didn’t look at him for long, but when I did look, I could see that his hair was greasy and messy. I’m pretty sure he had a shirt that was unbuttoned a bit further than necessary, and he was wearing a gold chain. Oh, and I also could smell him. It wasn’t a good kind of smell.
I judged him pretty hard. In some vague/subconscious part of my brain, I had determined he was more than likely a pervert. Really, do we need more evidence?
I told you. I lose in this story.
Normally, when I’m in close proximity with strangers, I give them a smile, and often attempt friendly conversation. I didn’t do any of that with this guy when he sat down next to me. Safety first.
My number was finally called by the repair department. I went and talked to the technician at the counter with my back to the waiting line. I talked to the technician for quite a while. That’s a key part of this story. You’ll see why.
Eventually, the technician walked away from the counter to check on something. That is when I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the man with the greasy hair. He wasn’t giving me eye contact. He leaned his head in toward mine, and quietly whispered, “Ma’am, your skirt is tucked up into your, you know…”
The long haired man scurried away, so as not to cause me further embarrassment. You get it? The man I though was a pervert, now thinks I am a pervert.
I quickly adjusted my skirt.
How could I not know that was happening? The skirt was way up there folks. Not just a corner of the skirt. The. Whole.Freaking.Back of my skirt. The WHOLE thing. It was all tucked into my waistband.
How does this even happen? I didn’t know that could happen. I should sue Best Buy. Their chairs are defective.
After the long hair man walked away, I could feel heat radiating off of my red face. When the technician returned to the counter, I started babbling. I was disoriented. I couldn’t make sense of our conversation; I was distracted by the urge to die.
I thought the technician would never stop yammering on about the stupid computer. Which, at that point, I gladly would have traded for an escape hatch. After nine million hours, the technician finally quit talking, and handed me a receipt. Our business was done.
The long haired man offered me one more act of kindness when he mercifully avoided looking my way, as I walked by him towards the door. It occurred to me that a mature person would thank this man for the brave thing he did. Shame kept me silent.
Long haired man probably assumed I was on my way to find my next victims. He thought I was on my way to “Staples”, next door, where I would streak through the school supplies aisle, scaring all the children.
Do you understand the moral of the story? It is not obscure, and it isn’t just about wearing nice, clean underwear, because, you know, you never know.
The moral of this story is that I judged that long haired guy hard. I was so wrong.
Another way this story delivers is it proves that your day could always be worse. The next time something goes wrong for you, just say, “At least I’m not standing in line at Best Buy in my underwear.”
Right? That’s worth at least the time it took you to read this.