Thursday, June 16, 2011

Friday with Friends: Getting Caught Casual by Lee Ann Sikora

My sister, Tammy, and I were recently having a phone conversation when we got to talking about how what Tammy called "a sort of Murphy's Law." It's just a Story descendant version of the famous Murphy's Law where, if something embarrassing can happen, it will.
This is why neither I nor any of my three sisters can get away with anything. If it can be discovered then it will be. There are no secrets at our parent's house – they are omnipotent. We are all cursed. Is it any wonder I am the way I am?  In high school, my sisters Cressy and Betty Jo, once tried to play hooky and as they were enjoying themselves downtown, they watched in horror as my father drove by … looking straight at them.
This law applies to many situations. For example: I have learned to be careful not to talk about anyone negatively in a public place. Because as sure as I do, they will walk up behind me and hear the worst-sounding part of the conversation. I will know that this person is behind me as the listener of my conversation will slowly cut their eyes to an area just behind my head and then blanch to a pasty white at an alarming rate of speed. I know the signs. I have been there. I have experienced "the law" first hand. 

The particular situation Tammy and I were discussing the other day was the fact that we cannot ever "go casual" out of our homes without someone we knowing seeing us as we look our very worst. Still, we attempt it out of sheer daring … or laziness. 

Tammy cited an example. She had been sick all day and had spent her day in her nightgown. By mid to late-afternoon her cats were throwing themselves against the side of her house in their fits of hunger until she decided to feed them and stop the banging. She opened the cat food cans and went to her front door. She did not feel like getting dressed for stepping out the door for just a few seconds. After all, she lives out in the country. She watched the road to make sure there were no cars coming and then she dashed outside. Her feisty felines were so grateful for the repast that they tangled themselves around her ankles – purring and loving on her. 

It was at that moment, Tammy heard a car. She gauged the distance to the door and she knew she would have to squash a couple of cats to get to it if she ran. There would be no time for that.
She considered a graceful, ninja-like duck and roll maneuver after which she could hide behind her car but there was no time for that either. Her hair was standing out in all crazy directions and she stood in her nightgown on her porch … surrounded by cats … as her neighbor drove by and waved. Tammy waved back with a resigned sigh.

I have had this experience also as I fed my cats before I got dressed for the day. I am so frequently seen that I have given up doing it until after I am fully dressed – after which time no one will happen to drive by, of course. However, if I run outside with no make-up, hair standing on end, and wearing my threadbare "I love Bill Bixby" tee-shirt, then I can just about guarantee a fully loaded tour bus would pull up in my driveway and ask for directions to the historic Jacinto courthouse.  It never fails.

And, I sometimes attempt a "quick trip into town" in my more brain damaged moments. I actually believe that I can run through Wal-mart, looking my very worst (dressed in "convenience store attire" as one friend so eloquently put it) and not run into anyone I know. I rarely do this, except when I have a toilet paper or Ben and Jerry's ice cream dire emergency situation. And, when people see you in this condition, they give you that terrible I'm-so-sorry-to-see-that-you-have-fallen-on-hard-times look.

Getting caught "casual" can be a traumatizing experience but I have learned it is a necessary evil. It serves to keeps us aware of the impression we give of ourselves every day and it can help keep us humble – really, really humble. 

Lee Ann Sikora.
Award-winning columnist, poet, short-story writer and editor

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