And let that be a lesson
Last week, I was picking up an order at the drive-thru window of a coffee shop because life is too precious to get out of one’s car. A quick scan of the bag revealed I was missing the coffee creamers. Upon letting the 16-year old ingénue at the window know about the omission, she did nothing more than wrinkle her left nostril at me. “I’m missing the creamers,” I repeated. “And?” the Mensa candidate said, punctuating her response with a snap of her gum.
Not an “And, let me quickly get those for you.” It was an “And, do you think I care whether you ever get your creamers while your middle-aged butt takes up space on this planet?”
And? And? I couldn’t believe her audacity. “Why you little...” The take-out minx shut the window before I could finish. A car started beeping its horn behind me so I had no choice but to move along without my creamers.
At that moment, my cell phone rang. It was my sister letting me know I was late in delivering the coffee and donuts to the PTO meeting. I was livid. My sister is like a cable news channel – 24 hours of things I all ready know. There was only one way to respond. “And?” I said. I hung up and threw my cell phone out the window. Curiously, I felt better. The use of the word was intoxicating. What a perfect encapsulation of all that goes unsaid. I became empowered.
One of my kids came home from school and said “Mom, you packed a dirty sock in my lunch today.” “And?” I responded. The unsaid: Do you think it is easy balancing work and family and trying to provide nutritious meals that you might actually eat? Besides, that sock has more iron than the broccoli I served you last night so get over it.
My oldest child mentioned that the new iPod plays movies. “And?” I said. The unsaid: How about doing some iLaundry or iDishes to make some iMoney of your own and giving your iMom a break?
After dinner, my husband announced with a wink that the children were asleep. “And?” I said. The unsaid: Great, because I’m really in the mood after working all day, wrestling three kids to bed and watching an hour of The Golf Channel during dinner. Race you to the bedroom!
With this perfect word, someone, it appeared, did die and make me queen. But my time in the throne was to be cut short. I made the mistake of calling my mother, the High Priestess of Insulting Behavior. If I reached her by 10:00 a.m., she would only be on her third martini. “We’d love to have you for Thanksgiving Dinner,” I told her.
“And?” she snorted.
And, I vowed never to use that expression again. Life is much more pleasant when you’re pleasant.