Monday, November 13, 2006

In Polite Conversation

In our house there were two things you did not do if, and when, you were spoken to by an adult. The first was to shrug your shoulders, and the second was to roll your eyes; particularly if you were within arms reach and silly enough to persist after sufficient warning. Every effort should be made to speak when spoken to with a thoughtful and pertinent answer. It wasn't hard once I got the hang of it and the world's worst was to be banished from conversation.

My Aunt Shirley, pictured here with my Uncle and Grandfather, just did not get it. She lived with my parents as she was growing up until she married, before I came along. Their relationship was one of parent and child. One afternoon I remember sitting at the table with my mom and Aunt, at that time with young children of her own. During the conversation she responded to a question from my mother with a shrug.

Oh geez!

My mom, giving her a second opportunity, rephrased the question at which time she rolled her eyes.

I ducked.

My mother, showing great restraint, responded quite nicely with "Speak ass; mouth can't!" My mouth must have hit the table. I don't remember my parents using "foul language" as it was called. Not only that, I wasn't really sure what it meant. My Aunt Shirley knew. It turned out to be a phrase coined by my Grandfather under similar circumstances. She made a nice rebound and my mom continued the conversation without skipping a beat, as if it has never happened.

I always wondered if my Aunt knew she was riding the ragged edge of disaster in those few seconds before my mom took that deep breath and said...

11 Comments:

At 4:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love those old black and white pictures and that saying blows my mind. I'm really thinking about that one.

 
At 6:20 AM, Blogger Frema said...

I had to read it a couple of times myself before I got it. Your mother was quick with the wit!

 
At 1:42 PM, Blogger Tink said...

Sticking your tongue out was the end-all in my house. I don't think I could feel my butt for a week!

 
At 4:16 PM, Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

That is how my parents grew up, we did too, but with a bit more open discussion, still, no shrugging and no rolling eyes or backchat.
We use dinner time to catch up on the days events with the kids, as a family. I love that time of the day, it is very special :)

 
At 8:06 PM, Blogger mjd said...

I am a bit bewildered; I like to figure out what these wise sayings mean. Perhaps, because actions speak louder than words, the shoulder shrug and eye roll was deemed as unacceptable "conversation", and thus, such actions required such a retort. In any event apparently, Aunt Shirley knew the nuances of this conversation...very interesting.

 
At 4:15 PM, Blogger daddy d said...

Many times actions or a lack there of talk loader than words. One needs to know the rules and then everything can move ahead.

 
At 9:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh gosh, what memories. Sticking your tongue out in our house meant you'd better not be within reach of Mom's amazingly long arms or your chin will get popped so that you bite said tongue. Swearing...don't even think about it. Likewise the rolling of the eyes and the short answers.

 
At 2:50 PM, Anonymous susan said...

Man I have a kid like that...always pushing the rules. Your mom's reaction just cracks me up.

 
At 4:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to post a Happy Thanksgiving before we all scatter for the holidays. If you are travelling, be safe.

I love the family history stories. Its wonderful that you are able to recall so many. Not everyone has that opportunity and thank you for sharing yours!

 
At 9:28 AM, Blogger dilling said...

holy cow...everyone in our family would have been slapped silly around your folks!!! we are nearly professional eye rollers!!!

 
At 6:05 AM, Blogger it's the little things said...

Can I send my kids to live with your family for a while?
:)

 

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