by cheri block
I’ve been married to the same man for a very long time. He might say, in his charming and sincere manner that “…it seems like yesterday we were walking down the aisle. Life with you, Cheri, has been a real treat, from start to this very moment. “
I might observe “ It does not seem like yesterday. It seems like about 45 years. However, marriage to you has been a real treat for about ¾ of the time.”
What would he say to this little indiscreet observation?
He would say, quite judicially, “ Fair comment.”
These two words annoy me to the max.
The words “fair comment” never played a part in my growing up. There was no such thing as “fair comment” in the Block household. I just commented without censor, without thinking about how my many words might affect others. Keeping a thought to myself was unheard of—Silent Speculation, the Art of Tact, Walking in Others’ Moccasins–none of these finer skills of the Life Experience ever occurred to me.
We four children were little smart-mouths, full of creativity and confidence, who commented at will, especially at the dinner hour around our maple dining table, the one with the ugly maple hutch behind it, the hutch that stood against that corny wallpaper my mother had chosen, the wallpaper with baskets, no cornucopia of autumn vegetables. That wallpaper.
My father encouraged our comments. He laughed, most of time, when we talked about ripping a hole in the honeysuckle vines growing on our back fence so that we could see our neighbors’—actually our pediatrician’s odd five children—swimming in their lovely pool. “So and So never said a word while swimming and the other So and So just stared at her toes while sunning herself in a chartreuse swimsuit.
We, on the other hand, were busy in our pedestrian backyard tearing it up–arranging vast battlefields, digging small trenches, and setting up miniature theme parks in the bases of all our trees. We trapped small moths and put them in underground dungeons secured by toothpicks. My brother might have spit at me on occasion. We called each other weirdos, fat butts, and scuzzy faces. I told my siblings I hated my teacher, knowing full well that “ hate is a very strong word, Cheri.”
We imagined what the dog run would be like if we weren’t forced to clean up after our two German Shepherds. When my mother, June Cleaver, came outside to tell us dinner would be ready in 30 minutes (Dad needed his bourbon and seven before dinner), we told her we didn’t like her fried okra and monkey-meat cutlets. She told us we were rude.
I only wish that at that tender time in my free-for-all life, I could have retorted,
Such verbal sophistication would have prepared me for a life more under control, more measured, more…