Award-winning writer: Jackie Papandrew

Airing My Dirty Laundry!

Old Lame Signs

You know how, when you’re a child, and you don’t correctly hear the lyrics to a song or the words to some hackneyed cliché that adults are always throwing around? Like the phrase my parents often spouted at me when, in a noble effort to be helpful, I’d point out to them the moral failings and personal hygiene challenges of my younger brother.

“That sounds like the pot calling the cattle black,” my father would often drawl in response. At least that’s what I thought he said.

This would leave me very confused, not only about why a pot would feel the need to mention the color of some cows (assuming, of course, that pots could talk), but also about what any of that had to do with the price of tea in China (another weird cliché). And yet, I never questioned the saying. I just chalked it up as another example of the lunacy of grown-ups. One day, I remember thinking, I will understand.

I was well into my teens before I realized that the talkative pot was describing the color of a kettle, not cattle, and that my dad had been calling me a hypocrite. It was like those V8 commercials where people are always popping themselves in the forehead for being stupid when they “could have had a V8.” After years of confusion, my mind suddenly cleared like cobwebs before a broom, and walking down the street one day, I figuratively popped myself pretty hard on the forehead as I exclaimed aloud, “Oh, now I get it!”

The same thing happened with that classic New Year’s Eve song Auld Lang Syne. I thought, as any kid would, that the title of the tune was Old Lame Sign. When my parents would throw a New Year’s Eve party, and I would sneak out of bed to watch the big shiny ball falling on TV, I never could understand why all these supposedly older and wiser individuals would usher in the new year with a woeful-sounding song about an aging sign that was inexplicably labeled lame. It was just another of the great mysteries of maturity into which I expected to someday be initiated.

Of course, when I eventually realized it was simply one more silly misinterpretation on my part, I felt kind of let down. When I became an adult, it finally dawned on me that there is no great grown-up enigma that is magically made manifest when you reach a certain age. I stayed up late on New Year’s Eve, wearing a funny hat while drinking certain enervating beverages and humming along to Auld Lang Syne because I never could remember the words. But I didn’t really feel any different from the baffled kid I had been. The cattle-calling pot and the old lame sign were merely the beginning of my bewilderment.

My parents have some friends who for years have thrown what I’ve always called a “fuddy-duddy” New Year’s Eve fest. They set their clocks ahead so that their guests can celebrate the arrival of midnight three hours early. So even though all the partygoers knows it’s actually only 9 PM, they blow their noisemakers and cover each other with kisses, and they’re still home in bed by 10 o’clock.

In my earlier, more riotous days, I not only laughed at such old geezer goofiness, I ordered my friends to track me down and shoot me if I ever started behaving like that. Now, I fully expect those friends to show up at my door very soon and put me out of my fuddy-duddy misery. That’s because this New Year’s Eve I intend to slip on the bunny slippers, sit on the couch with a blanket over my lap and raise a toast to old lame signs and new beginnings. I might even turn the clocks ahead. Try not to make too much noise at midnight. I’ll already be asleep.

~  © Jackie Papandrew 2007 ~

Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at:  JackiePapandrew.com

[ by Jackie Papandrew Copyright © 2007, (me@jackiepapandrew.com) -- submitted by: Jackie Papandrew ]


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