I have a problem with my mouth. It doesn’t necessarily listen to the relatively small part of my brain that tells me to be graceful, be still in a moment, be couth.
In other words, I blurt; brain-to-mouth with relatively no filter. I like to think it’s part of what makes me “quirky,” borderline “charming” sometimes. It’s also what caused me to ask this morning if a woman’s son was her grandson, and to talk to the dog (in front of others) about his sphincter activity.
It all started with the dog. I take him to the Newport dog beach area. For the blog I just call him “the king,” to further protect the identity of the owners I’m house and dog-sitting for here in southern California.
We were walking along the leash area of the shore for quite awhile, and I could tell he needed to do his business, but he’s so frustratingly particular sometimes on where he wants to go. As with my own dog at home, I started talking to him.
“C’mon buddy. I can see your buckeye puckering and unpuckering. It’s time to drop your load already…
“Ah! There it is again. See? You gotta poopy. You gotta poopy.” I think somehow I thought I might be able to sing and dance the crap right out of him. Instead he just looked at me as he peed on another pile of seaweed.
Laughter and the words “buckeye puckering!” and more laughter alerted me that there were three surfers walking about three feet behind me. I was so focused on the dog’s sphincter and wanting him to go before I passed the last garbage can before the jetty that I just completely forgot I wasn’t alone.
But even when I’m not alone, I have trouble thinking before talking. Anybody who’s read the blog about the hot chiropractor understands that one of my biggest flaws is that anything and everything might come out of my mouth.
I side-stepped out of the water’s edge, where I like to walk barefoot and dare the tide to soak my Eeyore shorts. I let them pass, staring hard at the dog, pretending I didn’t just talk about his puckering sphincter in front of three super fit, hot surfer dudes.
I gave it a bit before I started walking again. Still a little flustered and staring hard at the sand and the dog, I almost ran into a woman I’ve met on this walk a few times. We’ve had great conversations and she seemed interested in how well I take care of the dog and that I’m a good house-sitter. Her house is right on the oceanfront of Newport Beach and she mentioned how nice it might be to know that her house and dog are well cared for while she’s away. I was pretty sure that one more conversation might close the deal and I’d have a return trip here sometime next year.
I’ve seen her before with a young woman I assumed was her “adult” daughter. It turns out she’s just a very mature-looking teenager. I found this out today when I saw the my new acquaintance with a very young boy. Based on the ages, I assumed he the child of that “adult” daughter. “Aww, he’s adorable” I cooed. “Is he your grandson?”
Friends, you have never seen a conversation end more quickly than after a statement like that. “No” she looked at me sharply, as if I were intentionally criticizing, “he’s my son.”
Sometimes when my foot goes into my mouth, I have a difficult time removing it. In fact, my foot often finds its way down my throat from that point.
“Oh, what a relief!” I tried to cover, “It’s so refreshing to see that. I think there’s too much focus on women needing to be younger to have children.”
Oh my God. Make it stop! Make it stop! These were the words screaming from the inside of my brain, but they couldn’t make their way to the outside, given the foot still blocking my vocal chords.
She just stared at me this time. I could feel every great conversation leading up to this one just slipping away with the sand. Waves lapped at our feet and her young son brought over a shell fragment.
And then I continued. “Of course, it’s not like you’re just suddenly a mother,” I stumbled. “I mean, you obviously started a long time ago anyway, when it would have been a normal age, because your daughter is so much older than your son.”
You know when they have those overexaggerated jaw drops in movies or cartoons? I know now that those expressions are occasionally literal. And they apparently happen when you’re around me for too long.
It occurred to me how awful I was handling getting out of the conversation. Think! Think! I told myself What got you into this mess? Where did you start going wrong? “I’m such an idiot sometimes.” I told her, trying my best guilty schoolgirl look (don’t ask me what that looks like because it’s probably something like bad gas, like most of my expressions).
I continued, “I assumed you were older than you are, because…”
Reader, do you know how this sentence should have ended? Well, first of all it shouldn’t have started, but once it was out there, it should have ended with “…because you seem so put together and successful and I just figure that takes a lifetime to build.”
Yeah, that might have been a decent save, if not stellar.
That is not how I ended the sentence. It went like this:
“I assumed you were older than you are, but I think it’s just the sun out here. It’s so unfair to be a woman in this sun.”
Yep – I basically called out all her wrinkles, offended feminists everywhere, and, and, ladies and gentlemen, I wasn’t finished…
“Yeah,” I continued. “I just think you’re amazing though, even if you’re my age. It’s an east coast thing, I think. It’s like you’re just not allowed to be a mom if you’re over a certain age back there. The west coast is so much more open-minded.”
Really, Marla? Did you really just throw a bald-faced lie about east coast mentality on motherhood to try to dig your dirty bottom out of a swallowing sand hole?
She took her son by the hand and without further comment, walked across the sand.
I’m sorry, East Coast, and I’m sorry Ms. Oceanfront Newport Beach lady, if you happen to read this blog.
Apparently I am the puckering and unpuckering buckeye, and I just don’t know when to expand or contract.