Time for frightful reflection
It is here again. It is a time of joy, laughter, loving, giving, family, friends, the clink of eggnog and brandy cups, the smell of cinnamon, the blinking reds, greens, blues and yellows of sparkling lights lining the roofs and circling the branches of fragrant Nobel firs. And it is a time of acute embarrassment.
At least for me.
It started on Monday. I hate being late. In college, Robert Barthol, my California Criminal Law teacher, made us sign in for each class. He’d snatch up the clipboard the moment the big hand reached the twelve. If we came in late, he’d give us an opportunity to explain. If he thought it a good reason, he’d let us sign in. At the end of the quarter, he told us those who were signed in for every class could use him as a job reference. Since then, I’ve valued punctuality, so when I remembered my dental cleaning appointment on Monday, and glanced at my watch, I rushed to the car and floored it out of my driveway. With my right foot on the brake, and my left foot thumping the floor, I waited behind school bus, after school bus, finally careening into the parking lot nine minutes late.
“Do I have time to, ah, go use the little room over there?” I asked the woman at the front desk, waving my hand toward the far end of the lobby.
She made a show of glaring at me, moving her eyes to the large clock ticking on the wall, and back to me. “I really don’t think so. She’ll need the whole hour to do you.”
I was on her naughty list, but she’d not even give me a lump of coal if I didn’t make that stop first.
“I’ll rush,” I said, and loped across the room. When I came out, the hygienist stood at the front desk, holding a thick file, her eyes sweeping the waiting room. “Melanie?”
“I’m here,” I said, and clipped past all the people in the lobby, past the disapproving receptionist and followed the hygienist past x-ray room, past all the dentist treatment rooms, and past other hygienist’s rooms.
At the end of the hall, she pointed to a doorway. “In here.”
I brushed by her and laid my pocketbook on the counter.
“Um,” the hygienist said, and moved closer to me, whispering in my ear, “you, ah, have a streamer.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, a couple of days later I couldn’t get warm at my house. I packed up my computer and drove to a Starbucks. Once I had my latte, I leaned back in my chair, drew in the scent of brewing coffee, stretched my legs in front of me and took a sip of the steamy liquid. But out of the corner of my eyes, I saw my navy blue socks clashing with the black pants and black shoes. I downed the drink and walked stiff-legged out the door.
Tonight, I wanted to place a couple of Christmas CDs in my ancient stereo system, but couldn’t find the correct remote. Every remote I found did nothing to turn on the stereo. Honestly, I don’t even have that much in the way of electronic equipment. I don’t even have cable, so what the heck do all these remotes operate, I thought.
I rocked back on my heels and sucked in a panicked breath. Heat lit my face like a Christmas tree.
That is the embarrassing conclusion. There is no other explanation. When you can’t figure out what each remote is for, that is the time you have to ask your children to come over and label everything for you, with detailed, pictured instructions. And they should check your fire alarm batteries. The week makes sense now.