You know that kid? The one who is never quite paying attention to things. The daydreamer in school. The one that’s told to go to the kitchen and get the salt at dinner and they comes back with a glass of water? You know the type. Well, it may or may not surprise you to know that I was that kid. I am grateful to say, I’m not quite that bad anymore, the Lord made sure I married a practical man; one that I love with all my heart, who truly is my saving grace. But, before he came along there was a week, “the week”.
It was the last week in October of 1977. I know because I had just turned 18 and, at the time, that was the legal drinking age in New Jersey. I was ‘legally’ an adult, the mental part hadn’t quite caught up, but I was oblivious to that. As far as I was concerned I had arrived!
The week began with a request, one that proved just how ‘grown-up’ I was. My Dad asked me to pick up his wine for him. This was a very big deal! I had it all planned out. I would drive to the liquor store and have my license in my back pocket all ready to pull out and prove my status as a legal adult. Yup. I was ready.
I got to the liquor store, walked in and said “Hello” to the cashier. I wanted him to notice me and ask if I was ‘supposed to be there’. I had something I wanted to prove. I found my Dad’s wine and went to the counter. The man took the bottle and started ringing it up, he told me the price, I gave him the money, and I waited. Surely, he would ask for my ID. But, he didn’t. I was flustered and in that moment of ‘flustration’, without consulting my brain I asked him, oh boy, did I ask him.
“Don’t you want to see my VD?” That’s what I said. I don’t know why. I hoped beyond all hopes that he somehow didn’t quite hear me, but he did.
“Sweetheart, if you’ve got it. I sure don’t want it.” He smiled. I took my wine and left. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry so I did both, grateful that that day was behind me.
My mother has often said that I was put in our family for comic relief. This coming from a woman who taught me words like thing-a-ma-bob, whoosy-whatsit, and what-cha-ma-call-it. If we couldn’t think of a word at our house, we made one up. This was fine in the house, but not so fine out of the house. My week continues…
It was a crisp sunny October day of the same week. My camera wasn’t working. They weren’t attached to a phone back then. If they were, they’d be stuck on our kitchen walls. No, these little babies were cool.
They were made by Kodak. Mine had a pop up flash that didn’t pop, so I brought it to the camera store. I thought I could see what was keeping my flash from popping, but I wasn’t sure. I entered the store.
There was a very nicely dressed young black man behind the counter.
A little background, my Mom may have taught us funny words, but she would NEVER allow us to use racial slurs EVER! We were warned over and over again about what would happen to us if we did. We were taught that all people were deserving of our respect, regardless of race, creed, or color.
So, as I said, I entered the store and the very nicely dressed young black man asked if he could help me. I told him I hoped so and showed him my camera. We were both leaning over the counter, looking at my camera. Heads down, I tried to show him the piece that I thought was keeping my flash from working. Of course the piece didn’t have a name, so I did what I always did, I made one up. I made one up, without the benefit of engaging my brain. I made one up without thinking. I meant to say, “You see this little jigger over here.” What I said was much worse, but it rhymed.
The man put his head up and just looked at me. He took a step back. I started to cry. And then I blurted, “I am NOT allowed to say that word. My mother told me NEVER to use that word. I am so sorry. I meant to say, jigger.” I was practically in hysterics. Turns out the very nicely dressed man was also a very nice man. He believed me and promised me he’d never tell my mother. He fixed my camera and I left the store. I never used that word or the word ‘jigger’ again. In fact, thingy, is just about as far as I allow myself to go in the weird word department…just to be safe.
And so ended my week…the week…the week that I’ve never forgotten. Fortunately, the week that was never repeated. But it’s really not that big a deal.