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Small Talk: Quips that didn’t make the cut

It clearly isn’t spring yet, even in the land of winter Santa Anas, so I can’t call it spring cleaning.

Nevertheless, I found myself in the midst of a cleaning binge after dismantling the Christmas decorations. It is depressing enough to end the holidays, but finding dust bunnies the size of shih tzus, beneath the festive décor, gets my attention. It drove me to vacuum, launder and mop to a fare-thee-well. That doesn’t happen all that often around here. I have lost my battles on the cleanliness front. I offer no excuses for my lax housekeeping. My attitude change is a survival tactic from decades of marriage plus children.

Finally, I began to dust and sort out my desk, where I shove all the bits of paper upon which I scribble possible column ideas. As I looked through them, I realized most didn’t warrant a full column, but still deserved a little exposure.

There was one that noted my astonishment at hearing grown men seriously discussing how much they hated the color of some football team’s new jerseys. They said they “didn’t match.” Those were their very words. These are the same men who wear baggy sweatsuits, stripes and plaids together and would sooner die than pass an opinion on what their wives are wearing.

On another envelope back, I noted my chagrin after writing, by hand, a note to my son’s teacher asking for suggestions regarding his horrible handwriting. As I looked at the final product, it was very clear why my child hasn’t a chance at legible handwriting. I knew it was about to become embarrassingly obvious to the teacher, as well. I threw the note away.

I deciphered another suggestion in which I was going to admit a comeuppance. I have occasionally been disdainful about the way dads behave over their sons’ sports teams. I accused them of trying to relive their own childhoods and such. Then I got my daughter a wonderful doll and found myself buying it her own Christmas tree, with ornaments, lights and gifts. I then got the doll her own Christmas stocking, filled it and can’t pass her by without straightening her hair. Oops.

Another scrap of paper noted my potential regret at having purchased each pre-teen child a boom-box for Christmas. They were constantly using mine, so I figured it was time. And what were the first words out of my mouth once they started using them? The timeless parent remark, “Turn that thing down!” I hadn’t expected to go there until the teen years. Another snippet noted my attempt not to laugh when, while shelving books at the school library, I found a Chinese cooking book misfiled in the dog section.

My final not-ready-for-full-length note was a remark my son made suggesting an innovative Cub Scout badge he wished existed. He would, he announced, appreciate an “arguing” badge. If such things existed, he’d be well on his way to Eagle Scout.

There you are. Task complete. I will have a whole new set of paper scraps within a week.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer, who is very occasionally organized. Contact her at [email protected]