At a quaint Dairy Queen on the border of
“I almost sent my mother a light bulb for Christmas,” the thin stranger wearing a puffy navy blue coat stated.
The kind mother who had taught her children the basic social rules of being polite to strangers- particularly strangers with special needs, smiled and responded to the lady, “You did? Now, how on earth did that happen?”
For more than 30 minutes, the mother put down her hot dog and listened intently as the stranger’s story unfolded. As the details poured out, the story got more and more peculiar, but never once did the mother divert her attention or smirk at the quirky tale of the mail mishap.
However, after the strangers exited the restaurant and began their traditional walk up Highway 120, the family erupted with laughter restating every hilarious part of the stranger’s chronicle. These details and events were brought up again and again in a variety of situations even after decades had passed. The story often came up to illustrate the fact that the mother was a magnet for strange people with strange backgrounds and strange stories.
This mother is my mother.
So many times during my 30 years of life I have watched my mom skip a meal, rearrange her schedule, bend over backwards, neglect her own health and well being, and completely extinguish her own candle to be this magnet. And while she probably does it more frequently than most of us, you’ve got to admit it- you’ve done it yourself too- more than once! It’s in our blood. We’re all magnets for this type of behavior. We all blow out our own candles to make other peoples' flames combust into a vain inferno of narcissism (okay that might be a bit of an exaggeration for most of the situations- especially for the poor puzzled parcel lady at DQ- but you get my drift).
Perhaps this is why we resort to gossiping. We need an outlet. We have to vent. We’ve completely stomped out our own candles and the fumes from the blazing flame of someone else’s candle have us keeling over with disgust and annoyance. If we can’t gossip, reflect on the situation, and get reassurance for our feelings from others, we’d never reignite our own flames.
But, here’s my question...
If we are so irritated and upset by something (or someone), why do we still end up doing it (or letting ourselves feel guilty or annoyed by them)? If we really think it, then why don’t we really do it or say it? The human brain has no censor so we should be able to just say what’s on our mind. The problem (or blessing in some cases) is that most peoples’ mouths and actions do have these censors. We censor all day.
“Do you like my haircut?”
Brain says, “It brings out your crooked nose and buck teeth.”
Mouth says, “What an adorable 'do for spring.”
“I’m coming to visit the town you live in. I would love to hang out. Where should I stay?”
Brain says, “Oh man, this house isn’t in any shape for you or any guests to stay. Plus, I don't know how I'd survive if you stayed here that long.”
Mouth says, “Well, I wouldn’t recommend this construction zone, but you’re more than welcome to stay here if you want.”
“Thanks so much for paying for my lunch, you didn’t have to do that!”
Brain says, “I put down my money to pay for my half. Where's your half, cheapo?”
Mouth says, “Anything for you, lifelong friend.”
“It would mean the world to me if you and your whole family dropped everything to come to the grand extravaganza I’ve planned to celebrate my 3-month anniversary of being cavity free.”
Brain says, “Who the hell cares about and wants to celebrate your dental health?”
Mouth says, “What can we bring, Colgate and Listerine?”
“Actually, we prefer Crest in this household.”
Brain says, "Seriously! What nerve sending me to the store to fulfill your brand loyalty and do your errands!"
Mouth says, "Look Ma, no cavities! Crest it is!"
Why do we do it? Isn’t there some happy medium between what the brain thinks and the mouth says? Can’t we tweak our censors? Or, would that just leave all of us completely inconsiderate jerks with no friends? There are plenty of people whose mouth censors are relatively equal to their brain censors. Doesn’t
I don’t have the answer to this musing. But I do know that the more we censor our mouths and our actions, the more gossiping we do, the more resentful we feel, and the more annoyed we get. Isn’t gossiping the lesser of the evils here? Thank goodness we have one other to help us re-light our candles and burn our eternal flames. Thank you all for the countless times you've listened to what my brain really has to say about others.
And to the light bulb lady, thank you for being a lifelong friend and example. You didn't care what others thought- you just said what was on your mind- no censor, no filters. And because of that, you made our lives richer. You gave us a lasting memory. May your candle (and bulbs) always burn bright!