Words You Never Want to Hear

Nov 15, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, at the end of a cut, my stylist said, “Hmm…your hair looks strange.”   A week of high humidity had made me resemble a poodle.  Perhaps that’s what she meant. As you might imagine, her statement jarred me.

What she said made me think of other times in my life when I heard words no one would ever want to hear.

For example: My lab instructor at the University of Connecticut tells me: “You have the highest chemistry lab breakage bill I’ve ever seen.”

When I point out a dead fly in my salad to a waiter at a restaurant in Windsor, Vermont, he replies, “I’ll take the salad back to the chef so that he can remove the fly.”

My city slicker friends and I hike up Cardigan Mountain in bright sunlight and then trek back down in thick fog.  At the end of the trail, a man tells us, “You climbed down the wrong side of the mountain. You are forty miles from the lot where you left your car.”

While a surgeon is performing my Caesarian-section during the birth of my second child, I hear her say, “Oops.”

When we live in North Carolina, my three-year-old son’s preschool teacher predicts, “Oh yeah, fifteen years from now, I see him as a kid who will be partying hard at a frat house on a Saturday night.”

From a pharmacist in a rural village in Wales, “Your child has pinworms.” Then, after a pregnant pause, with nostrils flared, the man continues, “Most likely, it is a result of poor hygiene in your home.”

A letter from the elementary school, “Seven students in your child’s class have been sent home with lice.”

A phone call from the high school administrator, “Last night, your son and his buddies stuck about one thousand plastic forks into my front lawn.”

When we are pet sitting for a neighbor and our son announces, “Elizabeth’s corn snake is loose somewhere in the house.” (At the time, our family pet is a detestable Russian dwarf hamster that routinely bites us. For a second, I consider setting the hamster free in order to let nature take its course.)

When we are off on vacation and we get a call from our college student son, “They are fumigating our dorm because of bedbugs, so I spent last night at home.”

From a flight attendant at the Charlotte airport shouting at me and my fellow passengers in waiting area at 2:00 in the morning, “Hurry up. Get on the plane. We’re going to try to fly out before the next lightning strike!”

When I walk into my backyard, words from a mother whose toddlers are swimming at our house: “I’m not completely sure, but I don’t think any poop got in your pool.”

From a fellow participant in a Nia dance class, “You dance like you really don’t care what people think.”  (Hmmm…thank you?)

On the other hand, here are some words we might like to hear:

From your doctor, “Chocolate is definitely not fattening, especially not Snickers Bars.”

From your dentist, “I was looking at the wrong X-ray. You don’t have to have a root canal.”

And last but not least, from your tax preparer, “The IRS is sending you a HUGE refund this year.”