Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Un Autre Faux Pas (#201)

What binds us as humans? What, more than anything else, promotes a sense of fellowship?

Oo! Oo! I know! Pick me, teacher! Pick me!

Go ahead, Frankie.

Why, it’s shared experience, of course. We all know what’s it like to be angry, sad, joyful, scared, excited and embarrassed. Especially embarrassed. We can relate to each other in a more meaningful fashion because we’ve all experienced similar feelings. Especially embarrassment. I mean, everybody says or does something dumb once in a while, don’t they?

Longtime readers may recall the story of my Grade 10 French teacher’s buttocks finding their way into my hand. Tres embarrassment la, I must say.

And perhaps you remember the day I was Christmas shopping and my elbow was assaulted by a woman’s bosom. Not my fault of course, but still a tad embarrassing.

Well, I did it again. And it involved a woman again. Well, a girl/woman, of 18. And it sort of related to body parts (but not naughty bits this time, thank goodness).

Son #2 was having a few friends over one evening a couple of weeks ago. They were gathered in the basement wreck room. Sounds of high hilarity and video game crashes and explosions prevented anyone but me from hearing the knock on the front door.

I got up to answer, expecting one of #2's urchin friends. Instead, I saw nothing, nobody. For a second. Then, in the deepening evening gloom, I saw a pretty young woman kneeling - actually, on her knees but leaning backwards, sitting on the backs of her calves - and smiling up at me. I didn’t recognize her but figured she must be one of #2's friends or a friend of a friend.

I smiled down at her. Obviously, she was expecting someone she knew to answer the door and was preparing to play a little joke on them.

“Hi. Is Son #2 home?” Only she called him “Jake,” which is his name.

About then Devon, one of Jake’s buds, arrived from the wreck room. I guess someone else heard the knock, after all.

“Hi April,” he said.

“Hi Dev.”

“Well,” I grinned and held the door open. “Come on in. And no need to crawl.”

“Actually, I have to.” Without a lapse in her smile, she tossed her head to indicate behind her. “I had to leave my chair at the end of the driveway.”

I peered and could just make out her wheelchair behind my car. Since I rented the large dumpster, there was no room between my car and the lawn to negotiate her chair closer to the house.

I stood aside, laughing ruefully and shaking my head at my dunce-osity, as April set her hands on the ground, then lifted and swung her knees into the front hall. Laughing off my apology and rocking forward on her hands and knees, she made her way along the hall. I asked if she needed help with the stairs and she cheerfully refused. It seemed she had no use of her legs below the knees. But there was nothing wrong with the rest of her and her confident good nature was a balm to my embarrassment.

But sheesh. I mean, holy mackerel. What a maroon.

Muttering to myself, I walked to the end of the drive and carried her chair closer to the front door. I didn't want to leave it so close to the street. Darn thing was heavy. Jake or one of his buds could carry it back for her when she needed it. I recalled him mentioning a friend named April from time to time, but he’d never talked of her disability.

Later, when the kids had gone home, I asked him why he’d never mentioned it before. He shrugged, saying it never occurred to him. It was no big deal. April was just April.

Which, of course, is exactly right.

April is April and Frank is Frank and faux pas (pases?) happen to everybody.



Hilary said...

Right.. but how come they're so much more amusing when they happen to you?

You should "repost" the two previous faux pas(es) from your early column days. I still have them all if you need 'em. :)

Very funny, Frankie. And good for April for having such aplomb.

bobbie said...

A very refreshing incident, actually. And I'm sure that April is going to be just fine in this life.

Travis Erwin said...

Says a lot about your son that he never mentioned it.

Thumbelina said...

And I'm with Travis on this one. Says a lot about his father (and mother) too, that he is brought up that way.

Leah J. Utas said...

Must agree with the above. It says a great deal about your son that it never occurred to him to point that out to anyone.
Another amusing story, Frank. The personal ones are the best, and you told it in a gentle way as opposed to being overly harsh on yourself. Most effective.

Frank Baron said...

I might do that one of these days, Hil. In fact, I looked for them and found the French teacher story quite easily but couldn't find the other one. Of course, the last resort of the burned-out writer is the reprint.... ;)

Bobbie, I'm sure you're right. Thanks for the visit. :)

Yeah, he's a pretty good kid, Travis. (Don't tell him I said that - there'd be no living with him.)

Thanks Thumbelina. :)

Thanks Leah. I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised that folks seem to be taking that away from the story, rather than my cluelessness.

Skunkfeathers said...

I encounter "April" -- or at least her spirited peers -- at work. They are polite but very determined to refuse help and make their own way. Now, if one of them does ask for help, I go with it. If they don't, I respect it. Either way, I don't react with embarrassment any more; just respect for some genuine human courage.

Chicago Mary said...

Not to worry, Frank--we've all done things like this once or twice or more!

Charlie said...

*remains conspicuously silent*

Karen Fainges said...

It's a better wrl when people can just do whatthey want and terss let them. I have to agree, great tale.

Frank Baron said...

I agree Skunkfeathers. Many of us able-bodied folks could learn plenty about life by watching folks like April go about their business.

True enough Mary. But I'm waiting to hear a few details from others....

Like Charlie.... ;)

Thanks Karen. :)

Dianne said...

she sure sounds like a remarkable person
one of my son's friends, many years ago, showed up at the door. Jeff was in the shower and I was on the phone
I paid very little attention until his friend knocked over the trash can that stood in the entryway
I muttered "what are you, blind?"
and he said "yes, yes I am"

my face still starts burning when I think of that one

Frank Baron said...

Finally! Thank you Dianne! I've gotten a couple of emails with pretty embarrassing stories but yours is the first to rival mine in the blush-inducing department.

Godblessya. :)

And commiserations. ;)

Kappa no He said...

I agree, I really want to hear the Butt Story. And honest, I'd never heard a Rec Room called a Wreck Room. How clever!

Frank Baron said...

Kappa, trust me, the name is apt. And maybe I'll reprint/post that piece about ma professeur's derriere one of these days. :)

Grayquill said...

That was hilariously sad. I am so glad it happened to you and not me. Us men seem to do those misspeaks just a little more often than the ladies. I have always wondered about that especially since us men supposedly only have about 10,000 words a day to say and a woman has 25,000 words to say a day on average. It just doesn’t seem fair.

Frank Baron said...

Grayquill, I think it's just that most women of the female persuasion refuse to fess up about their boo-boos. We guys are more open and honest.

That's my theory and I'm stickin' to it. ;)

Anonymous said...

I like Mike's view and agree with him on this one. But, I feel for you!

Jenna said...

April sounds awesome. :)

David Streever said...

thanks for sharing frank

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Meredith. I'm not one to refuse pity. :)

That she is, Jenna. Good to see you. :)

Thanks for visiting, David. And for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it. :)