Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Off to a Flying Start
That was exciting! Food on Foot won by a landslide. Thank you all for helping out. I'm sure you had everything to do with the big win. You should feel proud. Suzy promises to capitalize proper names from now on. Very exciting. I heard from her in the midst of the climb to the top. I'll let you know what she tells me about winning the big enchilada.
My own fund raising efforts did not go as smoothly. In fact, I had one of the embarrassing things that has ever happened to me occur in the midst of it. Thank the Lord, just this once for people who insist on answering their cell phones no matter who they are with and no matter what is going on. About to say, "I do"? "Hold on, I have to take this."
Once a year, around the first, I get an invitation to a very wealthy lady's home for tea. While I'm there she gives me a check for the retired nuns home. It's always just a little awkward because although giving me the check is the reason she has invited me to tea and she does it every year, but she pretends it's all about having me to tea and I have to behave accordingly. At the end of the tea she makes a little speech about all the good nuns do and how she wants to give to the nuns who taught her so well, etc. Then she writes out a check as though she's never done that before. It's all lovely, but I have to get through High Tea.
I know everyone views nuns as people who are very proper and polite with impeccably clean fingernails (true about the fingernails). But the truth is, because we lead a humble life, High Tea makes me, at least, feel like Clumsetta McGooglefingers.
Today was the day. She lives in the neighborhood so I hoofed on over. She answered the door, cell phone in hand, and signaled me to have a seat. I have to admit I immediately felt less awkward, because after someone does that to you, what do you have left to feel awkward about? Famous last questions.
Her home is done in antique furniture. Just another reason to feel ill at ease, since you don't want to bump, break, ding, mar or smudge anything thereby lessening it's value. And of course everything is white, beige, ecru.
I sat on a small antique chair there in the foyer. White. Needlepoint seat cushion. Lucky for me, she had the wherewith all to pop into the next room to continue her conversation, unlike so many people who will let you just stand there while they prattle on as though you don't exist.
I did what I always do in such situations. I looked down at my feet.
There was something bulging out from under my shoe. I crossed by foot across my knee to have a look. There was the most enormous wad of gum I have ever seen in my whole life. (I have been teaching grade school my whole life and I have seen wads of gum an elephant herd could share.) The gum covered the whole toe of my shoe on the bottom and then lolled up the side of the shoe on one side like the Blob. I do not have small feet. This is a lot of acreage.
Horrified but unseen, I used by impeccably clean fingernails to pull the gum off my shoe. I dug my fingers into it, figuring I'd have time to wash my hands before the arrival of any cucumber sandwiches. I pulled.
I'm not sure I can describe what happened. The gum stayed. I pulled straight up into the air and now had a string of gum stretching from my shoe to my hand the entire length of my arm. (I have long arms, too.) Now I was really alarmed. Can you imagine if she'd come into the room just then, me sitting with a wad of gum in my impeccably clean hand stretching to my shoe, sitting with my foot crossed over my knee, still with an enormous wad of gum on my shoe on her antique chair over the Oriental carpet?
I looked to see where she was. She was pacing pack and forth in the other room. All she had to do was look in my direction to see this horrific scene.
Frantically, I grabbed the gum on my shoe again with my other hand, digging into it to really get under it. I pulled. Now I had a string of gum in my left hand as long as the length of my left arm, making a sort of gum triangle. If she had looked in on me just then she would have seen the nun with her foot crossed over her knee, both arms over her head, with two giant strings of blue bubble gum going in two different directions like some kind of filthy gum puppeteer of nun shoes.
I was utterly panic stricken. Both of my hands were tied with gum, the string was so long that if I put my arms down the goo would touch the carpet or the chair, the giant wad of gum was still on my shoe as though I hadn't touched it and surely, surely she would be off the phone any second. What could I possibly say to her if she walked in right now?
"I am so looking forward to tea. Please ignore that I am draped in the gum from my shoe."
I kept pulling at the gum, re-wadding it from hand to hand, pulling it off in more giant stretches. Still she blabbed on.
I'm sure time slowed down as it always does when something horrible is happening.
I managed to get the big wad off my shoe. Now what? I just walked over for tea. I didn't bring a thing with me, not even a hankie. I always have a hankie. I was in the foyer. I had a fleeting maniacal idea that I could try to pass it off as some sort of gum rosary and hang it from my belt in loops.
I am about to tell you what I did with that gum. As I try to lead by example, I am warning you ahead of time that if you follow me you'll burn in hell.
I stuck that gum on the bottom of that antique chair. Me!
Do you know how many children I have had stand in the corner, or scrape gum off of desk bottoms, or write a thousand times "I will not chew gum in school"? I'll guesstimate. About two million.
Oh, the irony!
In retrospect, I could have palmed the gum until I went to the washroom to wash my hands. I just panicked is all. I think if the gum, as enormous as it was, had just come off easily, I would have figured that out. But once it became the Killer Gum From Outer Space, I lost my marbles. Now I know why people in horror movies never do what the audience is yelling at them to do. They are being attacked by giant blue bubble gum and they have lost their marbles. Poor things.
The tea was lovely. I acted surprised when she presented me with the check. I'll mail it off to the Mother House and try not to get gum all over it.
Next year, when I'm invited to tea, I'll try to get that gum back.