There’s a time and a place for every critique. What about when your teenage son wipes pancake batter from the frying pan with a paper towel, while telling a story, and then rinses the pan and swipes at the leftover grease with a dishcloth hanging nearby — and then re-hangs the towel? Nope, not one of those times.
The time was no riper, a moment later, when he poured powder into a cup over the counter, and not over the sink, as I’ve asked. “Duuude,” I was dying to say, but alas, it wasn't one of those times. Busy talking and sharing, he was on a roll. “Don’t mess it up!” I admonished myself, as Noah volunteered his strong reaction to a film his professor showed in class that reportedly documents an apparent correlation between nutrition and longevity as related to some folks in Ecuador (or something like that). “Don’t do it!” my better self whispered, while the pan, not actually washed, was returned to the cupboard. “Resist!” I coached myself, as I calculated whether it really was that dirty. “Resist!” And so I did. And the conversation continued.
By the time I tuned back in he’d moved on to "quality of life vs. longevity." We debated the pros and cons of each, with Noah promoting the merits of a life of balance, of finding the sweet-spot between the two. Good for you, kid. “Death claims us all, eventually,” he said. Which reminded me of the epitaph I’d been urged to draft for some fun game or other mischief my co-workers cooked up, it being Halloween and all. Oh, golly, mine’s a work in progress (It’s not easy to imagine such a thing!”), but here’s what I’ve got so far:
She skinned her knee,
she scraped her nose,
‘twas not the end of Jen DuBose.
Gout fared no better.
Too much gumption
she went hang-gliding, instead.
She flew so high,
she touched the sky,
where she is, who knows!
“She’s dead,” they said.
Her kite was found,
when it touched down.
It’s buried here instead!
“Ha ha!” I laughed out loud, after he left for the gym and I poured food in the dog’s bowl whilst conjuring another ridiculous line.
“What?” Holly asked, as she jogged downstairs to put on her shoes before school. “You’re high,” she decided, after I shared my silliness.
“Oh yes, my darling, I try.” But, oh lord, I know! ’Tis a heinous butchering of rhyme scheme, for sure. Rest in peace, rhyme scheme! Distracted, a moment later I skidded rather ungracefully ‘cross the kitchen floor, now slick with water recently sloshed from the Big Red Dog’s bowl. “I almost killed myself!” I said. It’s too soon! Gotta hang-glide, instead. You know, first. But not quite yet. Back from the gym, Noah rushed to get ready for class.
“Can I wear gray shorts with this shirt?”
“Absolutely,” I said, smiling, as hang-gliding and dying both now postponed, receded into the ether. Got kids to launch, a pot of soup to put on and, yes, a counter to wipe.
“People fear death,” Noah had said, earlier that morning, “but we’re all going to the same place.” Amen to that. And no one will care how clean my dishtowel is when I get there.
“What will your epitaph be?” I asked as Noah scarfed down a meal at the kitchen island.
“I like [Faulkner’s] ‘So it goes,’” he said, as a batch of dusty junk mail slid quietly to the floor from the shelf where he rested his foot. Ahh. So it goes, indeed.
Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.