This very terrible trait I have, this tendency to say inappropriate things, where does it come from?
It’s not much of a mystery. I’m surrounded by friends and loved ones who say inappropriate things.
Benjamin and I listened attentively as coworker Stephanie described her course work to become a speech teacher. Although I had studied linguistics in college, I had never delved into speech language pathology. Apparently, it’s very deep.
“Fetuses? What does that have to do with it?” said Benjamin, after Stephanie said she had spent an entire class period looking at fetal development pictures and needed to write an essay about it.
“Because most of these speech problems come from birth defects,” said Stephanie. “We had to look at like two hundred of these pictures!”
“Sounds exhausting,” I said. “And somewhat disturbing.”
“Aw, I thought they were cute! Such adorable little monkey fish baby things!"
Benjamin coughed in surprise. “Is that seriously how you’re going to describe the miracle of human life?”
“I’m sorry, but that’s what fetuses look like. Monkey fish baby things.”
The waitress had just placed our bowls in front of us, but after my phone buzzed for the fifth time, I couldn’t resist checking the screen. “Sorry! It’s all these birthday greetings! I don’t mean to be rude,” I said to my grandmother, who was treating me to lunch.
“Oh, no, sweetie! You respond to those birthday greetings! I understand,” she assured me.
“What is it?”
“It isn’t a birthday greeting after all. It’s Sandy and Randi messaging me about our upcoming New Years Eve party. Something about a choice between wine or Fruit Loop flavored vodka…”
Grandma nodded, sipping her tea. “Go for the vodka,” she said. “It’ll get the job done quicker.”
On Christmas Eve, we all sat around looking at family pictures together on the big screen, from a hard drive connected to Dad’s Apple TV. Matt got up to get more pizza and asked if I would like any. Before I could answer, I was distracted by the boisterous after-dinner conversation.
“And do you know how I learned to swim?” my brother Josh said, when the discussion turned toward the swimming pool in grandma’s yard, filled in a few years ago to make a garden when she and grandpa grew tired of maintaining it. “Dad was all like, ‘Go down the slide without your floaties on! I’ll catch you!’ And did he catch me? No!”
Everyone laughed, including Josh, who went on to say, “And you wonder why I have trust issues!”
“That’s just like how my brothers taught me to swim,” our other grandpa said. “They rowed me out to the middle of the pond and threw me in! And I’ll tell you what, the hardest part was getting out of that sack. After that, swimming was easy!”
“You mean to say you have no idea what your test will be about?” I asked Kristina who was freaking out.
“It’s not in the text book?”
“No, he went over the whole thing in class!” she lamented.
“Were you absent that day? Couldn’t you just borrow the notes from someone else?”
“No, I was there! But it was just so boring! So boring, and the room was really warm and the chair was really comfortable, so like I was fighting sleep the whole time and I have NO IDEA what he was talking about,” she said, slouching defeated in her chair. “After the first ten minutes, he could have been talking about how to make baby soup for all I know.”
I stopped short as her last sentence sank in. “Baby soup?” I asked.
She nodded. “Baby soup.”
“The whole world of provocative topics to choose from and you go with baby soup?”
“You need to know how comfortable that chair was!”
I had just rolled another gutter ball to no one’s surprise but my own. “I really thought I’d get it that time…” I said, sitting down with my friends as Matt got up to take his turn. Dave patted my shoulder consolingly.
“You’ll get it,” said Sarah.
“All we have to do,” said Alex, continuing a conversation I was late to join, “is gather them all up and put them on an island.”
“To what end?” said Zach.
“To their end!” said Alex. “Just get rid of the lot of them and never look back!”
Dave nodded sagely. “They’d all die off eventually.”
“You don’t think they’d just escape the island and come back?” asked Sarah.
“That’s the way with politicians!” said Dave. “They’d just keep delegating everything. Before they could search for food, they’d have to form a coconut finding committee, then the coconut picking committee, then the coconut preparation committee and the coconut distribution committee…”
“I mean, we’d at least leave them tools and things! No one would be able to say we left them all there to die!” said Alex.
“And waste perfectly good tools?” said Zach. “Oh, heck no!”
Board games in the Hamilton house are serious business, comparable to gladiatorial combat, as I was reminded over the family vacation last summer when, in a riveting game of King of Tokyo, Curtis’s tiny cardboard giant monster killed off all of our tiny cardboard giant monsters one by one. Matt and I watched as it all came down to Curtis and Leann, son vs. mother.
And then Curt annihilated Leann with a single roll of the dice.
“Bastard!” she cried.
“Leann,” I said meekly. “What does it mean when you call your own son a bastard?”
It means we all say inappropriate things.