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Friday, July 06, 2007

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Mother Tongue

Last week, I left a voicemail for an editor, a person I aspire to work with and upon whom I would like to impress a certain air of decorum and professionalism. That whole neurotic, hapless, flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, Wendy-among-the-Lost-Boys thing? Ha-ha! Merely my literary persona, my dear. I can turn it on or off at will.

Then I heard myself blurting hastily, "I have to go now. The baby is naked, and he has a hammer."

What I hope is that she has layers of interns who screen her messages and deliver only what is deemed essential information. Without comment.

It could always be worse, of course. I could have waited to make that call this week. Then I might have closed with something like:

"I have to go. The baby is locked in the dog crate."

"I have to go. They are making a contest of jumping over the dog pee on the floor."

"I have to go. They just lassooed the ceiling fan."

I forget sometimes just how wide the divide is between my world and the world of glass towers, carpeted cubicles, boardroom meetings and panty hose. The days when I dwelt in it seem like a dream to me now. Like a language I once spoke, but have not used in years and have all but forgotten.

I'll never forget the first time I realized just how far away I had drifted. I was at a potluck supper, and got chatting with a woman who held a full-time day job outside her home. We had babies close in age, and enjoyed our conversation enough to want to pick it up another time.

"Let me write down your number," I said, fumbling through my diaper bag for paper and a pen. I had so far only come up with the pen, when she handed me a small card.

"Oh, thanks," I said, automatically flipping it over to the blank side, pen poised. "Now, what was that number?"

She looked at me like maybe she was having second thoughts.

"Uh, it's printed on the card," she said, turning it over for me. "Right there."

I stared at it in wonder.

"I remember these," I said. "I used to have boxes of them. With my name on them."

And to think, back then, I didn't even need help remembering it.

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Blogger Kirsten Michelle said...

i linked over here from jen (lemen's) site a few weeks ago and have been hooked ever since!!! you are a truly gifted writer!
i'm a fellow canadian...still living in canada :-)...who spends her days at home with her 8 year-old son and 4-year old daughter.
thanks for making me laugh out loud...

2:44 PM  
Blogger Laylabean said...

Ugh - I hear you! Just this morning I was talking to a client and had to hang up rapidly because we discovered the gerbils were out. Hopefully he caught my meaning amid the shrieks coming from my daughters.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Erika said...

Hi- just a note to say I heard your CBC interview this morning. Sounded good. Be interesting to use Technorati to track how many new visitors you get from NL this week!

7:47 AM  
Blogger a happier girl said...

Very funny. Especially about the baby with the hammer. If the person on the other end that hears it has kids, I'd think she'd like you even more after hearing that. It's very identifiable. We've all been there.

8:19 PM  

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