Since all two of you decided to vote on which story you'd like me to tell (I can see that my readers are an opinionated lot), here it is. I aim to please.
But first, I have to preface the story by saying that this is just a typical mother-of-teenage-daughters story. It's nothing too out of the ordinary for us because my big mouth regularly gets me in trouble with my kids.
Kind of like the day someone stole my parking place at the mall. Never one to let things go, I rolled down my window and yelled at the young lady in the snazzy sports car who stole the spot. "Hey, I was waiting for that spot!"
She just stared at me like "Yeah lady-in-a-mini-van, whatever."
So I added this great zinger, "I have an old lady in the car!"
Yes, it's true, that day I not only embarrassed my children, but I also embarrassed my mother.
Or another example from just this past weekend. While working in the front yard, I saw that the "kids" two doors down were gearing up for another of their famous parties. So I politely stopped the young man carrying a case of beer under his arm.
"Hi. I just wanted to make sure you know about the city ordinance that says that quiet hours start at 11:00."
"Uh, yeah. The owner does."
"Well, good. Just be sure to reminder her that QUIET HOURS START AT 11:00!"
Yeah lady-wearing-gardening-gloves. Whatever.
Then I heard him say to his buddy hiding behind the house next door, "Some lady wants us to know about quiet hours. Whatever."
Seriously, I should have earned a Ph.D. in embarrassment by now.
The girls think there's something I can actually do about my behavior. Just yesterday one of them said, "Mom, maybe if you knew how we felt, you'd try a little harder."
Like I can stop myself.
So those examples make my telling of the secret nickname story kind of tame. But here you go anyway. . . .
Kate has a friend in her class at school. I'll just call him Ernie Tiddlywinks to protect the innocent. Kate says he's a funny guy who makes her laugh all the time in English.
Abby also knows Ernie because he is the section leader for her section of the orchestra. Ernie also makes Abby laugh.
So Kate and Abby talk about Ernie sometimes at home and have given him the nickname "Uncle Tiddlywinks." Funny, huh? Not. But whatever.
I, being the embarrassing mother, just assumed that that's what everyone at school calls Ernie.
So last February, when I chaperoned that orchestra trip to the University of Illinois, I finally got to meet the infamous "Uncle Tiddlywinks." I figured out who he was, walked up to him and said, "Hi! Are you Ernie?"
"Uh, yes," he says, looking at me like the lady with two heads instead of the lady with the mini-van or the lady wearing gardening gloves.
You know, really, the strange look I get from people should be my first clue that something stupid is going to come flying out of my mouth any minute.
But, unaware of the who-are-you? look in his eyes, I press on.
"Uncle Tiddlywinks, right?!" I exclaim, as if I've hit the jackpot on coolness.
"What?" Confusion reigns in his eyes.
Abby, standing right next to me, suddenly has taken on a horrified expression.
"Uncle Tiddlywinks! You know, your nickname?" I desperately try to gain control of a situation that seems to be running in the opposite direction.
Abby grabs me by the arm, gives me the pleading "stop it, Mom" look, and says something like, "Oh, she's just kidding."
Too late, I realize that I have just totally messed up. I've done it again. I've embarrassed my daughter. Once we got away from Ernie, I asked Abby, "What just happened there?"
"Mom, he doesn't know we call him Uncle Tiddlywinks!" Gulp.
"Well, I didn't know that! Why didn't you tell me?!" I suddenly felt like being swallowed up by the cement floor I'm standing on wouldn't be such a bad idea.
Dear Ernie could not have been sweeter or more gracious about my sudden faux pas. He just laughed it off and we went on with our conversation. But the following week in class, he must have said something to Kate because she came home saying the same thing Abby had said. "Mom, why did you DO that?!"
I have no explanation.
Apparently all's well that ends well, though, because just a couple of weeks ago the girls told me that Ernie has asked both of them--just them, mind you, nobody else--if they would please just call him Uncle Tiddlywinks. He thinks it's cool.