Thursday, February 20, 2014

as usual, I refrained

Chucks for Chuck.

I was typing my grocery list into a note in my phone the other day. My old way of grocery listing was the ubiquitous pad and ballpoint pen my dad taught me to carry always; those trusty partners have served me and my lack of short-term memory well over the years. But lately I'm getting into this smart phone thing, and my new method of listing is to scribble needed items on the white board then transfer them into my phone. I have no idea if this process saves or costs me time, but it does keep me from ever losing my list.

So anyway, I'm typing the list, and I get to refried beans, which my phone autocorrects to refrained beans. This accidental correction cracks me up for way longer than it should, perhaps because of the irony of the autocorrect in telling me what I already know. Yes, thank you phone, maybe refried beans aren't such a good idea after all.

Somehow this typo got me thinking about restraint. Another contributor was Becky's tweet wondering when we're all going to be rewarded for our ladylike behavior. Yes! I wonder this all the time, and the only answer I can ever come up with is that at least we get to laugh later?

Take, for instance, a family I encountered yesterday while the kids and I were sledding (please!). We're at that giant hill in our neighborhood with the view of Boston, the same one from last weekend. As you can see in that video, there are lots of families all sledding at the same time. We, each of the families, follow some kind of unspoken Yankee sledding protocol.

Boot-height snow. It's a doozy. 

I am a quick-study on the social order of things, so I'm pretty good at the rules already: stay to the right if you're faster, yell "look out!" if anyone's about to bite it, make sure your kids aren't getting in everyone's way, keep to yourselves and talk amongst your own--unless of course one of my kids wipes out, then I flash a grin at the family next to me because all grown-ups appreciate a good kid wipe-out. The best yesterday was when I sent the girls down on separate sleds at the same time; at the exact moment Vivi wiped out, Charlie veered off in Vivi's direction and sledded OVER Vivi. It was fantastic.

I'm getting to the refraining part, I swear. As I was saying, we encountered the most bizarre family yesterday. The family is made up of a few kids, a few adults, and a grandma figure, and they relentlessly, comically get in everyone's way. The kids will stop midway down the hill and just seem to lay there forever; no one in the family offers assistance. The adults mill about in the walking path, talking amongst themselves and generally ignoring all of us. But they seem to be sledding for the first time, so I let it go. Plus, if you know me, you know I will let a situation get incredibly ridiculous before I say anything. Even then, I might not say anything.

I should mention a contributing factor in yesterday's comedy of errors was that surprisingly few locals were present. I know this because I was giving a dad sledding tips, and I am NOT the sled guru by any means. Because it's February vacation week up here (a kind of mid-winter spring break, only with more snow), I figure most of the locals are up north skiing somewhere. The absence of locals is notable because, as I've often said in the past, Bostonians don't let anyone get away with anything. If you make any errors, you're going to hear about it posthaste.

In this case, the lack of locals means that just as it seems like this family couldn't be more annoying, the grandma pulls out a bag of disgusting-smelling snacks (dried fish, maybe?), and the ENTIRE FAMILY sits down right in the middle of the big hill to eat them. If that weren't enough (and it is), the sleds of the two young boys periodically roll downhill by themselves. Following sledding etiquette, the other children present offer assistance by lugging the sleds back up to them, which is no easy feat, only to have it happen again moments later.

Finally, a type-A New Englander walks up, grabs the sleds, and hurls them uphill. They do not seem to notice even this act of silent aggression. As I told Nate the story later, I realized it was like watching a silent Charlie Chaplin movie. Fortunately it was the kind of bad that is funny, which allowed me to share plenty of empathetic glances with other families. This feels like a big win for me, as these Yankees are a tough nut to crack, y'all.

Have you encountered anyone lately who refuses to follow social rules? What do you do when this happens?

Stay warm! xoxo ~J

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