I Like Coffee...Not You

Earlier this year, a student drew a picture of me and in his illustration, I was wearing a shirt that said "I LIKE COFFEE…NOT YOU."

When I mentioned to the secretary that I was planning to have the teacher across the hall with a cricut make the shirt for me, the secretary said, “Oh, that will be a fun shirt, but where will you wear it?  It’s not really appropriate for school.”

Oh, it’s not? Because I was planning to wear it on a Thursday, which is what I did last week.

The students loved it.  “Wheatzie!” they laughingly reprimanded me all day,  “you don’t like me?”

“Listen,” I would say with a smile and a shrug, “take from this shirt what you will.”

When I got home, I asked my older son to take a picture of me in the shirt so I could put it on my world-famous blog.  “Oh, Mom,” he said, patting my head.  “You’re delusional, but let’s go ahead and take a picture in case Grandpa decides to take five minutes out of his retirement gallivanting and read your little blog.”

Side note:  I was at Wal-Mart last week and hadn’t realized a man was waiting behind me as I perused the applesauce aisle.  “Oh, I’m sorry!” I said when I finally noticed him. I jumped aside so he could get by.

He shrugged and smiled.  “I’m retired,” he said simply.

I started laughing.  “My dad ALWAYS says that! I’m so jealous of you guys.  Congratulations, old man!”

My older son winced and nudged me as soon as he heard the words "old man" come out of my mouth, but he needn't have worried:  The retired man chuckled and high-fived me as he ambled on his merry way…because why rush when deciding between the cinnamon applesauce or the regular?  He was retired.

“How do you always do that?” a former student of mine once asked.  “Say the meanest things to people but they love you for it?”

“Now THAT, young grasshopper," I said, attempting (and failing for the millionth time in my life; you'd think I'd just accept the fact that I can't do it right and stop trying) a wise one-eyebrow raised look, "is a skill I’ve honed over many years of practice.  And here’s a little tip: make sure you’re practicing on someone you know and love who won’t punch you in the face.”

I learned that the hard way from an angry sister-in-law who WILL, in fact, metaphorically punch you in the face if she doesn’t like one of your jokes.  (I say “metaphorically” because she didn’t actually punch me in the face…instead, she knocked me backwards out of my chair.)

You should also make sure that the person knows you’re kidding.  Like a couple of weeks ago, when one of my 4th grade students laughed as she told me that her mom thinks I do a horrible job at dyeing my own hair…well, I don’t think her mom meant that lovingly or even in a joking way. I also don’t think her mom meant for her to repeat it.  But look, she was practicing her comedic skills in a safe place and I respect that.

I’ll never talk to her mom again, though.

My younger son once came to the teacher lunch table at school and made some rude comment about one of the teachers’ lunches.  It was something along the lines of “That looks gross…just like you!”

He is normally such a rule follower (almost annoyingly so; I’m trying to break him of the habit) that I was shocked.  I think I actually gasped.  “Why did you say that?” I said to him as the teachers watched the whole exchange in a sort of wide-eyed horror.

He gave me a broad smile, and I could tell that he really wanted me to be proud of him.  “I’m being like you, Mom!  Saying something really mean and then people will laugh!”

“I’ve had LOTS of practice, son,” I muttered as I quickly steered him away from the table and out to recess.

Anyway, as my older son grabbed my phone, I gave him the speech that I always do when he takes a picture for me:  “You know you’ll probably have to take 100 until we get one that I like.  No, no…stand up on the couch so you get it from a higher angle…okay, now wait until I’m situated…hang on, let me turn my face and bend my knee unnaturally like Aunt Vickie taught me…”

“MOM,” he said.  “Why don’t you just ask Dad to do it?”

“Because Dad has no patience and I can’t boss him around like I can my children.”

One day my sisters and I were out somewhere together—it was probably our annual family bowling night or one of our kids’ birthday parties or something—and we all kept snapping pictures, texting them to each other so that nobody missed anything. At one point I said to them, “It is seriously NOT EVEN POSSIBLE for me to take a bad picture today!  I look awesome in every one!  Please keep taking pictures of me—candids work fine, too—so I can add them to my modeling portfolio.”  I flopped this way and that, spreading my arms out wide, planting my hands on my hips, giving them all sorts of photo ops.

They both shot me pitying looks, but they agreed that there were, in fact, some days in which a person is so very photogenic that there’s no such thing as a bad angle, and there are other days where no matter what a person does—mess with the lighting, have the photographer get so aerial that he’s actually flying in a helicopter, suck in the stomach—that person will still look like crap in every single picture.

That’s the kind of day it was—the crappy picture kind of day—when my son was taking shots of me showing off my I LIKE COFFEE…NOT YOU shirt.

Which is really a shame because now you guys can’t see how beautiful I really am. 

There’s always next time.

After the 20th attempt, we finally gave up.  “Mom,” my son suggested, “why don’t you send it to Aunt Vickie and see what she can do? She’s like, filter queen.”

My older sister will take offense to that, but it’s true.  If anyone can take a picture and fix it so that you look 20 pounds skinnier and at least half your age, it’s my older sister Vickie.  She’s 46 years old but looks like one of the Olsen twins from their Full House years on her Facebook profile picture.

I sent her my pic:

Give me a bit, she texted back.  I’m at the store but will work on it when I get home.

About an hour later, I heard my phone buzz.  This is the magic that Vickie had worked on my picture, which she had sent back along with these not-so-encouraging words:  I couldn’t really help that much

You think??

Thanks for trying, sis, I texted her, but don’t you think people will notice that you just cut off half of my body?

Well what else was I supposed to do? she wrote back. 

For some odd reason, it reminded me of the time an old friend (now a sworn enemy, but that’s a story for another post) worked as a personal assistant to a guy who had just had to have his leg amputated.  As she was making dinner for him one night, he mentioned how great he felt.  “I got on the scale this morning, and I’ve lost 15 pounds over the last few weeks!”

She paused over the spaghetti sauce, debating whether or not she should point out the obvious.  She chose to go ahead and do so; they had that kind of relationship.

“Um…you just got your leg cut off…?”

She watched as realization dawned on her employer’s face.  He was devastated that his 15-pound weight loss wasn’t actually due to all of the non-existent hours he had recently spent at the gym, but instead to literally getting a part of his body cut off.  

She felt kind of bad for bringing it up.

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