I Always Know

I always know what people think.

This is a blessing and a curse. It’s akin to saying I am never wrong

but thankfully I stopped doing that a few years ago.

I was once in Walmart with my mom before she died looking for nails, hammers, and hooks. She had never been to Walmart and wasn’t sure she wanted to go inside as she worried one of her friends might see her there. For the very same reason she would never go alone to the movies as someone might see her and think,” Look at poor Olive Watson all alone in the movies.”

She had to spend a lot of time thinking about what other people might think of her as she was a girl who had come a long way in the world. She grew up in a family with no money but rich relatives: a hard combo to balance. She was given many dresses outgrown by Cousin Edwina and most were ripped, dirty, and very expensive. She resorted to modeling to make money of her own to buy new dresses but by then she had nurtured her own inferiority complex into a downright strait jacket.

I loved my mother. Despite her fragility she was a lot of fun. In my beginnings she didn’t know what to do with me. I was argumentative, expressed my emotions, cried often and spent a lot of time running away. As I recall no one looked for me.

Plus, I always knew what she was thinking. Useful to know when your enemy is fearful.

I don’t remember what I did when I ran away, only that I never had the good sense to bring a book with me.

A hurricane has crept up the Atlantic this week hovering off the coast of Maine advancing like a row of Northern militia but in the wrong direction. An approaching hurricane brings out the hoarder in everyone. People hoard batteries, food, toilet paper, and bad moods that need aspirin.

Driver’s honk, couples bicker, and I know what everyone is thinking. As usual.

People are hoping for a little action from the hurricane: a tree crashing into the porte cochere, an escaped boa constrictor, maybe a sudden tidal wave engulfing all of Connecticut. People are so different now than from three years ago when there was still lightheartedness sticking to the branches of the trees just prior to the advent of Fall.

In Italy they have a giant claw on the back of a medium truck and they use this contraption to slip under olive trees and clamp down on the trunks and shake all the olives into an upside down umbrella.

I’m thinking now that would be a good invention for changing the moods of people everywhere. Scoop them up, one by one, shake them, and send them into a chute that delivers them to tomorrow in a happier mood.

Anyway, when my mother was in Walmart with me many years ago she didn’t believe I knew where to go in the store to find what we needed. Walmart’s are the same everywhere. If you’ve been in one you know the deal. I insisted we go to aisle 17 and there lay a glistening row of hammers. She picked one up in her fragile hand, made as if to hammer something with it, turned it upside down, and carefully replaced it in the row of hammers. I knew a pronouncement was coming. I waited. This time I realized I didn’t know what she was thinking.

“You know what?” my mother asked emphatically, “The reason you don’t have a husband is that you are just too competent.”

She may be right.

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