My pink baby blanket was my greatest childhood defense against unreasonable and upsetting parents. Suggestions from Mom and Dad to turn off the TV after 4 straight hours of cartoons or clean up the kitchen after my attempt to create the ultimate chocolate chip cornbread cookie loaf (failed, need I say) sometimes offended my 7-year-old pride.
Times like these, I ran screaming upstairs to my bedroom and closed the door. Then I remembered that a good, hard slam is usually more effective, so I opened it and gave it a yank closed that left my ears ringing. I was still screaming, though, so I didn't notice too much.
Next in the routine was to lay down on my back on the bed and pound the wall with my feet in blue lace-trimmed socks. This angry perpendicular march pounded into my head just how mad I was. And when that wore off I got even more mad that no one answered my pounding and I had to keep going even though my hamstrings were getting tight.
Once I convinced myself that the soles of my feet were developing blisters, I performed a graceful decrescendo in my foot parade with all the dignity I could muster. It was part of the plan. Silence, I told myself, would speak more loudly to my parents, who would worry they had driven me to some unheard terror.
Eventually I heard dinner plates being set at the table, casseroles being pulled from the oven, and - most insulting - my siblings laughing at some joke they shared without me. Did they not understand the complete injustice committed against me? Wouldn't they be having more fun if I were down there with them? ... and wouldn't I?
I wanted to be down at dinner, like none of this had ever happened, but I wanted my family to feel guilty and amend their wrongs. In short, I had put myself in a fix. With an ingenuity attesting to my mental development at the time, I found the perfect solution. I would pull my pink baby blanket over my head, Cousin It style, and go downstairs. The blanket would be a strong visual signal to them that apologies were in order. But I would still get to eat dinner.
I don't know how many times I went through this routine before growing out of it, but even now there are times I wonder if I'm still wearing my pink baby blanket.
This afternoon I called Abe after work to see what he wanted to do tonight. After a brief conversation that led to no real conclusion, he suddenly seemed to get very short with me.
I immediately went on the defensive: "Great. I just call him to see how his day was, to show that I'm so excited to spend the evening together, to give him cheerful ending to his workday, and here he has the nerve to get upset because I'm interrupting his work or being indecisive about what to do tonight. It's not I knew he'd be in the middle of something. He didn't have to answer the phone. Maybe I wanted to decide what to do together, be considerate of his feelings and mood."
Of course, that was all a mental note. My actual conversation went something like. "Okay. ... Well. ... Yeah. ... Bye." (click).
Which was also what I said an hour later when Abe called to say that he was on his way home. Except maybe without the "Bye" on my end. After all, the nerve of him.
When he got home I was out on the front lawn reading a book. I was laying on a blanket, but I may as well have had it over my head. After a minute Abe said, "So, I think you may have thought I was mad at you earlier on the phone."
I looked up, somewhat surprised. He wasn't even going to give me a chance to pound my feet against the wall?
He continued, "You see, I was about to sneeze, so ... you know how it gets. My words, my breath, got really short. But I was just trying not to sneeze."
That's why we could never do a long-distance relationship. He just doesn't do well over the phone.