Hissy Fit — November 2014

Quit Ragging On Me... It's All Good


My mother glanced at the colorful dishcloth hanging from the handle of her oven door. As she noticed the cloth was slightly disheveled, she asked, “Did somebody wipe their hands on that dishcloth?”

Fully expecting for me to rat out one of my kids, I confidently admitted that I was the culprit, “I wiped my hands on that dishcloth. Why?” Of course I knew the answer. I learned a long time ago not to ask questions I don’t know the answer to.

So, I braced myself for what was coming.

“That is a pretty dishcloth and I don’t want anyone using it,” Mom said. “It is for looks.” I agreed that it is, indeed, a pretty dishcloth, adding, “But it’s a dishcloth.” That’s when Mom’s head spun around about 273° to emphatically let me know not to use the royal dishtowel again. I was reduced to, “Yes, ma’am.” A $3 dishrag had just put me in my place and moved to the front of the line.  Nonetheless, I knew something she didn’t know, and the rag wasn’t talking: I used it the last time I was there, too!

To my amazement, this particular, singular dishcloth had joined the ranks of the good towels, the good china and the good silverware—all items that are to be seen but not used. If one must use them, one must be a guest. Oh, we (meaning family) get to use them, too, if guests are present. Not the towels, though. They are for guest only, albeit begrudgingly. However, guests must be offered the use of the aforementioned said items. Should they use them of their own accord, disgust—although never displayed—sets in.

There is a rug in my mother’s den that she doesn’t want anyone to walk on. Yes, it is on the floor. No, we can’t fly, or jump that far, for that matter (It basically covers the entire room). We used to not be allowed to walk through the living room, either, because of the white—yes, solid white, wall-to-wall—carpeting. Thank God that’s gone, as it was covering original hardwood floors. Unfortunately, the only way to get to the back of the house, where all the bedrooms and bathrooms are, is either through the den or the living room. Mom has conceded to allowing people to walk on the rug, but I can see her cringe every time someone does, which is about every minute and a half if we are all there. I asked her if she had developed a tick. Her head started to spin and I mentioned how pretty the dishcloth is. That seemed to stop the spinning, if only temporarily.

Speaking of the “good” stuff, do you have Sunday clothes and Sunday shoes? I used to. My mother still does and she tries diligently to get me to, as well.

Mom: “You shouldn’t wear that just to go to the grocery store. You should save that for Sunday.”  
Me:  “Mom, it’s work clothes. I wear this all the time.”
Mom: “That doesn’t make it right.”
Me: “I don’t have Sunday clothes and Sunday shoes. My last pair of Sunday shoes was made by Stride Rite.”
Mom: “Well, with that attitude, I think a pair of Sunday shoes wouldn’t hurt you at all.”
Me: “I don’t have an attitude; I just don’t have stuff that I only wear on Sundays, just like I don’t save old clothes to wear to work in the yard.”
Mom: “That’s because you don’t work in the yard. But you still should save some old clothes just in case you decide to do something.”
Me: “I do work in the yard sometimes and I don’t want to save old clothes. I just want to wear whatever I want.”
Mom: “That’s your problem.”
Me: “Wow! That dishcloth is stunning.”
Mom: “It is; isn’t it?”

Author’s disclaimer (a necessity in order for me to have a happy Thanksgiving): I am so thankful for my mother, a seventh-generation South Carolinian, who is filled with Southern hospitality in every way. She made sure I grew up knowing the proper way to entertain, knowing how to work in the yard well into the night and knowing when to put out the guest towels. I understand where my mother is coming from. She grew up in the country in a time when the Great Depression defined life. A large portion of her childhood was spent without indoor plumbing, air conditioning or electricity. It amazes me that we are only one generation apart. She and my father worked hard to make sure my life was abundant. Thus, I have adopted the theory of “Life’s short, use the good china”—and I do!  The beauty is Mom can also see where I’m coming from. In fact, this Thanksgiving, as we come together at Mom’s (the same house since 1968), we just might put a little Dean Martin album on the stereo console and dance…right in the den on that beautiful, pristine rug. And, you know what? Mom will be right there with us… dancing, too. Happy Thanksgiving Mom—for you, and your good humor, I am and will be forever grateful. (I am also thankful for all the writing material you give me month after month after month. Maybe next time you won’t mind if I wipe my hands—they were clean—on the pretty dishcloth.)

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