5 February 2015

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

Aunt Mary. My Version
My parents used to compare me to my dads Scottish Auntie. Whenever I’d do something I considered adorable, they’d look at each other knowingly and say ‘She’s just like Aunt Mary’.  I was flattered! In my mind Mary had bouncy auburn hair, and a jaunty kilt which would swing merrily around her as she danced on moors spreading sunshine and merriment. In my imagination she was radiant. In reality, I found out years later, she was a shrew. 

So in an effort not to be a scowling old battleaxe, I often force myself to smile.  I figure that if I make my mouth move up, the mood will follow. But the thing is, my heart is not always in compliance. There are some days when I feel like I’m just holding at Mary at bay. But hopefully, I’m the only one to notice. 

Such was not the case as I went skidding down the street this morning with my hound dog, Jed. We’d just been walloped by a winter storm and we were doing our short-legged best (yes, me too) to navigate our way down the street. My feet were cold,  zipper had busted and I had a real hate on for old man winter.

Aunt Mary. For Real.
At that moment I bumped into a neighbour who was shovelling snow off his car. ‘Hey’, he said jovially, ‘my car is absolutely buried!’ I was baffled by his positivity. I also didn’t understand why he needed to point out the obvious. I stared at him blankly then blurted out the first thing that came to mind, ‘Well that’s a crummy way to start the day,’ I replied; my tone attempting to match his level of cheer.

My neighbour cocked his head and leaned on his shovel. I guess I’d failed in the cheery department. I heard the tone of my voice and  recognized  more Mary than merry. Now I understood what Linda Blair felt like in the exorcist. Like me, she was channelling a much stronger force and wasn’t always in control of what came out of her mouth (Pea soup, in her case. Hostility in mine).

‘Well,’ my neighbour said earnestly, ‘It’s just a way to start the day.’ Ah. I stood corrected. And I thought for a second about what he said and realized that he was right. He reminded me of two things. Firstly, I shouldn’t always feel the need to have a comeback. Sometimes a statement is just a statement and doesn’t need and additions (I should have just stuck with my fake smile). Secondly, not everything has to be positive or negative. Sometimes something just a way. Not a bad way.

I felt that his small correction had given me another tool to use against becoming possessed by the black soul of Aunt Mary. A simple trick of language to eliminate negativity. Still, I kind of wanted to punch him in the face. The excessive earnestness was a bit much, and if he hadn’t wanted feedback he shouldn’t have announced that he was cleaning of the car.

There it was – my inner crabby. The worst part of my DNA. However , as I’d learned a positive lesson that day,  it cancelled out my inner shrew. One point for me. One point for Aunt Mary. I plastered on my fake smile, and walked a way.