Pantomime My Ass

How are we supposed to conduct ourselves when it comes to acquaintances? I have learned some valuable lessons in my time when it comes to dealing with people I hardly know. Like when and how to say hello and goodbye and what small talk is. Some other lessons follow.

1. I am not as funny as I would like to think I am

2. I probably shouldn't do it

3. A lot of people don't think baby wipes are all that funny.

There are these mommies that come to the parks every day. I take our child and they take theirs. We see the same kids, we know who has missed nap time, we know their names, we know their favorite things to do at the park.

These parks are small and after a while, you are just sitting there, playing with your child, or letting him/her run around while you keep an eye out and a foot on home base. I didn't talk to any of these people until recently.

But now we are on a "hello" basis. The small talk has revealed one mommy is actually a nanny and that she is a Polish immigrant brought to teach the children Polish while they are also learning English. It is working because thats all they speak at the park when they talk to eachother.

So we have exchanged our names and the names of our children, food likes and dislikes, bike helmet tips, swimming and sandbox toy preferences and baby wipes.

I was briefly confused about etiquette when it came to hello and goodbye with this particular acquaintance. I said hello when we first met the other day, but was across the playground and engaged with my child when out of the corner of my eye I noticed they were fixing to leave. I wondered should I call out a goodbye? I chose to ignore their departure and focus upon my whole reason for being at the park in the first place, my own little one.

Other decisions have not been so decisively made. I was a courier for a color separation company a ways back. They took film, back when people used film, digitized it, cleaned it up, and then turned it back into film. They made color corrections, they took out a mole, they made the teeth a little whiter, they put in a background which never existed. That sort of thing. I was driving a Honda that buzzed in and out of traffic. Everything was always a rush. It was the mid nineties. You could feel that something big was going to happen, but no one was sure how it was going to pan out.

It was on this route that I cannot forget a particular stinging experience.

Everyday, I would gas up at the 76 station near the shop. Everyday the same girl worked the register. I don't think I ever learned her name. I was engaged to be married at the time, so learning the names of cashier girls was not a priority.

What I cannot forget is this: One day, after spilling some gasoline on my hands, I went inside to pay. I asked for the key to the restroom and the cashier pulled a box of baby wipes and with a friendly smile told me to use it instead. In one of those crystal clear moments, where the joke came in a flash, and without any hesitation or wink in my eye, I quickly said " Oh, thanks." and proceeded to pantomime dropping my pants and wiping my ass. My face exuded relief and pleasure, as if I had been wearing a dirty diaper and I finally had a chance to clean myself up. "Ohhhhh, thats it." She was horrified. The silence between us was uncomfortable as she rang me up. I signed for the gas and never returned to that 76 station.

Paul, Jul 18 2005 8:35AM

that baby wipes pantomime joke - hilarious!
i would've laughed.

i run into the same problem, i am not sure what the proper etiquette is when it comes to seeing the same person everyday is. plus i have been told that my humor is very dry. that deadly combo my girlfriend states makes me akward and that i come off like i'm superior to everyone else. which is the complete opposite of what i really perceive my self as.

mark, Jul 18 2005 5:31PM

i get the feeling your mommy-friends might not catch the subtlety of humor from the same sight gag.

sandie, Jul 19 2005 1:32PM

ah the irony. if i were the audience of the pantomime performance, i probably wouldn't laugh but as written prose the act is hilarious! thanks for a great story.