PAPER CLIPS by Elaine Corrington
“Would you PLEASE get your Machine Gun OUT of the Mayonnaise?”
For many reasons, this is one of the giftiest times of the year in Hurleyville and elsewhere. There are religious reasons, seasonal reasons for farmers, natural exchanges with people that are friends or neighbors, party goers, co-workers, organizations that provide needed or special foods or clothing, animal shelters, or just silly finds that you want to share.
All of this gift-giving motion makes it harder and harder to treat yourself- even when catalogs crowd your mailbox and computer with items you would like but cannot afford any more- and nobody is giving them to YOU! Don’t you deserve something special too? Even an argument where you win doesn’t always feel like a winning gift. A non-angry state of mind that proves to yourself that anger is not the only answer is a reward with wide application and appreciation.
Well, maybe it is time to gift yourself. Give yourself something that you have to do in life or work that allows you to address a problem without continuing anger and trying to win your point, darn it- but allows you to always know that no anger but a hard laugh is already in your brain just waiting to reward you. And with a remembrance with more value than you thought possible without winning an ongoing battle with your superior knowledge, experience, and inspiration. Fifty years later, that sweet reward can still bring the laugh and intensity of joy (enlarged by time!) of your original inspired moment. And you can share it and inspire others to follow your lead.
I have one of those moments to share with you right now… I was a Nanny for a long time and there were lots of kids in the family and in the neighborhood. One day, we were out on the back deck making a movie about BAD guys. I went into the house to grab some lemonade because everyone had been doing a lot of talking. When I walked through the door, I was facing a young boy who was smiling with joy as he stirred a large bottle of mayonnaise WITH THE TIP OF HIS MACHINE GUN!
In a loud and very accusatory voice, I exploded with the polite Nanny sentence “Would you PLEASE get your Machine Gun OUT of the mayonnaise?” To my good Nanny mind, it was an important life lesson delivered without corporal punishment- and the resulting horribly guilty facial expressions that bounced back toward me were evidence that the lesson had been learned!
I turned back into the house and stomped back toward the bathroom- locking myself in so that nobody could see or hear me laughing hysterically into a thick towel. I knew at that moment that I had been THE ONLY PERSON ON EARTH THAT HAD EVER DELIVERED THAT COMPLETELY POLITE LESSON TO ANYONE- CHILD OR ADULT!
I went back out onto the porch and the weapons of guilt had been removed. Apologies were not offered- further evidence that the lesson was learned by all. We finished the movie (which was terrible upon viewing)) and had a very quiet and well-mannered rest of the day.
That win- with really just a reaction in humor and not a win in anger- taught me such a valuable lesson. I had several signs made with the quote- the final one cut into a large piece of rusty metal that hangs on my living room wall as testament to finding solutions in weird humor instead of totally justified anger. This was the gift that I gave myself many decades ago that was better than diamonds- and the kids know it too! They learned it in ONE SWELL FOOP.