20: The Show Must Go On

20: The Show Must Go On

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

The Show Must Go On

I learned that there’s a certain character that can be built from embarrassing yourself endlessly. If you can sit happy with embarrassment, there’s not much else that can really get to ya.

~Christian Bale

We had a dinner guest a few Sundays ago. Our parish secretary, a lovely, refined, mild-mannered lady in her seventies, came to join us for a roasted chicken.

All day we had prepared the house for our company. The linens were ironed, the floors were steamed, and the food was bubbling joyfully on the stove. The children were napping, with cute outfits laid out to wear upon waking. Mia, my three-year-old, had helped wash the windows and set the table. She was quite excited we were having a special guest.

Ms. Night has been working at my church ever since I was in middle school. We never spoke much as she’s a quiet soul, but I was always curious about her. I knew she lived alone and dressed very conservatively, always in skirts with a kerchief around her neck, never in pants. Now employed by the parish myself, I came in contact with Ms. Night quite regularly and felt it would be appropriate to have her over.

And so it was that Ms. Night arrived exactly at five, in kerchief and skirt, bearing a fruit tray. We welcomed her, and Mia flittered about, chattering about one thing or another. After giving her a tour of the house, we sat down to carve the grand roasted chicken. So far, everything was going excellently. While we are never so reserved or proper about our meals, Mia and her two-year-old brother, Jack, were picking up the cues perfectly, and the meal began with light conversation and a salad.

I had a Bridget Jones moment of “Sitting at table with guest, am poised, graceful host serving succulent chicken. Talking about how we can aid the crisis in Japan. Am proper, intelligent host. Husband is sounding calm and serious. Children are also waiting calmly for dinner. Mood is Stepford-ish, but good. Certainly guest will be impressed with our family.”

Suddenly, like a dying helicopter landing in the middle of a blissfully still meadow, Mia began to pass gas. At the table. At an incredibly audible level and rate of expulsion.

The conversation came to a halt. Mia was seated directly across from the guest of honor. The guest of honor stared at Mia.

I was seated directly across from my husband, Tom, which was not good considering that our eyes locked, and we started twitching simultaneously while trying to remain serious.

The concert continued, and I began to worry about two things: losing my “inner poise” and wondering how long this was going to last. As if sensing my nervousness, Mia decided to break the ice by announcing to our stunned ears, “I am farting!” She then grinned, glanced from adult to adult, and continued even louder, “I love farting!”

I glanced at my husband to see how he was handling the situation. His head was downcast, hidden in a napkin, pretending he was mourning the loss of our dignity or something.

“Perfect,” I thought. “All Tom has to do is look at me and we’ll both lose it. How am I going to get out of this one? What do I say?”

To make the situation just a little more awkward, our guest was ignoring my daughter’s shouts and continued to calmly munch her arugula and baby spinach.

Then baby Jack began to chime in. Mia turned to her brother and decided to narrate the event to us as well.

“Jack likes pooping! Wow, that’s a big one!”

Both kids burst out laughing.

Tom and I looked at each other, trying not to laugh. Then, at Jack’s next round, we both lost it.

Never in a million years would I have imagined that scenario.

Our kids have never, ever done this at the dinner table. Especially together on cue. Which is impressive, but horrible, timing to showcase their newfound talent.

“I’m so sorry!” I moaned between fits of laughter, practically hanging off my chair under the table from sheer hysterics. “I don’t know what to say. This has never happened to us…”

Luckily, Ms. Night has plenty of nieces and nephews and was able to carry on with us the rest of the evening as if nothing had happened. But I’m pretty willing to bet that was the only time she ever witnessed such an event.

When we headed up for the night after our company had left, we burst out laughing again. I shook my head.

“Time to review manners with them, I guess.”

Tom shook his head, laughing.

“Time to invest in Beano.”

~Annemarie Thimons

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