Monday, March 28, 2011
On Fly Specks and "Having a Nice Day"
I just remembered that the cake I am about to bake, my friend Miranda's awesome sour cream lemon poppy-seed cake, was the type of cake I asked for for my 4th birthday (only I wanted a green one) and at the time, I'm pretty sure I called it "Fly Speck Cake". Aw, life was so poetically accurate back then. (Sidenote: Later.....I made the cake batter and reached for the fly specks. Apparently someone has been abusing some opium on the sly, because they were nowhere to be found. Actually, I think Leslie baked this cake last time and didn't put poppy seeds on the list. So, I baked a yellow lemon cake with nonpareil sprinkles. Half of it was for my friend who just had her third baby, and I thought, how appropriate. An edible lesson in learning to adapt because it is WAY too much hassle to bundle up three kids and haul them to the grocery store for something the flies leave on my windows for free.)
Do you ever wonder what an actual conversation would be like with someone who lived, say, 200 years in the past? I think about this a lot because of my research, but just on a basic, non-data-collecting level, what kinds of things would surprise us? I always think that the English language must have sounded quite different than what we hear from Hollywood, etc. I don't mean the words, really, but the accents and the rhythms of speaking. Even in the last 50 years it has changed SO much--go watch a black and white movie and listen to those women talk in the lowest range of their voices, very precisely. Or listen to the children's voices--all the boys sound like Peter Pan to me. (Think of the way they talked on the original Mickey Mouse Club) Or the newscasters. Now times that by 200 years.
Now, besides the way they talked, I think that there would be some difficulty in understanding each others' attitudes about life. They used to live hand in hand with death, for one thing. We get upset if we can't drive fast enough. I read something really interesting last night about this. I'm reading a book called Divine Signatures: The Confirming Hand of God, by Gerald Lund. In a chapter that was basically about why bad things happen to good people, he mentioned something his mother said. When she turned 80, a grandchild asked her what kind of changes in the world she had seen in her lifetime. She surprised everyone by noting, "People never said, "Have a nice day" until the 1970s. We didn't expect to have a nice day. We knew it would be hard. Our life was hard. Our friends' lives were hard. It had always been hard for us, and we figured it would always be hard. But we were all in it together, and so it was all right. Then in the '70s everyone started saying, "Have a nice day." And then people felt gypped if they weren't having a "nice day" kind of life."
I like that, and I think it's probably true. We shouldn't get so hung up on evaluating how our day is going, because every day is going to have something bad in it, and probably a lot of things good. We should just enjoy that we are in it together, and count our blessings when things go right, rather than trying to weigh it all in the balance. Then maybe we can laugh more about the things that go wrong.
Like today, the lack of fly specks, on top of somehow being locked out of my bathroom and not able to pop the lock. (Better out than in, I always say.) If Mark wants his wife to wear makeup he had better get that thing figured out fast, and too bad for anyone else who drops in today. Or how about my small kitchen that I tend to complain about? Just today at lunch, Cooper looked around and asked, "Mom, are we always going to live in this house?" I smiled, "No, probably just until you are in school, or if we get a new baby." (Both of the boys looked shocked.) "Don't you think it would be fun to get a new baby someday maybe?" Boston got a big smile and yelled, "Yeah!" Cooper looked dubious and mildly alarmed. "But I like Macy."
Or yesterday, when we arrived home from church at 2:05 in our usual flurry of washing hands, changing clothes, lecturing about sitting still next week and not burping during sacrament meeting (that was to Leslie I might add), and trying to stuff some lunch into their cranky little mouths as quickly as possible so they can mellow out a little (I love what my friend Brenda says. "You get home from church and your kids make you dizzy") Mark and I were trying to maintain politeness while handling the busiest half hour of the whole week. Anyway, at the height of all this, while we were standing at the stove, arguing with Boston about whether or not he was going to eat the Spaghettios that he begged for and got, even though we all know he won't actually eat them, Cooper surprised us. He sat back from his plate of dino-nuggets with a big smile and a mouthful of food, raised his hand and yelled, "Who's having a greaaaat daaaay????"
Mark and I could only maintain our stony silence for a few seconds before we looked at each others' determination in the face of this ketchupy cheerfulness and busted up laughing. And it was a great day.