"Shall I pick up something to save you time?'
Elmer’s question penetrates the forcefield of my focus on the rubric I am developing for my current project.
Save time? Pick up something? We need something? For what? For supper? Now? I try to connect with the reality of conversation. I am disoriented, like surfacing after a very deep sleep. My befuddled expression prompts Elmer to add details.
I’m drawing a blank. I don’t like the dread that’s seeping into me. What have I forgotten now?
"We need something for Thursday?
"Didn’t the German Club call? I saw Mrs. Graf at Bingo this afternoon. 'Didn’t Yvette tell you I called? We are asking for coffee cakes for the Museum open house,' she said."
Finally, two and two is starting to edge closer to four than fourteen.
"A lady did call from the German Club about Thursday and kuchen. She asked if I baked, and I said no. She said she didn’t think I did."
Word gets around, I guess.
Somehow, I felt I should apologize, or at least have the decency to feel ashamed. But, no. I continued my conversation with Mrs. Graf in blissful ignorance. Since I didn't bake kuchen, we would have the opportunity to support the German Club on Thursday by purchasing some. I smiled in my voice, said thank you, thanks for calling, good-bye.
"So she was calling to ask for contributions of coffee cake, not just kuchen, for Thursday." I am talking to myself as much as to Elmer, trying to put more pieces together, to edge the sum maybe to five. "Well, that went right by me."
Sadly, it’s not the first time. How many of these missed communications have there been over the years, when I’ve been in a different conversation than the person I was talking to.
I did learn the cause, though, once, from a total stranger.
We were on the way to Vancouver, Elmer, the kids, my parents, and I, for my aunt and uncle’s fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration. My mother wanted to stop in the Shuswap to visit her nephew’s ex-wife, with whom she had always been close.
We located their acreage. They were happy to see us, and we to see them. Sitting around the kitchen table sipping coffee, we were engaged in lively conversation, catching up, telling and retelling stories.
Joanie’s husband, to my left, redirected the talk, suddenly, and observed, "You talk with your hands."
He was talking to me. Yes, it’s true, I do talk with my hands. I have always attributed that to my French heritage.
"But you don’t make pictures with your hands,' he continued. "It’s like a ballet."
What a beautiful image! I felt complimented.
"Just a minute, " he said. He headed into the adjoining living room, returning promptly with a thick, massive tome that could have belonged to Merlin.
"What is your birthday?"
What? My birthday? Why? My silence prompted him to clarify.
"I want to look up your astrological chart."
Fascinated, I told him. He looked it up. His eyes moved down the page. They looked up at me suddenly, searching my face.
"Do you find that people misunderstand you?"
All the time. I was just coming off yet another incidence.
"Well, no wonder. You have a retrograde Mercury."
Who knew? A lingering Mercury in my planetary configuration. Mercury being the messenger, a lagging planet means communication issues are compromised, I learned, and messages can be warped or even lost. During that time, something of the past can return.
I still smile at the recollection. A memory returning. Google tells me that Mercury will not be in retrograde until June. What gives?