My mother has virtually no sense of humor. She doesn't care for comedy and she doesn't get jokes. I don't think I've ever seen her toss her head back and just howl. Conversely, Cousin and I can be just plainly irritating as we roar and carry on. Mostly when others look at us oddly while we're amusing ourselves, we kick it up a notch. But I recall a dinner out at a restaurant when I was the advanced age of 48. Cousin and I were particularly hilarious with our bellies filled and we'd gone on for some time. My mother made eye contact with me, and I withered.Communication through "the look". Cousin didn't wither. Her aunt's facial expression didn't mean anything to her. It rolled off her back. I, on the other hand, was calling myself all the words and names I knew my mother would use if she'd verbally lit into me. "Limes, stop it, you ________. You're attracting attention."
A different view of communicating through "the look": Amber began competing in martial arts tournaments at about the age of 8. She sparred with adult men. Martial arts was Ex's thing, certainly not mine, but I supported it. He insisted that she be able to physically defend herself against attack from a young age. Martial arts did many good things for my daughter, beyond simply making her a pretty tough chiquita. This was one proud mother, and after her performances, I was prone to hugging, kissing, tearing up and babbling. It came to pass that she didn't want me to do that any more. It embarrassed her. I developed a "look" that spared her the hugs, tears, kisses and words, but still got my message across. I know this because when I threw her that look, she still blushed bright red! Oh, yes, she knew what I would have said and done if I hadn't used the "look".
Mother Badger was a third grade school teacher for many years. She still could call upon "the look" today! Folks, I'm not an 8 year-old boy, yet I know she could make me evaporate in my P.F. Flyers if she turned it on me.
So, I'd carried a little gift in my purse to Arizona and I wasn't exactly sure when to spring it on the Badger. The night before the race when he wasn't too preoccupied? The morning of the race when he would be preoccupied, but I'd feel snitty because he wouldn't be as gushingly grateful as I wanted him to be? After the race, when First Place was his (because I had no doubt)? Unlike myself, I did not pre-plan the gift-giving to death. I decided to just wait and see when the moment presented itself.
We were out on the highway. I'd just hoofed 5 hard up-and-down miles in considerable heat. The Badger had done a strenuous 29 in the saddle and on the pedals, preparing for the next day's race. He'd faced down buzzards. I'd found animal bones and garnered concern from passersby on the road. He pulled up to the car. "How'd you do, Badger? Good ride? Ready for tomorrow?" "It was really good! I'm ready."
And then we went to some other place to communicate. His arms moved first. He extended them. He was going to put them around my waist and hug me. But a fraction of a second after moving his arms, he got the "look". I am bilingual, so I read both arms and face. He felt strong and hopeful. His confidence was running high. He was happy to be right there, right then, on his bike, in his jersey with me for his support team. He intended to take that first place the next morning and he'd learned that sharp descent didn't scare him any more. The sun felt good on his skin and there are just some people you can hug even when you're sweaty. Hence the arm action.
The light came on for me! This was the time for the gift! I jumped out of his reach, dug into my purse like a badger, and came up with that box and its offering wrapped in purple tissue paper. I said, "Here's a little tribute, Badger." He opened it. He liked it. He said home dudes were right to give it their approval. He wears it every day. Even when he's indoors in a meeting, he can glance down and see his bicycle chain around his wrist. I wish I'd presented the gift and taken the proffered hug. Sometimes I get a little impulsive and miss out on an opportunity.
In my ears right now: Dead Flowers, Rolling Stones version. I missed another opportunity! I could have taken dead flowers and presented the Badger with a wreath at the finish line. Dang.
Something that charmed me: He fiddled with that bracelet a little, establishing the right look. "Too much on the same arm with my watch, Limes?" "Yes, probably too much, Badger." "Maybe I could intertwine it with my 'Live Your Dream' bracelet I wear in races." "That would be cool, Badger."