Janet Sheridan: Dubious skills

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Janet Sheridan

As a child, I pushed myself to color inside the lines, climb to the top of trees, and jump until the rope-turners quit.

Now I’m easier on myself, not caring about excellence when I’m having fun, though I try not to burden others with my deficient enthusiasms.

When alone, I sing with volume and drama. I croon the blues, nursery songs, pop tunes, cowboy laments, and church hymns. Song fragments burst from me at odd moments. I wail and yodel and growl like Janis Joplin, all off key.

My habit of solitary singing began after a Christmas party with teenage friends.

We sang Christmas carols and laughed at one another’s vocal flourishes. I had a grand time until DeeDee Wright remarked, “Wow, we have some really good singers — and Janet knows all the words.”

Since then, during public singing, I hum along demurely, not wishing to offend the sensitive or startle dogs.

I also enjoy arranging flowers from our garden in decorative vases for display around the house. I feel energized and creative as I snip branches, trim leaves, and place blossoms.

However, when I step back to admire my handiwork, I see I’ve created a lopsided bouquet littered with bald spots. And why did I think one lilac and 14 tulips would be an attractive combination?

But, I’m not discouraged. As soon as the daisies droop and roses wilt, I happily create new eyesores.

I like to drive. I snack, sing, and talk to myself: “My, hoity-toity lady, you can certainly drive fast in your little red car as you pass me on a curve. Tut, tut!”

But I don’t enjoy myself when I have passengers — I’m made edgy by their gasps, white knuckles, and terror.

I love to nap. Just writing the word with its connotations of coziness and self-indulgence gives me goose bumps. When I surrender to sleepiness, stretch out on the couch, and close my eyes, I experience bliss, an ecstasy never equaled by the nap itself.

Usually, I jerk in and out of consciousness, thinking of all the tasks awaiting me with hopeful little faces, until I give up. Sometimes, I redefine napping by falling soundly asleep for hours. I then stagger around dunder-headed until bedtime, when I can’t sleep because I napped all afternoon.

I delight in gluing broken things back together: the just-purchased angel I unwrapped and dropped, the decorative bowl I bashed against the sink, the giraffe figurine my toddler grandson let fall on its head.

I feel virtuous and skillful as I assemble the pieces, apply too much glue, and bond my fingers.

When I manage to glue only the fragments, I discover I’ve held them unevenly while the adhesive dried, so my treasure is slightly askew. But from the other end of a football field, no one would ever notice.

On Saturdays, I enthusiastically assemble my cookbooks and make a weekly menu and shopping list. I scan coupons, check the refrigerator and cupboards for ingredients, and badger Joel for ideas, though in 15 years he’s never made a suggestion.

How organized I am! What a Holly Housewife!!

Then, during the week, I discover I planned three pasta meals, forgot to buy the chicken for the fricassee, and picked up applesauce instead of pineapple bits for the fancy dessert.

Oh, well. By the next Saturday, I’ve forgotten my mishaps and thrill with efficiency as I gather my cookbooks.

I sing loudly as I make my list, thinking I’ll buy flowers to arrange in that pretty vase I need to glue back together, and then reward myself with a nap.

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