I’m not doing it.
Yes, I am. Confession is good for . . . somebody’s soul. Maybe not mine, but if it makes you feel better about you, then it’s worth it.
Well, anyway. Last month I did the thing I said I would never do.
I was mortified a couple of years ago when somebody chewed me out for arriving late to a group study. It wasn’t the first time I’d shown up late for this meeting—it was just the first time I had a good reason. But the leader didn’t ask for an explanation. Instead, in front of twenty other women, she jumped right into lecture mode, bordering on downright fury. Showing up fifteen minutes late, it turns out, was inexcusable, even if your stupid dog chewed up your favorite gardenia bush that morning. So I left. And never went back.
So far, so good, right? You’d have done the same thing, wouldn’t you? And when the leader called later to apologize and rationalize her behavior, you’d have told her what I did:
“I would never speak to anyone the way you spoke to me today.”
That’s like telling your husband you’d never hide a charge from him, so why didn’t he mention the new golf club in the garage?
Or maybe that’s just me. Great. I’ve already said too much. I knew this was a bad idea.
So . . . time passed and I kept my word. I did not speak to anyone the way she spoke to me that day. Not immediately.
Okay, now I’ve got your attention. See how you are.
I kept my resolution until last month. Then suddenly, for no forgivable reason, while learning “how to listen” with a completely different group of women, I spoke rudely to a lady sitting next to me.
You’ve lost all respect for me now, haven’t you? No? You saw this coming? I really wish you’d warned me.
I could make excuses for my bad behavior, but I know you’re too smart for that. The bottom line is this: I alone am in charge of what comes out of my mouth.
I don’t know where I heard that. I guess I could have read it in the Bible. Or a fortune cookie.
Anyway, after failing our class in Compassionate Listening 101, I earnestly apologized several times, was graciously forgiven—and promptly forgotten. The lady I offended never returned to our group.
So that night I went to bed, spilled my guilty guts to my husband the golfer, reached for the magical sleeping mask those CPAP guys gave me last year, and was instantly transformed. With my disguise in place and a piece of tape across my mouth (to compensate for floppy jaws which wake me up), I quickly fell asleep.
It was a magical moment, unparalleled in the annals of human history, unequaled since the Man of Steel first changed clothes in a phone booth. I think that’s illegal now in most states.
Here in Arizona, though, for eight solid hours on that night, the world was safe from my both my unhinged jaw and tongue.
You are in the presence of a SuperHero.
I am . . . Paper Tape Woman! Through the dark of night til dawn’s faint light, tardy friends and rookie listeners are safe and secure while I slumber in silence. Just as long . . . as my mouth is taped shut.
In some circles I am also known as Famous Last Words Woman. But I’m resigning from that gig. I can only handle one superhero identity at a time. And I didn’t really enjoy posing here as True Confessions Woman, no matter how good it was for your soul.
You’re underwhelmed by my limited powers, aren’t you? I wish I could promise you twenty-four hours of uninterrupted security, but a girl’s gotta eat, you know. Eight hours of respite from my tongue—the unruly muscle St. James dubbed “a restless evil, full of deadly poison”—is all I can promise you. If I take a melatonin and nobody sets the alarm, then maybe I’ll sleep til nine.
It’s not a lot, but it’s a better promise than anybody on Capitol Hill can offer. In fact, I confided in a close friend the other night about my secret identity and the faux pas that forced me into silent seclusion and SuperHero-dom. Her response would have knocked Clark Kent’s glasses off.
“Oh, my God,” she said in mock surprise as she listened to my contrite confession, “you’re . . . human!”
No, I am Paper Tape Woman. Sheesh. SuperHeros don’t get no respect.
And I still haven’t learned to keep my big mouth shut.