Things People Just Can’t Help Doing

My friend Debbie has a notebook which she has titled, “Dumb Things People Said To Make Me Feel Better, But Which Actually Made Me Feel Worse.” Her journal is the result of several tremendous challenges she has faced over the years. She said that while many people offered heartfelt words of compassion, others said some really dumb things in an effort to help her feel better. Because said comments actually made Debbie feel worse, she opted to unload them into a notebook, and ease her burden of carrying them around. I won’t repeat what some of the comments are, but I’ll just say this: they are really dumb.

The point of this post is not to trash people who say dumb things, because we’re all guilty of it at one time or another. But as the words in Debbie’s notebook attest, sometimes folks just can’t help but say some negatively noteworthy things. And Debbie can’t help but get them off her back and away from her psyche by writing them down. This post is simply a list of a handful of quirks I’ve noticed over the past few days. And, likewise, I just can’t help myself from writing about them.

1) The woman sitting next to me at The Avengers last night couldn’t help but carry on a running commentary of everything in the movie. Her monologue loudly noted her disappointment anytime a likeable character met with any trouble (“But I liked him…,” she repeatedly whined). She also uttered a loud “UH OH,” whenever disaster loomed. During the previews, I watched with eagerness a trailer for Tim Burton’s next darkly imaginative film for children. When the woman in the seat next to mine opined that she thought the movie looked stupid, I had a violent urge to turn to her and say, “You’re stupid!” But I didn’t.

2) Every night at 10:00 P.M. when we send one son off to bed, he can’t help but ask if we will make him a plate of nachos. The answer in always no, but he just has to ask anyway.

3) Jack just can’t help himself from rifling through albums and bins to locate family photographs, which he carries around lovingly for a few hours before shredding them into tiny bits in some corner of the house. I used to be really touched when Jack selected, to tote around, a photo which included me. But now I know that it will inevitably meet it’s demise shortly. He’s doing a real number on my Gospel Art Kit, as well. We use that thing a lot, and I would really like to keep it sort-of intact. I keep hiding it, and yet somehow I still keep finding shredded bits of paintings depicting well-known scripture tales, to which I can’t help myself from responding, “Curses!”

4) The young woman at the big box store who was training another young woman to be a cashier couldn’t help herself from looking at Jeff’s head of hair this weekend and loudly asking, “Going gray already???” I stood there aghast and a tad slack-jawed after hearing this. Jeff was entering his debit card pin at the moment and didn’t register it, but he told me later that he would’ve probably quipped a response along the lines of, “Young lady, you have no idea just how very ANCIENT I am,” possibly accompanied by lots of nodding and deep chuckling.

5) If there are SpongeBob GoGurts in the house, one son just can’t help himself from eating them all day long. This is a case for never again having SpongeBob GoGurts in the house.

6) If there are Lindt 70% Dark Chocolate Squares in the house, I just can’t stop myself from some daily indulgence. This is not a case for never again having Lindt 70% Dark Chocolate Squares in the house.

7) Teachers and school administrators can’t help themselves from planning a raggedly exhausting schedule of end-of-year parties, picnics, parades, field trips, field days, performances, dinners, and dances. It’s killing me, folks, and the crucible known as “my summer” has yet to begin.

What can’t you help doing?

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