Cry Wolf

In an earlier blog, I spoke of my calmness during emergency situations. And it’s true. However, I left out something important. In minor emergencies, or when there is nothing momentous happening but for some reason I am still freaked out, I tend to gasp. If the situation is serious enough,  I cry out like an actor in a B movie. (But again, not in extreme situations. Then I am like Mr. Spock. Cold. Logical. Seriously calm.)

This gasping, crying out behavior might occur during an exciting passage of a good book. Once upon a time, Clarence would come rushing into the room, a wild look on his face as he prepared for battle. Now, he mostly ignores me. I can’t say that I blame him. When my children were little, my sisters and I would talk on the phone in the evening. From time to time I might draw in my breath sharply. Clarence would put down his paper and wait for the worst news, ever. “Susan had Connor asleep and now he’s awake again,” I’d say, expecting him to also gasp in dismay. Instead, he’d give me ‘the look.’ But for tired mothers of toddlers, this was a gasp worthy event.

If I’m baking and forget an ingredient, or if I’m driving somewhere and realize I’ve forgotten my reading glasses, I may respond with some serious exhalation. This drives my husband crazy. I’ve been trying to change, but I fear the damage is done.

Last week, I suffered an unusual event. It wasn’t serious, just unexpected. I decided to read my kindle while walking on my treadmill because, as previously stated, sitting is uncomfortable. Somehow I missed seeing my giant purple exercise ball perching against the wall at the end of my treadmill. I climbed on and set the speed. Within seconds, the machine started making these screechy, rubbing noises. I squinted toward the front where the motor is, and then, to my alarm, I began to rise into the air. “Help!” I called. “Someone help me!” Of course, since only my husband was home, no one answered.

Actually, Clarence did answer. He said something like, ‘Nope. Not falling for it this time.” “No, really,” I screamed, “something is happening to me.” Finally I had the sense to jump off the treadmill. I watched, my mouth gaping like a Southern Baptist at a hooker convention, as the track continued to rise in the air. Then it started jumping up and down, up and down. I leaped backward, kind of wondering if the thing was possessed. That’s when I noticed the ball. “It’s okay,” I shouted. “My exercise ball is trapped under the treadmill!” ‘Uh huh,” Clarence said, not stirring himself from his chair. Really, I could have died.

On the other hand, its my own fault. Perhaps being calm in a serious emergency has this kind of effect. A person feels the need to react at least some of the time. Right? I mean, a ball caught under a treadmill, a person rising in the air like the rapture was happening and I was ascending to meet Jesus? I have to confess, the thought passed through my mind at the time. ‘So this is it.’ I think that was worthy of a gasp or two.

I’ve been wondering about this whole thing, and I’ve come to the conclusion that a person can’t be calm all the time or they’ll simply explode. In a real emergency, I’m a cold fish. But when things are less extreme, I let out a cry or two as a way of reducing pressure on my brain. No one operates well with a full head of steam. And someone needs to explain that to Clarence. But in a very calm way.

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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