Early in childhood, I learned that a knot in the tongue is worth two on the head. Problem is, I didn't learn that lesson well. While others come up with the perfect rejoinder long after the occasion to use it, I think of it immediately and am challenged to keep from saying it. In other words, as my dad often warned, "Don't let your mouth be in motion before your brain is in gear!"
Take the time husband Ray sent me to buy a sander and when I asked the salesclerk a question about it, he replied, "Why don't you bring in your husband and I'll explain it to him."
"Hey," I shot back, "if you'll speak real slow and use one-syllable words, I'm sure you can make me understand."
A rare example of me actually finding the wisdom and discipline to hold my tongue occurred the other day when I prepared to drive a loaner car due to our auto dumping radiator antifreeze all over a Kansas City parking lot. Ray knew I was unfamiliar with the make of the temporary replacement vehicle so he showed me how to move the seat nearer to the steering wheel and pedals, how to adjust the side mirrors and turn on the lights. All well and good; these are things I needed to know. But then he pointed to the speedometer and said, "This is the speedometer. Don't confuse it with the tachometer (he pointed to the tach) or you'll think you're going 20 when you're actually going 60."
It was there. Right at the tip of my tongue. I was primed to say, "Do you really think I could be heading down the highway at 60 miles per hour and confuse it with a speed of 20? Wouldn't the dotted yellow line looking like a solid line be a tip-off? C'mon! How dumb do you think I am?"
But then I remembered the time we bought the little Chevy Blazer that I drove for the first time at night. Once in the seat and ready to go, I couldn't find the headlight switch. Worse, I couldn't find the door handle so I could get out of the vehicle, go back into the house and ask Ray the location of the $#@%!* headlight switch. I solved that problem by honking the horn until he came out and showed me where both light switch and door handle were. Then he prudently returned to the house without saying another word. Ray had obviously learned, much better than I, the knot in the tongue lesson.
While standing by the roadside with her young nephew, my late friend Emily learned not to say the first words that popped into her head. Emily had a penchant for Cadillac convertibles and believed they could run on fumes. One day, she pushed her luck too far and ran out of gas on a busy highway.
A great many drivers whizzed by the woman and boy standing by their disabled car, but several stopped and agreed to send aid or bring back gas. They didn't keep their promises and Emily's patience wore thin. Finally, a car containing a family stopped and the driver agreed to return with fuel.
Emily surveyed the children in the car and impulsively inquired, "Would you care to leave a hostage?"
She was stunned when the father instructed one of the children to get out of the car and wait until he returned with gas. Later, in recounting the incident to her sister Gen, Emily confided that - waiting at the roadside with her small hostage - she wondered what on earth she'd do with the child if the family never returned.
One of the worst examples of me speaking without thinking is when I'm asked to do a volunteer job and I hear my mouth saying "Yes" when my brain is screaming "No! No! NO!" It happens far too often. I'm going to have to work harder at following Dad's advice to have my brain in gear before my mouth is in motion.