My oldest daughter came home for a visit yesterday and as we walked across the patio she said, “Oh, Mom.  I love how you haven’t pulled the weeds.  It makes everything so GREEN!”  She was serious.  I was dumbstruck.  What a wonderful world this would be if all of us found that kind of positivity in a gnarl of chaos.

Since her visit, I have thought about moments recently where I could have employed that same outlook but didn’t.  What first came to mind was being cut off in traffic, mid-turn by a woman in a huge, pickup truck.  She blew through a red light and even though I had a green arrow, I had to slam on my brakes mid-turn to let her pass.  Lucky for me, she was going to Trader Joe’s, too.  Yes, I followed her in.  Yes, I stood outside her huge, orange truck looking up at her and waited for her to emerge.  When she did, here is what I should have said:  “How fortunate I am that you drive such a BIG truck I was able to see you in time and slam on my brakes when you ran that red light!“

When a friend of many years sent me a bizarre, far right, conspiracy video complete with grossly, false statements, here is what I should have replied:  “How wonderful I have your emails to remind me that some seemingly, normal people really are duped by QAnon conspirators!” 

When my tennis partner hit the ball to the net player for the third time in a row and I got blasted, she turned to me and said, “Look.  You need to be ready for those.”  She was dead serious.  I was speechless.  Here is what I should have said.  “How lucky I am that you’re so good at continually placing me in jeopardy!  I’m sure it will quicken my reactions in no time!”

 My daughter has given me inspiration.  Now I need to apply it to my next challenge:  a friend who is at high risk for Covid, has young children, is single and lives at the poverty level has just told me she is NOT getting the vaccine because she, ‘does not trust what’s in it.’  Here is what I am going to say:  “You don’t know what’s in bologna but you eat that!  Get the damn shot!”           



Granny impressed upon me early on to, *“Always DO what you can do when you can DO it.”  While that advice has definitely gained me some friendships, it has also put me in some pretty awkward positions.  Take today for example:

 There she was, a 40-something, dyed-blonde with a spectacular figure squeezed into watertight-jeans, a slinky sweater and spread-eagled against the wall of the women’s bathroom in Whole Foods.  Her over the shoulder, come-hither look, leered sexily towards the camera.  And there I was, squeezing the shutter of that camera. 

 No, I didn’t know her.  We had ‘met’ just three minutes earlier when sight unseen, she simply started up a conversation while I was in the stall next to her.  Turns out she’s recently divorced and met a guy online.  He just asked her to text him, ‘ a butt shot.’   “I need to send him one in the next 5 minutes,” she declared.  “It’s crucial or he won’t ask me out.”  (Yes, I did look around for the hidden camera.) 

“Do you mind?” she asked.  Utter loneliness was etched in her eyes.  Not the time to remind her a man should love you for who you are, not how you look.  “Of course not,” I replied casually as if I do this sort of thing often.      

But Granny also said, “Always do your best.”  So, I shifted the blonde more towards the door where the light was better, asked her to drop her right shoulder, and raise her chin.  “Now twist your buttocks slightly to your right.  Perfect!”  Click.  Click.  Click.

At that moment, the door opened.  The woman entering glanced briefly at the blonde with her arms still outstretched across the tile wall, glared oddly at me, then continued cautiously towards a stall.  Quickly, I handed the girl her cell phone and made a dash for the door.  As it closed behind me she squealed in a loud, excited voice.  “Thank you so much!!  I don’t know WHAT I would have done without you.  You just made my butt look SO hot and fine!” 

 Granny also said, “You are judged by the company you keep.”  Funny how the meaning of things change as circumstances do.  But I figure it’s still good advice–from any angle–no matter how you look at it. 

(*Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” a memoir of the 13 years she cared for her grandmother who had Alzheimer’s.